Category Archives: Being a mum of 2 boys

Figuring our parenthood and learning about life whilst being the mom / mum of 2 boys.

Dear Orthoptist or eye lady to you and me

 

mumof2.com eyetest

 

Today, I came to see you for an eye check up with our 4 year old.

He was a little worried before we left the house that he was going to have the burny eye drops, which I told you about when we said hello. You introduced yourself in a very child friendly voice and I kind of thought ‘ah! This one knows who the patient is.Good’.  I then told him that it would appear he wasn’t going to have the eye drops and saw his little body relax somewhat.

You could tell he was nervous in answering your questions as his voice was barely a whisper. You asked if there were any concerns and if he wore his glasses properly. At this point, I started to suss you out. It was your mechanical routine. I answered that there are no concerns that I know about and that he is learning his letters really well and he wears his glasses all the time.

You went straight into the sight test of tricky letters with his one eye patched and a massive glare of sun behind you which made it hard to focus for me as an adult, let alone a 4 year old with one eye patch. No helping him to relax and be confident with you chance I see. He was trying his best and you were obliging when I asked for you to draw the curtains. I spotted your half an eye roll like I was making excuses for his lack of concentration. There was another test going on behind you with a man moving about on his office chair.

Once that test was finished, you went into the more friendly test of looking at the lovely pictures on the wall. Asking him questions, without waiting for him to give you the answer you had asked for. Don’t worry though, I think you realised when I made a point of asking him his answer again, after you so rudely went onto the next item. Twice I did this as disappointingly you didn’t get it the first time I re-asked him your question.

I will give you credit, that you are newly qualified and want to come over as a professional. I will however like to point out, that as a parent I do not want to hear you declare that you will not lose any sleep over the fact that there may be a deterioration in his eyes. Yes, we will see you again in 2-3 months time and your hospital so badly wants to discharge him and you appear to show concern that you will not do this on this occasion (which doesn’t match your lack of sleep you won’t be having).

Well, I can tell you, that you won’t be discharging him on the next occasion either if I have any say over it. And should we see you again instead of one of the other ladies, your card is marked and I shall ensure he has the opportunity to respond in his time with the answer to your questions. You may see in my notes that I have previously requested not to see one of your colleagues again, who is no longer working there, as our son didn’t respond at all to her. In fact I have never seen him not even mumble a response EVER, and it took a long time for him to feel comfortable to interact with the tests after that.

I have also been going to paediatric eye clinics longer that you have been qualified for. On my previous visit, I was asked my opinion on whether I would like to attend a new orthoptic clinic which would not be based on the hospital site or whether I would be interested. Whilst I accept you may not have known about it, when I asked you about this today,  please do not react as though you know everything and I am asking a weird random question. A simple, I don’t know about that would have sufficed – which you finally gave me in the end.

What I suppose I am saying is, you are dealing with a person and a little person at that. They deserve the same respect anyone deserves. Yes, you have to get through your appointments, but today there was nobody after us and sometimes, taking that little bit longer will get better results than rushing through it. There are some fantastic colleagues in your department and for that I am grateful.

 

When will it be Spring?

Waterfight...here we come!
Waterfight…here we come!

Just when we thought we may be able to call March 2013 spring….nope – we get side swiped with below zero temperatures and some snow and wind thrown in there to boot!

I usually love the snow but am now so over it – I have decided to start focusing on what Summer may bring. A spot of evening picnics, perhaps a water fight or 2 (there is no way they can put a hosepipe ban on us after the summer and winter we have had!) oh and some lovely warm sunshine!

The lighter mornings are certainly making a difference, so I can be thankful for that! Today I ventured out in the wind and snow to meet a friend for a dog walk and it took hours to get warm.

So…bring on Summer I say!!!

Male midwives – what’s your thoughts?

Mumof2.com medical

I was watching a programme the other night and wish I could remember which channel it was on, but it was about a midwife who was male. My initial knee jerk reaction thought was ‘ Really?’ with the funny face pull and frown.

I then stopped myself and decided to think about it. Why did I have the reaction and on thinking about it would I really have an issue if I had a male midwife?

I think, sadly, that midwifery is generally accepted as a female only career. Women complain about male dominated environments and how hard it is for women to compete and I think this may be the same for midwifery but the shoe being on the opposite foot. So the initial reaction was probably because it didn’t sound ‘normal’ to be a male midwife.

