They F*ck You Up

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

Yep. Philip Larkin hit the nail on the head with ‘This Be The Verse’. We can all probably attribute some of our issues to our parents and the way they did (or in some cases didn’t) raise us. Even if they did their absolute best Even if they were attentive and doting and as mumsy and dadsy as could be. 

And if we know that our parents messed us up then we have to know that we’re messing our kids up. And we can’t stop because we don’t even know we’re doing it.

But it works the other way too.

They fuck you up, those kids you had.

They make you feel helpless, useless and like you’ve lost control.

And that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for the last ten days. I don’t mean that I haven’t been coping with the general parenting stuff or that I’m tired or my house is a tip. Well yeah, that too. But it’s more serious and it’s got me feeling like absolute crap. To the point that I couldn’t face writing any blog posts or even watching tv. I just wanted to cry and sleep. Sleep brought sweet relief from having to think. 

You might have read about my baby Zaki and his heart. Open heart surgery and a 3 week stint in intensive care saved his life but he so very nearly died and life was hell for a while. Then it got better and I dared to think that we might be in for an easier ride for a while. Because we deserved it after what we’d been through, didn’t we?

I know it doesn’t really work that way but I thought that after something so awful, that was our fair share of crapness done with and there’d be nothing else major coming up. But yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

IMG_6459

 

I’m not quite ready to explain just yet but there are things going on with my oldest boy that are breaking my heart. I don’t have proper answers yet but what I do know is that we’re going to be in for a tough time of it. Again. And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself because quite frankly, it’s not bloody fair.

I’ve been a total mess but I’m starting to pull myself together now, for his sake, so I can get him the help he needs. I’ve done an awful lot of crying and wallowing though and I’m guessing there’s more to come.

See, this is how our kids fuck us up. They make us vulnerable because anything that hurts them or impacts on them in a negative way, hurts us a million times more. And I’ll be honest, I find it hard to deal with. Especially when everything is totally out of my control and nothing I do will change the outcome.

I’m sure it’s not healthy to love our kids to the extent that we do. For our whole happiness and wellbeing to depend on their happiness and wellbeing just cannot be healthy. And that’s how they fuck us up.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Lately I’ve found myself telling people they really ought to consider not having any kids… ‘I mean, if you can live without them, do. Don’t put yourself through it…’ I said.

Now that my kids are here I love them with every fibre of my being, of course. I couldn’t live without them. But if I could stop my currently childless friends going through the pain that they bring, I would. I don’t buy into the ‘oh you need the tough times to appreciate the good times‘ school of thought either. I can do without the tough times. Honestly. They do nothing for me.

Just give me the good times, please. I promise I’ll appreciate them.

 

Project 366 – Day… who knows?!

Predictably, I’m woefully behind with Project 366. Once the OCD of keeping up to date wears off, full on laziness sets in. I have a photo from each day, I just haven’t uploaded them yet. 

  
Anyway, here is yesterday’s photo. That’s the 21st February. I’ll have to work out which Project 366 day that is when I catch up. 

Omar looks so different without all of his big bouncy curls. I don’t think I like it. The curls must stay. 

At What Age Should I Leave My Baby Overnight?

It started when my baby was 4 months old – my friends suggesting I leave him for a day and night to hang out with them. They are good friends, great friends, and I have no doubt they believed it would be good for me to be away from my kids for a night. To relax, to eat a meal without being interrupted every 10 seconds and to get some gorgeous, uninterrupted, deep sleep. It does sound good. Especially the sleep part. That sounds marvellous actually.

At 4 months old I wasn’t ready to leave my baby
But it was never going to happen that early on. My baby had a rocky start, which no doubt has made me super cautious with him. But regardless of that, I really don’t think I would’ve been ready to leave him at 4 months old, even if he hadn’t had heart surgery. I wasn’t ready to leave my first baby that early either. So I told my friends that and they accepted it.

My baby is now 7 months old and the issue has come up again and again. My friends and I would excitedly be arranging something through a group text chat and it would dawn on me that they were assuming we would have an overnight stay somewhere. And that I would be fine that. But I’m not. Not yet anyway.

And there’s another issue… my husband works unsociable hours and he wouldn’t be able to look after the kids if I was away for a night, so my mum would have to step in. Can I really ask her to have my baby overnight knowing that he is the world’s worst sleeper and still has at least one night feed? I don’t think I can. That’s assuming she was even free to look after my kids on the night in question. She still works part time and has other commitments that keep her really busy. It’s also assuming that she would agree to have the baby overnight and she won’t, she’s too worried he’ll stop breathing or turn blue.

Still not ready to leave him at 7 months.
But aside from all that, I am just not ready. Even if my mum was itching to have the baby overnight, or there was someone else I trusted to look after him, I’m not ready to leave him for that long. I’m not ready to not put him to bed and I’m not ready to not be there when he wakes.

Am I being clingy? Do I just need to convince my mum to have him overnight, bite the bullet and go? Or is it still too early and my friends just don’t get it? If it is too early, at what age should you leave your baby overnight?

