co-sleeping baby

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Co- sleeping

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Co- sleeping

 

Don’t let baby sleep in your bed.

Put them down awake.

Get rid of the dummy.

Put socks on him.

Dream feed them.

Have you tried a banana before bed?

Order a white noise machine, Gro clock and black out blinds.

Type in ‘how to get a baby to sleep through the night’,  and you will be met with so much conflicting and sometimes very odd advice.

Elijah our first child was always a pretty good sleeper, from around six weeks he slept 7-7 and after about a year he did so in his own room. Other than the odd early wake up, or a bout of illness and even getting rid of the dummy we have always had it pretty good with him.

We co slept for a while, it just happened naturally, if he woke up early he would come in with us and we would sleep until a reasonable hour.

I remember being told that this was the worst possibly thing to do, we would ‘create a rod for our own backs’, he wouldn’t never sleep in his own room and wouldn’t be able to settle himself etc.

I liked him being close to me, it meant I could keep an eye on him, and as he got bigger I liked when he snuck in our bed.

co-sleeping baby

Bed hopping

I do vaguely remember there was a time where the three of us would bed hop, between his room, our room and the sofa but do you know what, we still slept.

I got told by someone that if it isn’t a problem for you, then there is no problem and I hand on my heart believe this. We all slept and no it wasn’t the most convenient thing in the world but it kind of worked.

Then came his brother who didn’t quite follow in his brothers footsteps, so much so even now at sixteen months still doesn’t sleep very well.

We thought we had learnt a lot from having Elijah, and we were quite open to co sleeping again if it meant that we all slept but we were not prepared when it came to our little sleep thief.

I even in a sleep deprived  state ordered a Ewan the Sheep in hope it would work, it did not.

Take last night, he went to bed in his room, woke up but settled again around five times but as we were approaching the wee hours he came in with us and slept until 7am, and allowed his brother a lay in until 7.30am!

The need for sleep

Some may have an issue about co sleeping and it obviously can be very dangerous in certain situations and I am not necessarily an advocate for it, I am however very much for getting sleep.

I don’t have any worries that by co sleeping that I will have one of them in the bed until they are teenagers.

I think in the first couple of years you are in survival mode and you do what you can to get the illustrious bout of sleep that you think about  all day long.

There will be a time where they wont be waking up. Clambering into your bed, kicking you for hours through the night or my personal favourite using your head as a pillow.

It is and when your child doesn’t sleep, and you really do get quite desperate trying everything and anything.

It can be even harder when you know others their age who do sleep, and it can feel as though you are the one doing something wrong.

Once you have had a baby you are in such a rush for them to sleep through the night as we believe that this is an indication of their ability in a way.

Truth be told, I don’t think much helps, they will sleep when and where they want to. A little further down the road something will click and you will be waking up with a toddler heavy breathing in your face demanding that it is time for breakfast and C Beebies.

Baby photographer Norfolk

Three or four in a bed

Strangely, you will begin to miss those times where you woke up with no duvet and neck ache, snuggled up with someone whose nappy is feeling and smelling way too full.

Or when you, your partner, your child and every single one of their teddies has to come in and you find yourself balanced on the edge of the bed not daring to move in case you fall out!

Let go of the pressure, the guilt if you are reading this after a semi successful night where your baby/toddler/ pre-schooler/ cat and you did share a bed then don’t sweat it.

Once again, if it isn’t a problem for you, it isn’t a problem, try not to compare yourselves.

Different things work for different people, and that’s okay, however if one of them does still sleep with us when he is in his twenties then I may come back to revisit this!

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog, founded and runs The NICU Parent Partnership Organisation and co-hosts @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club.. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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bottle feeding


The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Relationships

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Relationships

 

 

One thing I do not think you are fully prepared for after having a bay is how much the dynamic of your relationship changes with your partner.

Whilst you are pregnant you often live in a honeymoon bubble, excitedly imagining what your new life as parents is going to be like.

Then after the physical act of labour you are normally engulfed in the new born bubble of bliss.

Give or take a couple of weeks suddenly you are both running on empty, mum smells like cheese and you watch as a slightly too eager dad leaves to return back to work.

Sleep deprivation is indescribable, and nor how you have to find your new balance as a family. Going from two of you, to three, to four and the stress of finding your groove and getting a balance back can take months.

Resentment

The one thing that surprised me most about how our relationship changed were those undercurrents of resentment.

