Monday, 28 February 2011

My husband stabbed me last night

Last night OH stabbed me. In the butt. With a large syringe. I've been putting off posting about all this to be honest. Not sure why. I'm usually happy to write about anything here, it's my release valve, my creative outlet, my bit of fun and break in the Mummy day. But  posted recently on being ready to get back on the fertility horse so to speak and it kicked my butt into posting our and this update.

And so it begins again. While other couples are getting in the mood with candle light and soft music, every other night you'll find me and OH breaking the seals on two vials of powder, adding sterile water, giving it a good shake (the smaller the crystals the better) and sucking the contents into a syringe with a two inch needle attached. Then I lie on my side and hum a tune to distract myself while OH literally stabs me in the butt. He's not being vindictive, at least I don't think he is, it just hurts less this way.

I can't complain, we've done all this before and were blessed with our beautiful daughter as a result. And OH is getting quite the expert with a needle. So it is with a glad and hopeful heart that I start this journey again. Wish us luck.

One more thing...
I had a long, hard think last week about what I post about after reading this post and the resulting comments. I chose not to comment and I'm not going to write much about it here because enough people have popped their two penneth into that pot, and because I'm a newbie and not sure I should, but I respect all the views and having gone through a full range of emotions about it all, I'm now sailing on my way happy in the knowledge that free opinion is one of the jewels of the blogosphere. Live and let live.

Photo credit: 3D doctor and patient by jscreationzs at

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sunday Sayings

This week's Sunday Saying encapsulates how I feel about that I posted yesterday.

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."
Marilyn Monroe

Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The long and winding road to motherhood

This post is my experience of fertility treatment in China. 
It's not meant to be witty or funny, just an honest account of what we went through. I'm posting it here in the hope it will help other couples who are pregnantly challenged, show them that they are not alone and give them some options to explore for their own fertility treatment.

It was early 2008 when we realised something was wrong. We'd been trying to get pregnant for three years without success. Like many couples who are 'pregnantly challenged' we never expected to have any difficulties. But it was clear after a year that nothing was happening so I went to my local doctor and he performed some tests on us both, checking my hormone levels and OH's 'tadpole' count. The results showed that he was fine but I had Hyperthyroidism; a condition where the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of the right hormones for your body. This can cause weight gain and fatigue but I'd had no symptoms at all. My doctor started me on a course of Thyroxine which stimulates the Thyroid gland. I'd be on this medication for the rest of my life but I was glad that we'd found a possible cure for our inability to conceive. We went back to trying and I started using ovulation test kits to learn more about my cycle and when the best days were for us to 'get together'.

Some months later, with no success despite the fact that I was clearly ovulating, my doctor referred me to a specialist gynaecologist for more tests. The consultant performed an ultrasound and discovered that I had a 6cm fibroid growing on the side of the uterine wall, just behind one of the ovaries. This could have prevented a pregnancy, so he scheduled a laparotomy operation (similar to a caesarean) to remove the growth. At the same time he did a histrosonogram; injecting dye into my fallopian tubes to check that there were no blockages. (There weren’t.)

After a two month recovery period, and four more months of trying naturally, I started taking the fertility drug Chlomid. Finally, some action. Convinced we'd solved our problems and full of high hopes, we were disappointed when three months later the drug seemed to be having no affect. My gynaecologist told me that some people don't respond to Chlomid and that there was nothing more that he could do. Our next step was to start the more complex (and expensive) insemination process, either by IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation). See below for a brief explanation of these two procedures.

We were very disappointed that all our efforts so far had failed but we were determined to keep going and explore the IUI and IVF routes. Life often seems to throw us two curve balls at once and suddenly OH also had an offer to work for a while in China. It was a great opportunity that we couldn't miss. Frenzied planning, resigning and packing ensued so we decided to postpone any further treatment in the UK and hopefully start again when we arrived there.

As soon as we were settled in our new apartment I made an appointment with one of the doctors at an International hospital in our city. At our first meeting the doctor did a complete review of my medical history and booked more tests for both of us to rule out any other conditions that could cause fertility problems. It felt good to be doing something proactive but when the results came back clear again I realised we were no further forward. I was in good physical health with no apparent reason for not being pregnant. I had what is known as 'unexplained infertility'.

As we'd already used Chlomid with no results and had been trying for three years at this point, the doctor recommended attempting an IUI procedure. She explained that there was a 15-20% success rate for IUI but that we could have four or five attempts before moving onto IVF. But first she wanted to monitor one month's ovulation to act as a baseline for the rest of my treatment. She started me on a course of oestrogen tablets plus ovulation stimulation shots that were (painfully) injected into my hip each night, and scheduled regular ultrasounds to monitor my ovaries. It turned out that I had a longer cycle than was optimal for IUI (c.30-40 days vs. the more typical c.28 days) but I was ovulating. For two months we repeated this process, waiting for the perfect time to do the procedure; when my ovaries were full of eggs at the right time in my cycle and when the lining of my uterus was thick enough to support the fertilised egg. I looked like a pin cushion by this time, bruised and sore. Although the lining was never quite as thick as our doctor would have liked it we were excited when in early September she confirmed that we could go ahead and schedule the procedure at a local Chinese hospital for the following day. That night I had a special injection of HCG that would stimulate ovulation ready for the procedure.

