What no-one tells you about becoming a mother

Motherhood. What a crazy, amazing, terrifying, beautiful rollercoaster. 

The moment you announce that pregnancy, people are telling you about the sleepless nights, the constant dirty nappies and huge washing pile that never ends and all of the other terrifying things that pop into their head. They tell you about the horrible labour, the after pains and how your body will never really go back to the way it was again. 

But they don't tell you about all the wonderful things that motherhood brings. 

No-one tells you that becoming a mother will be the best thing you will ever do. They don't tell you about how it feels when you get to hold your baby for the first time, that rush of pure love that nothing in this world can taint. A type of love you have never known before.

They don't tell you about those quiet moments when you just hold your baby in your arms and bask. 

No-one ever thinks to mention that indescribable feeling when they smile for the first time, the first time you hear 'mama', their first steps and every milestone after. No-one tells you how proud of your child you will be for the simplest of things. 

I'm not pretending that motherhood is easy. I've been doing this for just over 4 years now and I swear it never gets any easier, but these special moments make it so worth it.

So next time someone tells you they are pregnant, maybe instead of the horror stories they are getting from everyone else and their mother, tell them about the special times, tell them that it is the most wonderful and amazing thing they will ever do. 

How to stay positive during lockdown

I know, I know another lockdown post. 

I swore I wouldn't write too much about the lockdown, but we are in week 8 now and honestly, I'm not finding much else to write about. 

I read through some of my other posts about being in lockdown and I realised that they were all a bit... depressive. So I got myself together and swore to myself I would remain positive for the rest of this mess that we as a world are finding ourselves in. 

Staying positive in a global pandemic is admittedly not easy, but this is how I plan to try to stay on track.

Thinking about the future

This is not going to last forever, although it certainly feels like it will sometimes, we will be able to see family and friends at some point, we will be able to do all of the things we are missing, whether that be going on a night out, to the pub, to the gym, or even just nipping to the shops to do a bit of retail therapy - I know which onesI'm most excited for. 

While everything may not be exactly like it was before, we will get back to some sort of normalcy. When I feel myself getting fed up or upset about the lockdown, I think of that quote 'this too shall pass' and it will. 

Making plans

Sam and I were supposed to be celebrating our birthday in Prague this year. Our birthday is 10th June and so this will obviously not be happening, so we have agreed that when this is all over we will still go. We also have plans for days out with Harry and fun things to do as a family. 

While we cannot put an exact date on these, it's nice to think about things we would like to do when we are able to do so. 

Think about all of the things we can do and have right now - and make the most of it

Lockdown, while hard, has given me so much time with Harry and Sam. While I am at work I rarely got to see Sam and he works shifts, and although he is a key worker and still working as normal, we get to spend lots of time together. I am also here every day with Harry. The moment lockdown is over he is off to his Nanna's house for a good couple of days, but I am loving spending all of this time with him that I never would have gotten before. It has opened my eyes to just how smart, fun and just purely amazing my little boy is. 

Be grateful

The one thing I am reminding myself of every day and that keeps me positive is how grateful I am that we are all well and together. If lockdown had not happened I don't know if that would have been the case. It's still dangerous out there, and we all jump at every cough, but we are well and together, what more could I ask for?

Toddler Lunch Ideas

Today's post is all about food - Namely lunch for your toddlers!

Harry is currently 4, so I'm not 100% sure that he counts as a toddler, but these are some of the great meals we have been feeding him during lockdown!

Keep your eyes peeled for breakfast and dinner ideas too!

For most of Harry's meals, we use section plates. Harry gets very upset if things touch on his plate a lot of the time. 

Our current favourite plates for him are these munchkin apple shaped plates - We got ours from Amazon - You can find these here (Please be aware links to Amazon are affiliate links - I may earn a small commission for your purchase but this will not affect the amount you pay!)

1. Picnic lunch - This lunch is definitely a huge hit in our house. We try and keep this as balanced as possible - He usually has a sandwich, fruit, dairy, protein and a treat. While he doesn't always have everything listed we find when he has a picnic lunch he usually eats most of it quite well.

2. Snack lunch  - What toddler doesn't love a snack? Harry normally doesn't even really realise this is a lunch and always demolishes this. The most often used combination is hummus with carrot and cucumber, fruit, cheese string, chorizo and yoghurt, but again this varies depending on what we have in.

3. Hot lunch - This is possibly the one we have least for Harry and probably his least favourite but he still does love it. 
We do still tend to try and give Harry a balanced meal when giving him hot food though, so he always had some kind of fruit with these lunches. 

Postnatal depression symptoms and signs

For today's post, I wanted to talk about the symptoms and signs of Postnatal Depression. 

So first of all - What is Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal depression (PND) is a depression that affects parents who have recently had babies - Contrary to popular belief, PND can affect both the mothers and fathers of babies and symptoms can present up to two years after the birth of the baby. PND affects 1 in every 10 women giving birth every year. 

What symptoms should you look out for?

The NHS describes the symptoms of PND as
  • A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood. 
  • A lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from contact with other people
  • Problems concentrating and making decisions
  • Frightening thoughts - For example thoughts of hurting the baby
Not everyone will have all symptoms and mostly these will come on slowly with the parent often not realising that they are suffering.

