When One Child’s Needs Supersede Another…

If there is one singular reason why it took me so long to get around to having a Number Two, it would have to be that I worried about being able to meet the needs of both children.

I was worried what would happen when one child’s needs supersede another…

Number One and I were on our own a long time before the Other Half came along, and however much she loves him, learning to share me with another took her some time. So despite her constant nagging for a sibling, I was wary of what the impact of having one would have on her.

And in the spirit of total honesty, I was also worried what impact her needs would have on a sibling.

Quite simply I wondered how I would ever split myself in two.

Of course ultimately as many of you know, we took the plunge and did it anyway. And I’m glad we did.

You see I was wrong.

Number Two’s first year has not been easy. In fact if I am honest that is an understatement. But never once has Number One resented him. Us yes, without a doubt, I was in big trouble for the fact that he was in hospital on the day that happened to be both Pancake Day and Parent’s Day. But him, never. She has loved him unconditionally throughout.

She has accepted that quite simply, as much as we wish it wasn’t the case, right now his needs supersede hers.

We need to spend hours trying to get him to eat. We need to drive for miles to take him to see specialists. And somehow despite the worry and lack of sleep we need to survive.

She could have been angry, accused us of putting him first, distanced herself from him. In the old days she probably would have done all three.

But she hasn’t.

Instead she has entertained him on car journeys (yes even at the extent of Minecraft), encouraged him to eat, and accepted that sometimes she has to wait.

One day it won’t be this way. There will I am sure be times he is the one taking the backseat to her needs. Times she will supersede him.

But maybe despite my initial worries about this happening, I have learnt something important. This is what family is about. It’s ok to need to come first at times, but it’s equally ok to learn to come second.

After all, sharing is important for more than just toys.

Cutting Night Feeds

This week we have been on a mission. Mission: Cutting Night Feeds.

In the very early weeks of Number Two’s life he struggled to put on weight. In fact, for a while he stopped putting it on altogether.

He took very little milk during the day at that time, so we began to dream feed as often as possible. It worked for weight gain, and became a strategy we relied on. It did of course result in very little sleep.

But that was a small price to say.

It meant we could continue to feed him, and that he could stay of the tube.

This week though, at almost 13 months old, we decided we needed to try to tackle the issue. Number Two was still getting the vast majority of his calories overnight and we want to try to switch that.

In essence we need him to be hungry enough to try to persuade him to eat real food during the day.

His weight game has halted somewhat this month, keeping the status quo is no longer enough. Tube feeding is being talked about again. Now is the time to try big changes. There is no longer an element of choice.

If I’m honest I was expecting hours of screaming. I expected him to complain.

We have been doing more than ten feeds a night for longer than I can remember. And this week we have cut that to two.

I have however been pleasantly surprised, he cried a little the first time (for less than two minutes), but since then has accepted being rocked to sleep happily. What’s more, it has dramatically improved his sleep.

We have gone from him waking between ten and twenty times a night, to him waking only four times.

If our reason for cutting feeds had been to get more sleep, we would have completed a very successful mission.

Unfortunately (pleasant though that outcome is), it wasn’t our aim.

He is still eating very little during the day – though he must be hungry. Fingers crossed it will just take a little longer…

If you’ve had a toddler that consistently refused to eat I’d love to know what you did to get them eating, any tips are welcome.

How Do You Do It?

One of the most common questions any parent of a child with additional needs is asked is ‘How Do You Do It?’ Or probably even more common, is the slight shake of the head and look of awe that comes with the statement ‘I don’t know how you do it.’

It’s a question or statement that comes with no malice attached.

Quite the opposite, it’s often said with pride. The friends in question, look at our life and wonder what they would do if they were to walk a mile in our shoes.

They wonder how they would manage the sleepless nights, the hospital visits, the worry and uncertainty. They wonder how they would navigate the school system, and fight for their child’s needs. But most of all they wonder how we do that with smiles on our faces.

So here, is the answer to that question.

We are not superhumans. We have no special powers. Though sometimes I wish we did have.

We are simply parents, doing what any parent in our position would do. We are fighting for our children, every minute of the day. And we are surviving.

And do you know something, if this happened to your family – that’s exactly what you would do too. You would like us, make mistakes. But then the day after would dawn, and you would get up and begin the fight again.

‘But what about the smile?’ I hear you ask.

And the truth is simple. Each day we have two choices, the choice to laugh or the choice to cry. Some days the latter wins, especially on the days when we have gone one step forward only to plummet to earth by going two steps back. But most days the former wins.

After all. We are lucky. We have two incredible children, we love each other, we are a family.

Our days (and nights) may not always be easy. But they are our days.

Yes, there are days we hurt. But love wins out.

Our children are wonderful.

Life is often challenging. But they are worth every second.

