About Me

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This is a 'tea and chat' style blog where I blog about whatever fills my head each day. Many posts are about my experiences as mummy to my little boy born 16 weeks early :)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Be real ...

Don't you just hate patronising people? I really try my best never to patronise anyone and certainly would never do it intentionally. I'm sure most of the time it's not done with intention but it still really gets my goat!

So, I'm gonna have a moan and set some things straight ... rather the laptop gets a lashing than the next person who is just being 'well-meaning'.

I don't drive. Big deal. I could if I really wanted to, and I'm sure one day I will. I've had a million lessons but just lose focus and never book a test. Months pass and then the cycle begins again; lessons galore but never book a test. I'm just not that bothered. So, I rush around like a lunatic, I catch busses, walk almost everywhere, even with bags and a pushchair and I'm still not bothered enough yet to take a driving test. Don't feel sorry for me. If and when I want to I'll just do it. And I'm sure then, I'll be like all the drivers out there and wonder how the hell I ever 'coped' without a car. But I'm not ill - I just don't drive. Poor me having to walk or jump on a bus - get over it, it's no big deal!

I have one child. I'm so bored of people assuming I have one child because of Blaine's early arrival. Of course, this has added another element to family planning but I can have children and if I longed for another baby I would have one. I might have to have various checks along the way but lots of women are monitored through pregnancy. The fact is I'm just not broody. We never planned to have another baby. I love Blaine to pieces, he is my life, and I'm content with our family as it is. We have talked lots of times about more children and it has been difficult to not let Blaine's early start cloud our decisions but when we put that aside we can honestly say we wouldn't have had any more children. Shock, horror! Don't feel sorry for me. I have one child due to choice not circumstance.

My husband can be an arse. Yep, it's true. but so can most men. Relationships are hard work. But they are so worth it. When you love someone you take them warts and all and love them unconditionally. I'm no mug and would never be unhappy but when I say my husband can be an arse I mean simply just that - we row, we make mistakes but we laugh, cry, share and are great friends. I know him and he knows me. We support each other and work well. Anyone who makes out they don't squabble and have ups and downs is either deluded or lying. The occasional whinge is normal! Don't feel sorry for me. I'm married to a fab man and we're still growing together.

And I could go on ...

The point is you should be able to be open and honest with people and just talk and be who you are, not be patronised or made to feel inferior ...

I've got an amazing son, lovely husband, great friends, nice home, funny cat and a brilliant job.

P*ss of patronising people!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Happy wedding anniversary to us!

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday. Six years since our wonderful wedding day. We went out last night to celebrate and had a lovely meal, a few drinkies and danced into the early hours. It was so nice to have some time together for just us.

I was never the sort of little girl who dreamed of her wedding day or making a home and babies but as soon as I met Mark something just clicked. It wasn't about being cool or having to impress, we just hit it off straight away and felt instantly comfortable and relaxed. We are great friends and enjoy each others company. In lots of ways we're very different and then we also have so much in common.

I wouldn't have been happy just being Mark's girlfriend. I wanted to marry him and he felt the same. I think it's definitely helped us through the rough times too - it makes our bond stronger and gives the relationship importance. I believe in marriage, I think it's important to make that commitment, to take the vows and to stick by them.

The fact we were able to have a brilliant wedding day celebrating and partying with all our family and friends was an added bonus. It was a magical day from begin to end.

Here's looking forward to another six years, and another after that, and another after that ...

Monday, 17 October 2011

We've been busy ...

I've neglected this blog for a few weeks, not intentionally; I'm not bored of it yet! It's just that I started back at work in September and so things have been super busy!

I went back to work a year after Blaine was born but only for a couple of hours a week, more to keep my job going rather than for money, and Blaine was looked after by family. Since then I have done varied part time hours and Blaine has always been in the care of my husband or a family member.

This September is the first time that I have gone to work and Blaine has gone to nursery. I have been really lucky that he is able to come to the nursery that is on the site where I am working. He travels in with me, I drop him in 10 minutes before I start and can pick him up minutes after I finish - it's been great!

