parenting

Extreme pram walking

This post has been brewing in my head for almost eight years now. It started way back when I didn’t even know what the dickens a blog even was. But finally, finally I have had enough. Extreme pram walking is doing my head in. Don’t know what it is? Then read on, my friend…

Extreme pram walking is taking your own life- and that of your baby’s- into your own hands. Or, into the hands of the main road and three hundred fast cars. It occurs in many situations and it is ruthless. Adrenalin? Maybe.

Situation 1

There are cars parked on the pavement. They may or may not be ‘allowed’ to be there. Mostly they are there to either pick up/ drop off school children, or to avoid the car’s owner of having to pay to park somewhere that has actually been designed for cars to park. They require such skill as you realise you cannot squeeze between them and the wall so you are forced to walk on the road. Sometimes situation 1 is further hampered by heavy traffic which means you either have to go all ‘school teacher like’ and stop traffic, or wait for a break and make a mad dash. You get a few paces on when situation 1 occurs again! Damn it!

Situation 2

It’s bin day. You don’t know if it is the bin owners leaving them there or the bin men not putting them back properly. Either way, its annoying and it makes for an interesting Extreme pram walking situation. Can you squeeze through? Go on, try.. oops! You’ve bashed the pram, woken the baby and STILL not squeezed through! Onto the road it is, then.

Situation 3

People are stupid. The following actually happened to me. The big one and I were out with prams and bikes. We were standing at the crossing, feet firmly placed on the braille crossing indicators on the floor. This is a tricky crossing as there’s no green man and you need to know the order of the traffic lights to get across safely. So we’re standing, waiting for our moment, when a car pulls up and parks- YES, PARKS- right in front of us. The driver gets out, shrugs his shoulders with a smile and says sorry. Then he goes inside his takeaway shop and starts about his working day. He appears not to know that you aren’t supposed to park ON the braille bits at crossings.

Situation 4

Inconsiderate dog owners. Those who know me know that I am scared of dogs, but that isn’t why they make pram walking so perilous. It’s the poo. Dog owners don’t clean up it so it gets smeared on your wheels. Either that or you go out of your way to avoid it, again probably into the road or thorny bushes or something. And if its not poo on the floor then its poo in bags that have fallen from their temporary home in the trees and are now tangled in your wheels. Not sure why the trouble of bagging up poo is preferable to putting said bag in the bin…

Situation 5

Workmen/ window cleaners. You probably already guessed this one. They leave things in the way.

I’m pretty sick of Extreme pram walking to tell you the truth. Sometimes it’s easier to put the baby in the wrap and walk that way. But if you do any of the above, I’d appreciate it if you would just… stop. Thanks.

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Stop! Step away from Google…

These days Google is not just a search engine; it’ s a verb. Probably a bossy one at that. You know: there’s a tough question in the pub quiz that you just know you know, but you can’t quite remember the answer… Google it. There’s a whole host of tests and referrals to children’s hospitals being thrust upon you for a mystery condition your son seems to have… Google it?

No no no no no no no no no NO!

How many of us have done it though? I imagine they laugh with glee each time somebody types in the words

What does x, y, z mean if it’s in my poo?

Because they have us then. We don’t have a tummy bug any more. We have a life threatening and rare disease which is bound to ravage our body from inside to out in a matter of days. We imagine telling our families. Oh, how to break the news?

I know Googling medical symptoms is wrong, silly and a waste of time. I know that, and yet I still did it.

Yesterday my son and I attended his regular appointment at the Children’s out patients. Believe me when I tell you that I FULLY expected us to be discharged. I’ve written before about his medical conditions (reflux and lactose intolerance) and there have been times when it’s been really bad. But it did  get better. I wrote a very optimistic post for Babyhuddle when my son was finally weaned from the meds he’d been taking since he was 8 weeks old. I thought we had finally gone through it and come out at the other end.

But I think I knew. My son has always suffered from ‘naughty’ poos. He used to get terrible nappy rash and potty training keeps looming like a horrid poo monster whenever we try it. Now that he’s talking more he tells us of tummy aches and gets scared sometimes when he moves his bowels. He is also still struggling to gain sufficient weight and he has literally no appetite most days. Unless it’s toast. Toast he likes.

So…

My son’s consultant wants further tests and a referral to Alder Hey Children’s hospital for further investigation. And I’d entered her office with a huge smile on my face, that close to demanding a sticker for my excellent work at weaning my son from his medication all by myself. I’s honestly thought we would be referred to the dietitian and that would be it.

Apparently sugars in stool samples can be indicative of other conditions alongside lactose intolerance.

And that was the statement that led me to Google.

WHAT other conditions? What else are they testing for? What might they find? There are a whole host of medical experts out there in Google land just waiting to tell me.

That’s why I need to step away from Google.

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Is this a family friendly proposal?

