Thursday, 31 July 2014

'Up For The Cup!' by Simon Bartram, Review

The World Cup passed by my two terrors with a whole lot of excitement and has left them both with a love of football even bigger than they had before. Most days I find them out in the garden kicking their footballs around and declaring they're team England, team Spiderman, team Blue or something along the same vein.

When a copy of 'Up For The Cup!' by Simon Bartram arrived from the Mumsnet Children's Book Club Team they were both eager to turn the pages and start reading. Alongside their love of football is a love of books and stories; the two put together proved a very big hit in our household!

'Up For The Cup!' follows the story of Seaburn City and is told by avid football fan Charlie Horsewill who attends the Cup Final match with his Dad to cheer on their favourite team. They believe their star player, Julio Poom, will carry the team to victory...until disaster strikes and everything starts to go wrong! Can Seaburn City, Poom and the fans pull the team back from certain defeat in time and win the trophy?

Simon Bartram's football mad book has gone down a treat with my two 'terrors.' As I was reading the story to them I was worried that it would be a bit old for them and the story would be too long. The vibrant illustrations and the wonderful writing kept their attention and interest throughout. They loved the fun, football storyline; it's become a favourite read in our house and I've often spotted them both out in the garden recreating the match themselves. It's a great book for football lovers of all ages, just as the cover claims.

Disclaimer : I received a copy of 'Up For The Cup!' by Simon Bartram from Mumsnet in exchange for an honest review. All words, images and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Last Day of Pre-School

Last Tuesday was an emotional one for me. My eldest started Pre-School all the way back in May 2012 and my youngest started the year after in January 2013. They've both been there for quite a while, they have made some wonderful friends and I've found a couple too. Now they've both left and although they seem to be reasonably okay with it at the moment (I'm dreading the new school year!) I must admit I'm feeling a bit tearful at their time there coming to an end.

My eldest is starting school in September. She'll be one of, if not the, oldest in her year and she's been ready and excited to go for quite some time. I know she will love it but I'm so worried she won't settle and will feel a bit lost without her group of friends. She's a very confident little miss and such a 'people person' that I have no doubt she'll make new friends in no time - I'm just worried it'll shake her for a while being in such a different setting with none of her good friends to be found. I know she'll miss them a lot and while I've told her that not all of her friends from Pre-School will be at her new School I'm not totally sure she understands.

My youngest is also having a big move from his, now previous, Pre-School to a new one much closer to home. With a 30-40 minute walk each way it was becoming a strain getting them both there and back each week and with my eldest starting School this year the task of trying to get them to two places at the same time so far apart just wasn't practical. So we've taken the leap and, as of September, he too will start in a new place just 10 minutes walk away.

It felt like the right time to make the leap, what with all the talk of leaving and starting somewhere new. I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed all goes well in September and I'm trying to keep the worry and emotions at bay.

I really do hope he likes it at his new Pre-School. It's so different to his current one and I'm so worried he won't like it and will be lost without his friends and the familiarity of his old Pre-School and the staff there. There are so many worries running through my head about so many things at the moment and although I'm excited for them both to make new friends and start at their new settings I'm dreading it too - I'm just so worried they won't settle in! What if I've made the wrong decisions for both of them and they hate it?!

Am I the only one worried about my two starting in a new setting? Everyone else I know seems pretty relaxed about it all...surely it can't be just me that's freaking out?!

L is for...


My youngest 'terror', aged 3 years, 8 months and a bit. He is a chatterbox and a little ray of happiness. He is always full of smiles and giggles. He loves to run around and play football in the garden but loves sitting quietly with his cars and colouring books too. He has a love of the outdoors and is fascinated by bugs, animals, plants and flowers.

He is a lover of water and would happilly spend all day in the bath experimenting with how it moves and making bubble beards for himself. He is imaginative, loving and caring and likes to tell all around him how much he loves them. He is my little helper, eager to help out with household chores and join in with whatever anybody is doing. He is a bottomless pit at Dinner time, willing to try almost anything and often asking for second and third helpings.

