Through The Lens

I recently shared a post all about the stigma surrounding C-Section births, which was prompted by my beautiful cousin bringing her new baby boy into the world.

So I thought, off the back of that post, I would share some images I took of this little cherub at just 1 day old.

Ladies, if like me your an emotional nutbag at the minute, I’d lock up those ovaries because the broodiness is REAL!

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I’m off to make a list of the pro’s and con’s of adding another tiny human into the mix.

Happy Wednesday lovelies! 🙂

D x

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The Dummy Debate?!?!

My opinion on this matter has been varied.

Being the oldest of 5, I have watched my mum raising all different types of children.

My sister was a demon child (i’m not offending her by saying this as she is well aware). She misbehaved and cried pretty much from the minute she was born. Just the most difficult baby/ toddler you can imagine. I always thought it was fussy babies who needed dummies, but I don’t remember her ever having one. If she did, I definitely have no recollection of her ever being attached enough that I noticed it.

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My brother on the other hand was an angel. The most pleasant baby you could meet. Always happy, always smiling but he needed one. It was a comfort to him when he was tired, and if I remember rightly my mum never had any issues weaning him off them.

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My niece however, really struggled. She used dummies from an early age right up until she was about 4. It was a comfort thing for her too, along with a cuddle blanket she would carry around with her (much the same as her cousin, and my boy Matthew). Her mum tried weaning her on several occasions and seemed to succeed, until her baby brother was born. This was when my sister discovered that she was stealing her little brothers dummies and hiding them in her room.

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Now… I have read a lot on the issue of dummies, mainly when I was pregnant.

I wanted to do everything right and convinced myself that I was going to do it all by the book and avoid the use of dummies at all costs. How naive I was!

Any control I had over my pregnancy was taken away when my son was born 16 weeks premature. He was very sick, and spent a long time in hospital where his dad and I eventually began to help with his cares.

One day, when I was going through the drawers in the NICU I came across a collection of the smallest dummies I had ever seen. Now these were tiny, but my boy was so small that even they looked too big to use on him.

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I asked the nurses about them and they told me that because Preemie babies are ventilated or need some help breathing, they can’t breast/ bottle feed and so they are fed through Nasogastric tubes. This means that they don’t develop the sucking reflex that a normal term baby does. So the NICU team, when putting together a plan to start breast/ bottle feeding a baby, include the use of a dummy throughout the day so as to encourage the baby to start sucking.

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Matthews consultants told us how invaluable these tiny dummies are and that these little tools are fundamental in helping babies learn how to suck. They told us that all of the nonsensical arguments people have about the use of dummies in children are without evidence, and in actual fact that the use of dummies in babies can reduce the risk of cot death.

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They told us the only issues with them are wear and tear and they therefore have to be cleaned and changed regularly, as well as that if they are used in excess by children who are teething, they can cause a rash on their chin, due to the over stimulated saliva.

These are the educated facts and findings of children’s doctors, and in particular, doctors who specialise in saving the lives of the most vulnerable and sickest of children.

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Matthew is almost 2 and still uses his dummy, but selectively. If he’s tired and wanting to cuddle he needs one along with his cuddle blanket. However, he will go to bed and be able to sleep all night without one. So much so that we have never had to get up through the night to give him his dummy.

My opinion on the matter is simply this… If he wants one, he can have one.

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I don’t care about the dirty looks and judgement from strangers, that means nothing. I think instead of reading through angry and “I know best” mum forums , I’ll just stick to the findings and advice of some of the most intelligent people I know, and  wean him off them at his own pace.


Then There Was You… Final Part

When I think back on those first days and weeks it seems like it all passed in the blink of an eye. However living it was an entirely different story. Days felt like they would never end, and taking our boy home seemed like it was light years away. It was 12 days before I held him in my arms, and even though this was the best thing that happened to us at the time, it just made me realise how much longer our journey would be.

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He was so sick that we had the “life or death” conversation more times than I care to remember. It’s one of those surreal moments in life where you have the responsibility of making the most important decision you will ever make. I will never forget the feeling and I can honestly say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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I don’t want these posts to be a long, monotonous rendition of NICU life from a mothers perspective, but I do think it’s important to share the real parts of our journey. Being unprepared was the worst part for me. I’m a self-confessed control freak and not knowing what is happening, how long its going to take and being able to fix it myself was utterly soul destroying. Needlesstosay we all got through it, despite the roller coaster ride that it was.

