Dear One-Year-Old Max

Max, it’s your birthday! You may not be able to read this right now but I hope in years to come you will and you will realise how utterly loved you are.

A year ago today, on Mothers’ Day, I was in a delivery room at Birmingham Women’s Hospital with your dad, a fabulous midwife and various other health professionals buzzing in and out of the room. Although you were a little early, we were desperate to meet you. We didn’t know how well you’d be when you were born, but you surprised us all by not only being born very quickly, but also breathing completely by yourself.

Things took a turn for the worst and the next three weeks were a rollercoaster of ups and downs as your little lung collapsed twice, you yo-yoed between intensive care and high dependency, you were looked after by phenomenal people, no one quite knew what was wrong with you and then all of a sudden there was a hospital transfer to the Children’s and you were taken down to surgery to close the hole in your diaphragm which was the cause of all the problems.

At every step of the way, and every day since, you amazed me with your utter strength. You were 4lb 13, had the skinniest legs I’ve ever seen, you were so tiny and fragile. And yet you showed you were a force to be reckoned with – from your repeated attempts to pull your own ventilator out to your absolute refusal to lie with your legs tucked into the little comfy nest the staff would lovingly create for you – instead you wanted one leg draped over the nest at all times.

We took you home a week post surgery, a phenomenally quick turnaround. And then of course you were admitted to our local hospital where your allergic condition was diagnosed. Eventually your hollow features filled out a little, you gained weight, you thrived, you became the beautiful blond boy turning one today.

And I can’t explain in words how incredible I think you are. There are people in this life who think they have a raw deal, who whinge and whine at every opportunity, who think ‘why me?’ and then there’s you – this tiny being who’s had to fight to be able to eat anything at all, to be able to breathe freely, to catch up with his peers. And yet you have the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

I’m not pretending you’ve been an easy baby this past year! Your sleep has been somewhat erratic for the last four months or so, and sometimes you just scream and scream for something as silly as me leaving the room! But my god have you excelled in certain areas. The list of foods you can eat is so substantial the dietician was shocked when she saw them. Your latest x-ray caused the surgeon to remark what a wonderful job he’d done operating on you. And no one who looks at you would ever suspect how much you have panicked us and the healthcare world at times!

The way you look at and interact with Alexandra makes me so happy. When you were tiny you would turn your head to look the instant she made a noise – and now you are desperate to join in all the games she plays. You have learned to toughen up thanks to the rough treatment you sometimes receive at her hands, but I have also seen the two of you in fits of giggles so many times, I have seen you beam from ear to ear at the sight of her and I have witnessed so many cuddles and so much love between the pair of you. I hope you always adore her as much as you do now.

I never realised that you can miss something you don’t have yet until I missed you so fiercely in that time when you weren’t going to be a possibility. Throughout my pregnancy with you, I kept positive because I had to believe that you had fought the odds to even get to week 1 of that pregnancy – so maybe you were meant to be. A lot of odds were stacked against you but you have not only defied them, you have defeated every obstacle in your way and you have shown the world how tough you are. How ironic that the name we picked for you, Max, means ‘the greatest’.

I said when you were born that there had been a Max shaped hole in my heart and you’d come along to fill it. Baby boy, you have made my heart so happy.

Mommy x

1st Birthday Party


Last Monday, we held Alexandra’s first birthday party in our garden. We decided to host it at home which meant a lot of hard work (mainly for Dylan!) to get the garden ready in time but I’m really glad we did in the end – especially as we had lovely weather for it!

Among her presents, Alex had got a trampoline, sand pit, ball pool and inflatable skittles game for her birthday which we put outside along with some picnic blankets and the paddling pool to keep everyone entertained. Food wise we offered up the typical party buffet with sandwiches, crisps, pizza, samosas plus a fruit platter and chocolates and biscuits plus the all important cake!

