Potty Training with a Disability

Stock photo of a little girl sat happily on a pink potty
I know what you're thinking! Blimey, if Fi isn't banging on about Changing Places she'll find someway to discuss toilets in any way, shape or form haha. Serious though, do not waste money on toiletries for me for Christmas, pun intended!

So amidst the Potty Training chaos our family has catapulted into head first now with my youngest Ava, while she sat watching Peppa Pig in the living room - all naturale...it came to me. I needed to do a blog post on how to handle Potty Training with a Disability, as yet again when I needed such a blog when going through this with my eldest (now 6) there were zero resources for disabled parents attempting to potty train.
Here I hope to share with you some helpful tips and advice on what I adapted to my limitations to make the process go as smoothly as Potty Training can possibly go. It goes without saying, whether you're a disabled parent or not. Every child is different. Every child advances in different areas of development, at different rates, at different times. Just because your pushy parent mate at Play Group has her little fully dry, day and night by age 18 months, doesn't mean your child is "behind" because they've shown zero interest in the loo.

Here are some popular 'Ambitious Turtle' approved basics to Potty Training guides;

Though the logistics of potty training isn't what I'm here to talk about. Let's get started on adapting Potty Training around your disability!

1. Free the Baby Bums!

Planning ahead for a day you'll 100% dedicate going full force with potty training is pretty common and makes sense. You need to make sure you've got all your potty supplies, you're not going to need to abandon ship to bundle your little in the car to get here or there for this or that, you need the least distractions like Nana and Grandad popping over. You basically need to lock you and the fam in your house for a weekend and draw the curtains as you'll have a naked bum flashing your neighbours running circuits around your house.

I like the bare bum method as a disabled parent as it not only let's them be more in tune with their bodies and feeling of when they need to "go" but in the beginning it will be hit or miss. You will be faced with an abundance of wet pants, puddles on the floor and will need reserve your spoons for accidents while you figure out their toilet ques. The last thing you want is to take an age fighting with their pants on and off and adding to the never ending washing basket. This is what I learnt with my eldest, I kept her in clothes from day 1 of potty training and I was more frustrated at myself, for my inability to get her pants down fast enough that it was causing Her alot of distress because it wasn't her fault Mummy was too slow. So like many a part, my 1st child was almost a test run and helped me figure out what NOT to do, just as much as what to do (sorry Abbie!) The first few days are the hardest and you don't want to give them (unintentionally) any added complications like getting clothing removed. Keep it simple, keep them bare bummed, once you feel your little has a good grasp of getting to the potty in good time - THEN start practicing with pants ON.

2. Create a 'Potty Supply Stash'

This can be anywhere in your home that is practical for You. For me it was the living room, using the top draw of the lamp table. I chose this because it's easy to access from my wheelchair and when I sit on the couch. The point is to have your 'Potty Stash' in a place you spend most of your time with your to be potty graduate so all your supplies; wet wipes, spare knickers and pants, socks, reading material or small toys to occupy on the potty - so you can get to it the fastest as humanly possible. When a tot says "wee, wee!" you've got literally seconds to get their bum parked on that potty and you know what? Accidents are inevitable.

3. Containment

As I'm quite in tune with how slow my disability makes me, containing my girls to a single room definitely aided me in the "grab and go" of them to get them on the potty before they went all over the floor. You last thing you want to be doing is having a game of chase around the entire house. They may think that's fun, but your poor body won't! So stick to one room for the majority of the time, the first few days. You can contain your little whirlwind by simply shutting the doors (toddlers can find door handles tricky depending on the age your training), or use a safety gate on the doorway of that particular room or I've seen other parents use room dividers too to block away from certain parts of a very large room. Obviously make sure you can get in and out though! Ironically sometimes you'll find in life as a Disabled Parent, if it's child proof it's also parent proof...

4. Use your aids to aid Them too

When you feel ready to tackle outings nappy free, you maybe worried about how you'll manage their toileting needs away from their own potty, in a strange environment on the very big (to them) and very public toilet.

If you're a wheelchair user, encourage your tot climb on your foot rests and onto the toilet, keep one arm/hand on them to help them feel steady and safe as they teeter on the edge of the toilet bowl and let them use your foot rests too by putting their feet on yours so they're not hanging - that'll help make them more comfortable and more likely to succeed out in public.

I'd also encourage you to take them in the disabled toilets, especially as some are shared as a baby changing facility too. That definitely comes in handy as a disabled parent incase you need to strip them fully after an accident. Much easier to lay them on the baby changer than struggling to bend to remove their soiled clothes while they're standing. Plus you have more room to maneuver in a wheelchair.


