The Ten Stages Of A Toddler Tantrum

Moments before a mega tantrum.

If you’ve never experienced a toddler tantrum, then either you don’t own a toddler or you’re lying. Even the most angelic of small people can turn into the biggest wailing, flailing mess on earth occasionally. It’s just one of those parenting hurdles we all face. However, despite it being a complete losing battle to try and reason with a tantrumming toddler (side note: why is tantrumming not a word? And should it have one M or two?), I hereby share what I consider the ten stages of dealing with a toddler tantrum. A bit like the five stages of grief except no one judges you when you’re grieving.

  1. Prepare: It’s like being trapped in a zoo enclosure with a hungry lion. You can see exactly what’s going to happen. You can’t run (apparently leaving your child at the park and making off as fast as you can in the opposite direction isn’t acceptable). So you have to make something else seem like a tastier treat than you, whether that’s an actual tasty treat (‘here, have some sweets, chocolate, crisps, ten Fruit Shoots, ANYTHING that will stop you crying’) or the lure of something fun like shouting at ducks or shouting at mommy to push you higher on the swing.
  2. Accept your fate and start silently apologising to other people at the park using only your eyes. Try to convey a deep sense of sorrow while also reassuring that you usually don’t stand for this kind of thing.
  3. Bargain: hissing ‘please don’t start making a scene, I’ll let you skip your nap and then stay up til 10pm if you just stop crying’ has been proven to work on a toddler beginning a tantrum approximately zero times ever, but it’s still worth a try right?
  4. Ignore: it’s fine, I’m just strolling through the park with a howling toddler and it’s all completely dandy, I’m not about to cry myself and then spend the rest of the day wondering what I did to deserve such a devil child. In fact, they’re shouting so quietly I can barely hear them.
  5. Plead: ‘whyyyyyy are you doing this? Please just stop. Please.’ This would have a better success rate if they could actually hear you over the sound of their intense wailing.
  6. Lose your shit: luckily, they’re crying so hard by this point they have no idea what you’ve just hissed under your breath. Extra points if you threaten to leave them on the steps of a nearby church. Unfortunately, no extra points if you actually go through with that threat.
  7. Ignore: this might seem like the same as stage four but it’s not. By now you’re so fuming that you’ve given up pretending you’re enjoying a lovely walk and admiring the trees, instead you walk at a pace akin to Mo Farah in the last stretch of the Olympics and silently fume about how awful toddlers are.
  8.  Praise other child: ‘Aren’t you such a good boy? You can come to the park EVERY DAY because you don’t cry!’ This step is partly to see if toddler will realise what they’re potentially missing out on by trying to ruin your life every time you step outside your front door, and partly to point out to passing strangers that you’re in partial control and one of your children isn’t acting like it’s the end of the world.
  9. Offer snacks: you may have done this earlier in the process, but now you’ve got their attention by essentially telling their sibling how amazing they are, a snack might just be the tipping point back to normality.
  10. Peppa: when you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s time to fall back on the person who taught them how to be a brat in the first place. Switch on an episode, hand them the phone and watch the tears dry quicker than you can say ‘muddy puddles’.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Mother Of Two

The cutest little monkeys.

Being a mother of two is…
– Spending weeks thinking about what you’ll do when they both nap at the same time and then wasting it looking at instagram when it finally happens.
– Sometimes counting the ‘high point’ of your day as the time when the babies poo at the same time so you can use one nappy bag for both. Economic!
– Nodding and smiling nicely about 58 times a day when people tell you you’ve got your hands full.
– Trying to ram the double buggy through doors that aren’t wide enough, down aisles that it clearly doesn’t fit down and around people who have no concept of where it’s appropriate to stand and have a chat.
– Attempting to make important phone calls while feeding the baby, helping the toddler create a crayon masterpiece, eat your breakfast (at 2pm) and change somebody’s nappy.
– Wondering if you could squeeze into a nappy yourself so you save time having to go to the toilet.
– Being more tired than you ever knew possible but also more happy (had to throw a nice one in there cause I do really like my children!).
– Wondering if it looks twee or cute if you’ve accidentally matched the kids’ clothes but going with it anyway because changing one would be more hassle.
– Deciding if going to the loo, eating or sitting down for two minutes are the priorities. Deciding you can actually combine all three!
– Trying to stop the big one squashing the small one.
– Being tempted to write a Facebook bragging status when you get to the bottom of the laundry basket.
– Wondering how baby always has a bigger pile of clean clothing in each load than anyone else despite being much smaller than everyone.
– Deciding you’ll have bulging biceps in no time when you’re carrying round baby in his car seat and toddler at the same time.
– Trying to get both of them to look at the camera simultaneously just once.
– Feeling really responsible when you realise you’re in charge of two human beings.
– Giving yourself a mental high five when you get to the end of every day and they’re both still alive, fed and changed, even if they (and you and the house) are covered in sick, bogeys and food.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Post Birth Recovery

Looking a bit less dead than I did last time.

