Category Archives: Parenting

neonatal care

Neonatal Care Taking

You never expect your baby to go anywhere else when they are born, apart from in your arms or in a cot beside your bed. You never really plan on these types of things.

I certainly didn’t when my first born went into the special care unit; actually even the hospital wasn’t expecting her to be spending her first days of life there either. I remember her jumping the queue and taking a twin’s bed, a Mum who was meant to be induced had to wait a little while longer, because our tiny bundle took the bed.

It was when I had my third baby (second to go to special care), that we had the more intense stay. Both though meant confusing times. I thought I would share with you some tips we found that could have helped us both inside and outside of the unit.

Car Park


It will be the least of your problems, but unfortunately if and when you go home, it could cause problems…Car Parks, a lot of the hospitals have private firms and they are pretty strict with their paring rules. Some hospitals offer money off vouchers or even free ticket if you have a long stay minor – this will include a premature or sick newborn. Ask one of the admin team, nurse or onsite car park offices for details. It can become really expensive; we worked out had we made it to the 100 average stay, the car park could have cost us more than our car insurance!

Maybe see if you have friends or family who live nearby, some people rent drive space for a lot cheaper than car parks too.


Onsite Accommodation

There is often a waiting list for these facilities, you don’t always get told about them; get your name down on the list as soon as you are able to. They are helpful to have so that you can be closer to your child.



You really do need to keep your strength up when spending time in the hospital, it is hot and exhausting; so getting decent food and drink inside of you is as important as feeding your child. We found ourselves sourcing junk food, because it was easier; quicker. Living on takeaways or sandwiches wasn’t ideal. The hospital restaurants are either don’t have a lot of choice or is expensive, many hospitals have well known shops, and cafes but aren’t always the cheaper versions. Have friends and family put together healthier picnics, a lot of the family kitchens have microwaves or resources to reheat things like leftover homemade cottage pie; even if you’re staying at home and visiting daily rather than staying, having people help cook goes along way.



It is very difficult trying to rest in the circumstances, you need to make those all-important bonding days count; but you also need to replenish your energy; the heat of the wards are exhausting, get fresh air, take a break; even if it is to do one lap of the grounds. Your child needs you to be rested. But don’t feel forced to leave the unit either, do what you feel comfortable with in leaving your baby.


Ask Questions

Okay, so I get to the parenting bit. One thing I regret massively is not asking enough questions; of course we asked some – but we didn’t question or second guess what the health care professionals were doing. You CAN get a second opinion, especially if your first answer wasn’t clear enough; it is so scary and so confusing. Have a note pad to jot questions that come to mind when you are away from the hospital – typically that happens a lot. Jot the answers too, you can always return to them later if everything seems a mess.


Finally – most importantly

Remember that baby, that child is YOURS; there are so many times where that is forgotten, where you are forgotten as a parent. If you are unsure of something, then speak up you are your child’s voice, you are there to get to know your baby and love them. It is so hard watching while the world cares for your baby, but don’t ever be made to feel like they’re not yours. Talk to your baby, if you’re having communication difficulties with the staff, the charity BLISS are good for advocating for parents. The staff are doing their best; but remember so are you.

Take each and every single day as it comes. Remind yourself you are raising a miracle.

caesarean section tips

Getting Through a Caesarean Section

Having a caesarean section is never an easy option. Some opinions wouldn’t agree, but having major abdominal surgery to safely deliver a healthy baby is too often the only option.

Although I was induced and tried for many, many hours to have a vaginal birth; it still resulted in an emergency caesarean. My first daughter was born small but safe. I went on to have a further four, with a mixture of electives and an emergency. No two were the same, but each gave me a baby.

Here are a few things which helped me during the recovery.

My final caesarean I was also sterilised, so my abdomen was a lot more sensitive than my other babies’.

Suitcase Goodies

I played Suitcase Tetris so many times, in the months (yes I said months!) leading up to the caesarean dates; if I am honest I still packed too much!

I don’t need to tell you the obvious for you and baby – so here are maybe some of the less obvious ones.

  • Straws (non-plastic of course). It isn’t the easiest to move after the operation so; to manage a drink isn’t easy either. But you really do need to keep your fluids up.
  • Flip-flops (or Slides). Footwear that is waterproof, easy to get on so you can wear them in the shower; hospital showers aren’t always the nicest under foot – but also you lose a lot of fluid too.
  • I was always offered tea and toast once back in recovery (why is that always one of the best meals you ever get?!). Pack something healthy and naughty to nibble on in the middle of the night.
  • Coffee sachets. You can often get your favourite coffee made up in individual sachets.
  • Maternity Pads, the hospital do supply some, but they’re often not as nice as the ones you get from the shops. There’s also the option of postpartum cloth sanitary towels too, which are even more comfortable.
  • Dry Shampoo. The hospital gets very hot and sticky, and while waiting for your anaesthetic to wear off the spray can make you feel a little more human.