5. Bribery Is Your Friend

Let's be real for a moment. All parents use bribery! Do not be ashamed to pull out some bribes in toilet training. Doing this with a disability is hard enough without the looming cloud of anxiety over other parents judgement. They do not face the extra obstacles. Good forms of bribery is using a sticker chart, having a bucket of small cheap tat toys they've never seen before they can pick from if they sit on the potty/follow directions etc, ipad or TV time etc. Use what you can to win their co-operation and just remember it's easiest to bargain with them than struggle more. Plus the bribery will fade out as they grasp each step of Potty Training. It's not like you'll be giving them a reward for each successful bathroom trip when they're 16!

Keep in mind despite all the Potty Training methods out there, there's not 1 stand alone method that'll work for every child. So if you find your child isn't taking to potty training, it's good to take a step back to re-evaluate your little ones readiness or maybe pick a different game plan for example: some parents go cold turkey with no nappies from day 1, whilst others move to pull-ups for naps and bedtime to focus on daytime and night separately. Both methods are fine, like most things to do with parenting - there is no right or wrong choice. Options are there for a reason, pick the one that you feel is best for your family and circumstances.

Are you a disabled parent who's tackling potty training? Why not share some of your 'Potty Training with a Disability' methods in the comments below? We are all in this together.
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The Ultimate Price for Mum of Disabled Daughter

Blog post title thumbnail of waiting room with empty seats, bar centre seat which has a lone teddy bear.
DISCLAIMER: This post has sensitive content that centres around the tragic news story of a Mother of a disabled child who committed suicide. All facts stated in this post are pulled directly from press coverage, so I will not be held liable. Original source is in the 'related links' at the bottom of this post. PLEASE use your best judgement before proceeding. 

I couldn't read the devastating account of what happened with loving Mum of 2, Jane Kavanagh without pushing other blog post commitments aside tonight to write about everything that is wrong and could be learnt from by so many organisations in a position of power on this case.

Life of a Full-time Carer

33 year old Jane Kavanagh was a happy, loving Mother of two teenage girls living local to me in the Rochdale Borough of Greater Manchester. A single Mother, who had a good amount of support from her own Mother and Father, especially for her eldest daughter (let's call her Alice for the sake of this blog as obviously the children's identities are protected by law) who needed round-the-clock care and attended a specialist residential school for children with disabilities.

Alice was diagnosed with autism as a young child and later aged just 12, following the onset of mobility problems was diagnosed with Cerebellar Ataxia.

Cerebellar Ataxia is a disorder caused by damage to the cerebellum (a part of the brain that's responsible for gait and muscle co-ordination). The term Ataxia refers to lack of voluntary movements. Primarily diagnosed in childhood and with sudden onset of symptoms. Patients have difficulties accomplishing everyday tasks without help, co-ordination in fine motor tasks and anything requiring the voluntary muscles. This can range from mild to severe and in some cases can also affect speech, eye movement, mobility and cause intense headaches and dizziness.

The combination of both conditions meant the 15 year old needed 24hr 1-1 care at home, at school her care needs were funded and met. Jane endured 15 years of fighting for support in the home and much needed respite. Many parents of children with complex needs will tell you that in order to get adequate support, you literally have to be falling apart and at breaking point. Government funding for in-home care to support families like the Kavanagh's is depleting by the day, people with disabilities being one of a number of vulnerable groups of individuals in this country to be hit by the Tories.

As Alice's needs became greater than their home or her Mother could manage, with the accessible housing crisis playing a huge role in the outcome of this case, Jane and her 2 daughters moved into her parents home so she could share the care load with them as Rochdale Council had so badly neglected to provide suitable support. Sadly this was only a short term solution, as the council undertook an assessment of the grandparents property and found it unsuitable for Alice's needs both in the long and short term. Forcing them to be rehoused again.

Only thanks to lack of accessible properties for disabled people - specifically full-time wheelchair users, they were moved to a bungalow that wasn't all on the flat, Jane still had to contend with getting her profoundly disabled teenage daughter upstairs to her bedroom and the house was rife with walls coated in nicotine. So not only was the move to this property in a sense, pointless as it was equally not fit for Jane's daughter but now they were living in unhealthy conditions.

Without Jane's parents on hand for support and in a property unsuitable for Alice's limitations, aswell as in a dire state, Jane began to have suicidal thoughts over the course of several months to which she alerted her GP.

