Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I LOVE this poem, so I wanted to share it with you... I wish I could be more like the mummy in the poem, as calm as her, as blissful and not stressed by the two-hour chore of getting baby to sleep whilst the other 2 are downstairs fighting, screaming and wrecking the house.. I wish I had more quality time with my baby, as that's what he's screaming for. In the absence of loving every moment as my baby screams rather than drifts to sleep, and I comfort and feed him to help him enter the land of nod, I'll just keep re-reading this poem again and again to bring some of its lovely energy upon me and my baby...

Mother, O' Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek - peekaboo.

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Parenting 3 kids is very challenging. It is a juggernaut of emotions, debilitating both mentally and physically, an assault on patience and calm, and a daily challenge to remember who you are as you don't get a minute to yourself.

My 3 are all at such different and difficult stages. I want to attempt to quantify them and explain why I think they are such hard work in a bid to help me to understand them better at this impossible time. I’m interested in the psychological factors that make them who they are, such as birth order and their natures versus the way Tom and I are nurturing them, wrongly or rightly.

I think clearer when I write things down. I cope with the overwhelm and stress  better. And I also remember things, so here goes…

The only thing the 3 of them have in common is they look alike, they are uncompromising, impatient and high energy. Oh and me, a stressed mum… and their dad, similarly frazzled by them.

First child. Jago, just turned 4
Bloody minded, seeks attention, thrills in negative attention, loves to wind people up, can be aggressive, very emotionally angry since turning 4. I’ve just been reading up about birth order and life scripts, and apparently the typical first child (if they’re not a compliant people-pleaser ), will be strong willed, rebellious and sullen and have trouble getting over their “dethroning” when the second sibling enters the scene. This according to Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist who was around at the turn of the 1900s.

Firstborn children are natural leaders and bossy because of the way they are thrust into a leadership role from the time they gain a younger sibling. My boy definitely is. He always needs to be in charge and tells friends what games and roles they’re playing, even much older boys. One of his friends include a 6 year old neighbour who he bosses around (the neighbour is the youngest of 3 so doesn’t mind Jago’s dominance).

In life, research says, firstborns will have trouble delegating; they will not trust others to do the job well enough. Interestingly, Jago’s most overused first word was “I’lldoit”. He thought it was just one word, he would repeat the sound until we gave in and let him have his way. He was a very strong, determined baby, walking at 10 months and refusing to be taught anything. Even now he won’t listen to me or let me show him how to do anything, such as how to hold a pen or how to zip up a coat.

Middle child. Tegan, 2 years 9 months
My middle child Tegan came exactly 17 months after my first. She was such an easy, grounded baby compared to Jago, serene and sociable. These days she is astute, sociable and charming but prone to thunderstorms if something doesn’t go her way – she’s in the middle of the Terrible Twos and refuses to take naps or go to bed early, so she’s always over-tired. She barely eats anything nutritious, refusing vegetables and protein, instead only eating dairy, cereals, pasta and demanding (but not getting, hence the thunderstorms) junk.

Apparently, middle born children often have the sense of not belonging and feel insecure, often seeking attention. I’ve never really thought of Tegan as needy but recently she’s been very clingy to me and over-dramatic in her demands. Perhaps her refusal to go to bed when her brothers do and her bad eating habits are part of her way of getting attention, albeit negatively.

It’s funny though, this week I’ve felt compelled to make her a nice bedroom of her own. Before, she had a halfway bedroom, with a cot and an oversized bed in a box room that had no room to play in. So I swapped the massive daybed with a friend, painted the single bed I got in return, my hubby made it fit in the small space and we added a few nice extras like shelves and hooks. Cost nothing. But my god her little face tonight when we unveiled the new room to her. I think she will feel like she belongs now. It’s like she’s come of age, deserving her own playroom finally, where she can keep all her things. I just hope it means she will stay sleeping in there, as normally she ends up in her brother’s top bunk or in with us.

Adler says the middle child often looks for direction from the first born child, well she certainly looks to him to lead and allows him to boss her around, often subservient to him, and common to middle children, she seems to be more creative. From my research into second children, the character trait that most describes Tegan is “incredibly self-sufficient” but she is also very caring and considerate of both her brothers.

