About Me

This blog is about me and my voyage to becoming a mummy. Ironically called “mummy in the baking” as together with my passion and obsession for all things cake related, I will never be able to have my own "bun in the oven." Years of fertility treatment have taken their toll and I now find myself on a new..eek, i hate this word...journey! The crazy train to adoption. I hope you will join me while I bake my way to becoming a mummy. I want this blog to be a source of information as well as a comforter. I hope it will inspire and help anyone who is considering adoption or who has in fact already bought their ticket for this..here I go again...journey. Cake makes me happy and I hope you will enjoy sharing my love of it. I want it to help lift your spirits and hearts through what can only be described as 'the trials and tribulations of the adoption process.' Along with my desire to be a family, I love my dogs, have an unhealthy love of sausages and chenin blanc, adore my land rover uber-nerd of a husband and continiously dream of balmy summer evenings. Baking in progress…..

Monday, 1 August 2016

Testing, testing....

And so the tests continue. Despite the amount of food LBM can put away, he is just not growing. So where does it go? Ok, he poos more than me and the dog collectively but why is he just not growing? At first it didn't bother me, as both birth parents are fairly short. But now at nearly 4 years old, he is noticeably still in 12 month clothing.  He is falling behind in swimming and sports, as he simply just cannot run or kick as fast as the other kids with longer legs. Something is just not quite right and we feel we need to succumb to more tests, as there is no chance they make school uniforms for 1 year olds.

All symptoms point to Prader Willi Syndrome. Hey, who doesn't want a Prada Willy (!) but actually it's a genetic condition of children with short stature who never feel full and are constantly hungry. Something which has been on my mind right from the start but was perhaps just too fearful to explore. And so yet another set of tests are scheduled.

The doctors and nurses are amazing and he is a little champion throughout the blood tests and examinations. He is prodded and poked and poked and prodded and we wait weeks for the results. The PW tests come back negative. I have mixed feelings about this. In some respects, I am thrilled and relieved. But on the other hand, I worry what it really could be. There is talk of further tests and the introduction of growth hormones which frightens me. I suppose it's the unknown. I don't want my little boy injected with stuff. In addition, they have found a significant heart murmur and so there more tests are on the horizon. I need time. Time to google process this and luckily with the public healthcare system, we do get time. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The F word.....

Miss Delia finally drops his Life Story book off and while he keeps himself at a safe distance, she asks how things are going on the food front. I'm honest and upfront with her and decide to tell her the truth. It is still a major stress and a daily battle but things are slowly improving. We have come so very far and I have to keep reminding myself of that. So I try and look for the positives:

He will now leave the table during meal times to use the toilet (rather than simply pee on the ever hopeful dog lurking under the table for the scraps. Scraps, which incidentally never materialise.
He will now wait in a restaurant for his food to arrive without screaming.
He  will now put his hands or fork down (albeit only for a nano second) in between mouthfuls.

But there are still a number of hills to climb:
Like allowing me to leave the kitchen while cooking supper. Lord help me if I leave the room or heck, even dare to sit down.
Like knowing when to stop eating and drinking. He honestly has no 'full button.' Mealtimes last no longer than 5 min.  It is a stress for me and something I have found very little support for. Every other mum I know has the opposite problem. Wishing their kids would be like LBM and just "hurry up and eat everything on their plate!" Of course I want him to eat. Just not all the time. And not at that speed.  I have tried continuously providing mountains of food to perhaps take away the novelty factor. Let's just say it didn't end well. Perhaps I should have persevered but I honestly just could not sit back and witness it. It was frightening.

I so don't want to make a big issue of food and always try and remain as calm as possible, whatever the situation.  I come from a very sociable family who love food and the joy of meal times. Sadly now, parties and buffets are my nemesis and take a varying degree of anxiety management. He gets extremely anxious around mealtimes and it's a long ongoing battle to try and calm him.

We try and cook together so he can start to understand that food takes time and love to prepare. This does help somewhat and if anything, I really hope we have the next MasterChef champion here. 