The Birth

You can request skin to skin with your new baby, it wasn’t until my 5th baby that I knew this could be done, if you have the screens it isn’t the most comfortable of positions, but it can be done, and so wonderfully beneficial to both you and baby.

Cord Clamping, again this wasn’t something which was done until my 5th baby, but I have a wonderful photo of my daughter sprawled out on my legs, while still being connected; I won’t show as she is completely naked, legs and arms stretched out completely brand new!

Photos, there is most likely someone available to take photos of the birth if your partner isn’t comfortable, or if you would rather your partner be next to you. My very first baby a health care professional took photos of the whole birth, right to when she was born. My last baby as I mentioned before I have a photo of her chilling out waiting for her cord to stop.

Also be prepared if your baby is born in a rush, or unexpectedly poorly, there may not be an opportunity for photos; rest assured should you be separated there will (hopefully) be other opportunities.

Little Extras

You don’t have to have visitors; you are well within your rights to say no. If is incredibly overwhelming having this tiny new human to look after without out queues of visitors. Of course, they’re excited and happy for you; but (providing baby is healthy and coming home) they really do have plenty of time to meet baby. The bed spaces aren’t big either, so can feel claustrophobic too.

Have a towel or muslin cloth handy to hold across your stomach while coughing or laughing, this helps with the pain giving a little support to your new stitches. Try and move as much as you can to relieve any stiffness.

Going home; I was incredibly lucky to go home 24 hours after delivery with three of my babies. To be honest our youngest two we made sure this request was taken care of due to anxieties of being in the hospital. Make sure you do rest when you go home; take one day at a time. Remember to take regular pain medication, there are no prizes or point scoring if you do or don’t accept the pain medication.

Ask for help; accept offers of cooked meals, or babysitting any other children. Not all Dads can get the time off after, or at least not long enough when it comes to recovery.



Enjoy being waited on if you are able to. Enjoy your newborn. If you have to turn away extra visitors due to hormones, or feeding or just simply wanting time alone to adjust; have no guilt in doing so. If and when you do have visitors, let them make the tea!

Settling in with a new baby can be hard work without the added surgical pain; take your own time.



Congratulations on your new baby!

caesarean section awareness month

Caesarean Section Awareness Month

Although I was born via caesarean section in the ‘80s it always used seemed to be a bit of a taboo subject if a woman ever needed one.

I was certainly determined to have a vaginal birth. Television, films made vaginal births seem so magical. I wanted that rush of love that these women seemed to have; that is exactly how I imagined child-birth to be.

We were excited about meeting our new baby, from the moment we knew. I was nervous due to a previous miscarriage, but the birth was exciting and new. I had fully planned on having a baby via a “natural” delivery.


The Natural vs The Not-So

Rather than using vaginal birth or caesarean section, it can often be drummed into us that vaginal birth is “natural”. Well, yes it is, it is what women’s bodies are designed to do, except when they don’t. These remarks then leave mothers to feel as though they have failed because of not having a natural birth. I have seen and heard so many women being very much against medicalised births especially caesarean births, that they often forget these types are births are the only way mothers can have a healthy live baby.  The natural side of birth is when you get to take your baby home after it.



In my head, I was determined to have a normal birth. I needed to know I could have this magical experience of labour and delivery with my first baby. My pregnancy ended in me having pre-eclampsia, dangerously high blood pressure and an induction. Which then became a “failure to progress”, 40 hours after the first pessary I had my first emergency caesarean. Our new baby was taken straight to special care due to her weight and temperature. I was in pain. Being wheeled back and forward, even having a day of bed rest; not being able to see or pick up my baby when I wanted was not how I imagined becoming a mother.

But she came home, my pain eventually left and she is growing into a fine young lady.



There were times when I felt embarrassed by the fact I hadn’t had the more natural way of having a baby, repeatedly told I chosen the “easy way out”. I hadn’t chosen, and it certainly wasn’t easy. Well, actually I guess it was an “easy option” not because I hadn’t pushed a baby into the world; but having the choice between causing her more distress and hurting her and getting her out the safest possible way, then yes having a caesarean at that time was the easy option. It used to feel like such a taboo to have this way of birth. I sometimes felt embarrassed to have had the operation.