The beauty of having a girl sandwiched between two boys is that her daddy and I will always think she is special and very precious. I hope she never feels like a second-class citizen and overlooked, like some of the studies say middle children feel. My intention is to do everything in my power to boost her self-esteem and her capabilities.

Third child. Lorcan 9 months.
There is almost 2 years between Tegan and Lorcan. Now, what about my third child? Earlier today I rescued him out of the toilet bowl, where he was splashing away happily, shredding the whole toilet paper and dumping it in the water. The rest of the day he screamed, nothing would appease him.

He screams so loud that he makes my nerves raw, my ears ring and my heart feel stabbed. My husband has always equated his scream to the sound of an angle grinder. It just cuts through you. It’s awful. This is pretty much all the time – when I’m dressing him, changing nappies, in the car, when I’m trying to get him to sleep, basically when he’s not in my arms. But then when he is in my arms, he’s either wriggling so I’m scared of dropping him or he’s screaming to get at my boobs.

Apparently the third child is harder on your body and emotions, because you’re so drained after the first two (that was definitely the case with me), so the pregnancy is worse and you’re also so busy with the other two, that you’re exhausted. I was in shock for the first half of my pregnancy with Lorcan, and feeling crap mentally and physically, not ready for another baby just yet.

I was hoping for an angel baby who would fit in nicely and give me an easy time of 3 kids. Lorci is so far away from that dream. In his case, the third child syndrome manifests itself in a refusal to be ignored. A refusal to be overlooked in any way. Noise levels like we never heard before. A heightened sensitivity to noise and pain. He came into our lives with a bang, screaming constantly for the first 6 weeks until the doc diagnosed silent reflux and gave us some Zantac. He calmed down slightly, but still won’t sleep properly, has been a nightmare the last two months as he’s cut teeth – been so clingy and screamy I’ve been very close to losing my mind. Most days I’m heard pleading with him to “stop screaming!” as all else fails and I resort to pointless exclamations of exasperation.

He’s so loud that the other two had to adapt their levels to be heard, so most of the time it becomes a screamfest competition around here, as they all compete for mummy’s frazzled attention. My most overused line at the moment is “Just a minute”. Most days now I celebrate them going to sleep with a glass of wine, telling myself that this is what I need to get through this fraught time.

All that I’ve read about last born third children is that they are over indulged and over-protected as the baby of the family. Lorci has never let me do that. He has terrorized me and made me wish he would grow up fast because he’s bloody hard work as a baby. To his credit, he is growing up superfast and is nearly walking at 9 months through no encouragement by me.

They say third children can lack self-confidence and independence, but my boy is fierce. He knows his mind and he knows his power and he’s not afraid to scream for hours and hours to get his way or to be heard. He is a force to be reckoned with. Just what did I do to deserve this I don’t know! He’s going to command armies or countries that one. I just hope he recognizes me as someone he needs in his life and doesn’t discard me along the way.

I find it eye-opening that once I started thinking about the kids in this way and started writing as a stream of consciousness, I started to get a bigger insight into their personalities and natures. I now understand them a little better via this process. This post is now etched into history on my archive, for me to look back on and reflect in years to come as they grow older.

I'm in the eye of the storm right now, but once I get through it, I will be amazed by their strength and their will power. They will be amazing - I just hope I can keep up.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I've suffered from chronic sinus pain and allergic symptoms for five long years, triggered mostly by pregnancy and its detrimental impact on my immune system. I've had rhinitis since I had a horrible allergic reaction in the straw fields at Glastonbury 20 years ago. I remember I went to First Aid sneezing my head off, my eyes watering like I'd been chopping onions. They took one look at me and said I had hay fever, giving me a few antihistamines. So that was the first I knew of a condition that has plagued the rest of my life, debilitating me at times, spoiling my fun of life; making me dependent on a daily antihistamine, even through winter.

Pregnancy made it worse. I think the lowering of the immune system that happens naturally during pregnancy was to blame, as my sinuses exploded and nothing seemed to help. For me, pregnancy always felt like flu for the first four months: constant sniffling, sneezing, exhaustion, total fog, itchy face. Last time, I spent a load of money on acupuncture believing it would solve my "flu" so that I could avoid taking antihistamines during this third (and last ever, hopefully) pregnancy. Unfortunately, it only worked during the time that I had the needles stuck in me. I tried EFT, nasal flushing, Quercetin, immune boosters such as vitamin D, C, Zinc, probiotics, changing my diet, every type of antihistamine going, solpa-sinus, you name it, everything.

