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The written word

September 24, 2014

Did I mention that she can now write her own name?

The feeling of absolute joy I get looking at this is impossible to articulate … not that she has the skill and dexterity to form the letters but my daughter, the little person who wasn’t ever meant to be, my Spaniard, our baby, our remarkable Hope is so proud and sure of who she is (she says her name with such certainty and always pats herself on the chest when she says it … her full name … and where she lives), that the first thing she has written is her name… I told you I couldn’t articulate it!

Anyway … just look and smile broadly … and notice the butterfly and the little heart as well… she wrote it the day after she was two years and eight months old on the front of her friend’s third birthday card envelope, the heart was because it was with love from Hope …


a word of art

a word of art

Still here, just a little swamped

September 24, 2014

I’ve been neglectful of late … no not of my child, she’s the absolute centre of my universe … not of my mother, she’s my rock and my support even as she faces serious surgery, not of my work, I’ve had many many many late nights beavering away and looking for new work … but of my writing…

particularly my writing here.

Not enough hours in the day, stretched and overstretched … the piles and piles of small clothes that need to be sorted and put away, the mountain of paperwork, the many shoeboxes full of receipts to sort, the thank you letters that remain unwritten, the update emails to Godparents that are months behind, the nutritious meals I was going to prepare, the dust, the new car seat that needs putting back together, the grey tired roots of my hair, the holes in my clothes … I’ve neglected alot and all of these things shout at me when I sit down at the computer … “me first”, “I’ve been waiting the longest”, “OY” … and so I’m distracted from my writing, from my writing here, and at Mothering in the Middle, and Huffington Post … maybe I’m in what’s known as a dry spell, a desert …

it’s not that I’ve got writer’s block, it’s the noise of the rest of my life dampening down my ability to put fingers to keyboard, to put my mind in gear.

She continues to inspire me, make me laugh, drive me to distraction, cause my heart to overflow with love with every minute I spend in her company … the joy when she masters a new skill (skipping with her hands on her hips, writing her name, making flower shapes on the floor with my business cards while I’m working on the computer, getting in and out of the bath by herself, catching a ball, going on the aerial runway on her own, not going over the lines when she coloured in a picture of the sun, reciting the whole of the Tiger That Came to Tea as I turn the page, singing Chatanooga Choo Choo, telling me “I’m not finished yet”, doing a poo on the potty or whooping with delight when she sees an earwig in the garden… so many glorious and wondrous achievements), and the exasperation when she asserts her two year old opinion in the manner of a cross tired two year old and lies on the floor or stands and clenches her fists and shouts, “BUT I WANT TO”, the peace of watching her sleep, the utter contentment on both of our parts when she breastfeeds … all of it is magical and a rich rewarding overwhelming blessing …

maybe I wonder at what to share now she’s getting older, she’s already started to tell her story … or maybe I’m just too tired to keep my mind in order.

So, in case you were wondering, or had even noticed I was missing, I’m not, I am still here and our journey is continuing on its wonderful winding way.

…and just wait until I tell you what else we’ve been up to… life is never dull!

Facebook has been easier to update lately, quick, easy, links to share and so on so if you really want to you could ‘like’ the page there or check in from time to time …

Thanks as well for the many ‘where have you been?’ emails .. hugely appreciated.


What’s your favourite drink?

September 10, 2014

There’s been so much going on of late that I haven’t written about the stories that made me laugh or feel utterly besotted  …

Here’s one from our visit a month or so back to Ireland.

She has boy cousins, lots of them, and now she’s big enough to play with them she often announces she wants to be one of them, “Hopey not big girl, Hopey big boy”… and more recently “Hopey big boy called Ishka”, nope no idea where that came from but she’s said it on more than one occasion. When she’s being a “big boy called Ishka”, she marches round standing tall with her hands in her pockets and then suddenly shouts, runs and sticks her tongue out … reflecting I guess the boy behaviour she’s observed (fairly accurately it has to be said!!).

So, we’d come back from a wet walk, we were in Ireland, so there was a strong chance it would be a soggy stroll. We came into the house and she galloped off to find her cousins, they were all lolling around on cushions playing with their Wii game or a DS or something that I have absolutely no understanding of. Hope was transfixed, she stood in the middle of the room, hands on hips and watched. The game ended and they all reached for their cups of squash, juice or whatever. Hope realised she didn’t have a drink, “Hopey thirsty”, she announced to the disinterested boys, and then again a little louder.

“What do you want to drink Hope?”, one of they eventually asked.

At this point I should say that I was sitting with my mother in the dining room, she was painting and looking out watching the rain, I was eavesdropping and half peering around the sitting room door.

