Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Busy Half Term!

Isn't it funny how you can start the half term holiday with hardly any fixed plans and then have had an amazingly busy and fun week by the end of it?  That perfectly describes our half term last week.  We had a week that focused very heavily on peripheral issues to adoption in the form of spending time with Kip and also Grandma (Katie's Foster Carer).  It was a week that also involved Pip's first proper haircut (oh he looks so cute!) and his first ever fairground rides. What made it even better was that the children were both beautifully behaved........

.......as much as children are capable of anyway.

Katie's good behaviour was in part due to the arrival of the long desired Elsa Boots from Disney.  Disney finally brought them back into stock and a wonderful person contacted me through my Life with Katie Facebook Page to let me know that we could order them again (thank you Lisa!).  Katie had to collect beads in her pot for good behaviour so that started the week off well as she frantically did everything she could think of to earn those beads, even tidying the playroom.  The boots have barely left her feet since last Tuesday.  I won't let her wear them out as I am ridiculously strict about heels on young children.  That doesn't stop her asking every 5 minutes though!  She was allowed to wear them to a birthday party for a school friend at the weekend however.  I will just say that they are very difficult to team with any outfit.  The picture doesn't do credit to how sparkly they actually are.  I teamed them with a brown sparkly knee length party dress with a pink cardi and light cream tights.  With the addition of a high, side, pony tail Katie was very reminiscent of Cindy Lauper and feeling very cool!

TCM was home for part of the holiday which was lovely.  Having TCM at home means that Katie and I can pop out and do some girly things and TCM gets some quiet time whilst Pip naps in the mornings.  We managed some trips to the park and zoo as a family and also met up with Kip and his step-brother and Dad on two occasions which was wonderful for the children.

Our first date with Kip was at our local bowling alley on the Tuesdays.  Katie has never been bowling before - very remiss of me really, but what can I say?  Life just keeps getting in the way and Pip's naps have impacted heavily on our social life since last May.  I loved how Kip marched up to me for a cuddle on arrival and asked "where's my brother?"  I think it's fair to say that the children are seming quite comfortable and relaxed with each other.  They played and ran around together having a lovely time.  Katie is very much the older sister with the two irritating younger brothers.  She's funny to watch when she's pretending to be grown up in one minute and in the next she's sprinting around with them, bossing them about.  What's good about their ages for Katie and Pip is that they remain the oldest and the youngest with the addition of Kip in the middle.  For Kip though it means he shifts into being the middle brother.  It will be interesting to see how that impacts on him as time passes.  TCM brought Pip along about an hour in to our two games of bowling and we also got to meet Kip's Dad's Fiancee as well which was lovely.  I'm really going to have to think up some names for them on the blog before I start describing people as "Fed's cat's dog's brother's Uncle" or something like that! 

We had a second date on the Thursday morning when Katie and I joined Kip's Dad and the
two boys for a trip to see the new Tinkerbell movie.  I think it's probably fair to say that Kip's Dad and I were more excited about seeing the film than the children were and about the development of the storyline (yes we really have seen all the films!), although they all enjoyed it very much and I had a lovely cuddle with Kip when he sat on my lap.  I'm finding the development of all our relationships very interesting.  I am now spending time with a young man who is young enough to be my son but in an equal, peer-like relationship.  I have no issue with the ages at all as I take everyone I meet at face value but most of my friends are closer in age to me so this is a new dynamic for me when it's not in a work setting.  In my professional life any relationship with younger people had Child Protection concerns and appropriate behaviour very much at the forefront.  It's all going well though and we enjoy spending time together as a newly blended family.  I do want to spend some time talking to Kip's Dad about how Kip and his step-brother are coping with the addition of an older sister and younger brother and if this is bringing up emotions outside of our visits for them.

