Tag Archives: advice

23rd September 2014

Holly’s Story

Something a bit different today… I am sharing the story of 8-month-old Holly; the brave daughter of very close friends of ours. Her  Mummy Nikki wants to share Holly’s story to encourage parents to always trust their instincts when it comes to the health of their children.

And on that note, I will hand over to Nikki…


As I sit next to Holly’s hospital bed, watching her sleep after her second operation in eight days, I am wondering how we ended up here. I’m grateful that the doctors have finally discovered what is wrong with her, but I’m racked with guilt and I’m asking myself a million questions. Is it my fault because we had building work done when I was pregnant? Was it the antibiotics I took before I realised I was pregnant? Should I have fought harder to get this discovered sooner? Could I have done anything different? The list goes on.

 I had a feeling that something wasn’t right from the moment she was born. I have come to discover that a mother’s instinct is more powerful than any check-up, any doctor diagnosis, and any individual telling you ‘Don’t worry! Don’t panic! She’s fine!’ I knew something wasn’t right. I just knew.

Holly is my second daughter – and things felt different from the beginning. Holly never fed properly from birth or took enough milk. At 4 days old, she had her tongue tie cut and we hoped the feeding problem was solved. It wasn’t. At 6 weeks, the vomiting started. We could hear a strange clicking noise in her chest and her milk never seemed to digest properly. She always seemed to be uncomfortable, twisting and turning in bed all night.

As she got older, the feeling that something wasn’t right got stronger. I took her to the GP so often that the receptionist once commented ‘oh, it’s you again, you’ve been here a lot’. That comment  was like a kick in the stomach. I knew something was wrong

Our GP told me that Holly was fine over and over again. She was meeting milestones and she didn’t display any signs of a baby with major issues. I was unconvinced and started looking at other avenues. We visited at cranial osteopath, but after three visits (and £300 poorer), nothing had changed. We booked private consultations that cost £250 a pop, but still the conclusion came that she was fine.

10708058_10154614674510641_56558510_nI resorted to taking her to A&E in desperate attempts to find out what was wrong – and finally, on the third visit, they gave her an X-Ray and diagnosed pneumonia. After a course of antibiotics, she seemed to improve – but she was still only able to take 3 or 4oz as a feed.

The moment that will stick in my mind forever came six weeks later. After a follow-up X-Ray to check the pneumonia had cleared up, I was told to immediately rush Holly to A&E. They had spotted a lump on her lung – but being a Friday, we would have to wait until Monday to find out what it was. All they could tell me is that whatever it was, it had grown. That weekend was horrendous. We were sick with worry.

After a CT scan on the Monday morning, consultants sat us down and told us that Holly had Diaphragmatic Hernia. It meant her guts were above her diaphragm as it hadn’t formed properly. She needed a major operation.

We listened as they told us that 1 in 2500 babies have a diaphragmatic hernia, which is congenital and forms in the first 7-10 weeks in the womb. This is why it is usually discovered at the 20-week scan – but those babies that aren’t detected in the womb are normally detected at birth, because the child’s lung usually hasn’t had a chance to develop properly and breathing can be a real problem without assistance.

After doing some research on google afterwards, I went cold when I read that the mortality rate is about 30%, with a significant amount suffering from serious health problems. Only about 10% of babies get to Holly’s age without the problem being spotted. In many ways, we had been lucky – but it didn’t feel like that as we got our tiny baby ready for major surgery.

My instinct had been right all along.

Three weeks later, we were handing our 7-month old daughter to the surgeons to be operated on. Watching her go under general anaesthetic is a moment that will stay with me forever. Having to wait three hours to hear how the operation had gone and then walk into intensive care unit and see our baby on a ventilator was torture.

Despite everything, we were relieved she was getting better – until that is, the doctors broke it to us that a routine X-Ray had found that there was another major problem. Holly also had Hiatus Hernia, which is very rare in babies. Her stomach was in fact in her chest area. None of the medical team could believe that she had two very rare conditions – they had never come across it before. We steeled ourselves for another major operation a week later.

As we handed her to the surgical team for a second time, we felt emotionally drained. And as I sat by her hospital bed afterwards, I felt the need to write down my story to urge other parents to trust their instincts when it comes to their children’s health. And although every inch of my being wishes I had been proved wrong, I am so relieved that I kept pushing for a diagnosis.

Doctors do an amazing job, but they need to listen more to Mums when they tell them there is something wrong. We are the ones that are with our babies day in and day out – and if we feel something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. 

Where would we be now if I hadn’t trusted my instincts?




21st September 2014

10 Mistakes We Make As Mums

i-live-in-a-madhouse-ruled-by-a-tiny-army-that-i-made-myself1. Buying only newborn clothes. I made this mistake with my first, buying every vest and sleep suit in ‘New Baby’ that I could lay my hands on. When I went to the chest of drawers to locate the next size up, I discovered I had one pair of swimming shorts and a flat cap. So that was useful.

2. Failing to restock the nappy bag. Picture the scene. I’m out with the kids, feeling pretty smug that we have made it out to the real world and everybody is safe and happy. Then I realise that the baby has pooed, it has exploded up his back, and I have no baby wipes, no change of clothes, and probably no spare nappies. I do have a musical rattle, strip of paracetamol, and box of raisins though. Marvellous.