Our first attempt
The following morning our doctor, OH and I travelled together to the Chinese hospital with our original marriage certificate (thank God I'd brought it from the UK), passports, blood test results, a special report for OH written by a urologist plus the official medical reports which were done when we first arrived in China as part of our residency VISA process. This was my first experience of the local Chinese health service and I was so not prepared. First of all we had to pay a small fee to register with the hospital and complete a registration card. As neither OH or I could write characters our doctor and the hospital staff did this for us. Then we went upstairs to the fertility department. There were four or five rows of chairs full of Chinese women, plus their Moms and the odd friend, waiting for treatment. We were the only Western couple and we attracted a lot of attention. Our doctor filled in all the necessary forms and then took OH to the cashier to pay. The cost seemed very reasonable compared to our expectations of treatment in other countries.

Soon enough our turn was called and we were taken into a long room of cubicles to talk to the hospital consultant. He went through my pre-prepared file and asked me a couple of questions, then we were despatched for an ultrasound to check the status of my ovaries. The small room was divided into two by a curtain and I was ushered in with our doctor. Thankfully she knew the man who was to perform the ultrasound so while she chatted away to him I perched on the small bed waiting to be given a gown to wear. This was to be my first lesson in Chinese hospital etiquette. No gown appeared and I was asked just to take off my underwear and put my feet in the stirrups. Thankfully I'd worn a skirt that day so it was fairly easy to do without too much blushing. It was over very quickly and the results were good apparently so we could continue.

Next I was seated back in the waiting room and our doctor took OH to a small room to give his sample. I did feel a little guilty but so proud watching him walk away with the small plastic pot in his hand. When he returned it was a matter of waiting for an hour or so while the technicians cleaned the sample and removed any tadpoles that weren't viable. Then it was my turn. OH waited behind while our doctor walked me to another set of small rooms where we were both given a gown and slippers and asked to remove our clothes and shoes. Then she and I were shown into the procedure room. We weren't alone. Facing towards me on a gurney was a Chinese patient waiting for her own IUI. No curtain. Errr...hello? But to be honest I was so focussed on what was going to happen next I let it wash over me.

I hopped up on to my gurney and lay back with my feet in the stirrups. Three new doctors came in, masked and in gowns and our doctor had a quick talk with them. Then she came and stood by me and explained everything that they were about to do. First, I was washed 'down there' thoroughly with warm water and cotton wool. Then a small hatch opened in the wall and our little pot of viable tadpoles was passed through in a sort of syringe. One of the doctors used a speculum just like during a Pap smear test and then popped in a catheter. Our doctor had warned me the next bit might hurt a little as the tube has to pass through the cervix. Well that had to be the understatement of the year. I gasped and everyone stopped to look at me. Then the sample was injected and we were done. I had to lie still for twenty minutes to give the tadpoles the best possible start on their long journey. It was at this point that I realised that my room-mate had been watching the whole procedure from her bed. At least she was prepared for what would happen to her, I reasoned. Some sisterly solidarity in a moment of madness.

Finally we were allowed to go home and I had to rest for the rest of the day. Then two long weeks of waiting  until another blood test to see if we'd been successful. I kept popping pills every day, hoping, hoping. But when the blood test result came back it was negative. It was so upsetting after everything we'd been through but we knew that we wanted to try again. We decided to wait a month for my body to recover and then start again.

Second time lucky?
Our first doctor left before we started our second IUI attempt, so we were moved to another doctor. A little unsettling but she seemed very experienced. We continued with a similar regime as before with regular shots, blood tests (to check my estradial, LH and progesterone levels) and ultrasounds. This time I started off injecting myself with the stimulation drug Gonal F each night into my stomach with a special pen-like syringe, but as we lived so close to the hospital it was easier to walk over there each night and have a nurse do the injections. Our new doctor had a relationship with an another Chinese fertility hospital with different procedures so OH and I had to go to the hospital ourselves much earlier – OH to have more tests and me to have regular ultrasounds so that this hospital's consultant could see the results for herself. All my blood test and drugs were still prescribed at my hospital but I had to travel to the local hospital by myself, equipped with my introductory letter, medical file of test results and history and a couple of sentences written on a piece of paper that one of the wonderful nurses had written out for me in Chinese characters and Pinyin (in English with special markings to show how to pronounce the words) .

It was a very experience going on my own without a Chinese 'chaperone' and when I didn't get anywhere with my Pinyin at the reception desk I almost walked straight back out again. But I persevered and kept repeating what I'd been told to say and eventually the receptionist and I seemed to understand each other. I was sent to stand outside the consultant’s room to wait my turn along with a number of other women. I soon realised that there was no appointment system here and even ‘first come, first served’ didn't apply. It seemed to be a matter of pushing your way to the front or talking louder than the person next to you. After waiting for about twenty minutes the consultant called me into her room and went through my file. Then with her few words of English (so much more than my poor Chinese) she filled in a booklet for me and told me to go and pay for and then have an ultrasound. She pointed in the direction I needed to go and another patient was in my seat before I'd even left the room. 

Once I'd paid it was time for an ultrasound but I couldn't read any of the signs so I didn't have a clue where to go! I tried to ask at the nurses station, along with the hundred or so other women who were clearly doing the same thing but with the benefit of being local. Eventually after some time waiting and some basic Pinyin, one of the nurses took pity on me and pointed me to the room directly behind me with a long row of chairs outside it. I took my seat alongside the other women and was eventually called into the ultrasound room. Having had no privacy at the first hospital I wasn't expecting this one to be any different, and I was right. I could even see the other women's feet in the stirrups sticking out from behind the curtain that divided the room! Remembering why I was there, that I was in another country where cultural norms are different, and repeating the mantra 'what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger' got me through that first ultrasound and by the time we were ready for our second IUI procedure the lack of privacy had become second nature to me.

