First Half Term, Done!

Well my beautiful big boy has been in full time school for a whole half term now, 4 full weeks, and what an eventful 4 weeks it’s been.

The first week was marred by stories of in-class fisticuffs and even year 6s bullying Noah’s bestie at lunchtime.

The first issue I kind of expected, it’s a big class with some big personalities and I suppose they have to sort out a sort of ‘pecking order’. This did resolve itself to a certain degree by the end of the term but the two children involved seemed to have pretty much alienated themselves because of it. Noah often comes home of tales of how ? and ? have been naughty and no one wants to play with them, which is a little sad.

The latter issue however, had the majority of the parents raging. It brought up the uncomfortable reality that the school was integrating our reception children with the rest of the school at lunch playtime. Something the school (on numerous occasions) told us would never happen. We were told that the lower school never mixed with the upper school accept with their appointed Year 6 ‘buddy’ who come into class to help them with their reading and in the dinner hall.

There were several stories of reception children being chased, trapped, mauled by year 5/6 children and the teachers apparently thinking it totally appropriate for our children to be ‘treated like dolls’. To say I was livid is an understatement. In a world where we are told to teach our children, from a very early age, that they have a right to their own personal space and to voice when they are made to do something they aren’t happy with where their bodies are concerned. It is very concerning that the school seemed to think it fine for the reception children to be manhandled against their will because the older kids think they’re like ‘cute little puppies’ (words actually used by a teacher to an affected child’s mother).

Needless to say the amount of complaints that arose has actually put a stop to this though the children are still in the main school playground for a time at lunch, we are made to believe it is with the lower school age groups only.

Thankfully Noah has been totally unaware of both issues and thoroughly enjoyed his first full week at school, even if it has left his emotions teetering on a knife edge when at home.

Week Two started badly for Noah as he had a raging temperature at the weekend and into Monday so I kept him off for the first day, though still under the weather for the rest of the week his fever dissipated so I sent him in, I now totally forgive my own mother for often sending us in when we had a cold and all we wanted was to stay at home 😂.

At the end of week two the novelty had most definitely worn off. Whether this is because he was unwell, or he has just had enough of going every day I don’t know, but he doesn’t understand why he has to go there EVERY SINGLE DAY 🤣.

Emotions

To say his emotions are on a knife edge is an understatement. I have never, in all his (nearly) 5 years experienced the tantrums we are now privy to. He has always been such a placid child and we breezed through the twos and threes with relative ease, now we are paying for this.

Honestly I could not start to describe in words the level of rage that he climbs to on a pretty much daily basis over something small. I have read articles on ‘After School Restraint Release’ (I will refer to this as ASRR from here on in) and am putting it down to that for now but, by god, if his attitude doesn’t change soon we are going to have to implement some serious consequences to try and curb it because at the moment he’s wanting everything his way and RIGHT NOW. I will tolerate this for so long blaming it on the ‘ASRR’ (where we are supposed to placidly ignore the eruptions) but if he thinks he can get his own way all the time if he throws a tantrum then it’s not going to help him going forward.

Development

Whilst at school, the in class speech ‘therapist’ (I use that term loosely as I’m not sure she is an actual therapist but she is trained on working with speech issues) has been working with Noah to sort out some sound issues he has (he lisps Ss, pronounces C’s with a T sound, G’s have a K sound). Even after the first week he was making a conscious effort to say S’s properly and they continue to work on the other issues.

Educational Development

I am astounded how far Noah has come in 4 weeks. Honestly, dumbfounded. They progressed a Phonics stage in a week and he is reading most three letter words using the letters S, A, T, P, M, G, D and O. They are learning how to correctly form letters, the proper way and are concentrating on less and more in maths.

I am super happy with what they are doing with them and my fears that a huge class would affect their learning has actually been unfounded.

The teachers set weekly homework challenges in their end of week newsletters which we tackle on a weekend, I quickly learned that there was no point doing anything on a school day as he just will not concentrate and makes very silly and basic errors.

