The great TV ban – or why I cut off my nose to spite my own face

Live Oxfordshire

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I recently had a baby.  Nine weeks ago our daughter came into this world and has made our lives richer in so many ways and (so far) our three year old son is also one of her fan club.

But (and there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) he has not been unaffected by her arrival.  For several weeks previous to the birth, and in the nine weeks since, he has been horrifically violent – to almost everyone but the baby.

Now, a good part of this is undoubtedly just being three. The sheer ‘three-ness’ of a three year can be horrifying in itself (if you’ve had one, you’ll understand what I mean. It is an animal unlike any other).  However, a good part of it was just so unlike his usually sweet nature that we, and his preschool, were taken aback…

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Awkward Questions Part one: Who is lying?

Mumsnet Local Berkshire


Awkward Questions Children Ask Part One

Dr Amanda Gummer, Play & Parenting psychologist and founder of the Good Toy Guide  has been has answering your questions on how to respond to those awkward questions children ask!

So here is the first question :

My 6 year old has been asking why his science books (he is a bit of a bookworm) say the universe was made by the Big Bang but at church they say God made it. He keeps asking me who is ‘lying’?’

It is important to have our own personal beliefs as it helps us to make sense of our complex world and can create a comfort to some people. You could try saying something along the lines of …

As the world is so old its hard to know exactly how it was created, and there is no one answer that everyone agrees…

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Awkward Questions Part Two: Why Do Grown-Ups Argue?

Mumsnet Local Berkshire


Awkward Questions Children

Ask Part Two

Dr Amanda Gummer, Play & Parenting Psychologist and founder of the Good Toy Guide has been helping Mumsnetters with how to answer those awkward questions that children ask.

So today’s question is:

Why do grown ups argue? Shouldn’t they know better because you get told off if you do it when you are little.

Sometimes in life people will have disagreements with one another – It is important to remember that these arguments do not mean they dont like each other or dont love each other anymore; they just disagree over something (as you may do with a friend or sibling at times).  Sometimes an argument is a way of figuring out a problem and means that something gets better as a result.

But, when people get cross they occasionally argue and voices get raised, its not nice…

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21 Day Challange – No chocolate

This could be a really stupid move on my part because I LOVE chocolate and since having my second child I have consumed ALOT of chocolate. But enough is enough. It’s not good for me, I don’t really need it, I’d quite like it to return to being a treat rather than a part of daily life.

So it’s said that it takes 21 days to break a habit. So as of tomorrow I am challenging myself to 21 days of no chocolate. What’s more, I am going to blog about it so I can track my own progress. I’ll be honest, at the moment it feels pretty unachievable. But that is because chocolate has become my caffeine for getting through the day both in terms of energy and in terms of a pick me up on those bad days we all have.

I’ll update every day and if you are interested then fantastic but if not then read on elsewhere……


Day one went really well – I was so busy and there was no opportunity to stop at a shop

Day two – today has been more challenging. I woke up almost planning how I could get some chocolate. However, even at the shops I resisted and actually bought some fruit just to curb that sweet craving. It’s actually quite hard because I didn’t think about eating chocolate. Now I am thinking about not eating it which is harder.

Day three was really easy. I kept busy. Not purposefully busy but I reckon I can see a link to boredom now as a bit of a trigger.

Day four – Do chocolate chip cookies count? When I started the challenge I think I was only thinking of chocolate bars because they are my downfall. Anyway, I convinced myself cookies were ok – just run of the mill cookies – not double choc or anything. Now I think maybe I just lied to myself and gave me an excuse. However, onwards and upwards!!

Day five – Oh this was a hard day. I am having a flare up of an autoimmune disorder I have (another day another blog post for that!) and it means I am left with  no energy, I can’t think straight and I am lazy and crave sugar. I didn’t cave. I thought I wanted to until I was in the car and spotted all the chocolate wrappers (of which there are many!) and realised I felt such shame at the pile of wrappers that I knew I didn’t really want to go buy a bar of choccie. It would’ve been galaxy for sure.

Day six – that’s today. Another new habit to break. As I usually work on a Saturday morning I’ll often pop to the local coffee shop for a hot chocolate to take away. But today I surprised myself. Despite even having a free drinks voucher I didn’t even want to go in for a drink. I just want straight to work. I wonder if I am turning a corner now the first week is almost over. That’d be good. I am still feeling low energy wise today and I know its down to the flare up I talked about earlier but I also wonder if I have been having some weird withdrawal crash. It’s always easier at the weekend anyway as my husband is home and he doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth.

