Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

What If

“What” and “if” are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side by side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.

On this journey of grief it is easy to get lost, in yourself, in your surroundings, in your mind. I find myself lost most of the time, I forget what I am doing constantly as my mind wanders to thinking of what if. Sometimes I don’t even know I am doing it. I get so engrossed in my own thoughts that I don’t even hear when people are talking to me. It doesn’t matter whether your grief is through losing a grandparent, a parent, a sibling or a child, these are things grief does to you without you even noticing. I find that even when I’m having one of my “good” days I still often drift in and out of conversations and goings on to think about my own what ifs.

What if Jason were alive?
What if I’d have tried harder to protect him?
What if I’d have been a better person before him?

None of these questions have answers, the truth is, I’m not a bad person, actually i’m probably as “good” as anyone gets, I’ve never smoked, done drugs, can count on my hand how many times I’ve drank alcohol and can honestly say I’ve only ever been drunk once so there is no reason for this punishment. As with all bereaved parents, nobody deserves to lose their child.

I found the quote above completely true with regards to my grief, I constantly ask what if but never get the answers i desire. I never will. What and if are two words that bereaved parents ask themselves regularly, yet it doesn’t make the process or the journey any easier. Without answers the questions are invalid, yet we ask them anyway. Even now, I find my mind has wandered so much focused on my own “what ifs” that I’ve written absolute gobbledy-gook and haven’t the foggiest how I’ve come to type these words.

Three years on, I’m finding it easier to hide when i’m in my own world, to hide when I haven’t really listened to what people are telling me but answer them as if I had, people seem unaware of it as it happens so much they probably just think it’s me. It isn’t. I was always so switched on and would take everything in before my loss, now all I want to do is go in to my own little dream world and be with Jason. It’s a lovely place I’ve made up in my head, where it’s always night-time and the stars shine as bright as the northern lights and I cuddle my little boy to sleep and listen to his breathing, I imagine it sounds very similar to my husband’s own breath at night when he’s dozing off to sleep. We silently sit there together, taking in every part of him…until I’m dragged away in to reality where I never got the chance to do any of those things and I remember that life really did throw me a shit hand to play.

I never imagined that my life would be like this, that I would carry on with work, relationships, life in general and act like everything is okay. As a child I never wanted this life, I never wanted to be married, have kids, I wanted to be a singer and travel the world on tour. In my adult life all I’ve ever wanted was to be Luke’s wife, have his children, watch them grow up and show them how much I love their dad. Yet in spite of all of this I would never change anything about Jason, he was perfect, always will be and our family will always know and talk about him as if he was here.

The “what ifs” never stopped once Ellie was born, if anything Ellie’s birth added to them. Would she be here if Jason had lived? What if I couldn’t handle having another baby on top of Jason’s health issues? To be honest I could go on but I won’t. Just try to understand that having a living child does not take away any of those unanswered questions, they don’t suddenly disappear. I know these questions will always haunt me because there is no answer, not one that matters any way because no matter how many times I ask them they won’t bring him back.

Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

Do I deserve this?

A question I’ve asked myself for as long as I can remember. I’m no saint but im definitely not a bad person. Ive always lived my life trying to please everyone and trying to make people happy and yet I still ask.

As a kid I was bullied throughout school, it still haunts me now. It wasnt what you would call serious bullying just the typical name calling, horrible stuff kids come out with that most people have probably endured during their lives but for me it hit a nerve and its never gone away. I always wondered what I had done to deserve that; I was good, okay maybe a bit too good and I always wanted to learn (a bit of a square for the 90s kids reading) but I had a good group of friends and I was happy yet I remember the bullying so clearly. Does ANYONE deserve to have something like that stay with them for as long as I have?