Social Development

Noah has settled in fabulously and loves the fact he gets to play with his friends everyday. Alongside his core group (Farley, Ethan, Toby and Mila) he has continued to make new friends and at the gate there are often squeals if excitement from several children when they see him. He’s still TERRIBLE when it comes to recalling their names mind.

At the end of term the school held a Halloween themed disco for the school (lower school and upper school had different times) and it was so nice (if a little stressful for us) to see him playing and socialising with all these different children and seeing his popularity and the ease in which he mixes in a huge social setting. I was taken aback by how he even made an effort to play with one of the ‘punchy’ boys too which just goes to show what a sensitive little soul he is.

Noah’s View

By the half term break Noah started telling me that he finds lesson time boring but I have a feeling this is largely to the amount of playtime they get, he just wants to be playing all the time. He loved learning at pre-school and I hope this is just a blip.

He’s not impressed he has to go everyday but enjoys ‘playing with his friends all day’. He loves his teachers and often talks about them at home with only positive connotations.

My View

Barring the first week I am happy to say I still love the school. Believe me when I say that I doubted our decision in the eye of the week 1 storm, I panicked like fucking hell! I was fuming that I’d been lied to, I was frustrated at being sent from pillar to post, I was anxious that I couldn’t get a definitive answer from anyone, I was beyond angry that emails I sent were left unread (or worst, ignored). I am now pleased to say it’s all been rectified (though my emails remain unanswered).

My concerns over the size of the class still niggle me a little but I have no worries that it is affecting Noah in anyway, in fact it only highlights what a confident and sociable little chap he is turning into.

I love that all of Noah’s buddies are in the same class and that he is settled. I am also beyond happy with the education he is getting; from phonics to forest school he is developing at such a rate of knots that my head is spinning.

Slow down a little, time. You’re robbing me of my precious baby and I’m not sure I’m ready to let go.

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First Day of School

The day has finally come, and gone.

I have been a teeny bit of an emotional wreck for a few days now and today was no exception.

Noah, on the other hand has been nothing short of ecstatic about the whole thing. He loves the classroom, he loves the playground (I mean it’s got a tube slide leading from their veranda to the lower playground… what isn’t there to love?!).

I shed some tears (quite a lot really) but I didn’t do it in front of him.

We woke early (as usual), a beautiful rainbow appeared above the house in front of ours at 7am this morning and I couldn’t help but think Mum and Dad weren’t going to miss his first day. We had breakfast, we brushed our teeth and washed our faces and then we got dressed. I took a MILLION (I’m not exaggerating either) photos in his new uniform and we set off..

It was a stunning day, so we decided to walk. Noah insisted on having his backpack on and carrying his book bag, everything is swamping him, he still looks so small to be going to school, but he is so ready for it.

All of his friends were there as we arrived and we took another ‘few’ photos before the gates were unlocked and we were all let in.

I needn’t have worried at all about him. He found the correct colour coded box for his book bag, we located his coat hook and off he went into the classroom shouting “Bye Mummy, see you in one second” … I wouldn’t have minded but we were actually allowed in the classroom until 9am. I had to find him (he was busy in the playhouse kitchen with his friend) to give him a hug.

So I left. And sobbed.

Picking him up, 2.5 hours later, didn’t exactly go how I had envisaged. Playing with his friend, he ended up knocking his sister flying in the playground which resulted in them both screaming (he refused to say sorry so I had to tell him off, she cut her chin) and him insisting on going back in the classroom.

We ended up eventually all calming down and got him a little first day at school treat from the shop on the way home.

As regards school… a total success. How this will fair when the novelty wears off and he realises it’ll be all day, every day, I don’t know but for now he’s over the moon at being a ‘big boy’ and is excited to ‘teach Daddy everything I’ve learnt’ (apparently I already know everything so he doesn’t need to teach me. I’ll take that one 😂😂😂)

So here’s to Day Two….

The Eve of a New Era

It seems like just yesterday I gave birth to our beautiful boy after years of heartache and disappointment, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago, in the early hours of the 16th April, that I found out Noah had got a place at our first choice primary school.

