Friday, 3 February 2017

This Week's Victories 2017 #5

Friday again already? And... What? It's February already? How did that happen?

We've had a fantastic week this week, mostly due to yesterday. After 5 years of internet weirdy friendship, I finally met up with a lovely lady called Claire. And, of course, her amazing little boy Harry. Harry is a heart warrior too, and it was so amazing to finally get Samson and Harry together and watch them play. I think we did amazingly well not to cry, it was such a big emotional thing to finally meet and celebrate our heroes together.

In other news...
-Samson has learned to say 'slipper'
-He had a bit of pear, real pear not pureed, and although it took a lot of chewing he managed it just fine.
-I saw the bottom of the laundry basket! It didn't last, but it doesn't happen often so is worth mentioning.

What were your victories this week?

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Friday, 27 January 2017

This Week's Victories 2017 #4

It's been a strange week this week. I've changed my working days, which has thrown the clock in my mind all out of whack! But it's Friday again, and that means it's time to look back at the week!

- Samson had a paeds appointment, and this is now also 12-monthly as she's happy that he's doing well.
- The animal noises are still going well. This week we've learned 'moo'!

Other than that, it's actually been a really quiet week. But sometimes, that's really nice!

What were your victories this week?

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Friday, 20 January 2017

This Week's Victories 2017 #3

This week has actually been really difficult. I had a few nights of PTSD flashbacks which prevented me from sleeping and made me feel completely horrible - we're talking 24 hours straight of being awake on one occasion with just 2 hours sleep afterwards. But still, it hasn't been all bad...

- There's a third animal noise! He's learning one a week which is pretty good going in my opinion. The latest is a dog says "woof woof".
- We have booked a cheeky little weekend break for March - the 10th anniversary of our first date. It's really close to home (about 30 mins away, that's all!) but it's the change of scenery that's important.
- I had my second counselling session. I cried, but I do feel like talking is definitely helping.
- Samson had a review yesterday with the team who look after his oesophagus. They're so pleased with how he's doing that his check ups will now be 12-monthly.
- I also spoke to his dietician yesterday, who is really happy with how his weight is going and plans to see him in clinic in May and then probably discharge him!!

What were your successes this week?

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Friday, 13 January 2017

This Week's Victories 2017 #2

This is where I look back at the week and what has gone well!

- We're now up to two animal noises - in addition to last week's lion saying "roar", we now have monkeys saying "ooh ooh". Too cute!
- Today is payday, always a good day in my book!
- I have successfully avoided buying a coffee at the railway station all week. I do enjoy one on a morning but sometimes sacrifices must be made!

What were your successes this week?

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Friday, 6 January 2017

This Week's Victories 2017 #1

I'm going to try really hard to post every week about whatever victories we've had - no matter how small!

- This week, Samson learned his first animal noise (a lion says "roar", just in case you're wondering!) and I swear it's just the cutest thing hearing him roar.
- The first working week of the year has been survived!
- I've spoken to my boss and we've agreed a change in my working days from the end of this month. This means I can be at home on a Friday and take Samson to a new baby and toddler group the health visitor is starting up.

What were you successes this past week?

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Thursday, 5 January 2017

2017's Plans and Hopes

This is the first year we've started without something big looming on the horizon - be that IVF, the birth of our little handsome boy, or his heart surgery. This year is a completely fresh, clear canvas; ours to do with whatever we choose.

That said, we haven't got much by way of plans for the year. As much as I love making plans and having things to look forward to, it's also quite refreshing having an almost clear slate. Should we decide to be spontaneous, we can.

Our only real plans at the moment are a couple of trips away. We're taking Samson to Thomasland in February, to celebrate the one year anniversary of his heart surgery. He absolutely adores Thomas & Friends (I think it would be fair to say he's actually obsessed!) so hopefully he'll enjoy being in a Thomas theme park. There's a zoo as well, and we've been wanting to take him to a zoo for a while now so we hope he'll enjoy that!

We've also got a midweek break booked at Center Parcs in September. We enjoyed ourselves so much in November that we couldn't wait a whole year to go again!

