16 Years On The Planet

Just before the weekend, L turned 16!! I am in complete denial that my oldest is leaving school in a few short months. It seems like yesterday that I put an 8lb 10 baby in a car seat and brought him home. He made his presence felt in our lives from day 1! My waters went in the middle of the night, but my contractions never followed as they should and I ended up being induced as he just didn't want to come out. I was discharged just 24 hours after his birth, a first time Mum with a lot to learn. 

He wasn't an easy baby, didn't sleep much (still doesn't), didn't like cuddles, didn't want to be held, didn't like the noise it was truly a baptism of fire for new parents. We settled into a new normal with him and got on the best we could. He met his milestones on time and became a serious toddler, he started nursery at 2 and that's when the word autism started to get banded around. He was actually diagnosed very quickly and the answers to our serious, curious little boy all became crystal clear. We were sent home with a folder reading 'Now Your Child Has Autism' and left to get on with it! 

School has been a difficult long road for L but luckily for him, he had 2 wonderful Ta's in primary school and its testament to them that he's got as far as he has now. On his move to move to high school a TA there took him under her wing, it was a massive blow to him when she left at the end of year 9. He takes everything in his stride and a new wing person was found and I know when he starts college in a few months he needs to find a new wing person to see him through.

The idea of him starting college freaks me out, he seems very blase about college, he seems to be looking forward to the sense of freedom. In the past 2 years, we have been building his independence and allowing him to go to the local shopping centre. He wants to spread his wings and go further afield now. Its lovely to see him blossoming and I am excited to see how his future develops. 

He starts college in September he will be doing a year-long preparation course for a supported internship. On completion of this, he will then do a supported internship based at our local hospital, which will result in a long term job! 

My boy has big plans, he tells me he is moving out when he is 22, so I still 6 years of looking after him! I am told I can come to his flat and clean up for him and do his laundry!! Charming......

He knows we will be there no matter what he needs, just like we have for the last 16 years and the next 16 years, the future is looking bright!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

