Our adoption story

Part 3 – Bringing our girl home and the first nine months


To read Part 1 – Our adoption story, up to approval to adopt, click here.

To read Part 2 – Our adoption story, finding our girl, click here.


Child's painting


Introduction week to our new daughter was without doubt a roller coaster. Despite all involved being lovely, trying to develop a relationship with a three year old who very much knows her own mind, under the watchful eyes of social services was enormously stressful.

I had no idea how to be a mum and felt like I had absolutely no maternal instinct. I was terrified about how I would cope. No change there from natural birth parents – but imagine being handed a fully formed three year old.

Same, same but different.

We travelled daily back and forth to foster mum’s house. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.


Bringing our girl home


Up until that week I’d never seen Frozen, let alone heard any of the songs. But eight days later with the last of her things packed into our car, we drove away from foster mums for the last time to a sound track of ‘Let It Go’! At a time when I was looking for significance in everything, it seemed appropriate that we should be blaring out ‘the past is in the past’ as we drove home.

Nine months on, like many mothers I’m now bloody sick of it. But let’s not ruin a beautiful moment!


Hitting the ground running


I’d managed to create a life over which I had complete control, so spent the first few months of motherhood greatly mourning its passing. While it’s true that I’ve had one of the world’s longest adolescences, I found giving that all up really hard.

In the mean time, our girl was busy going through all the developmental stages we’d missed with her at warp speed. We had a week of her being a baby, a period of separation anxiety where she would literally sit on me so I couldn’t leave her unless I was dismissed.

I couldn’t even go to the loo without an audience!

We had another phase which was a complete inability to decide upon anything – and the tantrums! I don’t come from a shouty family and I don’t have a shouty relationship, so to one minute be chatting away beautifully with this very articulate little girl – and the next to be faced by a raging banshee purely because her socks were wrong turned me into a nervous wreck.


A Summer to get to know each other


Thankfully we had a glorious summer, so spent a lot of time exploring the parks, playgrounds and soft play centres of Greater Manchester. Turns out I’m a lot braver than I thought on climbing frames – though needs must when your new child (parental responsibility of whom you still share with social services) is stuck half way up and screaming.

What else have I learned?

Pushing a child on the swings is great for bingo wings.

Ice cream vans ……. why are you always where I don’t want you to be?

Mister bloody Tumble gets everywhere!

I’m too fat to get through the tunnel in Head Over Heels.

Why does everyone else’s child seem to eat hummus and carrot sticks?

What is it with children and balloons?

Why do all her toy snakes have to be called Keith?

The toddler diet is by far the most effective I’ve ever tried.

I now live in leggings!


Tooth brushing


Highs and lows


For the good stuff I’ve been looking back at my Facebook status updates from the last nine months (as it’s clearly illegal to share the bad stuff!).

Here are some of my favourites to give you a flavour:

Tris and our girl dancing to sisters are doing it for themselves! Priceless!

I have a daughter who likes to head bang to the Kaiser Chiefs! Result!

Lovely to see our girl cheering on her Daddy at her first park run. Sprinting down he home straight together.

Stuck in tunnel! Can’t go backwards as string of toddlers behind. Can’t go forwards as can’t bend leg around enough. Trousers at half mast and thong on full display. I’m 45 I should know better.

It’s remarkable how much happier a toddler is after a big poo. Why did nobody tell me this! Turns out she doesn’t hate me after all!

Took our girl to Media City and introduced her to the Daleks in reception. ‘Daleks’ she said. ‘Like Dalek bread!’

To top it all as I tucked her new school top into her new school skirt I got a kiss and my first ‘I love you mum!’

Daddy is delighted that our girl would rather watch the third round draw of the FA Cup than Abadas! Daddy “Do you want to watch Pingu?” Reply “No, I love this (FA Cup)!” ‪#‎DaddysGirl‬

School nativity today. She was a little star – literally. She sang all the songs and was word perfect. It’s times like this when I get a split screen moment. One eye sees our girl now – the other sees her old life. It made me just a little bit teary!





We’ve gradually introduced her to her new family – she’s so excited and happy to have grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins.

We’ve built memories with holidays and family days out.

She’s started pre-school – and is doing really well. Our walk to school is fantastic. We call into every shop for her to say hello ….. in return they all love her to bits. None of them know her background, and none of them know the important job they are doing in helping our girl settle into her new home.

We’ve had her birthday – with a party for all her new friends, and we’ve successfully negotiated our first Christmas.