Our second IUI was very similar to the first, except that we had to navigate it all ourselves.  Once again OH disappeared into a room for his important role and emerged with a plastic pot containing all our hopes. We waited until the sample was cleaned and then we and a young Chinese couple (whose parents were there with them) were taken back downstairs for the procedure. The husbands were left in the small waiting room and the Chinese lady and I were shown into the procedure room. Thankfully this time the room was divided by a curtain so we had a measure of privacy. As before I was cleaned and prepped for the procedure and then my consultant arrived to do the insemination. This time it didn't hurt at all, just a little discomfort and I was told to lie completely still for thirty minutes. That afternoon my doctor prescribed progesterone pills for me to take daily as well as a cream pessary called Crinone.

The Chinese hospital does two IUI procedures on consecutive days as standard procedure so we were back the following day for more of the same. By now we were both old hands and it was a lot less stressful. This time the hospital consultant prescribed me yet another pill to take - Duphaston. So now I was on Crinone and Progynova in the morning, Duphaston at lunchtime and more Duphaston and Progynova at night. I started to rattle when I walked. A few days later I had another appointment with my doctor to check my uterus lining. It was a little too thin still so we upped my dosage of the necessary drugs.

On the morning of 21 November, I walked over to the hospital for the blood test that would confirm whether we had been successful this time or not. I wasn't that hopeful as I'd managed to get the flu in the previous two weeks since the IUI. The nurse was very kind and promised to call me personally with the result within a couple of hours. It was amazing to think that the small vial of blood in her hand could be so important to us.

OH was at work and I didn't want to go back to an empty apartment so I wandered around for a while before getting a pedicure. I figured I deserved it and besides, it was a good distraction. I was in the middle of having my toenails buffed when my mobile vibrated in my pocket. The nurse's excited voice filled my ears as she shouted 'Congratulations!'. We'd been successful this time. Tears coursed down my cheeks. Finally, after almost four years, we were pregnant. Everything that had come before this moment disappeared. DD was born 36 weeks later, one month premature, weighing 4 pounds. She is the most precious thing in the whole world to us - our miracle baby.


Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
What is it? Intrauterine insemination, also known as artificial insemination, involves inserting sperm into the womb at the time of ovulation using a catheter (a very fine needle or probe). The woman may need to take fertility drugs to stimulate egg production. The sperm used may be her partner's or donated. 
Used to treat: unexplained infertility, premature ejaculation, erection difficulties.
Success rate: ten to 15 per cent per cycle.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
What is it? Eggs and sperm are collected and fertilised in the laboratory before the resulting embryo is transferred to the womb. The woman takes fertility drugs to stimulate the production of eggs. Once these are mature, they're collected by ultrasound guidance. The man produces a sperm sample, which is prepared before being put with the eggs in a Petri dish and left for a few days to see if fertilisation takes place. A resulting healthy embryo is placed in the womb using a catheter (a very fine needle or probe). Any remaining embryos that are suitable for freezing may be stored for future use. The sperm and/or eggs used may be the couple's own or donated.
Why it's used: to treat unexplained infertility, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, PCOS.
Success rate: about 25 per cent per cycle.

I am not medically trained and have written this post from my personal experience. Facilities and treatment options may have changed since my procedures took place. Any treatment options should always be discussed with a qualified fertility specialist.

Photo credit: Blue sky by hinnamsaisuy and A syringe isolated by m_bartosch and Pills by worradmu all at

Friday, 25 February 2011

Metal Mummy's Movie Meme

Fab idea from the lovely Metal Mummy to let us all loose with our favourite flicks each week! This week's our theme is a broad one - the 21st century. Blighmy. I could be here all day! Oh, I've got to pick just one. Well then I'm picking one that for me captures the future in a way that makes me want to watch it again and again. The science-fiction-action series; The Matrix. I know that's cheating a bit because it's three films rather than one, but I think you'll agree you can't ever have too much Keanu Reaves. 

Written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it was actually released in 1999 and stars Keanu, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss (looking amazing), Joe Pantoliano and Hugo Weaving. The film shows a future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. When computer programmer and hacker "Neo" (Mr Reaves) discovers this, he joins and eventually leads a rebellion against the machines, involving other people who have been freed from the "dream world". The film references subcultures and philosophical and religious ideas, but it's also a fab action film that keeps me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it.

I love this film for all sorts of reasons. The soundtrack is amazing (it's so bassy that speaker shops often use it to showcase their sound systems), the story is exciting and thought-provoking, the costumes are fab (Carrie-Anne Moss looks incredible in her spray-on outfit) and the action uses 'bullet time' which blew me away (sorry for the pun). gossip! According to Wikipedia...
  • Actor Will Smith turned down the role of Neo to make Wild Wild West, due to skepticism over the film's ambitious bullet time special effects. He later stated that he was "not mature enough as an actor" at that time, and that if given the role, he "would have messed it up".
  • Nicolas Cage also turned down the role because of "family obligations".
  • Prior to the casting of Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock turned down the role of Trinity because she didn't see herself working with the actor then being considered to play Neo.
  • Sean Connery also respectfully declined the role of Morpheus.