It wasn't planned; I was actually planning on taking this term off and starting Blaine in a nursery in January when his nursery vouchers kick in but this job came up for a couple of months and it's been an ideal trial for both me and Blaine. I was so unsure at first; Blaine's never been left in a nursery setting before - we've always gone to the 'stay and play' groups but, of course, I'm always there with him!

And how has Blaine taken to it? Well, as usual he's taken it all in his stride. He hasn't complained or made a fuss once. He has gone straight in and adapted to everything that is asked of him. I couldn't me more proud.

The nice thing is, I can go over in my lunch break and spy through the glass in the door - I have stood looking through the glass and seen a wonderful little boy sitting around a table with other kids, apron on, just-made cardboard crown on, tucking in to his packed lunch. I stood there staring ... took me to a moment of being right back stood staring into the incubator ... this is the same little baby, my amazing, brilliant little boy!

As for me, I don't mind telling you I'm tired. Juggling mum, wife, housekeeper and everything else life has to offer is sure keeping me busy but I'm gonna take inspiration from my little man ... and take it all in my stride:)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A day to celebrate!

Today is my little boy's third birthday. Three years ago today was not a day to celebrate. Yes, my baby had been born, and thank God he was born alive, but he was born 16 weeks too early.

Today is 22nd September, his due date was 6th January. I had visions of being a big, round Christmas pudding come Christmas time and looked forward to meeting our baby in the new year ahead. My body and Blaine had other ideas. That day was a long one - Blaine was born at 5:19am so the day seemed to go on and on forever. Waiting by the phone, listening to whispers in corners, making the journey to visit my baby later that evening when he was transferred and stable, expected to sleep that night - no baby in my belly, no baby by my bed, no baby even in a room nearby.

Three years later and today is a day to celebrate! My precious baby is THREE! He has grown in to a beautiful, smiling and funny little boy. I couldn't be more proud, in fact I feel very lucky.

Today we went for a birthday lunch together - Blaine's choice - cowboy burger and chips and ice cream with a wafer! This evening family descended on us for birthday cake with presents and cards galore! Saturday afternoon Blaine is having a party with all his cousins and friends!

Yep, today we can celebrate - a day that proves miracles do happen. The day my beautiful baby boy was born :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I feel blessed ...

Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth,
selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation.
As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.
"Beth Armstrong, son. Patron Saint, Matthew.
Marjorie Forrest, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia.
Carrie Rutledge, twins. Patron Saint ... give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a premmie."
The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."
"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a premature baby a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel."
"But does she have the patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it.
I watched her today.
She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother.
You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of its own.
She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."
God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just the right amount of selfishness."
The angel gasps, "Selfishness?! Is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive.
She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied.
She will never take for granted a spoken word.
She will never consider a step ordinary.
When her child says 'mama' for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it.
I will permit her to see clearly the things I see – ignorance, cruelty, prejudice – and allow her to rise above them.
She will never be alone.
I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."
"And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.
God smiles.
"A mirror will suffice."

Monday, 12 September 2011

Friendship - Miss Mullan

Have no idea how to start this post, nor how to fill it. It's not that I don't have the material - I do. That's the problem, there's just soooo much. Where to start? What to include? I could probably fill a book.

Because this post is about Sarah Mullan.

I first met Sarah in nursery school when we were probably about 3 or 4 years old. We instantly became friends and looked for each other every day. My mum tells me that I was only really happy to go to nursery, and stay, if Sarah was there. Each breaktime the class would charge out into the playground; Sarah would run for her life to get to the see-saw and 9 times out of 10 she would succeed! 'Noeliiiiine!' she'd yell, holding on to that see-saw with all her might. And then we'd while away the minutes in sheer bliss!

The rest of my school days are filled with memories and anecdotes including Sarah. We made lots of other friends along the way and through the different schools but still stuck together or came back to each other.