He is my handsome, clever, talented, cheerful, giggly, music loving, garden playing, energetic and loving little boy. My 'bubble.'

A  B  C  D  E  F  G
H  I  J  K

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

K is for...


After Christmas last year my two were lucky enough to have a bit of spending money. We headed down to our local toy store and my youngest picked out the rather impressive Imaginext castle for himself. It was a firm favourite then and still is to this day, almost 9 months later.

Him and his Sister love playing with it, often pretending to be Knights defending their castle against the "bad guys." I've found them so many times sat huddled together, their backs to the bedroom wall and the sides of the castle surrounding them - "We're safe in our Castle Mummy" and "We're playing Knights Mummy" are the responses I usually get when asking what they're up to before their game continues with excited faces.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G
H  I  J

Monday, 28 July 2014

Desi Cooks 'Curry Bombs' Review

I'm rather excited today as I have a fantastic new product to introduce you to!! The curry bomb range from Desi Cooks are frozen cubes of mixed vegetables and beautifully balanced spices that you can use to create quick and tasty, authentic homemade Indian and Punjabi dishes. They are made from fresh, natural ingredients so you won't come across any artificial colours, preservatives or flavourings, or any MSG. All you'll find inside are honest, real ingredients with no hidden nasties.

The full range of 'bombs' includes Daal/Lentil, Kebab & Meatball, Coriander Chutney, Mint Chutney, Chicken Tikka Marinade, Curry and Biryani. The curries take between 30-60 minutes to create and the chutneys and daal take around 5-10 minutes.

The brilliance of the curry bombs is that they are easy to use and store; just pop them in the freezer. Most of the 'bombs' can be used from frozen and every dish you create is completely customisable; if you like your dishes hot & spicy you can add fresh chillies or cool it down a little with some natural yoghurt if spicy isn't your thing or if you're cooking for the children.

The Terrors, their Daddy and I have been taste-testing the Desi Cooks Curry Bomb range over the last couple of weeks and it's pretty safe to say that they've been a big hit all round. My Husband and I enjoyed some delicious chicken tikka & red pepper skewers with spicy minced beef kebabs and a salad & yoghurt as a treat on a summery evening last week.

Chicken Tikka Skewers and Minced Beef Kebabs

The cubes were very easy to use; I took around 4 of out each pack and allowed them to defrost. To create the chicken skewers I diced some chicken breast and allowed it to marinade in the sauce for around 3-4 hours in the fridge. I then wrapped the chicken in tin foil and cooked it in the oven, along with the red pepper, adding the pepper then chicken alternately onto kebab skewers when they were both cooked.

The spicy minced beef kebabs were also incredibly easy to create using 4 defrosted kebab & meatball cubes. I mixed them with minced beef then shaped them into sausage shapes before inserting the kebab skewers. I cooked them in the oven then seared them in a hot frying pan before serving them with the chicken tikka & red pepper skewers with fresh salad and natural yoghurt.

They were both very easy to create and tasted delicious. The chicken tikka skewers had quite a kick to them and had I been making them for the children to enjoy too I would have added a good amount of yoghurt to the marinade. They were a little hot for me but I really enjoyed them dipped in natural yoghurt and my Husband thought they were just the right amount of spice. Both of us agreed that they were really yummy and the spices didn't overpower the flavour.

The minced beef kebabs were my favourite! Subtle, tasty spicing made them very moreish and I'm sure, had we prepared them for the children too, they would have really enjoyed them. I especially liked that the frozen kebab & meatball bombs already had diced onion in the mix so there was no need to add anything else while I was preparing them. As long as you have the meat Desi Cooks will add the flavour.

