Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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. 

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The next step...

Just a quick post - I willl write for as long as Ella is asleep for her morning nap.

I'm on a countdown to starting work and although I am looking forward to going back, the logistics of how it's all going to work is bothering me somewhat.  Early mornings and having to get out of the house by a certain time is filling me with dread.  Yet, I know I am no different to any other mother and after we have been doing it for a few weeks I will (hopefully) wonder what I was fussing about.

Ella will be going to nursery. A whole new world for our little bean. I know she will love it, be well looked after and being around other children will be more than good for her. 

We had the pre-nursery meeting this week which was great, met her keyworker, manager and then our play specialist, speech therapist and physio all attended as well.  They will be going into nursery to see Ella and to support the staff in providing for her the little extra things that she will need.  I think it's a brilliant set-up and means that Ella continues to see the people she is familiar with and they can continue to build their relationships with her. 

We chose the nursery before she was born, it's at my work, has a lovely atmosphere, staff who have been there for years and I saw no reason to send her elsewhere because she needs a little extra input compared to her peers.  Luckily, the nursery have the same view and seem really motivated in getting Ella's care right before she even starts.  They are a little unsure of her peg (feeding tube) but once they have been shown how to use it, I am sure all will be well.

We have a few weeks until the day arrives and have some good things to look forward to in the meantime.  Centre parcs next weekend, lots of catch-ups with friends and a trip down South to a conference put on by DSA for babies and young children with Down's Syndrome.

That's all for now.....she's awake!

Monday, 29 August 2011

The small things

Ella was 9 months old on Friday.  For the first time in a while, I've had a look to see which 'milestones' she should be reaching for her age.  Sitting, transfering objects, babbling, cruising and crawling...... 

Ella is almost sitting, she can transfer objects, has just really started babbling in the last couple of weeks.  She is, however, nowhere near crawling or cruising yet. But that's ok.  I have always been focused on what she is able to do, the rest will come in time.

One of the rewarding things about having a baby with additional needs is that you are more aware of their achievements than you would be with a ’normal’ baby (whatever that is!).

Smaller milestones that may be overlooked in other children are noticed, nurtured and valued, sometimes more so than the bigger ones. 

How many of you with children have felt pride or whooped with joy when your baby held his head up during tummy time, gained weight or sucked from a bottle? These are some of the small things that I have enjoyed celebrating.


I'm aware that I don't speak from experience here as Ella is my first baby, but I know I certainly took a lot of things for granted before I even thought about having children.  The number of times I was asked if I knew the baby’s sex while I was pregnant and without a second thought answered the usual ‘oh we don’t mind what we have, so long as he/she is healthy.’ I assumed all would be well and who doesn't? 

When I look back to the sleepy, floppy baby I brought home from hospital, I can hardly believe she has come so far in just 9 months. For Ella life has, until recently, been more about overcoming challenges than reaching milestones. 

The biggest challenge for Ella has been her feeding.  She has come from not being able to take from a bottle due to her heart defect making her tired to drinking milk from a cup and eating a 'normal' 9 month old diet (via an NG tube and open heart surgery!).   

But what I have learnt is that she will do everything that other babies do. 





She will just do it in her own time.





And in her own way.







But it hasn’t dampened her spirit.




To all you wonderful friends, family and colleagues of mine who said ‘enjoy them while they’re little, they grow up so fast.’ I understand completely how important this is. Please know that I am taking your advice every day and I have learnt to never take anything for granted. Ever.


P.S please excuse the quality of some pictures, camera phone is not great
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