We sing, we dance, we laugh. She throws herself into absolutely everything. She’s a strong character and she knows her mind, but we are enormously lucky to have her in our lives. I am so proud of how she’s dealt with so much change in her short life and embraced her new life.


We can’t change the past – but we can change the future


However, it’s not all been a bed of roses. Through the summer she grieved enormously for her foster family. And until recently, the door to memories of her birth mum, which was very firmly closed, has started to open. While traumatic for all of us, it shows that she trusts us enough to go there and to let us help her.

She’s now legally ours and one day I’ll have the conversation with her about everyone’s story being different. I never thought in a million years that I’d adopt a child for example – and we’ll see where that takes us.

The dilemma that we will always face is trying to decode whether certain behaviours are purely age appropriate, or whether there is something deeper going on. We’re never going to know for certain because we weren’t there for the first three and a half years of her life. We’ll just have to do a lot of wondering and try to fill in the gaps while not over thinking things.

Five years ago I was very unlucky to be struck down with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. But I was also very lucky to defy the odds and live. When I was so ill and struggling to see the point in anything – well the fact I survived must have been for a reason.

Our girl was that reason.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor).


Photographs: Alison Staples


To read ‘Our adoption story – part one (up to approval to adopt)’ click here

To read ‘Our adoption story – part two (finding our girl)’ click here






Our adoption story

Part 2 – Finding our girl


While I thought getting approved to adopt would be the hard bit, it was nothing in comparison with what was to come.

You can read Part 1 (our adoption story up to the point where we were approved to adopt here).


lego house


Myths and cold feet


With adoption you can stop the process at any time, which meant that I never stopped questioning whether we were doing the right thing. The urge to chicken out and run for the hills was at times enormous, as was my analysis of my motives.

Thankfully I’m old enough to realise that it’s the things that have scared me the most that I’ve got the most out of. I also know that when I was ill and thought that my time was up, the most important question to me was whether I’d been brave. So I put on my big girl pants and kept moving forward.

One common myth is that there are lots of babies flying around in the system waiting to be adopted. Another is that adopted children are relinquished – given up at birth by young girls who have ‘got into trouble’, reluctantly giving up their new born babies so that society won’t scorn them. This 1950′s view of adoption couldn’t be further from the truth in 21st century Britain.

Instead, it’s more likely that social services will have tried very hard to keep birth mother and child together, and will have considered every family member as a possible permanent carer before adoption is considered. And rather than being relinquished, the children are usually removed once all other avenues have been exhausted and when the child is at risk of harm. As a result babies are very thin on the ground.


How do you know they’re the one?


Once approved we were allocated a ‘Family Finder’ social worker. From this point our mythical child started to become very real. The pressure of choosing the right child for us was huge. Surely they were all in need of a new loving home?


Child's stick drawing


Again we were enormously lucky with our new social worker. While the thought of glorified children shopping didn’t sit at all well, we were encouraged not to think of it in terms of rejecting children, but to focus on the search for the right child for us.

As it happened, our daughter’s profile was the first one we looked at, everything just seemed to fit us.

We’d asked for a little girl who was interested in things – who had something about her and would give life some welly! Now with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that we’ve got that in spades!

We’d also asked not to see photos at this point. It’s true to say that as soon as you see a little face smiling up at you, it doesn’t matter what their profile says, your heart over-rules your head.

There was something about hers being the first and only profile we’d looked at, which made us a bit uncomfortable. However we decided that just because it was the first profile we’d seen – it wouldn’t have been the first considered by our Family Finder. So we trusted her experience and judgment and believed that she’d just done a really good job.

After all – it wasn’t like we looking at houses or needed three competitive quotes!


Seeing our daughter’s face for the first time


I’d imagined many, many times what it would feel like to see a photo of my daughter for the first time. I wasn’t disappointed. This cheeky little girl smiled out at us – and blow me if I couldn’t see myself and my sister at that age in her. It was uncanny.

From that point on we started to invest in our girl – and the social workers and foster carers in us. We were locked in.

We were presented with numerous reports, court documents and medical assessments to wade through. It was tough reading at times but invaluable information.

Then we met her social worker and foster mother. They also needed to feel comfortable that we were the right forever mum and dad for this little girl who’d had such difficult start to life.


Our feet didn’t touch the ground


The speed of things did get the better of me at one point. Our schedule seemed to be governed by matching panel meetings and government targets. It was overwhelming and I panicked, so we slowed things down by a month and went on our final holiday together – just the two of us. We backpacked along the Croatian coast, finishing in the least child friendly city we could think of – Venice!

