> Mushypea, Sprout et al: 2013

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Before you arrived I could not imagine what life would be like with you in it. I sit here now and cannot remember whether there was an actual 'life' before you - I know it must have been more than merely existing as I have fond memories of events gone by.  There has been one solitary morning where I have woken up without seeing you and the only word I can use to describe it is bereft.

Another twelve months have gone by and we have forged a stronger bond than we had previously.  We have had many a milestone moment and your Mummy, I, has shed a happy tear at each one.  As the words start to come easier to you our understanding of one another improves - this has also meant that you are able to communicate your wants, needs and desires as well as "No". We have the tantrums which are only just beginning but we are learning.  Mummy has a constant voice that whispers in her ear that you are learning, constantly learning right now and so needs to learn to be patient, ever patient.  It has been a steep learning curve for Mummy and right now I am learning about me too.

At 2 you are a boy.  You love the outdoors - simple things like running up and down a hill will have your Daddy and I stood for many a minute waiting for you to tire.  You have inherited Mummy's observer characteristics and your Daddy's lack of fear, fun and ability for sport.  There is the kicking, throwing and catching of balls.  The jumping on and off everything possible has my heart in my mouth every time but I am also aware that you need to be confident in how your body can and will work.  It makes Mummy much happier now that you bend your knees as you land!

Munch's second birthday!

You love horses.  We know not why but they mesmerise you.  We are lucky to live not far from paddocks and stables and so a trip to see the 'horsies' is an easy one.  You love spying aeroplanes high in the sky and can often spot them before we do.  You saw a helicopter at nursery once and since then have pointed to the sky searching for a 'copter'.  The pace at which you are learning has Mummy doing her own frantic homework - time spent trawling across the internet looking for ways to help you discover and learn about the world around you.  Trying hard to make sure that we help develop your creative side that is so alien to both your parents. 

Your favourite foods change all the time but firm favourites are most definitely noodles, rice, sweetcorn and chickpeas.  You are still drinking only water and milk but now using a cup/beaker which you prefer to either be pink or blue.  We have spent time baking and making food together now that you are a little older but you are eager to help Mummy chop. 

You have a strong character developing - the determined, stubborn streak that both Daddy and I possess is there already.  We are both mindful that you do not develop the negatives that can come with that.  You are full of energy, love to dance and sing, love your books and music but most of all you are having the childhood that both Daddy and I have worked hard to make sure you have.  One filled with fun and happiness, security and love, along with a growing independence as you take your steps along your journey.

As I write this I will not know if we have done right by you until many years have passed.  The one thing I do hope you will come to understand is that all that we have done so far and all the things that are to come have been considered and done out of love.  You are loved more than we thought it possible to love and for that I thank you.

Today and always, we love you.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Changing faces

I wrote about my vitiligo a few months ago and thought it time for an update.  The area around my mouth has spread further but I am no longer at that angry, shocked state that I was in then.  The tears that were shed at the beginning no longer flow - I guess in a small way I have come to accept that this is going to be me for the rest of my days so there really is no point in my being upset for the long term.

1.  There really isn't the time for me to wallow in my own self pity.  The toddler that is Munch sees that I am firing on all cylinders from the moment he wakes right up to the moment his head hits the pillow and there is that peaceful sleepy breathing.

2.  There are plenty more worse off than I am and if they can face each day with a smile and the strength that I admire then so can I.

The last time I truly shed tears was during my visit to a beauty counter to get make up advice.  It didn't matter what the make up artist said, or what Sprout said for that matter - for me it mattered that I could still see where the pigmentation no longer was even with make up on.  It is hard to explain how it has picked holes in my self confidence, it is the little things like turning my face away from people when they look at me or the slight hiding of the bottom half of my face when talking and people are looking directly at me.  Chances are others cannot see - helped by my fringe and geek chic glasses so the attention is drawn away from the bottom half of my face.  But inside I am acutely aware and although more accepting in what is happening am still petrified to what is to come when it comes to reactions of others.

There was a point in this here long journey where I could feel that I was losing hold of myself.  Was it time to admit that I needed help in coping as I was sinking into this pit that was all consuming?  As I sit here and write this I realise that the feelings were the same as those when I first had Munch.  That mourning for a me that was changing and evolving.  Sounds vain but it is the only way I can describe it.