Back in April the relief was overwhelming that he’d got a place, in the days that followed I found out that every single one of his bestest friends had all got a place there too (barring a couple of exceptions) which only heightened this relief.

Back in April, September was a million miles away. Now here I am, on the eve of my beautiful boy’s big day, writing this post holding back the tears having just ironed his uniform and packed his bags for the first time in a thousand times to come.

Noah is super excited about this new adventure and I know that he is well equipped to start this journey, but I find myself struggling with conflicting thoughts and emotions. I’m excited, and apprehensive. Happy, and sad. I’m aware it’s a big school and although I know he’s confident enough to stand his ground, I’m terrified it’ll knock the wind out of his sails and he’ll lose that confidence. That he’ll lose himself, somehow.

The little boy I have had total responsibility for I am now having to entrust into the care of people I don’t know and I’m scared they will damage him in some way.

I suppose the crux of it is that this is the start of him being truly independent, of growing up, of not being my baby anymore and for that I weep but I will endeavour to hold back my tears and fears tomorrow morning and I’ll settle him into his new classroom with all the excitement I can muster, I will likely sob when I turn my back on him, but that’s fine, that’s on me.

So here we are, on the eve of a very special day in my baby boy’s life.

I’m not sure I’m going to be getting much sleep tonight.

Goodbye Dolphins

Well that’s that, the end of a chapter for our gorgeous little boy. Last Friday, the 31st August, Noah had his very last session at Pre-School.

To say I was emotional is an understatement. He’s gone from a little boy that cried to the point of vomiting on the sheer mention of going to ‘school’, to a little boy who air punched whenever we said it’d be a school day.

I really can’t rate Dolphins enough. They have cared for him, nurtured him, educated him and had fun with him and more importantly made him trust them.

I can’t quite fathom how much he’s changed since his first session back in January 2017.

He’s gone from a quiet child who barely talked and who struggled immensely with being separated from me, to the extremely confident, independent and excessively chatty boy we have today.

I cannot thank the wonderful staff at St Petroc’s Early Years enough for the part they have played in his development.

For the care they provided for him when they had to practically wrench him from the bear hug he was giving me when I made to leave at every single drop off, for making sure they knew him well enough to know (and prepare) a perfect distraction for him and made sure it was in place prior to his arrival.

For providing a safe and friendly environment to enable him to open up and to develop the best of friendships.

For the part they’ve played in his educational development, helping to teach him to write his name and to recognise numbers and letters.

He has not only thrived in this setting, he has gone from strength to strength emotionally, educationally and socially.

He has thoroughly enjoyed his time there but is so ready to move on. On asking him in the car after picking him up whether he’d miss Dolphins, he replied, without hesitation “Nooooooooooo Mummy, not at all, my new school is soooooo much better, it’s got more rooms and a bigger garden”. So there you have it, out of the mouths of babes.

So here’s to Dolphins and all its fabulous staff, especially his amazing key worker, Miss Brown whom never failed to greet him with the biggest smile.

And here’s to the start of a momentous new chapter in our amazing boy’s life when, on Thursday 13th September, he starts at his ‘big school’ alongside all his bestest of friends.

End of first day Jan’ 17 to beginning of last day Aug ‘18

Leaving Dolphins on his last day

Stretch and Sweep (37 Weeks + 4)

This is an outtake of a diary I kept during my pregnancy…

It is the 4th April 2017, my mummy’s birthday and the day for my stretch and sweep at the MW.

She told me straight away if baby isn’t engaged and cervix isn’t favourable she won’t even bother trying.

Secretly I was hoping that my cervix wasn’t favourable and it wouldn’t happen. But it was, very favourable, and I did have it done and now I’m quietly shitting myself.

MW said I was 2-3 cm dilated already, but this could be down to the fact I’ve already had a baby. That my cervix was soft and my waters were bulging which means she thinks if my waters were to be broken then labour would ensue. 