I resented him for getting to leave, for going out and being an adult, and for making me feel guilty if I asked him to help in the night because he had to get up for work and I was ‘just’ looking after the baby.

Knowing what I know now, it is normal to feel like this.

I guess you could say after having a baby in NICU and then open heart surgery we had it tougher than most, we got through it and looking back I never realised how hard it was for him too.

For me I was struggling and I was consumed with depression but he not only went through this with his child too, but he watched his partner fall down somewhere that he was unsure of she was going to get back out of.

Then he watched as post-natal depression overwhelmed me after the birth of our second child, he was more involved than most and I never appreciated that at the time.

Tiredness

We bicker, we argue who is more tired, who does more and who the children like the best but the one thing we try to remember is that what ever ‘phase’ is stressing us out the most another illness, early wake ups, no money, it won’t be forever.

There is of course the physical side chances are after having a baby and not sleeping for eight weeks straight you aren’t going to feel that frisky.

For me the change isn’t the physical aspect never really bothered me, it was when we stopped communicating or being honest with one another that really affected me.

It was holding in what was bothering us causing it to fester under the surface.

For a while how the two pregnancies changed my body I was self-conscious that he no longer ‘fancied’ me as such but I think your relationship after having a baby goes to a new level where it isn’t just about superficiality anymore.

We try and talk to each other, validate one another and acknowledge how the other one is feeling but after ten years together and two children our relationship has changed vastly.

Little things

There are subtle things like when he makes me a coffee when I’m working or when we wait to watch a program until we are together that tend to mean more to us now.

We used to go out multiple nights of the week and would spend whole weekends hungover on the sofa but now, we are normally getting up at the time we used to come home with the kids!

Having two children under five is hard, and it is testing.

You are bone shatteringly tired, you’ve got barely any money and you’ve just put the toys away for the hundredth time that morning.

You snap, you whinge but you know when it comes down to it, sitting down in front of the Great British Bake Off praying that no one wakes up to interrupt you is where you want to be.

I want to remember this times as this is what made us stronger as a couple and a few years down the line you will look back and feel such a sense of pride you did it together.

It can be hard to see it from their point of view and their will be blow outs of spectacular proportion normally caused by no sleep and over something small but getting through these first early years together do change you as a couple.

Dynamic

I think it can be easy to think that when you are pregnant you will both stay the same and the baby slots in, but I think it is really you two adapting around the baby.

You cant just nip out for a date night now, you will think twice about going on an all nighter and guess what C Beebies and a toddler whilst suffering from a hangover doth not make a fun Sunday.

Everything changes, who does what, when, you as people change too and there is one way is a mourning period of the couple you used to be and the lives you used to have before the baby.

I don’t think we have a magic formula, we argue like most, we are tired, but one thing we always remember and what I would say to any new parents is to accept the changes they are inevitable but they don’t define you and just laugh.

Even when you are in those trenches fighting a losing battle of getting up a hundred times in one night, and start arguing about who hasn’t fed the cat again, just laugh it won’t last forever but you two will if you stick together.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog, founded and runs The NICU Parent Partnership Organisation and co-hosts @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club.. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Birth

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Birth

 

 

I recently met someone who I knew, last time I saw her she was heavily pregnant, and now she was pushing a little bundle around.

I went to congratulate her, and then it was though I couldn’t help myself, I then asked her if the birth was good, turns out she had a rotten time and I felt awful and intrusive for even asking.

Having both of my boys, I have suffered two birth traumas and used to hate when people asked me if it was natural, painful or my favourite ‘good’.

I had found myself using the exact phrase I used to abide, why is it as a nation we are so interested in birth stories, and always want to know exactly how someone gave birth before you’ve even asked the baby’s name?

Wellbeing

It’s odd we are normally so focused on the baby, we tend to forget the wellbeing of the mum, as she is just expected to put everything to one side now she is responsible for the small human she just birthed.

Birth has changed so much over time, dad’s are now active birth partners, there are new practices and methods.

I think I must have just been really oblivious when I was pregnant with my eldest about giving birth, we went to ante natal classes but seeing a doll being pushed through a pelvis doesn’t really have the same effect as actually giving birth does it?

One Born Every Minute terrified me so I had to stop watching it, towards the end of my pregnancy I was felt very under prepared. I felt for a first time mum I was not really educated when it came to giving birth. Yes, all births are different and it might have been my own fault for relaying only on the ante natal classes, but I really didn’t have a clue.

