Festive Frolics in Edinburgh!

Yesterday we took a trip to Edinburgh to see the Christmas market. We also met up with Auntie Emma to have a speedy lunch and swap of presents prior to the big day.

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Both Sandy and Roslyn were meant to nap in the car on the way over. I’m going leave you to guess if either of them did, but the words “5:50 bed time” might give a clue. Sandy was pretty hungry after the hour and a half journey – half of that spent on one blinking street in Edinburgh. Stupid Edinburgh traffic. Say what you will about the wrecking of lovely buildings, the M8 and Glasgow kick bum when it comes to accessing the city – so he got started early on some tomato sauce on a napkin. Yep.

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Roslyn was on surprisingly good form for one who refused to nap basically all morning (oops, I gave it away) and happily ate half my burger while Sandy scarfed down my chips. That’s one way to start the new years diet early I guess.

After Emma sadly had to retire back to work (bah humbug and all that) we headed to the Christmas market. Sandy wanted to go on the carousel and after a good walk up and down and round being very particular about the throne he should sit on, they settled in for the ride.

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Check out his “where’s mummy?” face…

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… and then his “there she is!” face!

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So cute. I’d have gone on too but Roslyn had finally crashed in the sling and I had the buggy to mind.

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We ventured along more. Sandy wanted to walk but it was pretty busy so we made slow progress, especially with the buggy. I wish Sandy would still tolerate being in a sling on days like this!

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But we persevered and checked out the ice skating…

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And viewed the old town from the market…

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Rozzie snoozed on and we stopped for waffles. Stuart had wanted churros but searching for them was hard going so waffles it was.

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Sandy was pretty happy because the waffle stall was right under the big wheel. I’d have loved to go on but there were big queues and we had given up on getting to the St. James Centre car park and abandoned the car half way there where the parking was limited to three hours, so the clock was tick tick ticking on our festive fun. Next year we will go earlier.

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Patiently waiting on waffles.

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And watching the wheel turning.

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I’m a Glasgow girl at heart but you have to admit Edinburgh is a pretty city to look at.

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Sands was pretty taken with warm waffles covered in icing sugar…

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… and Roslyn promptly woke up to try some too.

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We went to the Helter Skelter which, again, time did not allow us to go on.

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But Sandy had a bit of a dance and we made up for it by taking him to see some amazing Christmas lights.

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“WHOA MUMMY!!”

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“HI DADDY!!”

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Check out Mr Cool.

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My Guys <3

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All in all a busy but fun afternoon. We are out again this afternoon for lunch but hope to spend Christmas eve at home in our new matching festive pjs. I’m coming down with something so I’m just sitting here hoping it is 1) short lived and 2) something the kids have already had.

Fingers crossed please.

Oh and have a fabulous Christmas!

Homemade Chocolate Truffles – Cookie dough, Oreo and Salted Caramel

I love making food gifts for all my guys at Christmas. This year’s homemade baked goods were chocolate truffles, and I was surprised just how easy they were, and just how well they turned out:

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The recipes I used were from pinterest:

Cookie Dough
Oreo (cookies and cream)
Salted Caramel

They are really simple. The cookie dough one just requires you to rub together the ingredients into balls. The Oreo ones are crushed oreos and cream cheese, that’s all! And the salted caramel is actually really easy involving boiling condensed milk, butter and golden syrup. I’d recommend and reuse these recipes to anyone.

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I packaged them in origami boxes made from left over wrapping paper.

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And added tissue paper to sit the truffles in.

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I then made some tags with the details on.

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A quick ‘key’ to the types of truffles inside.

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So if you know me and I like you expect some of these bad boys to be heading your way soon!

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Festive Times

There’s something so magical about the lead up to Christmas. It’s this pull of festivity which renders even the mundane moments significant. I feel it to the extent that Christmas eve actually kind of trumps Christmas day in excitement. The anticipation and promise and the cosying down at home with warm lights in the dark and special food and drink. The whole driving home for Christmas thing, maybe snow… I’m all over that. I’ve never lost the ecstatic feeling which made it so hard to get to sleep on the 24th when young.