Love films? Pop over to Metal Mummy's Movie Meme to check out the other entries in this weeks meme.

Photo credit: Original theatre poster courtesy of Thanks also to Wikipedia for the fab info about the film.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Post of the week - Without Children

My post of the week this week is a fabulously funny one from Northern Mummy with Southern Children.

It made me laugh out loud on a particularly stressful day and for that I'm very grateful to her!

So please go over and enjoy Without Children.

Can Gina Ford tame my Fussy Eater?

I can't complain too much. Since DD finally got over the bronchitis and started her iron supplement last week her appetite has improved leaps and bounds. She's eating watermelon again, and has tried apple too. But she still won't eat meat or vegetables. Fruit, bread and yoghurt do not a healthy diet make. And I'm still determined to get her to at least taste the food we're having for dinner each night. And so I turned to Gina Ford's 'Top Tips For Fussy Eaters' to see what the original Supernanny had to say about the subject.

Now I should point out here that I am not a 'Gina Ford Mummy'. I did not follow her routines when DD was born, in fact I didn't get past the first few pages in 'The Contented Little Baby Book' when I was pregnant before throwing it across the room. Back then I didn't appreciate someone breaking my life into half hour slots, I was all about Baby Whispering, sensing what DD needed rather than putting her on a routine and meeting her needs before my own. Well that all changed after about six months but by then I was too sleep deprived to read anything other than the instructions on a pack of paracetamol. Now older and perhaps a smidge wiser I see that Gina Ford does have some useful ideas. And I like someone telling me what to do now. Hell, there's too much guesswork in parenting as it is!

I'm already working my way though her 'Potty Training In One Week' in preparation for DD's potty training (we're starting the preparation stage with the My Carry Potty I yesterday) and this little book makes it all sound so easy that I'm expecting a lot from Top Tips For Fussy Eaters. I've only read up to the first case study so far but already I'm feeling more confident about getting a little tougher again with mealtimes. As I've said DD is not a Gina baby so she doesn't do 7-7 but she does do 8-8 and I've realised that I am following the mealtime routine pretty much, just one hour later. So she's up at 8am, breakfast is done by 9am, lunch is done by 1 and dinner is at 6pm or 6.30pm (perhaps a bit late but I'd rather she ate with us together as a family). That's just what worked for us. It's happenstance that it seems to fit Ms. Ford's plan too.

One thing I have been doing is giving DD chocolate milk and a biscuit at her afternoon snack. Today I'm going to offer cut up fruit, cheese and fruit juice or water instead and see if she has more appetite for her dinner. And if she refuses? No alternatives. (What really? Yes, really.) At breakfast she has a cup of fruit smoothie which I make for all of us with milk, yoghurt, banana and frozen berries. Lots of fruit, but very filling for a little one apparently, so I'm not going to offer this everyday now so that she has an appetite for other breakfast foods too like porridge and toast. Keeping a food diary has showed me that DD's main meal, the one where she is most hungry and most likely to try things, is lunch not dinner. So lunch is where I should try to get her to eat protein first. This is a baby that hasn't eaten any meat or fish since October. (Yes, October, hence iron supplement.) Fish fingers are on the menu today...wish me luck Gina and let's see what happens.

Do you have a fussy eater? Pop over to the and link up your woes or just read other's experiences for some reassurance.

Oh and I just want to point out that this is not a review. All the Gina Ford books are my own, I just wanted to blog about them. You can buy all the books I've mentioned including at Amazon, though.

Photo credit: Orange Pieces by Keattikorn at

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Review: Is DD ready for potty training?

Photo credit: My Carry Potty
Something's been on my mind for a while. I've toyed with it, bought a book on it, and laid awake thinking about it (yes, I am a bit of a worry-wort). Is it too soon to start potty training DD?

She's only 19 months now, and I know a lot of you with older children are probably shouting 'Noooooo!' at the screen now, but I realised after reading Gina Ford's 'Potty Training In One Week' that she's actually started showing the signs that she's ready for the first stage of training. So I was delighted when MyCarryPotty sent me one of their portable potty's to review.

One of the reasons I'm reticent about starting potty training is the whole thing about what to do when we're out and about. And we go out a lot. Apparently the MyCarryPotty has a clip-shut lid that's completely leak and odour-free so when little one has done their thing you can just shut the lid and carry it to the nearest loo. It was a bit hard to open the first time, but I guess that's because of the special seal. I soon got the hang of it. And it really is leak-proof. I filled it with water and shook it about A LOT just to make sure. How fab is that? No more disposable bags of poo cluttering up landfill. 

Photo credit: My Carry Potty
It's also rather snazzy-looking. Now by and large potty's are fairly boring I think, but when I unwrapped the MyCarryPotty and popped it on the ground for DD to explore it immediately piqued her interest. So much so that she picked it up and carried it around the house for the rest of the afternoon. Thankfully it's made from high quality, durable plastic so DD can chuck it about to her heart's content. Ours is a lovely bright yellow but it also comes in pink and blue too.

Can you tell the MyCarryPotty was designed by a Mum for Mums like us? Yes, me too. Amanda Jenner is a Mum of three and came up with the idea almost 10 years ago when she was potty training her eldest child. Good for her. It even has a  and a small  following. Who knew a potty could be so popular?