What is the difference between PND and 'Baby Blues'

Baby blues can often cause the mother to feel a bit down, tearful or anxious. These feeling do not last longer than two weeks. 

What to do if you think someone is suffering from PND

If you think someone is suffering from PND, the best thing to do would be to offer help. While I was suffering I couldn't cope with the daily tasks of looking after Harry on my own. I didn't get dressed and we would sit in the dark in front of the TV all day. 

I often found it helpful when people came round to lend a hand. Even to take Harry for an hour while I got a shower and possibly a nap. 

Another thing that would be helpful, would be to encourage them to seek medical help, but be sensitive about this - This was definitely not something I wanted to hear while I was at my worst. 

What are the treatments for PND?

There are lots of different options for treatment for PND. Every person is different and the depression affects them differently. Something that worked for one person may not work for another. 

  • Antidepressants
  • Therapy

There are also things that you can do yourself to help if you are suffering from PND such as exercise, eat well, have a schedule or routine, rest as often as you can, talk to people close to you and ask for help and making time for things you enjoy doing. 

When I was diagnosed, I felt like the worse mother in the world and honestly thought I would never feel any better and while I am nowhere near 'cured' and don't think I will ever be, I am doing so much better even with everything going on in the world right now. 

If you are worried about someone or think you may be suffering yourself, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am happy to help where I can.

Down Syndrome Facts and Theories

Down Syndrome, Everybody knows something about it, but today I thought I would talk about some facts about down syndrome and disprove some 'theories' that people have. 

So first things first, if you want to know more about down syndrome you can find my blog post here but here are some facts about people with downs syndrome;

People with downs syndrome are NOT always happy. This is such a terrible theory that people have. The next time someone says this to me, I may need to give them Harry when he's having a meltdown. People with downs feel all emotions, exactly the same as you and me.

People with downs can have jobs and live independently –  I’ve lost count of the number of times people have said that Harry won't be able to have a job or live on his own. People with downs may need a little help, some may even need a lot of help but plenty live independently and have jobs.

 Children with downs syndrome are not always born to older parents – When I had Harry I was 23. 

People with downs syndrome have a normal life expectancy – In the past, people with downs syndrome have much shorter life expectancy than people without because there was no support. Fifty years ago if a child was born with downs syndrome they were put straight into a home or asylum and refused medical help for any issues. This isn’t the case anymore and people with downs syndrome can live as long as anyone else.

People with downs syndrome are often not overweight – Some people with downs syndrome may appear slightly overweight but this is caused by the low muscle tone which can be a symptom of downs syndrome.

People with Downs syndrome can have children –  Someone with downs syndrome is perfectly capable of having children. There are plenty of parents who have down syndrome. Sometimes males may have fertility difficulties but for the most part, they will be able to have children

These points I feel at incredibly important to remember about someone with downs syndrome but the most important thing to remember of course is that they are not defined by their diagnosis just like someone with cancer isn’t ‘that guy with cancer ben’ Harry isn’t ‘that boy who has downs syndrome Harry’ He’s just ‘Harry’ He’s not downs. And he isn’t the amazing little person he is because he has downs. He’s just Harry. Just like I am Kat and you are you. So the next time you meet a person who just happens to have downs syndrome, take the time to get to know them and don’t judge by their diagnosis.

Get to know me

So, I saw that recently the lovely Rebecca over at The Coastal Mummy had done a get to know me blog post - find this here - and I realised that I have never really done this so here is all about me!

So my name is Kat, well it's actually Katherine but no-one has called me that since I was about 6 - maybe even earlier - and I will be 28 in June. I was born in East London and grew up in North London (N17) but now live in Cambridgeshire with Sam and Harry.

I moved to Cambs when I was 10 with my parents and we moved around a lot. I have lived in London, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Huntingdonshire.

My parents are divorced but didn't separate until I was 21 and got divorced April this year. I have two younger siblings - Mumbles and Do Do (not their real names obviously but this is what Harry calls them) Mumbles is next in line and is just over 4 years younger than me and Do Do is the youngest and also the only boy.

I met Sam when he was Do Do's under 11's football coach and this July we will have been together 11 years - Eeep!

Funny fact - Sam and I share a birthday! 10th of June, just in case you are wondering, the only other person I know with the same is, of course, Prince Phillip.

So that's a bit of background - I thought it might be nice to share some random facts about me here

1. I'm incredibly short. I wish I was exaggerating here but I'm 5 foot.

2. I am obsessed with all things Harry Potter - However, this is not why Harry is called Harry. Honestly, the thought had never crossed my mind. He is named after Sam's grandad.

3. Until our holiday to Menorca last September I had never been abroad or even had a passport.

4. I swear - A LOT. It was a normal thing in my house growing up, but now trying to stop as Harry loves to copy what we are saying.

5. I took a catering NVQ when I was 16,  that I have never done anything with as I hate cooking.

6. I have been able to knit since I was around 6.

7. While baking is one of my favourite things to do, I didn't bake anything until around 3 years ago when Sam's mum got me to help her make scones.

