My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin! I am 4 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A perfect place to play!

Anyone that has been following the Munchkin Patch recently will know that we are really excited to be moving soon. We can't wait to be out of the cramped place we are in now and into somewhere with a little more space. During the past few weeks, I have written about decorating bedrooms to reflect the personalities of the kids, I have written about creating the perfect garden and about designing little havens of calm throughout the home! In our world of crazy, I think me and The Man deserve a little haven of calm of our own ... surely?

Anyway, Munchkin has been saying lately that she would love a playroom for her and Beastie when we move. Now, I don't know how possible this will be as it will all depend on the size and design of the home we relocate to, but it got me thinking. It got me thinking about how nice it would be for the girls (and Plum when he's older!) to have a little space to play together without getting in the way at several points in the day, about how lovely it would be to be able to decorate a room especially suited to them and maybe release my creative side again on the walls to create a wonderland of fun for them, and about how blissful it would be to reclaim our living space again and free it from drowning under a sea of toys!! Refer back to my comment about the mysterious haven of calm ...!

So it is something that The Man and I will seriously consider if possible. If we left it up to Munchkin to plan the design herself, we would end up with an interesting combination of pink and purple princess themes, with a splattering of ballerinas, the occasional animal including rabbits, owls and unicorns and brightly coloured polka dots. We should possibly intervene here! Now, I have never claimed to be an interior designer, I'll leave that up to the experts! But I have a number of ideas swimming around in my head about what would look lovely, keeping in mind we also have a boy who would, before long, be playing with the girls too! Maybe a world on pink isn't so suitable after all! 

Now, having three kids means that we are slowly being dominated by toys. Every day, I am having to find 'new homes' for different toys that Munchkin has excitedly retrieved from boxes or cupboards, feeling as though she has just been given something new! And this situation is only going to get worse. Having two girls first means that a large number of Beastie's toys once belonged to Munch. Recycling toys is so useful! However, this is not to suggest that said toys haven't multiplied in their numbers ... by the dozen! And soon, Plum will have his own toys, causing us even bigger issues in the storage space department!

We have never been very 'blessed' with space in our homes, and this has become more and more noticeable as the number of children grow! The lounge has always been the main play area for them, meaning both their bedroom and the living room are full of toys. Extra storage would be a dream right now. Whilst looking for ideas, I came across some good advice with regards to storage!

"If a room is going to waste, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be filled to allow for an all over tidier home."

Award winning Interior Design company Darren Mercer Interiors has today launched a brand new site, and it offers some great tips on using 'spare' spaces around the home as storage. It encourages you to let go of your inner hoarder for the sake of better organisation and greater amounts of space. I am a self confessed hoarder, and a terrible one at that! I need to de-clutter, desperately! I need to accept that those dresses in my wardrobe from 15 years ago will probably look better on someone else than me now, that my favourite pair of killer heels ... with the broken heel ... have seen better days and should now meet the dustbin ... I need to be stronger! This will be my first step to a tidier, more spacious home!

Once I have this bit conquered, I can go on to think about creating the perfect playroom for the kids. I can look into clever ways to store things for them and for us that will contribute towards a tidier home and better organisation. I can move forward in the right direction with regards to making our home somewhere to be truly proud of and a comfortable place for The Man to return to each evening. And best of all, as I said before, maybe we can claim a little of our space back within our vision of a haven of calm by helping the kids to create their very own haven of crazy!! 

Any tips to share ...?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Designing and Digging ... Planning the perfect garden!

Planning for ... One day!

We have been without a garden at the Munchkin Patch for a little over a year now, and we miss it terribly. we miss all sorts of things about having the garden, things I took for granted when we had it. Putting the washing on the line, throwing the door open for The Pooch to wander around freely, watching the kids running and falling around on the grass, sitting outside on a warm evening with my laptop and a glass of something cold ... it's often the little things I miss!

However, it looks as though we could soon be moving into somewhere more permanent ... somewhere with a garden! Yes, excitement levels are high!!

Munchkin can remember having a garden before. She recalls playing on her swing in the sunshine and building snowmen in the Winter. She misses it too. She was just 3 when we moved away from that house, so there are many things we didn't do then that we would love to do now, and she often talks about the things she would do with a garden now.

