Friday, 30 September 2011

Hearts and minds

So, it's taken me a week to get around to writing this.  Life doesn't get any quieter!

Last weekend started with a lovely surprise which came from my talented cousin who sent me this:


A new kids T-shirt design for her popkid website, dedicated to our 'Ella-phant'. This is one of a new range of T's that will soon be on the website so check them out! 

Last weekend, we drove 230 miles down to London to attend the 'We've only just begun' conference held by the Down's Syndrome Association. 


It was a day packed full of interesting talks by professionals who have dedicated their lives (and their weekends, so it would seem) to helping babies, children and adults with Down's Syndrome.  The day was aimed at parents of babies aged 0-2 and any professionals working with this age group. 

There was a lot to take in with talks by a speech and language therapist, vision specialist and our own ENT surgeon who we had met just two days before the conference in his clinic dedicated to children with Down's.  His talk was warm, knowledgeable and personable.  He managed to bring that little extra something, in the form of his lovely son who happens to have Down's Syndrome himself.

We came away a little overwhelmed by the information we had been presented with over the day, empowered and with the contact details of other parents we had met who live in our area.  I did feel a little guilty, as we had left Ella with my mum for Friday night and Saturday.  Other parents had taken their babies and children with them (their presence was a source of distraction throughout the day!).  However, I don't think Ella minded too much.....

She went to see the squirrels....

Did lots of playing....

And helped with the housework.....



We drove back up to mums on Saturday night and spent Sunday there too.  Our friends Chris and Laurie were attending a wedding in Ormskirk so they came to mums for lunch.  They live in Reading so we don't get chance to see them very often.  It was great to see them, if only for a couple of hours, (can't believe I didn't take any pictures, sorry guys).

We then paid a visit to baby Rosie at Alder Hey on Sunday afternoon.  She was a little unsettled but doing very well after her big ordeal.  She was allowed home the next day and we are looking forward to visiting them all soon.

I dropped Ella at nursery on Wednesday for 3 hours.  The time flew by and I didn't get half the things done that I wanted to.  She gave me a huge bottom lip when I collected her, which she quickly turned into a beaming smile followed by a torrent of babbling, like she was trying to tell me what she had been up to.  She seems to be settling in well, which is reassuring.

Then on Thursday, in the highest recorded temperatures for September, I started work.  A constant battle between heart and mind.  My heart wants to be at home caring for Ella but it also wants me to be doing the job I love.  My mind knows that Ella will thrive at nursery and that I will similarly thrive at work and that being just a mum or just a nurse would probably drive me crazy.....

Doing 30 hours a week for now and we will see how it all works out.  Ian took Thursday and Friday off as Ella starts nursery full time next week so he got some daddy time with her. 

It's amazing how quickly you feel like you've never been away.  I was expecting there to be more changes, but most things seem the same as ever. 

For now, I have this weekend before officially joining the nation's army of working mums...

Wish us luck!



Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Love bug xx

Haven't got time today to write lots, it's been another busy weekend.  For now, here's some pictures from this morning......

Where's the fun in having a baby if you can't dress them up in gorgeous little outfits?!
















So there's my little love bug!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Lakes Trip

As it's my last week off before going back to work, I've been trying to occupy my time as much as possible.  And to spend as much time with Ella as I can before the early mornings and working life resumes.  We still have appointments to attend, shopping to do etc but I want to do a few more fun things before this chapter ends. 

I have been thinking a lot about the last 9 months recently.  On Monday this week, our friend, little baby Rosie who also has Down's and a heart defect went into Alder Hey to have her heart surgery.  I spent all day reliving the emotions and stress that I felt when Ella was in theatre. I got regular text updates from her mum and hoped my replies allayed some of her worries and fears.  I know, having been there that nothing anyone says means anything even though you know they mean well.  The only thing that makes you feel better is having your baby back with you, awake and smiling and happy.  To come home with the baby you took into hospital is all you want.  It's a difficult experience to put into words but to sum it up in one sentence it seems that, as parents, our hearts have to be broken in order to get our babies hearts mended.

Have heard today that Rosie is doing well.  Hopefully she will be off ITU and back on the ward tomorrow.  I am planning to visit them on Sunday, but she may even be home by then (everything crossed for that).  It's so amazing how quickly they recover from such a major operation - much quicker than the parents do! 

Back to this week....
Mum & Chris invited us to stay with them in the Lakes where they are spending a few days near Keswick.  As Ian is on nights, Ella and I went up for a night during the week. 

We tested the off road capabilities of the buggy and had a walk along the side of Lake Buttermere.....



The weather was overcast but fairly warm and there were plenty of people out and about




After the walk and Ella charming an old couple in the cafe, it was playtime.....




The sky went from red to dusk very quickly and the sun set below the hills suddenly much earlier than we are used to.....




This time next week I will be back at work....

Friends, family and fun

Going away with a baby is no easy task, even if it's just a daytrip. No matter how much you try to take the bare minimum, the more stuff you seem to end up with. Feeding stuff, food, nappies, clothes, toys, bedding, pram... the list is endless.

It is fun though. Showing your baby the world and watching their reaction to new places and experiences. As you know, Ella loves trees. So a weekend at Center Parcs nearly tipped her over the edge. Everytime we took her outside she loved it, big smiles and giggles. She loved being around our friends little girl too.