Domino Effect

The GP Practice advised a depressed and suicidal Mother and full-time carer to self-refer to get some help from her local Healthy Minds - Healthcare clinics that are aimed at those experiencing anxiety, low mood, OCD, PTSD or Post-natal depression, yet confirmation can be found on their NHS website that they are NOT for people in a state of emergency (e.g with suicidal thoughts) or desperation. Despite Jane made her GP aware that her thoughts were indeed suicidal in nature, she was left to seek inadequate support for herself at the lowest point in her life.

In April 2018, Jane rang her GP Practice again and asked the receptionist (who isn't a medical clinician) for an appointment that day as she was feeling suicidal. Instead of getting Jane seen immediately by the emergency mental health team, she was simply and passively given a GP appointment for in 12 days time.

That day she dropped her daughters off with their grandparents for what they believed was to be a mere few hours but in fact was for the last time, only to return to those nicotine stained walls in the not fit for purpose properly, with zero support for her daughter, nevermind herself and took her life...

The case has triggered an inquest into why Jane, a vulnerable single Mum with a disabled child was not taken seriously when she expressed Twice, she was suicidal. Rightly so! There's so many questions that spring to mind.

Why are receptionists with no medical background or knowledge making decisions on how long somebody can wait for an appointment?

I say prural because I know first hand at my GP practice, when I ring with the 1st signs of a Chest Infection (an often fatal occurancd in people with breathing weakness as part of their Neuromuscular condition), it is upto their receptionist if she deems me sounding bad enough, over the phone, to be worthy of a same day appointment.

Why did the individual who saw Jane months prior, on her first mention of suicidal thoughts feel it appropriate to advise her to self-refer to a clinic not meant for people in crisis?

Reaching out for medical help for anything mental health related takes tremendous courage as is, that is magnified tenfold when you're reaching out to say you're thinking of ending your life. Did this person have ear muffs on? Were they not paying attention? The poor woman said she wanted to End. Her. Life! Those 3 words should of triggered a serious reaction from these trusted professionals. Telling her to self-refer would of been like a slap to the face, oblivious to her desperation. Or did they simply not believe her? Maybe they thought she was exaggerating? Many parents who are full-time carers end up with anxiety/depression related to the circumstances they find themselves in, perhaps they hear it that often from parents like her that they simply didn't think much of it? Perhaps it is to be expected? Normal even....

And that's just on the suicide prevention that could of occurred, that could of been the difference that day.

Respite & Homecare

Jane's journey trying to obtain help on the weekends with her daughter is common place. When a child like Alice with complex, 24hr care type needs grows, so do their needs and so do the needs of the primary carer. It isn't clear by the press releases on this story what kind of support was offered, if it could of been tweeked so it may of worked to some extent or if what the council were offering really was unsuitable for this family. We don't know if Alice's needs were too much for a social care agency to come in to help get her up, washed and dressed, ready for the day. Or if Jane ended up doubling up with an agency carer (as does happen when individual health budgets don't stretch to two carers) and in that case it wouldn't of been a break for Jane. Perhaps they wanted her to manage a Direct Payments account for her daughter but Jane simply didn't have enough of herself left to be an employer too! All these scenarios are possible, as I know only too well from personal experience growing up as a disabled child watching my own Mum faced with the same dilemmas and knowing countless other families now. Things haven't changed, if anything they've worsened with this Tory led Government who took away the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2015 and would rather put children like Alice in residential homes for elderly people with dementia and the sorts, that give them adequate funding to remain living independently with their loving families.

It creates a lump in my throat to think that I may of even unknowingly come across a post on Facebook from Jane at some point in the many support groups their are for families struggling support wise with lack of funding from local councils.

Accessible Housing Crisis

To make matters worse, this family were ripped from the only support network they had - doting grandparents for the sake of an assessment that deemed the grandparents home too inadequate for Alice's mobility restrictions. Yet, the insanity, the Insanity that they were ripped from one unsuitable property to another! Those not in the "Disabled World" may think this part is extremely far fetched, that their must of been crossed wires or exaggeration somewhere but I can tell you that I 110% believe it. Why? How am I so sure? Read my blog on our housing situation and you'll see how the accessible housing crisis means there's next to no properties for them to find one that even came close to meeting the needs of a families like theirs.

Councils are only able to put us where there are properties that better our situation, even if its just a slither of an improvement. So for the Kavanagh family, it could of meant maybe Jane didn't have to heave her daughters wheelchair up 3 steps to get into the house anymore, yet still had to get her up a flight of stairs to bed. They'd of likely been waiting years on the Disability Housing Register, waiting for that needle of a haystack property that'll only become available if some poor family loses the very person they're living there to benefit for. That's how scarce these wheelchair-friendly properties are.

