Friday, 26 July 2013

SPD Guest post

I've teamed up with Wriggly Wrascals and wrote an article about another special gift from Mother Nature during pregnancy - SPD (Symphysis Publis Dysfunction).  To read more about what it is, my personal experience and ways to relieve it check out my article here.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

They always make you out to be liars

After trying to persuade Scratchy (2yr old twin 1) to eat her lunch for 15 minutes - and dealing with tantrums and pea throwing in public - I decided to film her so my husband could witness what a nightmare they can be. And then she did this....

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hearing Loss in Children: How to Overcome the Odds

*Fanfare*.  For the first time ever, Anonomum has opened it's gates to a guest post.  John O'Connor is a father, outdoorsman and sports enthusiast who writes below on the issues of hearing loss in children.

Hearing is a key part of life. Can you even imagine a world without sound? Hearing loss affects all ages of people, not just adults and elders. Babies, toddlers, younger and older children experience hearing loss. Whether you're born deaf or you have a condition with symptoms of hearing loss, the number of Americans that are experiencing hearing loss has doubled over 30 years. Hearing loss is more common than any people think and often a sense that many people take for granted until it is gone. 

It's becoming clear that hearing loss affects many children throughout the world. Between the ages of 6 and 19 years of age, younger people show some form of hearing loss. This means that they cannot hear at least 16 decibel in one or both of their ears. However, it can progressively get worse in some cases, such as frequent cases of otitis media in infants. For children, the cause of hearing loss may be hereditary, related to illness, noise exposure, neurological disorder, chemical exposure, trauma to the ear or a variety of neurobiological factors. Symptoms may progress from an infection or immediately occur after trauma to the ear.

The important thing for children to realize is that they are not alone and that they can receive help. Education for the deaf has progressed incredibly in the past 10 years. It's easier to learn grammar, vocabulary and other communication even if you are unable to hear. There are also a variety of hearing aids that help children to hear. Another option for children is to learn sign language. This allows them to communicate with family and friends.

In some instances children with hearing loss may have a hard time at school or while playing sports.  They may be bullied by other kids or treated differently. In some schools, this isn't the case. Most children understand and want to help or even learn sign language when another classmate is deaf. Children with hearing loss should never feel discouraged from meeting other kids, partaking in activities and achieving academic goals. Having hearing loss does not make them different from any other kid in their classes or sports team.  There are also plenty of children who have grown up to be superstars and athletes who had some type of hearing loss. With the right education on hearing loss and support from family and friends the possibilities are endless for children who have hearing loss. 

For instance, Nick Hamilton is a 22-year-old baseball player who just graduated from Kent State University. He actually competed at the College World Series. He was selected in the 35th round of Major League Baseball Draft and currently plays for the Cleveland Indians. However, there's something special about this baseball player. Ever since he was a 3-year-old, Nick Hamilton could not hear very well. He received surgery to stop his hearing loss from progressing and now wears a hearing aid to adjust his hearing levels. Nick uses lip reading to understand his coaches and teammates.

There are also a variety of companies and people out there doing things to help people who are hard of hearing. EarQ provides hearing aids and is currently heading up a campaign called HearStrong, which is a program to identify and alleviate social stigmas placed on those with hearing loss and also to change the perception of hearing loss in society. Just because someone is hard of hearing or deaf shouldn't dictate how far he or she can go and what he or she can achieve in life. There should be endless possibilities and more understanding from society as a whole in regards to hearing loss.  

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!

If you're a regular to this blog and fancy writing your own guest post then please get in touch.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bug-tastic day out

There’s nothing like a Saturday with no Anonoman to motivate me to find something to do with the 2 yr old twins…and to rope someone else in to help it go quicker smoothly.

I’d found my victims companions in the shape of my sister and her 2 children and all we needed to do was think of somewhere to go.  You probably know the scenario, the weather’s drab which counts out anything outdoorsy.  Play areas are cramped hyperactive germ fests.  Shopping outlets are boring places for kids, which leaves you scratching your head for something different but appropriate for adults and kids that doesn’t involve a museum (yawn) or the same thing you did last weekend.