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Mumsnet calls for manifesto commitment on better miscarriage care

Mumsnet Local Berkshire

Half of women who miscarry wait 24 hours or more for a scan,

and are treated alongside women with healthy pregnancies

Mumsnet calls for manifesto commitment on better miscarriage care

Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest website for parents, is today publishing the results of a survey into patients’ care and experiences following miscarriage. Around a quarter of a million women miscarry in the UK each year1 – about one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage – but the statistics published today show that the treatment and support women receive fails to meet their needs or measure up to official national guidelines.

A survey of over one thousand women2 shows:

  • Half (46%) had to wait over 24 hours for a scan to determine if their baby was still alive, with one in five (18%) waiting longer than three days

“When I asked how much longer it would be, I was…

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Formula Feeding no.1 and Breastfeeding no.2

I’ve been inspired to write this blog after research by Medela into Breastfeeding and promoting the wide variety of normal and hope my experiences  might help someone else. Read about the Medela research and breastfeeding blog campaign on

When I was pregnant with my second child I remember Googling this a lot. If you formula fed your first, could you make breastfeeding work? Would the challenges I faced first time happen again?

During my pregnancy with my son, I remember planning the idyllic birth, the perfect bond and breastfeeding my child. Well we got the perfect bond so I suppose one out of three can’t be bad. After a difficult birth, I lost over 2 litres of blood and required two blood transfusions. I wasn’t even able to express colostrum. I remember the midwife being confused as to why I couldn’t even hand express any out. My poor screaming child. That first night was horrendous. This is partly due to the difficult birth and partly due to a lack of information given to me about breastfeeding and also breastfeeding after large blood loss.

Firstly, I made the assumption you just put baby on your boob and they would feed and everyone would be happy. I research. I am a scientist at heart and I like to go into things educated. Well I wasn’t. I didn’t realise my son wanting to feed for hours and screaming when he wasn’t being fed was normal. Cluster feeding. Just wanting to be close to mummy (totally natural). Not to mention hungry. Throw into that very sore nipples and dry nappies from the lack of colostrum and I did what many mothers do. I offered formula. I didn’t know that my milk *might* of come in if I’d carried on. No-one told me that just because your milk usually comes in between days 3-5 doesn’t mean it won’t come in later. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. My milk came in at day 10 whilst expressing. So I was preparing formula and expressing milk. In fact, I originally wanted to exclusively express but it just didn’t happen. It was too hard work so another ‘fail’.

Actually, I have nothing against formula. I think its nice to have the choice to fit around lifestyle and I think for many it is literally a life saver. I have many friends with many experiences of breastfeeding successfully with no problems, choosing formula straight away, milk intolerances which means no choice but to swap to specialist formula and more.

My son did just fine on formula. But I felt guilty and I felt robbed of the experience of breastfeeding my son. It was a bit of a grieving process if I am honest.

So when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I threw myself into research – most of which came from online forums asking about other peoples experiences because I couldn’t find what I wanted to know. The guidance you are given about breastfeeding doesn’t tell you baby will feed for hours and hours and hours….. and did I mention hours? It doesn’t tell you that your nipples need to toughen up so some pain is normal. It just says it shouldn’t be painful. So you can see how easy it is to question yourself and your ability to continue feeding your baby. I digress.

My daughers birth was straight forward, quick and incredibly positive. I established breastfeeding straight away. But I knew early on that her latch wasn’t right – the cracked bleeding nipples gave it away. It was agony. But despite tears and tantrums (all mine) I persevered. I went to numerous breastfeeding clinics and first time I was told there was nothing wrong with her latch. She had a small mouth. Well yes. She is a newborn, of course she has a small mouth! Essentially, grin and bear it. I went back a few days later and was told she had tongue tie, to think about whether I’d like it snipped and come back in a few days to get a referral if I wanted it snipped.

I remember feeling such a relief that I knew why my daughter’s latch was bad and that it could be fixed and all the pain and bleeding was worth it. I went back to get the referral knowing that I only had days left of pain before our breastfeeding relationship would become easier. Wrong. I went back to be told she didn’t have tongue tie and they could see no reason for her shallow latch except she had a small mouth and tongue.

Then I got mastitis. The only way to describe it is like having the flu and having hot rods burning your boobs. Sharp knives stabbing me whilst feeding. Lots more tears and I’ll be honest, a little swearing too. Antibiotics soon sorted it out though.

In desperation I decided to try a cranial osteopath because I had heard great things about them helping with colic and breastfeeding issues. My daughter was ‘diagnosed’ with a tight upper jaw (probably from the quick birth) meaning she was using a chomping motion to feed rather than drawing the nipple in. I could have kissed her with relief at knowing it could be fixed. The cranial Osteopath worked her magic and after that first session there was such an improvement in her latch. Now all I needed was for me to heal and things would be great. We only needed one more session and her latch issues were fixed. It was amazing. I started to really enjoy feeding her. It was pain free, relaxing and lovely.

