Just Keep Swimming

This post is a belated celebration but one that I need to share. I am aware that I don’t share a great deal of Wrigglers achievements but believe me there are many and a day doesn’t pass in which he fails to make us proud.

Wriggler has always been somewhat afraid of the water. Don’t get me wrong he likes being in the bath and paddling in the shallow water at the pool or the seaside but anything more than that is out of the question. He wouldn’t even put his face in the water and refused to take his feet off the floor despite me or his Daddy holding onto him for dear life.

Me and hubby have tried all sorts to get him to go to swimming lessons but it’s always been a non starter. I longed for him to be safe in or near water and its something that’s always played on my mind. Come year 4 at school though and swimming is part of the curriculum now.

Wriggler made it clear he didn’t want to do them. I knew that I didn’t have to make him go and that I didn’t have to sign the authority but I knew this would be good for him. I felt sure it was the right decision. Boy did he pull on every heart string to make me change my mind. The night before the first lesson he was terrified. He cried and shook in our arms about it. He was worried he’d be on his own in the shallow end because his friends could swim. Despite reassuring him that there would be many of his friends at his level though, he was scared to death about the water. We and his teacher the following morning reassured him all we could, but I still left him in tears that day.

Over the weeks though he started to enjoy it and he loved coming home to tell us about his new abilities in the water. The night before apprehension slowly began to disappear.

A full school term later and his enthusiasm for swimming is now off the scale. Whilst he doesn’t yet swim without arm bands or any great length for that matter, none of that matters. In the New Year he was awarded his Confidence Award. Something that a year ago I would never have envisaged. He well and truly deserves this accolade after all the hard work he has put in. Whilst private lessons are still off the cards, we are working on that. I don’t care if it takes him another eight years to swim properly. That fact that he is no longer afraid of the water is a small step and an amazing achievement! I could not be any prouder of him.

Well done Wriggler.

~

swimming

Its All About The Teeth

It’s been a long time coming. Quite honestly I never thought we’d get here. Since he was about eight months old Bruiser has been going to the dentist, twice yearly in fact for his checkups. Despite all the visits, the dentist has never seen his teeth…. until now!

There was no promises or bribery, there was no ‘do you want to sit in the chair Bruiser?’ It was all his own doing, all his own choice and he did it all by himself.

I don’t think there is much else I can say, the picture does all the talking…

dentist

Makaton Gave My Son A Voice

Talking, communication, gesturing, social interaction; all of them skills that come very easy to us and something that we all take for granted. But for Bruiser my youngest son, this has proved to be something of a challenge.

These difficulties didn’t take us completely by surprise however as Bruiser had a very difficult start in life. He was born very premature and suffered with various complications. We were advised he would encounter a lot of difficulties in his life most likely in the form of cerebral palsy and severe learning difficulties. Bruiser proved his Doctors and Consultants wrong though. Physically he hit all his milestones and although he seemed ‘odd / different’ to us at times he developed what we can only describe as normally.

Bruiser took a while but eventually started babbling when he was eleven months old. We along with his health professionals just put the delay down to his prematurity. Just after his 1st birthday, he said his first word. The words and sounds then came thick and fast and by the time he was fifteen months he could say ‘mam mam’ for mummy, ‘tsir’ for t-shirt, ‘bable’ for table and what was our favourite, ‘ibib ibi’ for iggle piggle to name just a few. In total he had a vocabulary of about 50+ words. He even knew the colours on the bottom of the sky menu which he obsessed over and would repeatedly say, boo (blue) bee (green) ded (red) eya (yellow) EVERYTIME the menu was on.

Then one day along with some of his physical abilities it all stopped… no words, no babbling, no sounds, nothing. Just nothing. It was like he suddenly just didn’t know how anymore. All he did was cry and scream. A LOT. He couldn’t communicate with us and he didn’t appear to understand us. Looking back now I know this was profound frustration with his sudden inability to communicate.

After numerous consultations with his paediatrician (thank fully because he was in the system due to his prematurity, we had someone to go to), he was referred to a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) and also to the Community paediatricians as together with other behavioural problems that were starting to become very evident, it was believed he might be autistic.

Bruiser was on the waiting list almost a year before we got an appointment with a SALT. That was the longest most frustrating period of our lives and something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Bruiser couldn’t communicate and although we soon figured out he could understand us when we used visual clues ie pictures and physically showing him; he couldn’t tell us anything. He couldn’t even gesture. Every time he wanted something it was a process of elimination that got him what he finally wanted, if indeed we figured it out at all. It was awful. They say that parents know their children and their needs instinctively, but we didn’t, we couldn’t and I will tell you now, it’s absolutely heart wrenching.

A friend suggested one day that we try Makaton to help Bruiser interact and communicate. He already watched ‘something Special’ and tried to copy the signs so, I borrowed her books for a short time. Because we didn’t really ‘get it’ or know how to sign as such, disappointingly we never got off the ground with it. It was on one of the very initial appointments with Bruisers Speech and Language Therapist at our home (he was almost two and a half now), that she noticed how involved and interactive Bruiser was with the Something Special programme and in particular Mr Tumble. She decided there and then to try using Makaton as a form of communication.

I will admit that we were very hesitant to give it a go. We wanted our son to talk and we were of the opinion that he never would if he learnt to use sign language. The speech therapist though understood our concerns and immediately put them to rest. She made us understand that Bruiser may never talk again or at least for a long time. So we had to find a way for him to communicate, even at a very basic level to ease his frustration. She showed us how to use some basic signs over the course of several weeks and explained that we use the ones that will get him his needs and wants met first and foremost and see how we get on.