Well, we found the perfect thing.  Bugtopia at Greentrunks Garden Centre in Great Cransley, Kettering Northants.  If that’s too far for you, see if there’s something similar in your area because it’s well worth it

It’s like a zoo for bugs, snakes, spiders etc and a big hit with our kids (aged 2-7).  We went to a talk in their Bugtopia hut which lasted about an hour and we got to hear about all the creepy crawlies there, and *gulp* handle them. My two year olds got to hold stick insects, cockroaches, spiders and snakes.  They also stroked a Carnelians and some other strange creatures (which I don’t know the name of because I missed that bit during the couple of tantrums we had - hence the pram).  They were braver than me.  I body swerved the cockroaches and spiders, conveniently finding something mumsey to do at that point.  Indiana Jones, who was our bugtastic guide (so nicknamed by me due to the authentic jungle get up he was wearing) was very passionate about the beasties, and it was kind of infectious.  He was also wonderful with all the kids and accommodating with the odd tantrum too.  The other highlight was hearing we couldn’t see one of the spiders because it had a leg missing, and then spotting what suspicious looked like a spiders leg on the floor a few minutes later.  It could have been a twig.  Had-to-be-there moment I guess).

It was completely different to what we usually do, and very reasonable too (£3.50 per person).  I’d definitely recommend doing this if you have kids aged 2 +.  I’ve not been asked to write this, I just genuinely had a good time and think they deserve a few more visitors.  It also has a small play area and a café that does a mean toastie.

Check it out.  http://www.greentrunks.co.uk/  (Indiana is the guy on the “contact us” page who has a *clears throat* handful)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Toddlers on a plane

You may have seen the scary (and hilarious) film - Snakes on a Plane, but that was just the precursor for my tale – Toddling Twins on a Plane.  It’s already been green lit by Hollywood and will star a wild cat and a Tasmanian devil as Itchy & Scratchy - my 2 yr old twin girls.
We had 4 days in Jersey last month to see the in-laws and if I thought that it was going to be easier than 6 months ago when they were 18months, I was in denial.  I hope my story serves as an inadvertent guide to others on what works, and what doesn’t.  I’ll even chuck in some home grown top tips for you.
Arriving at Long Stay car park 1 at East Midlands airport, we realised our first mistake.  Although it was 3 minutes walk to departures in Toddler distance that’s about 3 miles.  Leaving the pram at home (for reasons I’ll divulge later) they we on reins, but a) it was snowing and blowing a gale, and b) they tried to collect every stone on the way making us wish we’d factored in 45 mins of pre-flight nature walk time.  Top Tip 1 – spend the money and park right outside if you’re pram free.
Arriving at the airport we were delighted to find it very quiet with no queues.  Checking in was going to be a breeze.  We walk straight up to the counter and start to hand over booking refs etc.  When asked if it was just us adults flying, we explained no our little darlings were coming too.  Cue – turning round and finding no children.  Anonoman had let go of said reins and they were currently legging it across the concourse leaving the squeals of delight as the only trails to find them.  They were running under those makeshift barriers they have to control the queues and watching Anonoman trying to catch them gave me fond memories of Linford Christie’s hurdling in the 80’s, minus the revealing Lycra.  Top Tip 2 – give them a job at check in so they don’t run off.
Children retrieved we headed to passport control and the security gates.  Flying from a small airport is great because there are small distances to walk and less crowds.  But it was this moment that my twins discovered they could throw themselves at the floor and we’d hold them up from their reins stopping them from bashing their teeth in.  The best game in the world to a 2 year old and I thought about adding human Puppeteer to my resume.  I feel guilty walking through security with all those poker faced androids starring at me to see if I’m the kind of mother to conceal cocaine on my children somewhere.  But add my kid’s mayhem into the mix and we were most certainly the centre of attention.  Anonoman goes through the scanner first and gets taken off to the side to be frisked because it had bleeped.  I’m left trying to put all our coats and hand luggage through the machine and trying to stop  both kids from floor diving like Tom Cruise in that film and braking their faces...ironically a mission impossible.  They're also no running around me transforming me into a human maypole.  I can’t lift them both, they won’t go through the scanner.  I end up dragging them through on their arses which becomes a new game to them.  I’m left looking apologetic and embarrassed as I notice Anonoman is close to having the rubber glove treatment.  I’m actually envious because I’d take his place and would I’d like to give someone else some shit for a change – literally. Top Tip 3 – make sure you put some metal in your pockets to set off the scanner and leave your partner dealing with the kids.
Waiting for the flight was packed with the usual toddler antics.  Running after them, trying to distract them with food, noticing other people have clocked you and are praying you’re not on their flight.  I noticed the couple next to us in the cafe had ordered a bottle of wine...it was 9:30am and I hoped they were starting their holiday in style and it wasn’t a reflection on the close proximity of my kids.
Then the bit I had been dreading – boarding the plane.  The reason we were pramless was because last time having a pram at this point was a nightmare.  Itchy had started to become unwell then and was clinging to us while we were trying to fold down the pram, putting labels on it, holding our hand  luggage as well as two children who were trying to run off onto the runway.  I remembered Anonoman took Itchy and walked off leaving me with the rest to sort out.  My resounding memory was being flustered and angry, giving him dagger eyes, and then seeing Itchy vomit on his head.  One of those moments were you just know that God exists.  Top Tip 4 – if your child becomes ill when you’re at the airport, leave one of those plastic bibs on them that collects stuff in the bottom.  It’ll save their clothes from vomit.
This time round we had none of those stresses.  Our girls were quite distressed getting onto the metal tube of hell – as they must have saw it.  We were the last passengers on (because of the dawdling and floor diving) and they screamed all the way to their seats.  We weren’t making any friends on this flight.  But once they were buckled in and bribed with lollies and biscuits all was fine.  They had sticker booked, a drawing pad and our iphone games to keep them entertained and the flight was fine.  Top Tip 5 – leave lots of time to walk to the departure gate.  Take snacks, games and books and a dummy if they’re still using them.  Book a seat next to the window as it’ll keep them entertained– not all of them do. A short flight is an ideal introduction for toddlers on a plane. 
We just need to see if Samuel L Jackson wants to be in our horror movie too...but he might find it too unrealistic.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