As for the rest of 2017, I'm hoping that we get to just spend quality time as a family, making special memories, in whatever format it happens to take. It would also be nice if we managed to finally get Samson's bedroom done - he's still in with us at almost 20 months! Which is fine, but it would be good for him to have his own space.

What are your plans for this year?

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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Christmas Tag

I can't remember where I saw this, it's been sitting in my drafts so long. But anyway, who doesn't love a bit of Christmas fun? On with the Christmas tag...

What’s your favourite Christmas Movie?
I can't choose just one, it's not possible. Loved in equal measure are Home Alone, Home Alone 2, and Elf.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes. Don't ask me to prove it though!

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Usually at home.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
I love a bit of Shaky at Christmas. And "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No, but we do have a Night Before Christmas box. We only started it last year once we had a child to start new traditions with.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. And Rudolph of course!

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
I'm looking forward to all of it. It feels like a real family Christmas for the first time, and it's going to be amazing!

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Fake. I've never had a real tree.

What is your all time favourite holiday treat/food/sweet?
Mince pies, and all the chocolate. Chocolate oranges and after eights particularly.

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Probably giving, but it stresses me out a bit trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone!

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
Is it awful that nothing is coming to mind? I really can't think of one particular awesome thing.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
I would always always always say New York, but we were lucky enough to visit the Big Apple at the end of December 2014 and stay for New Years Eve. I'd do it again though, definitely!

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I am a present wrapping extraordinaire!

Most memorable Christmas moment?
Erm... trying to sieve blended turkey last year for Samson, so he could have some of our Christmas dinner. And then he didn't even want it haha!

What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I genuinely don't remember. Maybe it was so traumatic I blocked it out?!

What makes the holidays special for you?
I just love Christmas. I love time with family, especially now that we have our own child. I can't wait to see his face on Christmas morning, and to make lots of memories over Christmases to come.

If you want to join the fun and do the Christmas tag, please leave the link in the comments below so I can come and read your answers!

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs

Christmas last year wasn't, if I'm honest, the amazing first Christmas as a family that we've dreamed of for so many years. Samson was unwell for a lot of December, we went to at least one hospital per week every week for over 2 months - not all planned trips, we had a couple of overnighters in A&E - and when we weren't at hospitals or doctors surgeries we were basically housebound to try to protect him from infection and the cold weather. Which meant no looking at Christmas lights and decorations, and no visits to Santa.

This year is so different. Incredibly, wonderfully different. Samson is less vulnerable, stronger, and the hospital trips are less frequent. Christmas really is going to be a wonderful celebration this year, and in order to make the most of it we decided to kick things off early and book a Winter Wonderland trip to Center Parcs for late November.

We've never been to Center Parcs before, as it always seemed a bit extravagant and pricey for just the two of us - but perceptions change somewhat when you have children! Yes it's not cheap, but we figured we'd had a pretty harrowing first year of parenthood and we deserved a treat, so we even upgraded accommodation. We took my mum along with us as well by way of a small thank you for everything she has done and continues to do for us - without her, I wouldn't have been able to go to work and we'd struggle to get anything done at home. A third pair of hands makes a huge difference to us every day!

The Center Parcs at Whinfell Forest is only an hour and a half away from us, which was a big factor in us choosing to go there as we're all about the short journeys! We left home around 12.30pm and arrived shortly after 2pm. Checking in at the arrivals lodge impressed us - they knew who we were and how many of there should be before the car had even come to a stop! We couldn't access our lodge until 3.30pm, so we parked the car in the car park and headed to the village centre for a look around and a bite to eat to pass the time.

When the time came to go to our lodge, the four of us wandered along and we were so impressed with it. It was beautiful. We left my mum and Samson there while we went to go get the car so that we could unload, and we were again impressed with the village and how well signposted it is. You'd do well to get lost when driving to your lodge!

