Browsing Tag


Special Needs


Sebastian will be fifteen months old soon, at fourteen months Ariella had just started to crawl. I try not to compare siblings but S is a constant reminder of typical and it is difficult, perhaps even impossible to not notice. I remember being surprised the first day that S looked at my face and brought his own hand up to touch my cheek, I could tell by the way he had done this with such a light touch it was intentional. You only had to look at his face to know he was making a connection, a social one in that moment. I can’t remember how old he was but it must have been younger than six months old. I see S as so much older because the baby stage with A has stretched out in front of us, every single step, every skill takes so much energy for everyone involved.

We have a review meeting planned for next week which is focused around whether or not A fits the profile for a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this follows a multidisciplinary review that was done back in January. No matter what the outcome of the review I know because I live with A that she is autistic. Every single waking moment is focused around transitions, anxiety and sounds. I know because she has never once held her hand to my face or looked me in the eye the way S does. I know because I still wait for us to have a real conversation. If Autism isn’t the right word then we are making our own profile for a neurological way of thinking that has no diagnosis at present.

It will be nice to draw a line under the last year of confusion on every diagnosis that we’ve gained so far and understand. With understanding we can tailor experiences going forward and we can read and learn how to best support A to enable her happiness. We can stop trying to make a round peg fit in a square hole, I don’t care if we have a round hole in a field full of square holes. But I do care about the unbalance and distress that is caused by the former and while we don’t need a diagnosis it will help a lot with understanding.

In the evenings when I am stirring up the second dose of Ariella’s medicine, watching her eat her ice cream (which she has to have after her evening meal else the world has ended – we make our own now with smoothies) I often think about how something simple like this has become so normal to us and yet for most children, taking a twice daily medicine which you need to give a good stir due to the large quantity of pills dissolving in it would be a massive challenge. Routine has a large role in this, we have a daily rhythm which is held up by blutac and keeps things ticking over. It helps a lot with A’s anxiety and she finds reading the visual timeline very helpful. Somedays it does feel too rigid for me but I know if we don’t keep to it then we are more likely to see a flare of challenging behaviour (kicking, biting, screaming, hitting, repeated phrases, head butting, pushing).

Motivator toys sit in a little accessible basket nearby, only to be used while sitting

We’ve started potty training, yippee! Part of fully understanding the different ways and approaches to how children with ASD think has helped me buy more appropriate reading materials. I’ll have to keep “Oh Crap, Potty training” to hand for S when it’s his turn to potty train, instead I’ve been reading “Ready, Set, Potty” which is aimed at potty training children with Autism and developmental disorders. It makes so much sense to me now why typical potty training methods just won’t work, you are almost relying on a set of typical behaviours and for a child to know what to do naturally. Let me tell you, the only thing that has ever come naturally to A is eating. That’s it, the only one thing we’ve been able to follow her lead for, which is really strange for me because I generally believe that you should follow the child. Only issue is of course that relies on the child having a desire to go.

With that said, potty training so far is going really well given the challenge of communication and resistance to change. We are using a visual time line and motivating toys, no going back now! I’m really keen to keep going and reach that level of independence for A. It will be a joint effort between us and nursery but we are all working for the same goal and I couldn’t ask for more right now. When it comes to potty training S I am hoping it will feel like a breeze! It is the last day of term today and I am expecting the change in routine to holiday to be a challenge for A, I expect Monday will bring lots of challenging behaviours but I am also excited by the possibility of really cracking on with potty training at home. I think having consistency and being able to take A to the potty every hour in the same place will really help, nursery is of course a new environment whereas home is not.

We have visuals stuck up on a mirror nearby and the bathroom is themed with teddies!

Despite how noticeable the difference is, it is different but not less. It has allowed me to think about things in a way I would never have. Would I even know what a visual timeline was? Or have such a understanding of developmental delay and rigid thoughts/routines? I don’t think so. Things are taken quite literally by A and sometimes that can cause some of the biggest laughs ever for everyone involved. I am constantly reminded how lucky I am actually to be part of both parenting worlds, although I wouldn’t wish the struggle on a child it has taught me to look at the world differently and that there are qualities within people that are rare and valuable beyond what we see on Instagram and social media.