When IVF comes back to haunt you

My morning routine of toddler dodging was interrupted by a knock at the door.  The postman handed me a special delivery letter and my stress levels increased as I was sure someone had caught up with our practice of the dark art - that is otherwise known as family finances.  But instead it was a letter from the infertility clinic we used successfully to get pregnant…and unfortunately the stress levels weren’t going down any time soon.

It was exactly 2 years after my due date, and we had 4 weeks to confirm if we were going to refreeze the 2 embryos we had on ice for a hefty fee or dispose of them.

We can’t really afford to refreeze them if we’re not going to try for more children…which leaves us having to make a difficult decision in a few weeks – are we ever going to do IVF again?  And I can tell you, it’s a much harder decision 2nd time round.

Do we want any more children is only one of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves.  Do I want to go through IVF again, and is it right that we have two frozen embryos in the first place?

It is fortunate that we have twins, because we can stop if we want and know we already have a wonderful family.  Do I have the energy or the money for another one?  Can my relationship or mental health withstand a third child?  The jury is out.

When contemplating this, I had a disturbingly deep thought – one that hadn’t crossed my mind until now.  When a sperm fertilizes an egg and make an embryo, which is essentially a person in its first stages – does that mean it has a soul attached?  And if so, are there two souls stuck in the universe somewhere because of us?  This made me quite sick and I started to side towards disposing.  Is it just me who thinks this stuff? *quick Google search*  No thankfully.

Anonoman felt that if we did it again, we should go for “fresh” embryos as there’s a higher chance of success.  But this brings on another big decision.  Do I want to put myself through the drugs, and the egg collection again?  My IVF experience was very positive first time round.  I did produce 20+ eggs which certainly put my body under a lot of stress but could it bring on early menopause?  Apparently not – read http://www.medindia.net/news/IVF-Treatment-Does-Not-Lead-to-Early-Menopause-in-Women-Study-36251-1.htm   Wouldn’t it be better for my health to use the ones we already have?

There’s also my age to consider.  I’m 35 this year and I always said that I’d stop trying in my mid 30’s.  So if we’re going for it, it needs to be this year.  My head feels like a pressure cooker.

I also met a woman recently who believes that her breast cancer was as a direct result to the hormones used in her fertility treatment.  According to a recent Telegraph article, young women are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer in the 15 years after IVF. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9285015/Young-women-having-IVF-treatment-at-higher-risk-of-breast-cancer.html   Although I’m not considered young, there is a history of hormone related cancer in my family.  Would I be taking an enormous risk?