Spoiler alert; it is not like it is in the films.

With both of my births, I was sick and had an awful stomach during contractions which meant for two labours I spent most of my time on the toilet. I actually stayed on the toilet with both of them until I was ready to push!

Hospital vs Home

Elijah was born in hospital after 8 hours and a fairly textbook labour but I suffered a significant haemorrhage and the aftermath of being stitched up traumatised me. I developed and infection and needed a blood transfusion. I didn’t have a clue what was being done or why.

I spent so much of my time re living the birth over and over which when I fell pregnant the second time, it made me fear giving birth again.

There was a turning point and that was attending a hypnobirthing course with Jackie at The Orange Grove Clinic. I learnt so much about my attitude towards birth, my language and for the first time in seven months I felt positive and empowered to give birth the way I wanted.

That’s the thing with giving birth again you are suddenly more aware, you know what could and couldn’t happen and you are more prepared.

Let down

Which makes me think perhaps we are letting down some first time mums if they like me were solely relying on the local ante natal classes, or perhaps as a society it is our view as birth as a whole?

Out attitude, our language, our pressure to live up to an unrealistic image of birth and when we don’t achieve it we feel as though we have failed.

Turns out my second son had other ideas, and after sitting down to watch Die Hard 2, I ended up giving birth less than fifty minutes later in the bath!

My two experiences were polar opposites when I did eventually get to hospital with Harlow, I was met on the Midwife Led Birthing Unit, and they were so mindful of my past experience and supported and understood me.

Empowered

It made me think it really does make a difference when there is someone there to empower you, I wish I had that the first time round. Or perhaps someone had just taken the time to talk to me, to explain what was going on, being done then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so unaware of things.

There is an attitude shift towards birth at the moment, and we are beginning to look at our attitude, our language it is no longer your dirty little secret if you have a ‘bad’ birth or trauma, there is a focus on you, and your wellbeing after birth.

Birth Better

There is a fabulous network called the Birth Better Network who are doing just that, and revolutionising the way birth has affected us, and how we can make significant changes for the future. The Huffington Post which has hundreds of thousands of readers every day is also currently doing a fantastic series called the Birth Diaries to show how diverse birth can be.

I think we still have a long way to go regarding educating ourselves about birth, and we still need to shift our attitude and let the new mum take the lead to talk about her experience is she wants to but the important thing is not to put pressure or high expectations on birth and to give everyone the tools they need to have the birth they want. Or if things don’t go to plan it is explained to them every step of the way.

Make Birth Better Network

Huffington Post Birth Diaries

The Orange Grove Clinic

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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antenatal

Pregnancy guest blogger 35 weeks - hypnobirthing and antenatal classes

Waking up on the floor, dazed and confused…I was obviously quite receptive to a hypnotised Alpha Brain state… Or if not… i was very tired!

 

We saw the wonderful Jackie – owner of ‘The Orange Grove Clinic’ for a weekend of Hypnobirthing. She was great! Honest, informative and reassuring. We studied Balloon breathing, Feather breathing and Deep breathing whilst pelvic tilting on a Bouncy ball all on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I now feel like i understand what my clever body will go through. I never thought i would be able to have a water birth or be able to give birth to my baby without medical intervention, i now truly believe that i am capable of doing whatever i wish for our little ones big day. I feel more empowered than ever. Go women!

 

We have begun our Antenatal classes this month. ‘Birth to Babies’ was what we opted for. Our team of new parent troops are lovely, and our tutor Sian is very informative and makes the evening entertaining. We group up in small numbers to express fears and then try solve them, we test out birthing positions, strategies and discuss the role of our other halves. I’m now part of a ‘Yummy Mummy’s’ group in which we share advice and plan catch ups over must needed coffee and cake.

antenatal

Sometimes it’s nice to get away from it all, so my hubby and I had a treat night away at Park Farm. Swimming in their warm pool feeling light and bouncy and lounging in our luxury suite was just what we needed. I’m a sucker for a freebie, so coming into our room with salted caramel and hazelnut chocolate, wrapped up in ribbon on the bed accompanied by bottle of ice cold Shloer (pregnancy wish) was such a treat and i felt super special.

 

After our romantic getaway we thought we would make detour to visit to MLBU ward. We rang ahead and they confirmed it was quiet that day so we should pop up to visit. The rooms we could sneak a peek into had dimmed lighting, twinkly lights and birthing pools, which is perfect for me to use my new hypnobirthing techniques along with my portable music soundsystem, essential oils spray and battery candles… Like a spa they say. All of the midwives at N&N have been reassuring friendly and we are so lucky to be having our baby in their safe hands!