Munch has decided she would love her own flowerbed and vegetable patch. She has declared that in such a patch, she will grow sunflowers, roses and daisies, and tomatoes, strawberries and bananas (yep, bananas!), oh, and some green beans for Beastie Boo. 

When we had a garden, Munchkin loved caring for her sunflowers!
"Beastie loves green beans - I will grow them and she can eat them all!"

That's very generous of her, don't you think?! It seems Munchkin is very serious about getting active in the garden. We've talked about how much she would need to look after and care for her little gardens, and this has just made her more keen than ever! That got me interested in reading up a little on gardening with children. She is clearly very excited, and I want to make sure I get the best out of it for her. She is a very fussy eater when it comes to her fruit and vegetables ... maybe this could make a difference? I want to get as many ideas and tips for this as possible. And I would love to get Beastie Boo involved too. So I had a good look around at what information and inspiration was available and found a number of resources online for gardening with the little ones. Roll on Summer!!

Munch has also made a (very long) mental list of the different activities she would like to have available in her new garden! She wants a slide, swings, a sandpit, water trough, a trampoline, a see-saw, a climbing frame, a roundabout (!!) and, of course, an epic playhouse! It's beginning to sound as though we will need to move into a country park rather than a house with a garden!! Hopefully, we may have our new garden by the Summer, so I suppose a few widely recommended garden toys will need to be bought! 

Now, this is all very well, but at this rate, our garden will just be one big playground for the kids! How about my little place to sit on a Summer's evening ...? How about The Man's place to work his magic with a barbecue on a Sunday afternoon ...? Well, for starters, before I instinctively call my dad and father-in-law round to unleash the power of their green fingers and landscaping experience to turn my ideas into a reality, it would be nice if The Man and I could learn a little about basic landscaping ourselves. Nothing extravagant ... just some decking, nicely lined flowerbeds and a fish pond maybe ...? Then I just need to work on finding a few extra hours to slot into each week somehow in order to find the time to maintain it and keep it looking lovely!

As you can see, I would love a beautiful garden. Maybe in a few years, when the babies are no longer babies. That'll give me a few years to research all of the hints and tips I need to keep it looking beautiful, as right now, I actually know very little about gardening!!

Until then, I can carry on dreaming and just keep looking at gorgeous furniture for the garden, because let's face it, it's a place for us grown-ups too!!

So, my lovely readers, throw some inspiration my way. What are your favourite bits about your gardens? What are your ideas of the 'must have' garden toys? And finally ... anyone any good at landscaping who has a few extra hours to spare ... fortnightly ...?! Please, someone distract me, or I'm in danger of spending a fortune on beautiful garden furniture!! And I haven't even got a garden yet!!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Packing for 5 ... Days out with the kids!

Everything but INCLUDING the kitchen sink!

As a couple with no dependants, leaving the house was so easy to do. Grab purse ... grab phone ... grab keys ... pop jacket on ... good to go!
Those were the days when we would realise we were out of milk, and within 20 minutes of this discovery, a fresh bottle of milk would be sitting in the fridge. Those were the days when we could go out without the nagging feeling that something has been forgotten that now haunts us until we get home again. Those were the days when we could say "yes" to invitations from friends without a second thought.

"Fancy going out on Saturday night ...?"
"Ok, I'll go find/buy something to wear ...!"

These days are a very distant, almost invisible memory!
Closer to reality is now ...

"Fancy going out on Saturday night ...?"
"Ok, I'll go find a babysitter or two ... find something to wear that hasn't seen the light of day for around 5 years ... find something else to wear as the 1st outfit didn't look right ... buy something new to wear ... find another babysitter as the 1st one cancelled ... organise the things the kids need for the night ...

... How does July sound ...?!"

For a simple day out now, with or without the children, all sorts of missions require completion before anything can go ahead! So much so, that at the moment, our days out are at minimum in quantity, usually very close to home and kept quite short. With 3 children under the age of 5 years, home means safety! Everything we need is here, the kids are safe and reasonably contained, the toilet is nearby putting an end to the "mummy, I need a wee - RIGHT NOW!!!" moments, and if the baby cries, we can deal with it in our own ways without worrying that someone is getting angry at the sound or judging us for our parenting methods!!