Our matching panel was on the 25th April 2014 – the same room and the same faces that approved our application to become adopters three months earlier.

Once again the decision was unanimous. It was really going to happen.


Meeting our girl for the first time


If seeing a photograph of her was big – meeting her for the first time was massive. This was going to be forever. What if we’d got it wrong. What if we’d had the wool pulled over our eyes just to tick a government box and get a child out of the care system. What if she wasn’t right for us?

I just had to focus on each day at a time otherwise my brain was in danger of melting.

We had just seven days to get our act together before introductions started. We had a lot to get ready and the clock was ticking.

We were also asked to put together a butterfly book of photos and audio messages so that our girl could start preparing for her new forever mummy and daddy.


Butterfly book


We included photos of Tris and I, the house, our cat, the local park and so forth, and followed a carefully worded script.

Hello – I’m mummy, and I’m daddy – and we can’t wait to meet you.

Here’s mummy standing outside your new house, and daddy digging vegetables for us all to eat.

You’ll be going to the park with mummy and going for bike rides and playing games with daddy.

This is your new pussy cat – he’s called Charley Bucket.

We love you ……..


Alison in the park


I felt like a complete muppet, but actually the butterfly book has become our girl’s ‘go to’ thing when she’s feeling a bit insecure. She’ll look at the photos and listen to the messages over and over. But now she recognises my top, the park, daddy’s bike and I can say “There you are – it was all true. It was just waiting for you to find it!


On the big day, following a meeting between social workers and foster mum at the adoption authority offices, we all drove in convoy to foster mum’s house. By this time I was employing breathing techniques to get me through.

As we parked up on the drive the first thing we saw was a little face jumping up and down with excitement in the bay window. If this day had been a long time coming for us – then it had been a long journey for her too.

“Who is this then?” asked foster mum.

“Mummy and daddy” she replied and then rushed off to get me a surprise.

Forty five years and no one had ever called me that, I’d grown to believe and accept that being a mum was what other people did, not me.

Apparently not!


Mother's Day Card


Next: Bringing our girl home and the first nine months.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples, our girl, Amazon


To read ‘Our adoption story – part one (up to approval to adopt)’ click here

To read ‘Our adoption story – part three (bringing our girl home and the first nine months)’ click here







Our adoption story

Part 1 – up to approval to adopt


It’s been a long time since I’ve written such a personal blog – and in this particular case it’s taken me nine months to feel ready to share. It’s written in three parts – I really hope it helps anyone else who is thinking following the adoption path.





Five years ago


Just at the point where we’d decided to try and start a family, I was diagnosed with a rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and given quite a poor prognosis.

We went from being in full on ‘trying for a family’ mode to the stark realisation that if I chose to have my life saving treatment, then it would draw a very thick line under us being able to have children of our own.

It was a very black and shocking time.

April 2010 is a blur in my memory. There is little I can remember of my month stint in practical isolation in The Christie having high dose chemo and a stem cell transplant.

But unknown to me, as the treatment fried my insides beyond use, at the very same time a new life was being made – my daughter.

If you take only one thing away from our story, then let it be this – when it looks like there’s no hope, somewhere unknown to you the universe will be reoranising itself to put things right. The only question being when it decides to reveal itself.


Three years ago


When I was little I always took for granted that I would meet someone, get married and have a family. It never occurred to me that things would look any different.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realise that everyone has their own story – mine is just different. And while life dealt us some really crap cards that we can’t change – what we could change was the future and how we responded to them.

So while it meant we couldn’t have our own family, what it did give us was an opportunity to do something really incredible for another little boy or girl through adoption.

In the summer of 2012 I finally plucked up courage to apply for an adoption information pack and in September of that year, very tentatively we went to an information evening.

Christmas that year was a tricky one – by that point I knew that my child would have been born. But I also knew that it was unlikely to be in care yet. Which meant that my child was out there somewhere and in trouble, but I didn’t know where and I couldn’t get to them.

It was an unexpected and awful feeling.


Two years ago


Now that we were in the system, we knew that the clock was ticking on our newlywed, ‘just the two of us’ time together, so we made sure that we ticked off some of our bucket list. We canoed across Scotland, back packed around Zambia and blitzed the house to get all our renovations finished.


Canoeing the Caledonian Canal


It was also important to put some distance between myself and my cancer. Cancer is traumatic to say the least, and I needed time to heal emotionally. I also needed to come to terms with the guilt I felt towards my husband and all my ancestors, whose genetic line finished with my broken body.