 

On a final note we are PACKED! Everything prepared in the boot rearing to go. I’ve tried to cleverly pack my bag that my hubby knows where to look for my ‘Give me this item now’ when i’m squealing at him and throwing raised eyebrows in his direction. Baby’s bag was the best to pack as i get to sit there all teary eyed deciding on which baby grow i love the most, and looking through the tiny socks and booties trying to match to the outfit. Hubby’s bag is filled with pants and food…. Standard.

Chelsea

 

read Chelsea’s other guest blogs here 🙂

 

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bottle feeding

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… PND Guest blog

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… PND

 

Those three little letters, changed my life in a way I never thought they could.

They held so much power over me, they changed me, I turned on myself and my family because of those three little letters.

I had suffered with my mental health after Elijah was in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but after my second son was born, Post-Natal Depression (PND) consumed me.

The signs

Looking back in those first few weeks after Harlow was born I knew more about how my mental health could take a battering after having a baby than I did first time round.

It all seems to be a blur now, establishing feeding, sleep deprivation, recovery and watching my eldest struggle with the transition and my partner feeling the brunt of it all.

I cannot remember when it started, it didn’t really build up as such.

It most certainly was not just a bad case of the ‘baby blues’ it was so much more.

I remember finding a leaflet about PND in my Bounty folder and how it spoke about it didn’t reflect how I was feeling, it didn’t talk about the reality of what it was really like to have PND.

The anger

When you think of PND you probably think of a mum unable to cope, crying and one that isn’t able to love her child.

That isn’t a correct portrayal of PND, the information in things such as ante natal classes is severely lacking.

I wasn’t just weepy, I was emotionally volatile, the smallest thing would set me of.

I remember feeling so out of control,  the rage would build in me and literally explode.

Never have I been so scared of myself.

It was as though I had my baby, came home lived in the newborn bubble for a few days and boom there it was, PND knocking at my door.

Auto Pilot

I vividly remember a time where Elijah was at his Nan’s and Greg was at work. I was on my own with the baby binge watching Netflix and living in that feed, sleep and repeat cycle. As I got ready to feed him again one afternoon I looked down and I remember feeling numb. There was no rush of love, no happiness, there was nothing.

It was as though I was on auto pilot, I was doing everything that was expected of me, but without at real emotion attached to it.

I don’t think I truly bonded with Harlow until he was perhaps nearly a year old, and of course I beat myself up about it every single day.

Help

Because I was so unaware of what was happening when I was ill with Elijah, I let it fester, too ashamed to get help. To understand that what I was feeling was actually ‘normal’ per se and that my baby wouldn’t be taken away from me. It took my first year with Elijah away from me and I knew I couldn’t let it happen again.

At my 6 week check I told my GP how I was feeling, and she instantly diagnosed PND, there they were those three little letters.

The ones that defined me for what seemed like months, the ones who took over even with medication, therapy and my usual outlet of blogging.

It took me so long to claw myself out of depression, it resulted in me moving in with my Nan so she could help with the children.

Break Down

Greg stood by me the whole time, always the pillar that held our family up. He never judged me when I broke down and said I was miserable, that maybe we shouldn’t have had another baby, that I was a rubbish mum and wanted to leave.

Day after day I told him they were better off without me, I was a failure.

The sense of failure I felt for those months was draining, it affected every part of my being, my life and I couldn’t even recognize who I was anymore.

Advice

I have often wondered about what I would tell someone to do if they think they have PND, or what they can do. One thing I pride myself on is honesty. It has at times be hard to be so honest when I write down and recall how I felt when I suffered from PND, it was pure hell.

But, here is my advice (based on my own experiences, this is not a one size fits all miracle cure)

  1. Always talk, no matter how bad you feel, how dark your thoughts are, if you feel you cannot vocalize them to someone you trust, write them down. Sometimes hearing the words, or seeing them on the page helps you rationalise them, process them. You must always be open and honest no matter how hard that it. When we begin to hide it, suffer in silence, it festers.
  2. Never fear judgement from anyone. Many mums and dads have PND it is nothing to ever be ashamed of and it doesn’t reflect your parenting ability in the slightest.
  3. Find something you enjoy, a bath, a book, write a blog, go for a walk whatever makes you feel as though you are you again, make it a priority. If you can try and get out for a walk now and again (GMOT4W can help locally in Norfolk with this!)
  4. This is the hard one, but seek help. From a GP, midwife, charity (I have listed some below) they can help you, advise you and they are not there to judge you.
  5. Take one day at a time, small steps, they will turn into bigger steps, and you will find there will be a time where there are more good days than bad. It can be hard to believe it when you are in the trenches but one day you feel like you again.
  6. Someone is likely to have gone through what you have, felt how you have felt at some point, it really is okay to be honest you are never alone.