It wasnt easy by any stretch of the imagination, it was bloody hard work if im completely honest. We needed patience in bucket loads. Although he tried to copy the signs he saw on TV, we struggled to get him to give us any eye contact at all or even look at our hands to sign with him. In the end, we took the approach of sitting across from each other and we did role play while he played nearby. We kept it simple, one of us would sign and say ‘chocolate’ the other gave the chocolate. Chocolate is Bruisers vice, always has been, so we knew this would grab his attention, and that it did! He started watching us, watching our hands. It didn’t take him long to grasp that our little ‘hand movements’ got us chocolate. That was it, we had his attention and he wanted to have a go again and again and again. Because he struggled with his fine motor skills and refused to look at us, we helped Bruiser initially (when he allowed it) and we slowly guided his hands and asked for things like a drink, chocolate, car, food.

I will never forget the look on his little face when he started to realise that we understood him, instead of the frustrated ‘I’m going to scream really loud now’ look that we had come accustomed to. He smiled the biggest happiest smile that lit the whole room.

A whole new world had suddenly opened up for us all and most importantly Bruiser. On a very basic level, he could now tell us he wanted a drink or something to eat, he could ask for a toy car, chocolate, eventually something on TV. He could even tell us he wanted a bath…

Bruiser signing to bath

Bruiser signing ‘To Bath’

and a rocket on bonfire night…

bruiser signing rocket

Brusier signing Rocket (age 2yr 9mths)

He would point to the colours on the bottom of the Sky menu as before but this time instead of the silence waiting for us to tell him the colour, he would sign the colours repeatedly again and again.

The earliest signs we taught him were simple ones that’s didn’t require a great deal of skill on Bruisers part; drink, eat, car, ball, bath, chocolate, cake, then as his confidence and ability grew so did his need to learn and know more and more. His SALT loved working with him and coming to visit him, she even commented once that he was one of the most proficient signing children she had worked with. Now the foundations were in place we used SALT strategies to further his communication for example Match and Stretch, all the time using Makaton while talking.

A good six to eight months into using Makaton, his verbal communication started to re-emerge. He started to make sounds again, babbling to start with. Then the same sounds with the same signs again and again. He was associating the signs with sounds. Words albeit not very clear ones then began to come again thick and fast.

(This little video captured some of Bruiser’s early signing and words. If you can see past Wriggler flexing his pecs, Bruiser is in the background watching Something Special.)

It wasnt just Bruiser that was learning Makaton. Me, Hubby and big Brother Wriggler could all now do the basic signs to communicate meaningfully and effectively with him. Life was suddenly no longer as frustrating for any of us. It was happier. We were all happier.

Over the last two years, I have been on the Makaton beginners workshop and also the Enhancement training to further increase our ‘signabulary‘. This gave us the opportunity to take our communication with Bruiser to a whole new level. I was no longer just signing singular words, but several key words in a whole sentence but even by this point, I was still playing catch up with Bruiser. He signed instinctively for everything and it had become second nature to him. It was his first language.

Bruiser’s understanding was tested one particular day. His Daddy signed to him (without speaking) ‘Daddy going shops. Bruiser come? Buy sweets‘. Bruiser shot out of the room screaming and signing yes and came back with his shoes and coat 😀

Makaton has given Bruiser confidence. Confidence to communicate, confidence interact and confidence to be himself. When he meets someone new his initial reaction is to put his head down and turn away or just completely ignore them altogether. However, when he realises they can sign he wants to interact with them and on some level he comes across as sociable. This was particularly evident one day when he met his Communication and Interaction worker for the first time at a special stay and play session. (this was before my Makaton training). She is in fact a regional Makaton tutor. She knew so many more signs than we did at the time. Bruiser was feeding off her, taking in all the new signs and using them with her in context. On a few occasions that he met her again he would get very excited and sign to tell us it was the signing lady 🙂 When she started working with Bruiser in his nursery setting, she showed him some signs to We’re going On A Bear Hunt, one of his favourite books. He loves to share a book and now he could interact with one too.

He comes home from school now and before his coat and shoes are even off he’s telling us what he wants to do.

Makaton has brought Bruiser out of his quiet, frustrating, shell of a world to an interactive communicative environment. I know he is happy now, because he smiles a lot more and he signs to tell us that he’s happy all the time.

Seeing the difference Makaton has made to all our lives has made us realise how important communication is; something that we had never fully appreciated, something we had all previously taken for granted. It actually makes me quite emotional when I talk about the change Makaton has made to our lives. Its has changed all of our lives, for the better and forever. But first and foremost, Makaton has given my son a voice.

~

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly. They are an amazing charity and always willing to help in any way they can. You can also tweet with them here too.

Back To School

It’s been that week of the year again. Back to school for the kiddie winks or the start of a new schooling journey. This year Wriggler started year4, YEAR 4 (*holds head in hands*)!!! and Bruiser was starting full-time school a fresh in reception (*sobs uncontrollably in hands*).

All I wanted was a photo of them both. You know the drill.. stood together in their clean crisp uniforms, smiling away into the camera. How hard could that be?

Between all the blurred body parts, close up faces in camera, bottoms up and backs turned, even Wriggler holding Bruiser in a head lock, there was one common denominator, Wriggler smiling away facing the camera in the back ground. When I finally captured Bruiser stood still, he was deliberately stood directly in front of Wriggler, turning away from the camera and refusing to smile. Wriggler giggling away behind him.