Chicken Biryani

We also enjoyed a delicious chicken biryani using the Desi Cooks Biryani Bombs. I added a handful of diced onion (my family love our onions) and cooked it with the chicken and the biryani bomb. I added half a cup of water to create a slightly thinner sauce. While my Husband enjoyed the hotter biryani, I used some coconut milk (natural yoghurt would work well too) to cool it down a little for myself and the children. It was very easy to customise and meant that we could all enjoy same dish together.

Daal Soup

One of my favourite dishes is a tasty daal soup and Desi Cooks' Daal & Lentil Bombs didn't disappoint. Taking a handful of cubes straight out of the freezer I added them to a saucepan and cooked them for around 5 minutes until they created a delicious looking soup. I did wonder if I needed to add some fresh lentils but soon found there was no need, Desi Cooks had it covered and it was as simple as heating the cubes right through until they were hot. It was divine, really flavourful with a slight kick that left me wanting more.

We were all very impressed with the Desi Cooks range. Every dish we created tasted fresh and flavourful, something which really makes them stand apart from other frozen curry products on the market. They've spotted a gap in the market, a tasty sauce/spice bomb but with fresh, frozen ingredients that really boost the flavour above anything you could purchase in a jar. It cuts cooking time in half and the range really out-shone the jarred spice mix I usually reach for.

The only negative I found was that it wasn't clear how many of the frozen cubes to use for each dish but it was pretty easy to work out once you started cooking and you could always add a little water and/or yoghurt to make the dish a little saucier. Other than that we found the curry bombs very easy to use. Desi Cooks had already done all the preparation meaning all I needed to do was add the meat and I could create delicious, authentic dishes quickly.

There were instructions on each pack and Desi Cooks also provided some recipes on their website to give some guidance and ideas on how to prepare each dish. We all liked that the curry bombs were totally customise, making them suitable for all of us to enjoy. The lack of hidden nasties through the use of all natural ingredients was a massive plus point too and with my Son's dairy intolerance made things so much easier (I've found a lot of similar products & sauces contain milk or cream).

It's pretty safe to say that we all loved the Desi Cooks range of 'curry bombs' and found them flavoursome and wonderful to cook with. I'd highly recommend them and you can find them in the following stockists.

Disclaimer : I was sent a variety of products from the 'curry bomb' range by Desi Cooks in exchange for an honest review. All words, opinions and images are my own.

Battling PND & the Pressure to 'Make it Up' to my Children

I suffered from Post-Natal Depression.

There, I said it. It's out there. Why is that so scary to admit to? Mental illness has had a wide-spread impact on all aspects of my life, why does it still prove so tricky to talk, or write, about? It shouldn't be that difficult to say; not when research suggests that as many as 3 in 10 Parents/Mum's have battled PND. But the reality is, that for many, me included, it's still a tricky subject to broach and hard to talk about. So bear with me on this...

Almost 4 years ago my Husband and I were thrown into a situation neither of us could have foreseen. After the reasonably normal arrival of our eldest came the incredibly early and traumatic arrival of our youngest who spent his first weeks in an Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). We were both blindsided and thrown off balance and I often find myself wondering how all four of us made it out of those dark days still in tact.

The truth of the matter was...I kind of didn't. I was in a very dark place; PTSD was wearing me down day by day, PND had set in and was making the normal, daily things feel impossible and the hours stretch on forever. It felt like somebody had turned out the lights and told me to carry on as normal. I couldn't bond with my youngest and I began to isolate myself from everyone and everything. I battled on for almost 11 months on my own before I reached a point where I couldn't function any longer and was becoming increasingly unstable. I hit the bottom. And it was pretty messy.

Thankfully when I did summon the strength to reach out from that place I found a wonderful Doctor who saw that I received support, help tailored to me and the right medication (my choice, due to ongoing clinical depression). It took a lot of time, patience and hard work, and not just from me, but I recovered.

