LONDONWEGO

For the first time in sharing our journey of Alivia-Ellen’s hearing loss and all the trials and tribulations that follow, came a feeling of reluctance.

When we was first faced with the diagnosis of progressive bilateral hearing loss for Alivia-Ellen, a tornado of feelings and emotions spiralled in a space of a minute. My brain was ticking faster and faster and there was no off button to pause for a second and think rationally. I skipped 20 years and imagined how her future could be affected, and dwelled upon that, she was only 10 days old.

In the thick of things, when we’re dealt a hand we never expected, never anticipated, never imagined in the 9 months of a blissful pregnancy. The feelings of receiving life changing news can be intense, stressful and overwhelming.

My armour and exterior provide my children with a strong Mother. In the waiting room of these appointments, there’s a mutual silence amongst the parents, gentle unaware hums from the children playing or colouring. The tick of the clock is almost in sync rhythm with the beating of my heart. 3 years into our journey I have mastered the fine art of withstanding my emotions and attend these appointments with no upset.

But beneath my confidence and positive exterior, I’m scared too.

‘Come what may.’

Recently we found out Alivia will be embarking onto her own adventure to London to discover her true diagnosis. Same as Mummy, from the age of 10 I was under the care of Great Ormand Street Hospital and Royal National Throat, Ear and Nose Hospital. My daughter is following my medical footsteps but for a wider range of reasons. I now feel ready to share with you all.

⁃ Progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.

⁃ Alivia’s vision is worsening

⁃ Albinism proposed as a possible diagnosis.

⁃ Significant speech delay (non verbal)

⁃ Impacted bowels (constipation)

⁃ Bilateral divergent squint. (Turn to eye)

⁃ LADD Syndrome and Alport Syndrome proposed possibility.

During these appointments, what feels like your child is stripped of her identity and is now just a mystery medical examination.

All her features that I find make her the most beautiful little girl that she is, are now just part of a genetic flaw. From her flat button nose to the fair colour of her hair and brows. Her cute peggy toothed smile and wide feet with short stubby toes that I kissed individually at night from the moment she was born. From the way she stands and holds a pencil, are all listed and sent off for a genetic discussion.

During the process of these genetic appointments, which feel more nerve wrecking than waiting for your GCSE results in front of your parents, I am certain there is a process slightly like what I can only imagine a grieving process to be.

How we cope and feel before, during and after these appointments will be different for every parent. I tend to talk openly about these appointments to anyone willing to listen, no matter where I am if a thought appears I tend to blurt it out, it helps me process what happens and formulate acceptance. I allow myself time a day where I digest my thoughts and feelings surrounding medical appointments. Where as her Father absorbs and internalises his feelings. Coping looks different for everyone. And that’s ok too. All part of the acceptance of a diagnosis.

SELFLOVE

Embracing the flaws of what’s left after child birth, is ultimately a challenge most Mothers admit defeat to.
Learning to accept the remains of loose skin that accommodated growth of our precious bundles. To find comfort in the scar of our csections which delivered a baby safely. The imperfections which caress our skin where our baby had once pressed against from the inside. Boobs slightly deflated from nurturing our newborns.
Yes the extra pounds of weight will eventually disappear, much like the pounds we willingly give over secretly sobbing of hope that the creams and oils will erase the left over tell tale signs and be a distant memory. But the marks left upon our skin will stay, the journey of self love is a long hard road to conquer. With a insta perfect society we currently live in, we are somewhat discarded and no longer admired.
Because your skin has torn and produced tiny kisses across your body as a gentle reminder of the battle we endured, pregnancy.

SIGN&COMMUNICATION

Deaf Awareness Week – Sign language and communication.

Basic signs during early years can really help minimise frustrated behaviours for a deaf/hardofhearing child.

Whilst I am yet to find a workshop to be able to participate in, I have found some fantastically illustrated books by Baby Signing, these books have also been reviewed by NDCS. The signs are compatible with those used in Makaton. This is different to signs used in BSL, the purpose of Makaton is to support speech. BSL is it’s own language with a structure of grammar, you will use hand signs as well as body language, facial expressions along with lip patterns.