It won't always be this way. Plum is still only a few months old, and Beastie Boo is at an age where everything needs exploring and she is too young to walk everywhere, but too curious to want to stay strapped in a pushchair. 

We are actually a family who love to get out of the home whenever we can. We love to take the kids to new places and enjoy watching them taking the endless delights of the outdoors. Both Munchkin and Beastie love little more than just running around a big park, even more so now that Beastie can actively join in the fun. However, the weather has been cold and wet and the days have been short, meaning we have been very restricted as to where we can go as a family.

Springtime is upon us and we have started looking at places nearby that we could consider visiting with the kids in the coming months. Munchkin is 4 now, and has a growing list of places she would like to go and things she would like to do during the Spring/Summer. She likes to sit down with me when I look for ideas for things to do, which is one of the reasons I love Away with the Kids.

Away with the Kids has everything in one place. I find it so helpful when I am looking at planning a day out with all or one of the children. In fact, Away with the Kids is a wonderful source of information whether you are looking for a family day out, a family holiday (either in the UK or overseas!) or places to eat as a family. Munch and I have been looking at different places to go in the Summer, as The Man has agreed to take some of his annual leave from work in the Summer months so we can have some days out with the kids as a family. Munchkin starts school in September, and therefore we are really keen to make this Summer one to remember!

I think we have Summer covered for the next 4 years after a brief session on the AWTK website!! Using the Search feature means you can filter your results to your chosen location(s), which meant that every time Munchkin said "I want to go there!", it was worth a consideration. AWTK lists places to go as a family, therefore all of the venues available to view in their directory are child friendly throughout. I can even look into the facilities offered by each location, ensuring that it is suitable for a young child, a lively toddler and a small baby. 

One of these days, we would like to look at going abroad as a family. This is something we have never attempted, but I think we could do it. Looking around, there are so many places that offer child friendly facilities that would be suitable for all 3 kids. I find that I am having to think less and less about what I need to consider and what we need to take with us when we leave the house for a day out! I have also found that maybe, just maybe, I don't need to take as much with us for a day out after all. With some venues providing essentials such as highchairs, travel cots, baby food, changing/feeding facilities and much more, going out and going away as a family is becoming less daunting!

Who would have thought that all of these countries are actually very family friendly. I love the fact that there are some really exotic locations there too. There are some places that would never have crossed my mind when looking for a family holiday!

So, for us mummies (and daddies!) who have far too much to do in the day to even think about fitting in some organisation - here is a way to put some method to the madness! Days out and holidays don't need to be such a mission after all!

Unless you're a mummy to Munchkin, Beastie Boo and Plum ... then everything is a mission!!

Post in association with Away with the Kids

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Getting our LolliBopping feet ready ...!

Lollibop 2014, announces a new home!

LolliBop, the UK’s biggest kids festival, has announced its 2014 festival will take place at Hatfield House, August 15-17.

If you are a follower of our blog, you will know that we are huge fans of LolliBop, and Munchkin & I have been lucky enough to have attended every year since it began! 

Munchkin absolutely loves the LolliBop Festival, and she will sit and tell you ALL about it if you asked her! You'd need a bit of time on your hands though, as she has a whole lot to say about it! Just avoid asking her about her favourite thing about the day ... she just can't decide! She'll tell you about the main stage action which has been 'home' to superstars such as CBeebies presenters Sid, Andy and Alex, the chilled and funky Rastamouse with his Easy Crew, the musical Zingzillas, the lovable Poppy Cat, the zany, messy duo Dick & Dom, and of course, the highlight of 2013, Justin Fletcher!

She will tell you all about dancing with Hello Kitty and meeting Peppa, George, Ben and Holly ...

She will tell you all about the fun that is to be had by little ones of all ages within the several dedicated activity areas, including the WOW Toys tent, the 3ft and Under area, Imagination Stations and the Itsy Bitsy Strictly Dancefloor!

She will tell you all about the fantastic Face Painting artists that are situated around the park, and the stalls upon stalls of wonderful vendors that are there to showcase and sell their goodies!