The thing that lingers now is the guilt. Oh gosh, the guilt!
I cared for my children, I loved them, looked after them, fed them, bathed them, changed them and did all the things that I should have been doing. But I wasn't present and I wasn't the best Mother to them that I could have been. Now that I'm recovered from PND that guilt can be a crippling burden and I've spent the time since desperately trying to be the 'perfect mum' (I'm not sure she exists!!). I've been striving to make it up to them and give them every single bit of me, all of my time and energy and love. All the things I feel I couldn't give them at the beginning.

But that's just not realistic is it? And what exactly am I trying to make up for? Because I was ill (something out of my control) and struggled to be the best parent to them? I was still there; I still cared for them and showed them I loved them. I still made time for them, played with them and took them to see people and places however daunting I found it. I did all the things I should have been doing and they seem like happy, confident and able children. What exactly am I trying to make up for? Is it them I'm trying to make it up to...or is it myself?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Simply Great 'PomeGreat' Review

I've been rather lucky online lately and have won myself a couple of competitions! Wahey!! One of my fantastic prizes was some 'PomeGreat' juice drink from Simply Great.

Two cartons of PomeGreat juice drink arrived for me to enjoy along with a good sized cool bag from Simply Great. My two terrors and I were eager to try the pomegranate juice and poured ourselves a glass, or plastic cup, in their case, once it had been chilled in the fridge. I was initially nervous; pomegranate juice isn't something I've tried before and I wasn't sure if I would like the taste.

I was very pleasantly surprised and found myself, along with my two little monkeys who enjoyed it just as much, drinking the two cartons within just a handful of days. It was a really fresh, clean taste and I was happy to discover that all of the Simply Great range of drinks are made with 100% natural sweetness; no artificial sweeteners or sugars to be found here!

All three of us loved the fresh and fruity taste of the PomeGreat juice drink and it's something we will most definitely be buying ourselves and enjoying again in the future. We've bought some Supermarket own brand pomegranate juice drink since and it just doesn't come close to the Simply Great brand; their PomeGreat juice drink tastes so much better! If you'd like to try some for yourself, the Simply Great range of drinks can be found in most major Supermarkets in the 'long-life juice' section of the shop. I'd definitely recommend picking up a carton on your next food shop :)

Disclaimer : I received 2 cartons of PomeGreat juice drink and a cool bag from Simply Great after winning a competition. I am under no obligation to provide a review and have done so of my own accord. All views, opinions and images are my own.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

J is for...


It's happening. It's actually happening! We've bought the jumper and everything has become 'official.' My eldest is starting School this year *wipes a tear*

I am so excited for her...she's been talking about School constantly for the last month or two and after a couple of induction day trips she can barely wait for it to be September. She doesn't seem to have any fears about it and just wants to get in there, play, make friends and start learning :)

I'm a bit nervous for her though. She's a very outgoing little miss who will play with absolutely anyone and makes friends easily..but I worry that her best friends from Pre-School are going to a different School and that will shake her a bit. There are 6 children, including her, going to her Primary School that she knows from Pre-School; one of those is a good friend and the others she plays with occasionally so, fingers crossed, she'll feel like she has at least a few people she can go and play with. She's so chatty though, I'm sure she'll make lots of new friends. I'm just feeling a little scared and a little sad at this next chapter to her childhood. She's growing up too quickly!!

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Mum's First Moments - Guest Post from Lisa at 'Kid And Capers'

It's with much excitement that I introduce you to this week's guest blogger in the #MumsFirstMoments series. Lisa blogs over at where she writes about all things parenting and beauty. You can also find her on twitter @latte_fiend and on Bloglovin'.

"...finding out I was expecting..."

On the 7th July it was two years to the day when I found out that I was pregnant with my wee monkey. A day that changed my life, a day that changed me...for the better :)

The possibility of being pregnant was the furthest thing from my mind. We weren't trying, the relationship was at the point where I knew it was over but didn't know if I had the courage to get out (that's another story for another day) and I was on birth control.

I had been feeling poorly for a few weeks. I work in childcare though and every now and again the kids love to share their illnesses with me. I thought nothing more of it.