Every day I wake up sniffly, clicking my throat with nasal drip, exhausted from my immune system diverting energy to my sinuses to fight the explosion, clawing at my painful, itchy nose and forehead. I've been tested - I'm allergic to loads: dogs, cats, pollen, mould and dust, but chemicals and other animals set me off, as does the cold, air conditioning and sudden sunlight. About once a week I have an allergic meltdown, where not even antihistamines help dampen down symptoms so instead I sneeze constantly for the day and my nose runs and my sinuses explode. This exhausts me.

The reason I'm writing this is that I feel that after 20 years of suffering, after taking thousands of antihistamines, spending a fortune on other treatments, and feeling overwhelmed and run down by this, today I have finally found something that has given me hope.

An allergy nurse I saw the other day who tested my kids for hereditary allergies (they recruited me for a long-term study during my first pregnancy looking at the difference breastfeeding and/or probiotics made on inherited allergies) looked inside my nose and said she could see white polyps. She said there was a very good steroid spray on the market called Avamys, but only available on prescription.

Anyway, cut a long story short, today my internet order of Avamys arrived in the post (well I wasn’t going to spend €45 going to see my doc just to get a prescription and then spending more in the pharmacy – much cheaper to order from and I took my first two sprays up the nose.

A miracle happened. The facial itching eased down and the sniffling stopped. I felt clear-headed for the first time in god knows how long. Wow.

I've had a few more sniffs since then and, wonder upon wonder, it’s keeping symptoms at bay. And the best news of all, it’s the first day in years that I’ve not had to take an antihistamine. Yeehah!

It’s still early days but I’m optimistic, finally. I wanted to share this because I know so many other people who suffer from sinus issues, and have spent years and fortunes trying to fix their plague. If you’re interested, more info about the spray is found on here….

And there concludes my health bulletin ;-)

**>> 24 hours later. Well I went to bed, amazed I wasn't sniffling nor bunged up as I fell asleep. I got up in the night to see to my baby and I didn't start sneezing when my body got cold nor sniffle for half an hour until I managed to get warm again and fall back to sleep. But what thrills me the most, is I woke up this morning with a clear head. I'm not rubbing my sore burning eyes constantly, I'm not scratching at my nose and forehead and I'm not allergic to the occasional wisps of my own hair falling against my face. And I'm not feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I can think straight and I'm not feeling like a bear waking up from hibernation, exhausted and wanting everyone to go away. Is this what normal feels like? I can't believe this is how I was supposed to feel all these years and I didn't. I felt like crap. I got on with it, because the fog became my norm. All doctors said was take antihistamines so I went on to try alternative things as well. Was the brain fog of the last five years not caused by pregnancy/breastfeeding after all??!?

Oh my god, I'm doing a big re-assessment this morning...

It's wonderful, and I feel alive. I've taken a few more sniffs of Avamys and I love that I can breathe clearly through my nose without a shuddering reaction for the first time in at least a decade. Oh please god let this last...

Sunday, February 19, 2012


There is so much life happening around here at the moment.

In the last few days I've taken my two little ones to see newborn lambs, taken the two biggest to see brand new calves (we wanted to keep one they were so cute), picked daffodils, driven around and admired baby-pink cherry blossoms, and gone for a beach walk in the sunshine (my big kids went barefoot when they got wet).

Spring has well and truly sprung in our beautiful little corner of Ireland. Today as we drove east towards a lovely long stretch of beach, we saw hundreds of people walking out and about. Suddenly everyone is dusting off the cobwebs of winter and enjoying this rare, sun-kissed taste of Spring. 

My three lively kids were like little lambs bouncing as they were let loose today on the beach. The older two jumping over rocks and into rock-pools, the baby kicking up and down in the back carrier, delighted to see new life for effectively the first time. Our dog ran at least 10 miles, up and down the endless beach, chasing uncatchable birds flying high above the shoreline.

And it really does feel like new life. I've hibernated this winter. The kids have kept me busy. We've not been out much. Our dog moved out to my folks' house, so our motivation to walk every day evaporated. We've done bike rides, local forest walks and our nearest rocky beaches, but not long stretches of sandy beaches like today - and I think that makes all the difference. It just feels more open, more vast. Less oppressive.

