32 Weeks Pregnant

So I am officially 32 weeks pregnant, and to ‘celebrate’ I had a growth scan! This pregnancy, I am suffering from Gestational Diabetes, which means weekly checks at the diabetic clinic and growth scans every 4 weeks. 

Diabetic clinic was about as successful as it usually is. My blood sugars are still all over the place, and utterly unpredictable, so I wasn’t at all surprised to be prescribed insulin. To be honest, I’m not fazed though – I’ve injected myself enough times in the past for fertility reasons! 
It was lovely to see little one on the big screen again – I find scans so exciting! Everything looks completely healthy, but his measurements are all above the 90th percentile still. They gave me an estimated current weight of 5lb 11oz! Gulp. I am obviously very aware of the fact that my bump is huge for 32wks, but I wasn’t expecting QUITE such a hefty prediction! What a chunk.

All being well, I have now been told induction will be at 38 weeks…which means I will have my baby boy with me next month! Fingers crossed for a drama free last few weeks of pregnancy, we can’t wait to meet you little one! 💙

Centre Parcs Jan 2017

As our new arrival creeps closer, one thing we really wanted to do was to have a little trip away as a family of three. Jim and I have a little bit of a love affair with Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest – we must have been upwards of 5 times in the last 3 or so years! So it was a no brainer – it was high time for Noah’s first visit.

We booked a two bedroom villa, and I managed to convince Jim to pay a little extra to ensure we were right on the outskirts of The Village. My hips have been so painful this pregnancy, I didn’t want to risk not being able to hobble back and forth for multiple trips back to base for Noah’s naps! As it happens, I needn’t have worried, since Noah decided he had serious FOMO (fear of missing out!) all week so barely napped anyway.

It was a very different trip for us this time, as you might expect. Usually we partake in lots of badminton, crazy golf and drinking with friends! But this time our days centred around the pool, soft play areas and lots and lots of food! Noah is a complete water baby, he adored the pool. He never fails to attract attention from the older generation with his squeals and splashes, he is such a charmer. To be honest, we didn’t really utilise the children’s areas in there, he was happy enough in the main pool areas – the wave machine had him giggling, and heading to the outside area took his breath away (and fogged up Daddy’s glasses!!).

We explored a few of the soft play areas, but quickly found the one in the bowling alley to be the best suited for our needs. It was large, open and seemed to attract a much younger clientele. Noah’s confidence has really grown the last few weeks and he spent hours crawling around, climbing apparatus and even trying to interact with other children. 

We also enjoyed taking him to our favourite food spots – boy, that child can put food away when he wants to!! His favourite by far was The Pancake House. I’m sure he’d have quite happily polished off a large dessert pancake single handedly if we’d have let him! 

Despite refusing most naps whilst there (for a boy used to a solid 3 a day, this was impressive!) he was a total joy to be around, he adores time with his Daddy and it melts me to watch them together. He was also kind to us, and continued to sleep through the night, despite the unfamiliar surroundings! It was a fantastic weekend of quality family time, and we can safely say his first Centre Parcs visit was a roaring success. I can’t wait to do it again…as a family of four!

Quick and easy Sensory Bottles

This afternoon my Amazon delivery of plastic bottles arrived, so I decided to knock Noah up some sensory bottles there and then! I haven’t yet met a baby that doesn’t love to explore these, and the process took just 5 minutes with items from my craft bench.

These are just 100ml plastic bottles – the perfect size for small hands, however I have in the past used empty water bottles – so just use whatever you have to hand. I half filled them with water, then poured in a selection of crafty items I thought might look mesmerising in the end product.

As you can see, I chose fluffy pom poms, sequins, googly eyes and two different GLITTERS! All of these items were purchased from Hobbycraft, they have endless choice and packs like these are often just £1 each!

Then, I filled to the top with baby oil (you can also use glycerin if you’re more likely to have that floating around your kitchen going spare!). On go the lids, nice and tight – if you’re worried about spillage though a little squirt of superglue on the lid works a treat, and that’s it! So quick, so easy, so fun.

Noah took a special liking to the gold glitter and the sequins – little magpie. He loves a sensory bottle!

It occurred to me whilst he was exploring that these might actually be a nice addition to the light box – so I scooped him (and them!) up and we went upstairs to try it out.

Look at his little face!! In awe, bless him.

If you missed my previous light box post, you can find it here.

Infertility, IVF and Improbable Odds

Sitting here writing this today, 31 weeks pregnant, with my 9 month old mini monkey Noah upstairs napping in his cot, feels surreal. Because it was only just over 18 months ago that I genuinely thought I may never become a mum at all.

A bit of background: I married my husband, Jim, in the summer of 2013. Aged just 24, we were young, madly in love, and blissfully unaware of the struggles to come. The month before, we had decided that I would stop taking the Pill. We were ready! ‘Let’s have a baby!’ we said, truly thinking it would be that easy. I even secretly wondered that day if I might be carrying our first baby as we exchanged our vows.

