Yesterday was one of those days, you know the kind I mean, when every single thing you do seems to go wrong.

Looking at my SnapChat story or other social media accounts you would never have guessed it was anything other than a perfect family day out to the park.

Max, Luca and me

Max, Luca and me

 

The reality couldn’t be further than what was portrayed in this small reprieve of fun in the midst of what I can only describe as a day where chaos and anarchy ran supreme.

The Morning Mishaps

It all began to go pear-shaped when I heard a vaguely familiar sound in the background and realised it was my alarm going off over and over!

We’d all slept in for the second time this week and it was only Tuesday!

Panic stations ensued with me barking orders at everyone.

I dislike mornings as it is – I’m more of a night owl – and being late doesn’t help my morning mood. So everyone was immediately on edge when they realised the situation.

Mayhem is the only way to describe most mornings here as I’m trying to get Eve out to school and literally juggle between getting the two boys’ lovely massive morning nappies changed and new outfits on.

Then there is the fun that is breakfast – aka a wrestling match – where I try to get bibs on two, strong, wriggly boys who certainly do not want bibs on. Breakfast is a whole story in itself…but you get the jist, we were late.

I dropped Eve off at the school gates, had to stop back home to change Luca’s nappy again. Then Max  began to cry. I fed him briefly then  we set off on the road for a second time, to a doctors appointment for Cora.

Finding a parking space was horrendous so feeling like an awful parent, Cora had to brave the appointment alone, at nearly 15 she is very capable, but I still felt terrible about it.

I drove around for 30 extra minutes until I found a space which as luck had it happened to be on the steepest hill around. Afraid of my car zooming off down the hill as soon as I stept out (my car doesn’t have a handbrake) I hurried to get the boys into the  double pram and raced to the doctor’s surgery.

Late again!

As Cora was already in we joined her and the lovely GP at the end of the appointment in a bit of a flap.

Luca chose this moment to go absolutely mental, screaming “I want out,” repeatedly at such a high frequency it didn’t sound human.

On and on he screamed. Oblivious to the fact I was trying to listen to the doctor. Cora needed bloods taken and her heart rate had to be monitored. Embarrassed at how boldly behaved Luca had been, Max then kicked up a fuss because he needed a nappy change.

Handing in our form at the treatment room reception with both boys still going crazy wasn’t pleasant  The sweat was dripping off me and I felt suffocatingly warm/angry/embarrassed.

Into the baby change room we went while Luca screamed on, getting louder and more frantic sounding by the minute.

Cora’s was called and I panicked because she is afraid of needles and needed her momma for support.

On she went – alone again and I felt bad again. I felt really stressed out and suddenly we are all in tears with me muttering to myself like a mad woman.

Just then a firm knock on the door is followed by a lovely nurse who pops her head around the door, asking if she can help.

More tears and tantrums from the boys follow as we gave Cora moral support, then it was back to wait for a chat with the GP.

The good old ‘santa is watching’ bribe is used to excess while we wait again, until a promise of going to the park happens, one which no amount of back tracking later is going to work.

Playtime In The Park

Off we set later and enjoy a really lovely time in the park, my two boys and me. I capture it on camera relieved the drama of the day is over.

Luca climbing the Park steps

Luca climbing the Park steps

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

Max in his sling

Max in his sling

 

Max's first time on a swing

Max’s first time on a swing

Luca on the Merrygoround

Luca on the Merrygoround

Luca pushing Max on swiing

Luca pushing Max on swiing

 

     But then it’s not

School Run, Not So Fun

On the school run Luca turns into an escape artist and manages to release his buckle and in one fell swoop, dives out, unzipping his coat like superman on the way. Then off he runs, fast as lightning, laughing his manic, crazy, up-to-no-good laugh.

I was speechless and couldn’t believe it happened. The louder I shouted for him to stop, the faster he ran! He nearly escaped out the gates, only he was rescued by his crèche manager, our heroine!

Never have I felt like a worse parent than that moment. When he was caught Luca began squirming and wailing: “Let me down,” over and over. It was awful.

My lovely friend pushed Max’s pram back to the car for me, and came back to mine for a cuppa to calm me down.

img_6168

New Day

I’m hoping today will be a much more positive and relaxed day. It might be time to look into a set of toddler reins, something I thought I’d never have to resort to!