The Next Baby

I fell pregnant again with my second baby, for a short while I thought and discussed trying a vaginal birth. I went back and forth a couple of times, but the closer I got to the dates with SPD becoming difficult to manage it was advised due to the “failure to progress” in my first labour a caesarean would be the better option. It turned out to be the very best option; we’re still unsure of what exactly happened, but there was an urgent need for a paediatrician team to arrive to help him. But he was born safe, he got to go home.


Natural Sadness

There was a relatively big gap between baby number two and number three. I really felt like I needed to have that magical birthing moment, desperate for this chance I requested and it was agreed that I could attempt this birth I had always wanted. I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I am a proper woman, a real mother. When I became desperately ill just over halfway through my pregnancy it was then I would have that chance once again taken from me. I even asked if I could still try; I was looked at as if I had lost my mind, I probably had. My devastation was short lived because I knew when this 1lb 5oz baby was born squeaking that going down the easy route once again was absolutely the very best option.


No Choice

Of course, I went on to have caesarean four and five. I think losing baby number three after a month old; put so much into perspective for me. Having other birth options weren’t even in my thoughts; I, of course knew there were no other options anyway. All I knew was I wanted to be able to keep my new babies. I no longer felt sad, disappointed or embarrassed; there was no feeling of grief about not having the perfect birth. My perfect births gave me all of my babies.



Magical Failures

We’re not failures, mothers who have to have intervention, whether it is an extra cut, or the top pain relief right down to a caesarean section. These routes are still seen as failures, as mothers being belittled by these delivery methods; some kind of snobbery maybe.  These caesarean scars were the first ever windows our babies could see their new worlds. They are the mark of birth, the mark which for me made me a mother. I may not be able to see my scar very well now, but they connect all my children, to me and to each other, my favourite natural tattoo.



In our modern medicine, it is wonderful that there are these choices, and that now there is better choices, for even elective. But no matter how a baby is born, one thing is to never judge or belittle how it came into the world, as long as they make it into our world. No taboo, no embarrassment. Just beautiful new babies.

the red head diaries

Rainy Day Activity Ideas

There’s nothing quite like a bout of a contagious disease to stop all plans for days out or things away from the home. Or days and days on end of wet and miserable weather; where every soft play is packed or too expensive for all your children.

Our Easter Break has been hit with awful weather and a round of Chicken Pox. Neither has been welcomed with open arms. She has been in relatively good spirits, spiked temperatures but still continued to smile. We don’t agree with taking them in busy public places whilst having something like Chicken Pox; so we have had a good few days spent at home as a family.

With the recent snow, and terrible weather we have all the time; we have gotten used to just spending time at home doing other activities.

Here are some of our rainy day favourites.


DVD Days

We have a huge selection, especially children’s ones. We don’t have a TV license.  I won’t go into the ins and outs of that right now – but we just don’t watch “normal” television; we’re okay with this.

These are some of the films which our children are loving right now (we go in circles of favourites, do you?)


Paddington Bear 2


The Nightmare before Christmas (We also have had Arthur Christmas on the 1st day of Spring!)


Hotel Transylvania – 1 and 2

Cars Trilogy

Beauty and the Beast

Pete’s Dragon


Edible Art

So not much in the way of art; but rainy days wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t some kind of cake making exercise.

Rice Krispie and Corn Flake chocolate treats. They always love these simple things, even the two year old can have a go, and mostly it is just an adult supervisory role; they can do most themselves. We often do this after the main Easter event, as it is an easy way to get rid of any uneaten Easter eggs. As parents we only buy 1-2 for them each, so any extra which don’t get eaten gets melted and turned to cakes or decoration! Nothing wasted.


Crafting and Construction

Lego is a firm favourite in our house for both adults and the children. We have lots of the sets that are readily available, but also my husband still has a large selection of Lego from his own childhood. Funnily enough it is quite a relaxing activity.

Drawing and colouring in books are another new activity which the five year old has fallen in love with, she received a few for her birthday and will regularly sit quietly and just colour in.


Role Play and Make Believe

Sylvanian families, Thomas the Tank Engine, toy kitchen and dolls prams are a massive hit and a great way to keep them occupied on these “cabin fever” days. They’re incredibly good at making stories with their little characters and would play for hours; I find it fascinating to watch as their stories and voices unfold.


Board Games

The traditional form or time passing, we still love.

My daughter was given a Friends Trivia Card game which is currently her favourite (as is the TV series box set).

Monopoly Empire – It is a fairly easy and quite short in comparison to the more traditional Monopoly games.

Card Games. “Pooh Head.” Is a bit of a favourite, not sure on the official name of this game!