But it was not to be. Months passed, dozens of negative pregnancy tests were discarded, and suddenly even my periods stopped. Repeatedly we visited the doctors, to be told over and over again that we were young, it took time, not to worry. Deep down, I knew there was something else going on.

Eventually, frustrated with the lack of action, we paid for some private testing and I was diagnosed with severe Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I found out later a note was put on my file that it was one of the most severe cases they’d seen. To be honest, I felt relief at this point. A problem had been found, it could be dealt with. We could move forward.

Since the private clinic had been so good to us, we decided to stick with them. The NHS in our area were stubbornly sticking with the ‘you’re so young’ argument as to why they wouldn’t help us, but we weren’t willing to wait. Treatment began in the form of Clomid. But just one cycle on, it was decided that my body was resistant to the drug and it was having no effect. We moved on to Gonal-F injection treatment. Day after day, I would inject myself with carefully calculated doses of the drugs, only to find at the end of each cycle that it had not worked. We were Not Pregnant. I was a tricky case – too little of the drugs, and nothing would happen. Too much, and I was at high risk of over stimulation – producing multiple follicles risking illness and other complications. For five cycles we persisted, but each failed. 

At this point, we had been trying various treatments for 6 months. In the scheme of things, not that long, but for us it was devastating. Infertility changes you – something you previously took for granted might never happen for you. Your body is failing you. All I had ever wanted was to be a mum. I spent my early twenties doing everything ‘right’ – I found the love of my life, we bought a house, we got married. We had good jobs, careers, even dogs. It seemed so unfair. Family occasions, previously so enjoyable, became laced with sadness. Not because we resented other people’s happiness, but because we longed for the same with every part of us. And infertility is so, SO lonely. It’s just not talked about. It took us a very long time to even tell our parents, luckily we had each other. It made us stronger, tighter, we were a team. Even on days where I shouldered all of the ‘blame’ on myself and my traitorous body, Jim never made me feel alone for a second.

The next step for us was IVF. The odds were fairly positive. I was about to turn 26, our clinic reported very good results overall. Even then there were setbacks – after my egg retrieval we were informed due to high risks of Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) I would have to have any embryos frozen, and wait before they were ‘put back.’ Every new wait was agonising. But there was good news too, they had managed to produce 4 high quality embryos for us to store.

A month later, in July 2015, we returned for the transfer procedure. They would only put one back, due to our age, the quality and the risks of multiple pregnancy, and I found the procedure extremely traumatic. There was nothing left to do but wait.  It was out of our hands. 

That two week wait was probably the hardest two weeks of the whole journey for me. I was always very careful to avoid too much ‘hope.’ Hope was dangerous. If I convinced myself the next test was negative, the next cycle had failed, it wasn’t to be, then maybe I could deaden the sense of loss when it was confirmed. This two week wait was the best chance we had ever had…and it was excruciating. At 5am on testing day, I tiptoed into the bathroom unable to wait any longer. I needed it over with, so we could cry, then bolster ourselves and ask ‘what’s next?’ But miraculously, both tests slowly but surely came up positive. I was shaking uncontrollably when I crawled back onto the bed, tears pouring down my face as I shook Jim awake. He instantly hugged me tight, and said ‘it’s OK, we’ll try again’ assuming we’d failed. ‘You’re going to be a dad,’ I whispered…

We were beside ourselves. It didn’t seem possible that we were this lucky. We have several early scans to convince ourselves that there was really, truly, a little person growing in there. Eventually we relaxed a little as my belly grew and we felt kicks and punches. We found out it was a boy! Despite the trouble we’d gone through to get to that point, the pregnancy was actually a breeze. 

At my 38 week check, I was displaying symptoms of pre-eclampsia however, so I was admitted to hospital and induced (I will discuss his birth story in another blog!). Noah James was born weighing 8lb 3.5oz on the 18th April 2016. Our very own little miracle.

Our new lives as parents had begun. And I can honestly say, we really did love every minute. I had finally found peace. Prior to giving birth, we had discussed the future. We had always imagined 2, even 3 children, but knew to even have this one, perfect baby was huge. So we decided to just not bother with contraception, and see what happens. We would start to think about more IVF in a few months time, given we had 3 more embryos in frozen storage. No pressure.

I can’t even begin to describe to you my shock, disbelief, utter AMAZEMENT when in July 2016 I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive. Noah was only 3 months old. How was this even possible? Scans and tests confirmed that he had actually been just 11 weeks old when we conceived! I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with another miracle baby boy, due a few weeks before Noah’s first birthday. We still pinch ourselves, I can’t explain ‘how’ or what changed, but here we are. And we couldn’t be happier. Pregnancy with such a young baby is hard work, I won’t lie (I’ll discuss this further in other blog posts!) but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because this is everything I ever wanted. There is hope, and this baby is a completely different kind of miracle. And I can’t wait to meet him.

*We will be forever grateful to CARE Fertility in Nottingham for our fantastic treatments – thank you.

