Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Weaning Issues - Update 1

I wrote a post at the beginning of the month about Lucas's weaning issues.

I came up with a plan for stage one for Lucas, to help him become accustomed to normal food instead of just gagging and projectile vomiting everything up. 

The plan was:

Stage 1 - Back To Basics 
  • Three Meals A Day - Things Lucas will eat without Gagging such as Baby Porridge, Fruit pots, Yoghurts, Stage 1 Baby Jars and other pureed foods. 
  • Offer water frequently - Eventually he has to give up and drink it right?
  • Bottles of milk as needed - If Lucas is eating three meals a day, 2-3 9oz bottles should be sufficient.  
  • Sit with family at the table for meal times - This is whether Lucas eats with us or not. I will be putting his rusks and Organix Carrot Sticks out for him in a bid to get him holding his own snacks again. 
In total I have been doing this for 5 weeks now and overall it has been a huge success.

We have only had one episode of projectile vomiting due to food and that was when Lucas found a lump in his porridge. Lucas is now drinking 2 9oz bottles of formula a day, 1 9oz bottle of full fat milk a day, plus around 9oz of cooled boiled water. I am not boiling the water first because of germs, I am doing it because he likes room temperature, slightly warm water.

I haven't kept Lucas solely on the foods mentioned above. I have tried other foods. I tried him again on Ready Brek, this did not go down well, he had one mouthful, gagged and refused to try anymore. I even tried him on mushed up Weetabix as his brother really loved this when he was a baby. Lucas was not impressed, only ate a few mouthfuls, gagged and refused anymore.

I also spent a lot of money on Annabel Karmel stage 2 pouches for Lucas, as they promised to be slightly textured, rather than the lumpy stuff you get from other stage two baby foods. I tried Lucas on the Moroccan Chicken meal. It was slightly textured which I thought would be perfect. Lucas liked the taste but again, not the texture. He looked at me like I had put something nasty in his mouth! He refused it after a few mouthfuls but did not gag! This really surprised me. It was a good sign. I will be trying more of them to see if we can find one he likes.

Lucas has also managed to eat small bites of other food without problems. We have tried white chocolate buttons, grated mozarella cheese, small pieces of corned beef hash (after he grabbed my sandwich off my plate), rice (a few grains at a time), small chunks of banana, small chunks of pitta bread and small chunks of cucumber. He even quite happily munched his way though a milky way the other day.

My health visitor has suggested to try him on bigger portions of food that he has to chew. He has no problem with chewing, he has problems with texture! She also suggested try him on toast, I do not think this is a good idea. Toast can easily get stuck to the roof of the mouth, I believe this would make him gag even more.

My theory is, if I try him on as many different foods with different textures, in small pieces, hopefully he will not gag. Therefore he will get used to the taste/texture and know that these are 'safe foods' hopefully limiting the gag reflex when bigger pieces of food are introduced.

So the plan is for now, to keep up with the foods I know he will not have a problem eating. In addition to that I will keep introducing small portions of different types of food, it seems to be working for now.

Fingers crossed when I next write a post about his weaning, we will have made even more progress.

Wordless Wednesday - 28/01/2015

Single Mother Ahoy Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Living with Insomnia

Insomnia is a word that is thrown around a lot nowadays. 

But there is a difference between physically not being able to sleep and staying up past midnight, because you are too busy playing a computer game. 

In an age where we are practically drowning in media and technology, it has become extremely easy to distract ourselves from going to bed. Watching that extra episode on Netflix, or playing just one more round of Candy Crush is pushing our 'bedtime' back later and later. This means that we are not getting enough of the right sleep (REM) to be on top form the next day.

This is not insomnia. 

The true story of insomnia is a lot harder to deal with. 

For the majority of people, sleep comes naturally. There are people who can be asleep within 5 minutes of their head hitting their pillow. There are those who find it will take them a couple of hours to fall asleep, this is generally not a cause for concern either. 

However, for the unfortunate few, the concept of night and day is nothing more than a stressful blur that passes them by. 

Insomnia also varies dramatically from person to person. People who suffer from the more acute cases of insomnia, are forced to live with it 365 days a year. This can prevent them from holding down full time jobs and sustaining relationships. It can also seriously damage their mental health.