When all else fails, and they’re all board gamed, and DVD worn out there is always the option of the Xbox or Kindle. Although for us it is the older two who play these more than the younger ones, the five year old has a “hand-me-down” one but plays it probably every six months; she isn’t interested. The two year old – she’s too young.



We are all very much looking forward to having no more bugs, and warmer weather.

But even if it continues to rain, and all the Pox has disappeared – there’s always muddy puddles!!

rainy day activities

not just for girls

Not Just For Girls. Boys Can’t Dance.


In the times where people are fighting for gender equality – equal rights as adults to allow women and girls the same rights as men, in the work place and how we dress. It is a slow movement, but the little things like, equal choice of clothing for little girls are beginning to change. 13 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt buying a cardigan with cars on – aimed at little girls, yet there is one currently hung in the wardrobe, or dinosaur clothes designed for girls. It is brilliant.

While we’re looking deeply into what clothing line these big companies have, making a stand, there is another little corner that seems society turns a blind eye to; that gender stereotypical jobs and hobbies are still very much obvious.

Football for boys, ballet for girls; this has stuck; and is something that is currently on my mind. Let me tell you…


In 2012 my eldest daughter took the steps to join a local majorette troupe; she didn’t enjoy gymnastics or country dancing, so I wasn’t sure if she would even enjoy this activity either. But she did and this year we’re nearing her 6th year and still loves every part of it. She also occasionally participates in football and hockey with her school; all activities very much supported. As long as she is enjoying it, nobody seems to bat an eyelid at her activities – quite right too.


Not Just For Girls

My son, he’s an absolute Gentleman, he’s very kind and is thoughtful towards others. He is also a majorette. One very hot summer’s day in 2013 whilst watching his older sister display, he asked if he was able to join in; I enquired and he was welcomed with open arms. I genuinely believed he wouldn’t stay for long I, myself assumed he would stop when he realised (at the time), there were no other boys, and just how much hard work goes into training. He surprised us all; he is now currently going into his 5th year.


The kicker – The Not-So Gender Equality

I have been questioned many times over the past five years from different people about my son doing majorettes. That is deemed too girly for him.

Where I have never been questioned about my daughter doing it, or that she also plays football (and is a fan of football too, might I add – both my son AND my husband aren’t bothered by football!!).

I am not really sure why people, in today’s society – where people are fighting (and rightly so) over women’s rights, that this hobby is deemed “too girly.” Yes it obviously is predominantly a female activity, but that shouldn’t stop any person male or female having a go. The stereotypes are still there, and are a long way behind what it should be. As I said nobody seems to be bothered by my daughter playing and liking football, yet it is EVERYBODY’S business whether my son twirls a baton.


Fighting the Corner

Where is the fight for the boys who want to dance? We’re still no closer to having the freedom for more Billy Elliotts.

The fight for those boys who do want to put on ballet pumps and pirouette.

For the boys, like my son as well as many other sons, who want to pick up a baton and NOT want to injure someone but to show off a skill, or a set of poms to show off his team building skills?

These boys need this corner too. There have been times where my son has been alienated by friends and classmates because of his hobby. It’s unfair.

To me, it is the adults – the parents who need to help change this stigma where boys can’t comfortably enjoy something that is not the usual football or scouts.

Sadly I have seen it with my own eyes where people point at the boys at carnivals and displays (although in my son’s case it is friends who point more…), at the end of the day they are children; children who are out to entertain doing the thing that they love, the boys should never feel like they’re inadequate. There are some amazing male twirlers in the world – you’ve just got to open your eyes and see the amazing things these guys do, ignoring the rudeness.

I would rather my son pick up a baton and twirl or a set of poms and rock out to Bon Jovi; than be the mean judgemental humans out there, who think it is acceptable to ridicule someone because of their gender.

It is time to stop.

So, unless your hobby is porn or of a sexual nature, then gender should NOT have an effect on a person’s hobbies, jobs or activities.

Leave our boy twirlers, boy dancers alone.



I am incredibly proud of my son, of all my children. We never push them to do their hobbies, in fact sometimes it would be nice to have a Friday off (joke 😉 ), we weren’t expecting him to enjoy it so much, to still be doing it nearly 5 years on. I do ask him every now and again if he still wants to continue, and every time his answer is yes. I would never force him or any of them (I have three twirlers) to continue if they didn’t want to.

It really is a great activity, something different. He gets on with every single person on his team.

(Check out the behind the scenes post coming soon).