We do it because our children need us too. In our position you would too.

Can I Really Still Adult? – Contemplations On Returning To The World Of Work

I Wonder If I Still Can…

As I sit here contemplating my impending return to work. The ending of my precious year. I cannot help but wonder if I still know how to adult.

Mummy conversations I can do. They revolve around babies, poo, food, milestones and of course sleep. Slight deviations happen, we move onto men, life, and returning to work. But then invariably one of the babies does something adorable and our conversation once again returns to our offsprings.

Life is simple, heartfelt and on the whole happy. I am navigating one world, not multiple worlds.

But soon that will no longer be the case.

I will once again return to the world of grown-ups.

My memory will be needed, and no matter how much (or little) sleep there has been the night before, I will need to function, I will need to talk about real world things.

I will need to be responsible, teach lessons and know answers.

I wonder if I still remember how?

Of course, deep down inside me those skills must still be there. I had them once, they can’t have gone. And as my mummy friends, one by one, leave the fold and make their own journeys back into the world of work, I am reminded that it must be possible.

None of them have crumbled, come running home, declared they can’t go back.

On the contrary they have been brave beyond belief. They have stood tall and strong. Negotiated dropping their babies at nursery, and re-entering the world of work. They have been successful, made the transition.

But can I really do it?

I remind myself with gratitude that children I can do – and luckily as a teacher most of my day is surrounded by them – I can remember my phonics, and my silly actions, I can still do funny voices at story time and climb on tables.

But can I really adult?

Do I remember what Ofsted will need to know, or how to deliver data to senior management without letting my heart rule my head (though come to think of it, I was never particularly good at that in the first place). Will I remember to look sympathetic when a colleague (who hasn’t been awake 20+ times a day tells me that they are tired)? Can I drive a two hour round trip without falling asleep at the wheel?

Am I really ready?

I guess the truth is, that I’m not. I never will be. Because returning to work means admitting that my baby is now a toddler, that the year is over, that he now needs me (albeit slightly) less than he did.

But ready or not, like millions of women both before and after me, I will do it. I will make the leap.

I will make mistakes, because I am human.

And when I walk out the door on that first morning I am sure that there will be more than a few tears in my eyes.

But I will survive.

Because like it or not, I can. And somehow, from somewhere deep inside me I will find a way to be the best mum, partner, teacher and blogger I can be.

Because multitasking is one thing us mums are really pretty good at.

I Wonder What Tomorrow Will Bring

On my Facebook feed today, a memory popped up from three years ago.

It was a conversation, with then six year old Number Two. She had been totally staggered and disbelieving of the fact that when I was her age neither mobile phones nor the internet had existed. She simply couldn’t get her head around the fact that plans had to be made before leaving the house, and the idea that I couldn’t just Skype friends on the other side of the world was a complete anathema to her.

Yet, at her age, if someone had told me that ten years later I would be carrying around a phone in my pocket and able to email people on the other side of the world I would probably have thought they were crazy.

At eighteen, doing both those things I would have found it equally impossible to believe that twenty years later, that phone in my pocket, would no longer just be a phone. It would be a camera, a diary, a miniature computer – in fact so much a part of my existence I couldn’t contemplate living without it. I wonder what I would have said if someone had told me what the future would hold. It’s likely it would have sounded far too much like a gadget from a James Bond film, than a reality I could have believed.

I remember the internet being a place where information wasn’t to be trusted.

We certainly weren’t encouraged to use it for serious academic research. And even in my early teaching days, there were very few sites I trusted enough to use as resources. With the vast wealth of knowledge out there now, it’s difficult to believe that that was the case. But it was. And not in the dim and distant past, but in living memory.

It makes me wonder which of the technologies out there, I now think of as unlikely to form a real and widespread difference to our lives, we will take as commonplace when our children are adults.

Will we all be driving round in automated driverless vehicles, wondering why we wasted our time passing driving tests? After all, imagine a place where long car journeys became a time for family bonding, to play board games, eat a meal or watch a film. Maybe we’ll never again hear the words ‘Are we nearly there yet?’

Will men no longer need to worry about hair loss, with interventions like advanced tricho pigmentation treatment becoming commonplace, giving them a real choice about their appearance? After all, our hair forms such an important part of our appearance, that the loss of it can undoubtedly cause a lack of self esteem. Why would we not embrace a future where such treatments are more widely heard of?

And what about our laptops? Our phones? Our tablets? What will they have become?

One thing is for certain, the world moves faster than our imagination. No matter what we predict, it will be superseded.

Our grandchildren will wonder how we ever survived without the gadgets and treatments they take for granted. And we…

We will look on their lives with equal wonder, marvelling at the technologies they take for granted.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Disclaimer: This is a post written in collaboration with The Harley Street Hair Clinic