Wednesday, 28 January 2015

This Little Lady...



It dawned on me the other day... how precious this time is. I have four months now with my little lady as my baby. Four months before suddenly she'll join her sister in the realm of "big girl"... four months until one one one time with this girly will be harder to come by.

It's not long.

I remember well having the exact same realisation about my time with Ava before Heidi arrived. The same guilty feeling of having to share your time with another little person. But I have seen so clearly the bond that those two girls have and know that Ava's life has been so enriched by the existence of her little sister.

And I know Heidi's little life will be just as enriched by this little sibling as it has been by her big one. But that doesn't change the fact that these few months are a special little season for making the most of quiet mornings with this little girl.

I get daily time with my big girl. While Heidi naps for a couple of hours, Ava has an hour of "quiet time" in her bedroom in which she plays independently. But then she joins me for the second hour and we have us time. Lots of story books, lots of cutting and sticking and chatting. It's lovely.

And I know I'll hopefully get that time with Heidi next year. Ava will be at school full days. And HOPEFULLY this baby will fall into the same routine the girls did (wishful thinking?!) and that quiet time hour/Mama hour will become Heidi's pattern.

She is a delight to be around. She is feisty, determined and stubborn... at the same time sensitive and sweet and such a giggle. And so yesterday, when we found ourselves at a loose end while Ava was at nursery, Heidi and I headed to the local garden centre to visit the fish, mosey around the shop, and tuck in to a half-price cooked breakfast (thanks for the tip Caroline).

I would say she loved it, but I'll be honest and admit, we loved it.


Just having time to chat to this one... I couldn't believe we had got to the stage where we can sit and eat breakfast and chat. Her telling me how many aeroplanes she can see out the window, and what bit of her breakfast she likes best... that Papa's at work and Ava's at school and how when she's finished she'd like to go and find the Elsa and Anna books (again!) How has my baby got to this stage?

It was precious just to sit and drink up time with her. We have fairly busy mornings, and on the mornings we're at home, she will often amuse herself and follow me around while I get on with errands and chores around the house (more on that another time!) but it was wonderful to make the time to just BE with her... get an insight into her little world... and enjoy having a giggle with this baby girl growing ever bigger.

I'm going to make the most of these four months.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Introducing...



The newest addition to our family...
Our puncher, wriggler, karate-kicker...
Thumb-sucker
Stretch-outer
Much adored baby the third.

We can't wait to meet him/her.

The relief at the scan to the news "All is well..."
No excess amniotic fluid (so far)
and a perfect looking, beating heart.

The baby was thoroughly examined (and we were told when to look away! No spoiling any surprises for us!)

Just a happy little munchkin chilling out in Mama's tummy...

"It's very dark in there" (Ava on viewing the scan photos)

Only 4 months to go :-)

We can't wait!

***

PS - Big congrats to my cousin and his wife on the arrival of their gorgeous little Jess yesterday... life will never be the same again... in the most wonderful way. Welcome to parenthood!

Monday, 26 January 2015

KDAD... a day to remember...

Today is a day that in many ways I wish I didn't know about... I only know about it because we have, in the past two years, come face to face with it in a most life-changing, unexpected way...

In other ways, I wish I had known about it just a little earlier... I don't think the "what-ifs" will ever quite go away. Perhaps if I had known about this day, the events of the past two years might have transpired somewhat differently.

Today is Kawasaki Awareness Day.


Kawasaki Disease is a rare condition about which relatively little is known. It cannot be prevented and is difficult to diagnose. It is therefore one of the most dangerous childhood illnesses... particularly as it heads straight for the heart. There are many theories about what causes this disease: but two things are certain... it is not hereditary, and it is not contagious. You cannot possibly see it coming...

It is therefore absolutely vital that people know what to look for.



Medical experts suggest that if two of the above symptoms are present, alongside the fever, then the alarm bells should be raised. There is no test for KD, so diagnosis is possible only as a result of affective treatment.

When Heidi was diagnosed at 11 weeks old, she was 15 days into the illness, and consequently the diagnosis came too late for her little heart. Ideally, diagnosis should take place between days 5 and 10, and if this is achieved, there is a good chance that no permanent damage will have been done to the blood vessels surrounding the heart.