I suppose the answer to the question is, when you’re ready. When you’re ready because you feel your baby’s ready. When your baby wouldn’t be distressed at you not being there. When a night away from your baby wouldn’t just be a huge worry-fest consisting of tears on the drive away and a million calls home. When you would actually be able to enjoy the time away to let your hair down and put yourself first for a little while.

I’m not there yet and I don’t know when I will be but I refuse to give myself a deadline of say 10 months, 1 year or even 2 years. When I feel ready I will leave my baby for a night but not a minute before.

My friends don’t get it, they think I’m being over-protective. They don’t say that but say other things like ‘oh your baby’s a tough cookie, he won’t even notice you’ve gone, don’t be silly…’ etc. They don’t seem to get that it’s me who isn’t ready for a night of separation yet. Or if they do get that, they think it’s totally unreasonable. 

And don’t get me wrong, I know there are some mums (and dads) who leave their baby’s overnight much earlier. Through choice or through necessity. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, or judging them at all. The same way I hope they wouldn’t judge me for not wanting to leave my baby yet. 

  
I don’t think there’s a golden rule when it comes to this issue. Except only leave them when you are ready to. Otherwise the night away won’t be any fun anyway and what’s the point in that? My view is that you may as well bank the babysitting hours for when you are ready to go all out and have a baby-free blast. 

I’d love to hear other people’s views on this. Do you agree with me or am I just being a massive mumbot?

Little Snoopy Bargain! (Project 366 – Day 39)

  
Not the best photo of Zaki but how cute is this jumper?! My sister found it in H&M for the bargainous sum of £1! Yep, one English pound! 

We had a Snoopy video we watched over and over again when we were kids (although in hindsight it was really weird – Snoopy had a row with Charlie Brown, ran away from home, ended up encountering loads of ‘No Dogs Allowed’ signs and moved in with a girl who made him wear a dress and have tea parties.) But anyway, I’ve had a soft spot for Snoopy since then so I totes love this jumper.

Here’s hoping my sisters finds more £1 Snoopy bargains!
  

Swimming Lesson! (Project 366 – Day 38)

  

At Zaki’s last check up with his cardiologist he was given the all clear to go swimming so I bit the bullet and booked a course of swimming lessons for both boys with Puddle Ducks. 

My first impressions were good and both Omar and Zaki had a whale of a time. Omar really surprised me by following the instructions well and not having any tantrums at all, even when he got dunked! (By the instructor, not by me, although I was considering it.)

I’ll blog more about Puddle Ducks once we’ve been a few more times but I’m really hoping the boys continue to love it. So far so good!  

Rusky Business (Project 366 – Day 37)

  

I know it’s not the done thing these days to give your baby a rusk but Zaki had one and he absolutely loved it! He was making all kinds of appreciative chomping noises and actually cried when he’d finished it, haha!

Weaning has been more difficult with Zaki than it was with Omar. To start with he wasn’t keen on solids AT ALL. He would spit everything out and screw his face up. After about 3 weeks he got used to eating and would tolerate it but still wouldn’t put anything in his mouth of his own accord, so baby led weaning was out. 

5 weeks on and the situation is much easier now. He will happily gnaw away on toast, banana, courgettes and of course rusks!

  

Pancake Day Fail – Project 366 (Day 40)

  
Poor old Omar had to make do with poxy pancakes from McDonald’s this year because I was too poorly to make any. I wouldn’t recommend them by the way, they had the texture of cardboard and didn’t really taste like pancakes according to my mum. 

I’ll have to make extra special pancakes next year to make up for it. 

Wear Red Day (Project 366 – Day 36)

  

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (and thanks if you are!) then you’ll know that raising awareness about congenital heart defects is an issue that’s close to my own heart because of my baby boy, Zaki, who was born with one. 

Friday 5th February was Wear Red Day. The idea is that wearing red will get people talking about heart defects and heart disease and also raise money for the many amazing heart charities out there that do vital work. 

  
My boys were if course in red and I wore red accessories for the day. I didn’t own any red clothes and thought that rather than buy some I’d donate the money I would’ve spent to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, along with my usual donation. 

When Zaki was in Intensive Care after his surgery so much of the equipment in there had been donated by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. They also offer so much support to children and families affected by congenital heart defects; it’s an incredible charity. 

It’s not too late to donate if you want to either. You can text anything from £1 to £20 along with WEAR16 to 70070. 

  

Puppy Love (Project 366 – Day 34)

    

Just before Christmas a friend of mine got a new family pet, a Bichon Frisse dog called Arthur. 

As soon as they met, Omar and Arthur became great buddies. It’s the first time Omar has been this close to a dog and it was so cute to see how happy he was to meet Arthur!

        

The photos aren’t great, I was taking them with my phone whilst holding Zaki, but I really wanted to capture how excited Omar was by Arthur the pup. 

