Saturday, 5 October 2013

Week 8 - Challenges Contine by Sophie

This week has been fairly hectic and passed in a blur - a bit like the corresponding week of my pregnancy this time last year. The vomiting at night was getting worse and if anybody else suggested ginger - which by now was making me feel sick - I thought I might die. Odd things that I once loved I could not face being around, the smell of fresh laundry drying in the house would have me running to the toilet. Coffee and chocolate would have me retching. So, ironing as I am today, our house is full of washing drying created by Merryn and her constant changes of clothing and the smell of baking chocolate cake for the Nine Months Of challenge!

The continual feeling of nausea and the insomnia it was causing was leaving me feeling pretty empty inside and probably why I can't really remember much about it!

This week due to the hectic week and Merryn being unsettled we stuck to brownies, our tried and tested recipe, and sold them at a mum and baby group. There are some weeks where the oldies, the goodies and the combination of chocolate, butter and sugar are hard to beat! If anyone has ideas for bakes for selling they would be greatly appreciated!

Brighter times...makes it all worth it x

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Friday, 4 October 2013

Small steps by Marilisa

I've spent the last couple of weeks feeling a bit under the weather and too exhausted to do much, and am only just starting to pick up on my training again. I did manage to set an early alarm and go for a short morning walk - I'll need to do more of this as it's such a lovely time of day (not one I see very often, I'll admit). Especially at this time of year, with a little cool breeze, it just cleared my mind for the day ahead. And I only bumped into one of my son's nursery staff while out in my tatty, disreputable tracksuit bottoms, so it's all good.

Oh... so that's what this time of day looks like!

My feet did take me past another interesting place, in spite of not having covered many miles. I was in the hospital that treated me for HG (and where I eventually had my son) for an appointment this week. Without really noticing quite where I was going, I suddenly found myself standing outside a little courtyard with a garden - and froze when I realised it was the garden I could see from the window of the room I was in the first time I was admitted for dehydration. It was the first time I'd been admitted to hospital for anything in my life, and I felt lonely and scared and very, very ill. I reluctantly accepted the antiemetics, and between those and the fluids, I woke up feeling much better - still nauseous, but able to eat some breakfast, and almost like a human being. I remember so clearly looking out on that garden, daring to hope that maybe the problem had been solved and I could be well again. I even took a picture of it as I associated it so strongly with that feeling of hope.

The other photo I took was of my hospital meal. I will spare you the horror.

I didn't know, of course, at the time, that a few days later I'd be back in hospital, with another IV stuck in the back of my other hand. And that the second time wouldn't be the last time, either. 

So this week I stood in front of that little garden, and felt the fear and the hope and the yearning from that time flooding back. And I looked up to the windows on the first floor, and sent up a little wish that whoever was in that room now was having a better time than I was then.

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

A Blanket Update! By Amanda

It feels like such a long time since I did an update on the rainbow ripple blanket I started several weeks ago. My time has been taken up quite significantly with trying to work out the pattern for my baby beanies, but I have been spending the odd bit of time here and there working on the blanket and it is slowly growing bit by bit.

Do you want to see?

It has grown so large that I now have to take a photo of it lying on the floor! But it still isn't finished yet. This would be the perfect sized blanket for out and about in the pushchair, but I want it to be big enough to be used in a cot and last the test of time, so we still have a fair way to go.

I'm making the colour changes completely random, so I do hope the overall pattern works. Sometimes I start a row with a colour I think would work well and then end up unpicking it and starting again with another colour as it just does not seem right. I'm nothing if not a perfectionist!

I cannot wait until this blanket is finished, as there is nothing more satisfying than to see the end product of your hours of work. Anyone want to guess how many rows there will be in the completed blanket? I'm not sure I do...

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Potato and mackerel gratin

This is so yummy! If you eat fish but not meat then leave out the bacon and add a little salt.

This serves about 5-6 people and is great for making in advance. You can even make it and freeze it for an easy ready meal. If you're a family of 2-3 then make this amount but use two smaller dishes and freeze one. It's also very nice cold the next day with a salad.


5 medium potatoes or 4 really big ones
2 onions
Pack of bacon
Pack of smoked mackerel
Black pepper
300ml single cream
about 700ml milk, depends on the dish you use though
A bit of cheese for the top


Slice the onion into half moons and start to soften in a little oil. Chop the bacon into pieces and add to the onions. Once the onions and bacon are nicely soft and starting to colour, chop or break up the mackerel and add it to the pan and mix it all up to warm through. Season with black pepper.

Meanwhile, while the onions and bacon are cooking peel the potatoes. If you have a food processor, then great, slice them in that bad boy and enjoy the benefits of the electrical age. If not then I'm afraid you have to slice thinly with a knife (hopefully you have stainless steel and not flint???).