The next part of would I have an issue – after thinking about it (and seeing the other pregnant mums who were interviewed who had had this man as their midwife) – I would probably not have an issue. Most gynae consultants are male (although there is a growing trend for more females) but in theory there isn’t a different between having a male consultant or a male midwife. Yes, you usually hope to never see your consultant as usually it means there is a problem or concern during pregnancy/labour, but when push comes to shove (‘scuse the pun’) and there is an issue – you don’t really care what gender they are, as long as they help you and your baby.

I then wondered ‘well, a male midwife wouldn’t know how things felt with not being a woman’ but a lot of midwives haven’t been pregnant, been through labour or breastfed etc and they are still really good at their job. So there went that argument.

I guess in the end – the world needs more midwives and whether they are male or female shouldn’t matter….should it?

 

Travelling long haul with kids – the preparation

We’re heading off to a land of sunshine to celebrate a milestone birthday for my mum. The boys have been so excited as apparently they love sleeping in the plane (although I think they forget just how long the flight it).

Sunny Climes

We’ll have the 3 hour wait at Heathrow for check in etc, a 12 hour overnight long haul followed by a 2 hour stop over for the last 1 hour short hop to our first destination. Thankfully we won’t have to deal with time zone differences as we are going due South.

This is the plan so far :

  1. Phoned the airline and connected supportive husband’s ticket to ours as he is flying out at a later date to meet us. This means when we check-in for the rest of our holiday and return home, that he will be seated with us and not on the opposite side of the plane. Before you ask, this almost happened once when we didn’t realise you needed to connect all tickets flying together.
  2. Booked kiddies meals for the long hauls. You would think this happened automatically when you select the ‘child age’ option. But no…that seems to just be for information purposes only and they don’t do much with it.  I discovered this on one of the long hauls with the boys and thought the mum behind me was super organised to have their Cottage Pie cooked before she got on the flight. I then asked her the next morning how she arranged for her children to get their breakfast before everyone else when I was complimenting her on the being so organised with cooking their dinner before hand. She very kindly informed me that she wished that was the case, but that she had booked children’s meals. So I made the mental note for the next time and sure enough – it is the case!
  3. Booked seats near the bulkhead where possible or available. I am never sure about these seats as they are usually close to the toilets but it means I won’t have to worry about the people in front potentially having their seat kicked. Our boys don’t usually do that but I am not going to tempt fate.
  4. Travel insurance – double check it is in place for all members of the family. We usually have one of us going down with a bug we have either caught on the plane or change in weather etc.
  5. Have sachets of Calpol and Nurofen to hand and loads of sucking sweets too. Our boys suffer terribly with their ears and so taking some 30 mins prior to take off and at the start of descent helps.
  6. Loads of little puzzles, travel games and easy craft type things for them to do. You never know when the tv’s don’t work. I once had an entire row that didn’t work for the whole journey.
  7. Travel antibac and wet wipes. They come in handy.
  8. 1 change of clothes for each of us in case our luggage gets lost. I also tend to put cool clothing in for when we land as to go from 1-9 degrees to 30 degrees is something their little bodies suffer with and of course I swap it to warm clothing for when we come back.
  9. Water (yes from duty free) in case there is a delay on the plane for take off.
  10. Snacks like breadsticks or crackers. They don’t contain much sugar but help to pass the time. If the flight is around or after their usual dinner time, make sure you have either fed them a snack or a full meal prior to boarding.

I hope this helps and there are loads more on my to do list – those (apart from passports) are the important ones.

World Book Day – ideas please?

World book day will soon be upon us (again!) and search me as to why I am never prepared for it. It’s like it sneaks up very quickly just after recovering from Christmas and starting to plan for Easter. In case you are panicking it’s WORLD BOOK DAY IS THURS 7 MARCH – although our school is going to celebrate it the day after so I have a day’s grace.

Have I mentioned I am not a very creative soul? So, it sort of fills me with dread – the same sort of dread the Easter Bonnet parades fill me with. I tend to not give our sons an all out freedom of choice as to what they want to dress up for in World Book Day – it appears their choice is based on what outfit I have managed to scrounge or if I have thought of something then well that is it.

Last year, it was a piece of cardboard, painted with a hole in the centre to go over our son’s head. Sort of like a board man. He did have loads of fun helping to paint said cardboard and a lot of people didn’t know who exactly he was supposed to be.

World Book Day - Humpty Dumpty
World Book Day – Humpty Dumpty

We sent him in with a plaster on his forehead and his train driver’s cap. Apparently – it wasn’t the most comfy to sit in and do his work according to him – but he wore it the whole day! When it was all done and dusted – it went into the recycling bin.