There is however an INCREDIBLE charity trying to help families called Habinteg Housing Association who are building accessible properties in various places of need up and down the country. Sadly funding for this scheme only stretches so far and therefore Habinteg are only able to plan developements in areas with the most amount of people in need of accessible properties. So if you do not live in one of these more sort of areas, then to be in with a chance of getting a property via them you'd have to move to a different area - possibly miles and miles away from everything you've ever known for the sake of being able to mobilise within your own home. Their waiting lists are huge too, some people are waiting months or several years depending on need and location. My hope is that Habinteg will continue to grow, receive more and more financial support so they CAN help more people but for now, there's so many still in great need.

Photo of disabled actress Sam Renke. Sam is sat in her manual wheelchair, wearing her long blonde hair down with a fabric headband, white blouse and red trousers. In her lap she is holding a large cut out of a house (Habinteg logo) that features the hashtag #ForAccessibleHomes and social media tags
Photo Credit: @samrenke Twitter
Help improve support for respite or accessible housing for families with children living with complex disabilities, social media campaigns are a great way to do so! Use your people power and voice to say you support the Family Fund - who support families with funding for tailored respite packages or short breaks and / or Habinteg Housing Association with their #ForAccessibleHomes Campaign - raising awareness of the dire need of more purpose built accessible properties. 

Talking about these important matters, could literally save lives. The bigger the voice, the louder and more likely we'll be heard!
Related Links - 
Online newspaper heading from Manchester Evening News, featuring Black and white selfie taken from Mothers Facebook account. Heading reads; "Mum of Disabled Daughter killed herself after struggling to get help."
Mum of Disabled Daughter Killed Herself Struggling to get Help - Manchester Evening News 26.10.18
A Commitment to Creating Accessible Housing should be the Norm - InsideHousing 7.2.18

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A Guide to Exploring London as a Mum in a Wheelchair ♿

On 12th October 2018 we headed on the train from Manchester to London as a family for the National Muscular Dystrophy UK Conference, where I was appearing on a panel of incredible individuals - Lucy Watts MBE and Jamie Hale, to encourage others to (as the panel discussion title implies) - "Live the Life You Want." Look out for a future blog on the MDUKConf18

After a long day speaking and mingling, we decided to make the most of our free evening before heading back home to a dreary Bolton, Manchester the following morning. Although blogging and guest speaking ventures have brought me to London 3 times this year alone, due to coming specifically for important discussions and "business," sadly we never managed to make time to squeeze in some fun. So this was certainly a welcome change!

We were staying at the Hilton Hotel in More Place London, a quaint and well sculptured area, filled with artistic visuals with large futuristic builds that are very Instagram worthy. We explored More Place, being typical British tourists in our own country but it was just so beautiful, not taking photographic memories would of been a crime! More Place is packed with health food eateries and cocktail bars. We also came across a little gift shop before we went along to take in the breathtaking Tower Bridge but sadly it was closed at that time. So off we went and joined the medium sized queue that was infront of the tiny glass lift, tucked away behind tall stone walls. The lift was just big enough to fit my bulky powerchair, partner and eldest daughter (youngest was at Nanas for this trip), perhaps 1 other person at a squeeze.

Once at the top we stuck to the right hand side of the bridge, gawping at the beautiful image of the river thames - right infront of us, where HMS Belfast sat ankored in all its historical glory. Knowing ahead of time that although the historic ship was open to tourists, it however wasn't made accessible so my partner had taken Abbie to explore it earlier in the day whilst I was busy mingling in the conference hall back at the hotel. According to my partner and daughter, the ship is full of ladders that accessible all different areas and displays for tourists to learn of its history, it also had an erie presence about it - particularly of what used to be the operating room!

My 6yr old daughter Abbie, brunette with pink glasses in denim dress. She's standing on the deck of the HMS Belfast, arms stretched above her head touching the rubber dingy with HMS Belfast written on it.
Back to our stroll across Tower Bridge, it was breathtaking just rolling slow, looking up at how magnificent the bridges design was in real life. I found weeding through the public - many foreigners, quite a challenge in my wheelchair. I specifically left all valuables at the hotel and carried anything vital on my person as pick pocketers are ripe wherever there's alot of tourists. One hand firmly gripping Abbie's, the other on my chair controller, nobody seems to move out the way without you creating a bit of a fuss. I'm not sure if it was cultural differences or communication issues, or perhaps moving out of courtesy for wheelchair users just isn't the done thing in London. Whatever it is, it took a bit of getting used to. Everybody is out for themselves and if you don't just power through the crowd, you simply won't get to where you're going.