I’d just like to warn anyone reading that I’m going to talk about lady bits during this post. So maybe look away now if you’ve either never had a baby and don’t want to know about the grizzly details or if you don’t own lady bits and want their postnatal state to remain a mystery forever.

I realised today I’ve talked a lot about my children’s progress on this blog, which is a given really, but not really mentioned my own recovery from the birth this time.

If you put aside all of the other complications that happened postnatally with Alexandra – there was still the small matter of an episiotomy and 27 stitches to recover from. Even if you’ve pushed an entire human out of your body with no lasting damage to your hooha, it’s still going to be a little sore right? So add into that the fact someone’s done a cross stitch in your lady bits and it’s a long slow recovery. I’ve heard of people taking up to a year to recover from an episiotomy.

Thankfully mine didn’t take anywhere near that long but I do remember around day five getting the midwives to check my stitches as I was in so much pain I was convinced there must be some sort of infection going on down there. There wasn’t but it was still pretty unbearable!

This time round I escaped with a small tear that didn’t need stitching. I cannot tell you how much easier that was to cope with! None of that wincing as you sit down (handy when you’re spending all your waking hours in a chair next to your baby’s incubator) and weeing was much more comfortable – although that first post-baby poo is always going to be a terrifying prospect! But the thought is MUCH worse than the reality.

Aside from the hooha situation, I lost weight much more quickly the first time round (obviously being so ill!) so I’m still well over the weight I was when I got pregnant with Max (although I was this fat when I got pregnant with Alexandra!); I’m expressing this time so clearly that’s affected what’s happening up top as my milk had dried up by this point first time round; emotionally I didn’t have the third day baby blues either time but I think that’s because I haven’t had a ‘normal’ postnatal experience – there’s definitely been hormones flying around but isn’t that always the case even when you’ve not just given birth!

I was shocked how well I felt this time having had an unassisted delivery. By the next day I was walking around normal and aside from the lochia, leaky boobs and empty sack of a stomach I hardly knew I’d had a baby! People were commenting how well I looked and it was super refreshing especially having prepped myself to feel pretty shoddy.

It’s nice to know you can go through something as major as birthing a child and feel so good afterwards! It’s kind of empowering really! Which I feel a bit cringe saying but having felt like doctors delivered my first child and everyone else looked after her for months while I was a bit…well…useless, to bounce out of bed the next day and put some proper clothes on having pushed a baby out all by yourself feels pretty amazing actually.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Max’s Story: Part 1

Our super baby

When you have a baby, you expect long days, restless nights, tears and ups and downs. You probably don’t expect an extended hospital stay, machines, wires, nurses, doctors and uncertainty for the future. But that’s what happens. And sometimes it happens twice.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while will know I became critically unwell after having my first baby Alexandra in August 2015. Things were touch and go for a time. We were just beginning to start healing from that awful, awful experience when we learned we were due to become parents again. Many appointments, injections and scans followed before our son Max was born five weeks early on Sunday, March 26th 2017.

It would be untruthful to say we had been relaxed during the pregnancy. We’d put on a positive front but there had been moments behind closed doors where either or both of us had crumbled under the weight of the anxieties and unknowns of the pregnancy. While I was medicated and my illness was diagnosed this time, doctors couldn’t guarantee the CAPS wouldn’t return. They couldn’t guarantee they could deliver a healthy baby.

Most of the time I kept my spirits up. Sometimes I looked at Alexandra and wondered if I’d see her grow up (this all sounds so dramatic reading it back but it’s true). Sometimes I looked at Dylan and wondered if we had gambled too much this time and whether I’d be leaving him to raise our children alone – if our son even made it into the world safely.

So when the most gorgeous 4lb 13 little boy was placed on my chest at 11.57am on March 26 and I held him there for 15 minutes or so, it felt like finally this was our moment of luck. This little boy had been sent along to complete the tiny hole in my heart that I thought would never be filled when a second baby looked unlikely.

We had always felt lucky to have one healthy baby together. It’s hard to comprehend just how much Alex battled against the odds to be born at term with no complications aside from borderline jaundice. But to have two children. My heart was full.

So what happened next seemed especially cruel after having those moments after birth.

Day 0 –

Max was taken upstairs to the transitional care ward to have all his checks done by a paediatrician. The plan was that I’d follow him up there after six hours – I had to stay on the labour ward until then to be monitored. Dylan went with Max and our midwife Antoinette (who was beyond amazing! I want to talk in a separate post about the differences between my two births and how fantastic our midwife this time was) helped me get a wash and some food down me.

By the time I was ready to go, we were told Max had started grunting – a sign of illness in prem babies – and had been taken down to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to be monitored. I was wheeled down there and got to have quick cuddles with him. At this point he was on oxygen being given through his nose and also had a feeding tube. It was worrying but we were hopeful it was something short term.

Day 1 –

X-rays showed Max had congenital pneumonia, meaning a chest infection which starts either before birth or shortly after. He was moved over from the high dependency to the intensive care side of the unit. I popped out to the cafe in the evening with my parents and by the time I came back it was obvious he was really struggling.

