Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween Fun!

I absolutely love this time of year, or I have done since I've had kids anyway.  There's such a sense of fun about Halloween and I love how excited the kids get about it, and of course Halloween means we're really close to Christmas (which I also love).  I've gone all out with the decorations this year and have decorated the whole of the front of the house, hopefully the trick or treaters will actually turn up!  

The kids were desperate to do their own pumpkins this year, I have usually done them in the past, so they each chose their own and yesterday afternoon they set about carving them out.  All four of them did their own freestyle designs using a whiteboard pen, they found that easier than using a paper template. I must say I wasn't too impressed with the carving kits I bought them from Sainsburys though, the carving tools buckled almost immediately - maybe I need to look into stronger alternatives next year. 

So here's the finished products, as you can see they're all very proud! 

What Halloween fun have you got planned for this year? 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Day That Changed My Life Forever

Thursday 26th June 2014 was one of the best days, but also one of the worst days, of my life. It was the day that I made a whole family's dreams come true by giving birth to their beautiful little boy, Julian Noa. I was ever so fortunate to have been trusted to be his keeper and carer for 9 months until he was ready to come out and meet his Mummy and Daddy and when he arrived he was everything I hoped he would be, perfect in every way and he continues to thrive to this day.  Being a surrogate was an amazing experience and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. If you want to read more about my journey you can do so here.

That day was also the day I found out I suffer from a condition called Pulmonary Hypertension, a potentially life-limiting and scary heart and lung condition that I had never even heard of before, let alone knew I had myself. It basically is a problem with the pressure in the valves of the lungs and heart, and cannot be cured unless a lung transplant is carried out although it can be managed in most cases with therapy and medications. Right now my PH is mild, I am able to walk, talk, climb stairs, work, look after my kids, walk my dog and do everything else I want to do but there are thousands of people out there who's PH is so severe they cant do any of those things. People who's lives will actually end due to the condition. I am a lucky one. The Drs don't know for sure if I have always had PH, although they suspect I developed it after Grace was born as a side effect of a medication I was taking.  

The even more scary thing about finding out about my having PH (at 39 weeks pregnant) is that pregnancy is not recommended AT ALL for women with the condition..this is an extract from the PHA (Pulmonary Hypertension Association) website:

"Becoming pregnant when you have pulmonary hypertension (PH) is dangerous. The life of both mum and baby are put at great risk. The risk of pregnancy-related death in women with PH is between 25% and 50%. This risk is related to the changes that take place during pregnancy such as increased heart rate and changes to the immune system"

Quite frankly, I feel lucky to be alive. I also feel blessed to have my children, and to have been able to give Julian to his wonderful family.  From now on I am going to seize every opportunity that comes my way and live my life to the full, because if my whole surrogacy journey taught me anything it is that life is precious and you need to grab it with both hands.

Last Sunday I took part in the Great South Run, fundraising for PHA UK, and I am pleased to say I completed the run and managed to raise nearly £300 for this amazing charity.  You can read more about PH and PHA UK here. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

My Dettol Addiction - 19 Week Pregnancy Update

I've not done an update for a few weeks and that's mainly because I've been feeling a pretty rubbish of late. It's a mixture of loads of things that have been getting me down.  I'm getting bigger, quickly, and these past two weeks I've been drained of pretty much all energy (maybe that's my anemia rearing it's ugly head?) so when I had car trouble at the beginning of this week it really didn't bode well for me.  I have been struggling backwards and forwards from work/school and even though i'm not at the stage where walking is a difficult the extra weight/belly definitely does not make things easy.  The kids school is about two miles from where we live and work is about a ten minute walk from there so it's been hard, the weather has also been a problem because it pretty much hasn't stopped raining all week...mind you I shouldn't complain because my Aunt lives in Devon and they've had a terrible time of it recently with the floods and the winds.  We went and bought a new car last weekend so once we pick that up in 10 days I'm going to go down there for four or five days and see how I can help.  I had a lovely friend come to my rescue yesterday when the rain was especially bad, she gave Grace and I a lift home once I had finished work and then went up and collected the other 3 children from school for's times like that you know who the good people are in the world :-)

I've been feeling rather emotional of late also, I think because of everything else that's going on at the moment it is very easy for me to get overwhelmed and feel like the sky is falling in. When you're carrying a baby that's not your own, that you don't have an emotional connection to, it's easy to concentrate on the shit things that are happening and how awful you feel and not look forward positively to the end result, because it's not my end result..does that even make sense?  I think it's also very easy to feel lonely when you're carrying a surrogate baby, and that's because there are many people out there that understand what it's like.  It probably doesn't help that I've removed myself from quite a few of the surrogacy groups that I was previously a member of, it's too political and controversial to go into here but it's safe to say I don't really like people who think of themselves well above everyone else.

I've not been feeling too well generally this week (aside from the lack of energy), Monday night I was up at about 3.30am with sickness and to be honest I thought that was the start of something quite nasty but it went as soon as it arrived, however on Wednesday I came down with a cold which has really rounded off my crappy week rather nicely! I have always suffered with terrible colds, ever since I was a kid, so I am pretty used to it..but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.  I think it's made worse by the fact I'm not able to dose myself up on half the contents of Boots at the moment, any suggestions to natural relievers of blocked noses/sore throats/stuffy heads would be much appreciated. 