 

 

 

 

We LOVE Halloween

Halloween in our house is always a big occasion, especially as it is also my birthday!

Every year we go all out decorating the house both outside and in.  A few new decorations always seem to sneak their way into the Halloween box somehow…

I love that where I live nearly every house has kids and we all try to make Halloween special by decorating our homes to create a fun, atmosphere, it’s just lovely!

Crafts

I have a very crafty bunch of kids, they love creating pictures, the messier the better. Luca especially loves anything that he can get his hands into (and spreading it all over the house). When I get a few spare minutes alone with him I like to spend it doing activities. He chose to make a pumpkin and a footprint ghost.

Luca gluing his pumpkin collage

Luca gluing his pumpkin collage

Proud of his pumpkin masterpiece!

Proud of his pumpkin masterpiece!

Luca's foot in white paint

Luca’s foot in white paint

Happily splodging his paint onto the page

Happily splodging his paint onto the page

Luca's finished ghost

Luca’s finished ghost

Both activities involved a certain amount of mess – gloopy glue for one and paint in the other, every toddler’s dream and parent’s nightmare! He really enjoyed it so much  I couldn’t stay mad.

Costumes

This year we were more organised than ever before, deciding on a family dress up theme – Superheroes and Villains. We’ve never  done a theme before but thought it would be a fun challenge and get everyone involved.

Eve dressed up as villian Harley Quinn

Eve dressed up as this year’s most popular villain, Harley Quinn

Luca went as Batman but wouldn't wear the cape and refused to get his face painted

Luca went as Batman but wouldn’t wear the cape and refused to get his face painted

Luca's little sidekick Max as Robin

Luca’s little sidekick Max as Robin

Max went as a skeleton to his babygroup Halloween party

Max went as a skeleton to his baby-group Halloween party

Beautiful Super Cora

Beautiful Super Cora

Unfortunately I forgot to pose for take any photos of us adults! As we only got to wear our costumes for a few hours on the night so nobody really got to see them (usually we visit the grandparents), but on the bright side we can dust them off and use them again next year!

Our House of Horrors

It really was a house of horrors this year as there was so much sickness in the house just days before the big event!

On the very day that she got her school holidays, Eve became sick with a horrendous vomiting and diarrhoea bug! Poor Eve  was very ill throughout the night. Then the following evening Luca became ill too.

Just as we thought the worst was over, on Halloween night Eve was sick again! Then they all took colds with a horrible cough! Unbelievable! So we only got to go to a few of the Halloween celebrations in town. I had high hopes of doing lots more, oh well there is always next year.

We were all so exhausted from lack of sleep that I forgot to buy food for the trick or treaters! It was a mad rush on the day to find a shop that still had enough sweets.

I also forgot to do a few little extra things that I usually do on the day – like playing my scary Halloween soundtrack when trick or treaters come to the door or doing the party ideas I had planned (I bought lots of apples but didn’t get around to doing any actual dunking for them, doh!)

I even forgot all about  my own birthday cake, not that anyone was in the mood to eat it!

Decor Details

We always try to make our house look  as creepy as possible every year and a little different from the year before.

I mainly use whatever we already have to do the bulk of the decorating, but decided to add a little to our usual two boxes (I even forgot about some of the things that I bought, whoops!)

I always have to buy a few extra cobwebs each Halloween as the outdoor  webs tend to  get wet and weather-beaten by the end of the holiday.

B&M Bargains is my absolute favourite shop for all occasion decorations, everything is so reasonably priced and lovely – what more could you want! Their Halloween selection grows every year (a bit like mine!), I’d love to buy them all, but I have to reign myself in as Christmas is only around the corner…

Haunted Halloween House Tour

Outside

For the garden we used a life-size doll of Eve’s, dressing it up in one of her  old ghost costumes. We put some fake blood over her face and down the front of the dress. Positioning her smack bang in the centre of the garden for best dramatic effect, it looked very scary especially at nighttime.

Blood streaked creepy doll in the garden

Blood streaked creepy doll in the garden

Next we bombed the front porch in cobwebs, adding in a few spiders, creepy crawlies and bats. We hung zombies, ghosts and an old glow in the dark skeleton up too. We put in our special Halloween green light bulb and had green lights around the living room window too.

