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  • Welcome to GOBLIN CHILD

    Hi, I'm Amber. I'm a blogger, photographer and one of two mums to the Goblin Twins. This space is where I document the growth of my babies, share what they've been wearing and write about the joys and frustrations of being a LGBT parent. Watch out for cameo appearances from my firstborn, Josephine-dog, my photographic muse.

    I'm based in London, England.

    Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The All-in-One Buying Guide from Tesco

We had a bit of a disaster shortly before I left for our Camber Sands holiday last week when Josephine-dog leapt down off of the sofa and landed on my laptop.  Initially it appeared to be undamaged but when I turned it on I noticed that about a quarter of the screen was white, with what looked like a bleeding black crack spreading across the rest of the screen.

A few days later, one of the little stands that keeps the screen standing upright snapped off, and now the front of the frame around the screen seems to be slowly peeling off, and the laptop automatically shuts down after twenty minutes due to overheating.

To save you the effort of imagining my face when this happens, here’s a picture:

Poor old Josephine.  Between this incident and the three-day doggy hospitalisation in March that cost us almost two thousand pounds, Josephine is swifty becoming the most expensive thing in my home.  It’s a good thing that she’s thoroughly adorable.

As I can’t be trusted with anything other than frivolous purchases (case in point: the £400 pram that I bought because it was purple) my infinitely more sensible other half, Kirsty, has been researching replacement options for me.

One of her suggestions was that in a home with not one but TWO babies soon to become mobile as well as an accident-prone little dog, it might be preferable to invest in a desktop PC.  She pointed out that I do power through vast amounts of data editing umpteen RAW photography files in Photoshop that my laptop has struggled to cope with for a while.  I’m also considering jumping on the vlogging bandwagon, and I know from experience that editing video takes even more power than editing images.

She makes a valid point but I love the set-up that I have now, where I sit on my rainbow rug with my mug of coffee, and use the laptop surrounded by dog and babies.  It means that I feel close to the family even when I’m busy, which wouldn’t be the case if I were sat away from them.  The other advantage of laptop over computer is that I can migrate it around the house, depending on where everyone is, or take it with me when we visit my mum or go on holiday.

Kirsty thinks that if I won’t buy a desktop PC and migrate to a desk, I might like to consider an All-in-One, which is basically a desktop PC squashed into the size of a laptop.  It probably wouldn’t survive my 14kgs of dog jumping on it any better than a laptop would but she thinks that it might be worth it for me as the higher-end models share similar performance specifications with a desktop PC, allowing my editing of large files to run seamlesly.  Not to mention, they’re VERY nice to look at.

We’ve been looking at laptops and computers from Tesco as it’s always nice to get a few more points on the clubcard, and the All-in-One buying guide is a useful resource that spells out the different system specifications for various All-in-Ones, so that I can be sure to choose one with enough power to cope with my needs.

That way, I can still sit cross-legged on the rug to blog, rather than feeling chained to a desk!

Do you use a desktop PC or a laptop?  Perhaps you use an All-in-One?  Do comment and tell me what has worked for you!

*Thanks to Tesco for the inspiration.

+ - 2 comments

May 29, 2015 - 9:44 am

Jodie - We have a laptop and a desktop that has 4 screens. That’s hubby’s though. I use the laptop for editing images and blogging but will steal the computer for video edits and if I really need to concentrate and not be surrounded by demands. Plus I prefer typing on the proper keyboard over the laptop One. Especially as the T doesn’t work very well on the laptop. I love the look of an AIO though. I like the new Surface Pro 3

May 29, 2015 - 10:09 am

Chloe (Sorry About The Mess) - I have a desktop with A LOT of ram. There is no way I could function with a laptop, like you said, for working on RAW files and video. This does make things trickier with daily life though – there are many times that I can’t work because I need to be in another room, or I’m feeding a child. Best of both worlds would be a portable option for writing/blogging/emailing and my desktop for the heavy duty work. When child no 3 happens, I’m going to treat myself to a chromebook or a reasonably priced notebook.

My Breastfeeding Failure Story #bressure

Here is my experience of how the medical establishment failed us in our struggle to be a breastfeeding family, and how #bressure almost cost me my bond with my newborn twins.

My twin sons were born last October at term.  They weighed 6lbs 2oz and 6lbs 6oz and were perfect aside from that they were tongue-tied, a fact that was missed by the midwives that observed us nursing.  I hadn’t wanted the caesarean section that I ended up with but my recovery was super and we left the hospital when they were twenty-one hours new.