Whilst it isn’t what I was hoping for, it perfectly summed up our morning and my boys in a nutshell. When I look closely, I can actually see the deliberate defiance in Bruisers face!! He really does take stubborn to a whole new level. 😀

I can’t not love this photo.

back to school

 

A Letter To Bruiser

Dear Bruiser

Today is your first day at school. Your Reception year and full-time school. You looked so smart and grown up in your uniform this morning. You were buzzing with excitement and you couldn’t wait to leave the house. I couldn’t even get a picture of you stood still.

While you enjoy your first morning with your new teacher, im home thinking about you, wondering what you will doing, wondering what you will be learning about. Gone are our days together where we would play, cuddle, watch cartoons, have playdates, take afternoon naps. Gone are our days filled with giggles, trips to the park and baby groups.

Me and Daddy and Wriggler are soooooo incredibly proud of you and what you have achieved in your little life already. The obstacles you have over come. The battles you have fought. Because there was once a time when we never thought this day would come. You were only 5 hours old when the Doctors told us to let you go. But we weren’t ready to let you have wings and I don’t think you wanted them either. We fought for you then and we still fight for you today. Its been the fight of our lives but just look at you now….

You learnt to crawl;

crawling

You learnt to walk;

You learnt to wave;

You learnt to talk, your first word was ‘Mam mam’. It was awful when you stopped talking. Overtime though you learnt to communicate using Makaton and that gave you a voice, until you found your voice…

Ryan signing to bath

Bruiser signing to bath

then, you learnt to talk, AGAIN!! Because you really are that amazing!!

You started nursery;

started nursery

With the help from your amazing big brother Wriggler, you learnt to play and imagine;

play

You learnt to ride a bike;

As we made our journey together through the autism diagnosis process, something that we were beginning to think would never happen, you made a friend. A best friend. A partner in crime. A friend forever. Your ‘Avaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

best friends

~

And here you are now on your first day at school…

I’m glad you didn’t cry this morning. You made it so much easier for me. But it broke my heart anyway. It was the start of a whole new chapter in your life. You are no longer a baby, a toddler, or even a preschooler. You’re a little boy now and you’re ready to go find your place in this world!

I’m going to miss you my baby.

Love Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxx

All In A Wee…ks Work

Toilet training isn’t easy for any child or their parents. Most children take it in their stride though and slowly but surely they get there. Toilet training a child with special needs and sensory issues that is more than likely on the ASD spectrum is a whole different ball game and a challenge we were not prepared for.

When Wriggler did his first wee on a potty he was 2yrs and 9mths. Before we knew it, he was dry day and night within two weeks without any accidents. We took exactly the same approach with Bruiser, he will do it when HE is good and ready and not before!

Last year in the lead up to the summer holidays though, I was starting to feel the pressure; from school and other people. ‘Oh he really should be out of nappies when he starts school’ ‘You arent being pro-active enough’ ‘just go for it, he’ll never learn unless you go for it’ ‘let him wet himself, they don’t like wetting themselves’ blah.. blah.. blah..

But after a while (regrettably) I started to take this to heart and so against my principles of ‘he will do when he’s ready’, I attempted to start him toileting.

He really wasnt ready though. Yes he did his first wee on the potty and the toilet and this was quite a novelty for him (and me, I still love the picture of his cheeky little bottom peeking out of his trousers as he stood up to the toilet). But he wasnt ready in his head to do it. I tried jumping him in at the deep end and taking him to school in pants with loads of clothes to change into etc (like people told me to do). He really didn’t like getting wet when he had an accident, this was a big issue. Being wet is a sensory issue for Bruiser generally, he wont even touch the sink in the bathroom if there are water droplets on it, he has to wear gloves when it rains. All this added pressure was making him anxious and upset and very unhappy. He was starting to show signs of regression across the board, so I stopped it all. We went back to pull ups. No more pressure. He was happy again. That was it, no more listening to everyone else, we (hubby and myself) know our child best and we went back to our principles of letting him do it in his own time when he was ready!

Since we tried the toileting last year though, Bruiser has very occasionally used the potty or the toilet. More so when he was with Wriggler as he wanted to copy him but he had a lot of accidents. Then very out of the blue two weeks ago he was playing away in the kitchen and he started to do a wee but stopped himself. He then waddled up to the toilet with his trousers and pull ups around his ankles and finished his wee on the toilet. He was so proud of himself and I gave him a big high-five and LOTS of praise. I do believe now that that was the turning point. That was where it clicked. He continued to use the toilet/potty lots during the days that followed and occasionally even wore big boy pants.

After a few days of on/off success, last Monday I asked him if he wanted to wear big boy pants for school, there was no pressure, it was his call. He said yes. Off he went that morning with three changes of clothes in his bag. He came back with the same clothes in his bag and the same little pants on his bottom! He had achieved his first half day dry. It got even better that afternoon and evening. He had completed his first full day. No accidents or near misses. Another first 🙂

Tuesday morning he went to school just the same. He showed me the sticker chart on the wall that his key worker had made with him Monday. He proudly showed me the stickers he had earned the day previously.

He started to fetch his chart home with him after each morning to show me and his Daddy and Wriggler what he had done. He was very proud of himself and kept saying ‘me like Wriggler now’.