Freaky front door

Freaky front door

We always decorate the doorstep with a plastic pumpkin with LED candle lights, a broomstick, cauldron, little mice and black cat.

Front doorstep

Front doorstep

The down-lights at the top of the house also had green light bulbs to add a spooky green hue to the entire house.

Ghoulish green house

Ghoulish green house

Inside

Each year we hang cobwebs the entire length of the hallway and then I spend some time adding in lots of spiders, creepy crawlies, skeletons and bats to it as well.

Haunted hallway

Haunted hallway

I love the new little light up ghosts I bought this year hanging them along the staircase and at the bottom of the stairs we had a big creepy witch that screamed when you walked past.

Witch and ghosts

Witch and ghosts

hallway

hallway

The living room mantelpiece was adorned with a garland of black cheesecloth and purple lights and had one massive white cobweb running around the room with orange and black spiders in it.

mantelpiece

Light up garland on mantlepiece

bat

bat

 

The windowsill had green lights around the frame and a light up cobweb and spiders in the centre, all from B&M Bargains!

The kitchen had lots of plastic bats and glitter skeletons hanging off the cupboards and lights and a cauldron in the centre of the table.

The downstairs bathroom had cobweb  and dotted spiders around the window ledge too.

Taking the decorations all down again was another story entirely…

 

The very word breastfeeding stirs up a wide range of emotions in women from; frustration, contentment,  pain, joy, disappointment, a sense of achievement, guilt,pride anger, peacefulness. Some are passionate advocates while others feel that it is just not for them.

I have had both positive and negatives experiences of breastfeeding and have went through every possible spectrum of emotions regarding it…

Breastfeeding My First Baby

Baby Cora and I

Baby Cora and I

For me breastfeeding was the norm, as my own mum breastfed all nine of us children and we all saw her feeding. I genuinely just took for granted that all mothers fed their newborns this way. It was only after the birth of my eldest child Cora that I realised that here in Northern Ireland bottle feeding is the more popular choice.

I was surprised as the midwife smiled in surprise yet encouragingly at me when I said I wanted to breastfeed (especially as my new baby had just pooed all over her nice clean uniform!)

With Cora I managed to breastfeed for the first three weeks of her life. I remember it was my solace during a very tough period in my life – I would take my precious baby off to the calm of my bedroom and sit gazing at her as she fed (a mixture of shock, being in a love bubble with pain killers taking the edge off it all.)

My daddy bottle feeding Cora

My daddy bottle feeding Cora

I was proud that I did it and was a bit sad when I had to give her the first few bottles of formula, but I had the last few months of my A-level exams to complete and that meant going back to school full time, so I didn’t dwell on it too much. I was happy with what I had achieved and I was dying for a night out too! My lovely patient inspirational mum was always on hand to give me advice and support (and still is!)

My Second Attempt

Seven years later when my next baby came along I was adamant that I would breastfeed her for longer this time, as I had completed university and was not working, so I had more time to devote to her.

Eve one day old with a super strong suck

Eve one day old with a super strong suck

But after giving birth this baby proved to be a super sucker, latching onto anything she could get her lips around and sucking for dear life. A well meaning midwife suggested I give her a dummy to ‘stop her using me as a dummy’, which I did, not realising that this was the wrong advice when trying to establish breastfeeding as it causes nipple confusion and can lead to the baby missing out on a feed as they suck the dummy instead.

By the time I was discharged from hospital my nipples were in an awful state – I really didn’t have a clue how to help my baby latch properly, she seemed to be ravenously hungry so when she latched I didn’t correct her positioning no matter how much it hurt – it was hard enough to get her on in the first place and I was afraid if I took her off she would suck my nipple twice as hard.

Eve with a dummy

Eve with a dummy

I knew that breastfeeding would be painful for the first few days so I stuck it out for twelve of the longest most gruellingly painful days of my life. Due to the many bad latches my nipple suffered quite a bit of trauma, my breast was not getting emptied of the milk properly,  and my baby wasn’t getting enough food, which made us both very upset. I also had an over supply of milk which only added to an already bad situation.