The community midwife that we expected to visit the next day didn’t show up which seemed a bit odd, but we were used to negligent midwives by then and besides, we were so exhausted managing newborn twins that we didn’t chase it up.  She didn’t come by the next day either, but we supposed that was because it was a Sunday.  She failed to show up on Monday and after a series of telephone calls to the hospital that we delivered at, where we were passed around departments and accidentally hung up on, we finally got through to somebody who expressed surprise that we were at home with our babies because our discharge papers had mistakenly recorded that we had been sent to the Special Care Baby Unit.

Uh, no.  No we had not.

A community midwife was with us within the hour and to her credit, she was lovely.  Reassuring and affirmative that we were doing brilliantly.  She watched them feed and expressed a little concern at Balthazar’s skin tone – yellow – and sleepiness but told us that newborns did tend to sleep a lot and to call if we had any trouble waking him up.

We called her that evening to report precisely that and was told to head back to the hospital via A&E.  Our first hospital trip with a baby.  He was four days old.

Whilst Lysander’s tongue tie was only moderate and he had lost just 8% of his bodyweight, Balthazar had lost 11% and was barely conscious.  The paediatrician at the Children’s A&E decided that he should be admitted and put him on a strict feeding schedule whereby he had to consume precisely 55mls of breastmilk every three hours.  I was horrified that one of my children had starved to the point of needing hospitalisation without my having even noticed, so I decided to pump for both in order to monitor their intake.

Finding ourselves back on the postnatal ward was a difficult experience given that we’d had a traumatic birth experience and didn’t feel safe there.  We were loaned a Medela Symphony, a hospital-grade breastpump with two suction cups, the intention being that the mother can pump both breasts at the same time.  However, ours had only one suction cup and so could pump just one breast at a time.  With my faulty breastpump I was supposed to pump enough milk to feed two babies.  I didn’t sleep that night, as Kirsty cradled our children and fed them my milk from a bottle and I pumped one breast and then the other over and again as I cried.

Not only was the breastpump faulty but repeatedly midwives came into our room to ‘borrow’ it.  We explained that we had been given a feeding schedule from Balthazar’s paediatrician, that he had been readmitted and was sick, and the midwives promised to bring it back when the other woman was done – only they didn’t. Hours passed. We spent so much time chasing about that ward, introducing ourselves to midwives and asking them to find it and bring it back.  Nobody did.  The schedule began to look disorganised, with the babies late for feeds or not getting enough milk.  It made us look like bad parents.  When the paediatrician frowned over it, we felt like the worst parents in the world.

The hormone oxytocin controls breastmilk letdown.  Oxytocin is known as a ‘happy hormone’ – it is affected by the mother’s emotions and inhibited by stress.  As I cried in that hospital room, hours late to express my milk as I waited for the breastpump to be returned, my supply started to tank.  By the next day, physically and emotionally exhausted (and unable to sleep as I tried to produce enough milk to feed two children using my incomplete breastpump) I was no longer producing my 110 mls every three hours to feed my new babies.  And anyway – the breastpump had been missing for hours and nobody knew where to find it.

The twins were howling with hunger and we couldn’t console them.  Our schedule was looking dreadful.  We had been given the (incomplete) breastpump for thirty minutes before it was whisked off again.

Balthazar’s blood tests were still showing that he was dehydrated, that the levels of salt in his blood were too high.  They wouldn’t discharge us to allow us to go home and hire our own breastpump with two working suction cups.  They couldn’t offer us vegetarian formula.

The supervisor on the ward came in to our room to suggest that we give the babies donor milk, ‘because it’s so much better for babies’ than formula.  Of course I wanted the best for them so I agreed, with words that could barely be distinguished through my sobs.

My babies were now drinking somebody else’s milk.

Unable to look at them, I moved to the bathroom to continue my breakdown.  Exhausted and wracked with postnatal hormones, I felt like a failure.

I’m not proud of it but I seriously considered walking out of that hospital and leaving them there, to conceive another child ASAP and do it all over again ‘properly’.  It’s an animal response, isn’t it?  In times of extreme stress, eat your young or abandon them.  If Kirsty hadn’t already bonded deeply, if she hadn’t clutched them and cried because she knew what I was thinking, I suspect that I probably would have.  They were drinking a stranger’s milk and they didn’t feel like mine.  I wanted to do it again.  I wanted a home birth somewhere far away from this shitty hospital and a proper breastfeeding experience.

We did get our second suction cup halfway through day two but so much damage had been done by then.  And it made me wonder – if there was an available second cup all along, why had we only been given one?  It would have been so easy to give us two in the first place and it was so harmful to us that they hadn’t.

