Sunday, 7 September 2014

Our Summer in Pictures....

Our summer has been a little crazy, but we have made it to the other side. Thought I would share some pictures so you can see what we have been up to....

Lazy days on the beach...

Day trips out

Bank Holiday fun

Picnics in the cold

Fun in the Park
Plenty of this stuff to keep us going....
Birthday Celebrations!!!
& finally I am learning to have a bit of me time.....

Friday, 1 August 2014

Story of My Life

Since having E.J. the girls curiosity has naturally grown into their birth family history. The questions have been more frequent and you can see their little minds trying to make sense of who they have lived with and the time frames this all falls into. They have included questions such as, 'Where was I born?' 'Who's tummy was I in?' and 'Which hospital was I born in?' Whilst addressing these questions the best I could, my eldest daughter told me that she could not remember what her birth mother looked like. I thought now may be an appropriate time to tell her that we had been given a photo and then asked her if she would like to see it, to which she replied that she would.

Taking down the life story books from the attic, I felt nervous to share the information as I know in the past they have got upset and on occasions, experienced nightmares when confronted with their past. Sitting down at the dining room table with my oldest two daughters we opened the books. My oldest daughter only wanted to look at the picture of her mom, cried, cuddled me and then put her book away. My middle daughter however wanted to look through the whole of her book. Sitting next to her I nervously turned the pages and sat anxiously while she scanned the photos. Again, she cried and needed a cuddle. Since looking at her book she has been struggling with missing her birth family. I found it interesting to listen to her as it is clear that she does not understand time frames or when people were or were not present in her life.

My youngest daughter sat on my lap earlier today whilst looking up at a blown-up picture taken from on our wedding day. She asked me where she was when that photo was taken. I wasn't quite sure how best to answer, as at the time, her birth mother would have been pregnant with her and how do you explain that to a three year old?!

What I have found to be positive is the fact that the girls are able to talk to my husband and I about their feelings and feel safe enough to ask various questions. We knew at some point we would need to address these topics and I would rather have an open conversation with the girls over the years rather than deal with it in one go when they hit puberty! Another positive is that they have taken to their little brother and are keen to cuddle him and to help me with little jobs that need doing. I believe that the girls feel included and this is important for them. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Our latest addition!

He has arrived! 

Three weeks ago our little boy, E.J. entered into the world.

He is beautiful, adorable and I would even go as far as saying that he is pure perfection!

E.J. kept us waiting. On my due date there were no signs of any twinges and to be honest I felt quite disappointed. I was ready to meet my little man and I wanted to get things moving.

A day short of being two weeks overdue, I began having cramps at 1 am, however, after a few hours the pains stopped and I thought it must have been a false alarm. I was booked into hospital to be induced later on that day, so after being delayed a couple of times, I made my way down to the delivery suite. Once I was examined, I was told that labour had indeed started and I was asked if I would like my waters broken to move things along. So that's what we did. After a fairly comfortable labour (thanks to an epidural) and twelve hours later, E.J. was placed in our arms. It was an emotional and proud moment for all of us that I do not think we will ever forget.

It was important for us that the girls were able to meet E.J. as soon as possible, so they came to visit us in the hospital. The girls appeared to take to their little brother straight away. They all gave him a cuddle and I don't think they stopped cooing over him. It was certainly a relief that the girls were happy with him and that they wanted to be involved. One adoptive & birth mother who I know through Twitter gave me the idea to buy the girls each a present from E.J. to help build the bond. I thought this was a lovely idea and my girls certainly love receiving presents. It didn't cost the earth, the gifts were personal and something they could each play with.

Once home, it was lovely to introduce family and friends to our bundle of joy. People have been so kind in their gifts, help and support. I don't know how we would have got through the last three weeks without the help of our parents, other family members and friends.

I think the biggest shock to our system would have to be the lack of sleep. It appears that every time you close your eyes and begin to drift off that E.J. wakes up demanding to be fed! To say it's painfully tiring is an understatement! To help me get through the long nights I have recorded some of my favourite shows, bought some chocolate biscuits and turned it into a bit of 'me' time. I am also finding it hard to juggle E.J.'s feeds with meeting the girls' needs and everyday activities, especially as we are not yet in a routine, so I am constantly second guessing when he is going to wake up. 