Noticeably different but not noticeably wrong.

Being Mum Featured Parenting

An Autumnal picnic in Surrey

Picnics are one of my favourite things to do with Ariella, until now they’ve always been a Summer event. One of my most mundane parenting tasks is wiping the floors, highchair and Ariella after her meals, the beauty of picnics means that a good shake down usually does the job for you. Cleaning up after meals closely follows my other soul destroying task –  emptying the dishwasher, but needs must.

We were going for an Autumnal picnic with good friends originally, sadly life had other plans but we plodded on just the three of us. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit and soon as our groceries arrived yesterday morning, after unpacking I immediately started mulling wine.

Prep work!

Excuse the rather surprise half smile, Jamie took this after appearing around the corner!

Prior to making mulled wine myself I can’t say I’ve ever really thought that much of it. I realise now that the best mulled wine is home made rather than from a packet or bag, the recipe I highly recommend is one of Jamie Oliver’s which you can find here. I had ordered two huge 1L flasks in the shop to put hot tea and the wine in but we decided only to take the mulled wine as with just the three of us (and one of us not being particularly helpful in the holding department) it would have been just too much for us to carry. We also ditched the wicker hamper in favour of a more practical backpack number that Jamie could attach to his back while carrying Ariella. This left my hands free to carry the food cooler bag, picnic blanket and my trusty flask of mulled wine.

Winkworth Arboretum in the Spring with Ariella

We have been to the Winkworth Arboretum a handful of times, once in the spring when glorious blue bells were out in full swing (for a picnic too) and once in the summer purely for a nice walk with visiting family. This time once again the season change was clear to see, truly beautiful colours can be seen here in Autumn. Winkworth Arboretum is run by the National Trust, which we finally decided yesterday to sign up for a membership for. It really was about time and now free’s us up to enjoy many of the other venues held by the National Trust in Surrey.

We walked around for a little while trying to find the right place to sit down and finally found this really interesting very red tree, it was definitely a point of interest as many onlooker stopped to admire it (as well as point and smile at Ariella). 

Autumnal Picnic

I always like to take a big muslin square, one of those huge ones for Ariella to sit on because otherwise she would stain the picnic blanket when eating. It’s probably not the most sensible of colours for a picnic blanket, grey and white but I really love it! The extra layer helps and means I can bundle up the muslin once she is finished and wash it which removes any marks, unlike the picnic blanket which is a hand washing affair.When we weaned Ariella we decided to use a baby led approach so she has eaten well independently for a long time. When we first starting weaning her at six months old I remember the Health Visitor (HV) at the time saying that she may struggle to to swallow food, this was definitely a hard pill to swallow it’s hard to imagine now that we know she eats well the worry before. She was quite right though it’s a concern for children with Ariella’s suspected condition but luckily not a challenge we have had to deal with.

Ariella Eating

I poured out our cups of mulled wine while Ariella tucked into some pesto pasta, the wine went down a treat as it was bitterly cold out. We wrapped up warm though and Ariella was nice and toasty. Half way through Ariella went really quiet and strange then starting crying intermittently, immediately we both tried to work out what was wrong. Did she wants more food on her plate? What food did she want? A fresh nappy? Her water bottle? Eventually we worked out that she would cry each time Jamie put a crisp into his mouth, how unusual we thought. Crisps that definitely would not normally be part of Ariella’s diet, alas we caved and gave her some – sweet chilli thins seem to be right up her street as she was very demanding of more!

Mulled Wine
Next time I would opt for a hot soup as well as the mulled wine (in flask B), bread to dip in the cups and probably some blankets. It would have been a little difficult to carry though so perhaps we would have to rethink our storage solution! We tried to use more Summer appropriate foods which really didn’t work well in the cold, the cheese for example had no chance to warm up out there.

