Monday, 8 October 2018

I now have a 4 year old

Squidge looking adorable on a lump of wood in the woods

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Squidge is now 4 years old. Where have the last 4 years gone? It’s funny, I’ve been fine at him turning different ages, not emotional, just excited for him, but this time I’ve found it quite tough. The difference in his development from age 3-4 has been incredible, and much more noticeable compared to previous years. He’s transformed from a toddler who no one other than me and a couple of others can understand, to a smart, funny, silly, loving little boy.

He still wants lots of mummy cuddles, and tells me he loves me 100 times a day (I never tire hearing that), but I can now see that he’s relying less on us as he’s able to do more for himself. I think what has made it more emotional is knowing we’re not having any more children, we decided to stop at two for lots of reasons – we’d need to buy a bigger house, new cars, I’d be 40 by then which brings its own risks, and we want to be grateful for what we have – two wonderful healthy smart little boys. But emotionally, I’m not done. I would love to have another, but it’s not on the cards.

Me tickling Squidge on my lap in the woods

Anyway, back to Squidge. This last year we’ve seen him become a lovely thoughtful big brother (ok, it’s not all rainbows and lollipops, he can get very angry with his little brother and too rough, but for the most part he’s great with him), his speech has come on leaps and bounds, he’s learning a second language (Welsh) and doing very well with it, he’s started gymnastics classes, he’s progressed so much with swimming classes that he now doesn’t need anyone to go in the pool with him! You just never know when these last times are going to happen do you?

He’s always been a pretty good sleeper, with the exception of the odd night terror (usually around 10:45pm) – he still gets those, but they only happen maybe once a month, whereas they used to be a couple times a week. He typically wakes up happy, the only exception to that is when we have to wake him up really early in the week for School and he’s still very tired. We physically can’t get him to bed any earlier than we do in the week, we’re not home until about 6pm (sometimes later), and the kids bedtime is 7:30 (they often don’t finish eating until 7:20).

Squidge running towards the camera

He loves playing with his toy cars, especially now that he's had an influx of new ones for his birthday (thanks to all his friends), he's getting into Lego too. One thing I'm having trouble convincing him to do is crafts - he used to love it when he was younger - getting card out and doing some painting or sticking, but he's just not interested any more. He prefers to play on the Xbox (car driving games) or iPad (Sago mini games) although to be fair he's spending less time on them now too - doesn't go on them every day etc.

He's just growing up so incredibly fast I can't keep up. Anyway, hubby is snoring behind me, I'd better go and do the washing up/express/make lunch for tomorrow :) 

Did you find it emotional when your little ones turned 4? Any tips on coping with stopping having babies when you want more?
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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A magical weekend

Dot in his new Micralite pram
In the lead up to this last bank holiday weekend, I wanted to do something every day with the kids. It didn’t have to be anything big, but take them out somewhere and do something nice. There were a few things on my radar to go to and I made sure we did all of them. The weekend could have easily been a bad one if we’d let it, one of the mornings Squidge was acting up (Sat morning), and over the weekend Dot was really unhappy, crying a lot, after his failed dairy challenge (more on that soon). But we didn’t let it put us off, and as per usual, both kids were complete poppets when we were out.

Friday

Dot pulling a funny face

I don’t work Friday’s, and I usually treat a Friday as a cosy day at home with the kids, just me and them, I love Fridays. But this Friday I had errands to run, I had to go to the post office to return some things, I wanted to get Squidge measured for new school shoes, and Dot measured for his first shoes. And ideally, I wanted to go to Caerphilly castle to see the new maze and dragon’s lair. We managed to get the post office done, and the shoe shopping, but then it hammered down, and I didn’t fancy the castle (outdoors) in heavy rain. So we popped to the bakery, got some nice bread and headed home. I promised Squidge we’d find time for Caerphilly castle over the weekend.

Saturday

Butterfly

Dragon's lair at Caerphilly Castle

To make the most of the weather, we decided to do this on Saturday as no rain was forecast. Squidge loved the butterfly zoo (he was too young to remember the first time we took him (maybe about 8 months old). But as much as he loved it, he was bored after 15 mins, he is only 3 after all, and was excited about the hedge maze. So off we went, he wanted him and Daddy to go left, and Dot and I to go right (me knowing I can’t get to the middle of the maze if I go right…), so off we went! Well, it went as well as you can imagine, Squidge and hubby found the middle of the maze in about 5 mins, I was stuck in there for 16 mins until they came to find me, lol. After that we sat down and had our picnic. It was still pretty early, about 1:30, so we decided to head back to Caerphilly and go straight to the castle (as I’d promised) to do their new maze and visit the Dragon’s Lair. Squidge loved it! He listened to the dragon’s story in Welsh and English, and then ran off to explore the castle to find the maze. He particularly loved the bit where he got soaked with water, he’d have stood there all day getting soaked if I’d let him.

I recorded a vlog of the day, you can watch it here :)

Sunday

Roast dinner

We wanted a quieter day on Sunday, so after lunch we packed ourselves off in the torrential rain and headed off to a new-to-us t-rex themed soft play. Both kids had an absolute blast! It’s set up along one wall, so parents can sit and have a cuppa, while the kids play and you can keep your eyes on them. There was an area for smaller kids, and Dot loved that – his first experience of soft play, and playing with other kids. He was nervous at first, but then just wanted to go down the slide again and again and again : ) It was a pretty terrifying drive for me, I don’t like driving down country lanes at the best of times, but when I have to force the car to drive through puddles that look like we could swim through, I get very scared!