He is unbelievably motivated and comforted by food. Food makes him feel safe. But we are battling on and just having to go with our gut instincts. We have come such a long way and I am so very proud of him. There really is just no support out there. Well, perhaps there is. And I just haven't found it.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Go with the flow.....

Need I state the obvious? It's been ages since I last wrote. Why is it that sometimes in my little world the words flow faster than a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and other times I look at this blog and feel fear. I guess it's an underlying worry of not being good enough or my words not coming out right. But I have to remember why I started this blog in the first place. These words only need to be right for me and LBM. This is our story. And if it helps others along the way, then hurrah, that's a bonus.

Our holiday feels a lifetime away. LBM's speech has come on leaps and bounds since we got back. They always say holidays spark a developmental spurt...hey, any excuse to book my next ticket now!  Not only are there real words, there are a couple of real sentences. "More cake please mummy" of course being his favourite. However, as he was helping me put my jeans on the other day, he quite blatantly said, "Ooh tight Mummy" I can honestly say I nearly decked him! We are continuing with the speech therapy for a little longer,  even if it does regularly empty the bank account. Incidentally he is still on the waiting list for the NHS funded therapy and has been since October last year. I am so pleased we decided to go private, as it is certainly helping. If anything, it helps LRUN and I with advice on how to help him and that's a big plus. Sure You-tube could teach me too but this feels right and he loves his therapist, which helps with his confidence and social anxieties, which I'm afraid are still lurking.

Spring time found me drafting the first contact letter to Tummy Mummy. A strange concept and a difficult one to get your head around. On the one hand I want to gloat and tell her how amazing he is but I wonder if this is appropriate. I come to the decision that no matter what I write, it will be difficult for her to process, so I simply tell the truth. I talk about his developmental delay and the challenges it presents. LRUN questions why I tell her but I feel she needs to know.  At the same time, I talk about the good stuff. He is in a big boy bed now and is also in the midst of potty training (Feck! No-one warned me how stressful this potty training is. Trips to the supermarket now find me nervously pushing all the shopping in trolley to the back, creating a void beneath all his orifices whilst simultaneously calculating the number of steps to the nearest loo! Poo did you say? You need a poo? No, just a pop-pop?? Thank feck for that. And breathe....!) I tell her he loves nursery, enjoys a good chatter and is obsessed with cake. I have to read and re-read to ensure I don't give away any tell tale details of location. She lives so close and according to the book of faces (yes, yes, I still stalk her..hangs head in shame) now works in my favourite take-away joint. Well, that should at least help with my impending 'tight jeans situation!' We sign the letter with our names rather than mummy and daddy and drop it in the post box. As of today, we are sadly still awaiting a reply. This is so hard, I really want her to reply as I feel LBM deserves it but then is it more because I don't want to have to have the conversation with him one day of explaining why she never replies? This is tough folks.

Despite the tight jeans, (can you tell yet I am truly panicking?) I am in search of a summer cake. Strawberries and cream are sooooo last year. Is there such a thing as a Pimms cake, I wonder?  Oh my word,  google tells me there is! Pop-pop? No, that's just my jeans button......

Monday, 30 March 2015

Unpacking with long faces.....

And so we face another twelve hours in the air. I am desperately trying to stay relaxed and focused. LRUN is wandering around with multiple muslins hanging out of his pockets, flinching every time LBM even coughs. I have squeezed every change of clothing possible into our hand luggage as well as a roll or two of paper towel.

The flight is a dream. While a neighbouring child is throwing a tantrum in the aisle on take off, we are sitting calmly in our seats, all buckled up and doing airport sticker book number one.
LBM eventually goes to sleep and sleeps for several hours. Although I can't face eating, I actually get some sleep, albeit with one eye open on him. Even the landing is a success. Not a tear, not a whimper, not a dribble of vomit. Just pure excitement. An elderly couple in the next aisle lean over to tell me what an angel child we have. How impressed they are with him. The air stewardess joins in and says the same. I tell her about her our flight over. She says she hopes this doesn't sound rude but is so very glad she was not on duty!