Any ideas as to what I should do this year – bearing in mind I now have 2 to find?

One more thing – contact tattoos

I am not sure who else does this, but there is a ritual I perform with our boys before we head out on a train to London (or anywhere else on a train) or go to a fair or gathering of thousands of people. Sounds serious and a bit OCD ish you may think but it’s not THAT bad.

I :

  1. Make a note on a piece of paper with their name, contact numbers and address for each of them and put it in a secure pocket. The boys are shown the paper and see where it is so that if they get lost they know to give it to someone.
  2. ‘Tattoo’ their name and contact numbers with a felt tip pen on their backs should their piece of paper get lost and they know to just show their backs to someone.
  3. Take a photo of them
  4. Drill into them to only hold the hands of the adults they know (mum, dad, uncle, granny etc)

I should probably add this to my earlier post of things I do when out and about with the boys. I am slowly getting to the point of thinking they may be old enough to operate a mobile/cell phone.  Is this overkill? Possibly and I hope that I never have to discover that it is not.

I’d love to hear any other tips you may have.

A bit of downtime is always good

We started our half term holidays with a bit of a bang and headed off to London for the weekend.  I can recommend The Royal Mews as a great destination for the kids for when the weather is gorgeous or not so fab. Our boys loved their headsets and that they could control which item they listened to. The various carriages and horses are also a different day out for adults too!

We also popped along to Primrose Hill children’s playground which has some great climbing equipment and kiddies only toilets!

Clearly making the most of the weekend, we then went ice skating and took the riverboat from Westminster to TowerHill. So, a super yet busy time meant that when we got home we were completely exhausted after our train journey home.

The action did not stop there as we then went swimming and had a bike ride around our village whilst taking the girls (our dogs) out for a walk. All these happening within a space of 4 days and a lot of travelling to and fro.

This prompted a duvet day – a guilt free duvet day! Shock! Horror! They spent the entire day in their pyjamas watching Tom and Jerry!  As I said – a guilt free duvet day.

I think these are important for both body and mind for us all. A day to just be, with no pressure to be anywhere on time or do anything at a specific time, and allow our brains to process. I also think our boys need the time to relax so that when they get back to school next week, they are rearing to go.

I gave the boys the option of whether they wanted to bath or not – they chose not. Whilst this may seem a weird option to give them, I recognise that it’s good for them to know that sometimes (just sometimes) they have the option to decide what they want to do and I am not a complete control freak – just a ¾ control freak.

This morning, they have woken refreshed and whilst they still need some more time to recover, they are out of their pj’s and coming to dog school with me. Apart from that – nothing much else is planned.

 

Foxes

The recent story of a baby who was attacked by a fox in Londonis just too awful to comprehend and one of the most frightening experiences that reminds us that wild animals do not follow a human protocol of what is right or wrong, they follow their instinct and whichever instinct led this fox to attack, be it hunger or fear,  will always be there. It also brought back the memory of a close encounter in our London home.

It was a warm summer’s evening and our baby son was asleep in his cot with the sash window open about 15 cm at the bottom (sorry I am no good at the inch conversion). I was in the lounge and I heard a comotion in our bathroom and a few seconds later saw a fox running past the lounge window. We had a small alley way between the fence and our house. I ran through to the bathroom and thankfully the bathroom door was closed but on opening the door, I saw the footprints in the bath and the toiletries had been knocked over. The bathroom window had been wide open to help get a breeze through the house and this must have in turn closed the bathroom door.

All sorts of thoughts ran through my head but the main one was ‘what would have happened if the fox had managed to get into our son’s room?’ and then had to stop myself from thinking this as it was not worth thinking about. I wasn’t surprised to hear that other people have had close encounters similar to ours but I did feel so for the baby and their family and hope that they have a speedy recovery. I didn’t allow the windows to be open at the bottom very much for fear of another unwanted visitor.

 

A pigeon pair…nope happy with just boys

mumof2.com boys

It never ceases to amaze me how ‘forward’ people can be when things don’t conform to the norm (whatever that is?!). I remember the ‘do you think you are having a girl?’ question was asked during my second pregnancy as we were already had a son. The polite answer was ‘We’re not sure…it’s such a different pregnancy to our first’ which was immediately met with the ‘Ooh! a Pigeon pair! One of each…just perfect!’