Of course all of this is all very well, but would DD actually sit on it? We carried MyCarryPotty to the bathroom next time I needed to go and popped it down in front of the loo. "Mummy's going to do a wee now. Do you want to sit on your potty too?" I asked. And do you know what? Blow me, she actually did. She was fully-clothed I should point out, but it's a great start. I don't know whether it's the potty or if she's just ready, but I think the MyCarryPotty is going to be a feature in our lives now. Watch this space for more potty training adventures! 

TIP: One little tip though, if you're planning to take your MyCarryPotty on holiday, make sure you leave it open on the airplane. Otherwise the pressure will seal it shut and you'll have a dog of a time getting it open again.

Disclosure: A big thank you to MyCarryPotty for sending us this fab potty to review. No other compensation was given to me for writing this review. The Gina Ford book is my own, but I do recommend it. You can buy it from .

Take five ingredients for a perfect day...

Thanks to the lovely Kate over at it's Listography time again and this week we're thinking about the five ingredients for our perfect day. So here's mine, freshly washed, mixed and baked up into a yummy mummy day.

1. A lie in - oh how I'd love to have a lie in! Well, actually that's not quite true. I could have a lie in almost every day. DD doesn't get up until 8am or 8.30am so I could wait until then to shift my butt out of bed. But you see I'm suffering from an addiction which gets me up before 7am. Hello, my name mama-blogger and I'm addicted to blogging. Up I jump to get some yummy surfing in before the the house gets crazy. So on my perfect day, I get up at 9am and still have me time before anyone else is up. Hee hee!

2. Coffee and a natter - ok so I'm up and about on my perfect day, DD has eaten a hearty breakfast and is dressed and ready to head out for coffee and a catch-up with my lovely mummy pals. We chew the fat, bitch just a little bit, swap mummy stories and drown ourselves in venti lattes. Love you ladies!

3. Pamper time - after a yummy lunch of smoked salmon and scrambled egg (ideally cooked by someone else), DD plays with OH and I head out for an afternoon of pampering. Mani, pedi, massage... whatever. Oh and I'm reading a fab book and listening to my fav tunes at the same time. And while we're dreaming this perfect day up why not have a glass of champagne sitting beside me too. What the hell.

4. Dinner at a lovely restaurant by the beach - fresh fish, a lovely bottle of wine and a gentle sea breeze wafting across the sand as the sun goes down. Oh and DD eats everything we put in front of her.

5. Movie in bed - DD goes to sleep without a murmur a whole hour earlier than normal (ok, now I know I'm dreaming) and OH and I snuggle up in bed to watch a movie. The perfect end to a perfect day.

What's your perfect day like? Join in the over at Kate Takes 5.

Photo credit: massage by  at

Monday, 21 February 2011

Dear So and So...

A celebratory muffin for my lovely followers

Dear Bronchitis,

Thank you for responding well to DD's antibiotics. Normal service has been resumed, as evidenced by the fact that she didn't want to take part in any of the games at Gymboree today and just wanted to climb everything in sight instead. Now, if you could just leave my lungs alone too and find somewhere else to live I'd be even more grateful.

Still coughing and blowing my nose after what seems like four months but is probably only three weeks.
Dear Yoga,

I love you! Sorry I don't do you as much as I should, and that I sometimes breathe through  my mouth when I know I should breathe through my nose. You make me feel wonderful nevertheless.

A bit less stiff every day
Dear CNN,

Can you stop showing the same programmes every day and get to the interview with Stephen Fry on Talk Asia please? Thanks muchly.

Bored of the same 'ol same 'ol
Dear Blog and Twitter followers,

I can't believe there's so many of you lovely lot! Thank you for helping me get to 50 blog followers and 100 Twitter followers! You're all fabulous and I'd buy you all a celebratory muffin if I could.

Feeling rather chuffed.

Photo credit: Blueberry muffin by Paul at

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Can Iron make DD eat again?

I've been doing a spot of reading online recently to see if I can come up with any other approaches to persuading DD to eat something other than Cheerios, yoghurt and 'juuuuice'.

Baby Centre has some good advice on what to do and not do when dealing with a fussy eater in how to cope with feeding problems and a separate article on feeding toddlers, including useful info on nutrition and vitamin drops. Netmums has similar advice in their Fussy Eaters section but they also have a cooking with kids section with some basic skills you can teach tots under five years old. Across the pond, Ask Dr Sears has 17 tips for tempting little taste buds and another American site; Keep Kids Healthy has a useful reference for the calories that a toddler needs.

I realised through this research that DD was likely to be lacking in iron due both to her lack of meat eating but also possible vitamin deficiency. A lack of iron can cause a loss in appetite and vitamins are vital to iron absorption. So I contacted Dr. Marina and she prescribed a month's worth of iron and multivitamin supplements for DD to take. Unfortunately both taste disgusting and I have to practically wrestle her to take them with a syringe. She started the course on Wednesday and yesterday she actually started eating some food. YES! Perhaps it's a fluke I reasoned. But today for lunch as well as her 'juuuuice' (yes I've added it back in until she puts some weight back on after her recent bronchitis) she had a mini rusk, some apple, raisins, yoghurt, toast, some Philadelphia and half my gingerbread biscuit! At breakfast she polished off a small cup of fruit smoothie I'd made for OH and I to drink as well as her own breakfast. EUREKA! I'm convinced it's the iron supplement that is increasing her appetite.