Tuesday afternoon he asked for a nappy though. *whispers… he wanted a no2* He was refusing to let it go in the potty or toilet. This wasnt unusual, he refused to let them go anyway. Passing his no2’s has always been an issue for Bruiser. He would hold to them, tensing himself up walking around doing his ‘poo dance’ as we called it, refusing to letit go. For almost a year we thought he was constipated but as it turned out (for reasons made clear by his OT only very recently) he was refusing to let go and was intentionally holding it in. It was one hell of an afternoon which resulted in a meltdown so bad that he fell asleep on me while I restrained him. Once that was over though, he was back in his pants and back on the toileting mission. I made a huge deal that he had done his no2 in his nappy though and gave him an extra star stamp for it.

all in a wee...ks work

The week continued to go great. He was still dry and still hadn’t had any accidents. Thursday afternoon I was washing pots in the kitchen when I heard Bruiser shout from upstairs (I thought he was in the room watching Octonauts!!) ‘Mumeee I done a big pooooooooooo on my potteeeeeeee’. I ran up the stairs saying you’ve done what? and he was there proudly stood over the potty pointing at it and signing that he had done it!! After lots and lots of praise and high-fives, I put him an extra two star stamps on his chart. Another first, his second of the week! He was making more progress than I ever imagined or dare hope for.

On Friday, Bruiser was awarded Star of the Week for his efforts and his increased independence at school.

all in a wee...ks work

He was over the moon with himself and more so, because he got to fetch Freddie home for the weekend. (Freddie is an empathy doll which accompanies every ‘star of the week’ home for the weekend)

By Sunday evening he had completed his first full week. He had one small accident when he couldn’t get his trousers down quick enough and although he was upset with himself he did get over it really well.

This was it, there was no going back now. He’d made it. He had accomplished more than what we set out for him to do. He was dry and clean through the day, he was dry and clean through the night and he had willingly without any hesitation done his no2’s in the potty too!

He had a wonderful weekend celebrating his efforts with Freddie and even Freddie is now toilet trained 😉

all in a wee...ks work

~

This week is currently going fantastic too. He has carried on exactly where last week finished.

We as a family are so proud of Bruiser and what he has accomplished. It hasn’t been easy for him and it really has been baby steps all the way but when he was ready, boy was he ready and he did it in probably record time!

Around the Tree, Around the Tree, Makes Number 3!

Bruiser LOVES his numbers. He is obsessed with numbers. From a very early age he could count from 1 to 10. He’s literally only just four but, he can count past 100. He knows his 10 times table. He can do simple math like 1+2, 3+2 etc. Using numbers is a sure way to get his instant attention and keep his attention. Mentioning numbers can even halt a meltdown mid-scream!!

Writing numbers however, is a whole new ball game. He has only recently started making meaningful marks with a pen and paper. A few weeks back though he took me surprise when we were playing with a chalk and attempting to write his letters which he has been learning at school. Trying to make a S, he made a mark that resembled a 3 which prompted him to want to do his numbers. Now we have practiced writing his number lots of times but he’s never really got it quite right and always got very frustrated with himself.

I’m going to let this video that I was lucky enough to capture do the rest of the talking.

ps. check out Bruisers talking too!! 😀 *does victory dance*

It just goes to show that time and patience while taking those small steps leads to amazing achievements and this is one of them.

~

Ethans Escapades

Makaton Monday ~ Tree

Last week I went to watch my little Bruiser take part in his first ever Harvest Festival at pre-school.

I knew when Bruiser started pointing out the colours of the leaves on the trees and saying ‘datum’ (Autumn) that they must have been preparing for it at school. I can remember so fondly when Wriggler was at this stage only a few years ago, he was coming home singing all the songs like ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Big Red Combine Harvester’. But, I knew I wasnt going to get that with Bruiser as he doesn’t sing. He likes singing and signing his favorite nursery rhymes but only as part of a sing-song session, he doesn’t do it randomly when he’s playing or anything like what Wriggler did. Completely out of the blue though about two weeks ago he was driving his toy car up the cupboards in the kitchen and he quietly sang ‘eve fawin down eve fawin down’ (leaves falling down leaves falling down), I knew straight away what he’d said, it was a line from the song Autumn Leaves. It melted my heart, I never thought id hear him sing like that. I asked him to sing it again for me but he refused and signed that he wasnt singing.

When I spoke with his teacher about it she advised that they were indeed singing Autumn Leaves and Bruiser had been showing them the signs for the colours red, brown, yellow, orange and green. They were planning to incorporate the signs into the song. Bruiser was going to be the tree.

Although Bruiser refused to sing again at home, me and Wriggler practiced the songs with him hoping that he would, Wriggler did manage to get him singing and signing the chorus to Big Red Combine Harvester 🙂

Watching him take part in the Harvest Festival was quite emotional. He saw me and his Daddy in the audience but he refused to acknowledge us or wave and didn’t seem even slightly excited that we were there. Whilst thats not unusual, I think he was overwhelmed by all the parents watching. He did do some signing and singing during some of the performance. It was lovely to see the whole class signing away to the songs though. It was great that they had incorporated the signs and made Bruiser feel involved. I know that Bruiser enjoyed it thoroughly because he couldnt stop talking about it when we got home.

~

Bruiser at his Harvest Festival

Bruiser at his Harvest Festival

~

TREE

TREE

~

Bruiser signing 'Tree'

Bruiser signing ‘Tree’

~

Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

~

MAKATON MONDAY

  • You can download some Harvest Festival signs from the Makaton website by following this link

~

Linking  up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements and #MagicMoments

Ethans Escapades

I Wee’d On A Stick & My Life Changed Forever

It started with a wee

It started with a wee

Today marks the eight year anniversary of when I found out that I was expecting my little Wriggler and yet it still feels like it was only yesterday!