My doctor's appointment ended up with blood tests to check for any problems with my thyroid, diabetes and cortisol.  They all came up clear and so I found myself back at the doctors to discuss my next steps.  I know my doctor very well and work with him in a professional capacity so it was a frank and open discussion about what he could offer and for me to tell him what I would prefer to do next.  There were light therapy treatments that ideally needed 50-100 sessions for some or no improvement.  I do not have that sort of time to commit to treatment in that way and in all honesty I would be heartbroken after the 100 sessions if nothing had happened.  To hang my hopes onto that - I am not sure I am strong enough to do that especially as it is not a life threatening condition.

There are steroid creams but that does not appeal to me.  I currently cover up using normal make up and I wholeheartedly thank the lady from the bottom of my heart for being so kind when she helped me and for not making me feel a total idiot for breaking down in front of her.  So, when it spreads across my face to the point where I can no longer cover it myself I will ask to be referred to the dermatology department at a nearby hospital.  It was empowering to know that I made my decisions as to where I want to go next with this.

There's the applying sunscreen every day to protect my skin that is no hardship, the makeup takes all of 5 minutes if not less these days and to be honest all my fears so far are in my head.  I watch the vitiligo slowly get bigger but its progress is slow so the only person that notices it happening is me.  I keep smiling and going about my days as normal - life goes on.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


For some their chosen charity supports cancer research, for others it's for children, for Sprout and I it is Group B Strep support.

Group B Strep Support - preventing GBS infection in newborn babies

Normally, Group B Strep (GBS) is a harmless bacteria but can be passed to newborns around childbirth.  It can be very serious if the baby then develops GBS infection.  Taken from the GBSS site,

"In newborn babies, there are two types of GBS disease: early and late-onset.  Roughly 75% of GBS disease is early-onset, occurring in the first 6 days of life and usually apparent at birth. Early-onset GBS disease is normally characterised by the rapid development of breathing problems, associated with blood poisoning. Late-onset disease - which usually presents as GBS meningitis - occurs after the baby is 6 days old and, normally, by age 1 month but, rarely, up to age 3 months. After age 3 months, GBS infection in babies is extremely rare.

GBS is a recognised cause of preterm delivery, maternal infections, stillbirths and late miscarriages.
Preterm babies are known to be at particular risk of GBS infection as their immune systems are not as well developed as those of full-term babies.

Overall, without preventative medicine, GBS infections affect an estimated 1 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK. Each year, based on 700,000 babies born annually in the UK, approximately:
  • 230,000 babies are born to mothers who carry GBS; 88,000 babies (1 in 8) become colonised with GBS; 700 babies develop GBS infections, usually within 24 hours of birth; and
  • 75 babies (11% of infected babies) die.
Of the survivors of GBS meningitis, up to one half suffer long-term mental and/or physical problems, from mild to severe learning disabilities, loss of sight, loss of hearing and lung damage (in around 12% of the survivors, the disabilities may be severe). The great majority of survivors of early-onset disease do so with no long-term damage. "

It was by pure chance that we discovered I was GBS positive.  A urinary tract infection during pregnancy followed by swabs and further investigation was how we found out.  There was a sticker placed on my maternity notes to make sure I was given antibiotics during labour and a leaflet.  No counselling or explanation and as first time parents we were shocked. Throughout pregnancy we were given information to make informed decisions be it relating to scans, tests, pain control etc etc but GBS was not mentioned anywhere.  One leaflet and a sticker.  Really?

We turned to GBSS and got all the answers we needed to understand the whys and wherefores.  They provided us with the all important peace of mind as to what happens next that expectant parents need.  I got the antibiotics during labour and to this day am forever grateful that we understood how important they were.  I cannot imagine how it feels for a new parent to lose their precious baby to GBS infection and learn after the fact that they may have been able to do something about it.  GBSS work tirelessly to educate and support health professionals and families until such time that testing and information is the norm as part of the antenatal care package here in the UK.

You may wonder what my point is.  The beloved Sprout and I get married on 7th June and are using our wedding to raise awareness and donations.  There is no wedding list, no gifts that we want or need; we are lucky enough to have all that we require and a little boy that is healthy, happy and brings us joy that we never dreamed.  We look to raise money to help others in the hope that they too experience the heaven that is our world.  Yes,  I am being cheeky and asking you to donate.