Our time touring London that day let me to realise I developed some strategies so I thought it maybe helpful to share them, particularly for other disabled parents. Here's what the game plan was and what worked for me as a wheelchair using Mama in London...

Abbie and I holding hands with Tower Bridge standing tall in the background. I am very pale with shoulder length, wind swept brunette hair and glasses, sat in my powerchair. Abbie is also brunette, hair in a pony with pink glass's beaming from ear to ear.

1. Hold on tight and keep moving!

Pretty self explanatory. Hold your littles hand tight and keep moving forward through the crowds. If you stop, hesitate or be overly polite you will get nowhere fast. Put your invisible blinkers and drive!

2. Safety tattoos & making sure your little knows what to do if they become separated from you

Examples of children's temporary tattoos which state "If I am lost call (customise with parents/guardians number)."
Photo Credit: Google images
Children get lost, even with the most hypervigilant, paranoid, helicopter Mummy in charge. All it takes is a moments distraction, and they vanish. As sadly the case of Jamie Bulger reminds us. Every parents worst nightmare is losing their child, especially in an unfamiliar place. This is why I decided to get a set of temporary child safety tattoos with my mobile number on them. Number bracelets can be taken off too easily and I didn't think Abbie would wear a GPS style watch so this was the next best thing. In the event she somehow became lost, I made sure she knew who would be considered a trusted adult e.g police man or another Mum with children and to show them her tattoo. It's so important, I can't stress enough to talk to your child about what they should do if they become separated from you.

3. Handbags & Valuables

Pick pocketers are rife in many a city centre, more so in capitals like London. Many women powerchair users like myself, tend to put their handbag on our arm rest. Although this maybe more accessible to you, it leaves it equally accessible to thieves! While you're busy navigating big crowds sight seeing with your family, they've taken the opportunity to dip their hand in and grab your mobile and/ wallet. Instead attach a shoulder strap and wear your bag across your body. Only take out with you what you actually need and leave other valuables in your hotel room safe.

4. Seek out Accessible Travel groups online

Going to unfamiliar places is stressful enough without being a wheelchair user. You don't know where anything is like the back of your hand, unlike your home town nor can you just 'wing it' as not everywhere is accessible. It didn't dawn on me until this particular trip that London's not the best city in the UK for wheelchair access (despite what you may think!) Finding most of the tube lines not to be step-free was a big shock and not being familiar with the bus routes and schedule, I found we were relying on alot of taxis! Before going to a city like London, I'd definitely advise joining a FB group specifically for accessible travel in whichever city you're going. Planning ahead is key to making your trip as stress-free access wise as possible.

- Here's the Accessible Travel Groups I've particularly found most helpful -

For asking questions about accessible travel anywhere around the world!

AFT offers accessible travel information to help people with disabilities and other chronic medical conditions gain the confidence they need to travel and lead more independent lives.

Wheelchair Accessible Travel Sights

Designed to share the places you travel and level of accessibility or lack there of...

5. London Taxis

Stockimage of a ComCab black cab driving past Westminster.
One form of public transport is better in London however, compared to Manchester at least and that's the accessibility of taxis! Many Londoners rely on Uber (despite the horror stories) and book a taxi via the Uber App. When my friend, a Londoner told me that I could book a WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) via the Uber App, I nearly fainted! This is how it should be Everywhere... Also for the first time I noticed outside train stations such as Euston, they have a dedicated 'Restricted Mobility pick-up / drop-off bay' right where you depart the station to flag a black cab.

During our trip the hotel we stayed at recommended the taxi company ComCab. As I have a large, tall powerchair, I actually hate going in taxis because I have to tilt and limbo under the roof while driving up the ramp to enter the vehicle. Imagine the heavens opening while you're face up, it ain't nice! I was amazed that the company ComCab actually have black cabs that are lower to the ground so the ramp isn't as steep as you normally expect and the roof was higher. Infact, for the 1st time ever in my history of black cab use, I only had to tilt my head to the side to enter. No tilting, bashing my head off the cab roof or scary desent down a rickety ramps with these guys. I highly recommend them. You wouldn't even notice from looking at them from the outside that they were any different from a standard black cab, but I guess only someone with a bulky powerchair would know...

6. Tour's & Sightseeing

There is so much to do in London, so it's not just access you may want to plan for. Cram in as much as humanly possible for your stay because you'll be kicking yourself if you don't! This amazing accessibility guide for London's most popular attractions is a great place to start when compiling your list of must-sees.... As this post focuses on families I highly recommend you consider visiting London Zoo, Discovery Children's Story Centre or The Science Museum. All have excellent access ratings so you are guaranteed a fun filled family day out.