Our third adoption-related event was joining Grandma and her family as they had a farewell party for one of the foster children who has been living with Grandma since he was 4 days old.  He is now in Reception Year at school.  Over the years his special needs have become more complex and have impacted heavily on the possibility of finding a permanent adoptive family.  It's fair to say he's a young man who needs a lot of watching because his escapology ability knows no limits and this makes it very difficult for Grandma who also has 3 other foster children to care for.  He is moving to a specialist foster carer. Sadly the new FC lives quite a distance away so keeping in contact will be more challenging.  I know this is hard for Grandma.  We had a lovely farewell though at Adventure Wonderland near Bournemouth with soft play, lunch and the chance to go on the rides.  We also had some dry weather for the day which was brilliant, although it was very cold and muddy.  The children had a wonderful time, running around without a care in the world.  I took Pip on his first ever fairground rides although my motion sickness impacted heavily on the enjoyability of this and I embarrassingly felt really sick half way through the children's ladybird ride so the occasion wasn't quite as momentous as I would have otherwise liked, well not momentous for the right reasons anyway! 

It was lovely for Katie to be included in what was actually a family event.  We will miss the little man when we visit Grandma.  I have known him from the day I met Katie and the house won't be the same without him when we visit.  We do wish him a very happy and healthy life and hope that this move to a new family enables him to develop and grow into a lovely young man with every opportunity available to him. 

So all in all, a lovely half term.  I'm just putting the finishing touches to this post however listening to Katie arguing with Daddy over the fact that she wants to go to soft play after school today and how unfair it is that I went with Pip and our nephew yesterday...... she was a right old grump after school yesterday.

Back to normal then?



Monday, 17 February 2014

Butterflies.....

Nana has Alzheimer's Disease and we can see it progressively getting worse.  Her memory is now very short term (probably less than 10 minutes on some days).  Because we have a young family and Nana and Pops live about 10 miles away, we can't pop in easily to see them.  10 miles isn't really that far but, when you have a baby who still naps and a school run either end of the day plus tired and grumpy children after 4pm, it makes it hard to visit during the week.  It's an understatement to also say that their house isn't really suitable for a young toddler.

We are now experiencing one of the additional challenges of having a family later in life as life becomes more challenging for Nana and Pops yet our time is limited because of our childcare responsibilities and routines.  Also having adopted children complicates the situation because routine is important for our family's well being.  Pops is Nana's primary carer but his health isn't fantastic either.  He is now 10 years post a double lung transplant and his recent hospitalisation for heart failure has left him weaker then he was before.  He admitted to us that he was finding it difficult to cope now so some action is required.

The disease is stripping away Nana's personality as well as her memory.  Nana has always had an edge to her personality but she was able to monitor what she said (mostly).  That has now been eradicated and Nana is often very similar to Katie from the perspective of emotional development and literacy.  It's incredibly sad to see this happening and also incredibly difficult to manage because she is now very child-like.  What's making the situation harder from our perspective is that Nana seems to focus all her negative behaviour on Katie.

Katie is a child who finds it hard to accept our authority at times.  She is strong willed and wants to do what she wants to do.  A fairly typical 6 year old in many ways but there is a bit more to it with Katie I think.  At this age they are pushing every boundary they can find and challenging the authority of their parents in mostly obvious and unimaginative ways like shouting and refusing to do what they've been asked.  Add to this the fact that Katie finds it hard to sit still for long and isn't that fussed about eating.  Imagine our dinner table at meals times with that information in mind.  It's been a challenge, it's fair to say.  Nana can no longer understand how we manage Katie at the table so spends an entire meal when we get together glaring at Katie saying things like....

"Can't you sit still"
"Will you just eat your dinner"
"Oh for goodness sake"
"Oh I'm going home if you can't behave"

These are fair points in the general sense.  Nana comes from a generation where children were seen and not heard and it must be strange for her to see us seemingly ignoring unacceptable behaviour.  I often feel the same about Katie's behaviour at meal times but we have a strategy in place that works for us however Nana forgets that she's said these things and repeats them over and over again.  It's incredibly stressful and I'm strung as tightly as an elastic band by the time Nana goes home.

Katie responds to these comments with defiance.  It makes her behaviour worse.  She doesn't like being told off by Nana so intensifies what she's doing and will answer back.  This obviously exacerbates the situation.  I feel my stress levels rising because I'm not going to allow Katie to feel bullied in her own home but if I say anything to Nana a) it's a moot point because she'll forget in 5 minutes and say it again and b) she's likely to stomp off and put her coat on to go home.  I do intervene though if I think things are going too far, which generally makes me public enemy No 1! 