“What’s your favourite drink Hope?”

“Mmmmmm Hopey like mulk. Hopey want milky”.

The boys all looked at each other confused, “what? juice Hope?”

“No Hopey want mulk from my Mummy”.

The boys were still bemused … Hope explained very patiently and lifted up her t shirt to make the point.

“Milky”, she said, “milky from nipple”, prodding her chest.

Lightbulb moment for one of the boys, “Ohh she wants some of her mother’s milk”, general slightly perplexed murmuring.

“Hope want milky from my Mummy’s nipple right now”.

Boys started to blush …

“Hopey like Mummy’s nipple, like my milky, Mummy has big milkys, lots of mulk for Hope … you want some too?”

Boys horrified, a collective, “NO”.

“OK, bye”, said Hope decisively as she marched out of the room and over to me to demand her milky fix … the boys followed a little sheepishly and watched, “see”, said one of them, “I told you was milk from her Mum she wanted”.

Hope stopped mid slurp, looked and made a loud sucky noise, she beamed, “want some? Milky my fav’rit”, the boys fled!


Why was I left feeling like I’d failed?

August 29, 2014

I was asked a few weeks back to write a guest post at MumsNet on behalf of Tongue Tie UK, a very small organisation with a very big challenge; to raise awareness of the issue of tongue (and lip) ties and the impact they can have, and how they can be dealt with. They asked me because of something that happened very very early on in Hope’s life … this is the piece I wrote … it’s been shared some 200 times on Facebook already and commented on by over 100 people on the post itself or on Facebook at the MumsNet page and has been retweeted and commented on hundreds of times on Twitter .. I’m overwhelmed by the response, and also deeply saddened by all the stories of babies and their mothers affected and not supported  or treated…

If you had a baby with a tongue tie do share your story .. here or at MumsNet and consider supporting Tongue Tie UK … and if you know someone who is pregnant and about to give birth, then suggest they get their newborn checked for tongue tie, and if you know anyone struggling to breastfeed their baby get them to see if a tongue tie is the problem … 

Here is the the full text of the post:


“My daughter was blue when she was born – premature, blue and grunting. Although they sounded very sweet, the kitten-like noises she made were because her lungs were struggling. I’d scarcely had a chance to say hello when she was whisked off to the SCBU. When I saw her again a few hours later, she had a nasogastric tube, an IV drip and a pulse monitor attached to her.

I tried to breastfeed her, but felt all clumsy; she was tiny, her mouth seemed so small, and we couldn’t get it quite right. I was given a breastpump and I expressed a few millilitres of what everybody helpfully referred to as ‘liquid gold’, dripped into her via the nose tube. She kept unlatching. I thought it was the nose tube causing her discomfort, or me holding her wrong as I tried to avoid contact with my c-section scar – I was sure it was all my fault.

Feeding became very stressful. I was constantly frustrated – we always seemed so close, but just missed getting it right. We were kept in hospital as she was a little jaundiced and my heartbeat was erratic, but also because I didn’t feel confident with breastfeeding. People came and went, fiddling with my boobs and showing me different holds, but nothing worked. I’d had a caesarean, and was then separated from her for the first few days of her life – I already felt as if I had failed her somehow, so breastfeeding became even more important to me. I felt like I could do nothing right, and this sense threatened at times to engulf me.

One day, whilst advising me on positioning for breastfeeding, a lactation advisor said something about a tongue-tie. I had no idea what she meant. At that point my baby started to cry, and we didn’t have a chance to continue the conversation.
I was so relieved – but why had I been left to feel like Hope’s problems with feeding were down to me? And, having just given birth, why did I have to go to a different hospital?

A few days later, on my slow shuffle back from dripping my precious pumped milk down through the nose tube, I saw the very first midwife I’d met when I was pregnant. She was delighted to meet my girl and asked how I was getting on, so I told her about the breastfeeding problems. She looked into my daughter’s mouth and sure enough, she found that Hope had a tongue-tie. The little bit of skin under the tongue that joins it to the palette was too tight towards the back of the tongue, meaning the tongue was sitting high in her mouth, which is why she could only suck in a very shallow way.

It was a huge relief to understand what the problem was, but there was nothing our hospital could do. We had to travel to a different hospital over an hour away with my 16-day-old baby to get help. The consultant confirmed that our daughter had a posterior tongue-tie and offered to snip it there and then. The procedure took all of 10 seconds, and I think caused me more angst than it did my daughter. I sat in the hospital cubicle topless, while my husband went to hold the baby as the tongue-tie was severed. I heard a very brief cry – it made me cry too – and then she was carried in, looking like a small, bloodied vampire. I put her to my breast and immediately she started feeding.