Back home and although sad, I am feeling cake inspired. Move over red velvet cake.....Purple Velvet Cake is all the rage in Africa. I can't wait to try it.  I honestly don't think our dogs are happy to see us. They have had two weeks of toddler free bliss. LBM is a bit lost and keeps wanting to go outside. It's five degrees! He is babbling and signing about everyone from the holiday and I have to explain that they live in Africa and we live here. He is wearing the cutest top he got as a gift with a picture of Africa on it in a heart and we point to it and list all the people that live there but are still with him in his heart.  He shouts 'airpane' and then 'bleurgh.'

Sunday, 29 March 2015

An African Summer......

LBM wakes up after an hour and we manage to change him into some clean clothes. I still can't find those plastic bags. How many nappy bags does it take to stash changes of clothes and blankets in. Many, I tell you. Many. LRUN is looking anxious. In fact he has built a wall out of blankets around himself to shield from the spew. LBM goes back to sleep. We order drinks but I cannot bring myself to eat anything. Perhaps it's just the smell of fermenting cheese and cucumber sandwiches but I am feeling queasy. I can't sleep as every few minutes I check that LBM is ok. He is in a deep slumber. He wakes up at breakfast time and is looking slightly more perky. A little more colour other than green in his cheeks too. He nibbles on a roll but is very thirsty and just wants water. Lesson learnt here. Always ration the water. Just as we are landing, he blows again. And so we are down to his last change of clothes in the arrivals hall. Gramps is so over the moon and overwhelmed with emotion to finally meet his first grandson that he happily accepts the fact that we all stink of spew.

I am so happy to be home. It's sunny and warm. We are surrounded by family, friends, incredible food (Oumi is an amazing cook) and tons of fabulous wine. And let's not forget the cake. In the corner of our garden is my step sister's cake emporium. Here she rustles up wedding and celebration cakes on a daily basis with exceptional grace and skill. What better way to spend the day, swimming in the pool with delicious smells floating above. It's not long before LBM discovers this world of cake. He is not keen on swimming and we try and bribe *hangs head in shame* him with a biscuit if he gets in the pool. He does so reluctantly but it's purely to get the biscuit and I can see he really doesn't want to. The next time I try, he sighs and wanders off. Returning with the biggest piece of chocolate cake ever. I can just see his thought process here. Why swim for a lousy biscuit, when cake lady at the bottom of the garden gives me mountains of cake for...well....just being me. Too right.

We had an amazing holiday. It felt so good to be outside all the time. LBM had a blast and coped really well all things considering. He bonded well in time with everyone. Doing a photo book beforehand with photos of everyone and the dogs really helped. I was a bit apprehensive at first as this is what he got when we were being introduced as his new family. So I was bit mindful as to how this would pan out. But I kept re-iterating who they were and that they were friends and family and it worked a treat. Everyone was so impressed with his signing and how we had managed to establish a form of communication with him over the last year. Gramps and Oumi soon learned the signs for cheese and cake. I had some very special time with my sister. I think LBM really absorbed my love for her as he bonded with her big time. Saying goodbye was very hard and I had to hold back the tears in front of LBM. I will always be a child of Africa and it's where my heart belongs.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Up...up...and away

I don't think I've ever been this organised for a holiday. The spare room looks like a section of baggage control at Heathrow. Everything is packed and stacked. Ready. I even high five myself for having thought of packing a few supermarket bags in case we get a bad nappy leak and need to stash some dirty clothes somewhere convenient. We have covered every possible issue, especially  LBM's anxiety. For weeks we have been reading books on airports and spent hours looking at photos of Gramps and Oumi and their dogs, the house and the pool and even pictures of the inside of aeroplanes. I think we literally have bought the entire stock of sticker books from the Range. Relaxed parents, relaxed child is our motto and it is certainly working. LBM is in a smashing mood and everything is running like clockwork. Twelve hours on an overnight flight to Africa. What could possibly wrong?