Looking back, with hindsight on my side, the only thing that was out of the norm was that my breasts were painful, excruciatingly so. That's normally a warning sign that my period isn't far away though so again, it was nothing out of the ordinary to me.

About a week later I went to meet a friend for lunch. We hadn't seen each other in weeks and we were both eager to play catch up. She mentioned that I was looking a bit pale and I explained that I thought I had caught something from the kids at work, that my period was due and I was just feeling sorry for myself. We changed the subject and spent a few hours gossipping, as you do.

When I hugged her goodbye she whispered "Do a pregnancy test Lis." I immediately burst out laughing. How ridiculous!

As I was walking back to my car I decided to take a detour and do some browsing in the local shopping centre. I popped into Poundland because I wanted to pick up some junk art type materials for my little cousin. As I walked down an aisle I saw the pregnancy tests on the shelf amongst the baby stuff. It made me chuckle. As I was queueing at the checkout I had a wee niggle tell me to go back and pick up a test, they're only £1. I wasn't pregnant so I sure as hell wasn't wasting £9 in Superdrug to prove a friend wrong!

As I was in the lift I decided that I better pop into the toilets. Too many coffees and a longish drive home always makes for an uncomfy journey! Too much info here (sorry!) but as I was about to "go" the wee niggly voice came back and was telling me "do the test now, no point waiting." I peed on the stick and immediately the pregnancy line came up. My legs buckled, my heart started to beat a drum in my chest. I was pregnant...

I've never walked into Superdrug as quickly or with as much purpose in my life and I bought that £9 pregnancy test anyway! I got home, dumped my shopping bags on the hallway floor and did the test. I was 4-5 weeks pregnant. Me! I was growing a wee tiny baby. I started to cry and laugh at the same time. The surprising thing is that once I had that wee cry, had a cuppa and let the news settle I felt a calm wash over me. I was having a baby. I was going to be a Mummy. What else matters?

2 years later I have the most handsome, funny, loving 15 month old wee boy. It's just me and him against the world and I couldn't be happier. This little monster gave me strength that I didn't think I had and he doesn't even know it. He's a blessing and I'm so incredibly grateful every morning when I wake to that little face and hear his wee voice say "hiya Mama." To think the journey all started in a shopping centre toilet...

The 'Mum's First Moments' Blogger Series is all about embracing the first moments of Motherhood. Everything from the moment you discover you're expecting, through all those pregnancy firsts, into child-birth and those first moments as a new Mum and beyond towards the big milestone 'first moments' of bringing your little bundle home, seeing that first gorgeous smile on their faces and more.

If you'd like to get involved comment below, tweet me @shay_noble or email me at for some more information :)

Monday, 21 July 2014

#GrowHope with World Vision

World Vision are asking bloggers to share an image that represents hope on their pages. I chose this photograph of my two children on the day our youngest came home from Hospital after a very rocky 5 weeks spread across the NICU and SBCU. To me it represents so much hope for the future; the beginning of their friendship, the beginning of life as a 'normal' family of four and the hope that my little man would grow and develop as he should - leaving no sign that he had endured an incredibly difficult fight at the very start of his life.

World Vision is the world's largest international children's charity and a wonderful organisation that brings "real hope to millions of children in the world's hardest places."

This Summer they are marking the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Ethiopian Famine, the worst in living memory, with the #GrowHope campaign. They aim to grow and share hope with children and their families around the world and they have been hosting festivals and garden shows across the UK throughout the Summer. For every person that joins in, World Vision are donating orange maize seeds for farming to vulnerable families in Zambia, on top of all the other fantastic support work they already provide. Their aim to to ensure that children across the world live free from the fear of hunger.