In a decent sized oven dish, grease the bottom with a little oil or piece of butter wrapper (because like me you keep a stash of old butter wrappers in your fridge door for moments like this). Put a layer of potatoes then sprinkle over a layer of the onion-bacon-mackerel mix. Then a layer of potatoes and so on until the dish is full, finish on a layer of potatoes.

In a jug mix 300ml of cream with about 500ml of milk. Pour over the potatoes. That'll leave you about 200ml milk extra from the above ingredients list – depending on the shape and depth of your dish and the size of your spuds add some more milk if needed. You basically want to be able to just see it coming up the sides of the dish but not right up to the top of the potatoes. (Don't be disheartened if the first time you make it it's too dry or too runny, it'll still taste great and just make a mental note for next time about if you need more or less milk).

Grate a little cheese on top, cover with tin foil and stick it in a medium-hot oven, about 180 deg.

After 45 mins remove the foil and leave in for another 30mins – 45mins, to check if it's ready stick a knife in the middle and there shouldn't be any “resistance” from the spuds. Leave to settle and solidify for a few mins before serving.

We tend to serve with pan fried cabbage... possible my favourite veg at the moment. Broccoli or anything green is good with it really.  

Don't forget, if you like this recipe and use it a small donation to PSS via my BTMyDonate page is greatly appreciated – Thanks :)

Please support our 'nine months of...' campaign by donating here.

Serious lack of hours in the day... by Sara

Well, where do I start!? The last two weeks since deciding to join this amazing challenge have been organised chaos in the Turner household and nearly all of us are running on empty in terms of sleep. Jessica has started school, making us wonder where on earth the last four and half years have gone, a feeling that is not helped by Samuel turning eight in a couple of weeks. Eight?! Seriously? How, just how... (not to mention myself ageing another year too - shhh).

I was very good on Jessica's first day  - I didn't cry at all. I didn't even take tissues to school with me, although I did feel so guilty walking away watching Jess wipe her tears and bogies away on the sleeve of her nice new school jumper, trying to 'be brave'. Okay, so 'new' is perhaps stretching the truth a little seeing as her jumpers are all Sam's too small ones as I refuse to pay £9 a jumper for nice crisp new ones. You can't tell, well, as long as you don't stand her next to the children who are sporting newly purchased jumpers that are 3 shades darker than those of the children with older siblings!  Anyway, even if you can, the slightly smug feeling that those parents shall have learnt their lesson by the time they are returning to the 'first day in foundation class' scenario for a second time overrides any feelings of shame or embarrassment.

Anyway, Jess survived her first day and came bounding out of the classroom at the end of the day full of smiles and giggles and bursting with pride that she had finally got to go to school (she spent the previous week complaining bitterly that Sam was 'allowed' to go back to school a week before she started, and was totally bewildered when I laughed and said it would be the first and last year she would be moaning that Sam had returned to school before her), and whilst I had refrained from the soppy mother stuff in the morning, now I couldn't help but tell her how proud I was of her. Her little face lighting up whilst she told me about the many things she had done that day, even though the majority of her tales extended far beyond what the laws of physics determine possible. Her energy and eagerness to learn (and elaborate!), a direct reflection of what having children is all about. A heart jerking reminder as to why I fought bitterly to get through the darkest days whilst in the grips of HG.  What made me chuckle most of all though, was her sheer audacity in not admitting defeat - asking whether we could go to the sweetie shop on the way home, she didn't allow me time to process the request before adding 'because I was very brave this morning. I didn't cry [pause] It may have looked like I was crying, but I wasn't. It was just my eyes. They were watering. That's all.'    Rather perceptive for a four year old I thought.  Needless to say, we stopped at the sweetie shop on the way home!!

So, going back to the challenge I am undertaking  - converting my blog nine months of smiles into artwork I shall be starting by exploring the emotions and characteristics that this important day in our little girl's life elicited in all of us as a family.  First thoughts are things such as courage, over coming anxiety and the unknown journey - all things which are so very relevant to suffering with HG, helping to highlight that the qualities and strength of character we need to get ourselves through HG (alongside an endless supply of antiemetics and IV fluids) are the very same qualities that we go on to see in our children, making every second of that endurance have a true purpose.  Nothing is more fulfilling than watching your children develop and grow before your eyes knowing that only your strength, your true strength - the sort you never even contemplated yourself as having - allowed for such beautiful, insightful and outrageously funny little people becoming part of your life.

Next week's blog shall be looking at the close and loving relationship Sam and Jess have, hopefully being able to reassure those ladies suffering with subsequent HG pregnancies that whatever they feel HG is stealing from their elder children right now, what you are giving them will more than compensate - keep strong girls, every second done is one you do not have to repeat :)

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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Back on track by Emma

Training for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks was stepped up a notch this week. Ok I lie...proper training started this week rather than just thinking about it!