And so I end the day trying to stay positive and remaining with the images of today. But the kids are over-tired and whingey. We're trying to get them to bed but they're arguing about everything. I want to write but I'm interrupted by their bouncing nudity and their wild energy. Oh crikey, I must battle them to bed. I wish I had more energy for them but I have images in my brain I need to download. I have so much I'd love to write about but my last remaining energy is about to be burned by the forthcoming battle to bed. It's draining. Tegan won't be asleep until 10, despite us starting her bedtime routine at 7.30pm. She just never seems to need sleep. Never. Not during the day, not at night. That girl will rule the world one day.

I could go on about the tiresome frustrations of motherhood, but I'm happy after a wonderful day in the spring sunshine. Even though it was hard work, trying to mobilise all three of them and a dog, pack enough provisions and spare clothes for everyone, I'm delighted we grabbed a rare opportunity to escape for a daytrip, gritting our teeth during the meltdowns and zoning out of the whinging. 

Because these days are what childhood (and our) memories are made of. Best of all, we even threw caution to the wind and went into the pub on the beach for a pint and luckily the kids didn't totally wreck the place.

Friday, February 17, 2012


It’s Friday and there are pockets of joy everywhere. It’s been a hard few weeks of a clingy teething baby but he’s playing on the floor again and back to full strength trying to walk before he reaches 10 months. My bigger kids have been socialising more and I’ve nearly finished the work that’s consumed much of my spare time. I feel joy.

- Warmer weather – yay for Spring
- My baby finally smiling (and sleeping well) after a month of torturous teething
- Daffodils and cherry blossom everywhere

- A palladium of happy, pregnant friends
- Being the centre of my baby’s world. A beautiful moment when he fell asleep feeding in my arms in public for the first time ever (normally he’s too pre-occupied to feed and screams as he fights sleep)
- Swaps. Sociable happy kids when their friends come here to play, free childcare when their mums’ return the favour.

- A job almost done (2 newsletters I’ve been working on for the Irish Childbirth Trust)
- Daisies outside our front door

- A return to menses after 18 months. My body happily getting back to normal.
- My little girl being accepted for morning sessions at the brilliant local playschool in September. A light at the end of the tunnel: dropping both kids at 9 every morning, and having space in the mornings with just baby Lorci.

5 senses tour

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Baby Lorcan 9 months and teething

Nerves frayed
Ears ringing with screaming
Exhausted and numb
The trials of a mum with a baby teething

His pain becomes mine
Nothing can soothe
He needs only me
Wrecked, banjaxed old me

A tour de force
Like I've never known
The other two challenged me
Number 3 has me thrown

It's gone on a month
Long sleepless nights
Whimpering clingy days
Mum in a coma, autopilot engaged

He won't eat
Other than me
Drained in more ways than one
Milk back to newborn

My over-sensitive little boy
Fist in mouth
Eyes puffy, face hot
Were the others this bad before?

I don't remember
My fog consumes me
His screaming stabs me
My heart feels raw

Please let the tooth come soon
Let his pain be less
Let his sleep get better
Oh please let my poor baby smile again


Friday, February 10, 2012


My pockets of joy this Friday. Better late than never.

Cherry blossoms starting to bloom

Daffodils at the side of the road

Winter nearly over - the mildest we've known in years

Not doing laundry for a week. Hourah. Maybe this strike should last another week.... we certainly have enough clothes!

Finally getting a break in the day to write

My parents having a laugh with new friends, settling into their new lives

A dear friend pregnant after IVF

A new car that's automatic - a revelation in reducing my workload

My 4-year-old boy calming down - suddenly able to concentrate for longer

The full force of my baby needing me to soothe his teeth pain. That boy will never suffer in silence and quite right too (this is not really a Joy but it blows my mind in a good way that my 3rd is so fierce!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


No time to write today, except to share something lovely I just saw. 

Apart from being an ad for a car company, I love the simplicity of the picture. I used to be left brained myself when I worked and the creativity was zapped out of me. 

Now, I'm a full time mum and not working in the rat-race, I am right-brained, buzzing with creativity, painting pictures with beautiful colours (see the background of this blog, that's one of my paintings) and making things and being inventive.