We were discharged after three miserable days and tried to seek help from our health visitor.  I had rented a breastpump, sought a prescription of domperidone from my GP, and was working on increasing my supply.  Whilst my babies snacked occasionally on vegetarian formula (easily sourced, stocked at Tesco) I was spending most of my waking hours – and much of the time that I should have spent sleeping – hooked up to the breastpump.

Our healthcare visitor was unable to make referrals to have tongue ties snipped and neither baby was much good on the breast.  Her recommendation?  To take three buses across London to a ‘breastfeeding café’ where they would watch me fail to feed and hopefully, no guarantees, make the referral for us to trek BACK across London on a different day for the surgery.  A week after a caesarean section.  With TWINS.  On THREE BUSES.

I couldn’t face it.  I don’t know that many would have.  I was just so tired and instead of spending my time snuggling my babies I was hooked up to a machine that turned my nipples purple and made them bleed.  The journey to the café would have taken hours that I should have spent pumping.  It would have fecked up my supply further.  And if I wasn’t pumping, I wanted to sleep.

The twins were fed almost exclusively on expressed breastmilk until I returned to work when they were twelve weeks old.  Pressure to give my children my breastmilk meant that my maternity leave wasn’t spent cuddling my newborns but rather staring into space, trying not to wince as a machine tugged at my breasts.  It meant that some days, I didn’t hold either baby – I was completely touched out.  If I wasn’t pumping, I was making dinner or walking the dog or trying to make time for the family members that demanded to see the babies every day.  It put so much pressure on us as a family.

I switched to formula when I returned to work and all I felt was relief.  The babies seemed not to notice the difference and suddenly I had time in the day to enjoy them and get to know their little personalities.

All I’m saying is that if breast is best – and I haven’t seen any evidence of that in my family – then medical professionals need to enable that.  And if they’re unwilling or unable to do so then perhaps it’s time to shut up about it and let mothers do what they can.

+ - 6 comments

May 28, 2015 - 3:04 pm

Shivie P - I have 4 kids. Nightmare experiences trying to breastfeed 2 of them. Complete lack of support from midwives. I don’t know why if the support isn’t there, women are put under such pressure to breastfeed.And why so many mums judge others. I am pro choice. I am pro happy and healthy babies but also a happy and healthy mum. Well done for getting through those 1st 3 months.

May 28, 2015 - 7:48 pm

Vickie - Your face in that photo of you pumping makes me want to reach out and give you a massive hug. You look so defeated and that’s just heartbreaking because by rights you should’ve been beaming with pride at your two beautiful babies.

Your experience was fairly similar to mine (albeit I had only the one baby to worry about) and I’ve never felt so relieved in my life as when we switched to formula feeding.

Like Shivie I am 100% pro choice. I am pro mums feeding their babies in whatever way they can. Healthy happy babies equal a healthy happy mum and vice versa.

May 28, 2015 - 8:56 pm

Jodie - our health care “professionals”‘ missed P3s tongue tie and I had to give up breastfeeding as she wasn’t putting on enough weight. It was me that noticed a month or so later when it was too late. I was devastated. I had breastfed P2 for 6months. But bottle has been far easier to fit with our life at the moment.

May 28, 2015 - 9:46 pm

Laura - Thank you for sharing your story, can’t imagine how you felt and how you have been treated. My baby was small and a slow weight gainer, after countless midwives/health visitors/breastfeeding clinics he had his tongue tied cut at 10weeks – I felt blame for a long time and still do :( am glad I persevered with the breast feeding but wish it could have been an easier ride xx

May 28, 2015 - 10:08 pm

Donna - Your breastfeeding wasn’t a failure – you succeeded massively given the circumstances but the system was a complete and utter failure. Big love, what an awful experience x

May 28, 2015 - 10:31 pm

Emma Chanagasubbay - Such a fabulous post. I breastfeed all five of my children but struggled terribly for the firs few months with all of them. It wasn’t until I had my last and the fifth midwife we saw picked up the tongue tie, she then informed me that it was probable that all of them could of had the same problem but had just gone unnoticed.
I can’t understand that a procedure that takes all of five mins is so hard to detect and get performed.
I was lucky with number five but this story is such a common one. Awareness really needs to be bought to the NHS and something done about it.

Beach Photography from Camber Sands

I love the sea in all of its permutations: the wild and grey coast of my childhood where my grandparents would take us on beach trips from our caravan holiday in the New Forest, the playful seas of my adult trips to see family in Greece, where the water always seems impossibly blue and tiny black fish swim about my body.  It’s my element.  Nothing makes me feel cleaner than a dip in the sea, nothing clears my head so fast.