With all that being said I still highly recommend a lovely Autumnal picnic, it was beautiful to sit there as a family while leaves fell onto the blanket. Ariella had such fun looking up at the sky and for the first time said “Skiay” which we are taking as a another word! I’d love to hear about your Autumnal picnic food suggestions, so please if you do have any lovely recipes to share in the comments or you can message me directly using the about me page.

Being Mum

Us, we, you – reflecting on the last year

Watching your child develop and grow as a parent so often you just have to sit back and accept the journey. At first you start as an –us– during pregnancy. I watch now some of my pregnant friends as they start on their adventure to motherhood and fondly look back at the beginnings of my own.

Back then, it was us. Both of us would go to the shops, both of us would eat lunch. One single entity, in some ways this was a much easier phase, I didn’t have to carry her around along with everything she needs to live, laugh and develop into a happy little human being. This phase was lovely, all it really asked of me was to give up various physical aspects of my life. Make some trips to be prodded with a needle, lose a bunch of weight and accept throwing up for months on end as “ok”.

There is a lot of control at this stage, you plan everything aspect and read loads of books. Frankly it’s a very nice transition, much like the run up to your wedding – plan, plan, dare I even say there is an excitement for it to be over and done (ha yes I know, some how then it doesn’t seem like just the beginning). I doubt it’s the same the second, third or fourth (you get the idea) time around. But for that moment you are still you, well us. But mostly you.

TStokke Walkhen came the –we-, this was much like pregnancy – sort of. It again asked again for another self less sacrifice in terms of sleep, stamina, when they are so small I found it pretty easy. They sleep, most of the time at that age and there are lots of cuddles. Lots of idle time while they are asleep on you, again probably not so much if it’s not your first child. Unless they are at school. Yes the we stage, still some control but suddenly there’s a world of things you can’t do so easily. Some things that require thought before action, going outside for one, walking around with a tiny person attached to you in one way or another. Some how you master the art of multitasking in a new way, learning to turn on the TV with your toes, showering really quickly. Still “we” are going to the coffee shop, we are eating lunch, we are going to go to that lovely sign and sing class. We actually do these things because you don’t have a say in the matter, much.

Me and AOne day we becomes –you-, overnight they develop their own personality you find yourself asking them what they want to do. Does Ariella want to go out today? Do you want to wear this or this? Do you want something to eat? Just like that one day they aren’t happy just following you around and doing what you want to do, they want to explore and have their own time. I think this is so far the hardest phase, watching but not interfering is a difficult balance. Being ready to intervene if needed but not always needed. I imagine it’s just going to become more like this, I’m sure eventually you adjust to having a bit of your own time again, piece by piece. This is certainly where you are, you are your own person and know your own mind.

It’s been a great year, the quickest and the longest year so far 2015 – 2016. The days seem to fly but the hours seem longer some how, perhaps because rather than the 9 – 5 schedule of work we are working on your new schedule. Wake up, breakfast, play, nap, wake up, play, lunch, nap, wake up, play, CBeebies, dinner, play, -your- bedtime. Perfection!

Being Mum Bump to Baby

An arrival

As expected 37 weeks was to be my last bump update, baby arrived by emergency cesarean section at 22:14 on the 9th of April 2015. Not at all what I had planned but I have to admit that I really haven’t found the recovery too bad. So what happened?

I was scheduled to be induced the following day after visiting hospital for my itching issues. They did a growth scan and found her to be measuring big also I had a lot of extra fluid so they really couldn’t leave me to go naturally any longer, baby was ready to come out.

At the time I was pleased, I knew that at least one way or the other I would be meeting her soon. I was due to go in on the 8th for my induction at 9am, we had everything packed and ready and headed to the hospital prepared for what could be a few days of waiting. Inductions can take a while, there is the task of readying the cervix, breaking the waters and then seeing whether you go naturally into labour or potentially a drip to induce contractions.

I didn’t make it quite that far, after what was a slow start due to no doctor being around until 5pm to prescribe the gel they needed to start the process we were both pretty annoyed having waited all day. Then the six hour wait to see if the gel worked or whether more was needed followed by another six hour wait. During this time I was still getting my usual contractions which I had been getting for weeks. They were much more uncomfortable after the gel had been administered, later it would dawn on me that it was so uncomfortable due to the vast amount of fluid I had.