We've tried rearranging the seating so that Nana isn't in Katie's line of vision during mealtime but I do think Katie tries to goad her a little so that hasn't really worked either.  She'll mess about and climb up and down her chair and generally do everything she can to gain attention.  A sensible person might say to avoid having meals together but there is also Pops to consider.  Why should he have to miss out on one of our wonderful meals too?  That feels very unfair to him.  What makes the situation even worse is that Nana idolises Pip and he can do no wrong.  One thing I did try with some success this weekend was to ignore the fact that Nana put her coat on.  We just carried on as if nothing had happened - a bit like we do with Katie when turning our back and ignoring unacceptable behaviour.  Eventually (and sadly) she forgot why she was wearing her coat and took it off again and re-engaged with us. This happened twice more but it did seem to work and I think we'll try this again on the next visit.

A difficult incident happened recently on Nana's birthday when me and the children went to visit with a present and birthday cake.  Whilst we were there Katie was playing with one of those collapsible toy donkeys. Nana said that Katie could keep the donkey so Katie was really happy and excited.  About 15 minutes later as we were getting ready to leave Katie went to pick up the donkey to take home and Nana virtually accused her of stealing it.  Katie was totally confused and upset.  When it became clear that Nana wasn't going to allow Katie to take the donkey I delicately tried to intervene and explained to Nana that she had said that Katie could keep the donkey a short while earlier.  Nana then got really cross and turned her back and refused to speak to anyone.  We had to leave minus the donkey (although Pops has since brought the donkey over to Katie hidden in a bag of sweets, bless him).

I've been trying to explain to Katie about Alzheimer's Disease.  It's hard to help her really understand it though.  She just sees that Nana is being mean to her and that she feels hurt and upset.  I obviously want to protect Katie from feelings of being rejected.  I feel she's going to potentially have enough of those feelings to overcome as she gets older depending on how she feels about being adopted as time goes by.  I downloaded a book called Grandma Rose: A story for children about Alzheimer's by Jocelyne Pouliot and read it with Katie.  It is a simple book that explains Alzheimer's impact on the brain behind the forehead that effects personality and memory and compares this gradual decline like a rose petal slowly losing its petals.  It's emotional and I had to read it alone and have a good cry in the bathroom before feeling able to read it to Katie without crying again.

We've also played memory games to try and empathise with Nana.  I tell Katie something I am wearing and she has to remember what I said when I ask her the question "What am I wearing?" later in the day.  I explain to her that Nana wouldn't be able to play this game because she wouldn't remember what I was wearing.

At bedtime after reading the book Katie said to me that she doesn't understand Alzheimer's and could I explain it again please.  I thought for a moment and said that I think that our memory is a bit like a butterfly that lands on our head.  We are able to hold onto the memory of the butterfly but for Nana the butterfly flies away taking the memory with it.  Katie liked this analogy and it seems to have helped her a understand it all a little better.

Alzheimer's is a sad and cruel and debilitating disease. It's painful to watch the person you know slowly being eroded.  It's horrible to watch the memories fade and be unable to help.  Nana still knows who we are at the moment but that will change.  The hard thing is that Nana doesn't realise that she is unwell because she doesn't remember when you tell her what has happened to her.  I've explained about Alzheimer's to her on several occasions and tried to empathise with how scary it must feel but the conversation flits away as soon as we've had it.  Pops is now finding caring for Nana more challenging and it must be awful to be on the receiving end of constantly difficult and challenging behaviour particularly when you aren't well yourself.  It must be awful to watch your marriage disintegrating at a time in your life when companionship means everything.  I feel sad for TCM who has realised he will never have his mother back as she was again and I think it will be a slow mourning process for him.  Unfortuntately we cannot have Nana to live with us with the children around.  I think it would be too damaging for everyone so we are looking at care arrangements (made more difficult because Pops cancelled the nurses I had going into Nana when he was in hospital!) to help out at home.  The GP has been brilliant and are taking our concerns seriously.  I have asked for a medicines review to assess the level of morphine she is taking for osteoarthritis with a painful curvature of the spine.  The morphine exacerbates her confusion unfortunately so a balance of her medication is vital.  This review has been undertaken and her morphine doseage reduced.  I am also going to contact the Alzheimer's Society to see what information and support they are able to offer our family to help maintain Nana's life and dignity for as long as we are able to but there's an inevitability as to how long Nana will be able to remain at home.  