Baby’s head is nicely engaged but not touching cervix due to bubble of waters between head and cervix which is why she thought if waters break I would go into spontaneous labour.

The actual sweep itself was almost verging on brutal. She did warn me she wasn’t gentle, but crikey…. that?!

Since this I have been having cramps and I’m still having them now, 8 hours later.

I’ve frantically sewn up the shawl, washed it and it’s now drying.

I’m panicking because I’ve still so much to do and I’m worried tonight will be the night… I’m just not sure whether these cramps are something, or nothing.

Now Noah is settled for the night (please god let him sleep all night tonight) I’m going to go and sit and time these cramps and see if there is any order to them.

A baby tonight?

Eek! Who knows?!

Pregnancy, Second Time Round

I say second, it’s actually the sixth, what I should have said was the second successful pregnancy.

It really couldn’t have been more different with our little lady than with Noah, from start to finish!

I suppose I should start at the very beginning, to coin a phrase. 

On the 16th August 2016 after a stop/start period I took my sixth positive pregnancy test and so it began. The anxiety, the excitement, the hope, the fear, the desperate need to be positive and enjoy this, my final pregnancy but the reality that negative thoughts can’t help but plague me to somehow protect me, should the worse happen.

I was 4 weeks and 4 days pregnant at this point, my due date being 22nd April 2017.

The weird bleeding I had on and off for a week 28 days into my cycle didn’t help make me feel at ease that this pregnancy would be fruitful, but I needn’t have worried as I sit here penning this 14 months later.

The sickness (well nausea) started at 5 weeks which, unlike Noah, started at wake up and lasted until 9-10PM which was far from ideal when I had Noah to entertain aswell as trying to keep it secret. This continued until I was about 15 weeks. With Noah I felt nauseous for a few hours in the afternoon and stopped at about 12 weeks.

From the moment the nausea started I went off pretty much EVERYTHING healthy. Vegetables and salad, which were my key foods with Noah, literally turned my stomach. I am not joking when I say I lived off chocolate and carbs. I had lost all my (Noah) baby weight just prior to my BFP, to say I piled it on with some additional is an understatement, but that’s another story for another day.

I started to show at 9 weeks (16 with Noah) and I just grew and grew and grew. I was massive by 38 weeks and very grateful that she arrived early as I don’t doubt I would have had a late 9Iber.

Barring a trapped nerve in my neck that caused me excruciating pain for about 10 weeks of the pregnancy and the usual aches and pains that are associated with it all went ok. I wasn’t as fit or as healthy as I was with Noah, nausea and lack of time stopped me from taking regular exercise other than walking. Prenatal yoga which I did religiously with Noah was undertaken about a dozen times.

I had extra growth scans thanks to the enormity of my bump, also a diabetic test which came back negative (I did have my doubts considering my appalling diet).

Couldn’t find a 38 week for Noah so used 36 as a comparison

Looking at the above comparison you can see I carried very differently with both my babies yet at the time I’d have said it was the same. With Noah I was convinced right at the beginning he was a boy, this time round I had no inkling whatsoever.

This time baby behaved at the anomaly scan, and all scans following so we didn’t know the gender (Noah defied us and made sure we knew, even though we didn’t want to).

Noah was a turner and wriggler when in the womb. This little monkey was fighting to get out from the moment I started to feel her move at 10 weeks, it was like being attacked from the inside with really sharp jabs and kicks, there were no worries with her as she didn’t have as much down time as Noah did, which would send me into a panic.

I should have known she was going to be a girl just from the differences.

Of course my age caused issues nearer to my due date and I was shocked to hear from one of the consultants that they would want to induce me at 38 weeks. I wasn’t really prepared for this as I was told 40weeks with Noah and he came three days early and I was gearing up for the same this time and had no worry that I could try and bring baby on a couple of days early but two whole weeks? I knew baby would never naturally arrive two weeks early.