I began asking myself the same question when I met Luke. I didnt feel like I deserved to be so loved by someone else. I found it bizarre that someone older than me wanted to spend time with me; wanted to marry me. 12 years later I still find it a mystery why he hasn’t left me for someone better. I love that man with all my heart and ive always tried to give him everything he deserved and yet I still think he deserves better. I tormented myself with that thought when Jason died. If I had truly given him everything then I should have his Son with me too. I failed him as a wife and I know deep down there is someone in this world that wouldn’t and yet he is still here.

Jasons death brought a whole new meaning to “do I deserve this?” For once I wasnt questioning anything other than what I had done wrong. I convinced myself something as awful as your baby dieing must only happen to the worst kinds of people. Unfortunately, I know too many amazing people who have also lost their child and none of them deserved it! Nobody does! It doesnt matter who you are or what youve done, baby loss can happen to anyone.

Now Ellie is here I feel like I am losing my confidence in being a mum. Mothering Jason was so different to what I expected and I had to find ways to be his mum even though he wasnt here. I didnt get to dress him or feed him, I didnt get to mother him in the conventional way. I cuddled him and talked to him, I cried on him and I begged him to wake up; when Ellie was born I was suddenly thrown into a whole new world of motherhood. One where I could dress her and hear her cry. I play with her, I cuddle her, I take thousands of pictures, all this is normal yet I feel like I dont deserve to be her mum. Once again I feel like there is someone who could do a better job. Ellie is such a clingy toddler and she needs me 24/7 when she wakes in the night she cries for Mama, when she wakes in the morning she shouts for mama, she is there all the time and at risk of sounding ungrateful for her (which I can assure you is definitely not the case) I know the constant neediness is draining me. I feel myself lose my patience more than i want to. I don’t spend as much time playing because I just need 5 minutes alone. We watch far too much cBeebies and Ellie eats way more fish fingers and chicken nuggets than I like to admit too. More than anything in the world I wanted to be a mum, now I have it and it really is such an amazing gift that I cherish every day but it still remains that I find being a mum hard. Ive never been selfish, ive always put everyone else first but now I feel so selfish for wanting a bit of time to myself which in turn makes the mum guilt appear too. Its a vicious circle and I dont know if I will ever break it.

Even though at times I feel like the worst mum ever when I sit and rationalise everything I have been through to get to this moment I kknowI deserve this and I want this and I love being a Mum. I dont know what triggers this doubt; grief, PND, birth trauma, previous experiences, a general lack of confidence but I do know that I am successful at getting through those bad days and we are all battling this parenting job in one way or another.

 

Be kind to yourself; you may not believe it but you are doing an amazing job!

Posted in life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

Surviving the three C’s

·Chatty

·Clingy

· Crying

Chatty

I have always been concerned that Ellies speech was delayed slightly. It took her a while to say mama or dada to the right person and she didnt really babble. I mentioned my concerns at Ellies health review at 15 months but HV was quite pleased with her speech she told me not to worry.

Suddenly I feel like all my worries were nothing, Ellie doesnt stop talking and babbling. She seems to have a new word all the time and is fond of telling us the animal noises she knows which amazes me. I just love her noises for elephant, lion, cat, dog, owl, monkey and pig! She still refuses to say hi or bye but certainly knows how to tell us when she wants food or “cisps”. Her understanding is much more developed too. For a toddler at nearly 19 months to understand “sit” and “lets tidy up first” when you work with 5 year olds who dont understand those concepts amazes me!

Clingy

Lately I feel as if Ellie is more clingy than ever. Actually this is a lie as she has always been a very clingy baby. As a newborn she wouldn’t sleep unless she was nestled on either me or hubby. She refused her moses basket and would only sleep in it when it wasnt in the stand so she slept on the floor by our bed and even then it wasnt for long before she was awake for her feeds. When she outgrew her moses basket we had her cot in our room but again she rarely slept in it, maybe an hour or so at night and then she would need cuddles to get her back to sleep. It was tedius but it meant she slept in there and rarely needed to cosleep. As she got more aware she refused her cot and would only sleep with us near her. Ellie has always been good at going to sleep on her own but has never been able to self settle without one of us there. Even now at 1 and half years old, one of us needs to sit beside her bed until she is fully asleep otherwise she wakes instantly and cries until you take the position beside her again.