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Instead of going into detail about each and every adversity I will instead share all of the obstacles my boy faced in his first 4 and 1/2 months on earth.

 

  • Sepsis – including having to endure a Lumbar Puncture to rule out Meningitis.
  • Both lungs collapsing within days of each other – including having to endure the insertion of 2 separate chest drains.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension.
  • He was diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease.
  • A Patent Ductus Arteriosus (which is a hole in the heart).
  • 2 different types of Fungal Infection – one of which there was no treatment plan for. This was when we were first asked if we wanted to continue with Matthews care or let nature take its course.
  • He had several blood transfusions (into double figures).
  • He was transferred to another hospital to have a procedure to insert a Central Line as none of his veins were viable for transferring medicines via cannulas.
  • He was on life support (a ventilator breathing for him) for 10 weeks.
  • He was on Byphasic CPAP for 3 weeks.
  • He was on High Flow Oxygen for 3 weeks.
  • He spent 16 weeks in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit.
  • He spent a further 3 weeks in Special Care.
  • He came home on 0.1LPM of oxygen.
  • He has asthma.
  • He has a Dairy Intolerance.
  • He has quite severe Eczema.
  • He has been re-admitted to hospital on 4 separate occasions since we were discharged.

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There are still many issues that Matthew faces every day. He is a beautiful, smart little boy but his time spent in the NICU has had a lasting effect on him, something which might affect him for the rest of his life.

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He has some quite obvious development delays, like talking for example. He walks and runs and climbs like every other little boy his age, but he really does struggle in other areas.

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He suffers from some Sensory issues and is in fact in the early stages of an Autism diagnosis.

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He gets regular Occupational Therapy and attends a Special Needs Toddlers class, as well as having fairly regular hospital appointments with an array of Paediatric Consultants.

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Looking at him you would never know there had ever been any problems. He has no obvious physical scarring from his time in NICU. However, after spending 5 minutes in his company you would notice his lack of social skills. How scared he gets when he hears a loud noise. How unconventionally he plays with his toys. How he doesn’t ever really look you in the eye, and many more.

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As a mum it’s heartbreaking to watch your child’s inner turmoil. I am the one person who is supposed to take all his hurt and pain away. However, his condition means there isn’t a lot I can do to help him except arm myself with the knowledge I need to get him through all of the hard times he faces.

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After everything he has been through, this is just a tiny blip on the radar. He is beautiful and bright. He is funny and energetic. He is clever and adventurous. He is my perfect little human and I couldn’t be prouder to call him my son.

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What’s In My Bag – Venturing Out (Toddlers Edition)

Being a first time mum I have discovered a great many things about having a child. Things like never expecting to have a long lie ever again are obvious, but I didn’t fully understand that every time I ventured out with said child,  it would be the equivalent of moving house with all the “stuff” I’d have to bring with me.

Of course, as the tiny human grows, the list of required items to bring with us decreases. Thank goodness!

My tiny human is almost 2 and so I am happy to report our baby bag has drastically reduced in size. Here is a breakdown of the main things in his bag at the minute.

This is a “Tommee Tippee” Sippy Cup. We have tried a few different ones, but have found that while we are trying to slowly wean the tiny human off his bottles, this is the most effective cup for his water and fruit juices. He doesn’t have to use his sucking reflex to the same degree as his milk bottle and so he knows the difference between the both of them.

If someone had told me how many bibs I would need when I had a baby, I would have laughed in their face. I literally have over 50, just to let me get through the week without having to do a washing every single day! This is a must have item in every baby bag!!!

We are at the stage now where our boy can eat along with us, so it’s not necessarily a big must to have a food jar in his bag. However, he’s a toddler and can be a difficult little monkey at times, so in the instances where he refuses to eat with us, we always have his food jar to fall back on. His Biscotti snacks are a no-brainier!

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This is a given… Babies and toddlers are a messy species so Baby Wipes are an absolute necessity! Nappies for the obvious reasons and Sudocrem because it is not only a fantastic cure of nappy rash but is a soother of many other ailments (for adults too).

I used to laugh at these devices. I now not only understand their purpose but I appreciate them greatly. To restrain your tiny human when they frantically try to break free from your grip! They therefore have a permanent spot in the baby bag!!!

No explanation needed really… This is a requirement for all those moments (and there are many) when mine or the company of his daddy are no longer riveting enough to relieve his boredom. This toy in particular is great for the tiny human as it’s a Sensory one and it stimulates him as well as relieving any tension he may be feeling.