8. I studied Media Production at Bolton Uni for a year and a half before I dropped out.

9. The first house Sam and I lived in was in Coventry - about a hundred miles away from all of our family. This was also us moving out of our family homes.

10. Brussel sprouts are one of my favourite parts of a Christmas dinner - But only if they are cooked right!

And basically, that's me. I hope you've enjoyed getting to know me a bit better.

Tips for dealing with anxiety and depression while in lockdown

Depression and anxiety are difficult to handle at the best of times, but during a global pandemic and lockdown, it can be a million times harder.

If you are anything like me being locked in and feeling trapped can be a trigger for bad spells with mental health - I know I have certainly been struggling some days, but I've been working really hard on keeping it in check and here are the things I've been working on to help me stay on the best path possible.

1. Exercise - Please please please make the most of your one trip out a day. I have made a real effort to get out for almost every day. There have of course been some days that it hasn't happened but I've really been trying. I love to go out for a walk with Sam and Harry, or if Sam is working Harry and I take a wander. I have also been trying to get some sort of work out in at home. Not much mind but Harry is really loving PE with Joe Wicks and I'm getting better too!

2. Eat right - I have been making a real effort to make better choices with my food. I'm not saying I'm eating salad for every meal but thinking about what I eat is helping and the more fruit and veg I am eating is supposed to help with mental health - Hell I'll try anything honestly.

3. Keep busy - It's so important for me to be busy. I find if I have nothing to do my mind creeps towards the dark place so I have lots of things that keep me busy, even when I'm having some me-time, whether that be reading a book, listening to a book, knitting (my granny hobby) or adult colouring-in books, which are brilliant for stress relief.

4. Keep in touch with family and friends - Thank goodness for Facetime!! I don't think I would be able to cope as well as I have been if it hadn't been for Facetime conversations with everyone! We have been doing great quizzes and if I need to talk I know I can call any one of them up just to talk through whatever is going through my mind and that I think has been the biggest help through all of this. When I'm struggling with parenting or just having a bad day I have a whole support system just at the end of the phone!

5. Be honest with yourself and everyone else - This one kind of follows on from number 4 but if you aren't honest and admit when you are struggling you won't be in a position to help yourself. It's okay to struggle, I'm pretty sure that every single person has struggled during this lockdown so please believe you are not alone in this!

Stay safe!

Our Lockdown routine

We've been in lockdown in the UK for almost two weeks now and honestly when it was first announced I had no idea what I was going to do with Harry. Sam is a key worker and so still going to work, meaning that for even more of the time it's just me at home with a very bored Harry, not the ideal situation but after a few days of letting chaos reign I decided we needed some kind of routine. So here is how our days have been looking

6:00 am roughly is wake up time. Harry will wake up any time between 5:30 and 7:00am. 6:00 am has been the norm in our house lately and I will usually try and stretch it out until 6:30, it doesn't always work. The TV in my room is usually on by 10 past with one of Harry's current favourite shows on. 

6:30 am is when I've woken up properly and we venture off downstairs. Harry's nappy comes off and he gets a drink and carries on watching his shows until around 8:00am when we get breakfast started. It varies from day to day what we have for breakfast depending on what we have in and what we fancy. Some days it's just a bowl of cereal, other days we have eggs on toast or fruit and yoghurt. 

After breakfast, we both get dressed. While potty training Harry hasn't been wearing anything on his bottom half and we are taking full advantage of being home to let him get used to it! However, getting dressed makes us both feel better and more productive. 

Then at 9:00am we start with some educational stuff. Harry is due to start school in September and I worry that being home will make him seriously behind, so I jumped on Amazon and ordered two wipe clean workbooks. The fact that they are Peppa Pig definitely helps him concentrate.

We try and do educational activities until around 10:30 am when Harry is ready for a snack. This is usually something small, then at 11:00 am its nap time. This doesn't happen every day but it definitely helps us get through the day when it does happen. If Harry doesn't nap we tend to have some downtime. Usually back in bed for a snuggle and rest, with either the TV on or reading some books. This tends to be for around an hour when we get up and get lunch. Lunch again varies, but lately, Harry has been loving carrot, cucumber and hummus.

After lunch we try to do something fun, could be baking, drawing and colouring, crafts or playing in the garden.

We tend to have our main evening meal (we call it tea in our house but whatever you want to call it) around 5:30/6pm. Its what works for us. Then once that is finished we have some chill-out time before Harry is off to bed around 7pm!

What are your lockdown days looking like? 

Lockdown check in

Hello everybody!

What a strange and unusual time we are having here. Lockdown has now been in place for three weeks and honestly, even though I really like to pretend I'm doing just fine the real truth is, I'm not.

I have been struggling really badly this week. Not being able to leave the house like I used to has had a massive effect on my depression. I have never been an 'outdoor' person so honestly going for a walk has never really appealed to me - much to Sam's disappointment.

It was Harry's 4th birthday on the 31st of March and I'm pretty sure he had a fab day but I felt terrible about the fact that I couldn't even get him a Mcdonalds for his birthday tea. It honestly felt like the biggest failure, not that we had been expecting to celebrate his birthday as he was supposed to be 12 days post-open-heart surgery, but he would have at least had his chicken nuggets.

