Thursday, 13 October 2011

October so far...

So we are now in our second week of work and nursery.  Ella has settled in well and does all sorts of exciting things that I would never dream of doing with her at home.  She's painted, got wet, messy and done lots of playing.  She's eating and drinking well with them too and they have got used to cup feeding her and using her peg for her medications.  As for me, work is good and nothing much has changed. 

So here's what we have been up to over the last week or two....

The unseasonally warm weather meant we got one more weekend out in the sunshine.  We spent the first Saturday morning of October at the farmers market at cedar farm sampling the food, buying bread, cheese and pies for lunch.  We also paid another visit to the animals.

Whilst Ella played on the grass, we ate lunch out in the garden under my mums oak tree.  The weather hadn't confused the tree, it was warm and there was also a spritely wind... the falling autumnal leaves were a reminder that it was actually October.  It wasn't much fun being pelted by acorns though...

Once the weather had returned to normal, we spent a contrasting cold and drizzly Saturday with both Grannies.  The only thing for it was a good pub lunch followed by the unwrapping of a gift given to me by a friend from work. 

And, in true baby style, Ella loved the packaging more than the gift itself, a nappy cake...  Extremely practical gift, muslins, nappies and bibs, all adorned with ribbon and pretty hair clips.

Our new baby carrier arrived this week, we took it for a trial run on Sunday morning.  The weather was slightly better, sunny spells and no rain so we took the opportunity to have a quick walk before I went to work. 

We joined the other families, cyclists, joggers and dog walkers and did one lap of the lake at Chorlton Water Park.

She loved her new mode of transport

It's obviously very comfy....


The only thing  I am finding with having limited days off is that our days get filled up quite easily with social events, appointments and visits.  Days off can be as busy and tiring as days at work.  We had our tesco shop delivered (which helps), started christmas shopping (!), visited friends and had a joint visit from the physio and play specialist this week. Ella is doing well and we are continuing to work on the areas she still needs to develop.  We can incorporate things such as practising her pincer grasp and teaching her about object permenance into her everyday activities such as feeding and play. 

So I will leave you with some pictures of my girl at play.  One thing she loves at the moment is mirrors and her reflection.  She lunges forward to 'kiss the baby'..... 

I'm off to bed!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ella the elephant

When my cousin, who designed the Ella-phant T-shirt said she wanted to donate £1 from each T sold to a charity of our choice, for us there was only one option.

When Ella was in hospital having her heart operation, we were there for eight long days.  Away from home in a strange place going through a very stressful experience.

Alder Hey is a specialist children's hospital based in Liverpool.  It takes referrals from all over the North of England and is the North West regional centre for cardiac surgery - which is why we were there.  This means that people travel a long way to access the specialist care the hospital has to offer.

Ronald Macdonald house (affectionately known as 'Mac house' around the hospital) was our salvation.  It offers accommodation to parents and families who's babies, children and teenagers are patients.  It is run by the Ronald Macdonald House Charity and they rely upon charitable donations to keep the accommodation clean, staffed, heated, lit and to cover the ever growing daily running costs.   

The message above the entrance aptly reads 'A Home From Home'.  Their aim is to ease some of the stress parents are experiencing and provide a safe, comfortable place to just be.  We had our own room with bathroom, access to a fully equipped kitchen with our own fridge, freezer and cupboard space. 

We met parents like us, who were using the facilities for the first (and hopefully the last!) time.  There were those who were having another short stay in the house, but for some whose children are long-term patients, the house really has become their home.  There is one little boy and his family who I still think of very often and I know they need Mac house to keep going.

So, if you buy your own, personalised 'Ella the Elephant T shirt' you will be helping this amazing place continue to provide a home for parents and families for a long time to come.

Personalised Ella The Elephant T-Shirt

Buy here!

For more information about RMHC please visit their website for more information.
Thank you

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....
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