As first timers, our desire for children was so great that everything else took a back seat when it came to IVF.  But now the few weeks we have to decide on round two, in no way, reflects the complexity of the issue.

One thing I do know is I’m unequipped to play this life or death game, and am inclined to count my two beautiful blessings and leave the rest up to Mother Nature.  Ironically this is only made possible because of Sciences helping hand

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Dumb things I thought before I had kids

1) Coffee mornings with other mums will be so much fun.
The fantasy of sitting round sipping hot skinny lattes and chatting away to my hearts content, was just that – a fantasy.  Real coffee mornings were where a handful of mum friends tried their hardest to conduct an adult conversation but were constantly interrupted by crying, moaning, dribbling – and that’s just the other mums.  It’s more stop start than the M25 at rush hour.  It’s no longer chit-chat, its shit-chat.  I just repeated phrases like “sorry, carry on” or “carry on I’m still listening” whilst routing around in my bag to find something to make the twins happy.   By the time I’d changed, fed, soothed my babies and followed the odd conversation the coffee would be stone cold, and my head steaming.  My babies were anti-social so just screamed through most of my get-togethers.  Hell.
2) I’m going to give breastfeeding a go, but if it doesn’t work, I won’t worry about it.
Ha!  Every time I read this it makes me laugh.  Everyone one of my friends said the same and what often happens is that it just doesn’t work.  Whether that’s down to the baby not being interested, or your body not playing ball due to trauma, stress, c-section – it just didn’t happen for some of me, like many others.  You’d think at that point I’d just shrug my shoulders and happily reach for the Aptamil.  But instead I told myself that I just need to work harder at it.  I expressed 6 times a day, including getting up at night.  I’d give my babies more opportunities to latch on.  Before I knew it I’d be supplementing my dribble feeds with formula because I was worried about their weight – doubling my work load because now I was sterilising bottles on top of expressing and breastfeeding.  My nipples hadn’t seen that amount of abuse since an enthusiastic college boyfriend who played me like his play station consol.   I felt obliged to justify myself to others when they enquired how it was going.  I blame the slogan “Breast is Best”, because if it doesn’t work then you’ve failed –because you’re not providing the best you can.  I eventually gave myself a break, but only after I’d beaten the part in my brain responsible for guilt into a coma.
3) I’d never let my young child around in a restaurant/café like that
This thought would have developed simultaneously with the thought that children just needed some stimulation from the parents to behave in public.  There is a nano bit of truth to this (SOME kids probably can do this.  I can’t help it if I suspect sedative abuse).  But only now I have 2 year old twins of my own do I realise that the shear amount of energy it requires to keep a child (or two in my case) happily entertained could only be cooked up in a laboratory, and not from a professional sleep deprived mother like myself.  This is why if you spend any amount of time with other families, creative one-on-one play happens in short bursts followed by long periods of staring into space, cbeebies and running off to perform a household chore – or in PR speak, “recharging”.  So yes, I let my kids move about a bit to let off steam and give me time to just breathe.
4) Children are boring.
I could not have been more wrong.  Mother Nature has me well in her grip and I now find little people fascinating.  The joy found from bogey picking and cradle c(r)ap searching, cannot be underestimated.  Their ability to sense chocolate in my mouth without me even chewing, is remarkable.  A simple cuddle is heaven.
5) They can only have sweets on special occasions.
This resolution was going extremely well until I learnt that a lolly provides 5-10 minutes of silence.
6) I’ll take good care of myself
Pah!  If you’ve been to Northampton and seen a sunken eyed, pale faced Grot Bags look-a-like with clothes that could walk themselves – that’ll be me.  I remember to look in the mirror about once a month and each time my eyebrows are making great strides to meet up.  The thing is I WANT to give my kids all my attention.  I don’t care that people approach me to inform me about a local soup kitchen.  I’m happy for now, so will leave the wilderness that is my legs for another time.
7) I’ll do a part time course on maternity leave
Seriously, what was I thinking?  There was barely enough time to get dressed and remember to eat in the first year.  I must have thought I was having goldfish.

This is part one, because I could go on for quite some time.  What’s the biggest u-turns you made after becoming parents?  I’d love to hear them.