Lastly I always have spare outfit. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly he’s a toddler who loves making as much mess as any other child and secondly, if we’re at a function and he’s dressed up we can get him changed and comfortable as soon as he begins to get tired and grumpy. Nothing worse than being exhausted and stuck in your party clothes. Trust me, if I could get away with going to every function in my loungewear I would!

There are a few things that we always have with us that are missing from this list; his dummy and his cuddle blanket for instance. However these are items that he most likely has on him or with him at all times, as opposed to being in his baby bag.

My hubby and I have found that if we at least have all of the things listed above packed and ready, then our days out are generally successful ones, with as little drama as possible.


Then there was you… Part 2

The day after Matthew was born I was moved from the labouring room into a single room. I felt quite lucky being allocated a room of my own, what with having so little privacy in the open wards. It wasn’t until later on that morning that I overheard one of the midwives telling another staff member that they had put me there so I wasn’t in amongst new mums and their babies.

It broke my heart, but I felt grateful that they had thought about me in that sense.

Still unable to walk and with the doctors debating my requirement for a blood transfusion, my husband wheeled me over to the NICU to see our son. The unit was much scarier in the cold harsh light of day, with a great deal more staff there than the night before.

Matthew still looked the same. Small and fragile.

I still felt the same. Disconnected and ashamed, feelings I didn’t share with my husband.

We spoke with the doctors who told us that Matthew was doing really well considering. The pressures on his ventilator weren’t too high and they were in fact thinking about extubating him in a few days if his stats remained at such good numbers. At this point Michael and I knew nothing more than the facts and figures they were giving us and so we were content to leave every decision up to them.

A decision we did make ourselves was that we wanted to have Matthew blessed by our priest. Michael and I are both catholic and it was important to us that this ritual was carried out in case the worst should happen.

Michael contacted our priest the following day and he was at the hospital within hours, offering to baptise Matthew for us. It was just myself and Michael there standing at his bedside and despite the sense of urgency and the fleeting ceremony, it was actually a beautiful moment for us both and the first time I felt any sense of hope about our situation.

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I had been trying desperately to express milk for those first few days, but to no avail. It was important for Matthew to have breast milk ready for when the doctors started him on feeds. Breast milk was easier for his body to digest and kinder on his gut than formula, so I really felt the pressure to deliver the goods as it were.

It took 4 days, but on Sunday the 23rd of August my milk supply finally came in. I managed to express 0.6ml which sounds like nothing, but it was honestly the most rewarding feeling in the world being able to produce anything at all.

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I immediately got ready and took the syringe over to the NICU, where we were met with masked and scrubbed up doctors and nurses surrounding Matthews open incubator.

His lung had collapsed and the doctors needed to insert a chest drain to allow for the fluid and air to escape. I honestly think my heart stopped beating for those first few moments.

We of course consented and were ushered into the family room located across the corridor. Both Michael and I fell apart and held each other, waiting for news.

We waited for what felt like a lifetime. It was in fact 30 minutes. The procedure was successful and Matthew was stable and a lot more comfortable than he had been in the previous half hour.

It was in this moment that my heart swelled for this tiny boy. He was fighting for his life, already enduring more in his first few days of life than most people do in a lifetime. I felt overwhelming pride and an outburst of love and affection. The feelings and emotions missing from those first few days surged through my body like a tidal wave. I sat by his incubator, put my hand inside, placed it gently on his body and wept for my son.

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My Current Favourite Books

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I am a big fan of books. Unfortunately since having my little boy I’ve found I no longer have the time to pick up a book and get lost inside the pages like I used to. 

However… I do try to as often as I can, having even resorted to audio-books in bed once my little person is tucked up in his.

The majority of the books I’m reading at the minute are all based around parenting and motherhood in particular. I am not ashamed to say that I am that person that upon finding out I was expecting, bought all the cliché pregnancy books.

“What To Expect When You’re Expecting” was obviously my first purchase! 

So it was only logical that once said baby arrived, that I would continue on my journey through those unending pages offering the A to Z’s in parenting advice. However I’m not too into those books that are quite judgey (if that’s a word) and so my selections were based on reality and full disclosure, which is where Sarah Turner and Giovanna Fletcher come in. These books are filled with humour and wit, tears and tantrums and I’ve loved every last word!!! 