LRUN is feeling pretty smug, that we now get priority boarding. You know the scenario....hundreds of impatient tourists queueing in an "orderly" manner, all fighting to get on board first. And then 'ding', they call the parents with children first and everyone huffs and puffs and shuffles out the way as a bunch of buggy laden parents scutter forward looking holier than thou. However, in our case,  we seem to have just got ushered into a corner where they announced the flight would now be delayed while they fix some seats. So here we are, all seven families squashed into a corner with increasingly tired and irritated toddlers. Apart from LBM...he is still in the best of spirits, running about in his jim-jams, shouting "airpane" on top of his voice. Until.....my friends, until.....he then projectile vomits all over LRUN and most of the families in this now 'not so priority' corner. And then...again.

I grab him and dash off to the toilets, by-passing the stewardesses shouting " I hope you have your boarding pass" to which I shout "yes" but to be honest, that was about all I had. I look in my perfectly packed handbag, which contains absolutely nothing useful for a vomit festival. Back in the priority corner of love, I find LRUN alone mopping up vomit with a bunch of baby wipes lent to him by thoughtful fellow parents. Priority boarding has already commenced and as the last family left, we are directed into a lift. After a few minutes, I fear this lift is not moving. Nervously I press those all too familiar double arrows to open the door and yup, there we are, still in fricking priority corner. Witnessing all the other now smug looking passengers boarding. And so we board in amongst them with a vomit covered husband and stressed out toddler. We find our seats, which is about all I can find. Where the hell are those bloody plastic bags I packed?? LBM is looking pretty green and just as we start travelling down the runway, he blows again. Big time. I jump up to grab some paper towel from the kitchen station. Paper towel? Paper fricking towel? Why didn't I pack that? The stewardess sternly yells at me to sit down. Until she sees the sea of vomit.  She brings us blankets to cover the seats and ourselves and insist he sits in his own seat. By this point LBM is a mess. Both physically and emotionally. He falls asleep in his cocoon of spew and I look over to the dear old lady in the next aisle. She is looking at us pitifully. I have to laugh. I did not, I repeat....I did not factor this into the equation.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A time for thoughts......

A friend who has recently been approved as an adoptive parent (you know who you are Mrs Any Excuse for Bubbles) asked what was the biggest shock and adjustment when adopting and it got me thinking. While trying to be encouraging but at the same respecting her need for honesty, these are my thoughts:

a) Going from zero to hero in one day. Literally being handed a moving little person who is already past their first birthday and is well on the way to toddler-hood and who you are now totally responsible for. And let's not forget, a toddler that is heavily grieving for the loss of his foster carers. I didn't get to experience the early development of the birth child who alternates between crying and feeding and if you're lucky, some sleep. Add into the mix, I didn't have a clue what I was doing half the time. Sure, we did loads of prep on our adoption course but it was all emotional stuff. A far cry from your average ante-natal class. What's the normal amount to feed a toddler? How much milk should they drink and what type? Is that a normal poo? The first nappy I ever changed was during introductions. Shock horror.

b) Parenting a child who is nothing like you or your partner in personality. We are strong, confident, happy, creative and sociable people. To be matched with what turned out to be a shy and socially anxious little boy made for very hard times. I have always struggled to understand shy people and found this the hardest. I would welcome friends into my home with open arms and by the time I had boiled the kettle and gone to cut a wedge of cake, I would find my child hiding in a corner. So when in tough times, you need all the support you can get in terms of friends and social activities and groups, it turns out,  this very concept is what unsettles your little one. It can be very lonely. Make sure you have friends who will always be at the end of a text/email/phone for you. Mrs AAA I could not have done this without you. Hugs xx

c) Books versus instinct. I love books and the house is literally filled with them. I have read a zillion parenting books (to be fair, there was a ridiculous amount of time to kill just waiting during the 2 year adoption process!) but half the time, they really are not written for my little boy. "Read your child, not the books" is my motto. Saying that, my guilty secret is I still read them. Knowledge is power.