Sometime the next day my waters broke, the amount of water that made its great escape surprised everyone in the room. It just kept coming! By the time it had settled down my bump was a lot smaller than before and the contractions I was having were barely noticeable to me. Yet the intensity had not changed on the monitor.

At this point I was feeling much better, progress I thought. My hind waters had broken and finally I was going to be moving to the labour section of the ward to get this train moving. Or so I thought, something like eight hours passed while we waiting for a bed to become available.

We had one but then an emergency took it just before we were about to move. Honestly you cannot appreciate how frustrating waiting in a hospital is, so many inefficient processes that have to be kept to. By this point I was pretty annoyed to be jumping through hoops, we had been doing it for weeks now back and forth to the hospital.

As it’s completely out of your control and communication really is not forth coming there isn’t much to be done. Myself and my husband settled down to our second night in the induction room while we waiting for the next step.

Sometime later my husband noticed the CTG monitor that was monitoring babies heartbeat kept slowing down. He looked and found that indeed with each contraction her heartbeat was dipping, so we called for the midwife and from there everything went pretty quickly.

I was wheeled down still in my bed to the labour ward, a team of people arrived and explained that there were two options. They could try and put a monitor on the babies head or if they couldn’t do that then we would be looking at a section.

They broke the last of the waters but I wasn’t dilated enough to get the trace on. So off we went to theatre, I was strangely calm. I think most people that know me well know how oddly calm I can be in times when others might panic. The way I saw it was that nothing I do will change anything and I was in the best care at the time.

I had my epidural popped in which didn’t hurt at all. I was expecting it to as I had heard it does, maybe I just had a lucky escape there. Once that was in then off the team went, before long out she came.

It takes a lot longer to do the after work, but during that time you have your new baby next to you so you don’t really notice. My husband was able to stay next to me the whole time so it wasn’t too bad at all.

The worst part had to be that because she was born so late my husband had to go not long after she was born. Soon as I was out of recovery and heading to the postnatal ward that was it. We wanted a amenity room which would have meant he could stay but they were fully booked. I knew this was a possibility when giving birth at the hospital but I hadn’t thought about it when being wheeled away to theatre. Not that I would have had any other options at the time, but there is something really wrong about parting so soon after birth.

In my ideal world I would have given birth at the birth centre and not had to deal with all the crying babies after birth, you really can’t sleep on those wards. I like my own en suite, my own babies cries and ideally a helping hand particularly after going through surgery. I suppose the point is, you don’t get to decide that’s the fun part of pregnancy; you don’t decide what hurdles happen to pop up in the way nor do you get to decide what kind of birth you end up having. I think everyone knows that, but if I were to go back I might have at least done the hospital tour.

But I was quickly out of there, soon as my catheter was out I was up and walking. I expected it to be really painful, but I knew the only way I could go home was if I started moving around. It was quite annoying not being able to pick her up out of her cot because of the surgery, you are encouraged to call the midwives for such tasks. Luckily we were able to go home the next day and I honestly feel pretty normal now, I was told that I took to the recovery abnormally well. Granted I have a scar which will be there forever but she’s here safe and sound, which is all that matters.

Lifestyle Pre Baby

Just a quick update

The last half of 2014 has been pretty mad and I haven’t felt like reading since July because of it! So what’s happened? Well we decided to increase the family by one, due in April this year. It has been a bit of a roller coaster to say the least, however things have settled down now and I am looking forward to reviewing some lovely baby items!


I salute anyone who has the energy to blog about their pregnancy experience when they have bad morning sickness during the first and (start of) the second trimester. But now at almost twenty five weeks I’m feeling pretty much normal and we have starting all the baby shopping.

I’m going to be doing a few posts hopefully on some of the items we’ve picked once they’ve been used a bit so I can get an idea of how good they are. I’m also doing just a few crafty type items for the nursery so hoping to post about that once I get all the items I need to start the projects.

Also I would love to do a nursery before and after with some organisation tips but we will see how that goes, so check back here soon for more reviews!