I have found as she has gotten older, she has become more clingy. She doesnt seem to spend any time alone; she follows me everywhere and is never satisfied being on her own. She doesn’t like to play on her own for very long and craves attention. All of this is part of being a toddler I know yet part of me knows it is my own doing in that I have made her this clingy as I know I need her more than she will ever know.

Crying

For the majority Ellie is not a crier. She never has been really, as a newborn she would only cry if needed and when she started walking she didnt cry when she would fall down or hurt herself unless it was a bad fall.

However it appears that we are hitting the “terrible twos” a few months early as recently Ellie cries ay everything. She cries in the night even when we cosleep or she cries when she isnt being held in the day. Her tantrums are much worse and as well as crying we have hit the hitting/throwing her body against anything phase too. 

I realise the title of this blog post is “surviving” however if you have stumbled upon this looking for answers unfortunately i dont have them. Sorry!

What i do have is the knowledge that parenting can feel like a battle and everyone feels like they are just surviving at times too. I struggle so much to accept I am not a bad mama for finding parenting difficult and that for 99% of us (theres always one who wont admit it!) there are times where we feel like we are failing as parents and its okay to accept and admit it too.

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Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, Somewhere After The Rainbow, Uncategorized

Pete’s Story

Please welcome Pete to Somewhere After The Rainbow. Pete is a wonderful dad to Poppy and Reuben and he bloga over at Daddy To A Rainbow And A Star

Joy and sadness forever mixed together.

When you become a parent you never think you’ll have to parent a child after the loss of another child. Sadly though this cruel world throws that ball to 1 in 4 families. My wife Emily and I welcomed our daughter Poppy into the world in October 2016. She was with us for 3 days but sadly she died in our arms due to a devastating brain injury. She sustained this because during labour decelerations of her heartbeat were missed. Our world shattered.
After Poppy died I felt we’d never have to joy of bring a baby home. I miss Poppy each and every day and wish she was here. I’ll never see my first born grow up. You grow fearful that you might never get to parent a child on earth. I’m still Poppy’s Dad but I just have to parent her in a very different way.
A year later we were able to bring our rainbow baby Reuben home. Poppy’s little brother was our light in the darkness. Now we are 6 months into our journey of parenting after loss. It’s a very different experience then how you expected to be as a parent. I’m now parenting 2 children but only one is with us.
The early weeks and months of Parenting After Loss were filled with fear, worry and bundles of nerves. I had the usual parenting worries of nappy changing, feeding, holding etc etc. On top of that though I had the worry of losing Reuben like I had lost Poppy. Fearful the same thing would happen again. Just getting Reuben home was a massive milestone. After losing a child you never think you’ll be able to bring another baby home.
Even when home with Reuben the worrying is magnified compared to normal. Every sound, every noise was followed by me thinking “Is everything ok?”I’d worry at night that he wasn’t breathing. However I’ve found that I’ve been less of a worrier over these things. I still worry about Reuben and that something bad might happen. It just lingers more in the back corners of my mind.
Parenting After Loss is like grief. Feelings do come in waves. There is more complicity in this though. Along with the worry you have the thoughts of what could and should have been. I miss Poppy and I think about how she’d be with her little brother. With each milestone Reuben hits I’m overjoyed but get sad I’ve not been able to see Poppy hit the same milestone. It’s so bittersweet. Joy and sadness forever mixed together.
One thing I have found though is that I try to enjoy everything with Reuben more. Even if thats getting up at 5am with him. Yeah it’s early but it’s an extra hour with him before work. I want to make the most of every second I get with him. Part of me is slightly scared it could be the last second. After you experience the worst thing in life you can’t help but worry it’ll happen again.
Looking ahead with hopes and dreams for Reuben is hard too. Part of me is so scared to look to his future for fear that he might not get to have it. That sounds odd I know but you just never stop the worrying. It’s never-ending. That is not to say that I don’t have days where I might not worry about losing Reuben. You are just so aware of how wrong life can go. How cruel the universe can be.
What I’ve found is that while I do have the parenting after loss anxieties, I’m not as anxious as I thought I would be. At times I’ve been more chilled that I expected. I think I feel so lucky to have Reuben that I want to cherish all my time with him rather than spend it working. That is easier said than done though.
I have guilt that I’m neglecting Poppy and her memory though. We used to visit her grave every day but now we can’t. I know she understands why and she is happy we have her little brother. It doesn’t make it any easier though. I try hard to include them together as best I can. I also talk about Poppy so reuben knows who she is. The biggest fear alongside the fear of losing your rainbow is Poppy being forgotten.

