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Becoming a NICU mum

Becoming a NICU mum

This isn’t how it was supposed to pan-out.

We all anticipate how our babies will arrive and try to envisage that spectacular moment our little creation enters the world.

Then fate cruelly interjects and suddenly the dream bubble that’s been floating above your head for the past few months is torn in two and is replaced with the sound of beeping machines, the hustle and bustle of a busy ward and the reality of this tiny fragile human-being with wires and tubes protruding ever limb on their helpless little bodies.

It’s a massive shock to the system and you’re expected to just take it in your stride. As if becoming a mum for the first time or adding to your brood isn’t enough to take on board, now there’s the fear that this little part of you, won’t make it.

When they are born, that’s the helpless moment you lose the ability to protect your little one safely inside your body, the moment they leave your body, the responsibility then leaves you and is passed on to the nurses and doctors, which although we are grateful for, is heartbreaking, because all we want to do is cuddle our little bundles of joy and keep them safe in mummy’s arms.

With a “normal delivery” mum’s are so excited to finally meet their new addition, but during premature birth we have the fear of the unknown, knowing your baby may not breathe or be born with long-term health complications.

You would be judged for saying this isn’t what you wanted to happen, but I can’t quite understand why someone would pass judgement on the feelings of something they have no understanding of.

We don’t feel disappointment and sadness because this premature baby has become an inconvenience to our lives, quite the opposite.

It’s sadness for our baby and disappointment that this person we love more than anything else on the planet it having to struggle through the early days, weeks, months and sometimes even years of their life.

We call them fighters, because they are.

We call them miracles, because they are.

We wouldn’t change them because we love them in a specially particular way after being astounded by their strength….

But would we, if we had the choice wish they had never had to go through this?

Of course we would!

I look at Jack now, my waters went with him at 25+5 weeks and he was born at 29+5 weeks, spending 40 days in NICU and I’m still astounded by what he went through as a 3.5lb preemie. But the heartbreak of seeing my tiny baby squeal in pain with needle after needle, knowing his body couldn’t provide what he needed to keep him alive breaks my heart and I’d of taken it all for him if I could.

Nobody hopes to become a NICU mum, but once you are one, all you do is hope.

Hope that your little one makes it through the fight for their life.

I’m just one of the lucky ones my fighter made it through unscathed.

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Organic Baobab Powder: Chocolate Brownie Recipe & Review

Have you heard of Baobab Powder? No? You’re not alone, I hadn’t either.

It’s a “super food” from that originates from Ghana, a pod that grows and when open has white powdery fruit inside (Baobab Powder). Well it turns out this powder is super rich in a whole host of goodness. How did we not already know about this?!

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It includes:

  • 6 x Antioxidants of Blueberries
  • 6 x Vitamin C of Oranges
  • 6 x Potassium of Bananas
  • 50% of Fibre Per Serving
  • More Magnesium Than Coconut Water
  • Twice As Much Calcium as Milk

So this super food is sold online and across the world by a great company called Panda Vita!

It can be used in drinks, smoothies, baking and cooking, there’s loads of great recipes on their website.

I’ve made a favourite in our house which is Chocolate Brownies! I was going to make them low fat, but decided to keep all the fun and add the healthiness in by adding in some Baobab Powder.

The recipe is below, I have to say this super food is A-MAZ-ING! It tastes so good, it stretches so far, you don’t need to use much and it brings a sweet, yummy, yet subtle flavour, I didn’t think Chocolate Brownies could get any better, but this a new level of goodness.

Baobab Chocolate Brownie Recipe

To get your hands on this great Baobab powder get over to the Panda Vita website and order yours today! Here’s a code for 15% off your first order: YMB15

What are you waiting for!?

To find out more about Baobab Powder click here

To get straight to the shopping page click here

Why not check out Panda Vita’s social media pages too:

FACEBOOK TWITTER PINTEREST INSTAGRAM

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The Heart Stopping Moment

The Heart Stopping Moment

It’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of heart stopping moments whilst being a mother, actually, even before I was a mother.

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We lost two babies before we had Jack, being told there was no heartbeat is like a punch in the stomach then being left with an empty feeling, it just felt like a never ending nightmare and like our future had been taken away from us before we’d even had it.

Then with Jack being born prematurely, I was constantly on pins, praying that nothing else would go wrong, hoping each day that he’d be healthy enough to come home, but there was always the reassurance that the medical staff were there, that they wouldn’t let him come home until he was “right”.

So it’s safe to say pregnancy is a pretty terrifying for me, I have a whole host of health problems during my pregnancies, so I get kind of impatient waiting for my baby to “just be here”, but nothing can prepare you for the fact it could all be taken away in an instant.

Time stood still

This time last week, time stood still and it felt like my heart stopped, it’s actually taken me a week to write this blog post because I’ve only just got my head around it.