Matt has suffered with insomnia for the best part of 20 years.

In Matt's words 'My insomnia has always attacked in cycles. These cycles can vary in time, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months of heavily altered sleep patterns'

In the most recent cycle, Matt will be unable to sleep from anywhere in between 24-48 hours

In these sleepless periods, Matt has a noticeable deterioration in his physical and mental abilities. Normally Matt is mentally astute and physically strong, but during these cycles, he in his own words 'Becomes almost zombie like' Everything from simple maths to basic decision making becomes a huge struggle.

However, when the insomnia gives in and Matt is finally able to sleep, this causes a new wave of problems. Matt will not necessarily fall asleep at what is classed as a 'normal' time. Matt could crash out at mid day for example. This means, because he is now catching up on the sleep he has missed, he is unable to spend quality time with Cameron and Lucas. The guilt of not being able to spend this time with his family, causes his mood to become low, which in turn adds pressure and stress onto him. The extra pressure and stress exacerbates the insomnia, making it harder to break the cycle.

We have found that any extra pressure or stress, not just the above mentioned, also makes it harder. Matt's job for example, involves a lot of driving, so he needs to ensure that he has had enough 'good sleep' so that he is safe on the road. If he doesn't, he will not work, he can not take the risk. If he does not work, he does not get paid. This alone, is a huge stress on him and the of course, the family as a whole.

We have discussed ways to work around Matt's insomnia, for instance, Matt staying at home with the kids, whilst I went out and worked. But due to the sporadic nature of Matt's cycles, it wouldn't be a good idea. How can you expect a person who has not slept for up to 48 hours to look after two kids, including two school runs? Not only is this incredibly unsafe, it is not fair on the children. As mentioned before, Matt's insomnia cycles can last a few months. So this is not just a bad nights sleep in a week, this is a prolonged period of time living with severely inhibited mental and physical abilities.

From an early age, Matt has been through may treatments, ranging from what Matt calls 'Hippy Treatments' (Hypnosis and Herbal Tablets) to serious medical treatment such as strong sedatives/sleeping tablets and anti-depressants. None of which provided a cure. In some cases, they have caused serious psychological deterioration.

Insomnia is still in debate as to whether it is a mental health problem. It's treated as a symptom not a diagnosis, so any direct treatment is difficult to come by. Whilst it is commonly accepted that insomnia is usually caused by an underlying condition, either psychological or physical, there seems to be no definitive answer as to why it occurs.

The NHS has stated that up to a third of people in the UK have or will be treated for insomnia. In Matt's experience, the professionals he has spoken to have said that most treatments are based on trial and error. There are no textbook answers, due to the variation of cases and the small amount of consistent information that is available.

Matt will be once again going back to see his GP this week, in an attempt to find something that will enable to him to better manage his condition and help him live some kind of 'normal' life.

Matt has kindly agreed to share the details of the treatment he is offered, if it is helping him and what affect it is having on our lives.

I have known Matt for 14 years and been together for nearly 6 years. Before we became a couple, I had no idea of how serious and disruptive insomnia can be, not only for the sufferer, but for the people around him. In an upcoming post, I will be talking about what it is like to live with an insomniac.

I would like to say a big thank you to Matt for helping me with this post. Matt is a typical closed-off alpha-male and usually doesn't like to talk openly about his 'feelings and stuff''.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Please don't lose my child

These were the words I inadvertently blurted out to Cameron's teacher a few days after I received a letter asking permission to take Cameron on a school trip!

The previous night I had a 'Nightmare' about the school losing him on this trip.

It's really hard to explain, people may think that I am an over protective parent.

Believe me, I am not, I do not wrap my kids in bubble wrap.

His teacher smiled at me, told me I wasn't the first person to say something like that. She then went on to tell me about the child/adult ratios and that Cameron's SEN teacher would be there.

Even though they have done this school trip for several years without a hiccup, it still does not give me comfort.

Cameron is excited to go on this school trip, and even though I am excited for him, the worry is still there.

He is only 4 years old! What if he wanders off? What if someone else wanders off and Cameron follows? It's a big place, how will he be found?

