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“If you want to change the world…” – After Manchester

It’s been one week since the atrocities in Manchester in which 22 people were killed. Like most of the country I sat and watched the news in utter horror that this kind of evil could exist in our world and that it had attacked innocent children and teenagers. As a parent this type of attack taps into your darkest, most terrifying fear; losing a child. And there were parents in our country, in some of our communities facing this unimaginable horror. My heart is broken for them.

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As a parent watching the reports on this attack, hearing the devastating news of the loss of life, seeing the wrenching images of grieving families; aside from my feelings of heartbreak and sorrow for those effected I felt helplessness alongside fear. Scared that my own children were growing up in a world where such evil exists and operates. A world in which as a parent you are rendered powerless to protect your children; the most basic of parental instincts. How do we as parents deal with that? How do we bring up our children in a world which can be so terrifying? And how should we react to such evil? Feeling so incredibly helpless where our children’s safety is concerned it’s not simply frightening it’s unbearable. Are we truly helpless? There is a very famous quote from Mother Teresa; “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” I believe therein lies our power; as parents we are raising the next generation. How that generation shapes our world and treats one-another is in our hands right now. As parents we have the ability to bring up our children to show kindness, to be accepting rather than judgmental of the differences we see within others and to stand up to the hate that spreads through our communities like a plague.

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As parents who have watched the atrocities of Manchester’s horrific terror attack on innocent children and teenagers; our future generation, we must find the strength to move forward shrouded not in fear but in hope. Hope that we can teach our children to be kind, teach them to love and teach them to except one another. Hate breeds nothing but hate. Let’s teach our children understanding, empathy and acceptance. We may never know the true extent of an individual act of kindness; just how big an impact it could have in driving hate out of our children’s lives, our communities, our world. There have been so many incredible stories of acts of bravery, of generosity and of love which have come from this act of pure evil. Individuals running towards the terror in order to demonstrate that love, that bravery and that compassion. Those people are true heroes and they are driven not by hate or anger but by love and kindness. Let us as parents raise the next generation of heroes not of haters.

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My prayers are with all those affected by the Manchester attack and I have added a link below to a justgiving page for those affected by the attack should you wish to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester

Charlie xx

 

 

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Low Birth Weight Baby: My littlest love

As the arrival of baby number 4 is only weeks away we have been doing the standard get the baby clothes out of the loft for a good wash thing. Like all parents we started looking through the little baby vests and got that pang for how little our baby once was and how quick the time has gone. There are, however, a number of vests and baby grows in our box which aren’t little they are tiny. Because our Archer was really tiny when he was born. He weighed 4 lbs 14. Now Archer wasn’t a prem baby; he was born at full term, I was 39 weeks and a day. Ultimately Arch was healthy, something we are incredibly grateful for but having a low birth weight baby has brought some challenges for us and I wanted to share my experience for others mums who may go through this.

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Archer’s first vest, this was baggy!!

Firstly Archer was kept in hospital for 2 nights to keep an eye on his blood sugar levels; medical staff also insisted on giving him top-up formula feeds after I had feed him. This was difficult because as a family we weren’t really prepared for me and the baby to have to stay in hospital and I felt really guilty leaving my 2 older boys at home. In terms of feeding I knew he was feeding really well from me and I had committed to not letting him go longer than 2 hours without a feed because I wanted to exclusively breastfeed him myself. Yet the medical staff still insisted on the formula top-ups, I ultimately trusted their medical judgement but I didn’t feel that they way this is done is particularly supportive of the mother. A healthcare assistant came and sat on the end of my bed and fed Archer. Now I hold my hands up to being an insanely possessive mother but having a women I didn’t know feeding, cuddling and cooing over my new-born upset me.

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My big boys with one day old Archer in the hospital.

I don’t feel that having a low birth weight has affected Archer, he has developed totally in line with his age; he’s just always been small, on the 9th percentile for growth. The only area we have struggled with slightly is feeding. While he has always fed really well, he has been very sensitive to certain foods and suffered from reflux. While I was breastfeeding him I had to give up a number of foods because he just couldn’t tolerate them, including all spicy foods, cheese and coffee (coffee that was a killer for me exhausted mum of 3!!) Again when we weaned him he loved his food but he would get tummy aches after certain foods and we had to be very aware of what we gave him and try to keep an eye on what upset his little belly. There is of course no way of knowing if this was down to his low birth weight or not.

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My beautiful little baby boy with his Daddy

There are a number of reasons why a baby can have a low birth weight and the 3 main categories were explained to us as being some kind of infection during pregnancy, a health condition in baby or a fault in the placenta. We have never known the reason for Archer being so tiny, both him and me were healthy throughout pregnancy, no infection was ever picked up and they tested my placenta which all came back normal. As a mum of a low birth weight baby there are things I have found difficult. Firstly I had major mum guilt that I hadn’t done my ‘job’ properly in growing our baby. I worried that maybe other people thought I hadn’t eaten properly throughout my pregnancy or done something that had caused this. I do realise now that’s silly and I know none of my friends or family blamed me. Yet as a mum I did feel this sense of my body having failed in a way but the truth is it didn’t. You can do everything you’re meant to and sometimes things don’t go exactly as they should and not even the experts know why.

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Beautiful Boy, tiny but perfect

My advice to other mums who have a low birth weight baby; firstly the chances are there’s nothing you did wrong. Secondly you might not ever get an answer as to why it’s happened, and while this can be frustrating it’s also just life; us humans don’t know everything we forget that sometimes. Thirdly while you may face challenges with your baby because of their low birth weight so do all mums with their babies. These challenges simply vary, all babies are so wonderfully unique and that’s part of motherhood. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard or overwhelming we find things, we stand tall and face them down. There seems to be this unbelievable strength in us mothers when it comes to our children. Don’t forget that all you amazing mamas out there.

Charlie x