I’ll end with a small quote.

When it rains look for rainbows, and when it’s dark look for stars.

When the sadness and tears of missing Poppy are there I can look at my rainbow Reuben. He brings utter joy and makes the darkness lighter. When the dark is there look for my Poppy Star. Shining down on me, guiding me along my parenting after loss journey.

Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

Sleep Regression

Ugh. I thought we were over the sleep regression stage but it seems we are back to no routine and random waking up.

As you may know Ellie doesn’t sleep great. She slept through from about 9 months to 12 months and since then wakes regularly unless she is in our bed. I was always against bed sharing/co sleeping but when it is the only option for a good nights sleep I grabbed it with both hands. After months of no sleep and fighting Ellie in the middle of the night to stop crying and begging her to sleep it really was our only option.

When Ellie turned one she suddenly started waking up again after 2 or 3 hours of being in her cot. She would still go to sleep okay, it was just if she woke in the night she wouldnt resettle unless she was in with us but as soon as she lay in our bed she was asleep again.

Lately sleep hasnt been great and im starting to feel drained due to that and working part time. Ellie now fights sleep and some nights it can be 9-10pm before she is settled in her cot. She has also been waking up crying throughout the night due to this sleep regression. Even when we are cosleeping she is suddenly waking around 4/5 times a night crying which isn’t like her.

I know that by 18 months she should be sleeping through in her own bed, she should be able to self settle and not scream for us when she does wake up. I also know that parenting after losing Jason has caused me to do lots of things that I wouldnt have necessarily done and because I am still convinced that like my time with Jason was limited; my time with Ellie is limited too and I will never let her just cry when time with her is so precious. I was advised by a HV that the only way she will learn to sleep through is to really try the “cry it out” method and not to go to her straight away when she calls for me in the night, for me this was never an option. For others they pushed through it and it worked but I wish there was advice for those of us who arent comfortable thinking I have abandoned the one thing I wanted and went through hell to cuddle and love.

Im hoping this regression doesnt do too much damage and that Ellie starts to sleep a bit earlier and spends more time in her own bed however as time doesnt stop I will enjoy the extra cuddles and the beautiful smile that wakes me up in a morning for as long as my baby needs. One day she wont want cuddles in the middle of the night and then I’ll know Ive done the best I can as her Mama ❤

Posted in baby loss, baby loss awareness, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, Uncategorized

Rachael’s Story

Please welcome Rachael to the Somewhere After The Rainbow Guest Series 💜

Rachael writes over at Rachael’s Blog about life and parenting after loss.

The best gift to your baby is a happy and whole you.