Having a late night with the hubby, watching Goodfellas (as you do), it was three minutes past twelve (don’t ask me how I remember that, time literally stood still) and Nicole was being fussy and not wanting to feed even though she seemed hungry, which is not like her, she loves to feed and would literally be on my boob all day.

Then suddenly she started making a grunting noise and was bolt upright, as if she was in agony, I tried winding her and then she began struggling to breathe. I passed her to Paul he couldn’t settle her either, she was getting more and more worked up and unable to breathe properly so we rang an Ambulance.

It’s strange, my kids will do things throughout the day like climbing and falling but not hurting themselves, eating and almost choking, becoming ill with a cold or virus and it’s always in the back of my mind to ring a professional for help either my doctors or the hospital, but in this situation I just knew we needed emergency care.

She started to turn blue

I took her back in my arms and she went from feeling like she was full of frustration and bolt upright, to floppy with her eyes rolling back and she started to turn blue.

That moment was the most terrifying of my life, I felt like every part of my body that holds me together just fell apart, helpless…that’s the word. Suddenly for that moment the world stopped and everything felt quiet and cold, I was on the phone to the emergency services and I could hear the woman saying “calm down or I can’t help you, please calm down” then I realised I was hysterical, I didn’t even know I was, I’d gone completely into myself, just for a moment but it felt like hours, then my phone battery died.

It was as if her body was giving up

That was it, I snapped back to reality with the terrifying concept she may not have arranged an ambulance. I’d told her my address, I’d told her my baby was four months old, actually I think I told her that about 20 times, we quickly rushed to the house phone, by this time Nicole had come back round but she was still slightly limp and grunting, it was as if her body was giving up.

My husband got onto the house phone and rang 999 again, I could hear him pleading with them to just send an ambulance, but he later told me they wouldn’t until he’d been through the appropriate questions, all I could hear him saying “my baby is four months old and she isn’t breathing, please send an ambulance” and then he kept saying “just send one”, “please she isn’t breathing just send one”, by this time an Ambulance was outside our home, thank goodness the first call handler from when my phone had died had sent one.

She was going to be OK

I ran into the ambulance, I had no shoes on and Nicole was only in a t-shirt, by this time she had come round a lot but was still grunting, so we took her to hospital. I nipped into the house just to grab some nappies and baby grow for her and the realisation hit me like a wave, she was going to be OK, I mean for all I knew it could have happened again, but I don’t know how to explain it, I just felt it, she was OK.

She was checked over and cooed over by every member of staff in A&E and they reassured me this is just a thing that happens with young babies, they just have these little episodes, some come round from it, some don’t, so we’re very lucky.

The fact that this “just happens” terrifies me, I love being a mother, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, but since the moment my first child was born I have this unbelievable fear of how I could ever cope with life if something happened to one of my babies, as the saying goes “it isn’t worth thinking about” but last week Nicole made me think about it and that was my heart stopping moment and I hope I never have one again in my life.

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Why I won’t label my son

Why I won’t label my son.

For some time now there has been an Autistic question mark looming over my son’s head, I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about how people and services were suspecting my son was “on the autistic spectrum”, I have since been told everyone is on the Autistic spectrum, just varying degrees, I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve decided…not to care.

I don’t care what my son is labelled as, we are going through all the motions now to start the appropriate therapies to make his life and learning easier. But if we walk into a pediatrician’s office and he gives my son a label, he’s not going to walk out a different child, he will still be my Mikey. I understand that services have to give it a name so they can do referrals and arrange the correct support, but that means the label is for them not for me or my son. The same as me being an “O positive blood group” doctors need to know that, but it isn’t how I introduce myself to others.

I’m not saying Autism isn’t real or that we shouldn’t recognise, quite the opposite really. It frustrates me that as soon as I mention to someone, that Mikey is going through tests for Autism, that they change their behaviour around him, before I tell them that, they say he’s funny, cute and clever, if I mention Autism they give me a sympathetic “Awww but it’s ok though, he’ll be ok”. They reassure me like my son has a death sentence, he’s different…but isn’t everyone?

His older brother Jack goes to a mainstream nursery, which I’m planning on sending Mikey to if he manages going to it without any problems, so if Mikey needs other support it just means they have different learning needs. There are a lot of intelligent successful people in the world who have autism and there are a lot of intelligent successful people who don’t have it.

I’d like to live in a world where it’s not a terrifying, upsetting time for parents when their child is diagnosed with Autism, where they get the support needed for their own needs, because let’s face it not one person is the same and it isn’t a one size fits all scenario.

So when I say I don’t care, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about my son, I love my children more than anything in the world, but he is perfect the way he is. A diagnosis isn’t going to change the way I look at him, I wouldn’t change one part of him.