So, as you can see, she would have you listening to her experiences of LolliBop for quite some time! And she is just as excited about what the festival has in store for 2014. Maybe even a little more so this year, as we are hoping to introduce Beastie Boo to the delights this year too. We think she will love it! 

So, a little more about the amazing new venue that will be home to LolliBop this Summer ...

Situated in Herfordshire, just off the A1 or a 22 minute train journey from London Kings Cross, the stunning country house and gardens of Hatfield House offer an incredible array of spaces to house LolliBop’s vast activity and entertainment programme.

Hatfield House is famous for its beautiful gardens and attractions, including the incredible sundial garden and fountains, a magical woodlands and the famous knot garden adjoining the Tudor Old Palace where Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her time as a child. 

Festival Director Gareth Cooper said:

“For a family destination, Hatfield House can’t be beaten. LolliBop has taken place in numerous locations over the years, and we firmly believe our home for 2014 is our best yet. The setting is breathtaking - with stunning gardens, lush green areas and a woodlands just waiting to be explored - it’s allowed us to open our imaginations and programme an event like never before".

Hatfield House is one of the Treasure Houses of England, making it one of the top 10 most magnificent palaces in all of the UK. 

With good motorways links, extensive on site parking and just a five minute walk from Hatfield train station, LolliBop 2014 is more accessible than ever before.

Renowned for bringing some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment to its live stages, LolliBop also plays host to science and educational zones, crafts areas and adventure activities. The 2014 lineup promises to be more diverse; exciting and extraordinary than ever before, with a host of brand new names, partnerships and play never before seen at LolliBop. 

Festival Director Gareth Cooper continues:

“We’ve been working hard to secure some of the best-loved names in children’s entertainment. The 2014 lineup will be jam packed with big names for the main stage, alongside an unprecedented number of live theatre performances; plus sporting activities; creative workshops; nature talks and brand new areas and acts, never before seen at LolliBop.”

We think the new venue looks really amazing and cannot wait to hear more about the planned line-up! We will be sure to fill you in as and when we hear more during the next few months.

Exciting times ahead, LolliBoppers!!!

LolliBop Early Bird tickets go on sale on Friday, March 28, priced £17.50pp.

Keep up to date with all the latest festival news on the official website or by following the team on Facebook

No payment has been received for writing this post

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Dancing with Rainbows, twinkling with stars - that's Lulu and Nat!

The time is finally approaching. It looks as though we could be moving home again very soon. Hopefully before the Summer! We have been in our current home since August, 2013, so not very long. But this place was only meant to be temporary, as we knew that it would only really be suitable until Baby Plum arrived and started needing his own space. That time is not far off!

I am very excited about moving to a home that is more appropriate for our needs and more suitable for our little family. One of the things I am most excited about is kitting out bedrooms for the kids!

Now, the high street do some lovely bits to 'glam up' the children's bedrooms. We live in rented property at the moment, and are therefore often limited as to what we can decorate, and so I like to look at adding colour and that personal touch with accessories and furniture. Looking around the high street, I can get some lovely ideas. Pretty pink bedding sets for the girls, funky blue patterned curtains for Plum ... But I want something a bit more unique. I wanted to find somewhere that would offer whole sets of goodies in matching styles, maybe even some unisex styles, as our world has been so pink for the last few years, it would be lovely to have a wider choice.

Then I discovered Lulu & Nat. I had never heard of them before, but that will be because they are relatively new to the market compared to some of the bigger, more recognised brands.

"Lulu & Nat was founded in 2007 with a dream to create playful, bold designs for kids to live in colour & dream in colour."

I had finally found exactly what I was looking for! One place that would provide modern designs with fun, vibrant colours that would appeal to both us and the kids, and which could be perfectly coordinated to create a wonderful space for the children. One that they can be truly proud of!

Looking through the site, I have found designs that are simply ideal for each of the children's bedrooms. Take a look at the delights I've found ...!

I know I said there was a certain appeal to the choice of unisex styles on the Lulu & Nat website, but Munchkin will be her pink, fluffy, girly self and, for now, that is how she will stay! I would therefore stay true to this and choose styles that reflect her girly girl character. Lulu & Nat cover this!