I would be very grateful for any tips and advice from any readers who have experienced this illness within their own family.  Please comment below or contact me via email at threebecomefour@gmail.com. 




Thursday, 13 February 2014

Mother Issues.....

I referred in Ups and Downs and New Additions to the impact a recent, really helpful, comment here on the blog had on me regarding my expectations of Katie's behaviour. I thought I would spend a few moments writing a bit more about what I was thinking.  As these things generally do, it relates back to my own childhood.

My mother was very strict and controlling and often quite aggressive. Incredibly so.  There is a lot about my childhood that I would rather forget. These issues may have been hashed over in therapy but they carry a legacy.  In fact most people who become parents either try to emulate their parents or parent in the completely opposite way.  I'd hoped I was aiming for the latter.  In many ways I have achieved this aim and left behind many of the residual issues but I've realised recently that there is still work to be done.

I think part of the problem lies with the fact that having a very controlled childhood has left me wanting to control the things that I can control (IYKWIM?).  However much of my adult life has taught me that the universe lives in chaos and that life is much the same.  I have spent a long time learning to accept that chaos is a natural state, but I unintentionally fight it with all of my being (despite lots of yoga). I yearn to be a leaf on the wind, just bobbing and gliding where the breeze takes me.  I'm more like a falling apple with gravity throwing me onto the earth!  As a result I spend my life saying "No!"

I'm learning though. Being a parent is teaching me a lot about myself and bringing greater understanding about my childhood and the experience I had of being parented. I think my mother's apparent lack of control stemmed from a need to be very much in control. I have realised that my mother probably felt very much the same as I often do with a lot of parenting challenges and didn't have a lot of emotional support around her so felt in a constant state of chaos herself.  If you can't control what happens to you, you can try and control those around you.  I get that now but her extreme methods and constant stream of unpleasant comments to try to control what she wanted me to do led to the breakdown of our relationship about 20 years ago. I feel sad that we never managed to have an adult relationship.  Our relationship broke down when I was finally able to say "No" to my mother.  I reached the point when enough was enough and I had to walk away to preserve my own sanity.  One of the reasons this is on my mind a lot at the moment is that I am now the same age that my mother was when we parted ways.  It brings home to be just how young she was when she had me. I feel it has also given me lots of skills as an adoptive parent.

I have also realised that, as a parent, I have high expectations of behaviour.  Those expectations placed on me as a child have stayed with me throughout my child.  I am always mindful of how my behaviour impacts on others.  I don't think I had really ever sat down and thought about the expectations I had of Katie if I'm honest.  This is the main problem with Katie and myself.  She just isn't able to live up to the expectations I have of her behaviour at the current time.  Katie is a much freer spirit than I am and she likes to push boundaries to their ultimate limit.  I suspect part of this need is inbuilt in her character and part of it may related to being adopted. 

Katie also doesn't like being told "No".  Dramatically so.  Actually nobody likes being
told "No" but we seem to do it an awful lot as parents so I'm trying, very hard, to say "Yes" more.  I'm trying to be more creative with how I say "Yes" though.  It's hard though.  "No" just slips off the tongue with barely a thought. "Yes" requires thought and a game plan.  "Yes" requires you to really think about the question you are being asked.  That's a lot to ask of a frazzled and often distracted mummy brain.  "Yes" requires you to also extrapolate on when the "Yes" will actually happen e.g. "Yes you can have that biscuit after your dinner" rather than "No, you are having dinner in a minute".  With Katie the questions come thick and fast.  She moves from one subject to the next with the ease of an uncluttered and questioning (and highly skilled negotiator) mind.  It takes an awful lot of effort to keep up with her, let alone attempt to be ahead of her.  It is going to take an awful lot of effort to maintain this "Yes" programme.  It seems to be working though.  There is less conflict and I'm trying hard to pick the battles that need to be fought.

