babies · children · Food & Drink · Lifestyle · Skincare

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!

babies · children · Lifestyle · Uncategorized

Then There Was You… Part 1

I’ve spoken before about our difficulties in getting pregnant and I had no immediate intention of delving into the deep and dark NICU days, but I’ve recently been inspired by one of the lovely ladies I follow, to share our story.

It’s a long and arduous one, that’ll take a few posts to cover but here goes. 

On the morning of Wednesday the 19th of August 2015 at 10:54, after a difficult and tumultuous 4 day labour, my son Matthew was born. 

He weighed 1 pound and 9 ounces. He could quite literally fit in my hand. 

His skin, red and angry, was so thin and transparent that I could see the deep blue veins running throughout his tiny body. 

Our first encounter was one of panic and fear. This fragile little being , resting on my hip, still attached to his cord. 

I watched, wide eyed, as his little heart pulsated rapidly out from his bony chest. His tiny legs kicking as if uncontrollably against my thigh. Those same kicks, I felt mere hours ago inside me.

He lay there for 1 minute exactly, as the Neo-Natal team watched intently, before cutting the cord and carrying him to the heated Cot on the opposite side of the room. 

I didn’t see him again until 10pm that night. Almost 12 hours later.

My husband and mum were able to see him once he was settled in the Neo-Natal unit but because I had a Haemorrhage and Retained Placenta, I had to go to Theatre. 

After being in Recovery for a few hours I was taken back to my room and waited anxiously and impatiently until they were able to take me over. Too weak to walk and with a catheter still inserted I had to be wheeled over in my hospital bed. 

The NICU was foreign territory for me. I had no idea what to expect, other than what my husband had already told me. 

The first thing I remember was the beeping noises. Little did I know after hearing them for the first time, that they would become the soundtrack to that entire experience. 

So, I was positioned next to Matthew, who was tucked away inside what looked like a mammoth sized Incubator.  His tiny face was covered, showing only his closed eyes and the smallest of openings for his mouth, which had a long tube coming out of it in order to help him breathe. I could hear the noise from the ventilator as it pumped tiny breaths into his lungs, and with every breath his chest rose up and down. 


He was heavily sedated so wasn’t moving much and he had several wires attached to his body via miniscule needles injected into his limbs. 

It was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen. 

My beautiful, helpless little baby, kept alive by machines and an abundance of drugs that were pumping through the inky blue veins that protruded his wafer-thin skin. 

I’m ashamed to admit that in that moment I didn’t feel a maternal connection to my son. 

He didn’t look like the the blonde haired, blue eyed little boy I had dreamed of and envisioned when I felt him move about inside me. He didn’t resemble the chubby little squidgy baby I had hoped to hold in my arms after giving birth. He was alien looking. I was frightened of him. He looked so delicate that I feared my very touch would be cause him pain. But reluctantly, and after being encouraged by his nurse, I put my hand inside the incubator and stroked his back. 

He barely moved.

The guilt I felt just watching him was unbearable. 

All I could think of was that I’d failed. 

I am a woman. My job as a woman is to carry a child, and bring that child safely into the world. 

What kind of a woman am I that I can’t even do that… something that my body was made solely for? 

All I could see when I looked at my son was how much I had failed him. That I had brought this baby into the world and subjected him to all of this pain and trauma, and all because I couldn’t do my job as a woman. 

And now I didn’t even feel a connection to him. That instant moment of love and pure joy was missing. 

What kind of mother doesn’t feel a connection to their own child? 

Still I smiled and posed for the camera when my husband took our first photograph together… My son and I.Smiling on the outside, and torn apart on the inside, I felt completely alone and full of shame. What’s should have been the happiest day of my life, was one of my darkest. 

Lifestyle

What I Eat In A Day – Toddler Edition

As a first time mum I have been lucky enough to have a baby that hasn’t had many problems with feeding. He has always been a hungry boy who even as a baby in the NICU always enjoyed his feeds. 

From Breast Milk (Donor EBM) to Prescription Formula, then to the weaning process. It’s always been a relatively easy transition. 

That was until we tried regular cows milk. 

Matthew seemed to enjoy the taste and didnt have any sort of aversion, however he began to be quite sickly and over time we noticed skin rashes appearing.