There was nothing I could do about it though, doesn't mean it didn't get to me.

However, I have made a real effort with Harry. We have painted and baked (far far far too much for any single household. Sam has been doorstep delivering cupcakes and banana bread to family) and played games and Harry has even been potty trained - Almost, he's not a fan of pants apparently. I have both loved and struggled with being home with Harry 24/7. I have never spent this much time at home with him and while it is lovely, I wish I could take him to the park, out for lunch, hell I'd even take him to soft play - My most hated place in the world. Harry is frustrated with being locked in and is still completely out of sorts with the change in routine making him act out, but it's getting better.

I have even started exercising! I heard somewhere that exercise is good for your mental health so thought I would give it a go. Harry is loving the Joe Wicks P.E sessions and asks for them about 500 times a day, I've also got my bike out and some days - If I'm very lucky - get to use my one allowed trip out for a nice bike ride, which is one of the only forms of exercise that I have ever actually enjoyed!

Facetime has been big in our house too. We have been having two 'pub quiz' type calls a week - one with Sam's family and one with mine. Honestly, that has been a mood lifter - along with the wine that Sam provides with it. its almost like being with people which is something when this is all over I will never take for granted again.

Lockdown has been difficult that's for sure but I'm trying to make the most of it and not let my depression get the better of me.

Stay safe. Stay at home!

How to make the most of Lock down

I'm sure everyone is so sick of hearing, reading, and even thinking about the lockdown, I know that two weeks in, I certainly am!

However, I have started to really think about lockdown as a gift. I would never have been able to take this time with Harry and have all of this spare time without the lockdown so I want to make the most of it and thought I would give a list of things that I am doing to make the most of it!

1. Tackle that job! I can pretty much guarantee that every single person reading this has at least one job they have been saying they don't have time to do and putting it off and putting it off. Well, what better time to tackle it now! Obviously people with children this still may be difficult but it's well worth giving it a go. Sam and I have cleared the junk out of our spare room while I've been off and honestly, it took about a day and a half of hard work but now that it is done it feels amazing!

2. Start a new hobby or get back to a much-neglected one. This one for me has been a lifesaver! I have now baked multiple recipes, something I rarely have time for normally. My next project is to dig out my knitting needles and try and get a blanket or scarf or even a cushion cover done - something I have never been able to complete.

3. Exercise. Probably the most common thing you have found on your list but YouTube is full of at-home work out videos and what a great time to get started! Exercise is also a great way to help if you are struggling with your mental health.

4. Read - I cannot stress this one enough! I love reading and have honestly loved having more time to read more books!

5. Relax. This one is the most important. The time we are living in at the moment is stressful enough so please take to time to look after yourself. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to get everything done. You will never have this 'free time' again so why not take some time to relax and have some 'me time'  you will honestly feel so much better for it

Stay safe everyone.

Dear Harry... Today you are 4! 31/03/2020

My dearest darling Harry,

Today you turned 4! I find it hard to believe that today is your 4th birthday!

I feel like I have blinked and suddenly you aren't a baby anymore. You have grown so much from that first day, but not only that you have fought against every single misconception that has come with having your diagnosis, and I am so proud baby.

This year you have started to speak, you are getting so much more confident with you walking and movements, you experienced new things and made me prouder every day!

Today has been a very different day then we had planned. Lockdown is in full swing and we arent able to have anybody over or go and see anybody or do anything to celebrate your special day but we made the most of it. You played in the garden and loved all the ballons. We even ventured out for a 5 minute walk.

It wasn't the birthday we wanted for you pickle, but once all of this is over Daddy and I have big plans to really celebrate your birthday.

Happy Birthday my big boy. Love you to the moon and back.

Mummy x

How we are staying sane in lockdown

Lockdown. Who thought we would end up here? Covid-19 (or coronavirus, whichever you want to call it!) has sent the whole world into a panic and here we are in the UK, under lockdown. There are more and more cases every day and more and more deaths. I worry every day about Harry getting it as he could be considered high risk due to his heart issues and because of this we are staying home and have been since before the lockdown.

But staying home day after day is not easy. When there were the first talks of lockdown I was excited at the thought of spending more time with Harry and desperately wanted this, however, the moment it happened I worried about keeping Harry occupied and keeping my mental health in check especially as I'm not working from home I'm just home. After the first week indoors I wanted to talk about how we have been coping.

1. Getting dressed every day. This is a big one for me. I spent the first couple of days in my pj's and vegging out in front of the TV. We did no activities and honestly, it was not productive. I went to bed every night telling myself 'I'll get up and do this or that tomorrow' It didn't happen and I stayed in my PJ's on the sofa all day. Then something hit me and I had a shower, brushed my hair and got dressed, then suddenly I was like a new woman. I've now been dressed every day since and getting lots more done.

2. Having a routine. Again, I obviously didn't do this one for the first couple of days and felt completely lost if I'm honest, but then I realised, we don't know when - or even if - Harry will be going back to the nursery and he thrives having a routine, so we've put some in place. It's not a strict 'we must do this at this time' routine but it helps both Harry and I feel more at ease.