I'm a bit peeved that our Dr. didn't mention iron deficiency as a possibility when I consulted her about DD's lack of eating previously and it just shows how the webosphere can be an empowering tool for us Mums. Could an iron deficiency be causing your little one to have a lack of appetite? A very simple blood test can rule it out.

Photo credit: A syringe isolated by m_bartosch at

Sunday Sayings

Today's Sunday Saying celebrates that I've just finished reading the wonderful Stephen Fry's 'The Stars Tennis Balls'.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Groucho Marx

The Stars' Tennis BallsThe Stars' Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I LOVE Stephen Fry. He has a way with words that is magical.

'The Star's Tennis Balls' is a tale of revenge that waits years to be tasted. The main character is a politician's son and an all round nice boy who's life is coveted by others. They conspire to bring him down and do so with aplomb. His revenge, which he waits years to taste, is a bitter sweet pill. Sounds tragic, but it's wonderfully funny and beautifully written. If you like Mr Fry at all, read this now.

Can't wait to get my hands on another Stephen Fry, so I'm off to buy 'The Liar'.

View all my reviews

Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Reasons to be cheerful; 1, 2, 3

Well, what a difference a week makes. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself last week and had to dig deep to contribute my reasons to be cheerful and grateful with Michelle at and over in Oz. Seven days later and I'm positively rolling in them!

1. I've had a manicure/pedicure this morning and my fingers and toes are now buffed and sparkly! And it also means I've had an hour to myself to finally finish the fabulous Stephen Fry's 'The Star's Tennis Balls' which I heartily recommend to everyone everywhere in the whole universe. Sorry, I'm a bit enthusiastic about Mr Fry.

2. DD is FINALLY starting to get over her jetlag and after a few nights of controlled crying she seems to be back in the groove again. Hurrah! (I tend to say that quite a lot when I'm happy about something and DD said it herself the other day, so cuuuuuute.)

3. OH is back from his week away on business this weekend so I'm no longer flying solo for the bathtime routine! (Although I'm also grateful for him being away just a teensy weensy bit as I had the time to make-over Bod for tea with all the extra evening time :D )

4. I'm going to add a fourth today too, which is that DD actually ate some sticks of apple and chunks of watermelon this week, for the first time since October. This is a MAJOR step forward as you'll know if you've been following our exploits in Operation Starchart over at the , particularly as she's lost some weight with a bout of bronchitis and starting to eat properly will hopefully help her get over it.

What are your reasons for being cheerful or grateful this week?

The lovely Michelle over at Mummy from the Heart has been running a series of advice posts for new bloggers called the New Bloggers Fortnight. She's very thoughtful like that. Anyway, she kindly asked me to write a guest post sharing . If you have a few moments, pop over and read the other guest posts - lots of very useful advice from some wonderful bloggers including Trish from , Heather from , and Ghostwrittermummy.

Friday, 18 February 2011

We've had a make-over!

Thanks to the lovely Bod for tea has had a make-over! I've still got a bit of tweaking to do, but in the meantime I'd love to know what you think of the new design. (But... just to be clear, I'm not changing it back if you hate it, sorry.)

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

And the blogoversary giveaway winner is...

Kelly Koya! 

Congratulations Kelly! Your £30 gift voucher to spend at any one of the six CSN online stores is winging it's way to you now.

Photo credit: top photo Regalo Con Scintille by Idea Go at

Operation Star Chart - day three and I'm losing my nerve already

So it was all going so well on day one, right? I was full of confidence that the star chart and my 'taking no prisoners' attitude would transform DD from a straw-only kinda gal into a fully-fledged eating machine. Then day two came along and, as DD's cold was no better, I took her along to see Dr. J.,  just for a check-up. Well, she has bronchitis. And sinusitis. And she's lost 5% of her body weight. I explained about our food 'challenges' and Dr. J. listened patiently while I talked him through DD's 'juuuuice' and Cheerios diet pre-star chart and that she was currently going cold-turkey. And although his mouth said 'I hope when she's feeling better she'll start eating again', his expression screamed incredulously 'What the hell are you doing you crazy woman, depriving this sick, skinny child of the only food she'll eat?'.

This weight loss manoeuvre has outflanked me and so I'm losing my nerve. DD is really starting to look skinny, well more skinny than usual. She is still only picking at food since I dropped her 'juuuice' and she hasn't eaten any fruit or veg or meat yet, only Cheerios, yoghurt, milk, raisins, apple juice and biscuits. She won't even eat the puree with a spoon (yes I relented a little here but it wasn't through a straw so I reasoned that didn't count). It could be the illness and I know it won't kill her but half of me wants to let her go back to her highly nutritious liquid diet until she's back to her normal weight again and over the bronchitis. The other half of me is tapping it's foot now and scowling because it knows full well that it will only be harder next time around to drop it again. It's just so dispiriting when she won't touch anything I give her. I cooked a typical kids meal tonite - M&S fish fingers with peas, fresh tomato and strawberries and a small fromage frais with raisins. But all she would eat was a few raisins, two spoons of the 'frais' and half a rusk that she spied in it's box and wanted instead. 

OH wants us to go back to 'juuuice' this weekend if she's not eating properly by then. What would you do?

Photo credit: Help by Simon Howden at

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Films to watch when you're sick - my top 5 chick flicks

Woman Having The Flu
This week's Listography challenge over at  is our top five movies. Yikes! I have LOADS of movies I love! I'm totally stuffed up and sick with bronchitis today and I don't have the wherewithall to try and condense it down to my top 5, so forgive me but instead I'm listing, in no particular order, my top five chick flicks. I always feel like watching at least one of them when I'm poorly. So send 'him indoors' down the pub, pour yourself a large glass of vino, pop some corn and settle back with this lot...