Lulu & Nat's Butterfly collection would be perfect for Munchkin's bedroom. She loves her pinksand purples, and adores butterflies and flowers, so this would be the natural choice for her. Even if her new bedroom has plain white or magnolia walls, these accessories will help fill the room with colour without making any permanent changes! As shown here, the Butterfly collection includes the full duvet set, pillowcase, cushions (one is even in the shape of a heart ... extra appeal for Munch!), pretty butterly print bunting for the wall and a brightly coloured butterfly print wall hanging. A pretty pink floor rug and some fairy lights added would make for a beautiful little haven for our girly 4 year old!

Then we have Beastie Boo's bedroom. As pretty and girly as she is (thanks to the influences of her big sister!), Beastie is a little more about the rough & tumble than Munch. She is more about the bright colours and fun & funky prints. Once again, Lulu & Nat can provide ...!

Here, something completely different, but totally perfect! Lulu & Nat's Rainbow collection will create a brightly coloured décor without being too feminine! Ideal for any toddler, boy or girl, they can also enjoy the full duvet set and pillowcases and a gorgeous rainbow print cushion for extra comfort. This collection also includes the cutest set of rainbow print pyjamas that Beastie will just adore! And the best thing about this choice is, it would also be suitable for Baby Plum if we ever fancied a 'swap around'!

As for Baby Plum, Lulu & Nat have a stunning Nursery section with so many gorgeous prints, I'm actually having trouble deciding which I like the best! Plum is our little bit of blue in our pinkish universe, and we have been enjoying the little bit of balance that he has brought to our lives! However, there are so many really attractive unisex designs on the website, I haven't felt limited to solely pinks and blues which is very refreshing! 

I do really love the blue stars in this design, and love that it also contains splashes of red to compliment the pattern, making it fun and bright, but definitely perfect for a little boy like Plum, who will, one day, be wanting to escape the world of princesses and pink and find refuge in his own little blue (ish!) bolthole! The accessories I found here perfect for Plum are the lovely cot set, complete with quilt & cover and pillowcase for when he is a bit older and cot bumper. Also, a lovely, bold star printed rug for the floor to brighten up the plain, bland floor covering that normally comes with a rented property! Again, some fantastic matching bunting for the wall too. Here, I found two quilts that I fell in love with for Plum - the blue star quilt with a cute lion design and the reversible stars and stripes quilt. Both would look wonderful in a room decorated this way. 

What's more, if you're handy with a sewing machine (I'm working on that one!), then the individual designs are also available to buy in measurements of material, meaning you can make curtains, endless numbers of cushions, even cuddly toys to match the chosen theme of the room! The possibilities are endless!

I love it when a room's décor can really reflect the personality of those that occupy it, and Lulu & Nat cater for this in a fun yet flexible way, allowing you to coordinate, combine and mix & match until you create that perfect space for you and your little ones. And I haven't even delved into what they have in store for me and The Mr for our bedroom, the living room and the kitchen yet! It's all there! 

Now I'm even more excited about moving home! The Mr had better hide his bank cards ... This could get pricey!!!

All thoughts and words here are 100% my own!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Oh, dear NHS ... And you were doing so well!

Tuesday, 4th March, 2014. A long awaited date. This was the day we were finally off to our hospital appointment with Baby Plum. An appointment we've been eagerly longing for and dreading all at once. And the day was going so well, considering, until ...

... Let me start at the beginning ...

Monday, 23rd December, 2013. That's the one - the day we welcomed Baby Plum into the Munchkin Patch. Our beautiful baby boy was finally here after what had been a trouble free pregnancy until the 3rd trimester. Then the problems started. The hospital visits, the tense, tearful calls to NHS Direct, the unexpected and unplanned admission to hospital, the discomfort, having to remove Munchkin from nursery for the last couple of weeks before Christmas to save myself and baby from the unthinkable, the worry-filled sleepless nights, the stress, the tears, the worry ...

Pretty standard for some during pregnancy, I know. But I'll put my hands up. I struggled. There, I said it. But it was ok. I had R. The most wonderful midwife I could ever wish for. She was perfect. Calm, reassuring, positive, reliable, clear, encouraging, honest and a full bank of knowledge. She had an answer for every question I had, and she was never wrong! I felt so lucky to have her taking care of me and Baby Plum, and the girls loved her too. They were with me for every antenatal check, and she would chat to them, laugh with them, always address them by their names and involved them in everything that was appropriate. 

