Approaching Three: Toddler to Preschooler

My baby. My little baby. HE’S ABOUT TO TURN THREE. I’m not sure how but it’s really happening and here are some of my thoughts:

The birthday is approaching fast and this year it’s different, he is aware and he is quite excited. He has requested a “beautiful butterfly” cake because he is super into the ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ or as he says; “hungwy cat-pee-yaahh” because he’s 97% adorable. He has noticed a present arrive for him and he wants to open it but surprisingly he has accepted that he’s got to wait for his birthday.

But turning three isn’t just about the birthday. Developmentally,  a three year old is obviously going to be different from a two year old. For me, the most noticeable change, day to day, is the sass. I’m not talking about cute sass, I’m talking about well thought out arguments against me and my husband. As frustrating as that can get I am in awe of his thought processes now.  He will lie to me and maintain a lie for no reason other than… well he just can, so he does.

Even though he is figuratively and literally pushing his boundaries – I told him not to cross a line earlier this month, so naturally he spent 20 minutes walking up and down it and leaning over it – it’s not all bad. His comprehension of instructions, conversations and stories has improved at an incredible rate in the last month and I find myself completely stunned by this small human that I made.

We aren’t there yet, but the ball has definitely started rolling for the changes that are happening, I am apprehensive about some of the challenges but I don’t feel concerned about his development as I have done in the past and I am really looking forward to getting to know him, as his own person, even better. I want to hear his thoughts and fears and share in his joy and laughter. Time certainly flies, but I have a feeling this fourth year is going to be incredible.

When Potty Training Finally Falls Into Place

I wrote a few months ago about how much my family was struggling with the lack of progress with potty training in “When Potty Training Doesn’t Go to Plan”.

Writing that piece cleared my head and I was completely happy to put my son back into his nappies for however long he needed until he was ready to do this. As it happens, that wasn’t very long at all!

It all fell into place very suddenly when my darling boy decided that he would go butt naked out into the garden (which backs onto a road) and stand at the gate and talk to ALL THE NEIGHBOURS.  Now, I’m not particularly prudish but there are 47 houses that can see into my garden (yes, I counted) and I only know 3 of them. So naturally, I grabbed the first thing to hand to cover him up a little and on went the big boy pants.

I fully expected them to be soaked within minutes or poo’d in fairly soon but it didn’t happen… at all. 

He has been dry in the day since that moment.

Before I had my very own toddler, I believed people who said that they just stopped wearing nappies one day and that was that and after all the struggling and convincing and coaxing and crying I actually started to resent them with firm and bitter disbelief. I came to believe it was always going to be a huge uphill battle, but here I am, a few months after reaching breaking point with it as one of “those people”. 
This experience has really highlighted to me the importance of waiting until a child is ready for potty training and letting them lead. There is no potty training age – some kids do it sooner and others need a little more time. My son is still struggling to poo on the potty and he is not dry at night yet but we all feel a lot calmer about it. When he needs to poo he asks for a nappy on and lays down nicely. I always ask if he’d rather do it on the potty or big toilet and he always declines but now I know he’ll let me know when he’s ready. 
So, if it hasn’t happened in your family yet, take a deep breath and wait for it – in the mean time, think about being a mile from the nearest toilet and a two year old in a sling on your back tells you he needs a wee… 

When Potty Training Doesn’t Go to Plan

I have two nephews who both potty trained quickly and easily at around the two-year mark so in my head that is how potty training ought to be. I have to confess, in the past I have found myself thinking of parents as lazy for not having their child toilet trained before they are three years old,  and I would like to apologise whole-heartedly for that,  I had no idea how wrong I was.

As it happens, potty training can actually be a real pain. 
I have read extensively about how you can potty train a child in a week just by taking their nappies away and putting underwear on them and being shut-ins for a week or about reward charts and stickers and excessive praise can have a child dry in no time. None of that prepared me for the urine soaked chaos of trying to get my son to independently use a potty or toilet.
We are around three months into our “journey” (if you can really call it that) after failing miserably at an attempt around six months ago which resulted in every single pair of undies my son has being soiled within a day and outright refusal to go near the potty.