That being said, baby books are not the only thing I’m interested in. I am of course human… and in being human I share a common love and admiration of certain celebrities. In other words, like many of the millions of people around the world I love Beyoncé… Probably too much if I’m honest! Nonetheless I am currently indulging in the story of her life and I’m relishing it.

As well as those selections I am also making my way through Fearne Cottons “Happy”! 

After the birth of my son, both my body and my mind went through an unexpected and quite dramatic transformation. I found that my already crazy emotions were heightened and there were days where I just didn’t know how I would be able to function. This book has been an  amazing tool for reminding me that these feelings are ok and it provides me with a point of reference for when I’m needing a pick-me-up. 

Finally I have included Sarah Knights “The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**k”. It was part of my New Years resolution this year to stop being a ‘Yes Man’ or woman as it were, and this book has gone a long way in giving me the balls to do just that. It’s funny and life altering all in one. Just brilliant really!  

I honestly can’t recommend these books enough. I pretty much have them all on audio-book as well so there’s no excuses really for not being able to give them a go!


MUMMY MUST-HAVES (Chill Out Edition)

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Generally speaking, raising kids is hard work. Toddlers in particular I find, are like navigating your way through a minefield. They have a seemingly unending amount of energy and if my little human is anything to go by then you will spend most of your day chasing them around the house, barely having enough time to stop and get a breath.

On that basis I have come up with my favourite way to relax and unwind, while daddy takes on full toddler chasing duties. It might not be for everybody and I’m sure all of you mummies out there will have perfected your own “Chill Out” evening, but here is mine…



Face Masks!

I used to be one of those people who had a strict skincare routine, consisting of gorgeous and luxurious products with a price range that would literally bring a tear to a glass eye. However, after having my little human I have found i neither have the time nor the inclination to A. Spend all that money and B. Spend an hour of my day applying layers of serums and ointments to my face. So I have condensed my daily skin routine down to a quick 5 minute cleanse, tone and moisurise at night, and every now and again I will apply a (cheap and cheerful) Face Mask and relax for half an hour. Whether or not it actually helps my skin is by the by… it is just in the act of doing it that the relaxation portion of my evening can begin.

Wireless Headphones!

Mines weren’t particularly expensive (I think around £30 off Amazon) but they are instrumental (no pun intended) in my “Chill Out” process. Be it The Killers blasting in my ears or Ed Sheeran serenading me with just his voice and an acoustic guitar, listening to music is an essential part of my downtime. Not only is it entertaining but most good headphones are noise cancelling and can therefore block out any and all unwanted (and unwarranted) noise during this ever so sacred time.

Good Book!

Now this can be in the form of an audio-book (via the aforementioned Wireless Headphones) or a good old hard-copy that you can hold in your hand. I’m a big fan of physical books, despite in fact having both a kindle and subscription to Audible. Since having my boy I have discovered I no longer have the time to sit down and read the way I used to, so have resorted to listening to my chosen books in my bed once the tiny human is tucked up in his. This hasn’t stopped me from purchasing said books in the physical form, after all there is no better smell than that of a new book (and a new baby of course).

Hand Cream!

This is a new concept for me. My mum always told me to do it growing up, but I found it more annoying waiting to dry, than beneficial. However, as my age has increased sadly so has the dryness and amount of wrinkles on my hands, hands that are now required even more than before for lifting, feeding and holding my child. So I have made a conscientious effort to include this in my daily regime and especially during “Chill Out” time where I can use the crazy white cotton gloves that allows for the “proper absorption of the moisturiser into the skin“.

Candles/ Nice Scents!

For many it’s the fresh, sweet smell of flowers. For me its a Scentsy Wax Bar melted into one of my burners. I find there is nothing more soothing than a darkened room, the wafting of a pleasant fragrance and the flickering of candlelight. It creates a warm and cosy atmosphere that would unwind even the most tormented soul… And a BIG must on my “Chill Out” list of essentials.

Snacks!

Lastly and by no means least… I need snacks. Be it chocolate, cake, or crisps… No relaxed evening is complete without a delicious little snack to indulge in. Chocolate is a no brainer for me. Not only is it delicious but it is scientifically proven to release serotonin into the brain… It quite literally makes you happy… What is not to love???


So there you have it ladies and gents, the Preemie Mummy recommended “Must-Haves” to make any moment of child-free time as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. The most difficult part is finding the time to enjoy it!