PANDAS

GMOT4W

Mind

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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bottle feeding

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Bottle Feeding - Guest Blog

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Bottle Feeding

 

Okay, here goes.

I bottle fed both of my children.

Now, I am likely to come under fire for saying this, which to me is simply a fact.

Many will say that I didn’t give them the best start to life, that I am advocating bottle feeding or a trillion other arguments I didn’t even know existed before I became a parent.

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Many will say that I didn’t give them the best start to life, that I am advocating bottle feeding or a trillion other arguments I didn’t even know existed before I became a parent.

Isn’t it funny before you have children you just are not aware that how you decide to feed your children is an invitation for you to come under fire, you are put on display and have your parenting ability judged and dissected on this one choice which seems so minor in the great scheme of things.

When I was pregnant with Elijah, I just couldn’t shake of the feeling that I didn’t want to breast feed. I did what I did best, I researched. Strangely, to me it felt un natural.

I spoke to so many of my friends, my Nan who had bottle fed two children and read as many articles as I could.

The feeling was still there when I was nearing my due date and we went in with some ready made bottles in my hospital bag and we would see how I feel after I gave birth.

It seems though the decision was perhaps already made for us.

I was very ill, and Elijah was rushed away into the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit and wasn’t allowed to feed for three days.

When he was finally given the all clear to feed, it seemed so natural to us for Greg to take the lead with bottles while I was still physically recovering.

In NICU there was no pressure, no judgement and the nurses went with our lead. I asked if breastfeeding would help Elijah and they said that no matter how we fed our child, his heart wouldn’t suddenly be okay, it didn’t make a difference to us in that situation.

Midwives and Health Visitors continuously spoke to me about breastfeeding, or made comments when I said we were bottle feeding.

You are made to feel as though you have failed your child, and that is a personal failure as after all you are the one with the boobs which you aren’t using to feed your child with even more so when you have an ill child.

But, I look back and why? I fed my child, I got him as strong as he could be for open heart surgery.

I have fed two children, who have thrived, put weight on and are happy and healthy.

Still though we are put under this immense pressure that how we feed our child is a direct correlation to how good or bad we are as a parent.

Which is why I perhaps got a bee in my bonnet when I was pregnant with Harlow.

I knew this was likely our last pregnancy so planned to give breastfeeding ago promising myself if it began to affect me, our family I would swap to bottles and I would not feel guilty (or would at least try not too).

I breastfed Harlow for eight days before we changed to bottles. The dynamic just wasn’t working. Elijah was pushed out, Greg felt redundant and I was in a lot of pain.

I know women who have breastfeed for years, some who breastfed three children at a time and I am in awe of them but for us it just didn’t work and I am okay with that so why isn’t society?

bottle feeding

How you choose to feed your baby is a personal choice, as long as you have all the information you need, have access to advice and know what you are doing and you are your baby are happy and healthy then it really doesn’t matter.

I have seen women torn apart online for their choice, bombarded with the stats, facts and pushy campaigns.

But why?

Aren’t we all just trying our best?

No one is better than anyone because of the way they feed their child.

We are all equal.

Chances are the baby still wont sleep, throw a tantrum in Morrison’s but at least we can start to try and drop the stigma around bottle feeding, give parents support and advice on all choices and don’t regard one as superior over the other.

We must be careful and mindful of the language we use, especially for vulnerable pregnant and new mums, some may feel isolated and the feelings of failure can become destructive.

There are some great websites that provide all round information on feeding choices and personal experiences with no judgement which can be found here;

http://www.frankaboutfeeding.com/

https://norwich.mumbler.co.uk/parents/support-services/feeding/

https://norwich.mumbler.co.uk/breastfeeding-and-feeding-support-norwich-and-norfolk/

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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Read more of Vicki’s blog and let me know what other guest blog topics you’d like to see.