Pants for Potty Training
Naturally, when my son refused to let me put a nappy on him only a few months after the initial attempt I was apprehensive but also excited that this could finally be happening. I certainly didn’t expect everything to still be the same after three more months.
The first few days were great, no big accidents and all the wee went in the potty (there was a bit of poo confusion but oh well,  it was early days). Everything was going well… but my son was permanently naked from the waist down. As soon as we put pants or trousers on him he wets. Every. Single. Time. Which would be fine if it hadn’t been snowing and if he would leave the eczema on his legs along but it has and he won’t. We have to regularly strip him down to use the toilet and he never asks to go so we have to prompt very regularly and often get accidents.
Since his first successful poo on the potty two days in he has not done another and now insists on doing it in a nappy. I know we will have to get to the bottom of it but I’m not about to force the poor kid to sit on the potty and poo when he is visibly distressed. So my boy, who will be three years old soon, cannot use a potty or toilet independently and that is absolutely fine.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a miracle piece of potty training advice to offer because this is ongoing for our family but if it’s like this for us there must be parents out there who think they are doing it wrong or that this isn’t normal. I just want to say; you are absolutely not alone.
On the plus side, I am clearly a font of patience and serenity because three months of being wee’d on and literally catching poo has not broken me and we still have a little round of applause for every wee in the toilet and I even offer praise for little toots that happen whilst he is sat on the potty, hoping that one of them will be a poo one day.

The saga continues here!

Deciding to Use Cloth Nappies

When I first found out I was pregnant cloth nappies weren’t something I had even thought about, in my head they were hard work and prone to leaking. They were plastic pants, complicated folding, safety pins and buckets of poo-ey water.  I was so very wrong.  It’s easy, can be better for babies’ skin, better for your wallet and much better for the environment. It’s also really not as complicated as it can appear. You can read about the bare basics of using cloth nappies with TeamMills here
A friend of mine was six months ahead of me in pregnancy, actually not too far from giving birth when I finally had my positive test. She had started posting pictures on Facebook of the cloth nappies that she was buying for her little boy and they were seriously cute. It was not at all what I was expecting, so I started looking for more information and it wasn’t long before I found some figures showing how much money I would save which was a huge factor in the beginning. I was determined to save money and the idea of spending £10 a week on nappies was more than a little daunting.

Pop-in nappy
Close Parent Pop-in Lions nappy (ft. my son’s beautiful chubby leg)
I started researching cloth nappies and I soon found myself in way over my head; the vast amount of information out there about different brands and styles of cloth nappies can be incredibly overwhelming. It can be conflicting and sometimes biased towards companies that can pay more for advertising because their websites will come up first time and time again. At the time, I didn’t have access to a cloth nappy library near me and I had no idea how easy it was to buy preloved cloth nappies. 

Cloth Nappy Stash
My son’s nappy collection at its peak
I spent a few days solidly sat at my desk, reaching over my growing belly, trying to decide which nappies to buy. By this point I was about 80% sure I wanted to use cloth but I was (naturally) scared about making a relatively big investment before knowing if it really was going to be manageable for me. Spoiler – it’s totally manageable, even with my Fibromyalgia.  Ultimately, I made a fairly good decision on what to buy but not really the best for us – I decided to go with all one type of nappy that turned out to be a bit too big for my tiny newborn. In hindsight, I should have chosen a couple of different types and some smaller sizes.

But the decision was made and it was by no means a bad one, we just had to wait a while before we could use our gorgeous nappies. I have since started a cloth nappy library to help other parents use cloth and make their choice a little easier.  You can find your local cloth nappy library on this website: http://www.uknappynetwork.org/find-a-library.html  and if you don’t have one near you there is no reason not to contact whichever library is your closest for impartial advice, us librarians are a friendly bunch and a little nerdy about nappies – we’ll talk endlessly about nappies and most other reusable products to anyone who’ll listen.

 
Nappy Library
My son’s nappies and my first set of library nappies.
I will, of course, be writing more about cloth nappies in the future and writing some reviews (and maybe even hosting a giveaway!) but this was just a little insight into how I came  to the decision to use cloth for my little guy. 

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Group B Strep – Aware.