Finding out was a MASSIVE shock! So much so that I lived in denial that it was even happening at all for 3 weeks after missing my period. It was my rapidly blooming bussom that made me do a test and make an appointment with the midwife! Taking that test was nerve-wracking, I was shaking uncontrollably. I knew what it was going to say and I’d never been so scared in my life. Both myself and Hubby were both in silent shock for days after. All of a sudden our planned future was no longer written and we were making it up as we went along!

It was easy to remember my dates, the pregnancy dated from my 26th birthday. I worked out that our baby would be due on the 4th June!

Once the initial shock had gone, I was over the moon and bursting at the seams to tell everyone. My Mum was the first to know and then we told our immediate family but that was it, no one else until we’d had the 12week scan and knew all was well.

The day of the first scan came around very quickly. By this point though all pregnancy symptoms had gone and I was beginning to think that the sonographer was going to tell me there wasnt a baby in there! But my baby was there alright, all 5.8cm of him and he didnt stop wriggling through the whole scan, the sonographer struggled to measure him! My dates changed slightly and my new EDD was the 2nd June.

I wee'd on a stick

Wriggler at 12+2… all 5.8cm of him!

I was sporting a very slight bump at the first scan, but after this point it just took off. I carried my baby all on the front. In the run up to the 20 week scan I was convinced that I was carrying a boy. I think in part it was the fact that I wanted a boy so very much, I’d convinced myself that my baby couldn’t be anything else.

The 20 week scan went fine though and all was well. However, I went into the room not wanting to know what we were having wanting the surprise on the day when our baby arrived. Hubby did want to know but had agreed that we wouldn’t find out. During the scan though, looking at our baby on the little screen, I suddenly had this overwhelming urge to find out and given that it was Hubby’s birthday that day, I knew it would be a lovely surprise for him too. It was confirmed, Wriggler was a boy!

I wee'd on a stick

Wriggler, my baby Boy at 20 weeks

My bump was getting bigger and bigger every day now. Every morning Hubby would say ‘oh my god, youre even bigger than last night!!’ Regrettably I didn’t capture the bump shots like i did with Bruiser. It didn’t occur to me to do it, that and we didn’t have a camera and camera phones were only just emerging back then! I did capture a bump shot at 30 weeks though (with my new camera phone). Any other bump pictures were courtesy of Hubby.

30 week Bump

30 week Bump

I wee'd on a stick

Bump at approximately 8 months

Bump at 38+4, the day before he was born (you can see the tens machine in my hand)

Bump at 38+4, taken while in labour, the day before he was born (that’s the tens machine in my left hand ha, id been in labour 28hours at this point)

After the 2nd scan though, I wanted to much to see my baby again. I knew that I just couldnt wait another 20weeks to meet him. Id read about 3/4D scans and seen pictures but never thought I’d be able to afford one. After a little research though I found a place very local to us that did them and they were affordable. I secretly booked an appointment for one and saved some money up, my Mum made up the rest.

It was the best decision I made because the whole experience was AMAZING! That moment when our little boys face appeared on the huge screen on the wall was so emotional. He had a little button nose and was sucking on the umbilical cord with his face nustled upto the placenta. He was fast asleep. The sonographer decided to wake him up so we could get a better look at him, he didn’t like this much at all. But he did become more animated and opened his eyes. He soon settled again though and went back to sleep exactly as we found him!

Wriggler yawning

Meet Wriggler at 29 weeks

Wriggler opened his eyes during the scan

Wriggler asleep

Wriggler didn’t change one bit from this scan at 29weeks and birth!

1 Day Old

1 Day Old

~

So there you have it, neither of my boys were planned. But you know what, I just think it makes them all the more special because they were meant to be!

Linking up with Magic Moments

Star Of The Week

We are only three and a half weeks into the new school year. I’ve mentioned before that Bruiser has started pre-school. It’s not been plain sailing for him, whilst he was initially excited about starting school and his first week went really well all things considered, the novelty has well and truly gone now. The reality that he has to go every day has not been a happy thought for him. Every morning he’s said ‘me day ome mumee’. He’s struggled to part from me in a morning, he’s cried, he’s screamed, he’s been angry and he’s even refused to get dressed or walk to school some mornings. That said, he has still enjoyed himself once he was there and the separation was over.

I have to admit though that biggest thing that concerned me about him starting pre-school was communication. Bruiser doesn’t communicate when he doesn’t feel confident in his surroundings or when around strangers and for him all those new children and the staff were strangers to him. He’d briefly seen the staff before the summer during his transition process but that was a while ago for Bruiser. By the end of his first week though his teacher reported that he was doing great, he was signing lots with the staff. It was a great relief to hear that, he was feeling confident enough to sign, so that was a great start. Bruiser was happy which means Mummy was happy!

Each week that has passed i’ve had great reports of him signing, he’s even showed them the colour signs of red, orange, yellow and brown to incorporate into their Harvest Festival songs. His teacher has also reported that hes been doing some great talking too! This is Huge for Bruiser. His talking has exploded over recent weeks, more so since the start of the summer holidays. But, I didn’t expect him to be talking so much in school just yet though. He never ceases to amaze me.