On my final day breastfeeding little Eve I was in a lot of pain  and I had got to the point that I absolutely dreaded every feed. The slightest sound from little Eve and I was hiding in the bathroom from her, fearful of the dreaded call to feed her.

It was the first time I was properly alone in the house with Eve.  When she began to whimper  I busied myself getting ‘organised’ (stalling for time)  to feed her. I was in agony, my breasts were engorged with milk and my nipples were bruised and cracked – I didn’t want anyone to touch me and I couldn’t bear for anyone to watch. I had to work myself into the ‘right’ frame of mind to get her latched on as quickly as possible.

My Godmother came to visit and tried to help me but Eve and I were so worked up that I just couldn’t do it!

I was so angry with myself, feeling like a failure. Two and a half hours later I finally managed to get baby Eve latched on and fed.

Out of sheer desperation my partner phoned the midwives asking for an urgent appointment as the situation just couldn’t go on.

MASTITIS! 

Two midwives came and examined my breasts and delivered the devastating news I had a severe case of infected mastitis and advised that I stop breastfeeding as it was clearly causing everyone so much distress. They sent for strong antibiotics and gave my partner instructions on how to help me and how to make up the formula and bottles.

I was heartbroken that I hadn’t succeeded for as long as I wished and the first few bottle feeds were very emotional for me, lots of tears were shed.

However  the sense of relief that I felt knowing that I no longer had to endure the pain  is indescribable. I had put so much pressure on myself but I just wasn’t enjoying the experience like I longed to and everyone was suffering as a result.

It was the best decision for the family at the time. After a few weeks of grieving I realised I had to stop beating myself up about it and start enjoying my baby.

Success At Last, But It Wasn’t Smooth Sailing.

Five years later and little Luca came along in 2014. Undeterred by my previous traumatic experience I was more determined than ever to make breastfeeding work. Surrounded by strong female role models such as my mother, my big sister, my sister in laws  and a number of friends I was reassured and very willing to give it a real go.

This time I researched it as much as possible talking to other mums about their experiences.

Baby bLuca's first breastfeed

Baby Luca’s first breastfeed

I asked if I could stay on longer in hospital for a few days after I gave birth so I could get all the support I needed. I found this help invaluable. The midwives were more than willing to help with positioning and latching, helping until I was comfortable doing it myself. I was so nervous of developing mastitis that I wasn’t taking any chances!

The policy and education around breastfeeding had changed dramatically since my first experience with Cora and even Eve. Before being discharged I was given a leaflet with phone numbers of peer supporters who could give me phone support if I needed it or come to my home if I had difficulties. There was also lots of information on local breastfeeding support groups – which I attended and found very helpful, making some really nice friendships along the way.

There seemed to be so much more knowledge and awareness around breastfeeding and it seemed to have become increasingly more normalised.

I also joined a local Facebook breastfeeding support group (Breastfeeding in Northern Ireland), which is a priceless tool in helping with all manner of feeding problems and solutions 24/7. The shared knowledge and support is amazing, women encouraging, supporting and championing one another. The sense of community and sisterhood is very inspiring.

Engorgement & Over Supply Issues 

Although the support was much better I still did have sore and cracked nipples when I left hospital, but I felt like I was in a much better position to deal with it all.

After the first ten days when I was settled back at home my breasts were still rock hard, painful and engorged with milk.  I felt very low at this point as I was still in such discomfort and my partner’s paternity leave was up so he wouldn’t be around to help me.  I knew I had to do something as I was on the verge of giving up, yet I longed to continue.

I got in touch with a school friend and now mum of four, who was a real breastfeeding advocate having breastfed  all four of her children(and is still feeding two of them), overcoming her own struggles, beating all odds even breastfeeding her daughter born without a nose!  She went above and beyond to help me sort it all out. She urged me not be afraid of my breasts and tips on how to spot the early warning signs of mastitis with simple, easy steps on how to avoid it . She gave me the breastfeeding Bible, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and a sling which was brilliant. Most of all she instilled a confidence and sense of calm within me that I didn’t have before. (Read her story here  https://bornextraordinary.wordpress.com/)

One of my lovely sisters came to my house and stayed with me for that first week without my partner. Even sleeping beside me she was by my side each time I fed Luca, gently encouraging me.