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The early years of my twenties found me devoid of Christmas spirit to some extent, struggling to find that feeling again, knowing the best was behind me and the magic of childhood gone. But now I’ve got these two babies and the magic is back. Not only do I feel it myself again but I feel it through them. Even if it’s just the wonder of Roslyn’s eyes as she sees the lights on the tree, or the joy in Sandy meeting the legendary figure of Santa, it’s so perfect.

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We took a trip to Sandyholm. It used to be an independent garden centre and I’ve been going there since as long as I can remember. I have such fond memories of it, and my grandparents there. Since it has been bought by Dobbies but the status of this one location renders it Dobbies Sandyholm, its status preventing it’s character from being subsumed by a chain entirely. This might sound a bit silly, I mean it’s but a garden centre, but for some reason it’s a really festive place. I was saying this to Mum about how seasonal it is, how be it christmas, the coming of spring with bulbs and promise of seedlings, or summer and all the warm weather gear, it’s always a happy place to visit.

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We got some tea and cake at the cafe with the two of them before venturing to see if a certain man clad in red was free to see Sandy.

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I’d hoped to go with Stuart but it was all booked up on the weekends or at awkward times in relation to naps so we went on chance on a monday and it was dead. Sandy was all up for meeting Santa and ran through the festive little walkway to his grotto.

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I was getting Roslyn out of the trolley when I heard Sandy shout “oh Mummy!”. He was standing having just opened the door “It’s Santa!”

The look of delight on his face, that’s the magic right there. See Christmas, it makes me as soppy as anyone.

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Sandy was so happy to be in Santa’s little house. For the first time he replied after being asked his name “Shandee” and happily sat on Santa’s knee with Roslyn for a picture. It’s just too much! Then Santa helped him pick presents for the pair of them. While we picked Roslyn’s we noticed Sandy had disappeared back into the grotto and was setting his present up on the seat beside Santa, clearly wanting to settle in. I told him we had to go and he said “bye bye santa” and waved and grinned so hard when Santa delivered the all important “HO HO HO!” as we left.

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Outside the grotto we found a carousel. It wasn’t on because it was so quiet but that didn’t stop Sandy climbing on and sneaky Granny illicitly operating it!

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We’ve been making things festive wherever we’ve been in Christmas outfits recently, especially the classic matching jumpers! Roslyn has been taken for a boy soooo many times lately.

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Even at home having the decorations up and the festive oil burning means everything feels that bit more exciting.

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The morning after the first snow Sandy went with Pa and Stuart, Roslyn and I took a day out to finish up the Christmas shopping. There was deeper snow on the way to Livingston which made the whole countryside seem so merry.

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It was lovely to spend some time just the three of us and reminded me of the days of me Stuart and Sandy when he was little baby.

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Roslyn was a reindeer. Wait no, a MALE reindeer, apparently. Since when was a reindeer outfit sexed? All we heard all day was “LOOK AT THAT LITTLE BOY!” The attention was sweet and I gave up correcting to girl after the third person told us what a cute little lad she was. That’s what I get for not sticking to pink eh?

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We got Tapas for lunch and Rozzie was not so keen on chorizo. Oops.

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One of the highlights of the day was getting Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It’s a bloody good job I’m not in the centre more or I would be one fat fat fatty with that shop tempting me in.

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Back at the old homestead we’ve been chilling. Sandy has been getting out his face on water shots from my measuring cups.

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Roslyn’s been in excellent form, grinning from ear to ear pretty much all day long and loving cuddles and kisses.

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And there has been toast a plenty.

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We’re all ready for the big day now!

Make Your Own Christmas Crackers

Usually my Mum buys our christmas crackers in the sales. Last year she forgot and *shock horror* we were faced with buying full price ones. I had my usual “could I make it instead” thought, which usually comes any time something is required but expensive, and decided that yes, yes I could. And you know what? It was really easy and I’m glad I did because it was fun making them personalised. So here’s how:

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What you will need:

Toilet Roll tubes (as many as the number of crackers you want, plus an extra two)
Hats
Joke Cards
Presents
Cracker Snaps
Wrapping Paper
Ribbon

For the hats we made them from tissue paper, but you could make them easily from any paper, perhaps unused wrapping paper.

Cracker snaps are cheap to buy on ebay so order them in.