Another big shock that is about to hit me is the SIX WEEK HOLIDAYS! On the one hand I am looking forward to lazy mornings and not having to make three packed lunches each morning. However, on the other hand, I am nervous about needing to entertain three children and care for a newborn all at the same time. We have some fun things planned and a family holiday to look forward to. I can recall feeling apprehensive last year and the holidays flew by and we all survived. So I am sure we will survive the coming holidays.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Keep Calm we're expecting Baby No 4!

Three weeks today and I am due to pop! The time has flown by!

We are feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement, although we are relieved to say it is mostly excitement. 

I think we are prepared, practically anyway, I'm not sure anything can prepare us for the emotional challenge that is ahead.

Last week, two close friends and my sister and mom threw me a wonderful baby shower. The weather was perfect, food yummy, amazing cake and the games included guessing what chocolate bars had been melted inside various nappies - YUK, but by far the best baby shower game out there!
Made by the children's godmother!

My friend and I are expecting 10 weeks apart from each other, so we have attended a labour & birth and breastfeeding class together. We have had a giggle, been informed of our choices of pain relief, pulled some faces at the thought of the indignity of it all and I have wondered why we have been given conflicting advice on a couple of topics already!

The nursery has been decorated in a monkey jungle theme, essential items have been bought and people have been very generous and given us some beautiful clothes, toys and keepsakes. Today, we went on our (hopefully) last shopping trip before baby arrives. We decided to buy baby his first teddy. We chose a design together as a family, had baby's heart beat placed inside (so when we press the teddy''s hand you can hear what sounds like a train at high speed). The girls were then given a silk heart each by the shop assistant that they were asked to make a wish on, kiss and then place inside the teddy, before he was stuffed and sown up.

Bump and teddy Peanut

Over the last few months I have been practicing Natal Hypnotherapy by Maggie Howell. The idea behind this is to help you prepare for birth through the art of relaxation and positive visiualisation. I have enjoyed doing this and, after speaking to others who have used this technique, I am hopeful that it will help me to stay calm during the 'lovely' contractions. I would like to have as natural a birth as possible and I am even thinking of having a water birth (something I never thought I would want to do). I am looking forward to trying the gas & air too! With that said, I am keeping an open mind as I am not brilliant with pain.

Throughout the pregnancy we have discussed whether we would like a hospital, home or birth centre birth. In the end, due to possibility of needing additional medical support, we opted to go to our local hospital. Four weeks ago we went to have a look around the hospital to see what we thought. I must admit I came away feeling quite emotional as I did not like the clinical setting, the hot stuffy rooms and as we left we could hear a woman screaming - I couldn't get out quick enough!

I don't think there is much more to do now, other than sit and wait for baby to make his entrance into the world. Every time I get a twinge I am wondering if this is it! I think, like most first time birth mothers, if I'll know whether I am in the early stages of labour or not and then there is the additional worry of whether or not the hospital will give me the correct advice on when to come in. I have known a couple of moms who have been told to wait at home as they did not realise their labour was progressing. One gave birth at home unexpectedly in the bath and the other 20 minutes after she arrived at the hospital.

I keep telling myself to enjoy these last couple of weeks and what will be will be. I will get through the birth one way or another. I have loved being pregnant and I am very grateful for this experience.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Key...

I've been a little quiet on the blog recently, not because it's been quiet but just the opposite. I feel as though I am in a place where I can share some of what's been happening and where I am at now.

You may or may not know that I have been receiving counselling over the past few months. During this time I have not found the sessions to be massively helpful but it has helped me to see that the difficulties I am having are not just one sided. It is complex, layered and each element plays it's part. With the help of my Social Worker, husband and a friend who I am working closely with, I feel as though I have found the key I was looking for.

That key is forgiveness.

It is not an easy key to use and at times I would rather hold a grudge, sulk, throw a tantrum, walk away or just cry. But I am learning to let things go, pick my battles, forgive many times a day (some days) and to move on. I have learnt that forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. I think for me that has been the hardest part, letting go of how I would like to respond and choosing forgiveness.

Another area I am addressing is to have faith in my parenting and my decisions. Okay, I'm going to get it wrong. I'm not saying I am, or can ever be, perfect. However, I am not stupid either. I know my children (some things still come as a surprise) and with a little guidance (Okay quite a lot of guidance) we are doing a good job. You only have to look at the girls to see that we can't be massively off track.