Text ASHM76 £1 to 70070

Should you be kind enough to want to donate more simply change the value.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Face value

Slowly, ever so slowly I have noticed a change to my face since having had Munch.  It started as though I had sunburn around my lips and I gave it not much thought even though I am not prone to burning at all.  I put it down to a change in hormones and carried on as normal.  The change has crept up without me realising until this past month.  The pigment from my skin is slowly but surely vanishing in an ever increasing area spreading outwards from around my lips. I've never been one to pay that much attention to my face other than to make sure I moisturise but this has unnerved me.

It is my face.  It is the part of me that people look at and see every day.  It is my identity in part and watching the colour slowly leave parts of my skin has rocked my confidence.  My brain tells me that in an ideal world it shouldn't matter how I look but part of me is struggling to deal with the change that will keep coming.  How far and how fast will this loss of colour go?  How are those around me going to react?  How will I deal with their reactions?  How will it affect my son growing up?  Do I cover it up or do I wear it strong and proud and set about to educate those that don't understand it?

For now, I am slowly coming to terms with the condition that is changing my face - vitiligo.  It is one where the melanocytes, which are responsible for giving skin its colour, become damaged or destroyed and result in the skin turning white in patches.  I have an appointment with my doctor to discuss my options but for now I am using makeup to cover it up.  In all my adult years I have never thought to put a face on.... until now.  Well, not even a full face but just enough to cover the patches that exist right now.  I am not ready in myself to deal with any comments and questions from strangers, or even friends, so I am 'hiding' until I am stronger.  The tears flow freely as I sit and write this.  This is my reality, it is not one I ever imagined, it is not life threatening yet having it upsets me that I have cried many tears this week.

I had a total stranger say to me,  "What's wrong with your face?" at work this week.  That comment triggered something in me and once home I sobbed in a blubbering heap on Sprout.  That day made my vitiligo real and since then my heart and brain have been attempting to deal with the knowledge.  I am fearful and anxious of what the future brings - there will come a time when I accept the changes that are to come graciously and with ease but I'm working towards that.  My face is only a minor part of who I am.  I just need to have faith that people will be able to look past my face and see the person I am. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Month seventeen

We now have a seventeen month old on our hands.  Where does the time go I ask you?

In the past month he has gotten himself a favourite toy.  The smile that lights up Munch's face is enough to melt even the coldest of hearts when he spies his monkey.  Munch hasn't grasped the word monkey so calls him Teddy which at times can sound a lot like Daddy much to Sprout's confused ears!  He talks to Teddy, dances with him, throws him about a bit and both sit in my lap listening to their bedtime story.  Munch has never taken to soft toys until this past month but it's the most adorable thing - maybe one of the many adorable things he does.

Munch is proving to be a chatterbox albeit a lot of toddler speak right now.  We can have a full blown conversation about who knows what but he gets his say alright.  Everywhere we go he will say "Hiya!" to anyone walking by and only gets louder if he doesn't get one back.  There are more new words such as chair, cow, moo, step, tap, dog, box, bath time, more, go and no.  There are the beginnings of stringing of words - who's this, what's that, where gone.  His latest word taught by Sprout was goal - Daddy is very pleased of course. 

The one word that caught me off guard was Mummy.  I think of that moment now and my response is the same.  Tears prick from behind my eyes and roll down my face - will I remember it like that forever I wonder?  The emotion that one solitary word can conjure leaves me with no words.  One of the most amazing moments so far.  I should invest in some tissue company now as I cannot imagine how long I will be sobbing with happiness for when he tells me he loves me.  

Munch is turning into a little helper.  He has some strange obsession with the vacuum cleaner, to the extent where he will express his frustration by throwing a tantrum when I am attempting to vacuum and he wants to do it instead.  We have now got him his own toy cleaning trolley complete with vacuum cleaner.  It worked a treat as Sprout was able to vacuum with Munch helping him using his toy.  Everyone was happy!  He is loving putting things away and tidying up at the moment, I'm hoping this is a sign that we will not be tidying up after him in years to come. 

He still seems far too small to be running around but he loves inclines.  He will merrily run up and down, up and down, up and down for as long as his legs will carry him.   At one stage he would fall asleep in the car and promptly wake up the minute we arrived home then fight his nap.  We have now fallen into a routine where he naps for a couple hours every day and is in bed by 8pm.  He sleeps straight through the majority of the time and I have even gotten used to waking in mine and Sprout's bed again.  Munch wakes around 7am although this past week we seem to be getting up earlier. Actually, thinking about it, he has been asking for bath time earlier too.  It would seem he is preparing for the clocks to go forward at the end of the month!