For the presents I decided to put in a chocolate (Kinder bars because they are the right shape!) and a scratch card. I love the silly gifts you get in shop bought ones to be honest, and I’m always secretly hoping for the mini screwdriver set (hello, only gift that ever survives the big bin bag on boxing day) but I decided on scratchcards. One year for our secret santa swap game (more on that in a future post) someone bought £10 worth of scratch cards which was so fun. Luckily the lottery folks keep it festive and made cracker shape ones so I bought a bunch of them to add. Ironically the totting up of the costs associated with my own crackers makes them almost as expensive as buying them but honestly I think they are better, and you can easily just add home made gifts to keep it inexpensive.

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For the joke cards I went with a joke and a trivia question, all christmas related. Except for Sandy’s cracker which has his halloween bear bum joke in so he can take part at the table, it being the only joke he knows! Mum also made Sandy and Roslyn’s hats from The Snowman wrapping paper. If they win on the scracthcard they can spend it on ice lollies from Scotmid (Sandy) or a crap load of heinz biscottis (Roslyn).

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Anyway, all you need to do is get all the inserts and stuff them in the tube, making sure the cracker snap is in the middle.

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Then place it in the wrapping paper and put two more tubes on either side with a 1cm gap between them.

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Tape up the wrap tightly on the middle tube and little looser on the outer ones.

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Trim the wrap so it is just covering the outer tubes on each size.

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Tie the ribbon inbetween the tubes in two places. tie tightly so the presents don’t escape.

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Remove the outer tubes.

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Cut triangles into the ends of the paper on each side. You also might want to look in the ends and see the snap is equidistant and maybe tape it into the paper on each end so it doesn’t make a break for it prior to cracking time.

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Curl the ribbon and ta da! Cracker City!!

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I was really pleased with how they turned out and can’t wait to open them on the 25th with dinner.

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First Snow, First Snowman

We had our first snow last week.

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Not only was it the first snow of the season but it was also Roslyn’s first snow EVER, and the first snow Sandy has ever seen. It did snow once in the night last year when he was here but it was melted by morning.

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In case I haven’t bleated on about it enough by now Sandy is OBSESSED with the snowman (meman). Our house is bursting with meman merch: toys, dvds, books, figures, crockery, magazines, snowglobes, chocolates, advent calendars… you name it we’ve got it, or are at least probably going to happen upon it and have to buy it. It’s hard to deny little things when it gives him so much joy. Anyway, as soon as Sandy saw the snow he was asking to make a snowman so who could refuse?

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It was but a tiny snowfall and I knew unlikely to last long so we grabbed our winter gear and made the little guy as fast as possible. I think he turned out pretty sweet considering our limited resources!

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Sandy loved packing the snow onto his body like the boy does in The Snowman.

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Yep, I forgot to take the milk in.

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Rozzie was napping but I was glad to hear her stir so I could jam her snowsuit on and get right on this amazing photo opportunity!

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The one I took on my phone actually turned out better but hey, check instagram for that.

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Roslyn was pretty cheery for five minutes then she realised it was cold and she hadn’t napped much.

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But Sandy was loving it. He tracked around the drive looking at his footprints and then helped me deliver the neighbours christmas cards, it being a brief window of not sleeting and not dark, and oh so festive in the whiteness!

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Roslyn wasn’t best pleased so I plied Sandy with hot chocolate and put her back to bed. A bit hectic but when it comes to snow you’ve got to make the most of it. I feel so lucky to get snow as I know so many places get none. We usually get a little each year, though last year there was basically none. It’d be great to get another proper snow fall this winter! I find myself like a child shouting “it’s lying it’s lying”, checking to see it is staying under 4 degrees and watching hopefully for grey clouds approaching. I don’t know, I’m pretty sentimental about it. Maybe it’s the traditional view of a white Christmas, or a lingering sense of magic that school might be called off if it snowed. All I know is that the white blanket changes everything and makes me feel all warm inside, even if it’s cold outdoors.

Wishing you all a white Christmas this year.

A Hat Trick

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Roslyn wears a lot of home knits. These are granny knits and we adore getting all these beautiful home made items made lovingly by someone who is, oh, just a tiny bit fond of Rozzie. Well, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a granny knitting for your littleys then worry no more because you can buy some of Roslyn’s granny’s knitted hats on Etsy.

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Check out: A Hat Trick on Etsy now.