A 3.6k run around my village. Adam came with me in his pushchair. It is becoming too dark to run before everyone is up now so I am venturing into the village when people can actually see me - not a pretty sight. When I got home I was a sweaty mess any way so decided to do my Just Dance Wii workout before a shower. I managed 45 minutes - not bad with a toddler attached to my leg. Luckily, Adam is a bit of a mover and loves to dance. In the afternoon we had Toddler Tiny Talk - a work out in itself! 

I started the morning with another 45 minute session on Just Dance Wii. Mum persuaded me to do a 'hill training' walk at Gorleston. We call it a 'hill training' walk because there are NO hills around Norfolk but there are cliffs. So with two pushchairs (my 14 month old niece too) we go up and down each pathway along the coast - there are 5 up hill slopes and 5 down hill. It was very muggy! The walk is approximately 4.6km - its hard to work out will all the slopes! In the afternoon I had an unplanned walk home from my Mums house - another 2.7k walk up hill! 

No training today - although an hour session of Tumble Tots with Adam is yet another work out. When will my son learn to walk rather than run everywhere?!

Mum suggested another 'hill training' walk at Gorleston - especially as it was less muggy. So that was another 4.6k completed and that evening I did another 45 minute Just Dance Wii session - much easier when Adam is asleep!

After Adam's Swimming lesson and lunch we ventured back to Gorleston. Instead of challenging myself on the cliff hills I opted for a gentle walk along the promenade - and managed to avoid the ice cream shop! Without the slopes the walk becomes 4k. Adam loves spotting dogs along the walk and had a new wind mill to keep him occupied. 

As a family we went to the University of East Anglia's 50th Anniversary Festival. My Grandad built it 50 years ago so I wanted to show Adam what his Great-Grandad helped to create. Chris and I did our degrees there and both completed our PGCE Teacher Training. A trip to the UEA would not be complete without a walk around the lake. We managed a 4.6k walk - not bad considering most of it was chasing Adam around! 

I had some time to fill on Sunday afternoon so decided to walk around UEA again. As my husband wasn't with us we managed to walk further and for longer! We managed 6.3k before having to head back. 

So in my first proper week of training I have completed 135 minutes on Just Dance Wii and 30.4k of walking. Not bad for the first week. 

If you are impressed that I have gone from 0k to 30.4k in one week why not sponsor me. My BT Donate page is here: 

Monday, 30 September 2013

Week 8 - ♪♫♪ Last night a GP saved my life…! ♪♫♪ by Helen

Nine months of 9k Week 8 – Location: B&Q and Brighton Beach – obviously.

Catching up on our missed 9ks saw us completing two of them this week *wilt* so two still to do next week!

Lacking inspiration on Monday morning we 9k'd to Leatherhead B&Q for more hallway paint and an extendable roller; livin' the dream. It seemed like a practical mission until I realised we’d have to carry them home.  A 5L tin weighing us down and the long handle of the roller fed through the stroller undercarriage, it took the form of a dangerous weapon rather than a baby’s transport system. 

On a more interesting note, we went to Brighton on Thursday for no particular reason other than I’d never been, Rich was on annual leave and we had nothing to do.  So 9k in Brighton was quite clearly the obvious option. Our route took us from the Churchill shopping centre, along the Kings Road and down the famous Pier where  I won a fabulously tacky key ring on the “Tipping Point” arcade game.  Highlight!  Fish & chips on the beach under two giant disco balls (really), back up to town via the maze of The Lanes, then back to Churchill Square. Lovely weather, lovely day, stupid idea to do it in heels.


Nine months of HG Week 8 – ♪♫♪  Last night a GP saved my life…! ♪♫♪

Following week 7’s futile attempt to get some help from the local hospital, I emailed (nausea = strictly no speaking!) my GP the day after leaving hospital. Here is a snippet of the desperation to be prescribed the expensive drug Ondansetron; the next and final step on the treatment pathway before steroids…

“I was wondering if there is any chance, if I can't get it on the NHS, that I could pay for a private prescription as I've been bed-bound for 3 weeks now with minimal relief from the drugs I've been prescribed. I would like to avoid going into hospital again but am struggling to keep fluids up and am feeling already quite dehydrated again. I am even struggling to make it down to the bathroom to clean my teeth or visit the loo (not that I need to much at the moment!).”

So desperate were we for a solution that we were willing to pay for the drug ourselves. In an astounding turn of events, my GP immediately replied with;

“Have issued both Metoclopramide and Ondansetron; try to use as little Ondansetron as possible, not because of cost necessarily, but because it is contraindicated in pregnancy and so should be used as a last resort.”

We were way past last resort – I would have done ANYTHING to have just a five minute break from the nausea.  I’m pretty sure I cried with relief at this point but the whole first trimester is very hazy so I can’t remember for sure.  Rich (husband/carer/temporary servant) picked up the prescription that day and I took my first dose of Ondansetron, blissfully unaware that I would be taking it three times a day, every day, until one hour before Caesarean surgery. 

Aaaaaand back to sleep…..!