As a parent it is my job to support him and make sure he gets any help he needs, so we’re going to start Speech Therapy and Portage in January. I am a great believer in therapies, let’s face it, people pay good money for therapies just to make their life more peaceful and happier, so if my son is having therapies at 2 years old is that really such a bad thing?

To me he will always be my little Mikey Moo, everyone who meets him adores him, he has special little quirks that make him extra special, but that’s why we love him, his name is Michael and a label of Autism will never change that.

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But you don’t look Depressed…

But you don’t look depressed…

Apparently if you’ve had Postnatal Depression before you are more likely to have it again.

When I first had Depression I didn’t think it was Depression, I thought these were normal feelings after losing a baby, actually after losing two.

Being pregnant again and getting past my “safe point” of 12 weeks during my pregnancy with Jack seemed to help, but then I was taught a harsh lesson about how there is no safe point in pregnancy, when my waters went at 25 weeks and he was then born at 29 weeks. Those same feelings came back and my coping mechanism with life (or lack of) returned, that seems to be my way of spotting when something isn’t quite right with me, if I am suddenly unable to cope with everyday situations.

Of course my baby being born almost 3 months early wasn’t an everyday occurrence, so I cut myself some slack, just because I had the same feelings as when I lost the babies, didn’t mean I was Depressed, right?…Wrong.

I had this amazing baby, finally at home, finally in my arms, yet I felt like I wanted to die. I was so terrified of someone holding my baby and hypersensitive to what people said that I was isolated, but that was okay (to me). My baby had been born early, it was OK to be overprotective, that’s what I thought, and do you know what? I wasn’t wrong, I had every reason to be overprotective, but my fears of leaving the house, even walking down the street were wrong, it was Depression, it turns out it had never really gone, there just happened to be a lot of traumatic things happening around me that gave me even more reason to be sad.

So for a moment I sat and thought about how I may have Postnatal Depression after my first child was born, but I also felt off-colour, maybe I was ill? No…I was pregnant. Jack was three months old and he was going to be a big brother. Well, that answered all my questions, it must have been my hormones making me think like that. They’ll settle down, I thought, then before I had any time to think about myself or what may be going on in my head, or even the joy of a new baby…

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I got the phone call every child dreads, my Mum saying my Dad was having a heart attack. He’d had one before when he was 42, it was very minor and he’d been improving since then, age now 50, I calmly got ready to make my way up to the hospital to check on him, but that wasn’t the case. As soon as my Mum told me, “they said his heart isn’t beating” that’s when I knew it was over, I just knew in the pit of my stomach, he wasn’t coming back.

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So as my bump grew, so did my Depression, but my Dad had died of course I was depressed, it was grief! I’d never thought about the fact that since my first loss with a Molar Pregnancy, which brought with it a Cancer scare, that I had been suffering with Depression all this time, I had the thinking process that once I’d had Mikey I would be OK.

Don’t get me wrong, if you met me on the street or even spent a few hours with me, you’d probably say “You don’t look Depressed”, I was a master of disguising it, partially because I was ashamed, I had two perfect children by this time, what did I have to be Depressed about? And the rest of my fear was telling someone and then once flood gates open, they don’t close.

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There’s also the fear everyone is too afraid to talk about, that your children could be taken away from you, I thought if I told my doctor that I felt like I was worthless and failing in every aspect of my life, that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and I was afraid to leave the house, that he’d think I couldn’t cope and would take my kids away, but this isn’t the case.

Finally I got the courage to go to the doctors over a year after first telling him I felt Depressed and he helped me, I didn’t take antidepressants because I was Breast feeding and didn’t want to stop, but I started counselling, which helped. I found life easier to cope with, I wasn’t afraid to get in a car with the kids in case it crashed, or walk down the street in case someone just took them from me, I felt like I could lead a normal life again, of course I will always grieve for my Dad, but life was manageable again.

So with my fifth pregnancy and third baby, I felt strong, like this time was different. I’d got into a great routine with my boys, they are both great kids, who sleep, eat and behave well (most of the time). There was the everyday stress of life in general, knowing I had to have a Cesarean which wasn’t what I wanted but was safest for baby and planning my wedding, but I was coping.

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So what came next hit me like a tonne of bricks…

My husband Paul and I had a minor argument about 9 days after Nicole was born, it was that minor I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember just thinking “I can’t cope with this…I want to die”. The feelings of anxiety crept back again, I was scared to do things in case something bad happened, yet no-one knew. Since then it’s been like a snowball effect, it’s just got bigger.

There is a stigma that comes with Depression, that you must have a reason for it, it needs to be solvable…but what if it isn’t? I don’t want to feel like this, I hate that I anticipate every situation, conversation and reaction, but I can’t help it. I’ve got Depression…again, and it isn’t fussy who it chooses.

So I don’t look Depressed…

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I can tell you, you’re right I don’t have the face of Depression because there isn’t one, it doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, what religion you are or what race you are, Depression can affect anyone at anytime.