Our Sixth Form days were spent planning nights out, going on the nights out and then talking endlessly about the nights out. Some of my best, funniest, most enjoyable and favourite memories were made in those days. We can still fill entire nights re-living and talking about them now.

Our first home was together. A house well in need of some updating; wooden cladded walls and patterned carpet straight out of the seventies - just perfect!

Since then we've grown up. Sarah was my chief bridesmaid on my wedding day and stayed with me eating chips the night before. I remember the day we said goodbye, and cried, as she went travelling to Australia. But after 2 years we just picked up where we left off and I was over the moon she had returned just in time to be Godmother to my little boy.

We've seen it all, we've seen boyfriends come and go, tears, tantrums and dramas, joy, happiness and laughter. I know she's there, even if it's at the end of a phone or laptop -  she's there. A true, life long friend. We've never outgrown each other.

The great thing is there's still lots more to come - I can see us giggling at 3 years old right through to 80 years old. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mum's the word!

The saying 'no one has ever written a book...' is rubbish. There are tons of pregnancy, parenting and baby books and during my pregnancy I would sit and flick through these books and magazines. Once Blaine was born these books went out the window, quite literally.

Blaine has been delayed in reaching almost all of his developmental milestones. We are told these milestones are just 'guidelines' but most parents and professionals take them seriously none the less. We all want our babies to progress and thrive and will them to 'tick off' the next thing.

When Blaine was about 8 months old we started going to a baby singing group. Blaine was still about the size of 0-3 month old, was a babe in arms, wasn't sitting. I answered endless questions week after week. I sat back and watched as babies started coming from a couple of months old and within another couple of months had bypassed Blaine. Every parent gets asked the usual: is he sitting yet? Is he walking? Is he talking? People just have expectations. We found it difficult finding our place in the group because my story was so different and Blaine was falling behind on the blasted milestones.

We kept going every week and moved on to the next group. We don't get so many questions now. Blaine is 'catching up' and the 'gap' isn't as noticible. In fact he is overtaking some.

Back in the NICU days I remember a nurse giving us our own 'guidelines'- sit at one, walk at two and talk at three. Blaine has pretty much been on track.

Blaine will be 3 end of this month and only this week he has started calling me mum. I'm chuffed. And I mean not just saying mum but calling me mum. Mum, mum, mum, mum, mum!

Needless to say I am over the moon!

Friday, 2 September 2011

A picture paints a thousand words ...

So September has arrived and I'm starting to plan my little boy's third birthday. THIRD. THREE. How did that happen? Sometimes it seems crazy to think he is almost three. How on earth did we get here?

When Blaine was in NICU, particularly in those first few weeks, I would spend ages stood at the picture board in the corridor. It was covered in photos, thank you cards and letters, poems and stories of incredible progress. I must've read and re-read everything on that board a hundred times. I would look at the photos that resembled Blaine with photos next to them of toddlers, sitting, walking, playing, laughing. Some in school uniform, some with Santa, some holding siblings. I would stare and stare; looking from the first photo to the recent photo in disbelief. But also in hope. Just maybe, if I let myself dream a little bit, that would be my little boy.

It's a long day in NICU, most of it sat by an incubator, some of it wandering corridors, some of it sat infront of a trashy mag or wordsearch. All of it filled with stomach churning anxiety. I found comfort on that wall, that picture board. I knew every inch of it and would show it to family when they visited. 'Look!' I'd say. Desperately watching their response, hoping they too would believe it.

Blaine will be three on 22nd September. He now has a place on that wall. He is one of those babies that offer hope. It doesn't seem real. That baby that fit in my hand, hidden under wires and tubes in an incubator is now on the wall!

And I know it helps the poor mum who stands in front of it day after day searching for a glimpse of hope, a glimpse of the future.

Monday, 29 August 2011

I miss my Grandad

The man in the photo above is my grandad. I miss him all the time. I miss his smile. I miss his cuddle that was the biggest squeeze imaginable. I miss seeing him.