Long story short he was diagnosed with reflux and he has a Dairy intolerance so we had to substitute his cows milk with Soya milk… a change he took to without a problem. 

So here is an example of what Matthew eats in a day. Bear in mind he is a 20 month old toddler (16 months corrected), weighing approximately 10kg (or 22lbs).

Breakfast


He had a bowl of Ready Brek with Alpro Growing Up Soya Milk. Sometimes I’ll add puréed fruit but this morning it was just plain.

Mid-Morning Snack


Matthew loves these Wafers and we find that they are the ideal snack for him between meals. 

Lunch


We had an Occupational Therapy appointment today and so Matthew didn’t have a solid lunch, instead he had a 6oz Bottle. 

His lunch is always determined by how he’s feeling on a daily basis. If he’s playing and is quite active around lunch time then I will feed him solid food like pasta or risotto. However, on days like today where he was tired and grumpy after his therapy, he is more inclined to want to cuddle on the couch with me and drink a bottle.

Afternoon Snacks


Matthew loves these little biscuits. We buy a lot of the Organix range and in fact it was the Organix Porridges that Matthew first ate when we were weaning him. These come in a few different flavours and 2 of them in the afternoon are often really satisfying for him. 

Dinner


Doesn’t look particularly appetising but my boy loves it. It was Sweet Potato with Carrots, Onions and puréed pork. He devoured it!

Supper


Matthews last meal of the day is always his bottle. He’s still young enough that he needs this to settle him at night. He has 9oz every night and it knocks him off to sleep at around 8.30pm.

So there we have it,m. Today was a good day eating wise. He’s been quite unwell for the last month and so trying to get his appetite and eating back up to scratch has been challenging. 

However, he’s definitely getting there and he’s gaining weight at a good and steady rate so we are a happy mum & dad! 


babies · children · Lifestyle

Having a Toddler with Sensory Issues!

Today was Matthews first day at his new Toddler Group.

This is a group for babies and toddlers with special needs. There were only 6 kids there, including Matthew, so already a much more intimate group for him than his previous Toddler Group (where there were 16-20 kids there).

The class is led by a Speech & Language Therapist, an Occupational Therapist and an Early Childhood Development Assistant, so instantly I felt like Matthew was in good hands.

The kids and their parents/ carers were all lovely and were full of kind words and advice, and it was nice to not have that feeling of guilt whenever Matthew acted up because they all understood.

Amongst the 5 other kids were a mixture of disabilities (I hate that word) ranging from Cerebral Palsy, Dysphagia (problems with swallowing food/ drink), Autism to Hypotonia (a muscular disease).

Matthew was born 4 months premature and so has certain developmental delays. However, as well as the delays he also has certain other sensory problems and “disabilities”:

✦He is affected by certain noises.
✦He doesn’t like be be touched or held (unless it’s his choice).
✦He is frightened and overwhelmed by large groups/ crowds.
✦He has a very high pain tolerance (will hit himself in the head and doesn’t react).
✦He’s very frantic when playing and doesn’t play with his toys in a constructive way.
✦He doesn’t speak any words (except dada) and grunts to communicate.
✦He puts everything he can pick up in his mouth.

I often convince myself that these issues aren’t important or that they don’t exist and this isn’t helpful to anyone. Let me just say though, it’s not because I’m in denial about it, it’s just that he’s such a gifted little boy in so many other ways that it’s easy to forget he has so many other struggles.

Anyway, the class went well. He had a mid-level meltdown for a good 20 minutes because the class all cheered after their first song (this is a big trigger for Matthew as my family will all attest to). He enjoyed the actual songs, but was anticipating a “Yayyy” after every song (which they deliberately didn’t do because it upset him) and had a great big outburst after each one.

He really enjoyed the second part of the class which was more of an independent play session, but again he didn’t play with the toys in a constructive manner, despite the therapists and development assistant encouraging him.

They assured me that he handled the first class very well and that they will work on helping him overcome and improve on some of the issues he has and hopefully he will be participating and at least enjoying the interactive part of the class in the next few weeks.

It’s the most hopeful I’ve felt in such a long time.

babies · children · Lifestyle

Alternative Easter Goodies!

Happy Easter lovelies!