Monday

hubby and kids at the royal mint

the royal mint
An olympic medal

We knew we wanted to go somewhere, probably a national trust place, but we didn’t know where. Squidge had been to our favourite NT place twice in the last week or so, and the weather wasn’t looking great. We were tired from the weekend and didn’t want to do anything big. After a bit of Googling I found the Royal Mint Experience (in Llantrissant, 25 mins from us). Perfect – a tour of the mint, strike a coin, and back home. It was great! Fun to see them being made in the factory and Squidge loved it. We had a picnic sat outside on the benches after, and then headed home (via Tesco so I could buy what I needed to make an apple crumble for pudding).

All in all a lovely weekend. Kids were happy, in fact, so happy from the weekend, it took them an age to fall asleep Monday night, hopefully they’ll sleep better tonight as GBBO and a cup of tea is calling : )

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Monday, 13 August 2018

My breastfeeding journey

My children

You might say my breastfeeding journey started with Squidge was born, in October 2014. It'd never entered my head that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed, I honestly never realised that could be a thing. I'd bought a bottle and a steraliser, but that was for expressed milk, although stupidly I'd bought 12 bottles (why on earth did I buy so many?!).

When Squidge was born we had skin to skin about 10 mins after, he had to be resuscitated first as he didn't breathe on his own, and he remained very blue. But after a few mins he was absolutely perfect and ready for his first cuddles, and I was ready for my first cuddle as a mummy. After maybe 30-60 mins (I honestly can't really remember how long) the nurse told me he needed to feed (especially as I had gestational diabetes), I said I wanted to breastfeed, she tried to get him to latch but couldn't, so she expressed some milk from me and gave him that in a syringe.

Off I was wheeled to the ward, where we had another couple attempts to feed, again unsuccessful. They handed me a load of syringes, and off I went, spending every waking moment through the night frantically expressing and making my nipples super sore, so he could have my colostrum. They checked his blood sugars, and they were frighteningly low. They said I had two hours to get his sugars up, or he was going to be taken to the special care baby unit (SCBU). They brought down a heat lamp and put that over him. He had my colostrum, but it was deemed not enough to bring his sugars up, and the midwives gave him formula via a cup. Up his sugars went, and SCBU was avoided. Fantastic. 

Breastfeeding Dot in the woods, black and white

A day or two later we were sent home, having never had a successful breastfeed, despite that being my chosen feeding method. I wasn't given any details of support groups, or anything like that. After getting home, hubby rushes out to buy a load of ready made formula. Despite my best intentions, I wasn't going to let Squidge starve. It's not like I didn't have any milk (that came in on day 4), but he wouldn't latch, every time I brought him to the breast he screamed and screamed and screamed and it didn't stop until he was fed a bottle. I tried for weeks, and we never had so much as one full successful feed.

A breastfeeding support worker did randomly turn up at our house the day after we got back, which was great, she got him to latch, with the use of a nipple shield, but it was only for a minute or two. That was it. I felt so awful. I was expressing every 2-3 hours, but not getting much milk each time, so whereas I wanted him to be fed my breastmilk and only topped up with formula, the opposite was the reality. After 6 weeks, my milk completely dried up, I sobbed my heart out. I felt like I'd failed him, and in all honesty, I still feel like that. I know I could have tried harder, and I should have, but I didn't, I gave up.

Fast forward 2 years and 10 months, and lovely little Dot arrives. This time I'm adamant I'm going to make it work. Dot is born, and plonked straight on my chest for skin to skin, and after 2 mins whisked away for some suction, and brought right back (we sadly didn't get the delayed clamping I wanted, but that's ok). He stayed cwtched up to me on my chest for what felt like hours, it was wonderful, I drank in every second of it (even while I was being stitched up). I expected a midwife to come and weigh him, but I think they were busy. About 3+ hrs after he was born, I buzz a midwife and ask for him to be weight so we can feed him. They weigh him (8lb 10.5 oz) and with that my inlaws arrive. A support worker walks in with a bottle of formula, and before I knew what was going on, he was being given his first feed. Formula. 

Dot breastfeeding, close up

The next day or so are a bit of a haze. I can't even remember how long I was in hospital for. I do remember being given a private room, and really struggling to get Dot to latch on. I had midwife after midwife come in and tell me he had to be in the rugby ball hold because I had big boobs, but it didn't work, he hated it. I tried lying down, that didn't work either. Eventually while there we had a couple successful small feeds, but I wasn't confident I was leaving hospital as a breastfeeding mum. He'd had a lot of formula top ups, but I was still determined to make breast work. Every feed I tried, and each time it got a little easier than the last, and slowly over the course of the next few weeks, we dropped the formula top ups from just being around midnight and 3am(ish) or if we were out and about, to none at all, he was now an exclusively breastfed baby. But it wasn't without it's trials.

About two weeks into our journey, I developed horrendous pain in my nipples. I felt like I was passing shards of glass every time he fed. My left nipple was cracked and infected, and my left breast was in agony, it was red and very hot to touch, and so so so tender. After getting home from the hospital, a local breastfeeding support group text me with their number. I called them as I was in so much pain, and within an hour someone was out to help. I had blocked ducts on top of the other issues, but when I expressed off the left breast, no milk came out at all, not even one drop. I went to the Drs and was diagnosed with mastitis and given antibiotics. It cleared up pretty quickly, but as the pain had been so bad, and my ducts blocked, Dot wouldn't feed on the left, and as such, my supply in that breast dropped (and has never recovered).

It's now a year on (give or take a day or two), and we're still going strong. It's been a tough journey, even recently I'm battling pain in the right nipple as his latch is still shallow (lazy) and his top teeth are grazing my nipple, but we persevere. He doesn't sleep through the night, he wakes to feed every couple hours, and you know what, I couldn't care less. I love the bond we have, I love feeding him, I love knowing the nourishment he gets from it and the comfort. I don't plan on stopping any time soon, I'm happy to take his lead, he'll know when he's ready and when that time comes, we'll stop.

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