In the summer of 2013 we went on a four day intensive adoption preparation training course with 10 other couples. At the end of the last day we were asked what we’d learned and what we’d managed to let go.

I wasn’t sure, and then it came to me …… what I’d learned was that although I didn’t yet know my new child’s name, what sex they were or where they were, by learning about the chaotic and often dangerous situations these children are plucked from and how they would most likely be affected, I was already starting to bond with my child.

And what I was letting go were the two little girls who were sitting on the floor just to the left of me. I didn’t even know they were there until that moment, but they were the two little girls we would have had if everything had worked out naturally for us. They would always be there, my two little ghost girls – my genetic legacy – but I needed to let go of them. My future was now destined to go in a different direction.


Adoption approval process


Things started to move very quickly from this point on. Reducing the length of the adoption process was by now high on the government’s agenda. We’d come into the system through the old process and now we were the first going through the new.

I expected the weekly visits from our newly allocated social worker to be enormously intrusive. They weren’t. I think we were really lucky with our social worker – in reality it felt more like free facilitated couples counseling. I quite enjoyed it, and it gave us a unique opportunity to learn even more about each other.

What I found most difficult about the approval process was thinking back to how I’d been parented. I lost my mum to cancer 12 years ago – revisiting my childhood so vividly was incredibly hard, but also made me realise that I really wanted to adopt a girl, because I wanted the kind of relationship with my daughter that I’d had with my mother.

What was also very hard – and I still feel very uncomfortable talking about it was deciding what sort of child we wanted.

For anyone considering adoption, I’d really recommend that you get the box set of the TV series Cold Feet. Not only is a slice of Mancunian history, it also contains an adoption story line which is fantastic preparation, so I knew that the ‘tick list’ was coming.

Initially you want to say yes to everything – partly because you don’t want to be discriminatory, and partly because if you have your own children naturally you don’t get to choose.

But when you are faced with, ‘would you choose a child with or who has suffered’……

  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Learning difficulties
  • Life limiting illness
  • Birth mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy
  • Birth mother took drugs during pregnancy
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Born as a result of incest
  • Born as a result of rape
  • And so the list went on

Each one had to be explored, and many of them were on a spectrum …… how visually impaired? Glasses, no sight at all? As someone who spent six years working for The National Library for the Blind it was very difficult.

The realisation that this wasn’t a popularity contest, and it wasn’t about being a saint was a huge relief. Rather it was about what we could cope with and have the best chance of success. So we chose the easiest possible option.


Christmas 2013 came and went, but this time it felt a lot easier. Although I still didn’t know where my child was, at least I knew by now they’d be in care and would be safe. The light was at the end of the tunnel for all of us.


Approved to adopt


On Friday 24th January 2014, we walked into a room and looked at the 12 faces sitting around the table who would decide whether or not we were to be a family.

They had all read the 30,000 word report prepared by our social worker, the references provided by family, friends and work colleagues and very importantly the medical report provided by my clinician at The Christie – which said that four years on from my last treatment, my prognosis was very positive. It took a long time to get the report, and my health history hung over us, threatening to derail our adoption ambitions for a long time, but it was necessary to prove to the panel that I was going to be around to watch our child grow up.

Our application to adopt was approved unanimously.


While I thought getting approved to adopt would be the hard bit, it was nothing in comparison with what was to come next.

Next: Finding a match and meeting our girl and Meeting our girl and the first nine months


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples






Traditional children’s party ideas

Going back to basics


Children’s parties are a hot topic at the moment with the recent uproar and debate over the mum who invoiced a no-show.

It can be a pricey affair, so we asked our resident baking blogger and mum of four Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry to share with us some of her top tips for a traditional children’s party.


Over to you Alice ……


Alice's Vintage Pantry


Looking for something a bit different for your child’s birthday party? Why not go back to traditional kids parties that were common place before children’s entertainers and soft play venues were so popular.

There is something really lovely about organising a traditional kid’s party with traditional games and entertainment and a lovely homemade party tea.

At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we host lots of adult and children’s tea parties. We’ve put together a few tips and ideas to help you plan one of your own.


Choose a theme


First off decide on a theme for the party and use it to help you plan both the entertainment and the food.

Age dependent you could go for a Teddy Bears picnic, Princesses and Princes, Mad Hatters or Alice in Wonderland or maybe a Village Fete theme.

Invitations can be made with ease, just get yourself a pack of plain cards and get the kids decorating with stickers etc. Games food and entertainment can all be themed to match.

American Girl Doll Inspired Birthday Party by Anders Ruff





Keep the food simple and small, nothing that is going to need cutlery.