Did you know you can get on a tour bus in a wheelchair too? Oh yes, how times have finally caught up! Not only that but they have BSL (British Sign Language) led tours or if being on a tour bus is a bit too overwhelming - say for someone on the spectrum, there's dedicated London Tour Taxis that have the ability to properly secure wheelchairs, or alternatively use one of their swivel seats if you have restricted mobility. There's lots of accessible tours to choose from that meet the needs of a wide range of disabilities, simple visit www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/ 👈 and I've linked you right to their accessible tours section.

That concludes our adventures in London. We'll definitely be back as there's just never enough time to experience all there is to experience of London, limitations aside.

On our list for next time is to venture the outskirts to visit Alton Towers/ CBeebies Land and maybe when the girls are a bit older, Warner Bros Studios Tours - The Making of Harry Potter. Yes, we are a household of Potter fans the secrets out...

What's on your list? Let us know know in the comments 👇

Other Helpful Resources

Euan's Guide
Accessibility review site for disabled people, written by disabled people for everything from hotels, venues, public places of interest, tourist attractions, public transport links and much more.
One of the UK's Top leading Disability Bloggers - providing comprehensive reviews and advice on accessible travel.

________________________ Lucy At Home UK gentle parenting blogger

Why I Sacrificed Breastfeeding

This post was inspired by the supportive Instagram photo by Channel Mum of then Mummy-to-be Meghan Koziel - a Breast Cancer survivor, who plastered a sign above her hospital bed explaining to midwives/nurses and other Healthcare professionals who maybe involved in her care, post delivery, that she cannot breastfeed as she had a mastectomy. All in a bid to prevent the heartache of being asked "why" she wasn't breastfeeding her Newborn baby girl Kendra. Ultimately deciding to beat them to it with a very honest and open explanation that breastfeeding simply wasn't an option for her. The sign reigns positivity in the notion that #FedIsBest in a beautiful poem that gets the point across perfectly;

"Though Breastfeeding is a very special task,
Please be aware before you ask,
Our miracle baby will be formula fed,
And it will not affect the future ahead!
This Mommy is a Survivor..."

It made me wish I had drawn up a similiar sign for above the NICU incubators after my baby girls (3 years apart - identical premature deliveries) were whisked from the operating theatre to receive the specialist care they needed to support their premature arrivals. For it may have prevented NICU staff from asking me, adding to the emotional turmoil of not meeting my own little miracle(s) I carried for 34 weeks until they were each respectively 4 days old - why I hadn't brought them expressed Breast milk for nurses to administer through their feeding tubes - too premature to know how to latch to breast or teat.

"Mummy Guilt" is a built in emotion us Mothers are plagued with from feeling our baby's very first kick. That moment you realise you created, and are solely responsible to bring a tiny life safely into the world, to love and protect that precious life with every part of your very being. Motherhood is giving 110% 24/7, with complete selflessness, running on empty and often second guessing if you're making the right decisions for that little person in your arms, at every turn as they grow. But first they need to grow...

Midwives instill in new Mums-to-be that Breastfeeding is the ONLY way to give your little one the best start in life. The benefits of breast milk far outweigh those of formula, breast milk even has the ability to adjust to your baby's changing nutritional needs as they grow week-by-week.

"The sheer pressure to breastfeed in general is daunting enough for the average new mum. Many women feel like they are failing their little one at the first hurdle if they cannot establish or get on with breastfeeding. Some women's body's cannot keep up with supply and demand, working Mum's beat themselves up for turning to combination feeding to put food on the table for the rest of the family."

Then there's some women, like me who didn't even have the choice of breastfeeding.

I fell within the 2% of Mum's who couldn't breastfeed for medical reasons. The particular issue was that my specialist multi-disciplinary team for my progressive muscle-wasting condition, told me upon asking if I could come off at least some of my medications that make me "comfortable" and help control some secondary complications of MD, that not only would it be dangerous for me to come off the medications that sustain my good quality of life during both my pregnancies, but also that breastfeeding was off the table as all the drugs would be transferable to baby through my breast milk.

It was hard enough preparing to be not just a new Mum, but a Disabled New Mum who then also couldn't provide the most natural, womanly thing in the world, that show how magnificent our body's are, that they don't just grow babies in the womb but provide an endless source of complete nutrition outside of it. It made me feel like I failed before I even gave birth. I tried not to dwell too much, as I'm forever the optimist. It's no secret medically I shouldn't of been able to carry my girls to term anyway. But it DID tug at me emotionally that I didn't even have the option to try. I even contemplated making myself bedridden, going back to a very low point in my life where I was in that much pain I didn't want to be here, just to come off my meds - sod my quality of life for my child. I questioned if that was the Right thing to do for my baby. Putting them first as you should. Talking with my specialists, they were firmly against coming off the meds, predicting I'd be in that much pain, I may at best barely be able to do a thing for my girls and at worst it may cost me my life as I'd be stopping heart medication aswell.