As we’d gone for a teddy bears picnic theme, the cake was a bear (Oscar cake from Sainsbury’s), we put teddies outside and the little guests bought some too. For the party bags, each child had a Barny bear snack plus a little tiny teddy bear (bought in packs of eight from eBay) plus some cake in a little white paper bag bought from HobbyCraft. We’d also found some teddy bear bunting from Amazon which did the trick alongside some white, pink and purple balloons for decoration.

All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time and we had a fab turnout of family and friends to celebrate Alex’s big day!

Harriet and Alexandra x

A Letter To Alexandra


Dear Alexandra,

A long, long time ago when you were little more than a few cells I decided I would log my pregnancy and hoped I would continue that throughout the early part of your life. Now as we celebrate your first birthday I want to write to you so in years to come you can read back on this, and all my other posts, and get a real sense of what your life as a baby was like. Hopefully you will one day write me letters too and mine and your dad’s shared love of writing will have passed on to you!

When we decided to have a baby, I could never have imagined what a journey we would go on to get to this point and just how emotional, rewarding, terrifying, crazy, happy and lovely it would be! It was back in October 2014 when we were on our first weekend away together in the Lake District – that weekend we went to the zoo and I got to feed the lemurs, we took a boat out across the lake and we ate a lot of chocolate! I’m sure we’ll take you some day and we can do all those things and many more. Back then your daddy and I were incredibly happy – but we knew we were both ready to be parents (me for the first time and your dad for the third!) and we thought we’d do an okay job of it together.

We expected it would take a long time but less than three months later we found out one Sunday lunchtime that we were going to be your parents! We had so many hopes and dreams for you, some we still hold with many more added into the mix now. I was convinced you were a boy until halfway through we had a scan and the man told us you were going to be a girl. Although I’d been looking at all the blue clothes in shops, before I was ever pregnant I’d always wanted a girl so it was a shock but a good one! I love being a girl mommy, girls are the best!

As you grew, we revelled in seeing you move, kick and roll around but I was so incredibly tired all the time and I couldn’t wait to not be pregnant anymore! I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience but it was more than worth it in the end.

I expect you’ll know by now that we had a pretty traumatic time once you were born. I didn’t really feel like your mommy for a long time although I already loved you so much. When I was in hospital all I wanted was to get back home to you. I stared at your pictures on the wall 24/7 and felt equally delighted and sad to hear tales of how amazingly you were getting on. Right from the word go, you were the most contented little baby (and you really were tiny! 6lb 7 and the smallest of your little friends by a whole pound), even the midwives used to talk about how lovely you were. One of the healthcare assistants in particular, Mel, used to come in and cuddle you all the time. I think she would have taken you home had we let her. Even Jane Pannikar, the consultant, used to come downstairs to the postnatal ward to hold you!

There has always been something very captivating about you that made everyone go gooey – even people who don’t normally like children – and made strangers stop and coo at you. Of course, we’ve always been biased and thought you were the prettiest and best thing ever!

Meeting you again when you were eight weeks old was the best moment of my life. At one point I was convinced I would never see you again so just to get to see your little face (which had changed so much from how I remembered you) was something I will never forget. Daddy would have done such a good job with you on his own (with plenty of help from everyone we know of course) and you are incredibly lucky you have him as your dad. But right from that moment, my determination to get back to you just increased as the days went on.

I learned how to use my silly hand to change your nappy, it took a few goes to get there but we did in the end. When we were finally all home together, I got strong enough to pick you up and then to carry you up and down the stairs. After a few weeks I was well enough to be left on my own with you and that felt a bit terrifying. All your little friends’ mommies had been looking after them for months so I felt like they knew exactly what to do whereas I was still completely clueless. I worried that you’d always prefer daddy over me, I worried you’d never smile at me the way you smiled at him and your nanna. I worried I’d missed out on so much and I knew we’d never get that time back.