The next phase of this conversation develops once we had our second son and the question changed to ‘So are you going to try for a girl?’. The polite answer was ‘No, we’re really happy with what we have been blessed with and always agreed that 2 children are enough for our family’. This was met with one of those half oops not sure how to respond ‘I see’ sort of looks and nods of a head.

The actual thought processes to these discussions went more like this :

  • Actually we’re having a boy and only my supportive husband and I know this and are really pleased because we don’t really care if it’s a boy or a girl, we’re just really happy that we’re both healthy.
  • Are you being completely unthoughtful?!? Does our youngest son’s feelings not count?
  • Not everyone needs to have 1 of each and in all fairness, I’m not a girly girl and so having 2 boys suits us completely.
  • Whether it’s 2 boys or 2 girls or more than that or less or a ‘pigeon pair’ – there are loads of people who would give their right arm or entire body just to have 1 child!

What I am trying to say is that everyone is different and ‘abnormal’ to some is normal to others. We love our boys and wouldn’t change them for the world. We balanced our house with our girl dogs!

The city childcare connundrum

Mumof2.com - childcare costs, city childcare, mum of 2

 

It always helps to have a baby in the country you grew up in as it makes things a little more simple in that you know the score and the lie of the land. Having a baby AND they grow up in a lovely country but with a completely different way of going about all things relating to city childcare and schooling – well that’s a whole new ball game.

I can remember a day in the office when I was about 7 months pregnant with our first child and having a conversation with a lady in our team. I used to work in IT so there was only about 4 ladies on the entire team. Chatting away about children and she asked me what nursery I had put our name down on for their waiting list. I can remember the sudden clunk you get in your stomach (no it was not a baby kicking!) – the feeling of ‘oh help! With panic sort of setting in, I tried to nonchalantly ask ‘ when are you supposed to put your name on a waiting list?’ to which the answer was ‘Well, we put ours down the day we found out we were pregnant’. You can imagine the clogs in my brain going into overdrive and the urge to call my supportive husband with an emergency of ‘we won’t have anyone to look after our child in a year’s time – what are we going to do?!?!?’

I hadn’t started ante-natal classes yet so didn’t have much of a mother’s network and was already dealing with the influx of mother’s guilt on eating prawns at lunch time and a male colleague telling me I had just poisoned our unborn child. This was not good. So I started calling around and let’s just say I didn’t get a chance to make any further enquiries or vists due to the hospital visits for my pending pre-eclampsia. I did manage to do this when he was 6 weeks old and when I found one we liked (the royal we) I discovered we were number 20 on the waiting list. SIgh.

The initial days I was going to be working were 3 days in the office and 2 days from home. My boss was great and we had agreed this whilst I was pregnant. In fact I’ll post another post at some stage on just how great he was at helping me out with our human resources department.  When the time came to start getting ready to go back to work, and we had got over the shock as to how expensive childcare in London was, I had had a response from the nursery setting that I could do Mon, Wed and Fri. We didn’t think this was too bad as I could work the other 2 days from home.

This turned out not to be the case. When my boss forwarded my email on  regarding my return date and working pattern to HR – let’s just say more mother’s guilt arrived and I had to decide that I wouldn’t work a 5 day week. So I looked at 3,4 and 5 days a week and how much they each cost and which one of those I would get the most out of my paycheck from. Oddly enough it turned out that 4 days a week was the most economical and I was lucky enough to get a 4th day in the week that the nursery could take our child.

This was ok for our first child but with our second son it meant that for the first few months I ended up paying to work for the company as the childcare costs weren’t covered by my salary alone and we had to really look at things. I had already discussed with my boss before going back to work that I couldn’t sustain it and thankfully things worked out in the end that I could just cover both of them.

Why did I go back to work when I had nothing to show in the end in my bank account you ask? Well there are a number of reasons but the main ones were that our children were getting stimulation and social interaction that I couldn’t provide (they really loved their nursery), I also needed the mental stimulation of working and we had decided that it wasn’t going to be forever that I was only paying for childcare.

Am I glad we went that route? In the end, yes. I was blessed to spend a day at home with both sons and oddly enough their hospital appointments always fell on the day I had off somehow. They also loved going to nursery and I enjoyed the time away to miss them. Yes, there was a lot of juggling, especially when they were ill but they always came first. I didn’t begrudge working to pay for their childcare and now they are that little bit older and I am a stay at home mum.

Be sure to check back and find out the next part of the country living childcare connundrum.