This week, Bruiser was awarded Star of the Day and Week for using… LOTS of words and doing LOTS of TALKING!!! He came out of his class beaming from ear to ear proudly holding his certificate and Freddie. (Freddie is a doll that the children get to bring home when they are ‘star of the day or week’, he comes with clothes to dress him and a diary for us to write a short paragraph of what they’ve been doing together.)

Everyone has always commented about Bruiser’s signing, how much he knows, how good he is etc but, now he’s getting recognition for his talking! Slowly and surely he’s getting there. I could not be more proud of him.

star of the day

They say a picture can speak a thousand words…. this is one of them!

~

Bruiser’s Started Pre-School

Where exactly did the summer holidays go? More to the point, where exactly did the last three and half years go?

I had the most wonderful six weeks with my boys. I love having them both at home with me. I miss Wriggler terribly when he’s at school and each school holiday is a constant reminder of just how much. I was also quite conscious that this was the last time id have Bruiser at home until half term in October. I really did not want it to end.

During the holidays, we spent a lot of quality time preparing Bruiser for the transition to pre-school. We looked through his transition booklet (this was a collection of photos taken by his previous key worker in nursery of the pre-school rooms, equipment and staff), we bought him his school bag, we got him trying on his uniform, we taught him the relevant Makaton signs he would need. Bruiser was really excited and looking forward to it. He kept saying ‘me go goooo’ (me go school). We did have moments though where he kept saying he didn’t want to go to school and even the night before he told me he wanted to stay home with me and believe me that was a very tempting offer!

That first morning though, he couldn’t contain the excitement when he came downstairs and his school clothes were all laid out waiting for him, he bearly ate his breakfast because he wanted to get dressed. Me on the other hand, I was struggling to hold it together. Id spent a lot of the holidays in denial that this was going to happen at all!

Hubby drove us to school and left us at the gates and the boys walked in together holding hands with smiles beaming across their little faces.

I was so proud of him as I left him in pre-school. He got a little anxious because there was so many people all at once, I think he was feeling overwhelmed. He didn’t want to part from me and he did get a little upset but he happily let me hand him over to his teacher for a cuddle and he waved me and Wriggler good-bye as we left the room.

I have to admit that leaving him there on that first morning was far more emotional than I had anticipated or prepared myself for. Four years ago, when Wriggler started preschool, that was emotional, I was 10 weeks pregnant with Bruiser too so hormones were fueling all the emotions. But I had my Mum there holding my hand whilst I said a tearful good-bye to him. This time It was Wriggler holding my hand and giving it a little squeeze as I said goodbye to Bruiser.

I like to think that my Mum was there, watching over us too.

Makaton Monday ~ To Finish

A milestone for Bruiser on Makaton Monday this week. Bruiser cleared his plate one evening this weekend having eaten all of his dinner!! We’d been out for the afternoon and on returning home he told us he was hungry. With no time to cook him anything before the moment passed, we nipped out for a chippy. He eagerly tucked into sausage and chips and ate every bite. He even complained that there was no peas, now thats another first!! 😀

Proudly showing off his empty plate

Proudly showing off his empty plate before signing that he was ‘Finished’

The sign ‘To Finish’ was a major sign for us and Bruiser. Not been able to communicate such a simple word made for a lot of frustration for us all. We were initially shown an alternative sign for ‘Finish’ which we used for wrapping up an activity to signal tidying up time. However Bruiser confused this a lot with the sign for play. Thank you to my Makaton tutor (Bruisers inclusion worker) for helping clear up the confusion by showing us this sign for ‘Finish’ which Bruiser has taken to using really well especially at meal times. We have even adapted how we end activities so we could incorporate this sign as opposed to the alternative again making things less confusing for him.

finish

TO FINISH / TO END

 ~

finished

Bruiser signing that he had ‘Finished’

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

It Started With A Pea!

You might remember my post a few weeks ago ‘Taking It One Nibble At A Time‘ about Bruiser trying new foods, even if it was the smallest nibble imaginable. Those tiny nibbles have progressed to bigger nibbles and in some cases spoon full. Spoon full of vegetables no less!

It’s not that Bruiser disliked vegetables, quite the opposite. He was weaned onto them all and loved eating them all. That was until his sensory difficulties took over and eating became problematic. Since then he hasn’t touched anything other than banana and occasionally a small slice of apple.

It all started a few weeks after the nibble of those cheese on toast stars. I did the unimaginable and put peas on his plate along with the cheesy mashed potato balls. I was pushing my luck here, normally he would reject the whole meal when something unfamiliar was put on his plate and more so because the colour wasnt in keeping with his beige/yellow/orange food preferences. After psyching the plate of food out for a few minutes though, he sat down to the table. He kept touching them and then quickly withdrawing his fingers and then going back to them. Before I knew it he was trying them only one a time and it appeared that he liked them! He gave up after a bit and sat back. I asked if he was going to eat the other food and he signed NO! quite assertively. Pushing my luck again, I put a few of the peas on a spoon and proceeded to put them to his mouth and he ate them. In the end, he ate every pea!! He left everything else on his plate on this occasion but he ate the peas. I wasnt about to push it any further though. He had done great and I was very proud of him.

Since then he’s tried Strawberrys! and Apples… whole (but the apples have to be red!)!

Sunday lunch the other day was quite comical. I was serving the food out on the kitchen side and he was taking food off his plate and eating it. It’s such a joy to see him tucking into food at the moment and more so enjoy it, even if his diet still remains very limited in colour and texture.