I am so lucky to have had my grandad all through my childhood into my adulthood. I am so thankful that he was able to see me marry but so sad that he never met my baby Blaine. The night I went into labour with Blaine his photo, this photo, feel from the top of my wardrobe. I know he watched over Blaine.

One of my earliest memories is of my grandad walking me to and from lower school. It seemed to forever be summer and I would skip through the allotments, him skipping not too far behind me. I remember sitting on his bike while he pushed it and told me stories and asked me about my day.

I remember grandad in the kitchen making the family a 'grill', tea towel over his shoulder, singing a happy tune.

I remember grandad entertaining us grandkiddies on our Pontin's holidays while the ladies played bingo. I remember loving it.

I remember my little brother calling him 'Grandad Bud' and him calling my little brother 'Bud'. 

He was a true gentleman and had the warmest heart. I remember my grandad.

I only wish I could have one of his cuddle squeezes right now ...

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Not so anti private school anymore ...

A few years ago I would have been completely against private schooling. I would have gone as far as to say it was against my morals.

When I visited a small private school in Bedford during my teacher training, it was reluctantly. I had to visit a school to observe teaching in the key stage below what I was training in. Being me, I didn't organise my visit in plently of time. I've always been a last-minute type of person but thought 'oh there's loads of middle schools in Bedford, it'll be fine.'

Literally the Friday afternoon before the Monday we were supposed to complete our visit I wrote down a list of phone numbers for middle schools in the town. I started with my favourites and made my way down the list. 'We already have a couple of students in. Sorry.' 'We have OFSTED in. Sorry.' 'We have blah, blah, blah going on. Sorry.' Uh, oh.

So. There was no other option. I had to get the numbers for the private schools. I looked carefully at the list and again started with the school I thought I might like best. 'Yes, no problem at all. See you Monday.'

My God, I was nervous! I, like many I'm sure, had preconceived ideas about private schools. But I am glad to say that at this school I was proved wrong. Yes, many of the pupils come from wealthy families but so what? I realised on that visit that kids are kids no matter what. And I also found that many of the pupils weren't from particularly wealthy families; their parents just work extremely hard and budget and prioritise their money to be able to pay the fees.

When the time came to apply for a job, as my training was coming to an end, two very different schools were advertising. One being the local sate school to me and the other being the private school I had visited. I had completed part of my training at the local state school and must say I loved it. It felt like a 'proper' school. I applied for both. To my surprise I was called for interview at both schools just two days apart. The private school was up first.

I went to the interview and honestly thought to myself I had no chance of actually getting the job. Although I had visited I had not met the senior staff that would be interviewing me and I just thought 'they won't like me.' I went home feeling fairly confident but had such mixed feelings. I knew that if they rang me that evening to offer me the position I would have to give my decision there and then. It's what's expected. I deliberated all evening; wanting the phone to ring but also wishing it not to.

When I accepted the job I was thrilled. What a confidence boost! But, had I gone against my 'morals'?  Did I go into teaching to teach 'privileged, rich kids'. I was brought up living in council houses and had a state school education. I believed all kids should have the same chances, no matter what. Couldn't I make more of a difference at the local state school?

I struggled with this debate and still do a bit. For the most part though, I'm glad I went against my 'morals'. I learned of a culture of reverse snobbery, to which I had bought into. Certainly the kids at this particular private school showed me that kids are kids. There are testing, challenging and cheeky ones and keen, willing and enthusiastic ones in all schools.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe all children should have equal opportunities and money should not play a factor but I'm certainly not totally anti private schooling anymore ... I think the school should be considered carefully for the child. If the local state is the only option - so be it. State schools are full of brilliant teachers and equally as brilliant children :)

Another truly remarkable story to share


Friday, 26 August 2011

Cherish every moment

I heard some truly awful news today. The loss of a life is always so terrible, shocking and sad ... and it makes you think.