As part of Deaf Awareness Week, my aim is to encourage anyone into learning a sign. One small gesture to a non hearing person could ultimately mean the world to them. Remember, a small act of kindness is never wasted.

BSL and Makaton is not accessible for majority of the families and come at a heavily funded price. Small workshops are available but for a family to communicate with their child, this needs funding longer than a once a week, workshop for 4 weeks. They need continued support, to help not only the child but the family too in order to be able to communicate effectively, more funding needs to be added and not being cut or reduced by the government.

Here, are Livys most favourite and recognised signs from her books.

Eating and drinking – these are the signs Livy recognises well and uses them in everyday life at home as well as nursery.

Animals – these are her most favourite and well used signs, she will show a great deal of interest and focus on this page. She really knows what they mean and can match the sign to her Rabbit soft toy.

Here is Livy signing cat.

Basic everyday signs.

Livy signs stop really well and uses it in the right context too! She demonstrates clear understanding of the sign and uses this at nursery too!

I love you.

This is still a work in progress for Livy. But it’s a rather important sign to know for family and friends. Remember repetition is the most important part of a deaf child’s learning.

Mum and Dad.

This is Livys way of signing teddy bear. It’s nearly there.

These are my most treasured favourite memories of Livy.

Why not set yourself a task and spell your name through British finger spelling?

You can find more information on signs through:

https://www.ndcs.org.uk/signlanguage

The books can be found on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-First-Signs-Baby-Signing/dp/1904550045/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=baby+sign+book&qid=1557594976&s=gateway&sr=8-1

I would like to state I do not own the illustrations or own any copyright of the material, I am simply sharing to raise awareness and educational purposes.

MEMORIESWITHWESTLODGEFARM

Whether your family day out predicts a forecast of rainy showers and muddy wellies or sunny blue skies with a scent of sun cream drifting through the air. Regardless of the weather, West Lodge Farm is sure to provide a lovely day out that will put a spring in your step.

Luckily enough we live local to take advantage of this beautifully clean, well kept and mapped out family owned farm.

From the moment you’re greeted with a warm welcome from the minute you leave, there is such a family element to the farm.

I love the fact that the West Lodge has been farmed by the same family for three generations and I truly believe this reflects on your experience and time spent here. The staff and farmers are polite and warming. The farm itself is pleasingly clean from the canteen areas and a hut providing light refreshments with dietary icecreams too, the toilet huts are really good with baby changing facilities inside each individual hut. And the hand washing areas are all kept tidy with warm water, soap tissue paper and alcohol gel with clear guiding instuctions on how best to keep safe after touching and feeding the animals there are a few allocated around the farm along with a boot wash, everything is well kept and sanitised. No litter insight, the pens where you can hand feed the animals are immaculately clean with bedding replenished to a satisfying standard, even I want to jump in the fluffy hay!

We have visited many occasions throughout 4 years of motherhood. And since then I have never realised how important it is to have something this lovely and educational on our doorsteps, if you take not only advantage of feeding the animals which boast a wide variety of livestock and having a good jolly play in the fantastic outdoor adventure and inside play ground, pony rides or a tractor ride. Ensure to bring some wellies if you decide to do the walks in the Forrest provided around the farm. From the troll bridge to the witches house these are situated in the woodlands, it can be a little muddy and a fair few steps in the adventure!

West Lodge have provided many theme days, celebrating the usual Christmas and Easter holidays, we have attend the Halloween pumpkin picking… twice in fact a week after each other as the children just enjoyed it that much. Seeing their proud faces picking and plonking their own pumpkin in little wheel barrows, unseeding and drawing their own design before it is cut out professionally by members of keen steadily handed staff. (Saves us mums a messy task!) It was fantastic to see the staff dressed amazingly for the pirate treasure hunt. Ahoy!

As well as providing walks, adventure play, handling animals or feeding them we have noticed on occasions they host educational trips to learn about livestock and farming also a Forrest school as well as allowing you to celebrate your little ones birthday with parties in true farming style.