~

Ethans Escapades

I Live In Hope

Communication and social interaction is something that comes naturally to most children and adults alike and something that we all take for granted. For Bruiser this is something of a challenge.

Bruiser currently attends a nursery setting at our local children’s centre. With the help of his inclusion worker and his key person in nursery, together using Makaton, they’ve managed to get him interacting with the other children and he has role played along side them and they pretended that there was a fire and they were the firemen and they put the fire out. This for Bruiser is HUGE! I’m actually gutted that I wasnt able to witness this interaction for myself because outside of the nursery setting, his brother aside he doesn’t interact much if at all with other children.

At the weekend though, we went to a close friends birthday party at a local farm. These situations Bruiser can find quite difficult and he usually toddles around on his own doing his own thing. This party was different though as group participation and interaction with other children couldn’t be avoided.

I was incredibly proud how he coped with it and although at points he was on the brink of a meltdown, between me and his Daddy we managed to avoid it happening at all.

The icing on the cake for me though was watching him eat (yes eat!!) ‘some’ of the party food at the table with the other children and then completely out of the blue he turned to the little girl sat next to him and said “my mumeee dare” and pointed at me.

I welled up instantly. It was monumental. Id seen it for myself that he was capable of interaction like that and the best bit was that he did it off his own back, no support or help from anyone was involved. It was spontaneous.

(im crying typing this)

~

This for Bruiser was one teeny tiny step but it was a monumental achievement and im so incredibly proud of him.

I Live In Hope

~

Ethans Escapades

 

Gummy to Gappy

The Last Gummy Smile

The Last Gummy Smile

Ahhhh, that gummy smile… I remember it all too well. That picture was indeed the last one we got, within days of the picture being taken his first tooth emerged! Before we knew it he had a mouth full of teeth and he was a grown lad telling me ‘Mummy, ive got a wobbly tooth!’  *Nooooooo*

The Last Toothy Smile

The Last Toothy Smile

Eight and a half weeks after that first wobble, he lost his first tooth. My baby really was growing up.

gummy smile to gappy smile

Id only just got my head round the fact that Wriggler had lost his first tooth and then another fell out only 2 weeks later! This was happening too quick!

gummy smile to gappy smile

It wasnt all bad though, his new sparkling teeth grew in their place and all was good again. It was like they’d never fallen out.

Fast forward 9 months… ‘Mummy ive got a wobbly tooth’ *Here we go again* ‘Mummy ive got two wobbly teeth’ *Gulp, what? at the same time? this could get expensive!*

Loosing the top teeth was probably worse than the bottom ones. They were on show, a constant reminder of the lack of control I had over him growing up. When those top teeth were loose we nick named him ‘tow mater’ because he’d got that look about him. His teeth were pointing all different directions.

… and then they were both gone 😦

gummy to gappy

My baby loosing his teeth hasn’t been all bad, I mean I got to play ‘Toothfairy’ 🙂 Creeping into his room in the middle of the night and sneaking that tooth out from under his pillow and leaving a gold coin in return covered in fairy dust. I remember the magic from when I was a little girl, doing it for Wriggler it’s all the more magical!

To the Tooth Fairy

To the Tooth Fairy

A little bit of Magic

A little bit of Magic

~

Wriggler loosing his first few teeth has been the end of one era and the start of a new one. He’s well and truly leaving his baby years behind him now and growing up. Whilst for me, I found these moments tearful and ever so slightly heart wrenching, they were truly #magicmoments to have shared with him.

Im Going To Be A Mummy Again

where it all began

Okay so that was a little white lie 🙂 I’m not really!

But, 4 years ago today I discovered that I was going  to be! Today is the anniversary of when I discovered I was expecting Bruiser!

It came as a HUGE shock! We definitely was not planning another, far from it! I was on the pill and had an appointment to have the implant! But I’d always wanted another baby, I was longing for one if the truth be told. I’d recently discovered only 2 week before that I was going to be an Auntie again and while I was over the moon for my sister and brother-in-law, I was also insanely jealous… Unbeknown to me though, I was actually pregnant myself!

I believed myself to be 4 weeks pregnant and after calculating my due date had an EDD of 10th March.

The 12 week scan told a different story, I was 9week & 6days and my little Bruiser was tiny 3.5cm big! Our new EDD was the 26th March

1st Scan

Twelve weeks later it was time for the 2nd scan. I was getting quite big now too! I was already convinced that I was expecting another little boy because just like my first, he was all on the front!

20week bump

20week Bump

This is when I found out Bruiser was indeed another little boy!

2nd scan

Normally this is the last time you get to meet your little one until the birth. However, we had already planned to have another scan, a 4D scan. We had done the same with Wriggler and loved every minute of it so there was no question that we wouldn’t do it again!

This was also around the time that Bruiser ‘got his name’! I was feeling and looking full term at this point but I was only 27weeks. My midwife was telling me to expect a 9 to 10lb baby! Eeeek!

27 week bump

27week Bump

4D scan

Meet Bruiser at 27weeks

Im sure he's smiling in this one!

Im sure he’s smiling in this one!

(The likeness of Bruiser’s little face in this scan picture with this picture of Bruiser’s 1st proper smile at 6 weeks old is unmistakable)

1st proper smile

~

Finding out I was pregnant with Bruiser was an A M A Z I N G #magicmoment. One of the Ultimates!

All Tied Up

This weekend with the boys has been full of magic moments and I was beginning to struggle what I was going to pick for my #magicmoment monday post. But yesterday afternoon decided it for me.