This seventeenth month has also bore witness to Munch self weaning from breastmilk.  We have followed his lead when it comes to development and this is another one of those.  It is an odd feeling as there seemed to be little warning that we were heading this way.  Or maybe I was hoping that it would take longer than it has.  I will miss it but know it is just another step in him growing up.  Who knew we'd get this far?  I was ready to pack it in around month three but my sheer pigheadedness has gotten us here.   The journey has been an emotional one for sure.

His character is forming more and more every day.  He is an observer of everything around him.  He is caring, considerate, fun loving and has dare devil tendencies.  He is a friendly, loving soul and if he continues in this vain is going to break many a heart I can tell.  So much has happened since my last post, what will change from now until my next?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Pushing forwards

I waved goodbye to 2012 with great gusto.  It was a year that taught me much about myself but also much about those around me.  There were times where I could not see further than the three hour blocks of a newborn, there were others where being tired took on a whole new meaning.  These are now replaced by looking forward to the times when Munch has a nap and to those where he exhibits his pure brilliance in comic timing at the tender age of fifteen months.  He has a talent I'm telling you!

We start 2013 with the knowledge that we have a wedding to finish planning. I am currently very grateful that my vision of Munch walking me down the aisle is set to become reality as he is a steady little soul on his feet right now.  The only doubt is whether it is going to be walking or dragging of Mummy dearest down the aisle - mental note to self, maybe heels will not be a good idea!  That and whether he will spend it waving and saying hello to everyone that we pass on our way. 

Am I going to diet at all? No idea. I never really have and am not sure I possess the will power when it comes to food. I would much rather put myself in a dress that fits than try and get myself to fit into one in all honesty.  I'm testing the whole Sprout will love me regardless of whether I look like the back end of a bus or not theory.  Maybe I will miraculously turn into the perfect hourglass using some spandex wonder undergarment instead.  For me, it's not about my dress but about the two of us and sharing that with our family and closest friends.

Munch has now mastered the 'Hello' in addition to 'Hiya'.  We got a 'please' once but more often than not it is 'peese' and he can sign it - it's very similar to blowing a kiss mind.   With the mountain of new toys that arrived in the form of Christmas presents came new storage ideas and our newest game which has become our firm favourite - yes, you've guessed it. Gold star to you in the middle! Yes, the tidy up game.  We have gone from taking turns in putting toys away to Munch surprising us and becoming grand master at it by 2013.  I thought I mastered new things quickly but by jove he puts me to shame.   He's showing us that he understands the order of certain events and the whole bedtime routine is now even easier.  Munch will pull his socks off and once he's naked he will put his clothes in the wash basket and then totter off towards the bathroom squealing with delight.  It's as though another switch inside that brain of his has been tripped and there's a whole new world of learning. 

He leaves us open mouthed many a time with the things that he shows us.  One of his favourite books is 'Incy, Wincy spider'; it plays the tune and has buttons that make different sounds and he'll pick it off his shelf and get us to sing it over and over.  The other day we had been singing it quite a few times and I said to him, " Bring Mummy the Wheels on the Bus book please".  We'd never asked him but up he got and walked to the bookshelf.  Sprout's expression said it all. Munch had got the actual book and was coming back with it. Wow, just wow!  We've always been amazed at the rate at which he learns but recently it's gone into a higher gear and we're in constant awe.  In our eyes Munch is a genius of a little boy.

He will dribble a ball across the room much to his father's delight.  I know little about football but apparently he is a natural Sprout keeps telling me.  I was far more impressed when nursery told us that he'd been helping tidy up and wanting to vacuum. Munch doesn't express a preference for specific toys; some days it is books, others fire engines and cars but he seems to have the most fun with DVDs, remote controls, Daddy's phone, a balloon and the laundry baskets.  Who needs toys?

2012 taught me that my perspective on life had shifted.  My head is in a stronger place and my answer to something I caught on television the other day - "What do you want your children to inherit?"

My response? "A passion for life."

May 2013 bring us all a wealth of smiles and memories. Thanks for reading!