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Roslyn was all too happy to be the hat model!

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Also I’m sure Granny would happily take commissions so if that’s something you are interested in just let her know through Etsy or contact me and I will pass on the good news.

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Gingerbread

Pre-hospital Roslyn had spent all of… hmm, an hour in her cot, in her whole life. She had occasionally napped on the couch, carefully inched from my arms, bolstered by a bunch of pillows to trick her into believing I was still holding her. Aside from that naps were on me, and night sleep was in our bed. It was fine for a long time. Then four months came and she regressed. I expected it, having been round this block once before. She failed to improve and I also expected that then she got worse and I sullenly was not surprised. We kept going to sort the issue out like we had with Sandy but she screamed bloody murder. I think not taking a dummy is part of the problem. It helped Sandy settle without being held when he went into the cot at seven months, but Roslyn is a steadfast dummy refuser. We were at the point where, even though she was waking hourly, it still got us more sleep to have her in with us than to spend the night trying to shh pat our way to sleep with her in the cot.

When she went into hospital she needed to be in the cot for several reasons. Aside from the tubes and the fever she had she needed proper rest and my movements were inhibiting this. She was so tired and weak that she gave up and accepted it. It seemed a miracle. When she started feeling stronger she protested more and in the end would only settle if left to it. She didn’t cry per se, just whinged on and off. I feel quite lucky that we were able to come away from a horrible situation with a silver lining. When we got her home we continued with the cot and Stuart and my Mum sleep trained her with a lot of shhhing and patting and a little bit of controlled crying. Now she’s in her cot in her room all night. She wakes three times usually which is fine and is taking a bottle a bit from Stuart. We’ve been taking turns on the couch to get good sleep. I feel like a new woman.

And what’s more is that she is napping in the cot too and even though she needs resettled every 45 minutes for naps, shes in there, and I have all this baby free time! I’ve even found the parenting holy grail which is the joint nap several times and I don’t even know what to do with myself. Ok, that’s a lie, the first time I didn’t but then I quickly got to some PhD work.

When I can’t overlap the naps (an overnap, I just coined that) it’s still great because for the first time in seven months I can spend some one to one time with Sandy. He’s been in much need of it and has really felt the upheaval recently. It must be so hard to not know if Mum is going to be there when you wake up. As soon as we got Roslyn home from hospital I took Sandy shopping for groceries. He wouldn’t walk, or sit in the trolley, only wanted held. He was scared if he let go of me I would be gone. So I am very glad to have the time now to spend just with my boy.

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We’ve been making good use of the time with festive makings. First we made a gingerbread house from a fab kit my Dad got for my birthday.

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Sandy preferred to play with the different shaped and coloured sweets than to decorate, but loved watching me make the house come together.

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And of course he adored dismantling it a bit too.

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I think it looks pretty darn cosy! We kept it mostly intact til Stuart got home to see it and now it is missing a good deal of roof, one wall, and most of the sweets.

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We also made some gingerbread men. Sandy loves playdoh so he is always happy to “make cake” with me.

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The step stool from IKEA has been a fabulous purchase and is used day in day out. Sandy loves being able to help out in the kitchen with me.

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Here are our finished gingerbreadmen, festivley iced and adorned with balls.

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YUM.

Decorating

We put up our decorations last weekend. It was nice to distract us from the hospital infected weeks that we’d just emerged from, and also get away from the sleep training transition we are still going through. Change is afoot just now, but it’s going well.

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Stuart ceremonially put the angel on the top of the tree as he always does.

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Sandy decided to be naked.

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The decorations make for fun distractions/new toys for them. Sandy loves the nativity figures, I keep finding them in hilarious scenarios. This morning mary was looking forlornly into an empty stable for jesus, who was rocking out in the lift shaft of Sandy’s garage with a donkey. Joesph had obviously overwet the baby’s head and was face down under the christmas tree, and meanwhile the shepherd and a king were in deep conversation, overlooked by an angry looking cow.

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The other highlight were the beads. I decided against putting them on the tree in favour of brown twine (rustic scandi christmas is all the rage up in my house) so they sit in a tin for Roslyn to go nuts for.

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I managed to get pants on him just so I could get some non-nude pictures of him. Christmas pants though so yay!