My lovely sister Medbh and Luca

My lovely sister Medbh and Luca

The engorgement wasn’t easing so I made an appointment to see a Lactation Consultant at the hospital. She finally came up with a solution,  nipple shields, block feeding and introducing the dummy.  I had over supply issues which meant that I was producing much more milk than the baby needed, so my breasts were not getting the chance to drain properly and the baby was getting too much milk, which was making him unsettled too.

medela nipple shield

medela nipple shield

The nipple shield slowed the flow of milk, which meant my breasts were no longer being over stimulated to make more. Nearly immediately all the pain I had been feeling stopped, the nipple shields were a saviour to our breastfeeding journey. My milk began to regulate too and soon my breasts got the message, only producing enough milk for my baby as opposed to a set of triplets!

Love Bubble

FINALLY  I was able to have the beautiful breastfeeding experience that I had for so longed for. Each feed was magic and little Luca was a real boob monster! He loved his milk and I was addicted to having him so close to me,  I loved the feeling of having him so close and he was so content. I finally felt like I was getting it right and I was proud that I had kept it up after all the pain and the disappointment (in myself) at not being able to enjoy feeding Eve.

Ditching The Nipple Shields

After using the shields for four months I was able to wean Luca – and myself off them – I was terrified that I would be in lots of pain again, but after two weeks I was able to go it alone, which I was really proud of. Making it to my six month goal, which at times had seemed so far off. Neither of us were ready to stop anytime soon, we were in our stride, feeling confident I wasn’t afraid to nurse him in public if he needed fed.

My first time breastfeeding Luca in public

My first time breastfeeding Luca in public

Cows Milk Protein Allergy and Going Dairy Free

 Luca was diagnosed with a cows milk protein allergy CMPA at nine months of age. He was still breastfeeding so I had to cut all dairy out of my diet as well, which was very tough at the beginning, but worth it when I saw the vast improvement that it made to Luca’s skin and breathing. Breastfeeding was his big comfort and I couldn’t get him to drink from a bottle anyway, so we stuck it out. I will write more about this in another post.

One Journey Ends And Another Begins

Shortly after Luca turned one I discovered I was pregnant again! I was happy to keep nursing him – I decided I would follow his lead – preparing myself for tandem feeding as he was a relentless feeder.

That was until one day when I was six months pregnant, Luca told me my milk was ‘yuck’ and refused to take any more milk, never feeding again. I spent the next few days trying to make sure it was what he wanted – following him around wagging my boob at him – but he was adamant. I was sad, but again relieved as it was his choice and by that stage I was getting nursing aversion – so we were both ready for our journey to end.

Starting All Over Again

When I had Max just three months after breastfeeding Luca I thought I would be a pro – having fed Luca for 16 months. But it turned out that I again felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing! I felt like I was back to square one.  I had the same sensitive nipples, cracked and bruised for the first two weeks as all the other times. I had to relearn how to position Max, as each new baby is different.

Baby Max's first breastfeed

Baby Max’s first breastfeed

This time I called on the help of a breastfeeding counsellor when I was discharged from hospital. She was brilliant and spotted where I was going wrong immediately and helped with better positioning. I had to end up using nipple shields again for the first sixteen weeks to ease the over supply issues I had before.

Seven months on and Max and I are still breastfeeding strong. At the six month mark we had issues with fussiness and my supply took a big dip, coupled with beginning to wean on to solids and the return of my period,  it was a very scary time for me.   Thankfully we have sorted it out now and our journey still continues.

I plan on following his lead and keep going for as long as it suits us both. With Max I feel much more relaxed about it all and I think this has shown with how much more smoothly it has went for us this time.

If only I had had access to the information and support back with Eve as I do now I feel that we could have succeeded, but it was that ‘failure’ that made me so determined to stick it out with my boys.

To All New Mums…

For all the new mums out there starting out on their own breastfeeding journey or considering it, know that the first few weeks can be very difficult – for some lucky mamas its easy – but those are few and far between. For most new mums it is hard at the start, but with the right support and educating yourself, those early day niggles are long forgotten (just like the pain of childbirth) and when it works it is the most lovely feeling.