3. Garden time - The weather is finally nice enough for us to use the garden and we have been making the most of it. Harry loves to be outside and to be honest, it wasn't always my favourite thing to do but I'm really appreciating the fresh air out there.

4. Learning-based activities. I felt so guilty that Harry spent three days sat in front of the TV. especially with him starting school in Septemeber. So I jumped online and looked for some age-appropriate learning-based activities for him. It's not something that you will have to do - unless your child is already at school and the school have provided work for them to do, but this makes me feel so much better about having him home. I am also going to be digging out the 100 words activity that nursery does with him and putting that to good use every day too!

How are you staying sane? What have you been up too? I'd love some more ideas of things to do with Harry too!

My favourite things to do with Harry, when it's just us!


3 weekends out of every 5, it's just me and Harry, while Sam is working. It took a long time for this to be something I'm comfortable with, and 'solo-parenting' is still so hard sometimes, but Harry and I have found some things to do together that we just love.

Snuggles and a film are usually my go-to when it's early in the morning (5:30 am on a Sunday, really Harry?!) So we pull out the spare quit and pillows, get cosy on the sofa and pop on one of Harry's favourites (usually one of the Incredibles or Despicable Me films). Some days Harry will only give me 20 minutes, others he can make it to pretty much the end of the film.

I love to get cosy with him on the sofa, its one of the only times he ever lets me get some proper snuggles and it quite content. It usually gives me time to wake up properly too. I'm going to be completely honest as well and say that some mornings, depending on what shift Sam is on, we don't make it downstairs and Harry just climbs into our bed, which he definitely prefers!

Harry and I love to get out the crafts. especially when the weather isn't the best and I don't really want to take him out. Harry loves playdough so that definitely always comes out at some point, I'm definitely that mum though who only lets him play with one colour at the time. I can't cope with the mixing. We also love to paint and at the moment Harry's favourite thing to do it paint his hands and make prints. It's not the cleanest activity but he really loves it.

I love to bake and Harry loves to help. This is something I love to do with him but I'm also a perfectionist so struggle to actually let him help! I'd love to do more baking with him though and I know he would love to do more baking!
Nothing makes Harry happier then getting his coat and boots on and going for a walk, especially if he can splash in the puddles!

Colour sorting game

Today Sam set up a great game for Harry. It was completely free using things we had laying around the house!

He used - 4 different containers - Old boxes, a roasting tin and our carrier bag storage! Paper with 4 different colours on them. We chose red yellow blue and green and just coloured 4 pieces of the paper. and things to sort. This was easy for us. We just used Harry's ball pit balls. We found 8 of each colour was the perfect amount.

Sam mixed up all the balls, threw them on the floor and let harry go! Harry picked up on the game really quickly. Red balls in the box with the red paper, blue with blue, green with green and yellow with yellow. This game really helped Harry to understand the different colours and even helped with his speech, using the words 'red' 'yellow' 'blue' 'green' 'here' 'there' 'that'. 

While this was a quick game we swapped the positions of the boxes and tested Harry with giving him the balls rather than letting him pick. We even progressed to giving him two balls of different colours and letting him work out which box they needed to go into!

Harry had great fun and wanted to play again and again. It was a great way to keep him learning without him realising. We will definitely be playing this again, maybe introducing different objects and a wider range of colours.

Dear Harry...

My dearest darling boy,

Today your surgery got postponed again. Your dad and I didn't take it very well honestly. We have been going through all of the emotions in these last few months and honestly, it doesn't feel much better than it did when we first heard that you were going to be having surgery.

Honestly, I'm scared. This feels big and important, which of course it is. When we finally get a new date we will be travelling to London on the train, which I know you will love, get some bloods taken and then your surgery is scheduled for the next day. Your dad and I will stay with you when they put you under and then will be sent off to get some food and get out of the hospital that will, hopefully only for a week, be our home.

You will be in surgery for around six hours. When you get out, you will not be awake. the doctors assure me you will not be in pain for those first few days but that doesnt stop me worrying about how you will be feeling. I know you will be sedated but will you be feeling the pain? Or will you even know that mummy and daddy are there, watching over you.

Before you, my darling boy, I did not think I was a strong person. I never expected to be able to do something like this. I'm terrified for you, but I also know this is something I am going to remember for the rest of my life and I think that is the scariest thing

When we first heard about your surgery, I wanted to hold you tight and never let go. I wanted to say no. All of a sudden you seemed so tiny and I didn't know how I was going to handle it.

We had your Pre-Op appointment in February and you flew through it. The staff at Great Ormand Street hospital were all so amazing but I think it was seeing the ward that really kind of put me at ease. I walked into the CICU ward and heard the sounds and smelt the smell and realised that, although this is going to be really hard, we've done ICU before, Everything on that ward reminded me of when you were in NICU, which seriously helped me. It still feels like the most horrible thing for you to be going through, for us to be going through but I do feel like we have this.

I'm still scared baby boy, but together, you, your dad and I will get through this.

I love you Bug.