I had to sacrifice breastfeeding to be the best Mum I could be in Every. Other. Single way, possible.

I thought I came to terms with it by the time they were due to be delivered - prematurely, as mine were high risk pregnancies. Until my 1st visit to NICU when a nurse who didn't know me asked me if I'd brought expressed milk for baby. It plummeted me into doubting myself, the choice that really wasn't a Choice at all to sacrifice breastfeeding.

On the maternity ward surrounded by other Mothers - babes in arms, learning how to establish breastfeeding. Hearing and seeing other Mum's have all those special moments was so gut wrenching. I remember laying in bed, silently crying as I was the only Mum without their baby. There was just so much going on at once. The comments over where the milk was that I SHOULD of been able to provide my baby girl(s) could of easily knocked me over the edge and spiralled into Post-partum Depression. Mummy guilt can take you into some very dark places...

When my milk suddenly came in all at once regardless 3 days after birth, I was overwhelmed. I received no instruction on what to do with my obviously useless milk supply. My body clearly not getting the memo! When I asked a midwife to change the bedding as it was literally everywhere and I was so engorged it was painful to breath, the midwife was patronising towards me. "Aww pet, has your milk come in? Aww I'm sorry cot." No help or advice. It wasn't until I was released from hospital that I was able to try old school methods of drying up my supply I'd found after a bit of Googling. Yes I stuck cabbage leaves in my bra and my PAs tried not to laugh! Eventually it took binding my breasts for two weeks for it to properly dry up and no longer cause me pain. My body must of been so confused....

Thankfully by the grace of God, despite the emotional rollercoaster, I came to terms with the fact I couldn't breastfeed through no fault of my own. Both girls were formula fed from day 1 and have no health concerns as a result. Nothing drastic happened and they didn't miss out on anything evidently as they've both grown and thrived! At the end of the day, it mattered more that I could be an active, loving, happy Mum to them by staying on my medication, than it was to be able to breastfeed.

Me as a new Mum. I'm sat propped up on the sofa, Abbie then a few months old in the crack of my elbow, my arm supported by a nursing pillow, feeding from a bottle using formula.

For any Mum's-to-be reading this in similar circumstances, dealing with the fact your baby maybe born prematurely or perhaps is in NICU right this moment. Did you know you can request your little one receive breastmilk from a donor via your local human Milk Bank? There's thousands of selfless mothers out there who over-produce and instead of letting that gift go to waste, they choose to donate it specifically for premature babies who'd benefit greatly from all the goodness and immune fighting capabilities breast milk has to offer - that sadly formula falls short of. 

Don't worry, every woman is medically screened for their viability to donate, as does the milk itself go through rigorous health and safely screening. UKAMB is a charity that works closely with NHS neonatal intensive care units all across the country, aswell as being proudly supported by NICE. Find out more below 👇 

I would of so taken this option if somebody had told me about milk donors when my girls were born. Now I'm telling my readers so you know all your options to make the best decision for you and your baby. Whatever conclusion you come to, breast isn't always best, but #FedIsBest in every circumstance...
Related Links -

Saving the lives of premature or sick babies across the UK thanks to their incredible human milk donors.
The FedIsBest Foundation
identifing gaps in current breastfeeding protocols and guidelines, aiming to provide families and health professionals with the most up-to-date scientific research, education and resources to practice safe infant feeding with breast milk, formula, or a combination of both. #FedisBest
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Favourites Of An Ambitious Turtle | Sept 2018

Thumbnail Image split with title text on one size ontop an autumn leaf scattered wood table, opposite is a photo of a homemade unicorn cake with girly eyelashes and all coloured pipping
It's crazy how fast September whizzed by. It seems like a blink ago we were all sweating to death in the 3 month long freak heatwave. Now the littles are all a year older, all set in the new school year and I'm back to being up at crack of dawn on the dreaded school run. Missing summer already! Here's my round-up for September…


Just as I finally kitted out my wardrobe full of weather appropriate attire for the summer, we're plummeted into needing to pull out the knit wear again! I'm still trying to adjust my wardrobe in general to my new mum bod (currently on a weight loss journey but more about that in a later post). So I donated all my autumn/winter gear that was just making me feel fat and bad about my new figure, instead of it being a constant reminder every morning that I'm no longer a stick insect! Being able to give clothing that was still in good nick to charity is always a good feeling and means although I cannot enjoy my old faves anymore - someone else can. Win-win 👍