Life is so precious and too short. We're really only here for a short length of time and can never really know when it will be taken from us. I know for a fact I take so many things, and people, for granted. Not intentionally but I do. If we're honest we probably all do.

When Blaine was first born he was staying in a hospital about half an hour away from home. That drive every morning seemed so much longer. I would stare from the car window and notice people just walking the dog or popping into a shop for a paper. I so wished I was not in that car, on that journey, and was just nipping out for a paper. I longed for the mundane, the normal, the usual. I would say in my head 'Please let my baby be ok. Please let us get home and have the mundane. I promise I'll never, ever moan or complain about the small things again. I promise I won't take anything for granted.' But, of course, life does slip back to normal and I do moan.

News like today's makes me remember. Don't take anything for granted. It's not that I forget, life just takes over and I am so grateful it does. That's what I begged for. So, when I walk to the shops with my little boy, when I watch him playing in the park, even when I peg out a row of his jim jams I smile a little smile to myself.

Life is precious. Let's make the most of every minute we have together.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

All in it's own sweet time ...

When you're in your late teens, and even early twenties, thirty seems forever away. It seems like you have ages. There are certain things that I had in mind that I wanted to have done by the time I was thirty:

1. Be married
2. Be a mum
3. Qualify as a teacher
4. Passed my driving test

Now, I was in no rush for these things to happen and would never force them, but I wanted them to be in place. I reckon a lot of girls do, a Bridget Jones type thing.

I always knew I didn't want children until I was heading towards thirty. To me, that seemed right: not too young and not too old. So when I had Blaine at 29 it was perfect timing for me.

I had married at 26. Perhaps sounds young these days but not for us. I was lucky. When you've found the right person you just know and it was the perfect wedding; we loved every minute of it.

I ditched my admin job at the court to embark on teacher training a year later. I already had a degree and wanted to teach but had just got stuck working so I took the plunge. So glad I did; I love my job.

So, the driving test. Hmmm. It just didn't happen. Maybe down to me. Maybe down to circumstance. But I have never even taken a test. I have had a serious amount of driving lessons - one lot when I was 17 and another lot only last year. Technically I have learned to drive. I just don't have the piece of paper.

I'm now 32 (and a bit). But hey, I heard forty is now the new thirty ;)


Chips and Chat ...

Blaine and I fancied a naughty treat for lunch so off to the chippy we went on his trike. Blaine loves his trike and we go out and about with it most days. He also loves the chip shop and was very excited! While we waited for our chips Blaine was pottering about exploring the shop and I chatted with the lady behind the counter.

'How old is he?' she asked.
Not an uncommon question for any parent I'm sure but we get it a lot as Blaine is still fairly petite for his age but as loud and boisterous and inquisitive as any boy his age.
'Almost three' I reply, waiting for the usual 'oh, isn't he small' or somthing similar. Only, it didn't come.
'My grand daughter is almost 4 and she's probably about his size ...' I listen.
'She's really petite and she'll start school soon ...she was only a little dot when she was born though - she was a tiny little thing, she was only 4lb something, so she's always been small ...'

Of course, I thought I could add in now that Blaine was 1lb 10oz, 16 weeks early etc. etc. but it just didn't seem neccessary. It was clear she wasn't really looking for advice or reassurance; she just wanted to tell me about her grand daughter. So that's just what I let her do.

All at once the chips were wrapped up, we said bye, and we were off down the road on the trike again.

It felt good to just be the listener for once :) And the chips were delicious :) 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Friendship - Miss Nicole

Today I went to visit my friend Nicole. She is one of my very best friends. She's witty, funny, sweet and caring.

I've known Nicole for about 11 years and our days working together in Superdrug and nights out are forever shared, funny memories. In the past 11 years we've moved on to new jobs, moved houses, got married, had babies and made new friends ... and all with the other one not to far away.

I know I can talk to her about anything, tell her everything without shame or judgement. I know time can pass without us seeing each other and we'll simply pick up where we left off.