In the headlines today, a ‘family friendly’ Queen’s speech (ITV)  is being promised. The government says there is plenty they want to do to help alleviate some of the pressure we’re all feeling right now. And yet this report from HR magazine paints a picture with a totally different brush. So does the Queen really intend to announce a reduction of maternity leave to jsut 18 weeks? Is this really a family friendly proposal?

Kylie is blogging about this today over at Not even a bag of sugar. Her son was born premature at just 27 weeks gestation and as a new mother, she faced weeks and weeks of extended travelling to and from the hospital every day. With just 18 weeks maternity leave, she would not have been able to form essential bonds with her son. In today’s blog post she writes:

“I would have used 13 weeks leave before my baby was even due, leaving just 5 weeks left. When my son was 5 weeks corrected he wasn’t even 7lb. He was still frail.”

So the government want women like Kylie to leave their babies when they need them most?

What would this mean for mums who did see their pregnancies through to the end? Ghostwritermummy was created as an outlet after the traumatic birth of my son, who was born at 41 weeks and two days. He was born blue, limp and lifeless. When he was plucked from my body I was asleep. He was alone.

I spent the first weeks of his life moving through the days in a murky bubble. I couldn’t believe, at first, that he was even my baby. I had missed his birth. I hadn’t heard those first cries or felt his little body against mine. My arms were dead when they placed him  in them and my eyes were blurred when I tried to see him. I struggled, and I mean struggled to love him.

When my son was around eight months old, I ventured out to seek help. That’s around 34 weeks after his birth. But my maternity leave had started four weeks before his due date, 5 weeks before he was actually born. With proposed new maternity leave, I would be returning to work when my son was 13 weeks old. Where was I when my son was 13 weeks old?

I was not a mother to him. I was a mess.

Flashbacks

Nightmares

Insomnia

anxiety

My son’s health also suffered. At the age of 13 weeks he was referred to a specialist at the hospital, and today- two years on- we are about to attend another appointment for him. At the age of 13 weeks, my son was sleeping for no more than 40 minutes at a time. In between, he was crying, and so was I. My son and I were strangers.

Imagine if I had gone back to work then? How would I teach a room full of children when I was barely able to hold my own baby without an ocean of emotions washing over me again and again and again and again and again? Where would my son and I be now? What would our relationship be like now?

Kylie ends her post today with a statement about her anger. How it wasn’t her fault her baby was born prematurely. How the proposed changes would mean she is forced to miss out on so much of her precious son’s life. I have to echo these feelings. It wasn’t my fault my son was born the way he was (at least, today I don’t think it was…but that’s another blog post). I am angry that women like me could be forced back to work at a time when they are so vulnerable and so frightened. That is NOT good for the family.

Today, I still live with the knowledge that I owe so much to my son. With a new baby in the family, lots has changed but so much still remains. I missed the most important days of my son’s life. I will never get those days back again and I refuse to let the government take them away too. And for women, like me now, who delivered their babies healthily and happily? Would I be happy returning to work in a few weeks time? No way. My daughter needs me. Breastfeeding aside, she is TOO YOUNG to be left whilst I go back to work. As Kylie ends her letter to the minister:

“This isn’t the last you will hear from me”

and you know what? It’s not the last he’ll hear from me, either.

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Where was mum?

As children we used to flick through photo albums looking for mum. As an adult, I look through digital versions of those grainy, out of focus snaps and look for me. I am but  a ghost behind the camera, a figment of your imagination as was once my own mum. Now my daughter asks me

Where were you?

I’m thinking of a picture of my sister and I, sitting on a wall. We’re wearing long white socks pulled up to the knees and bright blue anoraks to shield us from the wind. It’s night time and we are alone on the wall. There is a mniature village behind us, beyond that wall, with tiny people and tiny cars and tiny lives being lived. And I remember thinking

Where was mum?

I’m thinking of another picture. This is one of another sister and I. We’re smiling beside a birthday cake with seven candles and the number seven written in shiny chocolate buttons, pressed into the icing on top. There are balloons hanging from the light fittings unintentionally assembled into crude positions. There are children in the background, mouths open as they sing. My mouth is smiling, but ready to form an O to blow out the candles. My birthday, then.

But where was mum?

The absence of mum from family snaps. Is she the one who takes all the pictures, makes all the memories? Or is she just the one who prefers to hide, away from the flash and safe from exposure? I never thought of this until my friends on Facebook started having babies. I was seeing a certain type of photo.

I was seeing smiling mums in hospital beds with tiny babies in their arms.

red faces

tired eyes

smiling mouths

blankets

snap!

I was seeing happiness in a photo. I was seeing celebration. I was seeing.

Where was my photo like this?

I remember hiding. I remember choosing. No pictures of me. No happy snap with scrunched up faces and tired eyes and smiling mouths. I didn’t want to see.

Where was mum?

It got better, as it always does, eventually. Sooner or later. And then I started looking. Where was my photo? I’d missed my moment. And then I got a second chance. This is one of my most precious photos in the world. Isobel’s first photo. Where was mum? She was right there.

Isobel, minutes old
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