It was like he was trying to scream at us. The doctors agreed he’d deteriorated and decided to ventilate him, which means putting a tube down his throat which gives oxygen and pressure to help with breathing. I’d been ventilated during my illness and had an awful experience with the sedation drugs given while I was on life support – so the thought of my tiny baby going through the same process (even though they only give them a small amount of meds while the tube’s going in and they’re not kept sedated) was awful. I can’t even describe the pain of going back to my room on the postnatal ward and listening to other people’s healthy babies crying while mine was having a tube put down his throat to keep him alive.

Why? Why us? Did someone not think we deserved a break this time!

When we went back downstairs to see him after the ventilator was in place, it was instantly obvious it was the right decision. It was like looking at a completely different baby – calm and not struggling anymore.

To be continued…

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Take Two: Week 33

Apologies about the lack of post last Thursday, or any sort of update since my ‘I’m in hospital’ post. The good news is I got out of hospital on Wednesday evening – but I then managed to completely break our laptop and could not for the life of me log in on my mobile hence the silence the following day.

Last Saturday (March 11th) was when I turned 33 weeks which seems a long time ago now. I celebrated by being allowed out of hospital for four hours to eat some real food and go to the park with Dylan and Alexandra, the latter of which LOVES parks because not only do they have swings, they also have lots of ducks which are one of her favourite things in the world.

Everything was still very normal and stable when it came to my blood pressure and other obs, yet they were still talking about keeping me in until delivery so I’d kind of resigned myself to being there for the long haul. However on Wednesday my obstetrician decided that, if my haematologist and cardiologist agreed, I could go home later that day.

With the former having said yes during my appointment with him, it was over to the hospital over the road (in a mad rush because it’s their policy to send patients in a taxi – even though I had been walking over there by myself whenever I wanted to get off the ward – and there had been some kind of mix up with the booking. So I ended up running across without my notes because they couldn’t give me them). There had then been some sort of issue where my echocardiogram was booked in for a different day, so I had to wait 1.5 hours for that.

After all that I finally got discharged in the early evening and was able to come home. It has been glorious to relax at home and spend time with husband and toddler. It’s significantly reduced my Netflix consumption though! And my family have very nicely passed a delightful cold on to me so I’m struggling to sleep even more. But for now it’s three lots of monitoring a week and the aim of 37 weeks still.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

Take Two: Week 32

Well this isn’t going to be the 32 week round-up that I was expecting, mostly because last Monday at 32+2 I ended up taking residence in hospital and it looks like I’ll be here until baby arrives. I debated just not mentioning it on here, but it’d pretty hard to do a weekly update without doing so – I thought I might get away with it for a week but five weeks is pushing it a little. It was actually Dylan who persuaded me to include the fact I was here (I didn’t know if it was a little attention-seeky like those people who post pictures of themselves with a cannula in or tag themselves at the hospital and then go through the whole ‘are you okay hun?’ ‘I’ll inbox you’ comments saga). He said actually the fact I’m a ‘high risk’ and have ended up here is what makes my pregnancy different and surely that should be included on the blog.

Anyway, I’m here. No great panics, I just had some short-lived symptoms like slightly elevated blood pressure. Everything has been utterly stable for the past week but so far the doctors have wanted to keep me here just in case anything creeps back up. Baby is absolutely fine, moving and growing well – there are no concerns for him which is fabulous.

I’m on the antenatal ward which means while there are some women here just for monitoring like me, a lot are here for induction. I’ve heard more contractions in the last week than I ever wanted to, I’ve heard a woman give birth in half an hour (from first contraction to baby arriving), I’ve also heard a woman who showed off an interesting range of farmyard noises for an entire night. Before I was moved into a side room by myself, I discovered how loud a pregnant woman could snore and then didn’t get much sleep the night after worrying if I was snoring.

I spent far too much time wondering what the ‘PET Centre’ was across the road before I googled it and found out it was sadly just a type of scan and did not involve puppies and kittens. I’ve secretly enjoyed being one of the least heavily pregnant patients which means I get to the food quickest when it’s served, and then wondered why the hell I bothered when I’ve had to choose between Unidentifiable Mush 1 or Unidentifiable Mush 2.

I’ve felt like I’m on a holiday somewhere really hot as they insist on having the heating full blast (they can’t even control it on the ward for some bizarre reason) so it’s windows open and fan on 24/7. I’ve laughed at the fact I’m allowed to walk over to the hospital over the road to go to the café there but they want me to take a taxi over to the same hospital for my appointment there tomorrow?! (I can actually see the entrance from my window it’s so close!).

It goes without saying that I am extremely fed up in here, missing Alexandra and Dylan like crazy and just wanting to be at home for the last few weeks of this pregnancy. There’s been a whole lot of feelings going on, too many to throw at a blog post. But baby is well, Dylan is doing a fab job of keeping Alex’s routine going with the help of family and friends, everything is very stable at the moment. So we just have to keep going day by day and accept that we knew this pregnancy would throw some crap at us at some point and we were probably lucky to get away with it for 32 weeks!

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x