Eli 💙

I seemed to just sail through my first pregnancy. No real issues or cause for concern. Our house was all ready, the nursery was all ready, we were so ready. Only on his due date the baby wasn’t. I went over due by a further 10 days when they brought me in for induction. The induction to start with went smoothly. Regular checks followed by pains and lots of waiting. Over 48 hours after being in hospital on one of the routine checks during the early hours of the morning the midwife struggled to find a heartbeat. This will all be ok I thought. He’s just in a funny position. Only he wasn’t in a funny position he had gone. There was more monitoring, more scans to confirm our worst fears. Our baby had died. Hours after hearing his heartbeat he’d gone just like that. Labour was a very slow process and it was two days later when our boy was actually born. We named him Eli as planned. He was such a gorgeous little boy and it was so hard to comprehend that he had actually gone. We have since found out that there were a lot of mistakes made by Drs and midwives that contributed to Eli’s death. Alongside the finding of a small placenta which is something that can easily be monitored through scans and checks on blood flow.

Lucas 💙

We fell pregnant with Lucas around 4 months after Eli had died. The desire to bring home a baby was huge however, Lucas’ pregnancy was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Scans brought back traumatic flashbacks. Even just waking into the hospital brought back painful memories. Kick counting became obsessive and if he didn’t move every 15 minutes like he usually did I’d freak out. Thankfully all was well and Lucas was born on October 22nd 2017 vía emergency c-section (that’s another story in itself!).

Parenting

My main feeling was sheer relief and I spent the first month in some sort of crazy sleep deprived state. I definitely didn’t rest as much as I should have and wanted to be out and about showing Lucas off to the world. I think after the initial excitement/shock of having a live baby subsided my doubts started to kick in. Was I doing things right? Was he happy? Was he healthy? Was he going to stay alive? The pressure I put on myself was immense. My mind spiralled fairly quickly and I went from feeling fairly confident in my ability to doubting everything and feeling like a terrible parent. Thankfully the therapist that I’d been seeing after Eli died and throughout pregnancy with Lucas helped to keep me on track again. To be totally honest parenting is not at all what I expected. There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for it. At times it’s completely overwhelming and despite your best intentions to love and appreciate everything sometimes it is really hard. Lucas is just over 6 months old now and a complete delight! He laughs and smiles his way through life and just makes my heart completely burst with joy but it really has taken such a lot to get to this point.

My Advice:

My advice for somebody parenting after loss is really to be kind to yourself. You’ve been through massive trauma and having a baby is wonderful but so challenging and will bring up further issues related to loss. Don’t forget to look after yourself too and most importantly talk. Get whatever you need to off your chest and let people help you if you need it. You’re not a terrible Mum for asking for help. The best gift to your baby is a happy and whole you.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

Juggling life.

Lately I have been feeling like I am constantly juggling everything in one hand. Being a mum is wonderful and I have waited so long to hear my name shouted out but when your child is as clingy as mine is it all starts to get a bit much. Add that to working part time with a child on the asd spectrum, a husband who struggles to function himself sometimes due to ptsd and a long list of jobs that need doing I am surprised I didnt lose my shit sooner.

I love my job, I have been a special support assistant for nearly 10 years and have worked on a 1:1 basis with many children with different needs. I love the satisfaction you get from helping a child who needs that bit more support, knowing you are building the stepping stones for their adult life. However I currently feel like a babysitter and I am starting to question whether I can do this another year and I feel awful for thinking that. Maybe a few years ago Id have been able to have the patience to deal with the unpredictableness of work but when you have an 18 month old who NEVER slept through the night and wants your attention 24/7 it becomes much harder to have the patience all the time.

It also dawned oonme recently that Ellie really doesnt spend any time on her own. She wakes up in our bed, she then goes to my mums who stays with her all morning and she sleeps in the living room with her. I pick her up and im with her until luke comes home. Luke stays with her while i sort tea and baths and lunches and then one of us has to stay with her under she eventually falls asleep. Its currently 8:45pm and she is still struggling to sleep so im sat on the floor waiting. Ellie spends around 4 hours in her own bed before she wakes up and gets in with us and that isnt really alone time either as she is asleep. It really starts to grind you down. I think every one needs time to unwind and destress after a busy day and lately I dont feel like I get that at all. I feel selfish for even wanting time to myself. Mum guilt plays a huge part in how i think and how i parent and i know this is all our own doing by not being able to let Ellie “cry it out” but still is 5 minutes peace too much to ask?