As for the baby, T&F went ahead with the private scan weekend before last to see what gender the baby is, as soon as I saw the screen I knew I had been right all along...yes, it is indeed a little BOY!!  Little M is super excited to be having a little brother and I'm so happy for them all. The next chance they will get to see him is at the next NHS scan at the end of this month.  My Extra Strong Mint cravings haven't subsided any as yet and I've also developed an addiction to cleaning my house with Dettol - I absolutely love the smell.  I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

Anyway, that's all I can be arsed to write have got for you this week, hopefully i'll be back next week in a more positive mood.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ice Pops and Extra Strong Mints: 17 Weeks Pregnant

This week has gone so fast, I don't know where time is going at the moment but I wish it would slow down as I don't seem to have nearly enough time at the moment to get everything done.

We had our Midwife appointment last Thursday, which aside from being called in nearly an hour late, went OK.  The Midwife we saw at the first appointment (who we both really liked) had moved on though to a different practice, which was a bit of a disappointment, and I walked into the room to find my ex's ex (yes, keep up please) sitting at the table with my replacement Midwife..turns out she is in the 1st year of studying a Midwifery degree now.  Slightly odd feeling talking about the surrogacy etc to her, but I didn't feel embarrassed or anything as I haven't got anything to be ashamed of...if anything it just proves that i'm actually a very nice person! Ha ha.  The Midwife found the babies heartbeat really quickly and it was great for T to be able to hear it, every little helps I think when trying to make it feel as real as we can for her.  My iron levels came back as low in my last set of blood tests, as I expected them to be, I need to think about really making an effort to get them up.  Mind you I've been feeling pretty well this week generally, felt sick last night but i'll put that down to the massive lunch I had at a work function I had to attend.

This week has been the first week where I've actually "craved" anything, and that's Ice Pops and Extra Strong Mints.  The former is a first craving for me in pregnancy, but the later has been a staple in the diet of my last two pregnancies as well.  Once the craving really kicks in you'll find at least four packets hidden about my person/handbag/house at any one time...I think it's the texture I actually crave more than the mintyness, I really enjoy crunching them, mind you I think it's the same for the Ice Pops as well though.

Last weekend was a bit rubbish as I was on my own as hubby had to work, however I kept myself busy with the kids and it soon passed and Monday morning was soon looming ahead.  This weekend is going to be much better though as T&F have booked to have a gender scan at a local private exciting!  I didn't think I was bothered either way but I am actually really looking forward to knowing what they've got cooking away in there because I know how much more real it's going to feel for them.  It will also be the first time Little M will see her brother/sister which will be absolutely amazeballs, and it will be 3D rather than a standard scan which will be great for her as it'll be so much easier for her to understand what's what.  My rabble will be there too so it'll just be a fabulous day.  I am going to put my cards on the table now and say I think they've got a little boy, and I know Little M thinks the same, but I think the rest of the family are thinking girl.  I don't know why I think boy, but I usually have a hunch with my pregnancies and this is no different.  Roll on Saturday and we'll see who's right I guess, but I will say that my track record for correct guesses is currently 100% :-)

I have been buying more maternity clothes these past few weeks, with the January sales being on and now being in the 2nd trimester it seems like it's a good time.  I bought this Black Skater Dress from ASOS Maternity last week, I liked it as I thought it would work well for either work or at the weekends.  I added the bow you see in the picture myself as I thought it needed just a little something extra.  I also got a pair of long flat black boots (no heels here hoo) to go with it but they were too tight around my calves so went back.

I also managed to get a pair of jeans and a couple of tops at my local branch of Peacocks, which were in the sale.  I do love a bargain! Next of my list is a maternity swimming costume as we often go swimming at the weekends and last time I had to sit out as my cozzie looked ridiculous..and there's no chance you'd see me in a bikini at the moment! Ha ha. 

Anyway, that's about all I've got to update you with this week...see you next week for more of the same.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Review: Chocolate Picture Maker from Magic Choc UK

We were recently sent this Chocolate Picture Maker kit from Magic Choc UK, so yesterday I suggested to Charlie (8) that we give it a go seeing as though we had a very quiet day indoors due to the weather.  Charlie is a chocolate fiend so I thought this would be right up his street!  The idea is that using the contents of kit you can create your very own chocolate bar, either using the stencils provided or you can use your imagination and create your own design.

This kit contains:

Enough chocolate to make 4 chocolate bars
Plastic activity trays
and of course instructions.

After choosing which design Charlie wanted to try first we simply sellotaped it to the bottom of one of the plastic trays provided.  One pouch of each different type of chocolate (milk, white and dark) then needed to be melted in warm water for a few minutes.  This was great as it didn't involve boiling water or microwaves...and no chance of being scalded.

Once the chocolate had been left for long enough to be smooth we had to take the dark chocolate first and snip a very small hole in the corner of the pouch.  He had to carefully follow the outline of the stencil, which surprisingly was quite easy for him to do.