But being together 24/7 from Christmas onwards has been an experience we’ve both grown throughout. You have changed beyond belief and learned so many new things in your first year, and so have I. Every day I feel incredibly proud to be your mommy. You’re already a courageous, funny, strong, cheeky, ambitious little girl and every day you learn to do something new. You make us laugh endlessly with your little sing-song voice, you make us worry constantly with your fearless attitude to everything and you make us so incredibly happy.

Life has completely and utterly turned upside down and sometimes I still feel overwhelmed when I think of how much my life has changed since you were born. Sometimes I think back on simpler times when I didn’t have to remember a million and one things to take with me when I left the house, when I didn’t have a little being stealing my food or distracting me from things I need to do. But being your mom, whilst the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, is without doubt the most rewarding.

The first time you came to me when you were crying is a moment I’ll remember forever because it symbolised to me that we’ve got a bond now, a bond I will never break, a bond that it took a lot longer for me to make than some other mommies. But a bond that will forever mean so much because we nearly didn’t get to make it.

Keep being you, darling baby girl. Keep being the kid who dances like an idiot and doesn’t care. Keep being the kid who has enthusiasm for everything. Keep being the kid who looks at your daddy like he’s the best thing she’s ever seen (he is!).

You are so, so beautiful and I love you beyond any words that I could ever manage to write or say.

Love you endlessly, completely and totally,

Mommy x

One Year Old!


Yesterday we celebrated Alexandra’s birthday so we are now the proud parents of a lovely one year old! As ever, here’s a post about what she’s been learning this month and where she’s at with everything. I swear I do these differently each month, sometimes as a list, sometimes as big paragraphs. Let’s go for sections each time:

The most important thing! Since we started weaning her six months ago, she’s been a pro at trying different foods and we still haven’t found anything she point blank refuses to eat. She has three meals a day and sometimes snacks but doesn’t have a regular snack time. We dropped down to one bottle a day around 11 months and then last week we finished a box of formula (and I’d never intended for her to have formula or a bottle past one) so dropped the last bottle. It was weird seeing her drink the last one! It’s so tied in with ‘baby-hood’ that it feels like a bit of a landmark moment. She hasn’t been bothered whatsoever about this, if she wants milk in future I will give cow’s milk in a cup but she drinks so much water and has plenty of diary in her diet so I haven’t tried to force her to have any!

She’s had lots of new toys for her birthday which she is loving! Including lots of toys for the garden such as a trampoline, sand pit, inflatable skittles, ball pool (which also comes inside) and a pop up tent. She’s also had lots of interactive ones like talking teddies, a tea set, activity table and some incredibly cute cuddly toys too! Alex absolutely loves playing with balloons! And her favourite non-toy toys are the radiator caps still, any cupboard she can get to and – bizarrely – coat hangers (she still hasn’t offered to do the ironing though?)

Napping has got SO much better in the last month. She’s now going down in her cot upstairs rather than down in the lounge with me which is meaning she’s generally doing two one-hour naps a day. This has helped me with planning my days so much more! And has made her much less grumpy in the day. So generally she’s up about 8, breakfast around 9, nap around 10, lunch about 12/1, maybe another nap in the afternoon at some point, sometimes if she’s super tired a third shorter nap about 5, dinner about half 6, bed at half 8.

She only says mama to me and dada to Dylan so we’re pretty convinced she knows what they mean. She’s also getting there with nana and a couple of times she’s said baba to her little cousin. Other ‘words’ like yeah and no happen at random times so I’m not counting them yet!

Alex is still slightly unsteady on her feet when she’s standing but she’s doing it all the time now and is good at pulling herself up (sometime going from sitting to standing without holding on to something) and lowering herself down. She keeps taking one or two steps. I think as with the sitting and crawling, one day it will all just click into place and she’ll be off! She’ll now walk along if you hold both her hands, which she’d never do before. She’d just start bouncing if you tried to get her to do it.

Still only two teeth, she had her first trip to the dentist last week and was very intrigued by everything in there!
She’s discovered pointing so spends most of her day either doing this, clapping or waving.
Swings are still the best thing in the world!
At last weigh-in she was 20lb 15 putting her on the 75th centile which she’s been following for months now, so all fine there.