Finger sandwiches, little cakes and bakes, cut up veg and fruit, cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks.

Perhaps get yourself some shaped biscuit cutters to suit the theme you have gone for and use them to make shaped sandwiches.


Blueberry cupcake





Use china teapots, teacups and saucers for soft drinks. Kids love pouring their own!

If you are concerned about breakages there are lots of pretty paper cups available to buy, but in our experience very few breakages happen, and they love to use the proper cups and saucers.




Along with traditional games like ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ (always goes down well!) and musical bumps, have a couple of organised activities planned to give the children a bit of sitting down time (and a moment of relative calm for you!).

Perhaps bake some vanilla cupcakes and get the kids to decorate them. Disposable icing bags are inexpensive, add a few ‘sprinkles’ or chopped chocolate to decorate, put a named cocktail stick flag in each and they can eat them with their party tea.

Or get some stiff card and cut our photo frame shapes, let the kids decorate them with glitter, coloured pens, feathers etc.


Mackenzie's 2nd birthday party





Consider strings of bunting and petals or beads sprinkled on the table, name place cards for the afternoon tea and fairy lights.

If you have a specific theme then browse the internet for decoration ideas to complement it, there are lots of ideas out there.




Making your own birthday cake can seem a bit daunting but might not be as tricky as you think.

There are lots of simple design ideas available online for you to have a go at, most come with step by step guides, and, let’s face it – the cake is only on display for a few minutes, then cut, packed and wrapped to take home!

So not worth too much of a sweat!




Party bags


Paper bags can be bought online or in lots of the discount shops and supermarkets.

They are a great way to create personalised party bags that are a bit different to the norm. Get some stamps, stickers and coloured pens are decorate according to the theme. Stencil or write kids names on them and make sure they put the result of their craft activity in the bags before they go home.


Timing plan


It might sound a bit dull when you are talking about a kids party – but having an idea of what you are going to do and when can make a massive difference to how well it all goes, and how stressed you feel!

Have a couple of ‘group’ party games to get things going, something like pass the parcel or musical bumps. Break up the party games by scheduling in craft or baking activities.

When you serve the food will depend on the timing of the party, half way through normally works well, a bit more relative calm for you.


Be brave…give it a go and let us know how it goes!


Alice x


Photographs: Nathan Jones via Flickr Creative Commons, Anders Ruff via Flickr Creative Commons, Alice’s Vintage Pantry



Other articles by Alice ……

Easy chocolate cake recipe

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

The perfect Tiramisu recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe











No Make-Up Selfies

What the ‘no make-up selfie’ says to our children


The #NoMakeUpSelfie has been without doubt an incredible phenomenon, raising millions of pounds for cancer charities. Our regular guest blogger and parenting expert Belinda Hayes from TLS Parenting has taken the opportunity to look at it from a different angle.


Over to you Belinda ……

Belinda Hayes


I don’t know about you, but I have been really interested by the reactions to the ‘no make- up selfie’ requests on social media.

Some friends have been happy to reveal their true selves, some have ignored the request and others have said, “well this is what I look like anyway – so here goes!”


When I asked my daughter what she thought about the trend, she couldn’t see a problem – why would people get so stressed about make up when they are naturally beautiful.


No Make up selfie


Now, I know that she is 10 and this can all change, but I was really pleased to hear her say that.

Often as parents we build our children up, while dragging ourselves down, and we don’t even realise we are doing it. When we criticise others, or ourselves based on our looks, our children see this, and what we model to them undermines our efforts to build them up.

Never before have children been so influenced by the visual. Television, apps and even communication is more than ever about images – with many children as young as 9 using instagram regularly. Judgement about appearances are quickly attached to these communications – like with the “hot or not” app where people are judged on their looks.

I have always thought that home should be a port in the storm of life, so this should be the one place that goes against society’s grain; and I know that we try to be, it is just that sometimes our actions and thoughts about ourselves contradict our best wishes for our children.


Make up


Now, I am not saying we should never diet, or wear makeup, but I am saying that we need to be mindful of how we do these things.



Praise matters


I am a fan of praising children, but don’t forget to praise yourself too! Let your kids know when you have done something well, or when your look great – they will catch on and praise you too.

And finally, when you are applying make-up, remember that you are merely enhancing your natural features, because let’s face it – those gorgeous kids of yours got there looks from you!


Belinda x


Photographs: Free Digital Images


Other articles by Belinda:

Taking holidays during term time






Situs Inversus with Dextrocadia

A Manchester mum’s story of her child, born with her organs and heart on the wrong side


I met Manchester mum Kate Wilde recently and was so taken by her story that I promised to share it.