After massive meltdowns and arguments in the morning a few months ago which generally resulted in us rushing late to school I have changed my expectations in the mornings but have added a few rules.  Katie has to stay in bed until her clock says 7am (this is working relatively well now); get dressed in the morning before she goes downstairs. She's done brilliantly with this after a difficult start.  She is an early riser and this suits us all really.  She is allowed to watch TV until breakfast time.  This relaxes her and prevents her getting into mischief.  At breakfast time the TV goes off and stays off until teeth are cleaned; hair is put up; cardigan is on and shoes are on feet.  We still rush to school because Pip often does a poo at around 8:40am but mostly we're calmer.  I won't lie and say it's all the time though.

I'm grateful though that I'm now parenting with more awareness of why I am the way I am and the history that brought me to this point.  I am starting to accept that you can't walk away totally from your past.  It is part of the fibre of your being.  It's etched into the memories of your soul.  Accepting that I may be like my mother at times is very hard for me.  I don't want to be like someone who made me so unhappy at times but more than that I don't want to leave the same legacy with my children. I'm glad that I have the ability to be self-reflective although I am aware that I beat myself up a bit too much at times but again that stems from my own experiences and I am learning to accept that about myself. I hope I never stop trying to be a good parent but I also try and forgive myself on the days when I get it totally wrong.

I am so grateful to Maria for her comments on Digging in Deep. I think sometimes someone just phrases something in the right way at the right time and you are able to hear the message clearly for the first time (much to the frustration of everyone else around you who has been telling you the same thing for years!).  I have had a lot of soul searching over the past few weeks but am so glad I did because things are currently a little bit calmer here. Not calm by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely calmer.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Making Contact

Contact has been a big issue just lately in the Katie household.  Not a big issue in the negative sense but just that it's been very much at the forefront of our minds and our lives.

We have all sorts of different contact that we manage.  We have maintained contact with both Foster Carers and we enjoy seeing them but it does mean fitting visits in and ensuring the relationship is working well.  We write contact letters to Katie's Birth Mother; Birth Father and Birth Grandmother every six months.  Once Pip is legally adopted we will add an additional letter in to their Birth Mother about him as well.  In addition to these two contact types we now also have direct contact with Katie and Pip's middle brother (Kip) whom we see roughly once a month although often bump into him and his Dad in our local shopping centre because they live literally around the corner from us now.  It's funny how it all evolves.  We knew that Kip lived nearby but contact proved problematic at first because we initially organised it through Children's Services.  Thankfully that is resolved and we are organising contact directly between ourselves.

Since first meeting Kip's Dad they have moved closer to us (15 minute walk) and there is also the possibility that Katie and Kip will go to the same infants school.  This option has both pros and cons I think.  Positively it means Katie and Kip will spend a year together at the same school which I think will be lovely for them both and will help their relationship develop.  There is a potential complication for them both when people know that they are brother and sister with one being adopted and the other not and what other people will make of that.  I'm not overly bothered by other people but I do want my children to feel that they are in control of information about themselves.  The con for me is around security.  I am not yet ready to enter the realm of a conversation that goes along these lines "Do you want me to pick Katie up from school today?" from Kip's Dad.  He's lovely. I really like him. I enjoy spending time with him and his family and feel 99.9% confident that he would protect our location but he still has contact with their Birth Mother and there is just a little part of me that remains nervous about information being accidentally shared or him looking after the children, which he would be keen to do.  The school isn't his catchment school and a little part of me selfishly hopes there aren't places available to out of catchment pupils this year.  Being at a different school would prevent picking up from school conversations.  There is an obvious sibling link that could be offered but I've not mentioned this whilst I'm so undecided about my feelings.

Contact letters have also been a bit more difficult this time around as well because we didn't receive a contact letter from Katie's Birth Grandmother in October as is usual. She has been writing relatively consistently and I was feeling confident that contact when Katie is older might be a real possibility but suddenly no letter arrived and there is that reminder that consistency is often a reason why family members are unable to have custody of the children.  There are several reasons I can think of as to why the letter hasn't arrived however.  It might have become lost in the mail.  There might be a family event or illness that has impacted on the letter being written.  It might be that the letters are too difficult and emotional for her to write.  I might have inadvertently upset her in my last letter.  It might be that she has decided to stop writing.  The Post Adoption Team might have returned the letter to her.  All of these reasons unfortunately I am, as yet, unaware of.  I have written my 6 monthly letter and asked the question about the missing letter; trying to word the question as gently as I can.  I am so aware of how delicate the contact letters are. I strive hard to write letters that give information but do not seek to rub salt into any wounds.  I enjoy receiving the letters in reply and have hoped that they would build a good picture of Katie's paternal birth family for when she seeks information.