Intentionally or not this farm has an amazing access for Pushchairs and wheelchairs providing spacious routes around the animal pens, this has made it easy for the whole family to enjoy. But please note the walks are not all wheelchair or pram friendly. Having chatted to a lovely member of staff she told us this was about to change in the very near future near troll bridge. I have also always felt my daughter was welcomed and the reception staff have always gone out of their way to communicate to Livy, with profound deafness it’s lovely to see them try to include her on her exciting day out, she’s not able to express her excitement or feelings via a lack of communication like her older brother, the staff pass her the bags of animal food and a map to carry on her big adventure. (Thankyou, for the kind gesture that has always been shown with every visit). Also with identification of being a carer, you go free with your child.

The pricing of entry is extremely affordable for families, I really hope this stays put. There is reduced entry after 3.30pm, this is something I truly value about the farm. Modern day families budgets vary, and it’s so nice this farm has allowed all budgets to truly enjoy a day out.

What ever the weather you face on your family day out, this lovely rural farm is sure to cater to all your needs. Wellie boots or not you’re adventure is bound to be enjoyed

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DEAFAWARENESSWEEK

Expectations.

This week is a beautiful reminder how united the deaf community is, yet how much adversity we still have to face in this modern day and age. 11 Million people solely in the U.K. are deaf or hard of hearing.

In a world of silence, like my daughter, it can be astonishingly difficult to comprehend how she must feel. She is fortunate enough to have hearing aids and so recently a radio aid through our NHS and council. It is still uncertain just how much accessibility she has to sounds through the equipment. At the age of 3, the tests are never conclusive.

My feelings towards being a parent to Livy.

My expectations of Livy are not much less or greater compared to my hearing sons. I still believe she can and will achieve great things in her life of silence, I may be instinctively protective of my daughter but I also allow myself to not be over protective… she has no form of knowledge of risks or assessing dangers. Whilst I watch her obsessively. I allow her to take certain risks to allow her to learn and stimulate an independent upbringing in life…

If her brother climbs a rock climbing wall at the park, you have no chance to even have an input to stop her… the girl has an inner mountaineer with an added extra mix of an adrenaline junkie!

She’s climbing before you can even blink!!

I show no extra fuss or protection to Livy, than I do the boys, I treat her no differently and this is because I do not wish for her to see herself as different to others. I still take her out to the Parks, play barns, farms, meals out, library’s. All the normal things mothers do with their children, I simply just have to have a dose of extra patience and understanding to calm or pause a situation to comfort a disoriented and flustered Livy.

Not only does Livy suffer with profound loss, she also recently has a form of vision loss/ difficulty which has caused a sudden turn to her right eye. This has complex problems in itself. Along with a communication barrier she can often display frustrated behaviour that may look questionable to other parents, unknown to her. Although Livy has a hearing loss and wears aids, but honestly she really is no different to any of her fellow friends and nursery peers.

Her sweet bubbly personality is infectiously likeable. She’s constantly smiling and making content squeals or Hums. The way she beams with warmth and pride, a smile that glows as she claps to herself in delight. She’s extremely maternal towards younger children and although she hasn’t got the awareness or ability to understand to be kind and gentle towards them, rarely does she need reminding. She’s got an inner entertainer about her, nursery sent me a beautiful short clip of her playing peek a boo with a younger peer. She loves to dress up as superheroes whilst wearing child’s dress up heels. Her desire to explore and learn how the world works is enhanced by her nursery key worker, Chloe. She gives her the courage to explore and be her own individual person. I believe sending her to a nursery setting has enabled her to shape her quirky diva personality to the best it is and this is all down to Chloe, I have wrote more about her nursery experience in a previous blog post.

All the above shows she’s just like all the other three year olds, exploring and learning. Developing the very same way. Please know that everyone should be treated in the same way, no one should be excluded, thought of differently for a disability.

Expectations for a deaf child can be the exact same as that of a hearing child. With a little guidance and understanding patience, they can extraordinary achieve the same.