Induction has never sat well with me, the thought of artificially introducing hormones into my system quite frankly scares the living crap out of me. However the thought of putting my baby at risk is non-negotiable. See my dilemma?
My consultant knew my worries and agreed, at my 36 week appointment, to go with what I wanted which was to check my placenta at 38 weeks to check for any sign of degradation and then go in regularly for Doppler tests to check on its health until 40 weeks when I would then have an induction. By way of a compromise he gave the midwife written ‘permission’ to do whatever she could to get things moving naturally beforehand so on my mum’s birthday, the 4th April 2017 at 37 weeks + 4, I trotted off to the midwife where she performed a stretch and sweep (I’ve written a full account of the process here).

This started a process I wish I had never started. Cramps started pretty much straight away meaning I frantically sewed up the shawl my mum had knitted me before she passed away years ago convinced baby was coming that night. By the evening they were forming a regular pattern so put everyone who was going to be involved in Noah’s care were put on high alert. The early hours of the next morning the contractions stopped.

Contractions continued on and off for the next few days and I can’t tell you how stressed, worried and upsetting it was and on Friday 7th April I went for my final consultant appointment at Exeter to have my placental health scan, however I had at this stage decided that I was going to just say book me in and get this baby out.

I was contracting every 5 minutes by the time I saw the consultant though so he booked me in to be induced on the following Monday and sent me to be examined by the midwife incase baby was already on its way. I was 3cm and told to go home and wait. 

I sobbed all the way home.

Contractions kept coming every 5 minutes, though not painful they were annoying. That night at 2030 whilst saying goodbye to my friend’s partner at the front door my waters broke but due to the annoying ceasing of my contractions the hospital told me to go in the next day (Saturday 8th April) at 9pm to start the induction process as they can’t let pregnancies continue longer than 24 hours after water break. My treatment by the on call community midwives based at Truro was appalling and the whole debacle was quite simply horrifically upsetting but that’s another story for another time.

Needless to say nothing happened the next day, except leaking waters pretty much continuously, so off we trotted to get induced at 9 that evening, the 8th April.

The below pictures were taken the evening of my induction. I was 38 weeks + 1

My (Second) Birth Story

We have now welcomed our amazing, beautiful little girl into the world and here is how it happened.

I suppose I should start where my last post left off, where the induction is concerned…

Thanks to the lateness of the appointment we managed to get DS nicely settled before we had to go. G came round at 1900 to watch him and off we went.

We arrived at hospital at 2030 and waited in maternity triage. About 2130 we got called through onto triage and met Kirsty the MW who would be looking after me at this stage of the induction process. 

She explained that I’d have to be monitored for half an hour then have a VE, a scan to check Baby was head down and then I’d have a pessary inserted to soften cervix and that this would be in for 24 hours before being taken to labour ward and put on the hormone drip, Syntocinon if nothing happened beforehand!!!

24 hours?

We don’t have childcare for more than tonight and tomorrow!!!

Cue panic and begging to just go straight on drop. She said that unless I was ‘favourable‘ then I would have to have the pessary.

The next hour I spent pleading silently with my cervix that it would be favourable.

Thankfully I was, it was. I was 6cm dilated so given the news that I’d go straight down to labour ward and onto the hormone drip as soon as they were ready for me which should be an hour or so so we tried to grab an hour’s shut eye, it was gone midnight by this point.


A lovely MW called Georgie came and fetched us about 0130 and immediately we got on. Her little boy Charlie was born 5 days after DS so we instantly had plenty to talk about.

We were settled into birthing room number 5 and brought teas and coffees to keep us going, we were both pretty exhausted by this point.

At about 0230 a doctor came to fit a cannula and the drip was fitted and activated by about 0300 and Georgie assured me baby would be here by 6!!

This wasn’t the case.

Despite having regular and strong (according to the machines) contractions everyone was amazed that I just couldn’t feel anything. All I can explain it as was a tightening of my outer stomach muscles like you get with a TENS machine, nothing deep within

I went from 2ml/hour to 4, to 8, to 12 then back down to 8 to prevent too many.

At this point Georgie mentioned that she thought she had felt what could have been an ear when she examined me meaning that Peanut’s head could be slightly turned meaning it wasn’t properly engaged and pushing onto my cervix thus causing this stalled progress.