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Obligatory family under the tree shot, first as a foursome!

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You wouldn’t know it from the face but she was having a blast. Strangely she’s been so much more content since coming home.

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So all the decorations are up, the christmas outfits are in their second rotations and I ordered the goose from the butcher. Yes, goose. The butcher couldn’t believe it either:

Me: I’d like to order a goose please
Butcher: Oh it’s very expensive
Me: That’s okay
Butcher: I’m not sure how much it will be
Me: It’s fine.
Butcher: The last one I got was last year for Rena Thomson.
Me: (who the hell is that?) It’ll feed six though yeah?
Butcher: Oh it’ll feed more than that
Me: That’s great then
Butcher: Expensive though, last one was £55, it might be a bit more
Me: No problem
Butcher: Might be more like £60..
Me: Well, it’s what we’re after

Seriously. The turkey last year to feed 8 was £56 anyway so I’m not sure the great goose inquisition was required, but ordered it is.

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Looking forward to a few weeks of festive fun with the kiddos now. I’ve handed in two chapters of the PhD in the last week so BOOM! I’m ready to celebrate! Now where’s the sherry…

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Santa

This post has been sitting in my drafts for an age, waiting for the kids to get better and my latest PhD chapter to be complete so I could add words to the pictures and publish it. Finally I can!

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We had an early Christmas party for a group of Sandy’s toddler friends and my Mum friends. One of the Mum’s playgroup had a Santa costume going begging that day, so it would have been rude not to have the big man come see the littles, wouldn’t it?

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It was the perfect excuse to start not only the festive outfits, but indeed the MATCHING festive outfits. Ah, the joys of having more than one baby!

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For some obscure reason Stuart was upstairs fixing his hair when we all started singing jingle bells. He obviously didn’t hear us or he would have come down because he knows that’s the song that brings Santa…

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Santa handed some presents to Roslyn and Pheobe (the babies)…

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…then let the toddlers delve into his present sack for their gifts.

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Sandy got a car so he was very pleased!

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For some reason little miss seperation anxiety didn’t argue with sitting on Santa’s knee… I wonder why ;)

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Sandy was so cute, as the man in red walked away upstairs (to the roof, where he parked his sleigh, yeah?) he was shouting “BYE BYE SANTA!!!!”. When Stuart came back down Sandy told him he’d missed Santa and Stuart was very upset, obviously!

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Santa accosting happily married women, shocker.

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Anyway, it was the first of what will be many merry days for us this festive season, now to get the tree up!

Ho ho ho.

Hospitalisation

Recently we were at home in the throes of illness. This happened:

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And then they woke. They slept on me. Roslyn on my chest, Sandy curled in a ball on my lap. They coughed and cried. It grew dark and the lights were off and I was laden with my babies. We were riding it out.

We kept riding through the night and as Sandy finally got some rest Roslyn got worse. She barely slept. She wouldn’t be put down. She moaned in our arms. She wouldn’t feed. We called 111 in the morning and headed to the out of hours doctor at the hospital. She slept in her sling. I never expect things to actually get bad. I’m always the one thinking it’s someone else’s story, but that day it was ours. We were sent to the pediatric ward and she was monitored and tested. At one point we were told we could go home if we were confident to but Stuart said he wasn’t and he was right to be cautious. Her breathing was worse soon after.

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The RSV virus is horrible. Absolutely horrible. It caused her Bronchiolitis and a secondary chest infection. Her little ribs heaved as she breathed and the doctor said it was like she was running on a treadmill. The poor girl couldn’t rest, she needed to lie in the cot to be peaceful but was fighting all of her (and my) instincts to stay close to me, much like they do with fevers when they want you and don’t understand the body contact heats them further. Finally we got her in the cot and she rested. She had oxygen in a tube at her nose. 2 litres.

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A nurse came and scared me. I’m still recovering from the postnatal stay with Sandy. I’ve not been in a hospital ward since then (other than Roslyn’s brief hearing test). She waffled on about us having worries and them having worries and how if they have a worry then we have a worry. She talked of covering her back. She talked of worst case. I thought Roslyn was dying. Two hours sleep a night for a week and the evening and the tubes and I couldn’t think straight. I held fast until she was leaving so I could turn to my mum and cry, then she added “only one person can stay overnight” and it was the postnatal ward all over again.