However, Livy really struggles with basic communication. She tends to scream and squeal at us using hand gestures. And really clear facial expressions. Her cross face has been nailed beautifully!

She can sign few basic signs to help her tell us what it is she wants. But if it’s something we’re not understanding she has a tendency to show anger with frustration and occasionally lash out or throw herself to the floor upset. As a family and her key worker we try our hardest to work through her upset and frustration to understand what it is she wants, then show her signs for what it is to help her in the future to tell us or she will show us.

The funding unfortunately just isn’t there to support families and friends to communicate with their deaf child/friend. There are very few workshops available but they come at a price. Which some families just don’t have accessibility to.

I spent a lot of her first year in worry about the prospect of bringing up a deaf child in such a complex society. I worried about schooling, bullying, meeting parents who wouldn’t understand my child’s needs. If nursery’s could cater for her ect… I need not had worried myself silly.

Since living in the moment, she has amazed myself and others with her stubbornly fierce independent personality. I no longer worry about bullying, I believe she’s shaped into such a strong character, she can really hold her own. For now as parents and nurturers I will always support and guide my children to reach their absolute full potential in what ever they wish to succeed in.

Regardless if she wasn’t deaf, bullies could find a dozen of things to pick on may it be Skin, hair, clothes they wear or characters they enjoy to watch.

I will continue to bring my children up with a strong mentality to love and respect everyone and not to define a person by their colour, disability or difference.

There is ability, in every disability – Mothering Silence.

STRONGERTOGETHER

I hope I inspire hearing people through the writing of my blog.

Without educating and raising awareness circulating around deafness and the abilities, hearing people, you have the ability to remove all preventative barriers that deaf people face from achieving their dreams.

Hearing is no barrier, it’s a common assumption. With a little knowledge, patience and acceptance. Differences are ok, if anything they bring beautiful views of adversity, and these differences have a powerful way of working together.

STARTINGSCHOOL

From the moment I stepped into the unknown world of parenthood. Claiming the badge of pride, nobody can prepare you for the journey of motherhood, for your entire pregnancy, is like waiting in the line of a 9 month queue. Once your beautiful baby is placed in your arms, here is your seat on the most anticipated rollercoaster of sheer excitement, panic, happiness, sad, exhilarated, worried and overwhelming ride of parenthood. Enjoy.

From breast or bottle, baby LED or jar food, first words to first steps, first cot to first bed, to nurseries. We all have the most incredible power to guide and nurture our babies the way we wish to. After all there is no manual to parenting. No right or wrong way. Each difference to how a group of friends parent their children is the most beautiful comparison and strength to parenthood, it’s diversity something that should be cherish and celebrated.

But one thing we have no control over is schools, when selecting our choices for our little baby’s, whether you’re a first time mother sending your first child, or it’s your second, third. We’ve always been the sole provider to make choices around what’s best for our children. But the feeling or uncertainty when relying on someone you don’t know making the decision for our children’s future is daunting…

School choices are ranked by 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice. But how can you be remotely happy if it wasn’t your first choice that you had your heart set on 100%? Individually you’re all embarking on a journey that’s most likely more anticipated by worry from yourself, rather than your child. While it feels most will get their first choices, please be remindful of the minority that won’t. Whilst everyone is posting gushing tributes to their babies big adventure to the school they loved and picked… So many won’t be so lucky to get into the school they so desperately wanted for their grown up babies.

I have chosen not to post about what school Luka-James’ has been placed on social media. Whilst he got his first choice. I also comprehended towards the anxious, nervous feeling off despair some parents may feel. Social media can be cruel in the ways some people can view things, a reminder or bearer of adverse feelings. Preparing their child to embark a journey to a new school and to face a whole new process of making new friends can extremely dampen the excitement of this milestone. But remember this feeling is only temporary. Because I want to show that while 40% off a child’s learning is from school the other 60% is nurtured by YOU.

YOU can still influence your child’s learning and development at home.