Mummy xxx

What I've been watching

With all of the Covid-19 stuff going on at the moment we haven't left the house much lately. I know children are at lowest risk for the virus but with Harry's heart issues I still worry, so other than going to work we aren't really doing much. 

Scrolling through my social media I can see lots of posts asking for recommendations on what to watch and realised I have been watching a lot of, let's face it Netflix really! So I thought I would do a post about what I've been watching lately. 

Starting with my absolute obsession lately, The Originals. This The Vampire Diaries spin-off is, amazing. If you liked The Vampire diaries I highly recommend checking it out. I adored Klaus in Vamp diaries and him not being the villain but still totally evil is something wonderful. They have portrayed the vulnerabilities of the otherwise powerful characters so wonderfully that I've become invested in the lives of fictional beings. Sad I know but I love it. You can catch all 5 seasons of The Originals on Netflix - Just no spoilers! I'm halfway through season 2.

Sam and I usually have something on the go, and when we can't decide we go to some old classics. Lately, we have been re-watching Skins. Watching this now honestly is making me feel really old! I remember watching it when I was 16/17 and thinking about how awesome their lives must have been to be able to do all those things with little consequences. Now I find myself wanting to scream at them to get to bloody college and stop wasting their lives. I can't be the only one? 

Bad parent alert! We've been watching The Simpsons a lot lately with Harry. There comes a point in every parents day I'm sure when Hey Duggee and Mr Tumble just get too much and so we compromise and put on The Simpsons. Harry loves it, honestly, I'm not even sure he gets it, but its the only way Sam and I can stay sane sometimes. 

What have you been watching lately? I'd love to know!


Applying for Harry's EHCP was, without a doubt, one of the most tedious and heartbreaking things we have ever done, the only thing worse was the dreaded DLA forms. I don't know who designs these things. Who decided that on top of the extra work special needs parents have they will throw these god awful form on top. That person is definitely on my list.

So what is an EHCP?
EHCP stands for - Educational Health and Care Plan. It is a 'plan' put together outlining a child's additional needs while in education and how best to support them. Getting an EHCP for your child means that they can go to and school of your choosing and said school usually gets additional funding specifically for your child and their needs. Often that funding is used for additional resources or a 1:1, again dependent on what it is your child requires.

Who can get an EHCP?
Any young person up to the age of 25 can apply for an EHCP (if under 16 parents can apply) who has additional or SEN needs.

How do you apply for an EHCP for your child?
We were extremely lucky that Harry's nursery did most of the work for his EHCP, however if you think that your child would need one, please speak to their childcare setting or school. If your child is not at school or in any sort of childcare you can speak to your doctor, health visitor or even your local council about applying for your child.

You will need to fill out forms about their likes, dislikes, what they can do, what they can't. how they communicate and where they are with their milestones. I found this difficult as putting how far behind Harry is onto one big form got to me, but it needs to be done.

Be as honest as possible with this form. The council will then convene a 'pannel' who will decide if your child meets the requirements for an EHCP. I'm not sure what the requirements are, I don't think we were ever told but knew that with Harry's diagnosis we were likely to get one.

After the panel, they will invite you to a meeting, possibly with anyone else involved in your child's care, like doctors, nursery or school staff. This meeting will determine the actual 'plan' and will be reviewed every so often to ensure your child is getting everything they need. Then you will have your EHCP!

It is not a quick process. Our application went in November 2019 and February 2020 we got a call confirming the panel had agreed Harry meets the requirements. His EHCP should be in place by Septemeber 2020 when he goes to school and I'm hoping we will have it by April when we find out what school he is going to as the school we want is not in our catchment area so we may have to go through an appeal, which im not looking forward to even if he does have his EHCP in place by then!

Down Syndrome. My journey with Harry's diagnosis

Down Syndrome. I'll never forget the way I felt, the first time I heard those words in relation to my beautiful son. He was less than 24 hours old and already we feared we would lose him. The doctors sat us down and said 'We think your baby has down syndrome.'

My world stopped.

Growing up, I had always said that I didn't think I would cope with a child with special needs. I had seen other family members dealing with it. It wasn't easy I knew that, but what I felt was worse, was the way the world looked at children who were different. Like they were aliens. I didn't think I would ever be able to cope with that.

When I was pregnant I thought about what kind of mother I wanted to be. I wanted to be like those mums you see on Instagram and YouTube who totally have their shit together 24/7. I was going to have the perfect balance of home life and building my career and take perfect photos and wear perfect clothes and throw perfect parties with themes and colour schemes. The whole shebang was what I pictured in my head.

Hearing that my child was different, felt like none of that was possible. I felt like my child would be singled out and stared out in the streets and never be included in everything. Who would come to the perfect parties I planned? and how would he cope with the perfect activities I saw us doing in my head?

I soon learnt that Harry wouldn't be the one stopping us from doing those things. I also learnt that the things I pictured in my head weren't real life. No one's life is that perfect. No one has their shit together 24/7. I certainly never will. Most of the time I'm a walking disaster.

That's not to say that this journey has been easy. I didn't tell anyone new I met about Harry's diagnosis for around six months. I had friends I had made with children around the same age who had no clue because I didn't want them to see him differently.