By 12 weeks my daughter started to get into some sort of routine, the cluster feeds began to get shorter and it was so easy. In the night I didn’t have to get up to make up and warm bottles. All I had to do was roll out of bed, grab her from her cot and feed her in bed. If we were out and about I could just feed her wherever. I even fed her whilst walking back from the shops one day.

At 12 weeks she was feeding twice a night. Then the four month sleep regression kicked in and she was feeding three to four times a night. It was gruelling and I couldn’t help but compare her frequent wakings with my sons 1-2 feeds a night at that age.

She started dropping feeds around 7 months and dropped really quickly from 3-4 down to 1-2. At 8 months she has started to occasionally sleep through the night. I don’t think I can complain because she feeds and goes straight back down. My son, who was formula fed, started sleeping through consistently at 9 months – so in comparison, there is little or no difference between the two.

Anyway, I enjoy breastfeeding and at the start I could only take it day by day. Then it became about getting to six months and now its about feeding her as long as is right for both of us. Most likely to a year old. But with WHO guidelines recommending breastfeeding until the age of two and ‘extended’ breastfeeding becoming the norm..who knows!

A final note – if you want to breastfeed – you can. If you formula fed first time round and want to breastfeed second time round – you can. Do your research, know what’s normal and where you can go for support. Your local Breastfeeding Network will hold lots of meetings and there are a lot of Facebook groups and forums out there. Face to face drop in clinics are life savers. There are actually very few women who can’t breastfeed in the true sense of the word. I won’t lie. It’s hard at first, its painful, it’s time consuming and I felt really bad for my toddler and not being able to spend as much time with him whilst establishing breastfeeding. I have had moments of giving my husband death stares whilst he slept peacefully beside me unaware this is the third feed I’d done that night and days where I wanted ‘time off’, to not be the one who had to do every single feed of every single day. But I love it and I wouldn’t change it.

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Becoming a second time Mum

“My sons firsts are my firsts. My daughters firsts are my lasts”

Becoming pregnant with my first child was life changing. We had waited 18 long months for a positive on the pregnancy test and when it finally happened (at 5am when I couldn’t wait a moment longer to test) it felt like a miracle. It was a miracle. Although the birth was difficult and recovery slow, I formed the most amazing bond with my son. I faced the challenges of night feeds, not being able to breastfeed, possessiveness over him like I’d never known before and an inexplicable change in me. My world shifted. No longer was I centred on my husband, my career and what I wanted to do. My life became dedicated to this tiny little boy. He overshadowed everything. His wants & needs came first, my thoughts evolved around all his little movements and smiles, pride like I’d never known possible over all his achievements both big and small from his first smile to his first step. I know and I feel that these words that I type can’t do justice to how I felt and how I feel every day.

When he was 9 months old my husband and I felt ready to start the journey for baby number 2. Our son had brought us so much joy and love, we wanted him to have a sibling, a friend for life and felt we were lucky enough to be able to provide for them both. We didn’t know how long it would take us to conceive and so we chose the possibility of a smaller age gap in the unlikely event that it would happen quickly and we didn’t want them years apart.

I laugh at that now because I actually fell pregnant ridiculously quickly. My son was 11 months old when I found out I was pregnant. I’d been having a very grumpy week and I only took the test out of curiosity. I didn’t really think I was pregnant so it was quite the surprise it had happened so quickly.

My second pregnancy sped past. In that time, my son had learned to crawl, learned to walk, learned to talk, stopped milk feeds in the day – he had become a toddler. He had become his own little person, with his own feelings and emotions and mummy was (and still is) his favourite person to be with.

It didn’t really hit me how I really would feel about baby number two and how it would impact the family until two weeks before the baby was due. I was rushed into hospital and barely had time to say goodbye to my son. I spent two nights away from him and it nearly killed me. I cannot explain how much I missed him. I literally laid in the hospital bed crying at night as I desperately wanted to see him. My mum was looking after him while my husband looked after me so I knew he was in safe hands. But he was also missing me. He was mopping about and I was told how sad he always looked. I felt so guilty. All I wanted to do was go and get him and go home to be with him. He let me know he wasn’t impressed. Not only did he have an epic tantrum not knowing what to do with himself when he saw me, he then spent the next two weeks glued to me. I could not move without him there. He wouldn’t play on his own. I could not be more than half a metre from him or he would cry hysterically.

I felt guilty he felt abandoned, I began to worry he would feel rejected because of the baby. What if I didn’t love the baby as much as I love him? All natural anxieties but that didn’t make me feel better.