We can laugh and cry and know each others faults. I think we could talk forever!

I was honoured to be her bridesmaid when she got married last summer and look forward to what the next 11 years hold for us both.

I watched her today with her 3 year old son and newborn baby girl and she makes it look easy. She's a natural mummy and looked relaxed and happy.

We get to choose our friends and I'm so happy to choose Nicole and even happier that she's picked me :)

Birth story

I am honoured to be mummy to an amazing little boy called Blaine. He is my first child and probably my only.

When I found out I was pregnant both my husband and myself were over-joyed. We had planned to start a family and it had happened quite quickly. I can honestly say that I loved every second of being pregnant - yep, even the sickness everytime I put my toothbrush anywhere near my mouth! It made me feel special and I embraced every moment.

I was the type of pregnant lady that followed each week, step by step; I knew the weekly size of the baby and every little development occuring. I read lots of books and showed off my bump with pride. However, something I could not have known was that my pregnancy would end at 24 weeks and 5 days.

I remember that night vividly. I remember sitting in the bath and feeling overwhelmingly happy. As I washed my tummy I giggled and called to my husband from the bathroom 'I'm really loving being pregnant!' An hour or so later I was settled on the sofa watching a film and felt an almighty twinge in my lower back. It was so strong that I actually moved off the sofa onto the floor. It passed in a second and we both laughed at my 'dramatics'.

That night in bed I just could not get comfortable; I had a dull back ache and it would not allow me to settle. I drifted in and out of short snoozes until about half eleven when I could not settle to the point that I was pacing the bedroom hunched over. I knew this could not just be 'baby growing and moving'. Something was not right. I woke my husband and said I would go to the bathroom 'to check'. Now, don't ask me what I was checking for as I had no clue but when I went to the bathroom and saw a show of blood on the tissue I just screamed ... 'there's blood!!'

The next thing I knew we were at the maternity unit doors buzzing the night bell ... 'My wife's 6 months pregnant and she's bleeding!' And the doors opened.

I'm lying on a bed in the delivery suite and the doctor examines me '...blah, blah, blah, labour, blah, blah, blah ...' 'You have to stop it!' I plead. 'It's too early!'

The labour could not be stopped and 5 hours and 19 minutes later my amazing little boy was born weighing 1lb 10oz. He was taken straight to the Neonatal Unit and I was offered a shower and a cup of tea. No chance for cuddles, not even a glimpse.

A couple of hours later we were given a photo. I knew it was a photo handed to me saying 'this is your baby. He's going to die.' I found it difficult to look at that photo for a long while. We then had the chance to see our baby. It was a strange sight. I had never seen a baby in an icubator before. I had never seen a ventilator or so many wires before. I had never seen a baby so small before. I peered from afar, not wanting to allow myself too close, not wanting to see what I had done.

The rest of the day was hell. Sent straight home waiting for the phone to ring saying Blaine was being transferred to another hospital that looks after such early babies. That night in the bath I couldn't bare to look at my empty, saggy tummy - the same tummy that I had lovingly washed just 24 hours earlier. I bathed in my top.

Despite this start I had no problem bonding with my baby. In fact it made the bond stronger and I longed for him. I watched him grow everyday and feel incredibly proud that this amazing person is my son. And he continues to amaze me every day :)

Sunday, 21 August 2011


So. I decided I would like to write a blog. I've been enjoying a few others the last few weeks and am finding it quite addictive reading and each day I've been thinking 'I could do this' and 'ooh, think I'd quite enjoy this'. So here I am. Hello!

I've entitiled my blog 'One lump or two' because I'm a reknowned for enjoying a good old cup of tea. I hopinh this blog will be a place to simply muse and ramble and chat, and share anecdotes and memories. I hope it'll be an enjoyable read as well as enjoyable to write ... I'm planning to make a cup of tea and ... blog.

Now, if only I could figure out the technical bit and pieces of setting this thing up it could be fun ... chat soon!