Over to you Kate ……

Life’s obstacles – heart’s in the right place

Kate & Chloe


As I’m getting older, I’ve come to realise that everybody has a story to tell.

It could be inspiring, funny, informative but I’m finding out that most people seem to have stories about ‘life’s obstacles’.

Well, I can pinpoint exactly the time and date when mine and my husband’s world in an instant seemed to come crashing down.




Tuesday November 6th 2012 at 11.30am – Tameside General Hospital, this was the day of our antenatal 20 weeks scan of our unborn second child.


The sonographer went quiet


As a parent at these antenatal appointments, you have mixed emotions anyway. The sonographer at our scan seemed to be extremely quiet, a few moments later we were told that our baby’s heart was on the right hand side of the body instead of the left.

Obviously things quickly whizz around in your head, and then the feeling turns to being numb.

That period was hard for both of us, lots and lots of tests were done over a few weeks. Results started to come in, a few things were ruled out but we still didn’t know what to expect or what was wrong with our child.


At 33 weeks


Eventually we found out at 33 weeks pregnant that the baby had a condition called Situs Inversus with Dextrocadia, this basically means all organs and the heart are flipped over as a mirror image inside the body.

There are varying degrees of this condition and they all have there own definitions. At this point nothing more could be done and we didn’t know what the outcome would be. We had to just wait until our baby was born. We had great support from our family, friends and they know who they are.


Chloe Isabella was born


On Monday March 18th at 10.35am Chloe Isabelle was born. She was in neonatal for a few days and we found out she definitely has complete Situs Inversus with Dextrocadia. Along with this she has an ASD and a VSD – holes in the heart.

Chloe is currently being monitored at various departments at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. We are still not sure of the long term prognosis, but she’s here and seems to be doing fantastically!


Kate & Chloe


Researching Chloe’s condition


We tried hard to research the condition before Chloe was born and the consequences of this condition, but we couldn’t really find anything. The information that was about seemed to be extremely scientific. (See the scientific links below).

As a family we needed support and information from an outside source. Eventually we found a Facebook Support group called Total Situs Inversus with Dextrcardia, however this was after Chloe was born. The guys on there are amazing, and the lady that has set this page up has now made me one of the admin managers.




Heart’s in the right place


We are now ready to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Firstly by starting to help raise awareness about Situs Inversus with Dextrocardia as a rare condition. I’m currently working on an awareness website called heartsintherightplace.org.

This will be a place to find basic information within the UK about Situs Inversus with Dextrocardia without being patronising, along with stories and a support network for people living with the condition or who care for somebody that has the condition.

We’re hoping that figures of authority will have more knowledge about the condition once more awareness is put into action. This will be launched mid 2014.


My special little monkey


For now, we’re reflecting a lot! But we truly are thankful that Chloe is here and doing the usual cheeky things babies do. She’s just about to turn one, and even to this day I call her my special little monkey.





Kate x


Further sources of information:

Situs Inversus on Wikipedia



Photographs: Kate Wilde







Taking Holidays During Term Time

Price hikes and prosecutions


With many holiday and travel companies putting up their prices during the school holidays it’s becoming more and more costly to share a family getaway. But with high profile cases now coming to court for parents who have taken their kids out of school during term time, it’s something of a hot topic.

We asked guest blogger and parenting expert, Belinda Hayes (TLS Parenting) for her thoughts on the pros, cons and alternatives.


Over to you Belinda ……

Belinda Hayes


It is amazing to see how social media can influence what our MPs are discussing, and this is no more obvious than with the issue of holiday price rises during school holidays.

For as long as I can remember parents (and teachers!) have been paying more to go on holiday during the school breaks.



For the extra money they get to experience their destination, be it home or abroad, at its busiest, full roads, full flights and the increased likelihood of strikes!

However, lately extreme price rises coupled with parents being fined for taking children out of school in term time has meant that the situation has escalated. Now people’s frustration has finally reached Westminster’s ears.Mother & daughter on beach

The holiday industry argues that it is a case of supply and demand; so long as there are people willing to pay the increased prices, the prices will remain inflated.

They also say that these busy periods are their chief source of revenue, and allow them to sustain their business throughout the year.



There are no easy answers


If I ruled the world I would allow parents to take their children out of school for up to 10 days with the agreement of the teachers, and would build in some kind of project for the children to undertake while away.