Posted in grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

18 months of Ellie.

Hello May!

I’m not going to lie, March and April were tough months for me; so many anniversaries linked to Jason which brought mixed emotions. I feel that by grieving for Jason more than usual I havent been able to mother Ellie as well as I would have liked either. I’ve said it many times but parenting after loss really is a rollercoaster in itself. The constant guilt is enough to drive a sane person crazy in my opinion.

Anyway, here is May and with it brings a new milestone in our family; 18 months of our little ray of sunshine and what an amazing 18 months it has been. I have got to the part of motherhood where I miss those newborn days. The ones where I would be able to lie with Ellie and watch her sleep, the days were we would play under her play gym for what seemed like hours. Okay so I never got a hot cuppa and we rarely ate our tea warm but they were such wonderful days. Yes I miss them but only because I know I will never experience them again and I’m happy knowing I got to experience them at all.

However, seeing the little person Ellie has grown up to be makes me even more grateful for the little girl I know is all mine. She has so much character even at 18 months. I have never really appreciated how much they know at 18 months. Ellie is now aware of when we aren’t with her and panics if she cant see one of us, she responds to ddirections; sits, lies down, goes to bed everything we ask she is learning to just do. She throws and kicks a ball happily and could spend ages playing with her ball and goal. Her favourite word is goal! Ellie also loves her tea set and kitchen. She pretends to feed her dolls and teddies and offers us tea from her tea pot too. It amazes me that pretend play is learnt so early on yet children seem to lose it quicker now too.

For me the biggest development in Ellie is her speech. We had her 12 month health review in February (at 15 months!!!) and I remember telling a HV how I was concerned Ellies speech wasnt developing. By 15 months she would only say go, goal and mama. She wouldnt say dada at all and was only beginning to babble. As with everything I was told to just wait and see what happens in the next few months. In just 3 months time she is communicating more, she says more words and is using gestures to tell us what she wants too. She now says dad happily and knows the difference between us, she says cup, yeah, no, goal, lets go, cat, dog and woof. For me this has been the biggest milestone so far as I was so worried about it. We have worked hard reading books with her daily to try and help develop her speech and not only has it helped but she has such a love for reading now too. We read the same book 4 or 5 times sometimes 🙈.

I cant believe we’ve known her for a year and a half. She makes me smile and cry, I worry about her, I want to be with her all the time. I want to be around to watch her grow more and more. I am so excited to see where the next half of the year takes us.

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Posted in baby clothing, baby fashion, Baby Groups, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, Pampers, parenting, parenting after loss, product review, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

#WriggleWrestle

A couple of weeks ago I joined up to take part in Pampers new campaign to test out some of their Nappy Pants. I literally jumped at the chance as since Ellie was born the only nappies that have suited her are Pampers.
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Pampers are trying to prove that their Nappy Pants aren’t just for toddlers and I’ve got to say I absolutely 100% agree!

I’ve never been a fan of taped nappies and as soon as Ellie started to wriggle I began using the nappy pants. I can’t quite remember how many months old she was but I do remember having an incident involving the nappy pants when we were still trying to figure out whether Ellie was CMPI or not so it must have been around 5/6 months old.
The incident in question was the first time Ellie had pooped in her nappy pants (actually it was the very first time we used nappy pants) and I hadn’t realised that they had the tear at the sides to get them off easily. Oops. Now I’ve always been quite open and this is no different but when Ellie was still on SMA formula she suffered really bad with diarrhoea and I found no matter what brand or sized nappy I used she would leak out of them all.
When we first used the nappy pants I was so surprised that at a 2am wake up call she hadn’t leaked out of the sides or up the back (which was a not so rare occurrence!) but everything was safe in her nappy. RESULT! Or not…as in my tired state hadn’t really thought about how I was going to get the pants off without smearing it everywhere and still not knowing that they teared away for ease I pulled them off and then had a VERY sad baby, a grumpy husband at being woken up, poo smeared all over the changing mat and all over Ellie’s legs which meant I then had to bath her. To say I was relieved the next time she did one and I knew how the pants worked would be an understatement!