Valentines Day Gift Guide

It's just a few weeks until Valentine's day this year and I have been sent some fab items to include in our gift guide round-up from some great brands. No matter what your budget or who you are buying for you are sure to get a few ideas for this guide. All the links are clickable, so if you see something you like, just click through and you can get it direct!
Whether you’re looking to buy the perfect Valentine’s Day present for your significant other or treat your best friend to show how much you care, Impulse has a selection of products your loved ones will adore. Our range of mash-up Body Mists are available in eclectic fragrance combinations and our iconic Body Sprays are back and better than ever… there’s something for everyone, whatever their scent style! Sometimes things just work, like the warm, sweet scent of Burnt Marshmallow + Leather Jacket Body Mist. An unexpected blend of spicy pink pepper, gooey marshmallow and suede creates a must-have mist medley. Let sparks fly and love blossom with a spritz of Impulse Sweet Caramel + Electric Blossom Body Mist.  Electrify your feelings with blend of sparkling lemonade, peach blossom and vanilla, as this scent perfectly balances sugary sweet with floral fresh. Forget a bed of red roses, this Valentine’s break the mould and surprise your love with Purple Petals + Smoky Sky Body Mist. Musky yet fresh at the same time, embrace the scent-sational fragrance combination of sandalwood with white gardenia and fall into a romantic haze. Available from high street stores priced at £6 per bottle.
You can't go wrong with some chocolate can you? Ombar has just launched new 70g Centres - encased in Ombar’s classic 60% chocolate, the range includes zingy Raspberry & Coconut, mouthwatering Coconut & Vanilla and delicate and creamy Pistachio; a sophisticated trio sure to satisfy even the most discerning cacao lovers. Thanks to a velvety coconut cream as the base, each bite will melt in your mouth and leave a lasting impression, no matter the flavour!  The entire range is certified organic, vegan and free of refined sugar, with each ingredient being carefully sourced for a delicious and ethical chocolate experience. Made using all-natural, plant-based ingredients. These delicious bars are available online with prices starting from £1.99
For your gym bunny or health-conscious Valentines how about some FOGA shakes? The delicious range of Plantshakes from FOGA has been created to help busy people ensure their diets are rich in a diverse range of whole plant. Packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to optimise your health and wellbeing. Choose from one of the mouth-watering blends which include Peach & Cayenne, Beetroot & Ginger and Kiwi & Greens. Subscriptions are also available weekly, fortnightly or monthly for a box of 10 plantshakes with prices starting from £24.
For your bearded beauty this Valentines what about some Brisk grooming products? Formulated with 100% natural oils and rich in Vitamin E, BRISK Beard Oils help hydrate the beard and skin, keeping it feeling soft and helping reduce itchiness. Combining natural almond, avocado, argan and jojoba oils, the fast-absorbing, nourishing formulations keep beards fresh and groomed all day. BRISK Beard Oils are available in refreshing Cedarwood and zesty Citrus. The BRISK Beard Balm is perfect for keeping beards feeling soft and shaping its style. Made from 100% natural ingredients including Hemp, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil and superfood Cacao seed butter. The perfect adaptable grooming partner, it can be used alone or after oils. Both are available from Boots instore and online priced at £6.99 and £5.45.
The Nibble Protein range includes Nibble Brownie Bites which are made from antioxidant rich dried plum puree, meaning they're incredibly low sugar with just 1 gram per piece and packed with natural goodness.  Containing less than 100 calories per pack, the range includes 3 flavours, Choc Orange Brownie (Silver Winner of the 2019 best snack bar in the Free From Awards), Choc Walnut and Mint Choc Brownie. They also retail a range of Protein Bites which have again been made with dried plum puree. These protein packed bites are perfect as part of a healthy breakfast or snack and come in a wide variety of flavours including Lemon with Coconut, Mocha, Sour Cherry, Choc Chip and Gingerbread. These delicious treats are priced at £1.49 each or a box of 12 for £16.
If a little tipple is what you're looking for this Valentines then you can't go wrong at Aldi. The Rose-Spumante priced at £5.79 is a classic and elegant Italian rosé sparkling wine. With intense summer fruits, pears and citrus freshness. Delicious served chilled and can be enjoyed before beginning a romantic evening. The Monsigny champagne is priced at £16.99 is produced in collaboration with Champagne Philizot. This beautiful and seductive Rosé shows crisp red berry fruit flavours and a delicate French Patisserie character. Careful cellar ageing has enhanced its complexity, elegance and length. A chilled glass of this fizz is ideal for raising a toast with your loved one or friends.
Are you looking for a makeup bag that will hold all your makeup, toiletries, cosmetics and even your hair straightener? Look no further than The Ellis James Designs Makeup Train CaseBoasting huge capacity with velcro dividers and a removable pouch, you can truly customize the bag to your needs. Whether as a well-deserved gift for yourself or for someone who means a lot to you, you’ll more than love opening your Ellis James Designs gift box to find the latest addition to your collection. Designed with you in mind. Do you have a busy everyday life and need a bag that seamlessly supports you in your daily beauty and fashion routine? We’ve designed the perfect bag for your makeup. The Make Up Train Case is priced currently at $25.95 from Ellis James Designs.
If a pamper is up your Valentines street then you can't go wrong with T Zone face masks priced at just £1.97! The T-Zone Glitter Mask Peel Off Silver draws out impurities to help keep skin clear. Enriched with skin caring Strawflower and firming Centella Asiatica Extract, to help the skin look more vibrant and glowing. Or the T-Zone Charcoal & Bamboo Black Peel Off Mask draws out impurities and peels away blackheads to help unclog pores and keep skin clear. Enriched with naturally ultra-purifying Charcoal and Bamboo Extract to absorb excess oil and leave the skin purified.
These products from imantara look and smell amazing, they are both priced at £12.95. So Sen uplifting jasmine body wash is sheer shower opulence in a bottle, this formulation beautifully nourishes skin thanks to its potent blend of Coconut extracts and Olive oil. Thai Jasmine water and Jasmine Sambac essential oil soothe, revive and restore body and mind. The matching body lotion is a rich formula that effortlessly sinks into the skin and quickly hydrates your limbs. Jojoba and Thai Coconut Oils are incredibly moisturising and restorative. Shea Butter leaves legs and arms super smooth whilst Jasmine flower extract invigorates, Rose Geranium balances and Peppermint essential oil energises.
The team over at Danilo sent me over some of their licensed valentine card range for inclusion. From Secret Life Of Pets to Mr Men they will have a card to suit your style. With prices starting from a few £'s they are great for the pocket too! I love the My Little Pony one and I cant wait to give it to Miss S this February 14th.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy

xx

*This post contains press samples

Sassy Shop Wax Review

The home fragrance industry is big business nowadays and I am fully in on that bandwagon! I love a nice smelling home and I have tried lots of different wax melts from large businesses and smaller independent ones. I definitely have my favourite but I am always on the lookout to try new ones and discover new scents. The lovely team over at Sassy Shop Wax sent me over some of their permanent range over to try out and tell you what I think.
The wax melt bars are £2.75 each and I was sent 4 from the permanent range to try out, Antique Bookstore, Rhubie Rose, La Vie Est Bon and Bedtime Baby. Each bar is hand made and there are so many scents available no matter if you like classic scents or ones like your favourite perfume. I think the antique bookstore is a more classic scent, I like the cedarwood and sandalwood tones you pick up as its melting. I instantly picked up the rhubarb in the rhubie rose as it melted away, it as really pleasant. My absolute favourite and ones that I will be definitely repurchasing were bedtime baby which reminded me of the kiddos were tiny and La Vie Est Bon which is my absolute fav perfume scent.
You can use between 1 to 2 cubes per wax burner, I use 2 as I like the stronger scent. I had one burning in the lounge and one on the bottom of my stairway. You could smell them all the way through the house. I like the addition of glitter to the melts, previous ones I have used have just been plain. I love that Sassy Shop Wax use biodegradable glitter where possible and pledge to switch fully to all biodegradable glitter as they come onto the market. I roughly burn 2 cubes per day, so just one wax bar will last me 5 days, which is pretty good value for just £2.75 per bar.
I was also sent the Snow Pixie room spray to try out, again I have tried numerous types of room spray and definitely have my favourites. I really liked this Snow Pixie scent and you can really pick up the candyfloss tones in it. The scent really lasts for a long time. Its more oily than some of the room sprays I have used before, so it did settle on my wood flooring. But this hasn't put me off at all as the scent is so good, I just make sure I spray it on my soft furnishings and away from my floors. The rooms spray comes in lots of different scents and are priced at £9 per bottle.

These wax bars and room sprays are just 2 of the products available from Sassy Shop Wax, they also have wax burners, wax segment pots, bath bombs and even a monthly subscription box! All orders are usually sent the next working day, they have a permanent range that are scents that are available all the time. The website is updated every 2 weeks so you know if your favourite scents are available.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

Possible School Closure

So the tribe have been back in school for a few weeks now and so far all seems settled. Going back after a break can be a struggle for the older 3 as the change of routine throws them off for a while. But so far so good all seem good this time around and it does seem to be getting easier as they get older and they can work around their own feelings.

The 2nd week back at school we were hit with the news that the high school the boys attend is to close at the end of the school year! It was a shock, the Secretary Of State has already agreed to the closure. We are now subjected to a listening period so we can all give our opinion on the closure. I'm sure its a done deal, the school is only running on half capacity. They had a pretty bad Ofsted report a where branded inadequate, so entry figures have been dropping for a few years. The school have made some improvements and the latest visit branded significant improvement. Obviously, the school being branded inadequate doesn't help entry figures as the school wouldn't be appealing. I also think a large part of dropping numbers is down to branding on social media, people are readily available to slag the school off when something bad happens. You don't see anyone praising the school on social media! L has been attending since year 7 and they have bent over backwards to accommodate him and his needs. There has been a change of SENCO whilst he has been there and a change to the structure of the resource provision. This again had some parents up in arms, I know all SEND children have different needs, but the staff in place always had L's needs in the forefront of their mind and ensured any disruption was minimal for him. He has been abe to use the resource provision as he always has, has the same TA's in a class where possible and has a pass to leave lesson if he needs to. As I have worked in a school whilst training to be a teaching assistant I have a little insight into how decisions are made and the red tape surrounding these decisions. L is just a few months from leaving, so aside from him being upset that his favourite staff members face losing their jobs, this decision doesn't affect him. 

We selected this school for Dj based on how well Logan has done at this school, now Dj is faced with having to start all over again in a new school! It has taken us to this stage to get him settled, get him some support. We are just about to start the EHCP process for hm and I'm not even sure where this leaves us or him. The other 3 local school just don't appeal to us and this is the reason we didn't choose them in the first place and an out of area school wouldn't work due to travel. 