I have three beautiful healthy children, an amazing husband and a loving family, I have every reason in the world to be happy and I am a lot of the time, but when I have a chance to gather my thoughts, or I’m faced with an everyday situation, I crumble.

Being Depressed doesn’t make me a bad mother, I love my kids, I look after them and I do everything in my power to make them happy. There isn’t even a question in my mind that I’d rather be anywhere or doing anything else than being with my kids, but the stigma of Depression leaves people feeling like they don’t deserve their children and this just isn’t the case.

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If you are suffering with Depression, you need to talk to someone. Whether it is a family member, friend or a doctor. Let someone who cares know how you are feeling, there is no way out of it alone, I’ve learnt that the hard way, I’m about to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in the hope I can put these horrible feelings behind me.

The only way to fight it is to talk to someone, Depression wants to isolate you…don’t let it.

Here’s some support links:

MIND

PANDAS

Mothers for Mothers

PNI

House of Light

APNI

The SMILE Group

 

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Shovelling snow in a blizzard: Life with having three kids in three years

We hadn’t planned it this way, it felt like it took forever to finally have our first baby in our arms. Now our home is overrun by tiny dictators.

As they say the days are long, but the years are short. This is true, the days are really really long and so are the nights. You know how people tell you at different stages how their kids started “sleeping through”…yeah! Mine did that too, they love their sleep…Then you have to take off the nights where there will be teething, nightmares, sickness, illness, over-tiredness, hyperness or the fact they just don’t want to sleep. But when you have to be at an appointment for 9am guarantee they will want to lie in until lunchtime. Basically if you want to live in a world full of irony, have kids.

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Bribery…this will be your key to survival when you have relentless toddlers. Some people will say you shouldn’t bribe your kids, to them people I say spend a day in my house, you will soon turn into a bribing negotiator. Unless you give a child a good reason to do something why are they going to do it? Would you go to work if you didn’t get paid? So if I want my child to sit still while I dress him so I can get out of the house on time, I have no qualms about offering them a treat when they get to town if they just get their coat on! Or threatening to throw all of their trains in the bin if they don’t apologise for hitting their brother. I might be going about it the wrong way, but I haven’t had to threaten or bribe as much as they’ve got older because they know if they are good they will get rewarded and if they are naughty they will be punished…isn’t that just like grown up life? But you MUST follow through, if you show any sign of weakness and use empty threats your kids will jump on that opportunity to over rule you like tiny little terrorists.

Leaving the house is a military operation, especially when you need to be somewhere for a certain time…why is it I’m always given the 9am appointments? So my mode of transport is a double buggy called Zoom by Obaby. It’s not your standard double buggy, but I prefer it. Then I have Nicole in my Ama Wrap, it looks a little something like this…

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Nicole also has her own buggy a Redkite Push Me Fusion, for when I’m with my husband so we can push a buggy each.

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It’s when I’m by myself with the three kids I get heckled, some comments I don’t mind, like “Oh wow how do you cope?” because to me they are saying, you do cope…how do you do it? But it’s when people stop and gawk in horror as if I’m pushing around a cart of explosives and comment with “I bet they weren’t planned” or “I hope you’re going to stop now” and “You’ve got your hands full you know?!” the answers are actually they were all planned, I’m not ready to stop and I’ve got my hands and heart completely full of love, nappies and snot…I wouldn’t change a second of it.

Be ready to keep bobbing up for air in a sea full of nappies, that’s right, none are potty trained yet. I keep trying to introduce Jack to it and we’re getting there, but I’m a great believer of not forcing something like using the toilet, he’s got the rest of his life to be doing that. It can become unbearable when they all poop at the same time, but just be ready to take lots of trips to the outside bin or get a diaper genie, either way if you forget and put a stenching nappy in an indoor bin, you’ll soon realise…trust me.

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People think I’m crazy for having three kids in three years, what I think is crazy, is waiting a few years then doing it all over again. Don’t get me wrong there are benefits I’m sure for having an age gap, more one on one time with each child, a bit longer between the crazy newborn stages but for me, I haven’t ever got out of the “baby stage” I still haven’t! Nicole is three months so she is still very much a baby! I will be waiting or stopping now I haven’t decided, but literally because I have nowhere to put a fourth baby, the boys are in the buggy, Nicole is on my chest…there is nowhere for another one to go!

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The key of surviving being overrun by nappy wearing hooligans is keeping your cool, if you lose your shit they will lose theirs. The hard times will pass, the tantrums will finish and everything will always end in cuddles.

Life is hard when you have three kids in three years but I’m sure life would be hard having three kids in 10 years! They are kids, they are hard at all stages of life and to be honest…adults aren’t that easy either, are they? Everyone’s going to do it their own way and this is my way…I thrive on the mayhem.

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