For those that it doesn’t work out for, for whatever reasons, please don’t beat yourselves up over it. You tried, you did you best for your baby by giving it a go, be happy that you tried. It can work another time. Educating yourself and finding good support is key. Be kind to yourself and hold your baby close.

Fionnuala xx

 

Travelling to festival family shot

Travelling to festival car selfie

We camped out at a local festival, The Stendhal Festival of Art, for the second year in a row, something which has  became a firm favourite new family tradition. This time with five month old Max in tow.

When I say camping it wasn’t strictly camping, we were lucky enough to borrow my dad’s campervan which he cleverly converted from a community Ambulance- complete with everything you could possibly need, including space for us all to sleep, a cooker and a much coveted toilet!

After a morning of intense excitement in our house, we all ate a hearty brunch,  packed the car up to the roof  (we really did have so much stuff) and headed off. But not before getting our festival glam on complete with plaits and hair flowers.

besutiful Cora

Eve hair

After we set up camp  we grabbed a quick snack before queuing up to get our weekend family wrist passes. Along the way we watched in admiration at the groups of families around us working together putting up their tents.

setting up camp

I must admit I felt a pang of nostalgia, remembering the days my own family fought helped eachother pitch up the tents at our caravan and felt that I had missed out abit in not going for the fully fledged tent experience. But the luxury of having our own toilet and cooking facilities was beyond comparison, especially with a five month old baby.

Waiting in the queue we got a real sense of the different mix of people that attend festivals, from the young loved up couples, the groups of fun loving friends, the hip crew, the first timers, to all the different types and sizes of families. I was impressed to discover this festival includes the option of a family ticket for single parents and their kids too.

Putting on the wrist bands really got us excited and we went straight off to explore the festival site, getting bogged down in heaps of mud on the way much to the kids’ delight!

Eve jumping in muddy puddles

There is nothing quite like getting out into the fresh country air and this is a fab excuse like no other to do just that. Eve and Luca were in their element, jumping and literally rolling about in the mud! They had the time of their lives relishing in their new found freedom.

Festival Must Haves 

We learnt from being at Stendhal festival last year that wellies are an absolute must when roaming around the fields, listening to the many live music acts.

camp boots

This time we took a three wheeler double all terrain pram, which inevitably got completely covered in mud too. By the end of the weekend it even had clumps of hay clinging off it too!

Max and Luca in pram

I brought along my beloved Lillebaby buckle  carrier too as I knew little Max would want to get out and have a look around him, it enabled him to enjoy the festival experience much more too.

I was so glad I’d invested in a waterproof rainsuit for the kids as this was an absolute saviour for us. It meant Eve and Luca could splash and squelch about in the muddy puddles all they liked without us adults getting cross and without fear of ruining their clothes! I got Max one too so that when he was in the sling he wouldn’t get wet if it rained, he should still fit into it next year as I got it in a bigger size, so double bonus!

Eve and Luca in waterproof suits

We all had such fun from beginning to end! Meeting up with friends we enjoyed watching the kids play together. There was so much for of them to see and do, especially at the free arts and crafts events, catering for all ages of kids. From designing and making boats out of corks, making Pokemon bouncy balls using clay, to playing in a sensory centre using lots of different materials, playing with sand, climbing trees and most of all using their imaginations.

Luca doing arts and crafts

Max 1 playing

Luca playing sensory tent

Eve's boat

Eve’s boat

There were plenty of takeaway food vans on site to suit everyone’s tastes and we were never hungry with a wide choice of food from burgers, chips, pizzas crepes and ice cream plus soft and alcoholic drinks.

The breastfeeding caravan and sensory tent came in very handy for us as Max is at the stage where he gets too easily distracted and it was nice to sit down and chill for a while away from all the noise. The ladies were very welcoming, even giving me a cool drink and strawberries while I fed Max.

In the afternoons we let the kids have some downtime at the campervan, as we cooked some food and ate al fresco.

Eve eating outside campervan

Then we wrapped them up in caps, cosy blankets and ear defenders, before setting out to listen to the live bands. We brought glow sticks along and put them all over the pram and on the kids so they would be easily identifiable when darkness descended. I also bought mini torches so we could see our way back to the camper easily at nightime.