I still feel as though I have some way to go and I may even find myself in that place of unforgiveness and resentment again. But I feel as though as an individual and as a family we are making progress, building bonds and moving forward.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Our Celebration week...

Half seven on Wednesday morning we all woke, ate breakfast and then the task of bathing three kids began. Once clean, they got dressed into their matching two piece outfits. They looked beautiful and I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride as I looked at my daughters.

Cute outfits bought by Godparents.
We were then off to the Court to attend our 20 minute slot for our Celebration Day. The mood in the car was playful and light, mixed with a bit of apprehension. Once we had arrived we were shown into a room full of big, stuffy looking books on law and a large chairs facing inwards to make a circle. Our two Social Workers met us there and while we waited for the judge we made small talk and tried to keep the girls entertained with the pictures in magazines on law.

I had presumed we would be taken into a large court room but instead we were called through into a smaller, less formal room, with a large dining table, fire place and another circle of large chairs all facing each other. The judge had a grand red chair which the clerk politely made clear was for his honour and not for us. There was part of me that was disappointed as I quite fancied going to a court room in all it's glory, however, I think the less formal room and all sitting round together probably worked better for the girls.

The judge was friendly and asked the girls to draw him a picture each which he promised to keep, along with the other pictures he had been given by children, on his wall. As the judge placed the large felt tip pens on the table I did panic a little as I thought felt tip pens and clean children in white tops do not mix. My face must have been easy to read as my Social Worker looked at me and laughed, while the judge assured me that the ink was washable.

The judge then presented the girls each with a certificate of their new name and matching (thank goodness) teddies. He then took his wig off and asked the girls if they knew what it was made out of. We all guessed sheep's wool, but we were all wrong. It is actually made out of horse hair. Two of the girls tried on the wig and posed for pictures, while our middle daughter hid on her daddy's lap and stated that she did not not want to try it on. The judge continued to speak to us and the girls about family life, school etc. He congratulated the Social Workers on finding a couple who were willing to take three children and then the ongoing support they had provided. We took pictures to remember the moment by and then said thank you and goodbye.

Once outside into the cold air we felt a sense of relief and a wave of tiredness. The girl's Social Worker told us that this was the first Celebration Day that she had attended that had been so relaxed, informal and she has not known a judge to give out teddies before. After saying our goodbyes to the Social Workers we decided to pop into a local cafe. We all sipped on our coffees and hot chocolate while the girls opened the presents they had received from the Local Authority.

We decided to go back home in the afternoon. The girls put their pajamas on and watched a film. We were so tired, I think we had underestimated how tiring the whole experience would be.

Once we had recharged we got back into our glad rags and headed out for a nice meal, followed by slice of cake at home. We gave the girls a bracelet each to mark the day which read 'Daughter, a little girl who grows up to be a friend'.  

The day went by quickly, but it had been a special day and one I don't think any of us will forget. The long process is now complete. We are legally and officially a family. We share the same surname and the girls no longer have a 'looked after status', no more visits from their Social Worker, no more educational and health reviews.

Today we threw a little party to mark both the adoption and the fact that the girls have been with us for 12 months. We had a buffet, drinks, opened presents and cards and then the kids played outside in the rain! The atmosphere was relaxed and as we sat by the log burner I think we all felt a little dozy. We finally took lots of photos before coming home and once again feeling completely exhausted.

What a week! 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Thoughts on Mother's Day...


Today was my first Mother's Day. It has been special. To hear my daughters say 'Happy Mother's Day' and 'I love You' has been something I have been waiting for and something I hope I will treasure. To watch them open my presents as they jumped up and down on my bed made me smile. To see their excitement as they showed me the pictures that they had drawn and the cards that they had made.

My beautiful cards

However special today is for me, I am reminded of those who wish to be mothers and for one reason or another, this dream has not yet come to pass. My thoughts and prayers are with these woman and families, for I have felt the heartache and it's not something I want to become insensitive to.

My thoughts also turn towards the girl's birth mom. Wherever she is, whatever is happening for her in her life at the moment, I am sure that today must be a difficult day for her. I wonder if my girls' have thought about her - maybe this will be something we face on future Mothering Sunday's. 

However difficult this parenting journey has been for me, I am thankful and I am blessed to have been given the gift of motherhood.