I would also want to try and find a way to give teachers – who don’t have a choice about their holidays – some kind of voucher or discount scheme.


Why holidays mean so much


However, since my ruling the world is not an option just now we need to think of more creative solutions.

It may be that we need to remember why holidays mean so much to us. For me, they are about having no routine, making memories, and reconnecting with my family.






So if going away isn’t an option what can we do?


Firstly, I suggest you ask yourself what you like about the holidays – is it a chance to have some you time, read a book, go to markets, do nothing?

Then, ask your children what they would like to do?

Often we assume that we know what makes our children happy – expensive days out and keeping busy; but you may be surprised. Our children are often incredibly over scheduled and may relish the thought of a pyjama day, watching TV and doing nothing!


Make a plan


So, having worked out what makes everyone happy, it is time to make a plan to make sure everyone gets something. Here are just some ideas:

  • Go walking through a forest – making dens, looking for ‘monster’ footprints, even just collecting bits of nature. You could try Delamere Forest or Alderley Edge, not to mention the many National Trust sites in the area.
  • Have movie days or nights – get in the popcorn, and relax.
  • Craft activities (including trips to local art galleries) and baking – but don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it is supposed to be fun!
  • Camp in the garden, go to the beach for the day… the list is as long as your imagination.


BUT – try and book in some time for yourself too – maybe you could exchange child care with a friend so you both get some time off. Now, all you need is spray tan and you’re all set!


Belinda x


Photographs: Free digital photos






Nappy Natters

Find out all about cloth nappies at Baba + Boo’s events


If you want to learn more about cloth nappies in a relaxed setting then head over to one of Baba+Boo’s free Nappy Natters events. You’ll even come away with a freebie or two to try out for yourself.


Baba+Boo Cow Reusable Nappy



Recycle for Greater Manchester is partnering with Eve from  Baba+Boo to encourage parents in Greater Manchester to use cloth nappies on their little ones from birth to potty.

Eve with her two children (boy 4 & girl 2) - face on shot.


The Nappy Natter events will take place throughout 2014 to help parents make an informed choice on using cloth nappies as an alternative to disposables.

Eve will demonstrate the benefits of using the convenient, snug, super cool cloth that make economic and environmental sense.



Disposable nappies can cost, on average, £1,000 from birth to potty, compared to £160 for a basic real nappies birth to potty kit, which could save parents up to £800.

Cloth nappies are the natural, washable and re-usable alternative to disposable nappies and there are plenty to choose from. The aim of the partnership between Baba+Boo and Recycle for Greater Manchester is to help to dispel the myth they are difficult to use.


Baba + Boo nappy sets

Eve’s really excited to get out on the road to show parents the benefits of cloth nappies. Not only are they better for babies and their futures, they’re really cute!.




Baba+Boo will be visiting maternity units, coffee shops and baby groups across Greater Manchester and will have free samples too for parents to try them out. The first two dates are:


Chorlton Library

February 4th 2014, 10.30am-12.30pm
Manchester Road, Chorlton Cum Hardy, Manchester, M21 9PN


Bean and Brush in Sale

February 7 10.30am-12.30pm
The Old Sorting Office, 12 Hayfield Walk, Sale, Cheshire, M33 7XW


so make sure you keep in touch with Baba+Boo on their website and Facebook page to see where else they will be visiting.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Baba+Boo




Baba + Boo logo


Web site: babaandboo.com

Facebook: facebook.com/babaandboo

Twitter: @babaandboo

Phone: +44 (0) 7814 315385

Email: info@babaandboo.com




Articles by Eve:

Potty training tips

Saving us from boring baby stuff

It’s Real Nappy Week 2013

Making jewellery with children

Baba+Boo’s gorgeous new Woodland Collection

The things they don’t tell you at ante natal class

Why I’m not doing Halloween

Teach me how to shop again!

It’s Real Nappy Week 2012











Potty training tips

What to expect when things get a bit potty


Our regular mummy guest blogger and super dooper entrepreneur, Eve from Baba+Boo is back on the blog again today. With two children of her own and a real nappy and baby accessory business, it’s a subject close to her heart.


Over to you Eve ……

Eve and her two children


There are so many stages as a parent that you mourn.

When people say that you should take in every moment, you don’t really realise how fast those first few years go.

Potty training feels like the last baby stage as your little one shows more independence.


Saying goodbye to Boo’s colourful cloth nappies was really sad – another step forward to my child not needing her mummy (I know that isn’t true but it feels like that!).

Potty training can be a tough developmental milestone for parents.