We went to get Wriggler some new shoes. Wriggler saw some trainers on the shelf and was immediately drawn to them. They had laces though and because he’s always had velcro ones, has never needed to know how to fasten laces.

He tried them on and they fitted perfectly. But with one afternoon to teach him how to fasten laces before school the next day was it going to be enough time??

It tuned out, it was more than enough time. It took him 20 minutes!! #GoWriggler!

Once he completed it once that was it, he practiced again;

magic monday

and again;

magic monday

and again… right through to bed time!

magic monday

~

Sharing this #magicmoment with Wriggler made me remember the first time I my tied laces. I remember it so well. I was with my Daddy and we were laid on the front garden in the sun and I tied a ribbon round the neck of one of my teddys.

~

Wrigglers First Residential

I’m writing this post with a heavy heart this morning. My little boy, my baby went on his first over night school trip only hours ago *sobs very loudly*

Apart from one sleepover with some close friends, he has never slept away from home ever and apart from when I was in hospital with Bruiser, I’ve never spent a night without him.

From the moment the trip was announced though he wanted to go and as the time drew nearer the excitement increased. Last night it was over flowing! He could barely eat his tea. Once he was bathed and ready for bed I helped him pack his case.

As expected he was up VERY early this morning. He came bouncing into our room before 6am saying ‘ITS TODAY!!, can I go down and get ready?’ After a quick cuddle, he did just that. In the time it took me to get up and come down stairs, he was dressed and sat with his case and bags waiting for breakfast! He barely ate anything though.

Before long he was good to go… excitement bursting out of him!

Off to school we went 🙂

wrigglers residential

It was an emotional farewell waving him off on the coach with his friends.

wrigglers residential

I know he’s going to have a wonderful time. He will be taking part in Archery, Zip Lining, Orienteering, Treasure Hunts and he will be having his first Campfire in the evening!! I’m actually really excited for him. But im going to miss him soooo very much!

~

Im linking this post up from last week for #magicmoments

and… Breathe

Wednesday 27th January 2010

My 4 day old baby was on the NICU having been removed at 31wks into my pregnancy due to suffering a massive fetomaternal haemorrhage. For 3 days we had watched and waited and prayed for him to make it through each precious minute, each hour, each day. He was heavily sedated and on a ventilator.

and breathe

We hadn’t cuddled him yet. We weren’t even allowed to touch him as we were advised it was causing him pain. Although he was over the worst, we knew he wasnt out of the woods yet. Every day was a milestone.

and breathe

I was still recovering from the c-section. Because I was so determined to spend as much of my time on the NICU with my little Bruiser, I was refraining from taking a lot of my pain relief as it was knocking me out. Every step hurt to take. But, it didn’t matter. Every 3 hours day and night I expressed my liquid gold in the hope that Bruiser would eventually get the benefit of it. Every 4 hours day and night I made sure I was there for his ‘cares’ to be done. The rest of the time I just sat with him looking at him, watching him, talking to him.

Just like the previous two mornings, I had woke up from a very restless, painful nights sleep and I needed to attach the breast pump for my 3-hourly express. This particular morning was different though… only I didn’t know it yet!

I made myself a cuppa before sitting down to express while I watched GMTV and caught up on texts, emails and facebook messages from family and friends offering their love and support. I called it my social media morning hug.

When id finished expressing, I got cleaned up and had some breakfast. I then made my way onto the NICU to store my milk in the freezer. I then went to go into the ICU as I always did every time id expressed, even in the middle of the night. Unfortunately I couldn’t go into the room as the Doctors were doing their rounds. One of the nurses told me to give it an hour and I should be able to see Bruiser then.

While I waited in my room, Hubby arrived for the day. Eventually a nurse came through and told we could go through to see Bruiser.

We cleaned our hands, then walked into the NICU and went straight up to Bruiser’s incubator and said ‘good morning sweetheart’.

He looked different this morning and it took a moment for us both to register what it was… Our brave little soldier had been taken of his ventilator during the night. He was now breathing on CPAP.

and breathe

This day turned into a Triple Whammy of Milestones for Bruiser… He came off the Ventilator. He did his first wee. He had some of my liquid gold!

#magicmoments

~

Bruisers New Bed

Last weekend marked the end of a HUGE era in our house. The end of our baby era…. Bruiser got a big boy bed! :”(

Despite him been over 3yrs old, he has always loved the safeness and familiarity of his cot. It was a huge part of his bedtime routine. He’s always slept so well too so we were loathed to make any changes that would interrupt that. However these last few months have seen Bruiser refusing to go to sleep, waking-up up to ten times a night screaming for us and refusing to go back to sleep. If we are lucky we get 2 straight hours all night! So, now seemed like the perfect time to make that change, bedtime couldn’t get any worse could it?!

Usually when something is going to change, we have to prepare Bruiser beforehand to help him adjust. But, because Bruiser takes things very literally too, if we told him he was getting a new bed, he’d expect there and then! So, we didn’t tell him he was getting a new bed until the afternoon we collected it.

He seemed very excited about it though. He was enthusiastic and happy when his Daddy came home with it. So much so, he wanted to help!

Before that though, it was time for last lie down in his cot! *sniff sniff*

Before that though, it was time for last lie down in his cot! *sniff sniff*

~

Bedtime went wonderfully. As wonderfully as it could anyway… He still refused to go to sleep and he still woke what seemed like a hundred times that night but he loved his bed and was happy to be in it and sleep in it!

#magicmoments

#magicmoments

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