What concerns me as a local resident is what do the LA think they are going to do with all these pupils who now need a new school? The plan is children in year 7, 8 and 9 will have to reapply for a school place and the kids in year 10 will stay on and complete their GCSE's at the school. The 3 local schools are pretty much already full and there are now 250+ children needing a school place. This means larger class numbers in already struggling/oversubscribed schools. It's a ridiculous situation. I don't think it helps the current school lies smack in the middle of the hospital and the airport, meaning its in the way of the future development of both sites, little inconvenient! 

We have been sent forms through the post with a choice of 6 schools, 3 of which are out of the area, one isn't even open yet! I know most parents will opt for the 3 local schools on offer, which means definitely not enough spaces. Dj has expressed a preference for one school, but I am not sure they can provide the support he needs. Next step is to go to the parents meeting tomorrow evening and see what is said. It's a nightmare situation for all of us parents and all we can do now is sit back and wait for the uncertainty of the waiting period!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

Christmas and Autism

Christmas... The most wonderful time of the year right? That's not always the case for some autism families, it can be the most difficult. In the past Christmas has been a struggle for us, but we now have a sure-fire routine that fits us and our family and makes Christmas as enjoyable as possible for us. We all had a blast this Christmas, no meltdowns, everyone was happy and we saw most of our loved ones.
The Tree
It HAS to go up on December 1st, that's when the kiddies get their calendars. I was always 12 days before and 12 days after until the kids came along. For them if they are having a Christmas count down then the tree has to be up, so now it is. It is only up for 25 days, our tree comes down on Boxing day evening. Once the family leave on Boxing day Christmas is over and the kids like a routine to return to normal. This enables them to get through the period on lax routine and know that there is an end coming.
The Presents
It can be really tricky buying presents for kids on the spectrum as they have some very unusual tastes! I have had requests for DS games only available in America, character toys for TV programmes that finished decades ago and even a foot long gummy bear!! The rule when it comes to presents is if they ask for it they get it if it's possible to make it happen. The kids were kind to us this year and all requests were manageable. Spud threw a last-minute one on us a week or so before Christmas for a piano!! Thank you for Amazon prime he was able to get one, he was adamant it was on his list, I know it wasn't as I am list buyer. Luckily for us none of the kids are believers, so we don't have to figure out what Father Christmas brings and whats off us, its all from us, no confusion.
Christmas Eve
Our Christmas eve start with the kids Christmas eve hamper, they have a joint one. Every year their Aunt always gets them an assortment of goodies for the box. This year was pop tarts, popcorn, hot chocolate and marshmallows. We added their Christmas eve PJs and some choccies, it's very minimal. I have nothing against people who go all out and pack a box but Christmas is expensive enough and they love what they get. This year we opted for a Chinese for dinner, minimal washing up and everyone can have what they want. We then eat the contents of the Christmas eve box and watch a film together. Once the 3 younger kids are in bed we set about sorting the gifts into piles. L is allowed to open his gifts alone in his room on Christmas eve when the kids are asleep. He doesn't cope well with the madness of Christmas morning and he prefers to stay out of the way. Once he's done and in bed, we sit and open our gifts as we don't get a second Christmas morning.
Christmas Day
You can 100% guarantee it's me awake first waiting for everyone else and this year was no different! They were all up by 7.30am and ripping into their gifts. It's all a bit crazy with 2 over-stimulated ASD kids. As soon as they are done I like to move all their stuff to their rooms so they can arrange them as they like. This gives them time to go away, destress, realign and calm for the rest of the day. We don't actually get dressed on Christmas day, its a PJ day so we can all chill, play with toys, eat lots and enjoy. Its a very laid back affair, my Mum and some of my siblings are usually at our house for dinner. My lovely Mum cooks and she exceeded herself again this year. This years evening entertainment was all about Gavin and Stacey and it was soooo worth the 10 year wait!!
Boxing Day
Our favourite day of the festive period, its when my whole family head to my house. It's an open-door policy and everyone is welcome (well family) The kids love it and so do I, I do a huge buffet, play Christmas music, get to see my Nieces and Nephew it's just amazing! For years this was held at my Dads house, but as the kids came along it just made sense to hold it at my house. It usually ends with me playing hunt the remote!! My brother has a great joy in hiding the remote before he leaves! Last year he went on Facebook live from the car on his drive back to Yorkshire and played hot or cold with me..... he's a comedian!! He only does it as he knows my most hated thing is not being able to find the bloody remote! Beat him to it this year though and hid it before he arrived!! We all had a go of Dj's new PlayStation VR this year and it was loads of fun. I managed not to over cater this year and didn't have masses of leftovers. Once family have left and the kids are in bed we start to take down the decorations!
Return Of Routine
The day after boxing day is like Christmas never even happened and that's just what works for our family. We fall straight back into a half-term routine. It helps the kids keep calm and grounded and for them once they have had their presents and seen their family its all over and done with! We don't celebrate New Years, I have always found it a bit depressing, not sure why, but you can guarantee me and Dave will be in bed well before midnight! We had such a fab Christmas period and already looking forward to this year's celebration.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xxx