It's not that I was ashamed. It's that I didn't know how to deal with their reactions. It's stupid really because they were absolutely fine with it, they just wondered why I hadn't told them sooner!

Harry's health issues, especially as he is getting older, has probably been one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. There have been times when I think to myself  'i just can't do this anymore' but I've learnt that I am stronger than I ever knew.

Harry's diagnosis has made me re-evaluate lot of things about myself, not just about the kind of parent I want to be, but the kind of person. The things I think when I see children who are slow and even the words and phrases I use in everyday life.

Being Harry's mum has made me so much of a better person, as as much in the beginning as I was convinced his diagnosis was the end of the world. I know now, it was the beginning of a whole new one for me. A world of acceptance and fighting for that acceptance. It is a world of teaching others the way my little boy has taught me.

And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

The real struggle of having a child who cannot speak

Harry, at the point of writing this, can say around 20 words and most of them are only recognizable for people who have spent lots of time with him like us and his grandparents and even then we can't always work out what he is trying to say.

The truth is, its hard. Harry still at almost four exclusively communicates using Makaton. With him going to school in September, I worry. I worry that he will not be able to communicate with his classmates and struggle to make friends. 

He's picking up new sounds all the time and of course, its something we are always so proud of when he says a new word but its hard to have to speak for him, to explain to people what he is saying. And sometimes I think that we shouldn't be speaking to him but he wouldn't be able to communicate with other people if we didn't.

Christmas and birthdays, we get what feels like hundreds of messages asking 'What does Harry want?' and the honest answer, we don't know because he cannot tell us. Most children at 3 years old can ask for something specific or answer the question, 'what would you like for Christmas/your birthday?' with Harry, it's as much of a guessing game now as it was for his first Christmas. I think we do well though!

Harry also can't tell us when hes feeling unwell, or something is hurting so I find myself questioning when he is misbehaving or acting slightly out of character, Is it a stage? or is something wrong? Or am I just imagining it and he's being a typical three-year-old?

I guess the point of this post is to highlight that as much as I may try to pretend and act like nothing phases me, sometimes this journey, with this amazing little boy, simply is, hard.

Baby names I love but will not be using

I love watching these videos on Youtube and so thought I would do my own version. Here are 5 boys and 5 girls names I absolutely love but will not be using!

Starting with the boys names
1. Alexander. This one is a bit of a cheat because its one of Harry's middle names (yes he has 2!) so I don't know if technically I have used it? But I adore the name Alexander for a boy! Harry's name was supposed to be Alexander but it just didn't suit him. He's definitely a Harry!

2. Noah. This name is beautiful but Sam hates it. It also doesn't go with our last name so its a no go for this one, unfortunately!

3. Charlie. I love Charlie, but it doesn't go with Harry very well or again our last name (its kind of a tricky one) so no go for Charlie.

4. Wyatt. I have loved this name since the days of watching Charmed with my mum and always said I would name one of my children Wyatt. Then I met Sam who HATES this name. Even more than he hates Noah. But I'll continue to love this name.

5. Finn. This one comes from watching glee. I had never considered it before that show, but I loved the character Finn and the name. Won't be using it, becasue again Sam doesnt like it! I honestly don't know how we will ever name our next baby!

Girls Names.
1.Spencer. My number one girls name is Spencer. I love it for a boy too and hoping when the time comes i can convince Sam on it for a boy, but he is just not budging for a girl and while i love it, i worry that if we had a daughter and called her Spencer she would be teased for having a 'boys name'

2. Leighton. I've loved this since gossip girl and will always love it but it just not a name i see myself choosing. I'm not sure why, because I adore it so much!

3. Bella. I love this one just not enough!

4. Harriet. Obviously, I can't have Harry and Harriet, that's just too much!!

5.Maddy/Madaline. This kills me but it sounds horrible with our last name, so no for this one!

What are the names you love?

Balancing working and parenting

I have always worked full time. When I got pregnant I said I wasn't going to go back after my maternity leave full time, but maternity showed me that being at home is just not for me.

I have never said being a parent and working full time is easy, because believe me it really isn't. Its a very precious balancing act that can fall apart with the slightest wobble and wobbles come thick and fast.

Nearly 4 years in I think I've worked out a way to juggle it all pretty well, although I usually still manage to forget something!

Here are my top tips for balancing work and parenting.

1. Organisation - You need to know whats going on pretty much every moment of every day. For me, this comes down to knowing who is where, and especially who is picking up or dropping Harry off that day. I use a family calendar to map all of this out, including Sam's shifts, Harry's hospital appointments and any other things that may jump up at us!

2. Backups - While you can be the most organised person, at any one time something could happen to throw all of that out of the window, so make sure you have backups, and backups of backups, because honestly you never know what is going to come up.

3. Use your free time wisely - It can be very easy to 'waste' your days off work doing very little, not that this would be a waste, you work hard you deserve a break, but you may often find that doing little means you are behind on everything and its then usually the time you have with your child that suffers. I try to do all my 'chores' and writing blog posts and anything else that is clogging up my to-do list (there is a lot) when Harry is in bed and then make the most of the time we get together by doing something together, like crafts or baking or even just snuggling and watching a movie.