Photo credit:

You've Got Mail
I've lost count of the number of times I've seen this. Meg Ryan again, and at her quirky best. Funny and poignant. Directed by the fabulous Nora Ephron who wrote the script for 'When Harry Met Sally'.

Photo credit:
An Officer and a Gentleman
Richard Gere in a uniform. Need I say more?

Photo credit: 
Breakfast at Tiffany's
This would probably make my top ten movies of all time. I love, love, love it. Holly Golightly is my fashion hero. The wild party scene is inspired and I always cry at the end (err... of the film, not the party scene. You do understand?)

Frankie and Johnny Poster
Photo credit:
Frankie and Johnny
Could almost be the perfect romantic comedy. "I'm a BLT down sort of person, and I think you're looking for someone a little more pheasant under glass." Don't you wish you'd said that?

Photo credit:
The Women
The most modern of my top 5, this film has no men in it. None. There weren't even any men involved in filming it. Debra Messing's constantly pregnant earth mother is brilliant. Wish Ms Ryan hadn't done that to her lips though.

Which films would make your top five? Pop over to to see if they're already in someone's list...

Main photo credit : Woman Having The Flu by Jeroen van Oostrom at

Monday, 14 February 2011

Operation Star Chart - day one

Operation Star Chart
DD flately refuses to eat normal food. Her staple diet for the last few months since a bout of food poisoning (dodgy strawberries were the culprit we think) has consisted of 'juuuuice', milk (of the chocolate and un-chocolate variety) and various kids biscuits with the occasional yoghurt and spoon of rice pudding. Not for her the varied diet that we try to eat with fruit, vegetables, meat and bread all available to her. No siree Bob, just my usual please Mummy and make it snappy. And so I have opened organic baby food pouches and mixed them with apple juice for her to drink just so that I know she is getting enough vitamins and minerals to grow and develop. Well, no longer. We are not fussy eaters in this house. And I want to make one meal and have us all eat it. And I WILL get my own way. (Can you see where she got her stubbornness from?) This is war. The battle lines have been drawn. Operation 'Star Chart' has begun!

So this morning, DD did not get her usual breakfast in a cup 'juuuuice'. Instead she had a straw cup with apple juice, a quarter of my slice of toast with marmite, a small bowl of pureed banana and mango (yes I know it's still puree, but she can't drink it so that's an improvement), some Cheerios, some raisins and milk. And at the same time I took her through the principles of Operation Star Chart. For every meal where she makes the effort to eat some food, does without her 'juuuuice' and doesn't refuse everything, she will get a star. She can also get stars for tidying up her toys and washing her hands when we come in from outside. Five stars equals being able to watch her Maisy DVD before bedtime. She watched me closely while I explained each facet of the star chart, chewing slowly on a Cheerio. She did not touch the toast or the raisins. She drank a little apple juice. When I finished she looked at me expectantly. Her face said 'where's the juuuuice?'. My face turned away and I busied myself rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher. And you know what? Five minutes later she picked up her spoon and took a mouthful of the purred fruit. Wow! I was so proud of her I nearly cried. She had realised nothing else was coming and decided to try what was in the bowl. Now I know it doesn't sound like a lot but that is a BIG deal for DD. So I praised her to the high heavens and made a big show of adding the 'breakfast' sticker to her chart. Perhaps this will work?

Lunchtime arrives and after a busy morning at Gymboree, DD is hungry. She gets no 'juuuice' again. She gets the rest of the pureed fruit, a soft bread roll, a strawberry (which she's refused since her food poisoning), some slices of banana, two marmite sticks, a mini tomato and some chopped up chicken from my lunch, a spoon full of Philadelphia and a small pot of fromage frais. We eat together in the kitchen. On goes the bib and she's straight in for the bread roll, eating half of it without stopping. Wheee! Great start! Then a few sips of apple juice and the soft cheese on a spoon. Fab! Next, two spoonfuls of fromage frais and a Marmite stick. And then she stopped. And played 'pour' with the puree, apple juice and the rest of the fromage frais. Well, she's not going to get fat on this, that's for sure, but this is more than she's eaten on her own since October last year. I'm dancing up and down on the spot at this point and she gets her lunchtime star.

Dinner is her last opportunity of the day for getting a star. At this point she's up to four, having washed her hands both times we came home and tidying up her toys. I'm full of high hopes and decide to go for the big one. Our food as her food. I make a chicken chassuer full of fresh vegetables for OH and I put a small amount in DD's bowl, mashing it up a bit to make it easier for her to spoon. I add a bread roll, a strawberry, apple juice and another pot of fromage frais. And that's it. No biscuits.

Ten minutes before dinner DD wants a box of raisins. Mmmm... I hate to refuse her when she actually ASKS for food, so I let her have two raisins, but no more. Then dinner's on the table and she surveys the scene before her. I can almost see her brain working out that there's nothing in her bowl or on her plate that she wants to eat. Then she takes a couple of bites of her bread roll and I breathe again. I actually relax and start enjoying my food. I'm a toddler guru!

Except that then she stops. Totally.