KD usually affects children between 18 months and five years, normally boys and often of Asian descent.

Our Heidi was a nine-week old baby girl of European descent who presented with only a rash and fever. She did not tick the boxes above, and therefore took a lot longer to diagnose. She had cracked, bleeding lips for the first day of the illness... I'm not sure I even told the Doctors that. Had I been informed, and known the symptoms, perhaps I could have raised the alarm.

Of course, in all this, we have learned to throw ourselves fully on the sovereignty of God. I do not think I could bear the "what-ifs" and "if-onlys" otherwise. In time, our little girl will have to learn to do likewise as she lives with the long-term consequences of this disease.

Please be informed. Please read up the information. Please spread the word. I don't want to scare-monger or worry... it is so very rare (8 in 100,000 cases in the UK per year, only 5% of which have long term consequences), but when your daughter is one of the 5% of the 100,000... you want to make sure no-one else ever has to go through that. If more people are informed, perhaps we could do this disease some damage and stop it attacking little hearts across the world.

...Please join me in raising awareness today and share this post across your social networks...

If you would like to donate money towards the Kawasaki Disease Foundation who seek to research the cause and a test to diagnose this disease, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to donate.



Friday, 23 January 2015

Yesterday...

Yesterday I had a quiet day. Thursdays for me mean Ava at Nursery, and Heidi out with my Mum. They are my "space" day, my "catch up" day, my "odd jobs" day. But yesterday I had a change of plans at the last minute and found myself at a loose end.

That doesn't happen very often.

And so I pulled out my scrapbooks, set up my laptop, grabbed myself a cup of tea and began sorting.


I made a scrapbook for Ava after she was born. It holds all the mementoes of the first year of her life. Little treasures I have stored up - from scan pictures to baby bands, from hospital feeding charts, to her first plane ticket. Mixed in with all the photographs (and you know how many I take) of her first precious year of life.

Our Ava - aged 7 months
And Heidi's scrapbook has been on my to-do list for 18 months now. And its no nearer done than it was the day she was born. Or at least it wasn't. Until yesterday.
 
And then I sat down and waded through this little life. 22 months. 22 months that have packed more life experience into them than probably my 27 years that preceded them. I sorted through photos of our girls sharing their first moments together, I smiled over photos of those blissful early days of Heidi's life where she really was the dream baby, I cried over photos and memories of the uncertainty of those dark days of her illness, and my heart ached to relive it all. I rejoiced at the joy of that summer. That summer when we were slowly restored by our gracious Heavenly Father as we swam fjords and gazed over Norway's beauty.

Little Heidi - aged 4 months
Then last night, we were out with friends, and I heard a tragic story.

And I realised again how very much I have to be grateful for.

I will spend these next few weeks carefully putting together Heidi's scrapbook. One day, it will help her understand that first year of her life, I hope, and all the consequences of it. And I hope, though there will be some hard things for her to come to terms with, she will see the beauty of that year too. And see how much we, as a family, have to be thankful for.

Our little family at Heidi's dedication, we had just been discharged from hospital for the final time.
So I await the arrival of my photographs now... and I'm looking forward to finally recording that year, hard as some parts of it will be, because it has sharpened us, changed us, taught us more about the Saviour, brought us closer together as a little family.

And let's be honest. My little lady needs her scrapbook... and her Mama needs to get on with it; there'll be another one to make all too soon!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Quiet Days and Questions...

After a jam-packed December, a fun-filled Christmas and an exciting start to January with the arrival of the girls very first cousin, we have been enjoying a few quiet days just pootling along at home. School runs, nap times and meals are the staple of our every day... the other hours filled with puzzles and playdough, housework and Huette fun, stories and songs, cleaning and colouring, garden games and Grandpa fun.


There are all the normal marks of a household with small children - wild moments of tearing from one end of the room to the other, tearful moments after a crash or collision, giggly moments, and little sister secrets. Increasingly I am realising I am less and less a part of this little double act. They have their own little friendship now - their own games, their own bedtime conversations, their own hiding places and private jokes. And every little piece of me warms up at this realisation. I love their little friendship and I'm so thankful they really are the best of friends. I'm savouring it all up right now... I know they'll probably hit phases where they fight and bicker like nobodies business, so right now I'm just soaking up the fact that they really do adore each other.