The night I went into labour I woke him up before my parents came to collect him. We woke him early so we could explain to him that the baby was coming and that he would get to meet his baby brother or sister in the morning and that he would have a sleep over at nanny and grandads house. In that moment, I held him on my lap and we cuddled together. It was such an intimate cuddle. United in grief (probably just mine) that it would no longer just be the two of us together every day. Our final cuddle just the two of us with no-one else to share with. This is such a precious memory because I was so sad at the change to our relationship. But at the same time a moment filled with love and excitement because he would be getting the amazing gift of a sibling and I would have another beautiful child to love.

Meeting my daughter was an incredible moment. I held her and I loved her instantly. A new connection was formed. Irrevocable, unexplainable, addictive. Just like with my son. I was desperate to take her home to meet him. All my fears that we wouldn’t bond were removed straight away.

Meeting his sister. My son was asleep when we came home from the hospital so in the morning we got out the video camera and filmed this special moment. It was around 5am. He isn’t usually an early riser but the disruption meant he wasn’t his usual self. It was so cute. He was so gentle, yet curious straight away. In that moment we knew, I knew, we had our perfect little family.

That first month was tough. Really tough. Establishing breastfeeding with a baby who fed for hours at a time meant I was permanently stuck to the sofa or of to midwife appointments and breastfeeding clinics. Turned out a quick labour left her with a stiff jaw and meant latching was hard for her. My 19 month old was left with his dad more and more and my goodness he felt it. Every time I left the room with the baby, my toddler would cry hysterically, when I was feeding her he would start head-butting the floor, doors, anything whilst crying. It was hard. I felt dreadful. I felt like ‘what have I done to my son?’ and ‘how awful and selfish of me to ruin his world’. Not to mention ‘he hates me’. All of these thoughts and feelings whizzed round my brain all the time.

In terms of looking after another baby, that was the easy bit. Many a time it made me wonder why I’d found it so hard with a baby first time round. OK so sleep deprivation is hard second time round because you have no down time with a toddler. BUT it makes you just get on with it which is a really good thing.

From day one, bath and bedtime was the time I had with my son just the two of us (well until he was used to her – a good 6-8 weeks, if not more) and if my baby was crying then it was tough. Sounds means when I read it like that but I needed, I mean I really needed my son to know he had that bit of me. We could have special mummy and son time.

Something changed at the end of the 4 weeks. My husband went back to work so I had no time just with my daughter and no one else to look after my son. Now that was SCARY! Scary but brilliant. It was the best thing that could of happened because it meant back to our routine. My son loved it. Don’t get me wrong, it was great my son and husband bonded more by having lots more one to one time than normal. But my son loved the normality.

Sibling rivalry. At first my son got upset and deliberately played up when I was feeding the baby. But this lasted only a few months. By 12 weeks there was a huge shift. My daughter could play on her play mat and get left alone. Or my son would go and sit with her and show her toys. He would kiss her, cuddle her and generally love her. Don’t get me wrong – we didn’t totally escape random toddler explosions. She has been bitten once, hit a few times and sat on. But he has only ever been mean to her when he is very tired or ill.

Sibling love
It’s bliss. Absolute bliss watching them play together. My daughter is 8 months old now. She is sitting and commando crawling around. My son jumps up and down to her laughter. Their giggles ring through the air like the most beautiful melody I could ever imagine. My son (now 27 months) asks for her when she isn’t there. He tells me she is sad when she cries and he asks for her to sit on his lap or next to him while he plays. He gives her toys and if he accidently bumps her, he apologises and gives her a kiss.

Just the three of us. My son doesn’t remember a time when my daughter wasn’t here. My daughter has only ever known it to be the three of us. We are a team. We have good days & bad days, nightmare days and fabulous days.

The hard days consist of my son deciding he wants to be really noisy when I am trying to get my daughter to nap, or when my daughter had chicken pox and cried all day (very unusual as she is a happy baby). Hard days are when my son decides to follow the code of the terrible two’s. But he would do that anyway because he is a toddler. The rainy days, the days when you have no plans to entertain them and you are exhausted because your baby has been up half the night and all you want to do is go back to bed.

The good days are most days, seeing your children grow. Watching them both discover new things, listing to my son tell the baby about something, or want to kiss and cuddle her. My favourite moment is always the first half hour of the day when we snuggle in bed. I feed my daughter, whilst my son snuggles close in and they both play with my hair. In that moment I know that my family is complete. That both my children have the gift of each other and that I have done that for them and I think that makes me pretty damn awesome!

I guess what I am saying is that becoming a second time mum is a mixed bag of emotions and it might feel as though things change with your first born. But they don’t, not really. You adjust, you learn, you realise you’ve muddled through to this time of utter joy at the family you’ve created. What I am saying is… you made the right choice. You are pretty damn awesome. Even on the bad days.

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