Friday, 14 August 2015

Happy Birthday, Sweetling.

I wasn't expecting you.
I knew you were coming, of course.
But I didn't know your arrival would bring tears,
Tears that ran down my cheeks and gently wet your newborn skin as the midwives bustled around us.
When my boy held so much much of my heart, I wasn't expecting to have enough love left,
Not just to love you,
But to love you so much, and so differently, that my heart hurts.
I wasn't expecting you to be so different, sweetling,
And for those differences to make my breath catch.
Your brother made the sun shine on cloudy days,
And you have brought the rainbow.
When you crawl to me and lay your sweet head on my lap,
I wish that I could put those moments in boxes,
And open them one day,
That I may never forget how you were in that moment...for 100,000 photographs are never enough.
We have had a rollercoaster year, you and I,
You have learnt to crawl and point and clap your hands and say "That!"
I have learnt that some days I don't have the patience for two, and that some days that's ok.
We've had worry and poorly nights and hospital visits and the best first family holiday we could wish for.
I wish you a very happy first birthday, sweetling.
May every year be so bright.
I wish you love, happiness and adventure in equal measure,
And maybe, just a smidgeon, of sleep.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Wear all the babies

I'm not what you would call a crunchy mama. I did dabble in cloth nappies for a while. But homebirthing, homeschooling, elimination communication...I admire those mamas, but I'm not that mama.

I am the mama who occasionally resorts to junk food because I ran out of time and the cupboards are empty. I am the mama who thanks the CBeebies gods for delivering entertainment when I need to cook dinner and my children are not cooperating. I am the mama who bribed her son to potty train.

But I am also the mama who babywears.

When my son was born, I carried him for a short time with a stretchy wrap. When he outgrew the wrap, he went in the pushchair and seemed content. Using a pushchair seemed to be the norm and it didn't occur to me to do anything different.

And then my daughter came along. She didn't like the pushchair, she wanted to be held. Not only that but my son was going through the wonderful stage of running away from me in public places. The few times that happened when I was using a pushchair, I had the heart stopping decision of whether to stay with my baby or run after my toddler. That's not a feeling I want to repeat.

It seemed only natural then to keep my daughter in a sling. It started with the stretchy wrap and then I moved on to soft-structured carriers (SSCs). Lately, to the dismay of my husband(!), I've also been trying out woven wraps and I'm discovering even more sides of baby wearing.

My daughter is now 9 months old. I still carry her almost every day and I can see that changing for a long time. While I started baby-wearing out of necessity, now it's something I wouldn't change. I love that my daughter is at the same level as me. I see the world with her eyes and tell her about it as we walk. I can nip to the shops in my town without having to negotiate endless sets of steps with a buggy. I have two hands free to play with my son and keep him safe. It keeps me fit. And when she's tired, my daughter snuggles in to fall as asleep just as she did on her first day in the world 9 months ago.

I'd love to hear what your favourite slings and wraps are!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Being My Child's Voice

I hastily refastened the poppers on my daughter's sleepsuit and scooped her up off the bed before sinking into a chair in front of the doctor. He was looking at me with a solemn expression, a mixture of apology and uncertainty in his eyes as he said those words that every parent dreads to hear, "I think she needs to go in". I didn't need to ask where. She had a rocketing temperature, a racing pulse and couldn't keep antibiotics or antipyretics down. We both knew she needed a little help.

The next 7 hours at the hospital, before the doctors finally let my daughter fall into an uneasy slumber around 2am, were a haze of obs, rehydration fluids, tests and examinations. She was being treated for a suspected kidney infection, dehydration and fever.
I confess that there was a really low point in there around 1am. I'd been standing at my daughter's bedside for more than 2.5hrs trying to catch a urine sample. Every 10 minutes I had to feed her an electrolyte solution. She would nearly doze off in between doses before she was jolted awake again. It was day 5 of her illness and both of us were exhausted. I asked the doctors to use a catheter to get a sample and they refused, saying it was too invasive. It left me in tears. Surely after that amount of time, the ends justified the means? She clearly needed to start treatment and, right then, she desperately needed to be able to sleep. I found myself flashing back to the day after my son was born when he was readmitted for low blood sugar. The doctors had instructed a nurse to put a tube into his stomach to force feed him when he refused milk only 1hr after taking 3ozs. I remembered how helpless I had felt then, how I was so angry with myself because my instincts had screamed that this was all wrong and yet I had blindly trusted. It was that memory that made me request the catheter and that memory that brought tears when they refused. After 3 yrs I was here again and still failing to be the advocate my child needed. I did the only thing I could do. I brushed the hair from my daughter's tired eyes and promised that we'd make her better soon.

Nearly a day later things were looking up. My daughter's temperature was under control and, despite some vomiting, she'd kept down most of her medication so they discharged her with instructions to call if the fever didn't subside. I'm hopeful that we're nearing the end of this bump in the road. She's more perky today, despite looking exhausted.

I wanted to write this because, probably more than any other challenge in our role as parents, being our child's voice is hard. Really hard. It's impossible to know whether you're making the right choices, fighting the right battles, particularly when those battles question medical advice.

All I wanted to say is...listen to those around you, research, form opinions and, more than anything else, trust your gut. You're a good parent and you know your child and their cues better than anyone. Believe in that.