4. Take advantage of help - Someone is offering to cook you a meal? or do your ironing? or even clean your bathroom? Say yes! One job off your long list means that you may at the end of the day have time to sit down with a hot cup of tea (or coffee) and have half an hour (or more if you are really lucky) to yourself.

A Letter to my Love on Valentines Day

To Sam On Valentines Day,

Almost 10 and a half years ago, you chose me to be yours. I was a loud, outspoken and very annoying 17 years old who was using my outside to hide from the world what was really going on inside. You instantly saw through my mask and immediately set to work bringing that person to the surface.

We have been together through some of the hardest times, and you were my shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most.

Seeing you take on the role of a father has made me fall even more in love with you. Nothing brings me more joy than watching you with our beautiful boy. You cannot know how much it means to me when I see you with Harry.

I am so proud of you. You saw your dream and went for it, even when you didn't know it was your dream. You work so hard at your job and I know it is not easy for you to be away sometimes but you do it every day and make us proud.

I couldn't cope with everything we have going on, especially with Harry, without your love and support. I'm not the easiest person to deal with and I have plenty of problems of my own but you have never run away. And for that, I love you even more.

I can never tell you how much you mean to me but I hope that this shows you a percentage.

Happy Valentines Day my love.

Forever yours

Dear Harry...

Dear Harry,

It has been a while since I have written you a letter. I'm sorry, I have been busy enjoying life with you and honestly, I felt like I didn't have much to say, but we've had a busy week and this is something that I want to be able to talk to you about.

Yesterday you had your first train ride. You were so excited. You love trains at the minute so being able to take you on a train made my day.

We travelled down to London and you were such a good boy. You behaved beautifully which isn't always the case as I'm sure you will have heard about plenty of times! You took everything in your stride as you always do.

I wish I had been able to take you on a train for something really fun, but this was aa very important trip. I have told you that you have a poorly heart and I think you understand, and you know that the doctors are going to make it better but I don't know how to explain to you that you will soon, very soon, be having a major operation. So we travelled to Great Ormand Street hospital for your Pre Op appointment.

You had EKG, echo, blood tests and X-Ray all in preparation for your surgery, again you took it in your stride and nothing bothered you. I don't think I have ever been so proud of you. You seemed so grown up and I had to pinch myself.

I will honestly never know what I did to deserve being your mum, but I'm bloody glad I did it!

I love you Bug

Mummy x

Our favourite things to do as a family!

Family time is so important to me, especially as we really get so little of it where the three of us are all together, thanks to Sam's shifts.

When we are all together we have things that we really love to do!

1. Seeing family - Seeing family is something we try and do as often as possible, but having a big get together with either side of the family (mine or Sam's) takes a lot of planning! We are really lucky that everyone is happy to be flexible to try and fit it around us, even if that means that sometimes we go quite a while before we see people because schedules just don't tie up.

2. Day trips - I work a 9-5 and Sam works shifts, which means, unless I book some holiday, we only get 2 weekends out of every 5 together. We will try and squeeze as much as possible into those four days and that usually includes some sort of day trip, whether that be a trip to the local farm, soft play or even a picnic in the park. We are so lucky to have so much close to where we live, especially for Harry and he loves the time that is just the three of us.

3. Tech free time - This one isn't always a strict rule but, on weekends that Sam is home we try to turn off the TV and put down our phones and really get into it with Harry, we will read a million and one books, drink thousands of cups of imaginary tea, build hundreds of towers, paint pictures, bake, and basically enjoy time with each other. I feel like this is so important these days and I love to take time away from the 'online world' ignore Facebook or Instagram notifications and just be with my boys!

Things as parents we need to remember...

I know from experience, as a parent I often feel at a loss, or even sometimes like I'm failing. Having severe anxiety probably doesn't help! But sometimes, I look around at the state of my house, or myself even and have to remind myself of some facts, so I thought I would write them down to remind all of you too!

Firstly, you are not a failure! I can pretty much guarantee that while you are thinking this, your child is smiling at you. So your house is a mess and you haven't done your hair and makeup

in weeks? Your child is happy and healthy. They are fed and loved. They don't think you're a failure, so give yourself more credit.

Secondly, please stop comparing yourself to what you see of social media! I am way too guilty of this. I obsessively scroll through Instagram wishing my page looked like some of the others I see but at the end of the day I'm a normal mum, who works a normal job and sometimes its just not possible to have everything perfect all the time. I can also bet the pictures I see on Instagram or Facebook are only part of the story, those mums have days, just like me, when they are a complete mess and everything gets on top of them. No one is that perfect!

And finally, one of the most important things to remember as a parent is to be proud. Be proud when you are nailing it. Be proud when someone compliments your child for their behaviour or manners, Be proud when you put that final load of washing in away! You did that! You taught that tiny human to be something people take the time out of the day to mention it to you. You spent that time out of your busy day getting the chores done. You did good and it deserves to be recognized! Hell, when everything is falling down around you, be proud that you made it through the day!

Where It All Started

Birth Story

Harry's birth story seemed like a fitting first post on here. Bear with me because it was written months ago. More posts to follow ever...