Max ear defenders

PORTS playing the main stage

PORTS playing the main stage

Eve and Wee Cora

Cabin Fever

However it wasn’t always plain sailing  – there were times when the camping situation was a bit difficult, like when Max woke up at 4am crying inconsolably and for five whole minutes I couldn’t get him to stop! The stress! Nobody complained about the noise, but I felt guilty and lots of pressure to try to get him to stop as soon as possible.

Keeping six people entertained while in a small confined space in general wasn’t always easy, but luckily the weather held up great so there weren’t many times that we all had to be inside the van together. Next time I will definitely buy a tent for beside the campervan so the kids can go into it to let off a bit of steam while I cook. It will give us some extra space to store essentials too.

We were plagued by wasps the first day of the festival. Wasps are my biggest nightmare as I am allergic to their sting and even the faintest hint of a buzz has me screaming and heading for cover. The lovely ladies from the free kids crafts tent gave me some very helpful hints on how to keep them at bay – vicks vaper rub being one – who knew? Needless to say I’ve now stocked up!

Happy Campers

There is no other experience quite like getting outdoors together as a family and making memories.

Sharing food and drinks together, listening to music, we made new friends too, talking to people we would never have met otherwise.  There was lots of laughter throughout the weekend and just the experience of getting away from home and spending quality time together is like no other.

first night

We can’t wait to do it all again next year!

 

Fionnuala xo

 

 

 

Life with kids was never going to be easy, but when I discovered I was pregnant with my fourth child I went through a mixture of emotions, the overriding one being FEAR!

Luca had only recently turned one and I felt like I had finally made it over the hazy fog filled hump, that it was going to be relatively plain sailing from then on in. He had just started sleeping through the night and I had finally started having (a bit) of a life again.

worried-woman

Wakeful Worrying

The nearer it got to my due date I would lay awake at night worrying about how I was going to manage two young children. It was already difficult to get out of the house in the mornings, do the school drop off, then leave Luca to creche and get to work on time (well mostly on time).

The evenings were also hard going as it was a battle to get Eve to do her schoolwork with Luca at my ankles looking for attention. Cooking the dinner was stressful – trying to keep  a fast moving tot out of the kitchen was nearly impossible.

Bedtime was pretty nightmarish, I had to stay next to Luca to get him off to sleep, then do the dishes, tidy up and tuck the girls into bed before I got to my own.

I felt like I was just keeping my head above water most of the time.

The thought of doing it all over again so soon with another child made me rigid with fear.

I worried if I could ever possibly  love this baby as much as I loved my other kids. I seriously had so much anxiety about this I cannot explain.

However, I am now so glad to say that Max is so very welcome in our family and is every bit as loved as all my other children (phew!)

best brothers

Lives Changed Forever

From the moment my kids came into the hospital to visit Max for the first time, a wave of protectiveness towards my new baby surfaced.

As Luca  came blustering through the door he seemed like a big, clumsy giant compared to my teeny, fragile newborn and he needed watching at all times to ensure my baby’s safety. When he reached out to touch the baby I got this very unsettling sick feeling in the pit of my tummy. I didn’t want him too near the baby as he was just so rough! It was really confusing as before I had Max, Luca was s my tiny little boy, but that had all changed.

Luca cuddling Max

Little Luca was only 18 months old and didn’t understand why all of a sudden his momma who he had always had full reign over was suddenly preoccupied, with someone else.

Eve found it hard to adjust too, she knew my time with her was going to be even shorter still and she was only getting used to not being the baby when Luca came along.  We try to have little special time together now, just us.

First Few Weeks

Luca and 1 week old Max

The first few days were bittersweet. I was in a love bubble with the new baby, yet feeling guilty that I couldn’t give Luca the attention that he was used to and so clearly craved. Everytime Luca saw me with the baby he cried, a high pitched banshee like wail, like his little heart was breaking in two.

Each time he looked at me with the baby in my arms, he snuggled in closer to his dad, the beginning of what is now a very close bond between them both – one that he and I used to share.

Mark and Luca watching tv

Home Alone With My Two Sons

The first few weeks were alright as there were always plenty of visitors calling in and new midwives every few days, which was a nice distraction. But when his dad went back to work I was quickly dropped in at the deep end. The girls were at school, so my daytimes were spent with my boys.