PARENT

3 questions to help you confidently parent on your terms - guest blog

3 questions to help you confidently parent on your terms.

 

Parenthood is a rollercoaster of emotions and can be a time in your life when everyone has an opinion on what you “should” be doing. I often hear parents doubting their choices and decisions.

PARENT

From the moment you announce your pregnancy onwards, it can feel like some of the social etiquettes seem to have been forgotten – your great auntie Dot’s next door neighbour seems to feel like they have a right to know the intimate details of any medical appointment you have, people in the supermarket queues feel it is OK to touch your stomach,  strangers want to tell you their horror stories of birth and everyone you meet has an opinion on how you should be parenting (whether they have children or not!).

 

When you are tired, hormonal and learning this new role as a parent, it can become so confusing about which way to turn, what piece of advice to follow. The best antidote to this is to get really clear on the important things for you and your family unit.

  • Get clear on how you want to be living life on your terms. What are your values and principles, that you want to be living your life by?
  • Think about in years to come when your little people have grown up, how do you want them to describe you as a parent? How do you want them to describe your family?
  • What are your key priorities for you and your family?

You can use these as your blueprint to guide your decisions and choices. When someone offers some well-meaning advice, or something causes you to question yourself, pause and ask yourself, “Am I acting in line with my values and priorities and how I want to parent?”.

Everyone’s parenting journey is unique – each child you have is unique. One thing I confidently will say is there is not one size fits all solution. My parenting journey is unique to me and not a carbon copy of any of my friends. Each of theirs is unique to them. Yours is unique to you. By recognising and accepting that everyone will make different choices, and no-one is right or wrong, will allow you to enjoy being a parent on your terms in a way that feels natural and comfortable for you.

 

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bottle feeding

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum talks Vaccines.

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum talks Vaccines.

This is the first post in my new guest blog series for Jess Wilkins Photography where I take controversial parenting subjects and provide my honest confessions and experiences on them.

Warning!

Okay, before I begin I will just like to say this is not a pro rant for vaccinations nor is it to offer any advice in when making a decision about vaccinating your children.

This is all about my experiences as a NICU mum to a son who has a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) and my family.

Loaded subject

Never, until I became a parent, did I know that the subject of vaccines is so volatile and explosive.

Even the word vaccine on a post will likely divide and cause a huge argument you didn’t even know you can have.

People you don’t even know, and have never met will tear apart your parenting abilities all based on one single opinion.

Suddenly, you find yourself looking at friends whom you’ve known forever with some sort of fear because they have declared that they have not vaccinated their children.

We are put into two categories and told to go off and fight the good fight for pro or against.

But why? It is a personal family choice and one that should remain that way!

At Risk

It can seem that every Winter I can turn a bit ‘pro vaccine’, but there is a very good reason. Around the beginning of September to March I brace myself for the onslaught of cold and flu season.

I begin to post about the dangers of flu and CHD, and the whole family receive the flu vaccine.

It is more to advise on the effects of being ill around Elijah and passing him something. It isn’t to tell you to all go to get the flu shot right this second!

Elijah is at risk of hospitalisation, pneumonia, respiratory issues, stroke or even a heart attack should he ever catch the flu, and for some CHD sufferers it can be fatal.

Elijah tends to pick things up and they instantly go straight onto his chest.

Trust

We have in the past been admitted to hospital because of it, my son was born with a heart that structurally wasn’t correct and didn’t work properly.

I had to trust in medical science and the procedure which repaired his heart, and this is what I do each and every year when choosing to vaccinate my family against the flu.

I’ve read the ‘horror stories’, I have done my research, I’ve spoken to specialists and consultants and most of all I have to trust my gut.

Nursery

Elijah attends nursery twice a week, and I know that there is plenty of bugs, colds and illnesses going about that he could pick up. But, I will try and do what I can to protect him, or lessen the risk/ severity of symptoms for him in anything I can.

Chicken Pox

I recently learnt this the hard way when Elijah and his brother caught chicken pox. I had been researching into getting the vaccine for this, but it was too late.

We had 4 111 calls in total, two GP appointments and one hospital admission onto the children’s paediatric ward.

They suffered quite badly from this, and no, not everyone will have a severe or prolific case as mine did but deep down I knew this could have been avoided.

It could have been less suffering and pain for them both.

They were ill for nearly a month, and it was such a horrendous time for the family.