Any Holiday that promotes the consumption of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate is a good one in my books.

Except of course, if like my boy, you have a Dairy Intolerance! 😦

So because of this we have had to go down the Alternative Easter Goodies route. It’s important to note that a Matthews age it isn’t really a big deal, however these are a few different ideas we and our family have come up with:

 

 

Let me be clear, I am absolutely not an advocate of showering kids with a mountain of gifts on days like today. If Matthew didn’t have a Dairy intolerance then he would have been given an Easter Egg just like every other child. These were just some of the gifts we and our family bought him so as to not leave him out on a public Holiday which is primarily celebrated through the consumption of Milk Chocolate Eggs!

On that basis, I am now away to eat all of the chocolate in the house!!!

babies · children · Lifestyle · Skincare

How we deal with baby/ infant Eczema!

As I’ve previously shared, my son was born prematurely and with this comes several potential problems. Due to being subjected to several rounds of antibiotics as a baby, as well as having mine and his dads allergy-ridden genes, he has become a sufferer a few different allergies, including Eczema.

When it first appeared, it was very minimal. Just dry flakes of skin on the tops of his arms. It seemed to be kept at bay with daily moisturising. However about 8 months ago it started to spread and became more severe.

At this time I began to google information and images of it in the hope that I would find some miracle cure, which I didn’t. In fact some of the images I found were so severe that they made me think my boy had gotten off easy.

However with the rapid growth of the condition, came another issue.

Scratching!

This was so much worse than just looking at dry, flaky patches of skin ruining my baby boys otherwise perfect complexion. He was scratching so hard that it was becoming inflamed and at certain points the skin would break and bleed.

Now, the thing with Matthew in particular is that he doesn’t really experience pain in the same way we do. He has sensory issues and because of this he will scratch until his skin is completely raw.

My husband and I had to take action.

We spoke with my Health Visitor who referred Matthew to a Dermatologist.  This would be a few weeks waiting, so in the meantime our GP prescribed Matthew an anti-fungal & steroid ointment as well as cream for moisturising.

For the first few days this combination seemed to help keep the itching at bay, but it soon returned and with vengeance. Our appointment with the Dermatologist was brought forward because of this and Matthew was prescribed a stronger Steroid cream.

This worked wonders for a good few weeks, until once again it just stopped being effective. His condition worsened considerably, to the extent that it was all over his body, from head to toes.

I felt completely desperate. My beautiful boy was in pain all the time, scratching his lovely face and body for some sort of relief, which was only making the patches of skin even more inflamed and painful for him.

It was then, as if by fate, that I came across a post on Facebook of a mum who had experienced the same problem with her little girl. She had discovered a brand called Child’s Farm, who specialise in dermatologically tested skincare products for children. They make Bubble Bath’s, Body Oils, Moisturisers and all manner of products related to children’s skincare. So I bought some of their products and tried them out. Within an hour of use, I noticed a difference.

Matthews skin was less red and angry. He was scratching less and just seemed much more comfortable. We were elated!

Of course, it didn’t solve all the problems, but it did give us a better understanding of the type of skin regiment that seems to work for Matthew. I know it won’t work for every child, but I thought it would at least be helpful sharing our process in case you are a mum or dad at your wits end and you haven’t yet tried this.

So here goes:

  • Every morning we apply one of three steroid creams/ ointments to the patches of skin effected. (We have found this to be the most effective way to ensure the best results. Using the same one over and over again eventually becomes less effective at lessening his symptoms). We use Eumovate Ointment, Daktacort Hydrocortisone and Betamethasone Valerate. (All of these were prescribed by our GP)
  • We follow this with either Child’s Farm Coconut Body Oil, Child’s Farm Moisturiser or Oilatum.  (Child’s Farm products were bought online at their website, but are available in Boots – Oilatum was prescribed by our GP)
  • We bathe on alternate nights so as to prevent Matthews skin getting too dry. On bath nights we use Child’s Farm Baby Bubble Bath in warm water (37 degrees Celsius). Matthew is washed with Child’s Farm Baby Wash, which we use to wash his hair as well as his body.
  • After his bath we pat dry his skin and apply Eumovate Ointment to the effected patches of skin, once again followed by Child’s Farm Coconut Body Oil, Child’s Farm Moisturiser or Oilatum.
  • We also use Epaderm Ointment on a regular basis throughout the day to Matthews elbows, backs of legs and any other folds and creases in his skin. This is a very gentle ointment not unlike Vaseline in its properties. It’s definitely not a necessary part of his skincare routine, but we have used it since he was born and so it’s more of a habit, but certainly doesn’t hurt. (This was prescribed by our GP)