Then we took the white chocolate pouch and filled in the outline.  You do not have to wait for the dark chocolate to set. 

Once that is done we took the milk chocolate and covered over the whole lot!  After a little bit of manipulation to get the milk chocolate evenly distributed in the tray we then popped it in the fridge for half an hour.  

Charlie and I were both chuffed with the results of our chocolate picture making and couldn't wait to get stuck into it...

I also was happy for Charlie to have the chocolate bar he made (well, a 1/4 of it as he had to share it with his Brother and Sisters) as all Magic Choc UK's chocolate is:

100% Belgian Chocolate
Gluten Free
Suitable for Vegetarians
and has no artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives.

Charlie was even more impressed when he lost a tooth whilst tucking into his chocolate as it meant the Tooth Fairy would be paying him a visit!

There are also lots of other stencils on the website for you to download and print too should you feel like it.

I actually really enjoyed doing this activity with Charlie as it was completely mess and fuss free, which I wasn't expecting.  We definitely give this product 5 out of 5 stars.

You can buy the Chocolate Picture Maker from The Entertainer Website for £4 for a 1 bar kit and £7 for a 2 bar kit.

Disclosure: This product was sent to us for free but all opinions are our own.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Showzam! Blackpool and B:The Underwater Bubble Show Ticket Giveaway

Back in August last year we were lucky enough to get to go on an amazing break away to Blackpool, all thanks to the fabulous people at Visit Blackpool and Tots100, you can read all about what we got up to here.  When the marketing team got in touch recently to tell me about Showzam! and offered me tickets to giveaway to one of the brand new shows taking place I jumped at the chance because we had an amazing time experiencing everything Blackpool had to offer, and I know you will too.

Showzam! is Blackpools Annual Festival of Circus, Magic and New Variety and runs from the 14th-23rd February (half term to you and me).  There's so much going on during the week and you can check it all out on the website here.

As a part of Showzam! there will be an amazing new show running called B:The Underwater Bubble Show.  “B” is an original theatrical circus show that blends bubbles with dance, juggling, acrobatics, sand magic and special effects, all in a themed, visual, entertaining and colourful performance.
The show is rich in stage effects using the latest laser technologies, snow cannons, soap bubble tornadoes, theatrical fog, optical illusions and many other surprises. There are multiple performances happening over the course of the week and it takes place in the Blackpool Tower Circus Arena.

Check out the video...

Visiting Blackpool this half term or live nearby?  I have one family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) to give away to see B: The Underwater Bubble Show at Blackpool Tower Circus Arena on a date of your choice from the dates and times listed on the website here.  You know what to do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

"I'm Not The Mom, I'm Just The Stork" - 16 Weeks Pregnant

Well, i'm 16 weeks pregnant already and I can't believe how quickly time is flying!  We've got our 2nd midwife appointment tomorrow, I wouldn't say i'm excited exactly but i'm really looking forward to seeing T and the fact that she'll get to hear their baby's heartbeat.  

Im feeling quite well at the moment, the sickness and tiredness is coming under control and I sort of feel normal (as normal as I ever am anyway!) - apart from my rapidly expanding waistline that is.  It's surprised me how quickly the bump has come on, as it's gone from not being really very noticeable to anyone but me to being blatantly obvious I'm pregnant in a few short weeks.

To be honest the fact that i'm eating ALOT probably doesn't help the size of my belly, I didn't eat very much the first 4-6 weeks due to how sick I was, however I've already more than made up for that and I can't stop now!  I need to get a grip on it though as I don't want to end up putting on more weight than I need to, it'll just be painful to get off in the end and i'll regret overeating.  I've not really overeaten in my previous pregnancies and always been lucky to regain my shape quite quickly, but i'm getting older now and it won't be as easy in my 30's as in my 20's I am sure.

As mentioned above my tiredness hasn't been nearly as bad as it was in the first trimester, however all my recent blood tests have shown my iron levels to be low.  This did not come as any great surprise to me as I have suffered with anemia through all my pregnancies, not that it's ever really come to anything.  Alfie, my 3rd child, was an elective was such a positive wonderful experience.  I wasn't allowed to have one with Grace though as my iron levels were too low in my last few weeks and it increased my chances of post delivery hemorrhaging.  There's no way i'd even consider even mentioning a homebirth this time as the baby isn't mine so really it doesn't matter too much as long as i'm feeling well. 

I fell down the cellar stairs in my house last week, which was a horrible experience.  The stairs are really steep and have big gaps in them and I managed to fall from about the 5th step up.  I was lucky that I managed to fall down on my back rather than falling down on my front, so I pretty much knew the baby was OK..but to be safe I went to see the Dr the next day and he gave me the once over including a very quick ultrasound.  Baby D was there, clear as day, moving around just as in the 12 week scan - I don't think it will be long before I'm feeling the movements as it definitely looked a little more cramped than the last time.

Whilst browsing the web this morning I came across a US Surrogates blog and although there is many differences between US and UK Surrogacy, which is a far too detailed and complicated issue to go into here, there was something I really liked, and that was this phrase:

Kind of cheesy, I know, but I do like it and from now on I shall refer to myself as 
"The Stork".