I remember that first morning, I was secretly so so afraid. It felt like all my months of worry was finally being realised. That first morning I was like a woman on a mission, getting Eve her breakfast, getting Luca dressed and mercifully baby Max slept until it was nearly time to go. Then off we went.

I won’t lie I found it really tough (and the school is no more than a few miles away!) but in that short time Max woke up screaming his head off and then Luca began to cry and we were sitting in a queue of traffic and then there was nowhere to park, then I was faced with the dilemma of how to get all of us into the school.

Needless to say by the time I got it all sorted we were late and everyone was really upset. I was in tears by the time I got home. Then I had to sort the boys out, both had soiled their nappies and getting that sorted was a task in itself.

Luca was like glue to me, when I had to hold or feed Max (practically all the time as the little milk monster didn’t like to be put down) he would scream that ear piercing scream. He took up a guard dog like stance beside the chair I did all but sleep in for those first few months, he wouldn’t sit, insisting on standing instead.

Making lunch was again incredibly difficult, as Max wouldn’t sleep so he had to be held or he would scream. I soon learnt how useful a baby sling can be!

Getting to the toilet was hard. Luca could not be trusted to be left alone with Max for even a few seconds – proven by the multitude of tiny toys that I found in the Moses basket that Luca constantly flung into it – in the hope of hitting Max! To get a quick toilet visit I had to leave Max screaming his lungs out, while Luca and I raced to the toilet – at least if he was with me he couldn’t be getting up to any mischief!

Literally nothing got done around the house for the first three months. Every breathing second was spent holding one of the boys (or both) in my arms.

Survival With Support

We lived for three o’clock when my very kind and dear friend brought Eve home from school for me, despite the fact that she has three of her own kids to look after and had to go out of her way everyday to do so! Another lovely friend left Eve to school numerous times for me too.

cup of tea

I am forever in their debt. Just having their support was and will forever be priceless and I will never forget their kindness.  This was also my only adult company some days and I really, really longed for it so much! They will never understand how much their help meant to an exhausted, sleep deprived me.

Also my own mum’s daily phonecalls and visits on her days off from work were another saving grace. She would come and bring food and do my dishes. Just knowing she was there was such a comfort, someone much more responsible than me to listen to me moan or let me sleep or get a shower was amazing!

My partner helped when he could, but due to his work some weeks when I had all the kids by myself.  I really struggled, trying to juggle making the dinners, do the home-works and then bedtimes, sometimes I could manage and other days seemed like a crazy, endless nightmare.

Just A Little Jealous

For the first four months I despaired of Luca’s jealousy. One part of me felt so so sorry for him, he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t there for him like I used to, why I couldn’t carry him around, why I could no longer spend the night beside him in bed snuggling in like we used to always do. It was so hard.

So when he threw the first few toys at Max I understood – sort of. Of course I sat him down explained to him what he was doing was wrong as calmly and gently as possible. The day he threw his hard plastic chair onto little Max as he was sitting out in his bouncer chair was another matter, that day the protective mamma bear in me came out in full force and I shouted angrily at him.

eye of envy

Undeterred Luca has countless times continued to sit on top of Max when he is on my lap, trying to nudge poor little Max off with his bum! A few time he has fired his very hard toy chain saw right at Max’s head, or hugs Max, then secretly nips him!

Coming Round

As Max nears five months I feel Luca has finally began to accept him as part of the family. Now however, it is his daddy who Luca gets upset with, when I hand Max over to him when I need a break, the unmerciful scream of ‘nooooo’ that comes from Luca’s lips is hard for his dad to listen to.

But those early days of just me and my boys at home helped to cement and reconcile Luca and my relationship. We are nearly back to our old closeness. But he has over time got much more independent and now is more interested in going outside to play with his friends – under our close  supervision of course.

me and my boys

Best Friends Forever

There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Little Max is growing fast and is much more interesting and fun. He already absolutely adores his big brother – verging on hero worship.

Luca nursing Max big besties

The look that shines from little Max’s eyes when he sees his big brother is full of love, and mischief!

Luca now refers to him as”my Maxy” and hugs and kisses him several times a day and always last thing before going to bed at night!

Another thing in Max’s favour is that he can now pull Luca’s hair, so he is more able to stand up for himself.

 

Well not all the time….