I think there can be quite a bit of peer pressure and bragging. For some parents the age at which your child learns to use the potty is another badge in successful parenting. For others it can feel like the most drawn out and frustrating process, leaving you and your little one distraught.

I have no words of wisdom for you I am afraid.

The truth is that every child is different, but there are a few things that parents have told me which helped, and so I am passing on a few of their tips.




Let them feel in control


Let your child pick their own ‘big girl / boy’ pants and potty. It allows them to feel in control and encourages the use of their new big person items.




You can never give enough praise. Make sure your little one is heaped with praise after each successful attempt.


Be prepared


Be prepared for lot’s of cleaning – the rugs, the sofa, the bed. Get an under the bed sheet, over the mattress protector and carpet freshener. Be prepared to feel like you are cleaning up after accidents forever – but remember that it won’t be and you will get through it!


potty training


Offer potty use


Remind your little one every 45 minutes or so, and make sure that they sit on the potty just before bedtime too.




Should we offer rewards or treats when potty training?

Regardless of whether they go in the potty, should it be every time they sit on it?

Only you know if rewards can work with your child.


potty training




Don’t fret and don’t show negativity towards them. Explain why you are cleaning up calmly, ask a question as to why and leave it at that. It is hard to not get frustrated but also remember that this is about them finding their way too.


Potty training


Is your child ready?


Ask yourself is your child really ready for potty training?

Are you doing it as a need for you or for them?

I get asked for potty training advice a lot and the thing I have learnt most from the feedback I get, is that it’s always best to let them take the lead.


It’s a big step for them and it will be much nicer (if it can be!) for you both if you are both ready for it.

All the best!


Eve x


Baba + Boo logo


Web site: babaandboo.com

Facebook: facebook.com/babaandboo

Twitter: @babaandboo

Phone: +44 (0) 7814 315385

Email: info@babaandboo.com



Photographs: Baba+Boo



Other articles by Eve:

Saving us from boring baby stuff

It’s Real Nappy Week 2013

Making jewellery with children

Baba+Boo’s gorgeous new Woodland Collection

The things they don’t tell you at ante natal class

Why I’m not doing Halloween

Teach me how to shop again!

It’s Real Nappy Week 2012















Swimming with your baby

The benefits of having a little Puddle Duck


We’re welcoming Suzanne from Puddle Ducks Greater Manchester back onto the blog today – to share with us some of the reasons why getting your little one confident in the water from an early age is a really good idea.


Over to you Suzanne ……

Suzanne Horton


Every parent wants their child to learn to swim and to know how to be safe in and around water.

Puddle Ducks is all about teaching these vital skills to babies and toddlers in fun and friendly lessons whilst giving you the perfect opportunity to bond with your little one.

I guarantee that you and your little Puddle Duck will love splashing about.

And you’ll have a ball singing along to our happy songs and making friends in our exciting, varied and fun filled swimming classes.

Your little Puddle Duck will go from water baby to confident swimmer without even realising it!


Puddle Ducks -child swimming under water


What are the benefits of swimming with your baby?


Taking your baby swimming will provide them with a unique sensory experience, developing confidence in the water that lasts a lifetime.

Swimming and floating together will give you and your little one a truly magical opportunity for some one-to-one bonding time. Babies experience a freedom of movement they can’t achieve on land and the gentle resistance of the water helps to develop muscle strength and lung capacity.

Did you know that research has shown that baby swimmers, eat better and sleep better?



Puddle Ducks underwater shot of mother & childPS swim photo - with parent 3-1


Our baby and toddler swimming classes follow a truly unique and nationally recognised programme which is constantly updated so it is always fresh and exciting.  Every class is different and your little one can start Puddle Ducks baby swimming and toddler swimming lessons at any age up 4 years old.

Having been a competitive swimmer I am passionate about passing on this important and enjoyable skill. I am sure that your Puddle Ducks lesson will be the highlight of the week for you and your little water baby.

I look forward to welcoming you and your little one to one of our fantastic classes very soon! Click here for details of our classes.


Suzanne x


Puddle Ducks


Web site: puddleducks.com

Tel: 0161 883 0222

Email: greatermanchester@puddleducks.com

Twitter: @PuddleGtrMCR

Facebook: facebook.com/ PuddleDucksGreaterManchester


Photographs: Puddle Ducks

This blog is produced in collaboration with our friends at Puddle Ducks. We occasionally publish blogs funded by commercial partners.


Other articles by Puddle Ducks

Puddleducks Aqua Natal Classes

Open Water Swimming – Stay Safe







  • A A A