Win A Kindle Fire 7 Or Echo Dot

As my older readers know I love a good giveaway. Way before I was a blogger I was a comper and that's when I discovered what a blog was. I knew when I started blogging that I wanted to run giveaways on my blog and I had several running most months, some provided by brands some myself. As this blog is brand new I am funding this giveaway myself. I've had so many lovely comments and messages welcoming me back to the world of blogging so thought I would launch my very first giveaway.
I thought, start as I mean to go on, I like to giveaway products I love. So my most used piece of tech aside from my laptop is my Alexa, the kids are their kindles. So up for grabs is your choice of a Kindle Fire 7 or and Alexa dot, the winner is free to choose whichever they like. To enter use the rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is no way funded or endorsed by Amazon, I will contact the winner and arrange delivery of their prize. Terms and conditions below the rafflecopter entry form.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms And Conditions
1. Open to Uk and Ireland entrants aged over 18
2. One winner will be chosen via the widget and announced on the widget
3. Winner will be contacted via email and has 28 days to respond to winning email before a new winner is selected
4. Your details won't be passed to any third parties
5. Entries made using software or bulk entries will be disqualified
6. By entering you agree to your name being shared on social  media as the winner
7. Giveaway open from 11th January 2020 till midnight 10th February 2020

Autism Friendly Trip To Liverpool

Travelling isn't something we do lightly as a family as it tends to be very difficult. We also never travel as a family of 6, which is a bit sad, but it's just how it works for us. Balancing all of the children's individual needs makes travelling all together too tricky, so we tend to split into 2 groups. The older boys together and the youngest 2 together, these groups work well. The older boys decided they would like to visit Liverpool in the summer, their Uncle lives up there and they wanted to see him at the same time, so I had to get a plan together.
Travel
We always travel by train, we don't drive and trains offer us a greater choice. We always travel from Manchester airport, as its the beginning of the line. This means we can be first on the train and not boarding at a busy station with lots of other people. We previously travelled from Piccadilly but the boys struggled with the sheer number of people. The trains at the airport are always on platform 15 minutes before departure (usually) and soon as they have been cleaned they allow you to board. This means we can board and get settled way before we are due to set off, this makes it easier for the boys. For our return journey we always opt for a train around lunchtime, this means we miss the early morning rush and the late afternoon scramble. We always purchase open tickets so we are not tied to a particular service, so if it is too bus we can come back later.
Accomodation
We need a hotel that's close by to the station as the boys aren't great at walking long distances. Liverpool is well serviced with plenty of hotels within a 5-minute walk. We opted for a Travelodge, who could provide us with an adjoining room. L likes his own room but as he isn't yet 18 he isn't allowed his own separate own room. The adjoining rooms give him the privacy he requires and us the peace of mind of being able to check on him. The best bit of Travelodge for us is you can customise your stay, opt for breakfast, early check-in, late checkout and the early booking deals save us a fortune.
Food
The fact we stayed right in the city centre meant we had a huge choice of food options. The boys, however, are extremely fussy when it comes to food. We arrived mid-afternoon and were meeting their Uncle at the docks before dinner, so they opted for a Subway sandwich, perfect option for fussy eaters. We wanted to go to the world buffet for dinner, but my brother said it gets very busy and wouldn't be suitable for the boys. He also thought there wouldn't be much choice for the boys as he knows their rigid eating habits. We actually ended up on the Wetherspoons near the shopping centre. Not my 1st choice of eatery, but a varied menu and also quiet corners you can sneak into. We found a corner near the back and thanks to the app we didn't need to move and our order was brought to us.
Stuff To Do
The boys and their Dad are massive Liverpool fans so a visit to Anfield was an absolute must. The website is very informative and I found that the day we were due to visit was a fun day, this started at 12, so we opted or the early morning 10am tour to miss the craziness. We also booked a table in the boot room cafe/restaurant for 12pm, which gave us a good 2 hour to look around. The ideal thing about the tour with it being summertime was it was self-guided with a headset and device. This meant we could take as much or as little time as we needed. There were certain areas the boys rushed through that were busy but the highlight for them all was getting to sit in the famous Kop!
We opted for the 2-course lunch option in the restaurant and the boys loved their hot dogs. You can pre-book this option as part of your package and they reserve you a table. David was beside himself when Liverpool legend Ian Rush came in for lunch and sat 3 tables away! We headed back into Liverpool centre for a wander around the docks.
The docks is a fab spot to walk around there is plenty to see, we loved the love lock bridge. We went into the museum, which is free to enter. It closed at 4pm and we headed inside at 3.30pm and it was very quiet. The boys love a good fact so it was right up their street. There are 3 floors to discover and each had different info, we found it fascinating. We ended our day by heading to Mattel Play to meet my brother as he finished his shift there and headed for a quiet evening in the hotel. The boys chose Burger King for dinner as they had 2 courses for lunch when we visited Anfield.
We always find the key to our trips is pre-planning and clever thinking, we are that family who you find in the park at 8am, the ones there just before your attraction closes and the ones who always request the quiet corner. Our trip to Liverpool was a success and went without any hitches. L has asked to go to Sheffield for his mini-break this year, as there is a gaming museum there he wants to see. You won't ever find us on a beach holiday as sand is their worst nightmare, I think we have found our niche in chilled hotel stays exploring new cities!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy

xx

Miscarriage at 10 weeks - The truth

I don't think you ever think about the possibility of miscarriage when you discover you are pregnant, well I didn't. I have 4 children and had 4 successful pregnancies, so when I discovered I was pregnant on Boxing Day 2018 I just presumed by September I would have a little baby in my arms. 

I was using a tracking app to track my cycle and a Christmas night out resulted in this pregnancy. Our Christmas night out fell on my most fertile day and too many Jagerbombs later I was pregnant. Strangely I didn't feel pregnant, but all day on Boxing day I didn't feel myself and decided to take a test. I was shocked to see 2 lines, although I knew it was a strong possibility. 

As soon as I found out the symptoms started I was so nauseous all the time, tired and irritable. It was just after the children went back to school in the new year I woke up to a little bleed. I didn't think anything of it as I had bled a few times with Mr.C, plus it wasn't a lot of blood. Once the kiddies were in school I rang my midwife, I hadn't had my booking in appointment yet so she told me to go via accident and emergency and ask for the early pregnancy unit to come and see me. 

I was sent upstairs as soon as I arrived, blood is taken, speculum exam is given and no signs of bleeding could be seen. I waited a few hours for blood results and they said my HCG was quite low for how pregnant I was. They couldn't scan me as they had no one in to do it. They booked me for 2 later and told me to come with a full bladder.

I noticed in the 2 days wait my symptoms seemed to be dying down so had already resigned myself to the fact the pregnancy wasn't going to continue, my friends and family urged me to look on the bright side, but I think I knew then. I went back for my scan and I was 8 weeks and 2 days. They couldn't pick anything up on the scan, so opted to do an internal scan. They found a sack but told me it was only measuring 4 weeks 2 day, they suggested I wasn't as pregnant as I thought and that I should come back in 2 weeks for another scan to see if the sack had developed. I knew instantly this wasn't the case, the sack couldn't only measure 4 weeks as it was more than 4 weeks since I discovered I was pregnant and I knew exactly what date I conceived on. They reassured me, gave me the scan report and sent me back to the early pregnancy unit. They wrote on my scan report 'blighted ovum' so I, of course, googled this on the walk back. blighted ovum (also known as an anembryonic pregnancy) is a type of very early miscarriage when a fertilized egg never develops into an embryo. Because it happens so early on in a pregnancy — within just a few weeks of ovulation and fertilization. They still sent me away with an appointment in 2 weeks for a rescan to check my progress. 