Why orange maize
Image from

Disclaimer : I was asked by World Vision to share an image that I felt depicted hope. I received no payment to do so and wasn't asked to share information about the campaign. All words are my own.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Baking Fun with Sweetpea Pantry

A week or two back I was delighted to hear that I had won a competition being run by the wonderful Sweetpea Pantry. My prize? A packet of bake at home 'chocolate giggles' which provided a lovely afternoon of baking, licking of spoons and scoffing biscuits with my two terrors.

My youngest is dairy intolerant and I had an initial worry when I saw the word 'chocolate' on the front of the box; there was no need however as all of the ingredients were 100% natural and included raw cacao..meaning there was no dairy to be found. Wonderful! My youngest was just as pleased when I told him; chocolate biscuits he could actually eat!

They could hardly wait to start baking so we pulled the dining table into the middle of the kitchen, gathered our supplies and got stuck right in! Following the pack instructions we measured out the butter and golden syrup, heating it on the hob for a few minutes so it was easier to mix, whisked our egg white and added them all into the chocolate giggle mixture. My two then started stirring with their wooden spoons until the mixture formed a dough. After a good lick of the spoons they helped me to knead the dough then roll it out (after letting it cool in the fridge for around 15 minutes) and started cutting out shapes using their chosen cookie cutters. We baked them in the oven then sat down to taste test their yummy looking creations.

The two terrors final verdict? Delicious!! They were yummy and chocolatey and enjoyed by all of us. They were simple to make and made it easy for little hands to get involved. My two both had a lot of fun mixing and kneading, rolling and cutting and they loved the name "chocolate giggles." As a Parent I loved not only the yummy biscuits and seeing my two have such fun whilst getting involved in the kitchen but also the 100% natural ingredients in the biscuit mix. Each pack of the mix will make between 24-36 biscuits so there were plenty to go around!

Disclaimer : I was sent one packet of chocolate giggles as a competition prize. I am under no obligation to provide a review but we enjoyed baking with Sweetpea Pantry so much we wanted to share them with you! All images, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday - July 15th

I'm a bit late to the party but I'm linking up with 'At Home With Mrs M' for Meal Planning Monday nevertheless. There are some tasty meals coming up on our menu this week and I must say, I'm looking forward to enjoying all of them :)

  • Caramelised onion burgers with onion rings and salad  ✓
  • Chicken Biryani with naans ✓
  • Spaghetti and meatballs ✓
  • Homemade tomato soup with warm bread
  • Sausages with mash potato and onion gravy ✓
  • Southern fried chicken with chips and fresh vegetables ✓
  • Chilli con carne with rice and pitta breads

Mum's First Moments - Guest Post from Gemma at 'Confessions of a Nagging Mother'

For this week's #MumsFirstMoments I'm delighted to introduce you to the wonderful Gemma. She has two children, a 9 girl and a 7 year old boy, and blogs over at about her life and motherhood. You can also find Gemma on twitter @naggingmother1, on Bloglovin' and Google+.

I didn't have my normal scan at 12 weeks. I had mine at 17 weeks!! EEK!
It’s scary to think about it now, but I was still living at home when I fell pregnant at 21 and only a few people knew about it. It was all too scary to deal with and I was na├»ve, so when family found out when I was 16 weeks pregnant, that was when I first went to see a midwife. She was kind and understood why it took me so long to make an appointment and an ultrasound scan was booked for a few days later!

It was a sunny July day when my partner, my mum and I set off to the hospital an hour before my scan time. The hospital was only a 20 minute journey away, but we allowed for parking and getting to the right place etc. Driving to the hospital, it was unusually busy and the scan time was soon approaching. I remember getting stressed (which I do easily!) and quickly having to park and race to the ward. It was a nightmare journey and not the best of starts.

When we arrived, the receptionist could not find my slip/note from the midwife to allow me to be scanned! I felt myself getting more and more stressed, tears in my eyes trying desperately to understand what was happening. I could not be scanned without this piece of paper! The receptionist tried ringing my midwife, but there was no answer. After all that trouble I wasn’t going to be scanned today.