If this continued then I was aware that there was a very real possibility of me having to have a c-sec.

I continued to bounce on the birthing ball, walk around the room and when OH discovered a wireless speaker behind the curtain we put on some music so I started to dance quite vigorously to desperately try and shift baby’s head.


At approximately 0750 as Georgie neared the end of her shift she told me she was going to crank up the hormone and upped it to 16 then her replacement, Lynne, turned up and she handed over to her.

We were so lucky with midwives as Lynne, too was a great laugh and we managed to have a bit of a chat about my birth plan and what my preferences were.

At 0840 the first proper contraction hit and boy it was a doozy. I literally went from 0-1000 in one contraction. Lynne asked what position I’d like to be in and I replied not on my back between pelvis cracking contraction pains. At this point she got me on the bed where I climbed up and onto my knees grabbing the handrails on the ‘back’ of the bed.

I heard her tell me to push when I felt the urge which I was amazed about as thought I can’t have dilated that quickly but within a contraction I heard her opening the delivery pack and I was pushing.

Within half an hour, at 0913 I birthed Peanut’s head and two minutes later, at 0915 I gave birth.

It took a few seconds for her to cry which felt like a lifetime then a sobbing OH told me it was a girl!!!

That moment will be etched on my brain forever. 

A girl. 

Our family is complete. 

No pain relief but yogic breathing and a natural (barring the hormone induction) birth with no intervention. I felt every single centimetre of her descent, of her crowning and of her being born, a sensation I didn’t have with DS due to having put myself in some zen like state for the labouring hours and having been deadened ‘down there’ due to an episiotomy. Although I never got to have the water birth I would have so liked I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, all considered.

Although having another boy would have been absolutely fine with me I think I possibly would have felt the need to try for another and with our advancing years and the time it takes us to conceive and with the risks of more miscarriages and complications due to my age I think the risks of doing so need to be considered. We’ve successfully rolled the dice twice now with a perfect outcome each time, and even though in an ideal world I would have loved three children, it’s time I stopped tempting fate and now we have one of each I don’t feel a need to risk it. 

An Announcement

A little late, almost 6 months late to be exact, and more for the benefit of those who don’t know us personally (or on social media) but here it is, short but sweet.

On the 9th of April 2017 at exactly 9.15AM, weighing in at a remarkable 8Ib 4oz we welcomed to the world our beautiful baby daughter.

Two weeks early, she has blessed our lives and completed our little family. 

First Trip to the Theatre

On the 18th March Noah got his very first experience of the theatre and it was an absolute success.

For Christmas, Auntie had bought us tickets to see the ‘Direct from the West End’ stage performance of The Tiger Who Came To Tea (one of Noah’s favourite books) at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. We had lunch with Auntie and David before the performance and from the moment he saw the stage he was captivated.

In fact the look of sheer wonderment when the performers took to the stage left both David and I blubbing like babies, thank god the lights were low at this stage.

His expressions were awe inspiring and I found myself studying his reactions to nearly everything, thus missing a large part of the performance itself. He eagerly got involved with the audience involvement pieces and was leaping around with the best of them, when it came to ‘Tigercise’


The actors; Abbey Norman (Sophie), Harry Howle (Daddy, Tiger and others) and Ashley Tucker (Mummy) were perfectly cast and worked with child audience wonderfully even from the first moment where they entered the auditorium silently, then slowly built their voices up so as not to scare or frighten the youngsters.

They were simply brilliant.

As was Noah. I was worried that maybe an hour having to sit still would be a bit too much, that his attention would dwindle and he’d lose interest but I really had no cause for concern. He was, quite simply mesmerised.

So that’s that, his theatre days have started. I am now on the mailing list for Northcott and will be eagerly looking out for more children’s productions.

I’m a little upset that we’ve missed out on seeing the Northern Ballet’s performance of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as it is now fully booked anywhere near here. He would have LOVED that, but hopefully we’ll get to see another child’s ballet before too long.