Bagging Striped Jumper with a solid block of colour in mustard yellow across shoulders and upper chest, the rest of the jumper is thick block white and black stripss

Pretty much everywhere clothing wise was an assortment of mustard. Mustard jumpers, corduroy skirts, women's pinafores, even mustard tartan coats and tights. Absolutely everywhere. To be honest mustard has never been a colour I've tried before so when I saw this striped mustard number in New Look, I thought I'd give it a try and you know what? I quite like it! It was definitely more money than I usually care to spend on myself (since gone down to £12 see above link 👆) but I'm trying really hard at the moment to get myself back after years of focusing on my littles and putting myself on the back burner. I'm 99% sure every Mum of young children can relate to that feeling of losing yourself, your identity with motherhood. It's so hard to get that balance right of putting your littles first but also taking care of yourself. Such a hard balance…

As September was the big birthday month, including for me - I turned 30! AHHHH! My mother-in-law treated me to a fabulous technics make-up box which looks so professional and will surely last me a good few years! Totally spoilt for choice with eye shadows now, which is great after Ava managed to get into my make-up bag recently and my 2 small eye shadow palettes were just beyond saving…


Abbie Starting Year 1

I cannot believe my biggest baby girl is in Year 1 already. I know its cliché but time with Abbie in particular has just gone so fast. She's grown at least 2 inches over the summer, so we had to fork out for a whole new uniform (with the exception of school jumpers) to make up for it before the new term began. She has adjusted really well to her new classroom enviroment, new teacher and thankfully some of her Reception friends are in her class this year too! The only sad bit about this big milestone is because of the situation with my failing powerchair, it's constant unreliability outdoors meant I wasn't able to take her on her first day this year.

To learn more about what's going on with my chair, why I'm fundraising for a new one and think you in anyway can help please click the link below 👇

An flyer asking for assistance from local Bolton residents to help me organise a family fun day in aid of the new powerchair I'm trying to raise funds for.

Abbie & Ava's Joint Birthday Party

Handmade unicorn cake with girly eye lashes, cartoon facial features, covered in colourful piping for the hair and a purple edible glitter horn made out of icing.
My daughters birthdays are just 4 days apart! Nope we didn't plan it that way… So I've resided myself to that fact, financially it makes more sense to do mostly joint parties or family get together and save the separate doo's for the bigger age milestones. Such as many years from now when they'll be turning 16 and 18 within days of each other! I'm breaking a sweat just thinking about how much planning that's gonna take….

Abbie turned 6 and Ava turned 3. The girls Auntie is incredible at baking and made the girls a joint birthday Unicorn cake using a receipt from This Morning. The girls absolutely loved it. We didn't have a party as such, just family over with their cousins etc and opened presents and such. It was lovely and great to see everyone too!

My Surprise 30th Birthday

Then it was my turn! If you don't follow my socials (highly recommend you do! Hit the buttons at the top of this page to add and follow) I actually share my birthday with my youngest daughter Ava. Whilst she turned 3 on 24th Sept, I turned the big 3-0! Oh my goodness I really never saw myself at 30. Definitely of the mindset of having numerous medical “experts” drill into you that you have a life-limiting condition and won't reach this or that age. My lady “deadline” if you will (pun intended) was 30 and here I am still kicking about! It goes to show despite textbooks, x amount of cases or prognosis, you are you and you follow your own path regardless.

Photo of me at the table, Ava on my lap both wearing nice smart casual attire during surprise family meal at the restaurant
My family arranged a joint surprise birthday party at a local fancy restaurant The Retreat here in Bolton, along with my father-in-law who turned 60 this month too. I wasn't kidding when I said there's alot of birthdays for us in September lol! I give them their due, they did manage to keep it a surprise right upto the moment we got there, it was nice it was literally a 10 minute roll from our house. We took the girls too which made it extra special. I had a lush mojito mocktail and a delicious lemon chicken dish, which I shared with Ava. Yes, even on my birthday Mummy doesn't get her food to herself but in all honesty I get more gratification over the fact she's eating something, even if it is often my food! That's toddlers for you.

Photo of a custom made rectangle cake which reads "Happy Birthday Fi 30 and Dougie 60" in icing
It was a really lovely night and the first surprise party I've had so that made if all the more special. Brilliant memory to add to the photo album!

Have you enjoyed anything in particular this month? Why not share some of Your faves from this month below... 👇