She went swimming, splashed about for ages, went in the waves and then fell asleep as we got her dressed... We had fun too, played badminton, crazy golf and Ian went Segway'ing' and did field archery while I had a bit of pampering in the spa (bliss). There was a lot of relaxing done and a trip to see grandad on the way home.

The forest at Center Parcs was alive with wildlife and there were reminders everywhere of the turning season. Red squirrels were collecting nuts and the wet, humid weather meant perfect conditions for mushrooms...


This Inkcap mushroom was outside our chalet.... They start off bell shaped like this and then very quickly open up and disintegrate.


We've had visits from both grannies this week (at the same time too - and no fighting!). Ruth from work popped by one evening and we've seen the Health Visiting team, physio and community staff nurse too.

Ella had her first induction session at nursery. Just one hour but it seemed to go well (for her and me). The bigger test will be next week when I leave her for 3 hours, which coincides with a feed and nap time.

This weekend, we have been getting over coughs and colds. Saturday, we had a quiet stay at home day which meant by tea-time I had gone a bit stir crazy. So, on Sunday we spent a leisurely day with my wonderful friend Lynne over in Liverpool (don't see her often enough!). We visited the beautiful and imposing Anglican cathedral.....






We picked the right day to visit as the local food market was on. We walked around the many stalls laden with tasty, wonderful foodie treats. From giant meringues (yes, I bought 2!) and cakes to breads and even sunflowers grown in Aigburth....

For those of you that know Lynne and I and how much we like our food (especially cake!), our purchases were actually quite restrained....







Lambanana on Hope Street - Banana Rock


mmmmm my favourite.....


Wherever we go and whatever we do at the moment, Ella's socks spend more time in her mouth than on her feet (much to the dismay of the old ladies of Lancashire)....



We ended the day looking through some old photographs and school leavers books from our high school and college days (and older!). With our 30th birthdays around the corner we became a little nostalgic, remembering people, places and events. Wonder what we'll be recalling in another ten years?.....

Maybe today?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Firsts and lasts

This week has been the first time I have really, properly enjoyed being a mum. Which is a pretty good 'first' to begin with.  I was just lying on the floor with Ella, a giggling, happy bundle of pure loveliness beaming up at me and I knew this was how I should have felt months ago.  Not enjoying motherhood isn't an easy thing to own up to but, in my view, it is seperate to the love you have for your baby.  I have always loved Ella and loved being with her.  We just didn't get the easiest of starts, that's all. 

Now she's healthy, eating really well, drinking her milk, playing, doing 'high 5's' and she gives the loveliest kisses (mouth wide open, tongue out, slobbery kisses!). 




She also sat unaided for the first time this week...


I love baby's 'firsts'.  And I love that we have loads more of them to come.

The last week....

So, we’ve entertained visitors, made visits, had appointments, made
appointments, celebrated a birthday and have a weekend away to prepare for.

Last weekend, Uncle Tommy & Aunty Vicki came up from London to visit us all and mum and Chris came over to Manchester. We spent a grey and wet Saturday afternoon at the cake shop around the corner sampling the cakes, scones, tea, coffee, ice cream and the atmosphere.  

Ella is very interested in food at the moment, especially what we are eating and definitely if it is sweet, pretty and sticky (wonder where she gets that from?!).  Her little arms started flapping away in excitement as the cakes arrived on the table....












Ella has a distinct Uncle preference at the moment.


Uncle Tommy got cuddles and giggles....






Uncle Henry got the bottom lip.....


 .....and suspicious looks, on several occasions!



 Late on Saturday afternoon we drove across a rather gloomy Lancashire to Ormskirk and all spent the night at mums and had a pre-birthday celebration for her with all of us there.

It’s her first birthday as a Granny, which makes it a very special birthday.  We spent the afternoon and evening playing games and eating too many chocolates!...  Tom & Henry played table tennis together on the new table for the first time.



That's the last one.... well....maybe just one more....


It was Vicki's first time playing 'Blokus' (brought back some memories.  This is what Ian and I played to pass some of the time when Ella was having her heart surgery)....



Ella enjoyed having everyone around...




And I tried out a new lens for the first time.



The next day, Sunday, we went to Cedar Farm, which was always a favourite childhood outing from when we were little. 

Ella was introduced to her first calf....


And goat....







Granny enjoyed introducing her to all the animals....



Vicki tried it on with a little piggy....


Chris had a go at piglet herding....



And, of course, there was more cake!....



Ella & I dropped Tom & Vicki at Stockport station on Sunday afternoon for their train back to London. We will organise another visit with them soon.



On Tuesday we made another trip to Ormskirk for mums actual birthday. We drove over in torrential rain and had a soggy trip round town with Henry getting some last minute birthday bits. We had a lovely evening with mum, her friends popping in and homemade chilli for tea (or bolognese for Henry as he won't eat kidney beans or anything spicy).


Presents...


Flowers from Tom....





Then we had the cake (with tacky, singing, completely uneccessary candle from the pound shop!...)


And birthday wishes...



Sorry it's a long post - should have warned you at the beginning!  We are off to Center Parcs this weekend with friends so off to do my last minute packing. 

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