Rainbow-Baby. Blame It The Boogie


My Rainbow-Baby Birth Announcement

(albeit a little late!)
Arriving at the hospital for 7 am 15/3/2013, it had originally been 8 am but I’d had a slight pre-eclampsia scare 2 days before, so they wanted me in to do a blood test before my section. (which actually didn’t happen).
I’d been starved from midnight, so I was HUNGRY!! The joy of being Nil By Mouth.
I was booked in as first on the list, so I was hoping we wouldn’t have to wait too long!!
We were placed in the same room I had been in before and after Melody’s birth, it felt surprisingly peaceful being in there; though there was a feeling of terror, calm also washed over me. It was the strangest of feelings.
My consultant soon graced us with his presence, explained that there was an emergency so he would try his best to get us in next.
Time for the clock watching; guestimating how long we would be waiting and wondering how many more emergencies there would be.

Eagerly waiting

When I had my little boy there had been 18 emergencies that day we were very nearly sent home. Anyway, my husband and I chilled while midwives pottered in and out, filling in paperwork, explaining what would be happening.
Very soon the time came for someone to arrive to give us our 30-minute warning; where I would be gowned up and John also kitted out! We had heard that our consultant had gone to assist with the final part of the section that was taking place. We jokingly had images of him standing in the corner impatiently tapping his foot, wanting them to hurry up so he could quickly get me out the way!

Soon our escorts came for us.

We slowly walked to the operating theatre; I’d been suffering from SPD and was in absolute agony, I could barely lift my feet to walk. So to be honest I was looking forward to being numbed just to relieve the pain of that for a while. We walked into the bright theatre; the very same theatre as I’d been in for Melody, only this time the atmosphere was lighter. There were several people there, but really not as many as when we’d had Melody.
I was told to sit on the gurney, feet onto a chair. While other people in blue began prepping (or attacking) me with needles! Two people were attempting to get a cannula in; after two attempts and a pool of blood later one was in! That’s going to bruise!
Then I had a couple of people poking and prodding my back while trying to keep my mind off the uncomfortable sensation our Midwife moved her attention to my feet, fascinated by my slightly webbed toes! And no I can’t swim!!


The Spinal and Epidural (CSE) took an age to get in. I was having both this time as I’d felt the knitting back together last time; it felt quite uncomfortable this time, like having electric shocks go down my leg which was a strange feeling. Our consultant entered the theatre wearing a red nose sticker on his scrub cap! We’d jokingly asked him to wear a Red Nose as it was Red Nose Day; he was a little reluctant, but he ended up having the department AND his wife nag him to join in! Anything to put a bit of humour into our own tense thoughts.
 After about 20/30 minutes I was helped to be laid down, legs began to feel a little heavy. I laid on the table, while John was told to sit closer to me, which was what I wanted so I could reach his hand ha! The bottom half of my gown was placed on a pole with another pole and sheet which was also placed to separate my head (and hubby) from my pregnant bump.
Our lovely anaesthetist started to test my sensation with ice cubes, it didn’t take long for me to be numb from the chest down. She sat the head end with us, while she chatted with us then she informed us that the operation had begun.
Who knew?!
Moments later we could hear our consultant say,  “Oh hello you!” We knew he’d reached our Rainbow-baby….
11:59 am Friday 15th March 2013 Our Rainbow-baby was born screaming!
Lots of mummy’s tears flowed, the relief to hear her cry was amazing….I was very much desperate to have her in my arms. Melody’s doctor had agreed to come in for the birth so she was doing her birth checks. She was then handed to me, although I couldn’t hold her for long as my BP cuff was on my forearm and I had cannulas in the other arm.
 If you hadn’t guessed it she was born to Jackson 5 – Blame it on the Boogie, we’d forgotten to do a CD! I had some lovely ideas of a playlist, featuring The Foo Fighters’ Hero. But I was then knitted to Love Train…my little boy’s favourite song!
They handed her to her daddy, while I was being finished with the closing I was then transferred to my hospital bed. We were very soon back in recovery where I was having regular observations done. Our new daughter took an instant liking to latching, she was desperate to have a go in Theatre but I was too tangled!
 A brief moment of humour when you watch a midwife putting on Anti-embolism stockings on some random person’s legs when you realise the foam looking “fake” legs are in fact my own! They looked like they were boneless legs!! Weird.
Her brother and sister were able to meet her on the same day; no wires or see-through boxes to get in their way. It was such a perfect moment.
 The rainbow pregnancy journey has ended. And now a new beginning. The fear doesn’t automatically disappear.Every time I look at her I get the fear we won’t be allowed to keep her.
The fear we’ll get to 5 weeks and it’ll all be over again… But for now, I am so, so happy to be sat here breastfeeding my little rainbow. Very relieved to have her here.
Now to learn to smile again