Got to go, baby waking and school run to do! Lots of love xx

Friday, February 03, 2012


5 senses tour

Every Friday around the web, blogging mamas gather to celebrate the little things in their otherwise overwhelming lives. I'm joining them, by naming 10 things I am thankful for today. 
I feel I have a lot to be grateful for, especially after two weeks of my baby terrorising me with his first teeth.

Here are my Pockets of Joy:

  • Waking up to a mania-free house. My two eldest on "Sleepover" at Grannie & Grandad's. Only me and the baby home.

  • Husband off on a "Roadtrip" with his Dad to buy us a car with 7 seats to make our lives a bit easier.

  • The kindness of friends and my Mum and Dad offering to help with the kids so my sanity survives the weekend as single mum to 3 smallies.

  • Writing again, because suddenly there's so much I want to say. Rediscovering myself in Blog after 4 years of Baby Bubble.

  • My determined baby boy intent on walking before he reaches 9 months.

  • My wonderful 2 year old girl showing concern for her brothers when they're upset.

  • Art class tomorrow. My cave of protection.

  • My free-spirited kids running around the house naked in all their beautiful glory.

  • Midnight feasts after breastfeeding. They cancel each other out right?

  • Living in a beautiful place next to the sea in Ireland, with amazing friends nearby and a Mum and Dad who gave up everything in England to live 10 minutes away from us. 


Wednesday, February 01, 2012


First teeth are no fun. My baby Lorci has just cut his first two teeth and it's set us back 8 months, back to the newborn days of waking three times a night and feeding night and day.

Back to the early days of walking around in a coma, having worrying near misses with other cars as I drive my 4 year old to pre-school.

I can't get Lorci to sleep anymore. Or I should say, I can't get him to sleep anymore without Calpol. Yet I only want to give it as a last resort. He seems to need so much of it recently. His teeth must really hurt if that's the only way he's soothed to sleep. He's already wearing an amber teething necklace; although I'm yet to be convinced that they do any good, despite all 3 of my babies having worn them. I don't like giving painkillers so freely like this but that's another blog I've yet to write; The Calpol Generation.

Even now he's tired for his morning nap, I've been feeding him to sleep but every time I lay him down in his cot he wakes. I try lying next to him, that doesn't work, it only excites him, he starts clawing my face, screaming in my ear, climbing over me. He just wants to be stuck to me, feeding from me like a newborn; only i don't have milk at those intervals anymore. I'm empty, in more ways than just milk.

He's still screaming now - I've been up and down to him for the last hour. I go up again, give him a small dose of Calpol and rub Teetha in his gums, breastfeed him again, back down in the cot, but he's standing up again, eating his fist, eyes puffy with tiredness, banging his head against the cot because he's unsteady with exhaustion. I pick him up again. Crikey he's heavy, my back twinges from his latest growth spurt. "Why won't you give in to sleep Lorci?". I spend another 40 minutes cuddling, rocking, feeding, my poor baby.

Finally, he's gives in. Deep breath Amy…. and relax. He will wake in exactly 45 minutes because he's never been able to sleep longer than that during the day. Sometimes that's all he has, despite my exhaustive hours spent in gentle encouragement. This time it was two hours of back-breaking coaxing to sleep for only 45minutes reward. This is quite a normal pattern, even when he's not teething. I've always joked Lorci's moto is: "Why sleep when you can scream for hours instead?"

He sleeps in our spare room in the attic. He's a very sensitive chap to noise and light so it's the only place he won't be disturbed by the other two's noise. I don't get the chance to do any exercise these days but I suppose I keep fit by racing up and down two flights of stairs so many times a day. It doesn't stop my lower back from killing me thanks to his latest growth spurt and his cries to be held more to soothe his teeth pain.

Last night, we danced through the night in a symphony of wakeful sleep and feeding, our bodies knowing instinctively how to move together in the pitch dark. He knew exactly where I was at all times and wouldn't let me out of his range. He found his food source when he needed the comfort to help himself back to peaceful sleep. I woke up wrecked, having had very little restful deep sleep. A dear friend took my girl for the morning and my hubby minded the baby while i stole back to bed for a much-needed extra hour.

And so it carries on….

[I started this post Monday morning. It's Wednesday now and I've started to restock my sleep bank and his teeth don't seem to be hurting as much, HOURAY]