From looking on social media, so many people felt sad and worried around the prospect of their child going to their 2nd choice. The stress from appeal meetings, anxious phone calls and agonising waits.

These parents have now even stated they have wasted so much time on negative energy as the 2nd choice of school was a place where their child has flourished. The child is happy and love the school. The parents have built fantastic connections with the teachers and their experience has been nothing but outstanding. And really couldn’t see their child anywhere else.

Please see the positive in this process, if you decide to appeal or not. The teachers all have the same desire to bring the best out in our children. Allow them to explore and develop new sets of skills. They will enjoy meeting new friends, who said you can have too many friends! The journey might not have been one you anticipated but you can make it so exciting, a new place to explore, new faces to meet, new colours of uniform.

Sometimes life leads us on a different path for the most beautiful ride of new happenings.

This is the beginning to your child’s future of anything they wish to be.

MOTHERSDAYOUTFITINSPO

Mother’s Day Inspiration At Joules.

Elvina Shirt and Molly Jersey Blazer.

Mother’s Day has finally approached us, a day dedicated to show appreciation, gratitude and most commonly known as honouring the influence of mothers in society.

Since stepping into the unknown world of motherhood, holding the title of mummy for 4 years to three, ambitiously individually crazy little humans, I’ve found dressing my new found ‘mumbod’ a slightly difficult task of it’s own. As all eyes are on me I want to feel confident, comfortable, yet feminine.

Here are my top picks for Mummas out there. No matter how you’re spending your day, be sure to spend it in comfort and style.

Causal.

The mum who knows that regardless the fact it’s her day to shine, she will most definitely be chasing after her little rascals during a family pub lunch.

Mummy Cool Harbour, Monroe Skinny Jeans, Coast Pumps.

Bold And Colourful.

Just because her endless bouncing energy, love and infectious smile is enough to fill any room, doesn’t mean her outfit can’t match!

Hesford Chino, Jeanne Linen Shirt, Cosmo Pouch, Fenthorpe Sandals.

Fashion Forward.

Ahh, the oh so causal, I-just-threw-it-on-together-and-hoped-for-the-best Mum, we all admire.

Lexington Loafer, Durham Tote, Monroe Jeans, Elsa Jacket, Lucie Shirt.

Sporty.

Comfort over style, sport luxe is her thing. And she pulls it off so damn well.

Winona Dress, Solena Trainers, Wayfield Bag.

Head down to your nearest JOULES, for 25% off Mother’s Day selected lines.

MINIBEAU

Since becoming a mother, I have found myself really supporting local, family run bespoke businesses.

I have always struggled to find headbands and wraps for Alivia-Ellen. Not only is she small for a near 3 year old, the bands aimed at her age often irritate her and pushes her hearing aids off her ears. Which then cause a lot of whistling feedback. Shop brought bands for her size head are quite thin and not as glamorous as the bands designed for a 3 year old. But being a little diva, she adores dress up and wearing accessories. So I was thrilled to come across MINI BEAU.

Lizanna, whom is mum to 4 girls, completely understood my request and really helped to cater Alivia’s hearing aids in the measurements and design of the band. Not only is she extremely approachable, kind and enthusiastic. She showed a lot of compassion towards helping a little girl, feel like all the other little girls.

MINI BEAU’ offers a beautiful range of bows, head bands, head wraps and co-ord skirts and bow. The products have a great sense of love and very thoughtfully packaged and protected to ensure your purchase reaches you beautifully.

I can honestly say I admire this woman, I cannot imagine how hard it is to combine mothering and also running a business from home, I guess a huge check list of jobs goes on daily, I have a daily check list just for me and the troops to get from one day to the other never mind running a successful busy business!

If there is ever a product you would like and personalised a little different to what’s advertised, Lizanna’s customer service skills are second to non, I have gone on to request a head wrap in different fabric and designs and she never fails to deliver a high quality print in her products.

If your looking for a special something for a little girl, I cannot recommend this bespoke home run company enough.

Thankyou so much Lizanna, for making my little girl feel beautiful in her bow just like her friends.