In the 2 weeks, my symptoms were none existent, I was having lots of cramping, but no bleeding. I was due to be scanned on Tuesday, but on Friday I noticed I was spotting on and off but had no pain. On Saturday I was out shopping with my friend when I started to get really bad stomach cramps. They felt like contractions, they stopped me in my tracks and I had to grip the shopping trolley to steady myself. The pains came in waves on and off for a few hours. The spotting I had experienced the day before was now full-on bleeding. I was in quite a lot of discomfort, I wasn't prepared for the amount of blood I would lose. Just like when I was in labour I decided to be in my feet was the best distraction from the pain. I was stood at my friends front door and felt something come away from me. I was wearing a pad, so went inside to check myself, nothing could prepare me for what I saw. I lost a clot the size of a golf ball and after that came away the bleeding really ramped up. I ended up using one of Miss S's specialist nappies as maternity pads weren't even absorbing the blood.

I was feeling really weak and ended up having a laydown, I woke up an hour later and was still bleeding really heavily. I said it early but I was not mentally prepared for the amount of blood I would lose. When you see things on tv and they show a lady in the bath, and its tinged with blood, that was not how it was for me. I was stood in the shower literally pouring with blood. I had to take the shower drain out at one point as it was getting blocked with the clots coming away. Dave and my friend suggested I go to the hospital as I was bleeding really heavily and it didn't seem to be stopping and I felt awful. My lovely friend Becky came with me and shes is just the person you need for company when you're in a shitty situation. Even feeling at my lowest she could still crack a joke and make me smile, she won't ever know how much it meant her coming with me that night. 

I was seen relatively quickly through accident and emergency and they insisted on giving me a private room straight away and someone from gynae came down within 30 minutes. The lovely nurse who dealt with me had gone through similar a few months earlier, at a similar stage of pregnancy. It's not just the egg, sack or foetus that is expelled, but all the lining of your womb that built up to protect the baby over the weeks and months since your last period. 

By the time I was seen the bleeding had really slowed down, the doctor examined me and said it looked like the neck of my womb was closed, so she thought the worst of it was over. She was lovely and really reassuring that I hadn't wasted time coming in. I was due for a scan 2 days later, I was given the option of going for that or just doing a pregnancy test 2 weeks later. I went for the latter, I don't think I could have faced the scan and seeing my empty womb on screen. 

My recovery from the miscarriage took longer than I anticipated. I was physically wiped put for around 2 weeks, I was tired, probably anaemic, but refused to go the see the doctor. I bled for almost 3 weeks after. Emotionally it took me a few months of telling myself I am extremely lucky, I have 4 wonderful children, some people can't have just 1 and I have 4. But it all seemed so unfair, it was during this time I totally deleted Raising The Rainbows, my facebook page and my entire youtube channel. It's taken me 10 months all together to be able to talk about it. 

I truly can't believe 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, talking about miscarriage is still considered so taboo. It happens, it's truly horrific but I believe there isn't enough info out there about what will happen to you and your body when it does happen. Go and google pregnancy and you will find a wealth of information, google what happens when I miscarry and you'll find significantly less. Surely we need more support when we miscarry, it's still a loss, it's like a death, it was still your baby no matter whether you were 4 weeks or 10 weeks. We still grieve what they would have been, could have been, all the hopes and dreams you had, they are gone and you are left to cope with that. Its life-changing stuff, I believe now its made me a stronger person, but it's taken time to get here. This may be a hard read, I apologize if this post has triggered anyone, but I believe its a necessary post. If just one person reads this and finds comfort or answers they are looking for then that's the point of this post.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

48 hours post botox

We are now 48 hours post botox............
Not your standard kinda botox.......
Let's start at the beginning!
Pops is 11, for as long as I can remember she has had an issue with her bowels. She still has to wear nappies as she has a constant stream of poo coming out of her. Now bowel issues aren't uncommon in children with autism. It was initially thought she was withholding her bowels and we had years of toilet therapy to help her, but that wasn't the problem. 

In August last year, she spent 10 days as an inpatient in hospital having her bowel emptied. The doctors presumed her bowel was blocked so manually emptied it. She had to drink 2 litres of klean prep per day for her entire stay. During the whole 10 days, we saw a lot of poo, but nowhere near what the doctors were expecting. This proved there was no bowel blockage, which is what I told them in the first place.