There were so many activities to choose from during the course of our stay, and many I was extremely tempted by for Samson, but in the end the only thing we did at extra cost was the visit to Santa. Not only was it Samson's first time meeting Santa, it was also my first time, so I was pretty excited and not only on his behalf! Santa's Workshop was decorated beautifully, and we'd chosen the 4.15pm slot thinking that it would be dark so we'd get the full effect of the lights, but less busy than the more popular early evening slots. It worked a treat; there was no queue at all when we arrived and we were straight inside to see the elves. Then we were called in to see the man himself - exciting! Samson was a bit hesitant at first to say the least, although the offer of a chocolate coin did persuade him to approach Santa. Only for long enough to grab the coin! We had a lovely photo taken, and then Santa gave Samson a little gift and we were on our way.

That evening was also the fireworks display, so we made our way up to the lake to watch. This was another first for Samson as he'd never seen fireworks before, and his reaction was mixed - he loved the sparkles and lights but wasn't so keen on the bangs. I don't blame him for that.

The rest of our stay was very enjoyable, if reasonably unremarkable. We had a few walks around the forest, ate in some nice restaurants, and finally (finally!!) managed to get Samson to see that swimming is fun and not the devil. We had a couple of really enjoyable afternoons in the subtropical swimming paradise - and, you know what, it's appropriately named! There's so much in there to explore and you could easily spend an entire day there.

Friday came around far too quickly, and we had to go home. Center Parcs has absolutely won us over though, and we will definitely return!

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

National Fertility Awareness Week #NFAWUK

This week is National Fertility Awareness Week here in the UK; a week to raise awareness about fertility problems and challenge the myths surrounding them.

In the UK, 1 in 6 couples face fertility problems. We were that 1 in 6. You probably know if you've been around for some time, that we had to have two attempts at IVF to have our precious baby. It took us 3 and a half years of trying to conceive - at the time, that felt like 3 and a half decades. Time moves very differently when you're stuck on a rollercoaster that you just don't want to be on. Still, our journey was relatively short compared to others, and we are incredibly grateful that we were able to receive the treatment we did and that it was successful.

There are no two ways about it; infertility sucks. That period of my life - our lives - sucked. It did, however, lead me to meet an amazing group of women (one of them is on the poster above!) who, thanks to the power of the internet and the shared miserable experiences we had, have become a wonderful group of friends. Infertility can be extremely isolating and lonely, but there is support out there and other people going through the same thing, and that helps you through the darkest moments enormously.

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Baby Loss Awareness Week

I was unsure whether to write this post, but I think I needed to. These feelings have eaten away at me inside for a long time; barely acknowledged for fear of sounding like I don't appreciate what we have. Which of course, I absolutely do.

It's baby loss awareness week. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I haven't suffered it in the traditional way - that is, finding out I'm pregnant, and then miscarrying and having nothing but emptiness. My loss of babies has been somewhat different, but a loss I've felt deeply nonetheless.

Those of you who've been around for some time know that we had an IVF cycle in March-April 2014, which ended in failure. That embryo didn't stick around long enough to turn into a positive pregnancy test, but to me that embryo was a very real hope of a baby. It embodied our dreams and our wishes for the future; to lose it was devastating for me. It was right up there with the loss of my dad as one of the very worst times of my life.

The second time around at IVF, we transferred two embryos. Both of those stuck initially, but then we lost one at 6 weeks. That was such a confusing time emotionally - I was so indescribably relieved to be pregnant and to see a little jelly bean with a heartbeat at 7 weeks, but there was a tinge of sadness at the loss of the other. I had dreamed of what it would be like to be a twin mum, wondered whether we'd have two girls, two boys, or one of each.

With hindsight, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some relief that we just had the one baby - his arrival was so dramatic, his first few months so stressful, and his health problems will be lifelong. I can't imagine how we would have coped with two. But that doesn't mean I don't think about the one we lost; I do. All the time. Every day.

I wonder whether it was a boy or a girl. Would they have looked like Samson? Would they have been as full of character and spirit as he is? Would they have been healthy? These questions will never be answered - they'll also probably never be asked aloud. They're just ponderings in my mind.

Tomorrow night I'll be lighting a candle for our lost babies, for all the lost babies that parents never got to meet, and for the angel babies that were taken away too soon. You can join the wave of light by lighting a candle too, on 15th October at 7pm.

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