I spoke to the Doctor’s Surgery and a new date was booked for a few days later. This time it was just me and my partner who went. Everything went fine at Reception and I was told to sit down and wait. I remember waiting, watching people going in and out of the scan rooms while watching the clock. I clearly remember that feeling of desperately needing the toilet but knowing that I couldn’t go or baby would not show up clearly on the scan.

I remember being called in and partner being told to wait till he was called in. I laid down, tummy out and felt this cold gloopy gel on me and then the scanner being pushed over my abdomen (soooo uncomfortable especially as I needed the toilet so badly!) and all these silly questions went through my head, mainly “What if there’s no baby in there?!” Along with this I also thought “is everything ok?” “Does it have 10 fingers and toes?” “Is it a boy?” “Is it a girl?” “Crap, is there more than one in there?!” There is nothing to do while the lady is looking intensely at the screen but to think all these kinds of questions!

Finally, she turned the screen round and started pointing out parts of the baby’s body. It was such a relief to know there was a baby in there and everything was intact!! My partner came in and everything was shown to him too. I remember afterwards practically running to the toilet! We were given a photo to keep and I wished that I had asked if it was a boy or a girl.

Three long weeks I had to wait to have my question answered at my 20 week scan. We were shown in a lot more detail some of the body parts including the heart and the bottom, haha. We were told that the baby was more likely to be a girl than a boy.

Sooooo it was still another 20 weeks to wait to find that the prediction was indeed correct!

The 'Mum's First Moments' Blogger Series is all about embracing the first moments of Motherhood. Everything from the moment you discover you're expecting, through all those pregnancy firsts, into child-birth and those first moments as a new Mum and beyond towards the big milestone 'first moments' of bringing your little bundle home, seeing that first gorgeous smile on their faces and more.

If you'd like to get involved comment below, tweet me @shay_noble or email me at for some more information :)

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Sunflower Race, 2014!

A few months back my eldest terror planted some Sunflower seeds. With lots of care, watering and love from her and I they grew big and strong and too tall for the greenhouse. We picked out a spot at the bottom of the garden where they would have plenty of space to grow even bigger and last weekend we planted them. We chose a Sunflower each (my eldest got to chose 2 as she planted the seeds) and our Sunflower Race began!!

I have fond memories of sunflower races with my family during the summer months of my childhood. My little Brother and I used to water ours in the hope that they would grow bigger and win the 'race' and I'm so excited that my two little terrors are old enough to enjoy and join in with the first sunflower race of their own.

So, the line-up! Terror 2 has Sunflower 1, which started the race at 18.5" and a little sideways (I need to find some bamboo canes I think!) and Daddy is Sunflower 2 which started at 16.5". I was assigned Sunflower 3 by my eldest which started at 18" and Terror 1 chose Sunflowers 4 & 5 for herself which started the race at 19" & 18.5".

We'll be measuring our Sunflowers every weekend to see how they're growing and the person with the tallest Sunflower when it's at full flower wins!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, 4 Years On #PTSD

My youngest's birth and the situation surrounding it was a traumatic one. After going into labour at 29+3 weeks pregnant our little man was born at 30+0 weeks weighing just 3lbs 10oz. He was a Saturday child and he was every inch of "works hard for a living." He was born a fighter, and thankfully a very strong one. We had our setbacks along the way, a virus, water retention, sleep apnoea and 2 bouts of septicaemia but he conquered them all bravely and found his way home with just a couple of ongoing health issues when I should have been 35+1 weeks pregnant. It was also his Daddy's Birthday!

He was fantastic; so strong and brave and resilient. It was I who started to fall apart. After having emergency surgery for a retained placenta that saw me loose an awful lot of blood I was incredibly unwell and physically weak and the emotional toll of a premature baby and all that had happened over those first few hours and the 5 weeks to come started to break me down. I was already at high risk of developing Post-Natal Depression having suffered with it mildly after my eldest was born and having an ongoing battle against Clinical Depression. What I hadn't considered though was just how mentally unwell and unstable I would become in the months after my little ones traumatic entrance to the world.