Following this she was given a bowel transit study, she took 3 tablets that contained tiny electrodes over the course of a week and then we went for daily x rays to see where the electrodes were in her bowel/intestines. This showed that she has a slow digestive transit. She has tried a variety of different medications to speed it up but we didn't find one that worked. She was also trialled with a device called peristeen. This was basically a pipe up the bum used to flush the poo out. She wouldn't tolerate this and I can't say I blame her! I wouldn't fancy having a hose stuck up my bum twice a day and having to sit on the toilet for an hour afterwards. We had now exhausted all the options through our local paediatric department and were referred to a gastro specialist at the children's hospital. Their opinion turned out to be that Pops had lost control of her rectum and a course of Botox would reactivate the muscle and she would have control of her bowel again. I was dubious as I have always been unsure a loose bowel is what was causing all her issues. But the specialist explained that in children like her there is a 50/50 chance of the Botox working. The next step would be a colostomy bag, so we had nothing to lose by giving it a go. She went in Christmas week for a day stay to have her procedure. She was down in theatre for about 40 minutes all in all and was furious when they woke her up in recovery.

The specialist told us the results would be instant, but we will definitely know within 2 weeks whether it worked or not. We are now over a week past her procedure and after no poo at all, we are now in the same position as we were before. We go back to see the specialist mid-January and it's looking likely that we will be discussing colostomy bag surgery.

We are very aware of what a big life change this will be for her, but on the other hand, we are thinking of the life quality she has now that her bowels are holding back. She can't go swimming, she cant wear what she wants to due to the big bulky nappies she has to wear, she can't use the toilet independently as she always needs cleaning up. The colostomy will give her some much more freedom and independence. We will know for sure in January, but no matter what we will get the final answer and its been a long time coming, especially for Pops!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

New Year......New Me?

You see it all over social media year in year out don't you, New year new start, new year new me! I've decided that's not me this year. I quite like the old me, it's taken some time to get here, but now I'm here I quite like it. There are things Id like to change and change them I will, but not on the whim of a new year pledge! I mean if I pledge them on New Year's eve I am bound to break them by midnight on January 1st. 

So with that in mind, this is my list of changes I would like to make over the course of the year. No pressure to wake up on January 1st and be a whole new woman! Change takes time and putting pressure to change makes you doomed to fail as you beat yourself up for not doing it. 

1. Lose Some Weight - For health, not vanity! I don't care what people think when they look at me, I never have. I am fortunate that even though I am overweight I don't yet have any weight-related illnesses. I do have episodes of high blood pressure but that is due to a pre-existing condition with the vessels in my brain. But I know that I am at risk of diabetes, cholesterol and heart-related conditions. As a Mum of 4, I want to be healthier, not thinner!

2. Restart Swimming - I used to go swimming several times a week, but it just tailed off towards the end of the year. I love swimming it just doesn't feel like exercise and I can swim for miles. I would like to be going 3 times per week eventually.

3. Hydrate - I drink plenty, unfortunately, its plenty of diet drinks, tea and coffee. I probably get my 2 to 3 litres per day, but it's not just pure water. I have a whole cupboard full of water bottles that just aren't being used. My skin is so much better when I am hydrating myself.

4. Weekly Skin Pamper - I do my daily cleanse, tone and moisturiser most moring, I usually forget at night time! I want to take better care of my skin now I'm nearing 40. I have purchased some lovely Body Shop bits to enable me to pamper my skin on a weekly basis.

5. Only 1 Takeaway Per Month - I meal plan weekly, I always have as its a great way to save money and not have a freezer full of unused food. But the last 3 months of the year we had one too many takeaways. So we want to limit it to 1 per month, that way it makes it feel more like a treat.

6. Monthly Date Night - This is one we used to stick to religiously but have let it slip. As parents of 4 time away from the brood is much needed. It doesn't have to be anything posh or expensive, just some time away from the kiddies. Whether that be a trip to Nandos or a walk in the park, just some time away.

7. Finish House & Garden - This has been a work in progress for a few years. I have no doubt by the time we finish it will be time to start again. The builders have been in and separated the boy's room. We need to decorate those, have new flooring put down in one of them, finish the kitchen, buy a new fridge and have a bed build into the over stairs cupboard in Miss S's room. I want those things completed in the first 3 months of the year. Then as Spring comes around we can work on the gardens. I want the front half flagging for the bins and the back half decking for the garden furniture.

I want to check back on these in December and see which ones we managed to achieve! It's a whole 12 months, which seems a long time, but I am pretty sure we only just saw Christmas 2018 a few months ago!! 

Are you a resolution type of person, or do you just feel pressure and fail like me? Do you want to make some year-long pledges, I would love to hear them below.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx
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