What more could an expectant mummy want ...? 
Cheeky, sneaky NHS ... You kept this one well hidden!!
As I said, it was all going considerably well.

Then the day finally arrived. Arriving at the hospital, the staff were amazing. I gave birth to Munchkin and Beastie Boo at this same hospital, and have always been looked after incredibly well. This time seemed no different. The difference was, Plum's delivery was planned. As a result of the traumatic births with both girls, Plum needed to be delivered by planned Caesarian Section. I met the Surgery Midwife, the Consultant, the Anaesthetist, as each explained their roles to me and the risks involved down to the smallest detail. I felt safe with each and every one of them. Even when I had a complete emotional meltdown at the door to the Operating Theatre, I was well supported and never once felt belittled or ridiculed for my nerves. They went on to successfully deliver the most perfect little boy I have ever set my eyes on. Our Baby Plum. 

NHS ... You got it right again! 

Some time spent on the Close Monitoring Unit meant we could receive extra medical attention and more regular, detailed observations. And this was what happened, until the first night of our stay. Baby Plum seemed so determined to breast feed.More determined than either of the girls were. I was over the moon at the notion that I was finally going to be able to successfully breast feed. It felt really good ... Until Plum wanted his late evening feed. He wouldn't latch. He really wanted to, he was getting frustrated that he couldn't, but he kept trying so hard. There was something about his determination that kept me positive. He was more interested in breast feeding than either of the girls were and this made me want to persevere. I remembered all the things I was shown by the Health Visitors who helped me when I was struggling to feed the girls - the most effective holds, the comfortable angles, but something wasn't right. He was positioning his mouth just right, but still searching for the nipple. After hours of trying, and getting minimal support through the night, I was in a very emotional state. I was still attached to a drain and a drip which restricted my movements, yet the night shift midwife that was attending me offered very little help. I asked her to help me encourage his latch, but her idea of helping was asking me what side I wanted him. She would then pluck him from his crib, put him on my desired side of the bed, and leave me to it. She would leave me tackling the spaghetti-like wires and tubes, so that I could wrestle him (and me!) into a comfortable position. But it wasn't happening. When he started to make 'grunting' noises like he was gasping for air, she returned on my call, took a quick look into his crib and mumbled these 'reassuring' words to me ...

"There's nothing wrong with him. The doctor looked at him earlier and said he's fine"!!

Are you actually for real??!

From that moment on, I did my very best to avoid having to press that button for assistance until I was sure the staff had handed over for the morning shift. There are some words of wisdom I could really do without! I was made to feel like I was bothering her. Like I was disturbing her from her duties, which apparently, I wasn't a part of. I continued my hospital stay, feeling more comfortable with the daytime staff on CMU who seemed more attentive. Maybe this was the case, maybe moods were just high because it was now Christmas Eve. I'm not sure. 

I was moved to the Post Natal Ward, and continued to persevere with his feeding. What else could I do?! Christmas Day, and I was discharged from hospital. The Man came to get me with an excited Munchkin and Beastie Boo in tow, and we could take our Baby Plum home to start this amazing new chapter of our lives. Christmas Day was pretty much written off, but we had decided we would celebrate Christmas Day on Boxing Day, for the sake of the kids.

Sorry, Munch. One day you'll read this. Yes, Christmas Day 2013 was really Boxing Day. Think we pulled that one off quite well, didn't we? This doesn't mean it's ok to fib!!

Later that day, we had our routine midwife visit. R wasn't on duty, so I had another midwife visit us. She was nice. Seemed friendly and knowledgable enough. Then she dropped the bombshell. The second she lifted him from the cot, she saw it.

"Did they do the tongue tie referral for you at hospital ...?"

Sorry ...? The what ...?!