d) Finding your groove. I love all things creative. LBM not so much. Having to take that creativity and box it up and put it on a shelf for later is very hard. It's like removing part of your personality. I can honestly say I am not the same person. I had to find a new groove. One that worked for both of us. My husband and I love swimming. I can spend hours floating on a dam in the wild. LBM is terrified of water. I'll let you think about that for a while.

e) The jar of love. My jar of love was pretty full. There was my husband, my dogs, my family, my very special friends and let's not forget my love of cake. I now had to make room for a new person. I didn't know this person at all but yet was expected to squeeze him into this jar immediately. Let's just say we left the lid open for a while. But he now fits snuggly in there. Snug as a star in a jar.
f) Parenting after infertility: There is this hidden guilt amongst new mums. No-one likes to moan. I see it amongst my friends all with their own birth children. They've had a rough couple of days but when asked how things are going, they muster up a smile and say all is well but I can see them fighting back the tears. It's tough. Its really tough but we daren't moan amount it. The guilt is monumental. And believe me, this guilt amongst adoptive mums is even stronger. We have wanted this for so long, and everybody knows that, we daren't whinge at all about the monkey who was refusing point blank to get in the car yesterday when you were already running late for an appointment thanks to the last minute unexpected nappy change. The same monkey who screamed the place down in the supermarket because....well just because.

g) Being assessed, grilled, prodded and poked by what feels like every social worker that ever existed and then finally approved as an prospective adoptive parent and then realising that sometimes, you really suck at it. That!

Monday, 2 February 2015

And breathe.....

And so the winter solstice has past and the new year awakens. Its back to routine. Back to work and nursery schedules. LBM is confused by the break and struggles to settle in again. There are tears...many many tears....but we are assured that 10 min in, he is calm and and back in the zone. I ask them if he 'plays' at nursery and they admit to me they have been talking about this for a while. In essence, he doesn't. He just kind of wanders from activity to activity. I know every child is different and they all learn in different ways but LBM is just not your average toddler. He would much rather feed the dog, sort the laundry, unload the dishwasher or play card games than simply play. Every book I read relinquishes in the amazing fact that you don't have to show children how to play, it's a wonderful trait that 'just comes naturally.'  Errrr...really?

LRUN and I have put in a lot of time and effort literally showing LBM just how to play. To let his imagination take over and to just explore. Rolling cars and tractors around the floor, building towers, jumping off sofas, drawing pictures on a sketchy etc. Why you ask? Surely any help with housework is a bonus. Well, although the pediatricians say this 'mimicry of housework' is a form of play, I had to stress he was not 'mimicking' in an imaginative way. He is literally pushing me out the way and doing the actual tasks himself. When we visit friends and family, I fear he will want to unpack their shopping for them and then sort through Grandad's pants! But the hours are paying off and I can see tiny improvements. The joy I get when I see him pick up a car and push it along, is immense. Even if it is over my leg and onto my head!

We are off to visit my family next month and this my friends involves an 11 hour flight. "You'll be fine" everyone says. Just let him watch movies and take loads of toys to play with. Umm..he doesn't like TV or toys. "Oh dear" is all they all say, whilst giving me that 'look' of "Geesh, good luck with that!" This may well be the longest 11 hours of my life. LRUN is suggesting we have a practice run. Now, practice to run to me means booking a short break somewhere warm and sunny and trying out the flight and holiday experience. Well, what LRUN actually had in mind was me sitting still for 11 hours on the sofa with LBM strapped in next to me  with the other sofa pushed up in front us. You know...to mimic the aeroplane experience. Tempting, I thought...especially if I could get LRUN to be our stewardess and demand he whipped up a batch of this Salted Caramel Frosting and we could literally eat it by the spoonful when things get tough.