I called Allison, my midwife, and she set me straight. Midwife for life I told her. It wasn’t that my mum couldn’t reassure me, I needed some medical opinion that I could trust. We argued with the staff and mum was able to stay in the parents room so we could spell eachother. My ribs ached with having held her all night long and each time she stirred I picked her up and felt like I would fall. She needed me but I was barely there.

We made it through that night and from then on it wasn’t as bad really. She ended up with IV fluids because feeding was just too much work for her. She wasn’t to eat. She woke ravenous. We cuddled her but she rooted. I fed and she struggled. I expressed and we syringed her just enough milk to make her comfortable. She had a NG tube inserted and was tube fed my milk and seemed a bit happier. The next night her oxygen came down to 0.5 litres and she was improving. She started to breastfeed again.

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It’s funny how institutionalised you become so quickly. By day two Mum and I were set with out hot water bottles and snacks, she had her knitting, me my phone. We knew the drill. We spelled each other time on the couch in the parents room and we learned the lingo of upper respiratory infections in infants startlingly fast. We helped with her care and observed her stats. The nurse called the ward a family. I wouldn’t go that far but I certainly felt the cohesion. And there’s something comforting about walking up the dimly lit corridors at 1am, staff smiling as you pass and children coughing, machines beeping. Stuart said it was like being on a plane, with the gentle white noise and intermittent human sounds, babies crying, chairs creaking, footsteps falling.

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In the day I went home. I’ve not been apart from Roslyn really. Pre-hospital she was deep in separation anxiety mode. But she didn’t need me as much in there with the care of the staff and the machines and the rest she took. I came home the second day and showered. The house was eerily quiet. I slept. The next day I spent time with Sandy, just us two. Again, so strange, not having a little baby to keep an eye on too. I felt quite devoid of functions.

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And the next morning she smiled. Stuart was saying he was waiting for her smiles and he knew then he could lessen his worry. And she delivered, she woke and wasn’t crying and she looked at us and made a small crinkly smile, inhibited by the tapes on her face. Later that morning she was sitting up on my knee, playing with her emily doll her Gran brought her. I suggested Wednesday as a going home day to a nurse and she said maybe, but she wouldn’t be surprised to see us when she was back in on Thursday.

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She fed all night and then it was Tuesday and she was well and I went home and she surpassed expectation. Stuart called to say she was going to be allowed out that afternoon. Joy! I went back in without any supplies. It had been over a week of hell and I craved normality. Dad was with me, he’d settled her with Stuart while I’d been home. She smiled and played and watched everything. As we were going to be free the nurse took all her tubes off and she had a nap and she put on the monitor to give us reassuring numbers for our departure. Her oxygen dropped. I felt she would fail at the final hurdle. We had a cup of tea in a now familiar routine in the pantry and went back to look at her stats. The nurse smiled telling me they were fine. Soon after we left.

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We are home now and she’s okay. It can take weeks to clear up and the cough can last months. The security of the hospital has given way to change, and I’m not good at change. She’s in a cot now. We were forced to put her in the cot for undisturbed peace and it seemed a shame to waste that when we came home. She used to scream in the cot, now we put her down and a few girzzly cries are all that lead to sleep. It’s good to have space in the bed again, but how I miss her. The little heavy, warm body. The sound of her deep breathing. The smell of her hair. And all so close now removed to the little prison. It’s for the best, but it’s hard for me. Harder for me than her. Yet it is a silver lining of this whole ordeal, her being in the cot, along with her ability to spend some time with others and not crave me so strongly that she screams. She was also taking a bottle of formula to top her up in the hospital, yet she has refused since getting home. It would have been useful as I could have slept, yet she needs the comfort of the breast more than the milk as her cough wakes her continuously. This morning she was a bit laboured in her breathing again after a day of relative activity and it was a sign to keep things relaxed. More cot time for my doll, and a nest on the couch. And I play with my boy and make biscuits and we look with delight at the windows of the advent calendar. Still I feel unstuck and unsure, I felt I would drop back into life once we got home but it’s been the end of an era. It’s not all bad, but it’s hard. We will work towards Christmas for normality to return. Thank you to everyone who has wished well upon our poor girl this week.

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