'Maaaiisy,' says she.
'You can watch Maisy after dinner, darling,' says I.
'Maaaiisy, Maaaiisy, Maaaiisy' says she.
'You want to watch Maisy, and you can, after you eat your dinner,' says I.
'Down!' says she.
Ok, two bites of bread roll do not a dinner make. So here's where it gets hard. I've been expecting this all day. I'm going to be tough but, I hope, fair.
'Ok, if you're not hungry you can get down.'
'Maisy!' She beams.
'You can get down, but no Maisy unless you have your dinner.'

Then she pulls the face. At nineteen months old, I've seen this face before. It's the face that says; I don't want what's happening and I'm about to create a scene about it, ok? Tears, and lots of them. But I stand firm, calmly and quietly explaining again and again the rules of the game. Am I being harsh? Perhaps. She is very young. But she does understand what's going on. Eventually, she's sat on my lap, sniffing loudly and gulping air  after lots of crying and food refusals. Then she spys the pot of fromage frais. She stops sniffing and points. I feel a compromise coming on.

And so I got her to eat half a pot of fromage frais and DD got her final star for eating some dinner and her Maisy DVD. It's not a lot for all the fuss, I'll admit. No fruit or veg and no meat. But she's actually eaten some food today and not had any 'juuuice'. And I think that's a good start.

I've written this post for the .

Do you have a fussy eater in your family? How do you approach this feeding challenge? Have you used a star chart? Do you think I'm going about this the right way? What would YOU do? I'd love to hear your comments.

An insomniac's ramblings

It's stupid o'clock and I can't sleep. My nose is running and blocked at the same time which is joke someone must be laughing at, and my sinuses are sore as the proverbial badger's rear end. So I'm up and rambling this into the laptop when I should be dreaming about something lovely like being swept off my feet by prince charming my husband, again.

Sitting here sniffing reminds me of the seemingly endless sleepless nights when DD was first born. I slept like a log before I was pregnant (never really understood that phrase, sleeping like a log. Do they sleep well? Who asked them?). OH and I would often sleep in all morning at the weekends. Then when the bump came along and grew and grew (and grew) sleep became uncomfortable and I tossed and turned for most of the night. Not to mention the endless trips to the loo (who knew the human body could store so much liquid?). A wise woman once said that you get no sleep when you're pregnant to prepare you for getting no sleep after your pregnant either. And so it came to pass. DD arrived and after our terrible fear at her being born prematurely, the joy and excitement of her first few weeks dissolved into one endless day, punctuated by dark and light periods. She didn't seem to want to sleep through any of them without having a good scream about it first. And then there was the two-hourly feed routine because she was so little. I napped in the nursery between feeds on a makeshift bed on the bay window seat so that OH could function at work. They didn't write about this in the baby manuals I read. And probably good job too otherwise I might have had second thoughts.

But as with all things this time came and went and after more months than I care to remember (I think it was seven or eight but don't hold me to it) DD finally slept through the night. And so did I. Until I woke up wondering why she hadn't woken up, and was she alright, and should I check on her? Grrrr...

The memories are flooding back as I type this (brrrrr...scary) but the details are fuzzy. Is this my Mummy mind protecting me from the less wonderous aspects of new motherhood so that I'll step up for another round of the procreation game? Mother nature's tricky like that. There's a lot of things I don't remember that well actually...
What time did we leave the hospital after DD was born?
How long did she breastfeed for in those first weeks?
What did I eat the day she was born?
What was the name of the doctor who pummeled my boobs to a pulp when I had mastitis and enabled me to experience the worst pain in my life, ever?
How on earth did I bath DD when she was so tiny that her head was no bigger than the palm of my hand?
How did I get anything done when I had to carry her around for most of the day?
And why did I think it was ok to live in the same yoga pants and sloppy joe top for six three months?

Am I the only one with these memory lapses I wonder? What things can't you remember from the early days of your new motherhood?

*Yawn*. Right, off to restart the day with a hot shower. Morning all!

Photo credit: ringing alarm clock by Paul at

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday Sayings

This week's Sunday Saying is inspired by the launch of this week. Pop over if you have the time...

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." 
Albert Camus

Photo credit: Old letters by Simon Howden at

Friday, 11 February 2011

Reasons to be cheerful; 1, 2, 3 - fussy eating, the end of the road and dry eyeballs

Umm.. I'm struggling with my reasons to be cheerful this week. DD has a stinking cold and a rather scary cough (her chest rattles alarmingly when she breathes!) and I think she's taken my lessons in sharing a bit too far because now I've got it too. But in the spirit of staying positive, here goes:

1. This week I launched the and I've had lots of positive response from other parents in the same boat including the rather wonderful Mocha Beanie Mummy (who I'm a bit in awe of if I'm honest). If you've got a fussy eater in the house feel free to pop over and share your highs and lows in the spirit of mutual support. I'm also really grateful for the fab help from  CassalFamily and Nikki at Typecast in getting the club badge up and running :)

2. Our road-trip ends today and we're off home again tomorrow. We've had a wonderful time with family and friends and I'm eternally grateful for their patience when Mummy Bear (aka me) keeps 'shhhhh'ing them when DD's snoozing, but I miss my things around me so I'm actually secretly pleased to be going home.

3. I've started wearing my snazzy new glasses from Ghost. Hopefully they'll stop me wearing my contact lenses for fourteen hours a day and drying my eyeballs out.

Go on, join this lovely lot over at who are feeling rather cheerful too. You know you want to...

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