30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time. Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it. Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.

Strep B.
Strep B was knowing Mummies who had needlessly lost their babies.
The stories lead to worry.
Worry became research.
Research became awareness.
Awareness became knowledge.
30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time.
Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it.
Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.
Knowledge had to become taking action.
Strep B was asking my midwife if I could be tested.
Just to be told that it’s very rare and it’s highly unlikely.
Strep B was taking matters into my own hands.
I ordered my own testing kit through the list of GBSS approved ECM tests. 
I waited.
I waited until I was 35 weeks pregnant to do my test.
35 weeks came. I did the swabs.
Sealed, Labelled.
I wrote a cheque for £37.
£37 to potentially save my babies life.
£37 well spent, regardless of the result.
It was all put in an envelope and posted.
I knew that the results would take up to two weeks.
I waited.
Two weeks had passed but no results had arrived.
I sent them an email.
They replied straight away and were very apologetic.
This email had an attachment.
I opened the attachment.
The seconds that it took to open and load felt like years.
*POSITIVE* *POSITIVE* blared at me like red lights.
Is it my fault?
What had I done?
I cried and I cried.
My excitement to meet our baby turned to fear.
It was midday, but I fell asleep in tears.
I told my partner and I told my parents.
I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.
Strep B isn’t sexually transmitted. It is naturally incubated.
There was no way I could have known.
Fear had to turn into action.
Action…
Action, was raising awareness to my pregnant friends and acquaintances.
Action, was passing on the results of the test onto my midwife.
Action, was including my strep b positive diagnosis in my birthing plan.
The community midwife stuck a small “STREP B” sticker on my pregnancy notes.
This was to supposedly alert the team that were to help me through labour.
A sticker wasn’t certain enough, but my voice was.
I couldn’t count how many times, I had to get medical professionals to clarify that they would take this seriously.
Would they have enough of the antibiotics on the ward?
Would I get access to them?
Would I get at least 2 rounds of antibiotics?
Will I get the antibiotics at least 2 hours before she is born?
Would she get checks after she was born to insure that complications had been completely avoided?
What if I couldn’t get to hospital quickly enough after my waters broke?
The 31st of January came.
I was unwell.
I went to maternity day care and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
I was to be induced.
Starting that night.
I was relived!
I would be in hospital until she was born.
I could be sure that everything will be ready for her arrival.
I had many conversations with midwives about strep b.
Where did you get tested?
I tested myself at home with testing kit.
How did you get tested?
I tested myself after I paid for a test.
How did you know about strep b?
I have had family friends affected by it.
How muc
h did you pay to get tested?
£37
A couple of days passed.
My waters broke.
Fear kicked in.
I was moved from an induction room to a labour room.
A drip was started to protect my baby from strep b.
But my black and blue hand wouldn’t take the drip.
I became very worried and begged them to swap to another cannulation site.
They did.
I was finally getting what I needed to protect my baby.
One round.
Two round.
Over 5 hours.
She made her entrance.
It started to go wrong for me, because of a tear.
Yet- She was okay.
I didn’t know it yet.
But my baby was safe.
My Mother made sure that she was getting her after birth strep b checks.
They were made every 4 hours.
She was fine.
My baby was going to be okay.
I came round.
Went from theatre, to recovery to being back on the labour ward.
She was having another lot of checks.
Temperature.
Stethoscope to the chest.
Movement.
Breathing.
Our baby was okay.
She was healthy.
But it all could have been so different.
I was feeling cold.
Then hot.
Then freezing.
My temperature was taken.
Then my pulse.
Blood was taken.
Blood was tested.
My tear had became infected by strep b.
I was diagnosed with sepsis.
I was left fighting for my life for the second time in 24 hours.
I was administered antibiotics.
Strep b had given me sepsis.
It took over a week to recover- Despite me being well equipped.
But if it was my baby who had become unwell.
It could have been so different.
I don’t want to think about it.
I can’t think about it.
I will not shut up about strep b until it is properly addressed.
Until every mummy to be, knows of the danger.
Of the risks.
I will not stop, until strep b is no longer an issue.
It doesn’t need to be an issue.
Every woman pregnant should be screened for strep b.