My DIY Light Box and Sensory Blocks 

This week I finally got round to doing something I’d been wanting to do for AGES! As a Primary School teacher who has worked in reception for several years, I have dreamed of owning a light box. Light boxes provide endless opportunities for learning, from babies to older children. Plus, they are just gorgeous. But they are SO EXPENSIVE. So why not make your own?

After lots of googling and Pinterest-ing (total addict over here!) I found this fantastic tutorial from The Imagination Tree. This blog is incredible, for all sorts of ideas – definitely check it out. I bought a see through plastic storage tub from Hobbycraft and a pad of A3 tracing paper, armed with that and a roll of sellotape I was ready to go!

After taping a couple of sheets of tracing paper to the underside of the box lid, all I needed to do was put a string of fairy lights inside. I bought a cheap string of 100 from Amazon, but you could easily use those christmas tree lights that are sitting untouched up in the loft! My are mains operated so I just let the wire trail out and can plug it in whenever I need to use it (the box lid still goes on fine). Et voila! Ready for action.

We’d had a lazy day where we hadn’t left the house, and by late afternoon Noah was getting a little grizzly so it seemed the ideal time to try out our light box. For Christmas I had bought him the absolutely gorgeous Wonderworld Wooden Rainbow Sound Blocks (they can be purchased from Amazon) which seemed like the perfect thing to use for our first session.

Aren’t they fabulous? The colours looked incredible against the soft light from the light box, and each block has a different sound when shaken. Noah absolutely adored shaking them and banging them together. There are great learning opportunities for building and shape and colour recognition too.

To maximise the effect, we drew the blackout curtains, turned all the lights off, and I popped on Noah’s favourite lullaby CD to make it a truly relaxing, multi-sensory experience. He was mesmerised, and I can’t wait to explore different uses in the weeks and months to come.

Valentine’s Tape Resist Art

Now to be honest, I’m not a huge follower of special days like Valentine’s. Usually, me and OH just exchange a store bought card and go about our day as normal! However, this year I decided it would be a good excuse to do a little crafting with Noah. But what to do?

Noah is 9 months old. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, goes in his mouth right now. So it had to be something safe, but something he would get some sensory value out of. So I started thinking, and decided to combine two separate ideas to produce our art.

The best idea I’ve come across for painting with babies is the cling film or sandwich bag approach. I first tried this when Noah was 4 months old. You take some paper/canvas squirt some dollops of paint on, cover in cling film or pop in a sandwich bag, and just let your little one mash away. The sensation of the paint squishing about under the plastic is lovely, and it’s completely mess free!

So for this project I decided to use this technique, but combine it with tape resist art. There are some lovely ideas for this across the Internet, mostly for slightly older children, but in this instance I decided to use heart shaped stickers on canvas.

These are flat A5 canvases, bought from The Works  (6 for just £2, what a bargain!) and very cheap gold heart stickers I got from Amazon. I chose to use canvas in this instance as I knew the stickers would come off with relative ease, which is necessary later in the process.

All I needed to do next was sit Noah in his highchair, dollop some paint on the canvases, and pop them in a sandwich bag. I use the zip lock ones to really contain the mess. Be generous with the paint! Then I let him loose.

Once he had finished squidging, poking, mashing and bashing I gave him the next bag until he had had enough.

I took them out of the sandwich bags, popped them on a wire rack to dry, and took Noah back into the front room to play – no other clean up required!

Later that evening, once the mini monkey was in bed, I took a pair of tweezers and gently removed each of the heart stickers from the canvases. They came away really easily, and here are the results!

I love them! The hearts really stand out, and having made 3 I can keep one for us here, and give one each to both sets of grandparents. I’ll let him hand them over, he will charm them more than he already has! So pretty, and so, so simple.

*I used normal acrylic paint for this project, and it dries with a lovely textured effect.

And so it begins…

Featured

So I’ve done it. I’ve set up a blog, chosen a fancy looking ‘theme’, and agonised over a domain name. And now I’m sat here, in my trusty maternity joggers wondering what the hell I’ve just done…

I may as well explain why I’m here. I’m a stay at home mum to my 9 month old mini monkey, Noah, and am currently 31 weeks pregnant with another baby boy. In my previous life, I was a primary school teacher, specialising in Early Years. I suppose I still am, but I’m immensely lucky to be taking the next few years out of the classroom to stay home with my boys. This blog is going to be a little bit of my day to day mum life, a smidgen of coping with pregnancy (and a newborn!) with such a young baby already, and hopefully a large dollop of fun, creative and crafty ideas to do with young children.

I guess what I really want from this is to keep a little bit of the old ‘me,’ the creative me, alive and kicking whilst I navigate the new ‘mum me.’ Even if it all ends up just me talking to myself (not at all unusual around here!) I think it will be cathartic. But if anything I write ends up resonating with, helping or inspiring even one person, that will be a huge bonus. Wish me luck!

My Noah, and mini-est monkey at 23wks