All of these little things are a constant reminder that our family life differs from
many other people's.  It's hard to explain that without sounding churlish or unsupportive of the adoption process.  Anyone reading this blog will know that I strive to be neither of those but I think it's important to be honest about my feelings and there are times when I wish there weren't all these peripheral people in our lives that remind me of experiences my children have had and issues that may or may not arise for them in the future.  I want to protect them from things that will upset them.  As a family we are very accepting and we take all these things in our stride but I also feel a lot of my life in general is full of the needs of other people. Not just the Katie family here at home but in the wider context.  Some days I find it hard to work out how to fit all the different needs in.  It's a real balancing act and I don't always do it with a song in my heart I will admit.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Observations.....

When Pip first moved in I immediately noticed that, although he slept for long periods of time, he was easily disturbed.  Every night I pop into Katie's room and give her a little sleeping kiss good night and tuck her back in whilst she is deep in the land of nod and whisper how much I love her.  I found with Pip however that he would wake up very easily when I went in to check on him.

Fast forward 8 months and I've noticed that Pip now sleeps very soundly.  Very little seems to waken him.  I now am able to go in at night and hold his hand and whisper that I love him and he no longer wakes up.  This has been a gradual change and it occurred to me that he must now be totally relaxed and at home with us.  He is no longer on his guard.  It's a lovely feeling to have and I think it's helpful to share that that process doesn't happen overnight but can take many months.

During his awake hours Pip is an incredibly happy and smiley baby who is very content to play with me or amuse himself.  He appears quite resourceful and is curious about everything.  He wants to see inside every cupboard and drawer and feel and explore his world.  He is hilarious now he's walking and rushes about like a little Zombie.  TCM calls him Odd Bod!  I'm currently learning all about testosterone surges as it seems that Pip has had his first surge.  He is into knocking everything over and pushing the chairs about the house and throwing everything.  If he could beat his chest in a Tarzan-esque fashion I think he would!  He misses me noticeably when I'm not with him, and this has been my concern with our current medical crisis going on with Nana and Pops.  He is coping well with TCM though which is a relief but the excitement when I return is very noticeable and gives me a little rush of love every time.  He rushes over with a huge smile on his face and his arms outstretched for a cuddle as soon as I walk in the door.  It's good to see how well he has bonded with me though and I with him.

In fact it's wonderful to see how well he has settled in generally.  Having a baby does not necessarily mean that this will happen and some babies have noticeable attachment difficulties as well as older children.  Both Katie and Pip have coped amazingly well with the move to us and both have attached well to us.  Katie remembers more because she was 2 when she moved in and this has led to her asking lots of questions but she shows no signs of attachment difficulties.

I love having both a boy and a girl.  I was never bothered about the whole "one of each" thing that people seem to feel everyone should want (and I've had many comments about since Pip joined us) but I'm enjoying the differences between them and I like that each can be my "special boy" and "special girl".  We originally set out to adopt another girl because we thought that might be better for Katie but Pip is just perfect for our little family.  It's funny how the universe turns.  I'm definitely finding Pip more straightforward than Katie which is actually rather nice because I'd definitely say that Katie currently challenges me far more on a daily basis.  I know that historically a lot of adopters prefer to adopt a girl but I can definitely say that Boy's Rock so don't be put off adopting a boy.  I know some totally gorgeous adopted boys who are regular boys and present with no more difficulties than the adopted girls I know. 


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Curveball!

You know how life seems to wait until you make a claim that your ducks are in a row and you're feeling more organised to throw you a curveball?  Well that's exactly what has happened this week.

Saturday night I received a call from my Father-in-Law (Pops) to say that he was being taken into hospital because he was having chest pains.  The call came just as I'd finished dinner and was about to start on my second glass of Prosecco.  Thankfully I hadn't drunk it as an immediate dash to the hospital was required.  TCM was ahead of me on the wine so I was the only one able to drive so TCM stayed home to babysit.