Ever since that incident we have LOVED Pampers Nappy Pants. Ellie has always hated having her nappy changed due to the pain she used to be in she now rarely lies on her back long enough for a complete change. As soon as we lie her down she wriggles, screams, kicks and runs/crawls off as quick as she can. I’m sure our neighbours would say we were torturing her! Ever since she has been standing we have changed her standing up making tabbed nappies impossible to use.
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Nappy changes aren’t so much of a fight any more. They are quick due to just pulling them up; they don’t involve *much* running away and I don’t have to wrestle Ellie to stay lying down. I have found they don’t leak, the are soft and don’t leave marks and Ellie finds them really comfortable too. She has even started sharing one of her sample nappies with her Dolly (awww). I feel like I am winning the wriggle wrestle and it’s all down the Pampers Nappy Pants.

(Yes although I was #gifted these pants for offering my opinion this is my actual opinion on them too!)

Posted in Chester Zoo, days out, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized, Zoo

Chester Zoo with a toddler.

On Tuesday we took a drive out to Chester Zoo, it’s just over an hours drive from Telford and we had pre-booked our tickets the night before. Tickets purchased online are actually cheaper than paying when you get there and can be purchased right up until 9:30 the morning you are planning your trip which I thought was pretty good. We had asked both our brothers if they wanted to come too so spent the day with them which Ellie loved. With my brother having Down Syndrome it also meant that as his carer for the day I got in for free (which we then halved the price of the ticket so he didn’t pay full adult), as a family with a disabled member I find it makes me want to visit more places when they allow for the carer or a discounted price for those with the special needs. I thought as his DS isn’t as obvious as others we might get questioned but they let us through without any hassle.

I have to say that for the entire journey it rained…no it didn’t rain it poured! I was seriously considering going home and wasting the money we had spent because the weather was so bad but knowing we had planned for bad weather and packed accordingly we knew the weather wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying Ellie’s first trip to the zoo.
Due to the weather and timing we were able to park on the main car park, which is FREE! I’d forgotten to bring any change with me so was grateful when we realised we didn’t need change for parking. We loaded up Ellie’s pushchair and made our way to the entrance, there was no need to queue as we’d already got our tickets so we went straight through, it didn’t seem to be very busy but i’m guessing that was because of the weather however it did stop raining and although it was dull, we were dry! The Zoo hires out buggy’s and other mobility services (wheelchairs being free too!) which if we hadn’t have taken our own we’d have needed as Ellie decided to nap half way through the day but after all the walking she did I’m not surprised!

Chester Zoo has such a special place in my heart, we go there at least once a year and I’ve been with a Jason bump and an Ellie bump which I guess is why I feel such a family connection whenever we go.

We were provided with a map (which I can never quite get my head around) and downloaded the free app to help us find our way. I found the app so useful as it had an interactive map that showed you where you are in the park at any time, it also had all the daily activities listed such as animals talks which if Ellie had been older we may have listened in on.

This was a great test to Ellie’s Tresspass Reins (click for my review) and they meant she was able to walk without us worrying about her wondering off. I must say taking a 17 month old to the Zoo was a tall order but the zoo is so spacious and well planned out that it didn’t feel overwhelming at all. I was a little bit worried that we were wasting our money on a day trip just for Ellie to see the animals but as she is so inquisitive she was quite happy just looking at the animals and walking was enough to make her happy.