 Judgement

I understand the herd immunity argument surrounding immunisation, things such as the flu vaccine will be more effective should the ‘herd’ aka the majority get it and they will then protect those at risk of not being able to have it for what ever reason (some allergic, some medical reasons).

But I wouldn’t judge another parent’s abilities if they choose or don’t choose to vaccinate their child. For me I have one thing that is my focus, doing what I can to protect Elijah because of his heart condition.

If he didn’t have this condition, perhaps I wouldn’t have to think so much about things like this.

But, I do and these are merely my honest experience and opinions on vaccines.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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Read more of Vicki’s guest blogs here !


bump shoot

32 weeks and a bump shoot - guest blog

32 weeks and a bump shoot – guest blog

Bridget Jones pants… maternity pads… Waterproof mattress protector… All very sexy things to buy when walking around the city with your other half! With 8 weeks to go i thought i best start packing my hospital bag. There is an unbelievable amount of ‘equipment’ you need to bring for yourself and your little bundle. Luckily i’ve got a great friend who has been amazing at helping me with this, knowing she had been through it before with her daughter she could give me useful advice on what she wishes she had packed for herself and her little Mollie.

 

Learning you have to look after yourself is a lot more important than i realised, before birth and after, you should be congratulating yourself, after all you’ve just grown a Human! And then given birth to your beautiful baby! Well done you!

 

Jess kindly booked a bump photo shoot for me, i didn’t know what to wear so picked out a few favorites to show off the bump. I even fake tanned the night before to mask my snowman skin. We all have our reservations about ourselves on how we look and i have the ‘good side’ and ‘bad side’. Luckily Jess understood my weird request and i felt so comfortable changing outfits and poses and even stripped to pretty undies for a different look and i didn’t even mind strutting about as i’m falling in love with my pregnancy body.

bump shoot

My bestie had her baby shower at a surprise location, there were banners, bright balloons, homemade sausage rolls, scones and cupcakes, all delicious. I overindulged of course… i am pregnant after all, that was my excuse. She loved it and it was fab to get everyone together to celebrate the occasion. It made me think about how quick time has come around! I’m going to have a baby soon! Wow! I can’t wait! I’m getting tired quickly so i’m no longer at night owl but an early morning bird who likes to wake my husband up early too, i get bored, if i can’t sleep neither should he right?…

Single digit countdown…

bump shoot


studio Norwich

28 Weeks pregnant my guest blogger is back!

28 Weeks pregnant

 

The nursery is now pretty much complete! We had our larger second bedroom plastered silky smooth, painted in a soft light grey using Farrow and Ball and i’m very lucky to say my clever husband has hand painted a mural of the ‘original’ Winnie The Pooh.

The mural consists of a waving oak tree bristing in the ‘wind’ with Pooh flying up towards the honey bees nest whilst grasping a blue balloon. I’m in Love!! We haven’t gone completely Pooh crazy, just the odd touches whilst still keeping a neutral feel with grey and white star curtains, a white cloud ceiling light with beaded raindrops and grey and white cloud bedding.

 

The hardest essential we purchased was the baby monitor. We found this extremely difficult as there are so many on the market with mixed reviews, every item had 5* and 1* ratings. Eventually we decided on the Motorola MBP44 Digital Audio and Video monitor, so good so far, lets see if it lives up to expectations…

 

We went to a wedding recently and i forgot my wedding outfit…..!!! Baby brain to the max! Luckily i had a jumpsuit i was planning to wear the next day with me so i whipped that out and hopefully i rocked it for the day!?! Pregnancy gives you allowances and everyone's nice to you, i had so many offers of drinks for that day, i was a cheap date with my soda water and elderflower cordial, 50p a drink! Bonus for them, bonus for me!

The day and night before i had Braxton Hicks, which became extremely painful so i rang the midwife in panic who put me through to the labour ward. I was getting cramps every 10 minutes towards the end so i generally thought i could be in labour at 29 weeks. After a while they finally cooled off and i started to relax, my little cherub is still bouncing around and was ready for the wedding antics to begin so we went to the ball!

 

Pregnancy hormones rattle inside your head, which makes you feel annoyed, irritated, upset and lovable all at the same time, i think my body is going through fight or flight mode protecting my baby’s surrounding area. I have no idea why though, our baby life is filled with joyous and caring family and friends who love them before they even know what love is.

Pregnancy is wonderful and strange all at the same time and i wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Onto the third TRIMESTER...

read Chelsea's other blogs here! she'll be in the studio for her bump photos soon!