I found Pops in A&E, very poorly, with a diagnosis of heart failure as a result of fluid on his lungs.  Pops is a bit of a trooper as he underwent a double lung transplant nearly 10 years ago.  It was a mammoth operation and he has managed amazingly well ever since, especially for a man now in his 70s.  Fluid on his lungs is worrying though.  I stayed with him whilst he was stabilised and taken (with full Resuscitation kit) up to the Coronary High Dependency Ward.  I waited until he was settled in and went home at around 1am.


With Pops in hospital, there is an added complication in that he is the main carer for my Mother-in-Law (Nana) who has Alzheimer's Disease and a curvature of the spine brought about by Osteoarthritis.  She requires medication several times a day and is very confused about everything that has happened.  We live about 10 miles away from Nana and Pops so it's a 40 minute round trip, depending on the motorway traffic.  I have spent the past few days sorting out all her medications and organising for Social Services to send in a nursing team to help out with the medications and making sure she is OK.

Unfortunately because Nana and Pops take their medications independently from individual packs the nursing team are unable to administer the medications so I have sorted out a scheme called NOMAD whereby the Pharmacist organises all the medications into a blister pack for each day.  The nurses are able to enable Nana to take the tablets once this is in place.  That has now been collected and the nurses will take over her medication from me today.  The past few days has seen me jumping in and out of the car visiting Nana several times a day and also organising things for Pops.  Thankfully
TCM has managed to do some working from home because I cannot take Pip to the hospital due to infection risk.  It's also difficult to take him to Nana's because there is a lot of stuff about and I can't watch him and sort other things out at the same time unless I leave him strapped into his buggy, not to mention I have to lug said buggy up and down 10 steps to get in and out of the house.  I also have a pretty bad back at the moment so it's not ideal for me.


The good news is that Pops is able to get out of bed to sit in a chair, although he is still wearing his yucky hospital gown despite me taking PJs to the hospital for him. I'm hoping that once he is out of ICU we can sort this out. He currently has so many tubes attached to him that I think it would require an action plan to work out how to get his PJs on.  We're waiting for a bed in HDU so he can move back there but, hospitals are notorious for traffic jams (I'm talking the beds here don't even get me started on the parking situation!) so who knows how long he'll be stuck in ICU.


Today has seen me having a long chat with the Doctor who is part of the nursing team to look at longer term care for both Nana and Pops.  This assessment is long overdue and I've been asking Pops for months to allow me to contact Social Services to make a referral.  It's a shame it takes a crisis to enable these things to happen.

I reflected on Monday that it was supposed to have been our celebration for Pip finally being legally a part of our family.  Had the case been heard on Monday there would have been no celebration because I was running around sorting things out.  I have wondered whether there is a puppet master pulling all the strings who realised that it wasn't a good day for a celebration. Who knows but it is interesting timing.

One thing that worries me longer term is the impact my absences will have on the children. Pip has been unsettled because he's used to me being around and Katie has certainly been struggling this week.  Their world revolves around Mummy being at home and I don't want to upset the apple cart when we've finally started to gel and settle as a family.  I've stayed home today and let the nursing staff do their job and I'll visit Nana and Pops at tea time and hopefully make it home for bedtime.  Pip and I have been to soft play to spend some fun time together.

As for me, well I will admit that I'm pretty tired. It's tough jumping into someone else's life and effectively making decisions for them which are mostly not wanted.  Nana is unable to understand why she needs help because she doesn't realise she has Alzheimer's.  This makes her anxious and incredibly *picks word carefully* tetchy (to say the least).  I've born the brunt of that this week.  I can live with that because I don't take it personally but it's stressful managing someone else's behaviour.  I have enough of that to do at home with Katie and Pip and I only have so much energy.  I don't want to whinge or not help out but I also don't want to end up burnt out when I've only just got myself back on an even keel.  I'm having an internal battle regarding the word "selfish" at the moment.

I'm hoping that we will establish a routine, even if it is short-term, and life will settle around that, for a while at least, so everyone knows what will happen next.  Hopefully Pops will be well again soon and we can bring him home with an added layer of nursing care to help ease the pressure on him.