3. Running the bath several times every night. I find the perfect temperature, get distracted, discover it’s too hot and run just the cold tap, get distracted, discover it’s too cold – and repeat.

4. Standing on the bathroom scales after having a baby. At some point in my post-birth daze with my first, I purchased some bathroom scales from the supermarket on a whim. I’ll just quickly check how much weight I’ve lost, I thought. It’ll help me stay motivated, I thought. I stood on those scales and cried, before throwing them down the rubbish chute. Then I marched to the fridge and grabbed a bar of Dairy Milk to console myself. I should’ve just done the latter.

5. Clipping a finger when cutting little nails. I have done this to both babies. I concentrate fully on the task in hand, line up the finger, keep my breathing nice and steady, double check the clippers are in the right position. And yep, I still do it.

6. Drinking alcohol. It’s a mistake I have often made. The kids are in bed, the babysitter has arrived, and I am dressed up for a night on the tiles. I’ve put the kids to bed on my own for five nights straight, dealt with more toddler tantrums than you care to remember, and cooked dinners with a teething 7-month old attached to my hip. I definitely deserve this. What I haven’t considered, however, is that I will be doing all these things again tomorrow, with the added inconvenience of dashing to the bathroom to heave.

7. Making promises to a toddler. In my experience, it is the law of the world that if I promise our 2-year old that we will be visiting the park that afternoon, the car won’t start. If I promise him pink ice cream, there will only be chocolate. If I promise we will see a friend for a play date, they will cancel. It is far better to keep quiet and watch his face light up when things goes right. Because as tempting as it is to use our future plans as bribery for good behaviour, if the plans go wrong, the consequences are pretty grim.

8. Hoping Daddy will find it just as tough. Don’t get me wrong – I am all for Daddy daycare. This happens in my house at least once a week. The mistake, however, is thinking Daddy will find it just as tough and confess undying admiration for your skills as a mother when you walk back through the door.. This will not happen, as the children will sit quietly reading like little angels, the television will be switched to a sports channel while he reclines in comfort, and bedtime will work like a dream. The same applies to grandparents and babysitters. Your hard work will remain unappreciated.

9. Leaving half-drunk mugs of tea or coffee within reach. It is a law of parenting that you will only finish half your mug of tea or coffee before a small person demands your attention. The big mistake I make on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis is leaving them where small hands can grab them or thrown balls can knock them over. We made the mistake of purchasing a white sofa in our pre-kids days. It’s now mostly brown.

10. Waking a sleeping child. Whether I am gently lying my hand on their chest to check they are breathing, moving their squished-up faces away from the bars of the cot, or creeping into the room to grab something I left behind at bedtime, it is absolutely inevitable that I will wake them up at least once during nap or bed time. Two and a half years into motherhood and I still haven’t learnt to effectively creep. It’s worth a silent scream into a cushion.

8th August 2014

10 Things to Consider Before Having Number Two


1. Even if you were lucky enough to have an easy, enjoyable pregnancy the first time, this is unlikely to happen again. You will not go for quiet, uninterrupted coffees with fellow pregnant ladies, stroking your bump as you discuss varicose veins and how awful it is to have to get out of bed for a wee. You will not enjoy monthly maternity massages followed by long snoozes. You will not waft around in maxi dresses, looking beautiful with your bump. You will walk around in practical leggings and tunics, which are most likely to be smothered in this morning’s breakfast (or last week’s in fact).

2. You won’t always be welcome at gatherings of first-time mums-to-be. This will come as a shock, but your toddler simply isn’t welcome. Neither is your ‘know it all’ advice. Instead, you will team up with fellow multiple mummies to reminisce about how easy your life was when you only had one.


3. You will probably get more sleep in hospital than you have had for the last few years.

4. When baby comes home, you will no longer feel aggrieved by constant visitors. You will welcome them with open arms and fully expect them to entertain the older sibling for the entirety of their visit.

5. You will leave the house within days of arriving home, whether you can walk or not. As leaving the house and limping along with a screaming baby is better than being stuck inside all day with an older child that can move.


6. You will not sleep when the baby sleeps. You will spend this time watching re-runs of Peppa Pig.

7. You know that bit with your first when you had a terrible night and slept late into the morning with baby to make up for it? Say goodbye to that. Just as baby number two drifts off to sleep as the sun rises, child number one will wake up. You will have your suspicions they have come to some kind of evil arrangement with each other. It’s probably true.

8. You will not have time for emails, phone calls or letters to friends. Friends with no children or one child will not understand, as you will still have time to dip into Facebook – but the truth is that anything that engages your brain for more than a 50-character status update just isn’t happening.


9. The second child will surprise you constantly with his or her achievements – as unlike the first time, you simply wont have time to study his or her progress and take bets on when it will happen. One day, the baby will start crawling and you will be aghast that it has happened so quickly. In fact, you probably missed it completely as you were too busy extracting a marble from older child’s nostril or attempting to clear up playdoh matted into the carpet.

10. Despite all of this, you will not regret your decision to have number two for one second. Not for one single second. You will doubt your sanity for this – but it really is all worth it, especially when the small one catches sight of the older one and plants the happiest smile on his or her face. Thank goodness for that.