The irrational side of me is planning to go to this place on the same day. I'll use the excuse that Lucas would love it. Truth is Lucas is too young to enjoy it and would probably fall asleep in his pushchair.

The humorous and still irrational side of me is planning to take binoculars and watch from a distance like a spy. Truth is, I would probably be arrested for acting inappropriately in a child friendly place.

Maybe I could say that Matt wanted to go? That wouldn't work, he doesn't to go and he knows the reason I would want to go! Seen as he is my taxi driver, I have no hope of getting there without him!

So what will I do?

I will wave Cameron off in the morning, spend the rest of the day worrying and checking my phone. School days usually go so fast, but you can guarantee that this day will go incredibly slow. I will be counting down the hours and even the minutes until I walk through those school gates and see that lovely smile on his face when he comes out of school. I will give him the biggest cuddle I can master and let out a big sigh of relief that he is ok.

I may even thank the teacher for not losing him!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Are there legitimate risks in getting a prenatal ultrasound?

When you are growing another human being, caution becomes your main mindset. Everything you do will focus on ensuring your baby is developing safely and healthily. One way that you can keep an eye on your baby during your pregnancy is through a prenatal ultrasound.An ultrasound is a painless diagnostic test that uses sound waves, not radiation, to produce an image of the body’s interior surfaces.

During an ultrasound high-frequency sound waves are transmitted through the abdomen using a device called a transducer. This allows the technician to see inside of the abdomen. Echoes from the sound waves bounce around the interior of the body and are recorded and transformed into video or photographic images of the baby.

Ultrasounds are perfectly safe, no matter what stage of the pregnancy you are in. A non-invasive exam, ultrasounds are also very routine procedures that don’t pose any risks to the mother or her baby. Most women have at least one ultrasound during a pregnancy, though it is safe to have more. Typically performed around 18-20 weeks into the pregnancy, ultrasounds are appropriate for any trimester and can show you different things about your baby, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Earlier ultrasounds are generally performed to check the size and position of the fetus to confirm the baby’s age and due date, and later ultrasounds will provide a take-home image of your baby and can confirm the baby’s sex.

Although the safety of prenatal ultrasounds is well-documented, you may hear some unfounded concerns about ultrasounds exams. A common misconception is that ultrasounds transmit radiation. This is completely false as ultrasounds only transmit sound waves. Further, another fallacy related to ultrasounds is that the sonic energy used by the ultrasound transforms into heat, which could impact a fetus’s health. However, be assured that the Federal Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines on the energy levels emitted by ultrasound machines, so there is no need to worry about the sound waves harming your baby in any way.

Further, it is completely safe to have multiple ultrasounds, although many women choose to just have one. Your doctor may warn against multiple ultrasounds simply because they can time consuming and costly, but there is no medical reason that would prevent you from having as many ultrasounds as you wish. You should also be aware that there are non-medical facilities that offer ultrasounds to provide expectant parents keepsake photos and videos of their baby. Although the ultrasound itself is perfectly safe, your doctor may recommend against these unnecessary exams because a technician with no medical training might perform the ultrasound and miss an important change in your pregnancy.

Now that your entire world revolves around protecting your baby, having an ultrasound will help you monitor the bundle of joy while you are its residence. Although there are many aspects of pregnancy that can be fear inducing, an ultrasound is a safe, easy way to help you and your doctor plan the best options for your prenatal care. If you are pregnant, be sure to discuss with your doctor when you should schedule your first ultrasound appointment, so that you can continue to learn about the growing baby that you will soon be welcoming into your world.

This post was written for My Life as a Mummy by Glenn Josephik. Glenn is an account representative and the marketing coordinator at MedCorp LLC, the industry leader and premier business source for used portable ultrasound systems. You can follow Glenn Josephik on Google+

Note: I was compensated for this post. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

My Sunday Photo - 18/01/2015

This was taken last Monday on Lucas's First Birthday.

I was feeding his breakfast, like I normally do every morning, when he decided that he wanted to see what the bowl tasted like.

The thing is he, clamped down with his two teeth and wouldn't let go for ages.