Apologies for the unpleasant photos. The only time we see his tongue like this is when he cries! 
Baby Plum was showing quite a prominent case of tongue tie, and the Paediatrician hadn't even noticed it! What else had she missed during her thorough discharge examination?? I hadn't noticed it. I wouldn't have known what I was looking at. But then I am a mother - not professionally medically trained and qualified like she was meant to be. And certainly not paid to detect and diagnose these conditions! Once the initial shock had subsided, she promised to complete the referral for us and assured me we would hear via either letter or phonecall of an appointment within around 2 weeks. She apologised that 2 weeks was a long time, but explained that the Christmas period would slow the process down slightly. 2 weeks wasn't long, so I wasn't too concerned.

Until 2 weeks turned into 3, which turned into 4. I chased up this referral. Got little joy from the hospital, so spoke to my Health Visitor who chased it up for me. So when she came back to me to confirm that Plum's birth had been registered, and told me that there was no record of a referral for him, I was angry. I was really angry.

During this time, I had been forced to abandon breast feeding Plum. He just wasn't latching successfully and I could now see why. He couldn't. And the whole time I thought there was hope around the corner, someone hadn't done their job properly. Maybe the referral hadn't been done like promised. Maybe it had been misplaced amongst reams of paperwork in some back office. I don't know. All I did know was, we were now looking at another fortnight or so wait for an appointment.

Again, very little I could do!

Just over a week later, a letter finally arrived with an appointment for Plum. Tuesday, 4th March, 2014. Ok, so we still had a few weeks to wait, but at least we had an appointment date. There was an end to the struggle in sight. Plum was still finding it difficult to feed, and these difficulties were becoming worse as he was becoming hungrier. He just can't get a proper seal on his bottle teat, meaning with every gulp of milk, he is also consuming a gulp of air. Every feed was ending the same way. Plum would scream in pain. You could feel the wind churning around in his little tummy. His tummy goes rock hard, his face screws up in pain, his knees shoot up to his chest, and the screaming starts. This was often followed by him bringing up half of his feed at some point too. But we could deal with it, as it would all be over on the 4th March.

Or would it ...?

Monday, 3rd March, 2014. I was busy preparing myself for the following day, making sure I had someone on standby to collect Munchkin from nursery in the event of us not being back in time, calling the hospital to check if there was anything we needed to bring with us for our appointment ...

"No, just bring baby and yourselves" ...

No problem, we can do that. Plum fed just before we set off out. So we got ourselves into the car, me, The Man, Plum and Beastie Boo, and made our way to the hospital. Not our local hospital though. We had to drive 20 miles to another hospital. We didn't mind - it was for a good cause, and we would travel a million miles if we had to for the sake of any one of these kids. 

After visiting one department, being booked in and being directed to another area, I sent The Man into the surgeon's room. I'm useless with things like this. Onto baby #3 and I'm only just coming round to having to take the kids for their vaccinations by myself. I opted to stay with Beastie in the toy-filled waiting area instead, giving The Man strict instructions to bring Plum out the very second he's allowed to so I could intervene with cuddles! A couple of tears from me and off they went. 

About 10 minutes later, they emerged from the room. The Man didn't look happy. And Plum didn't look like a baby who had just had his tongue snipped. It hadn't happened. 

"Have you got his bottle there ...?" 
... The Consultant waited for The Man's positive reply. 

We hadn't brought a bottle. He wouldn't take one as he had fed before we left and we knew we would be home before he needed another. So no, he didn't have his bottle there. That was it. The consultant was apparently not happy to carry out the procedure without a bottle there. Why? Because they measure the success of the operation by inspecting their latch on the bottle afterwards. Carrying out this procedure without a bottle was apparently "going against regulations". So, a pretty essential thing to bring along then? Maybe something that should have been put in the letter that contained our instructions for our visit? At the very least something that should have been told to me when I phoned ahead the previous day to prepare myself. I asked if I needed to bring anything. They told me no!!! Surely, if something is a fundamental part of the procedure, it shouldn't be left to the assumption that we would bring a feed with us? 

"Just go out to the desk and make another appointment", we were told. Oh, as simple as that then, yes? When we have been waiting since 26th December for this appointment, we should just go make another? Before I had a chance to digest any of this, the next patient had been called in. A woman with a 12 day old baby boy with the same condition. His hadn't been detected at hospital either. And the mother who had been in before us with her nearly 2 year old daughter - hers hadn't been noticed by any medical or health care professionals either. So we go to the desk to make another appointment. 