I think that covers most of the main things!

Harriet and Alexandra x

This Time Last Year

Alex enjoying the toys at her friend's party

Alex enjoying the toys at her friend’s party

On the mommy forum I go on quite a lot, you’re split up into ‘birth boards’ depending on what month you gave birth. I spent my pregnancy on the September 2015 board but due to Alexandra’s early arrival have ended up on the August 2015 instead since. As everyone’s babies turn one this month there’s been a lot of talk of ‘this time last year’. It’s been the same with my NCT friends: the first of the babies was born on July 18 then we had a bit of a gap until four were born in August and two in September. The busiest time was when the little one older than Alex was born on the Tuesday, then Alex on the Saturday then the next one the following Wednesday.

So again we’ve uttered the phrase ‘this time last year’ a lot as we reflect on the last few weeks of our pregnancies/the first few weeks of motherhood. The fourth of the seventh babies was born on this date last year – little did I know that just four days later we’d have the fifth arrival in the form of our tiny Alexandra! In fact I remember being convinced I would be the last of the seven of us. Myself and one of the other mommies were due on the same day, September 13, and there was one baby due after ours but I was certain I’d go overdue so felt like mine would be the youngest.

As it was, by August 25 last year I’d had a niggling ear and headache for weeks and had been at the hospital a couple of times. I’d been told it must be an inner ear infection and there was nothing they could do. I couldn’t take any strong painkillers and generally was in a lot of discomfort! A year tomorrow (August 26), I toddled down to the GP surgery for what would turn out to be my last midwife appointment – and the last time I did a long walk with my bump. While I was there the midwife said I’d got protein in my wee, high blood pressure and she was concerned about some bloods I’d had taken a couple of weeks before at the hospital. They repeated the bloods as a precaution and I remember her apologising to me because I wasn’t meant to have blood taken at my 37 week appointment. I said it was fine. As it was, her erring on the side of caution could have saved both of our lives!

The following morning, bright and early, I got a call from her saying I urgently needed to go to the hospital to see the consultant. While I was there he said they thought I’d got pre-eclampsia and although he didn’t want to induce me until 38 weeks they wanted to keep an eye on me every other day. I booked an appointment for the Saturday and went home. The next day I didn’t feel well and called my mom. She said she could come and get me and take me to the hospital as it was best to get checked out. Little did she know she wouldn’t go to work again until the December!

So we went to the hospital and as soon as they hooked me up to the blood pressure monitor, I knew I wasn’t going home without a baby! The midwives called the doctor who said he was very concerned about my low platelet count and then I began the long walk down the corridor to the other side of the hospital where the consultant-led unit is. My hopes of a midwifery-led birth had long gone by this point! Some 20 odd hours later after two gels to get me started, my waters being broken, the longest bath I’ve ever had, not a lot of sleep, gas and air, a violent bounce around on the birth ball, a rapidly decreasing heart rate (baby’s), some probably very rapidly increasing heart rates (Dylan’s and my mom’s), lots of hand holding and reassurance and support (from Dylan), pethidine, a glorious hour and a half that I have no recollection of, an emergency button press, about 3,000 people running into the room, an episiotomy, ventouse, some pushing (mainly forgetting how to push from me!), the ventouse slipping off and having to be put back on her head, a little bit of oxygen at birth and many more things I can’t even recall, we had A BABY!

And a year later after highs, lows, cuddles, kisses, lots of milk, almost as much milky sick, jaundice, lots of time with daddy while mommy was ill, many naps, thousands of nappies, weaning, first words, first steps, first crawls, sitting up, rolling over, pointing, waving, clapping, hair-growing, lots of pretty outfits, lots of mucky outfits, soft play, making friends, welcoming a cousin into the world, playing, so much playing! And about a million other things, Alexandra is nearly one!

Harriet and (for the last time before she turns one!) Alexandra x