She nursed voraciously for 20 minutes, the antiseptic qualities of breastmilk starting to heal the very small wound, and then she slept all the way home. I was so relieved – but why had I been left to feel like Hope’s problems with feeding were down to me? And what would have happened had I not spent time with the lactation advisor who first mentioned tongue-tie? And, having just given birth, why did I have to go to a different hospital?

As with most things, it was down to funding. And perceived ‘lack of evidence’ as to whether posterior tongue-ties really do have an effect on breastfeeding (or, for example, language development). It was only when I began speaking to friends about it that I realised how many of them had been through similar experiences. Some had reluctantly given up on breastfeeding, and some – those who could afford it – had gone private to get the tongue-tie treated, or they had taken a long journey to another NHS hospital. All of them, like me, had had no idea what a tongue-tie was until the moment their newborn was diagnosed with one.

I firmly believe that tongue-tie should be highlighted in all antenatal classes. We were incredibly lucky to have such a diligent and knowledgeable midwife, who was willing to discuss something the hospital she worked in didn’t recognise as an issue. Without her support, our breastfeeding journey would have failed before it started – and my daughter and I would have missed out on the joy that nursing has given us.”

#TongueTieHour is a space for parents and other people to share experiences and discuss tongue-tie and lip-tie, every Monday (from September 2) between 3pm and 4pm on Twitter. It is organised by Tongue-Tie UK, which raises awareness about tongue-tie and lip-tie.


An important announcement

August 25, 2014

I was sitting on the loo a little earlier, the door burst open and she marched in.

“Milky Mummy, Hope want milky”.

“OK, bunny, just wait a minute, of course you can”.

She lent over and patted the front of my jumper, lent forward and kissed me and then turned and wandered off.

Two minutes later I came into my ‘office’ to find her standing on the floor looking up at different breastfeeding pictures, the ones I’d been looking at for my latest piece at Huff Post, mainly of the two of us but a few from various nursing websites, “Milky Mummy … lots of milky”, she picked up the breastfeeding book that was open on the desk and examined one of the images, “lady’s milky Mummy”, she said pointing at the mother’s breasts, “lady little bit of milky, not much milky, funny nipple”, I looked at the picture and said, rather vaguely, “everyone is different Hopey, all in different shapes and sizes, large  ones, small ones, all different”, that seemed to satisfy her curiosity, she put the book back giving the picture one last quizzical glance . 

She turned and followed me out of the room and over to our favourite ‘feeding’ chair.

Today, she wanted her milky standing up, she chose the left side first, “deeeeelicious Mummy”, and then went to walk round to the right side. She stopped, stepped back, looked intently at my chest, smiled and and announced, “my Mummy has BIG milkys, lucky Hopey”.

I woke up this morning

August 25, 2014

This morning I woke up because a bird started to sing really loudly outside … I tried to turn my head and couldn’t …

She had abseiled in to my bed over the side of her cot during the wee small hours for a milky snack, so familiar now that it just happens, warm and peaceful and I don’t really feel I’ve been woken up … we generally drift off to sleep together, my small fish pushing me to the very precipice at the edge of the bed. Normally, I wake up and sneak out and have my bath … then just before I get out, the door is pushed open and she walks in, like a picture book toddler in her pyjamas, clutching the corner of her little blanket or a teddy and announces, “I’m awake Mummy”.

This morning it was different, she had me trapped, I couldn’t move. She was clutching a hug handful of my hair in her hand and was lying across my shoulder, her other hand was holding on tight to my nipple! How I’d managed to be asleep like that I have no idea!

I lay there for a while and manage to wriggle my breast free from her grasp, and listened to the bird singing outside, and the sound of her breathing so close by.

I must have drifted back off to sleep, the next thing I knew was a big wet slodgy kiss on the nose, the shout of “I’m awake Mummy, Mummy WAKE UP”, and then the lunge across me for milky. She had a few slurps, looked up and beamed, “delicious Mummy ‘ank you much Mummy”.

All of which made me very happy.


Forget jumping the wiggles

August 22, 2014

today she “walked the pricklies”



any idea?



give up?



oh ok, she walked over the gravel in her bare feet … something I struggle to do as it does hurt … every determined step she took holding her sandals high as if wading through a fast flowing river and not wanting to get them wet, every determined step made me flinch … she wanted to walk to the car with no shoes on … so she did … and spent the rest of the day telling people about her achievement.