That being said, we won’t be getting a dog. Ever. There’s enough mayhem in this house as it is! But at least I’m now prepared for the fact that Omar is probably going to be one of those kids that asks if we can get a dog 50 times a day between the age of 4 and 16. (My brother was also one of those kids.)

If you’re thinking of getting a dog, it seems Bichon Frisse’s are child-friendly. Arthur was just as happy to meet Omar as Omar was to meet him and I was never once worried that he was going to bite or nip him. If he can put up with Omar he can probably put up with anything. 

Congenital Heart Defects – Be Aware, Be Prepared


February is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness month. You might have read my post about my baby, Zaki and his broken heart and how his life was saved by some amazing cardiologists, surgeons, consultants and nurses. Our outcome was a happy one but we all would’ve found it so much easier to cope if we’d been aware and been prepared.

Before Zaki was born I knew absolutely nothing about congenital heart defects and assumed that if there was anything wrong with my baby’s heart it would have been picked up at my 20 week anomaly scan. Wrong. Only 50% of the type of defect Zaki had are spotted during the anomaly scan. When I was told about the diagnosis I wish I’d known more about it; instead I felt confused and helpless. I’m passionate about raising awareness wherever I can now, so here are some helpful facts about congenital heart defects:

  • Congenital heart defects are problems that have occurred with the structure of the heart as it was formed (‘the plumbing’)
  • There are 18 recognised main congenital heart defects, with variations of each one
  • 1% of babies will be born with a congenital heart defect and it is the most common defect in newborns
  • That’s 12 babies a day in the UK that are affected
  • Out of those 12 babies, 4 will have been diagnosed pre-natally, 4 will be diagnosed shortly after birth and 4 will go home undiagnosed until they fall ill or die
  • The heart is formed within the first 6 weeks of a foetus’ life and the defect has probably occurred before the mother even knows she is pregnant
  • Congenital heart defects kill twice as many children as all childhood cancers combined

 

Scary stuff isn’t it? But it isn’t all bad news. With early intervention 90% of babies born with a congenital heart defect go on to live happy, long lives.

 

My baby after his open heart surgery, just days old

 

My baby at 6 months old
There really isn’t anything a mother can do to prevent her baby being born with a congenital heart defect but there are steps that can be taken to make sure it’s picked up as soon as possible.

At the 20 week anomaly scan the following questions can be asked of the sonographer:

  1. Can you see the 4 chambers of the heart?
  2. Are there 2 upper chambers and are they controlling the blood flowing out of them with valves?
  3. Are there 2 lower chambers and are they controlling blood flowing out of them with valves?
  4. Do the two great arteries (aorta and pulmonary artery) cross over each other as they exit the heart?
  5. Are there any holes in the wall between the two lower chambers?
  6. Can you see any abnormalities at all with the heart?


If you are pregnant, write those questions down, take them with you and ask. It’s worth it. The sonographer might not be able to answer all of those questions and might put it down to the position of the baby. If that happens offer to go for a walk and come back in 10 minutes. You might sound like a pushy mother-to-be but who cares? It might just save your baby’s life. I so wish I had asked those questions. Knowing about a congenital heart defect prior to the birth increases the baby’s chances of survival and also means the parents can mentally (and practically) prepare themselves for what’s to come.

There’s an amazing charity called Tiny Tickers who do great work in funding training for sonographers so that more CHD’s will be spotted at the anomaly scan. You can order a card free of charge from the Tiny Tickers website here which you and the sonographer can go through together at your scan if you’d prefer to do that rather than ask the questions above.

If a congenital heart defect isn’t picked up at the 20 week anomaly scan there are signs and symptoms that might become apparent once the baby is born:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Cyanosis (skin looks blue, especially hands and feet)
  • No interest in feeding
  • Fatigue (baby will not wake)

 

Zaki was too tired to feed, which prompted a doctor to checks his sats.

If you have any concerns AT ALL please insist that a pulse oximetry test is carried out on your baby. It’s a really quick, non invasive test that involves a sensor being placed on a finger or toe. The oxygen saturation levels (sats) in the blood can be measured that way and if they are lower than expected, that suggests a problem with heart function and further tests can then be carried out to establish exactly what’s going on.

Don’t be embarrassed/shy/too polite to ask for that test to be carried out if you are genuinely worried that your newborn isn’t behaving as he or she should. That simple sats test saved my baby’s life. (For the first time, his life was about to get saved several times over the following weeks but that’s another story.) Don’t sit there quietly panicking, just explain your worries and ask for the test.

If you go home with your baby and later notice something isn’t quite right go to a&e. Heart defects are time critical and every second matters. Don’t worry that you are being over-cautious, just get your baby checked out. Your instinct might save their life.

Of course 99% of babies do not have a congenital heart defect so please do not let this post worry you sick. The chances are that your baby will be absolutely fine. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Something that I definitely wasn’t when I was told there was something wrong with my baby’s heart a few hours after I had given birth.

If you find yourself in the position that I was in try to take comfort in the fact that the cardiologists and surgeons will do absolutely everything possible to save your baby and above all else, stay strong.