"You need to go upstairs to rebook. We can give you their number to call if you want to phone them instead, but I'll warn you ... They're not very keen on answering the phone up there"!

Seriously ...?! 'Not very keen on answering the phones' ...?! Am I actually hearing this right?

I took Plum, in my arms, upstairs to rebook, not fancying the idea of sitting on the end of the phone, ringing a number that doesn't get answered.

"We don't book the appointments here. It's all done centrally. When your notes go through and they realise the procedure hasn't taken place, they'll send you another appointment in the post"!

Out through the door, grab a coffee, into the car and home again. Furious!

So now we are home again. Plum is still tongue tied. He is still struggling to feed and writhing with his wind pains. I am still without that hope around the corner. And for what? Because of a breakdown in communication? Because someone has failed to fulfil their professional duties? Because people just don't care? I'm inclined to tick all of the above. 

So, to the NHS who I feel have completely failed us in this situation ... 

Why, when your staff fail to detect and diagnose this condition in the first place, are you not ensuring parents are appropriately equipped when attending a procedure as important as this? It may not be a major operation to you, but to a mum or dad who is having to sit up at all hours of the day and night, consoling and comforting a baby who is in great discomfort and pain due to their inability to feed properly, this is big! To new parents who have to sit with their tiny baby whilst he screams and sheds real tears when he should be settling into a comfortable sleep after a 3am feed, this is big! To me, The Man and Baby Plum, this is big!!! So why is it so insignificant to your hospital staff, and to whoever it is that issues these appointments? Why aren't there appropriate measures put in place to provide the correct equipment for these unsuspecting, uneducated parents, if you are not willing to provide the correct information before such a procedure? Why do you continue to let people down? 

Oh, and why on earth do you employ reception staff who are "not keen on answering the phones" ...?!

As I said at the beginning of this post ... Things were going so well. Obviously a little too well. 

NHS ... You've completely failed us here!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What's in a name?

The story behind our names

Our little blog has been going for quite some time now, so I thought it would be nice to write a little about how Beastie Boo, Plum and I got our names. Not our real names, but those that you all know us by, and those that seem to have stuck at home with mummy and daddy too!

This is me. I'm Munchkin, and mummy said I am the smile behind our little blog! Mummy started writing when I was just little and it was just me, mummy and daddy. It's hard to remember life before Beastie Boo now. Mummy and daddy have always called me Munchkin. Variations include Munch and Munchy Moo. I answer to all three! My nickname, in case you haven't made the connection, is the one behind the name of our blog. I am 4 years old, and therefore our home is MY patch! I like to think that I make the rules around here. Mummy and daddy just think they do! Hence, our little place on the blogosphere was named The Hart of the Munchkin Patch, with Hart not being a spelling mistake, but our surname.

Munchkin Hart ... that's me!

This is Beastie Boo. She is my little sister. There are 2 years and 9 months between us. She was nicknamed Beastie when she was just a few hours old as she would chew on her fist and growl as she did so. The nurses at the hospital were convinced that she was born teething ... but we knew it was just because she was our little monster! Variations of Beastie's name are The Beast and Rosie Posie Beastie Boo (<-- that one was all my idea!), but she is most commonly called Beastie Boo by all of us! And every day, she continues to live up to the name!

This is the most recent addition to my our Patch.
This is Plum!
Plum was born just before Christmas, meaning there are 4 years and 3 months between me and him, and just 18 months between him and Beastie. When mummy and daddy first told me that I was going to get another little recruitminion, brother or sister, I asked lots of questions. I needed to know everything! Being a whole 18 months older than I was when my first little sibling was in mummy's tummy, I was much more interested about what was going on, and a lot more aware of what to expect. One of the things I liked to know was how big our baby was getting. Right back at the beginning, when mummy and daddy shared their pregnancy news with me for the first time, mummy told me baby was the size of a plum. A tiny plum. Our Baby Plum. And so it stuck. Right from very early on in mummy's pregnancy, Plum was known as ... Plum! Variations of his name include Plumlet and Charlie Plum
I think it suits him!

So there we have it. The stories behind our names.

Do you have any nickname tales ...?