We apply his prescribed creams/ ointments twice a day, in the morning and at night before bed. His Moisturisers are always applied after these treatments, however I often apply them sporadically throughout the day if I feel his skin is needing it.

The most important thing we’ve learned about this process is that we need to keep his skin as moisturised as possible. Missing just one opportunity to do this can result in a breakout and it takes far longer to rectify the issue than just to stick with this skincare regiment.

It has taken 8 months to find what works for us and it has been the most soul destroying time of our lives, helplessly watching our little boy suffer. Hopefully anybody going through the same thing with their wee one finds this useful and if you would like anymore information please get in touch with me. 33852315732_b7a1a777d8_o33968583176_ca6977498e_o33624308340_b55bf55f4e_o33166396944_e65127f39f_o

Lifestyle

Trying Trying Trying… Pt 3

Apologies for this follow up post taking so long. It’s been a crazy few weeks and time has quite literally gotten away from me. We have all been struck down with every sick and flu virus going and even now, I still feel like i’m at deaths door.

Anyway…

Michael and I were just going through the pregnancy motions. Picking up bits and pieces every time we were out shopping, and excitedly imagining  the amazing potential few months ahead of us.

I started showing at the start of August.

The tiniest little bump started to emerge and my clothes began to feel so uncomfortable that I resorted to wearing leggings with every outfit (one of the best parts of being pregnant)!

On the 14th of August I was attending my cousins Hen Party. I felt quite run down, but nothing out of the ordinary. Just tired.

It was later on that night, after going to the bathroom that I felt a bit strange. TMI moment coming here, but I had a funny discharge on my underwear and something just felt wrong.

I put it down to just feeling tired and thought I might have been coming down with the flu. My bones were aching and I just wanted to lie down. So I went home.

I awoke the next day feeling even worse, and I was still having a strange discharge.

It wasn’t until dinner time that night that I noticed something completely out of the ordinary.

I was having a tightening in my stomach, that kept coming and going. So after about 20 minutes I decided to pay attention and time it. They were coming every 10 minutes and were lasting around about 30-40 seconds. No pain as such, just a weird cramping sensation.

After speaking to Michael, I decided to call Midwifery Triage to get their opinion on the matter. The lady I spoke to was lovely. She said it sounded like i might have a urine infection but advised me to head up just for a quick check.

We casually made our way to the hospital, thinking at the very worst, I would be sent home with an antibiotic.

We were shown into an examination room and a midwife, along with a junior doctor came in and asked me to lay on the bed and prepare for an internal examination just to check everything was ok.

This is already an extremely uncomfortable thing to do, not necessarily in terms of pain but with regards to your dignity…

It is quite simply left at the door.

So i reluctantly got myself ready for examination and lay back counting the seconds till it was over… when I was frightened within an inch of my life by the shriek that came from the midwife.

“Stop stop stop”! She instructed the junior doctor.

“Do not go any further… Slowly and carefully remove the speculum”!

She then ever so calmly made her way to the top of the bed where Michael and I were waiting to find out what was going on. She gently pushed past Michael and pressed a red button on the wall behind him and an alarm sounded off in the corridor.

That’s when she bent down next to me and said, “Danielle don’t be alarmed, but we can see your waters and it would appear you are in pre-term labour. The room is about to fill with a number of medical staff, but they are all here to help so just try to stay calm”.

Calm???

Not possible!

The next few minutes, hours and days were a blur. I was medicated to the max with steroids, antibiotics and all other sorts of drugs to try and slow down the labour. I managed a further 4 days holding onto Matthew before he was born, breech and weighing a mere 1 pound 9 ounces.

My angel was laid onto my hip for a full minute before being whisked away from me, for what would turn out to be the most difficult 4 and a half months of our lives…

But that’s a whole other chapter…