I developed quite severe Post Natal Depression that went unchecked for 11 months and my inability to cope pushed me down the road of relapse of an existing Eating Disorder, something that I'm still battling to get a hold on to this day. They were things I understood though and thought I could handle. I had been dealing with such emotions since my mid-teens, they were nothing new. I was wrong, obviously. I couldn't cope and I entered a very dark place. I reached out to a medical professional to be told I "seemed okay" to them and that "everything would be fine." It wasn't helpful in the slightest and stopped me from approaching anybody else within the health profession about my mental health issues until I reached a point where I felt I could not take any more. My Son was 11 months old.

For almost a year I had dealt with seemingly constant intrusive thoughts throughout the day accompanied by upsetting dreams at night. There were flashbacks that came along with them, mainly hearing sounds and sensing smells when I held or fed my little man but escalating to visual flashbacks and strong emotions the longer I suffered, where I saw things that weren't there and felt the emotions that were surging through me when the moment first happened.

It was tiring. Incredibly tiring. Each day I was trying to look after my two children to the best of my abilities whilst I struggled to function myself. It felt like every second was filled with constant thoughts about his birth, my mind replaying it section by section like a stuck record.

After reaching a point where I simply could not function any longer and finding each day an endless battle to survive I turned to my GP for help. My initial worries about them wanting to take my children away and the guilt I felt over my emotions were soon washed away as he took the time to listen. It was difficult to talk about it and my heart was drumming loudly in my ears for most of the appointment but my GP was wonderful and listened to everything I had to say before taking steps to get me some help.

As I'd been on medication for Clinical Depression before I fell pregnant we both decided that it would be beneficial for me to return to them but at a higher dose. After having waited 11 months to seek help I was in quite a state and my GP kindly forced me to the top of the waiting list to receive some treatment from a Psychiatrist. He was so insistent that I was seen as soon as possible that I received an appointment and started my treatment just two weeks after I'd been to see him.

It was a difficult and long road for me. There were a lot of other mental health issues, both existing and Postnatal, that were rather tangled up. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by the Psychiatrist, something which shocked me at the time but seems so obvious now. I went through a process of being gradually exposed to small memories of my youngest's birth and what followed whilst also receiving treatment that challenged my thoughts and emotions and gave me some life-saving coping mechanisms for when I felt overwhelmed and when a flashback hit.

It has been almost 4 years since my Son was born and almost 3 years since I had to summon the courage to admit something was wrong. I'm having to do that again to hit publish on this post but I figure if just one person reads this, identifies with it or finds the courage to seek help for themselves it is worth my silly feelings of nervousness and insecurity of 'sharing too much.'

I am a much different person. My existing mental health issues continue but they are a battle that is manageable, monitored and that I feel much more in control of. Postnatal Depression has since passed and although some of the feelings of guilt over my youngest's early birth remain they are not as overwhelming as they once were.

I still struggle with my youngest's Birth; reading birth stories can be quite difficult and watching them on TV (I only watch them in soaps - I avoid any programmes solely about birth) is something I have to build up the courage for. I still get flashbacks but they are few and far between. Where they were a regularly, weekly occurrence, they are much more of an annual happening now. They are still just as scary - emotions are brought up and tears well my eyes. My heart feels like it's going to jump out of my chest and I struggle to breathe. But they pass. Coping techniques I've picked up from my therapy help greatly and I'm now reaching a point where I feel I can speak a lot more openly and easily about my youngest's birth and following months - something that was close to impossible before.

I guess the message here is to seek help when you start to feel something is wrong. Don't leave it to escalate to the point you can barely cope. Your GP or whoever you speak to will be kinder and more helpful than you think and the fear of speaking out is nothing compared to battling through on your own. You can recover from PTSD. It is possible.