Sometimes I worry and wonder how this little third person I'm carrying will affect the dynamic between my two big girls. The balance seems just right, right now, and I can't imagine how this third one will fit in and work its own little place without upsetting the balance.

But then I remember all the questions I had before Heidi was born... how would I ever love another child as much as Ava? Would Ava suffer for having a sibling so young? And I remember that all those silly questions disappeared the moment I drank in that gorgeous downy-haired, chubby newborn and how she wrapped my heart right up in her from day one. Now I look at the two of them together and wonder how I could ever have thought that a sibling would somehow disadvantage Ava... Heidi makes all our lives so full... and those two have been so blessed by each other. They are shaping each other and enhancing every experience they have together. They truly are little buddies.


And so I wait and wonder, knowing deep down that this little one will capture our hearts in just the same way, and work its own little place in our family... and I know, judging by the way these two little ladies love their "babies", there will be no shortage of love and adoration for this little one either...

Monday, 19 January 2015

When Friendship is Born...



"Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: 
"What! You too? I thought that no-one but myself...""
C.S.Lewis Four Loves

We still sometimes talk about the moment that email was sent... the one that broke the ice... the one that turned us from expectant mothers with rose-tinted glasses sitting in an NCT class talking about our dreams of parenting, to real, living-in-the-moment, I'm-not-coping mothers who admitted it was hard. It was hard.
Seven babies... all born within 3 weeks of each other... all first time Mama's figuring it all out. And one Mama who had the guts to say to the rest of us "Motherhood is TOUGH". I will be forever grateful.

Because in the moment of that email, this group of Mama's became for me a place I could be real, and honest... a place of sharing... a place of vulnerability. Yes... motherhood is full of golden moments... moments that make your heart sing, and your smile sparkle, and your head hurt like its never hurt before.

But these little people; they are the evidence that we are doing it... through all the hard stuff; the tantrums, the chat back, the 400 times repeated instruction, the demands, the constancy of it all... and through all the golden moments: the bedtime stories, the snuggles, the "I love yous" and the family jokes... they are growing up into little people. They are no longer the helpless tiny bundles - they are personalities of their own... big brothers and sisters, with their own little friendship tiffs, and their own make-believe games. They have their quirks, their likes and their dislikes, their sayings, their jokes and their giggles.

And they are growing... no longer seven... now 12... with two more on the way this year. Our little gang is getting bigger and bigger...


And so, on Saturday, we gathered together for our yearly get-together. Of course, we see each other a lot more than that, but slowly and surely we are spreading out and moving to different parts of the country (and our eighth family left us to go to the other side of the world... we still miss you Linda!)... and so this once a year is extra special because we are ALL together. Mums, Dads and the ever growing band of little people...

What used to be an ordinary Tuesday afternoon gathering, is becoming more and more extraordinary, as we realise that this group is not just a few people who happened to go through a life experience together, but has become a group of friends who are doing life together.

And so each year, we take the annual photograph... the children seated in the same order, with siblings adding on in front...

and we watch with wonder as they change from this...


to this...


to this....


to this...


A very extraordinary, ordinary friendship.

mummy daddy me








Friday, 16 January 2015

They love, We love...

Our Heidi: 1 year 10 months
She loves...
* Singing "Let it go!" at the top of her lungs
* Caillou
* Pushing Tilly doll around in her buggy
* Her snow boots
* Making her big sister laugh
* Clutching her glow in the dark star at bedtime

Our Ava: 3 years 4 months
She loves... 
* Disney Princesses
* "The Chronicles of Narnia" at bedtime
* Snap!
* Every meal - "Oh Mama! That's my favourite food!"
* Hot chocolate with marshmallows
* Talking to the "Bump"


He loves
* When people come to stay (it means the house is spotless!)
* Pre-bedtime wind-up time with the girls
* Four Four Two magazine
* Cuddles with his new nephew
* His new Hillsong album
* Time with family


She loves
* Croissants for breakfast
* Morning storytime with Heidi
* Quiet Januarys
* Feeling the baby kick
* Reading Narnia at bedtime with Ava
* Date Nights to the theatre