We took our time visiting the animals and got to see all the ones we wanted to. At busier times certain animals were harder to see because of people crowding (the red ape realm, jaguar enclosure being the worst for getting a toddler to a window to see). Our first stop of the day was the elephants, I love their enclosure and since Jason died I have linked elephants (Dumbo in particular) to him so they were my favourite part of the day by far!

We saw one elephant feeding and a few baby elephants too which made my heart feel so much love. (Disclosure – I am not an animal person, I don’t want pets, I’m not keen on dogs and I don’t watch David Attenborough because I find him boring so to feel so much love for an elephant baffles me but I did.) We strolled off to find some other animals and was excited to show Ellie her favourite animal “Ra-Ra” that is a lion to you and me. I don’t think Ellie had realised that the lions were RaRa as she was more interested in the giant puddle near the lion enclosure and spent a good few minutes stomping and getting wet in the puddle. While walking around we encouraged Ellie to look at the animals we thought she might recognise and made the noises to help her associate them with her books and little toys.

I love that you can take your own picnic in to the Zoo, which for us meant it would be a much cheaper day out and I could pack Ellie’s lunch with her favourite fruit pouches and snacks. We were planning on buying ice creams but it was far too cold and now I regret it! There were plenty of places to buy food and drinks from dotted all over the park with quite a large variety too however as you could expect it wasn’t cheap, a small tray of chips and curry sauce was £2.50 where as it was around £7-£9 for a meal.

I was a bit nervous at having to change Ellie in public, we tend to avoid it as much as possible as she hates getting her nappy changed; however I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was there plenty of baby changing facilities but they were in both male and female toilets! They were clean and spacious and made the change much easier…even if Ellie did cry throughout the whole thing and the other Mum’s in the toilet area gave me a look as we toddled out with tears down her face.

We eventually saw the Giraffes and the Congo Buffalos which I think were Ellie’s favourite animals of the day, I’m not sure why but she kept dragging us back to them. I loved the Orangutan and the monkeys and were so lucky that two came up close to the window and Ellie was able to get a good look at them. However, as mentioned before, the Red Ape Realm was quite busy so we didn’t get a great look at the Apes in there but that was to be expected.

Hubby was feeling brave and wanted to take Ellie in to the Fruit Bat Cave, as my brother is petrified I decided to stay with him while Hubby and my brother-in-law took her in. I was expecting them to come straight back out because she was screaming yet they took their time and Hubby says Ellie was constantly looking around. He did say it wasn’t as dark as it normally feels so they were able to see the bats a bit more clearly which I think helped. I still don’t think we’d have got my brother to walk through though!

Due to Ellie walking for most of the day we didn’t get to visit the whole 110 acres and I think in hindsight we could have used the Zoo’s monorail to get around more of the animals. There is also a water boat ride but Ellie’s not quite old enough for that yet so thought we’d give it a miss this time. I do wish we’d have gotten over to the Islands part as I think she would have loved the animals there but we will do that part first next time!

The whole day was mesmerising, from the moment we got there Ellie was so happy to be out in the fresh air, splashing in the puddles and conning Daddy out of money at the gift shop (already!! We spent £30 in there!) I was slightly disappointed that we couldn’t find the Dinosaur exhibit that we saw when I was pregnant with Ellie but we could tell there was lots going on to make the park ready for the Summer and I’m expecting we will be going back in the 6 week holidays for another visit! The sheer amount of animals you could see is enough to go back, from elephants and lions to sloth, bats and butterflies! There really is something for everyone and if the walking doesn’t tire the little ones then the play areas certainly will. I’d have loved to have let Ellie have a wander but they were busy with much older children and I was scared she’d get squashed!

Overall we had a lovely family day, making memories and although the admission price was still pricey (£21 each!) with the Carer being free and Ellie being under 2 we all got in for £43 which really wasn’t that bad! I would recommend it to anyone wanting to visit a clean and family friendly zoo.