I always come out exhausted, but in a good way.  Or I should say – I’m always coaxed out exhausted, I could stay in the water forever.

The sea at Camber was far too cold even for me but as I stood atop of the dunes and stared down at the enormous expanse of sand and that sea so far off in the distance, I couldn’t help but feel soothed.  It’s so big.  It makes me feel small, again in a good way.  It makes me happy.

The dog loves it too.  Oh, she won’t go in - she’s too much of a lady to roughhouse in water – but she grinned from floppy grey ear to floppy grey ear as she ran across the beach, kicking up trails of sand in her wake.  She dug holes almost as big as she is, and sat in them.  Best of all, she made funny little growling noises, and bowed, asking me to chase her and play.  She so rarely plays.

Staying opposite the beach gave us the chance to visit almost every day of our five-day stay.  We explored it at high sun and at sunset, took a left turn and a right.  We introduced the twins to sand (not as yummy as it looks!) and ran with our Josephine-dog, and held hands to climb the dunes in case one of us slipped whilst babywearing.  And all the while that gorgeous expanse of water roared in our ears and the wind tugged at our hair and it was lovely.

And I took many, many pictures that I want to share.

If you enjoy reading Goblin Child, please consider nominating us in the MAD Blog Awards.  We probably fit the Baby, Writing and Photography categories the best.

 

+ - 3 comments

May 27, 2015 - 5:06 pm

Katie @mummydaddyme - Beautiful photos as always. That last one is just absolutely stunning. And cute babies too of course! xx

May 27, 2015 - 5:43 pm

Natalie Ray - Amazing photos as always Amber. I have to say, on this occasion I think your lovely dog steals the show, that photo of her with the heart on the sand is stunning.xx

May 27, 2015 - 9:27 pm

Lauren - Gosh these are stunning photos. The photo of Josephine with the heart drawn in the sand is breathtaking.
Your holiday sounds lovely, other than the lack of heating of course. One of my first caravan holidays as a child was to Camber Sands so it’s lovely to read about your holiday xx

Caravan Holidays with Two Under One

Last week we spent five days at a caravan park at Camber Sands.  Now that we’re experts on surviving caravan holidays with babies, I thought that I would run through the advantages and disadvantages of taking this particular type of holiday with infants.

The good stuff:

I know that babies are as expensive as you make them, but ours are of the expensive variety.  Between the extortionate price of formula for two and my teensy little Scandi clothing habit, not to mention the cost of conceiving them in the first place (IVF), our little money-suckers have well and truly ensured that there will be no luxury vacations for us this year.  Or next year.  Or, quite possibly, the year after that.  So the affordability of a caravan holiday was a big lure for us.

You can’t keep much stuff in a caravan, so the floors are likely clear.  And clear floors mean that babies practically babysit themselves.  Fling down some toys to entertain them and your time is your own!

It’s a good chance to switch off from the electronic devices and focus on the family.  No, really.  I didn’t take my laptop but did bring my iPhone and it was nice to reduce the screen time a bit and enjoy Kirsty and our small dependents.

Go ahead and try to find something to break in a caravan.  Go on.  Granted, smashables are more of a concern for those with toddlers rather than wee potted plants like the twins, but as somebody who is prone to knocking things over in a haze of sleep deprivation I can happily report that in a caravan, this is impossible.  There is simply nothing to break.

The bad stuff:

COLD.  Caravans are COLD.  You should probably know this before you rock up to one and have to sleep under four duvets, like we did.  They don’t come with heating so bring your own or prepare to freeze.

They also don’t come with a washing machine.  Apparently some caravan parks DO come with a laundrette – and supposedly ours did – but we could never find the time to actually visit it.  Babies and a lack of washing facilities don’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jam, so bear this in mind and bring extra clothes!

I want you to picture this: Two adults, two babies and a dog, sitting for an hour on a crowded bus.  Or worse: two adults, two babies and a dog, waiting for an hour to catch the crowded bus.  Now imagine us doing that multiple times daily in order to access the local town, where everything (including the overpriced local supermarket) was based.  Go ahead and laugh!

Thankfully the babies were little superstars and Josephine-dog travels like a pro but as I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn’t ideal.  I’ve always said that living in London, there’s little point in either of us learning to drive… but after this holiday, I’m re-considering the validity of that statement.  If you’re considering booking a caravan holiday, bear in mind that you will need to bring plenty of supplies and not just food – you’ll also need your cleaning products, toiletries and even loo roll!

Oh I know that I’ve just written about the positives of limited screen time and I did okay on days one and two, but by day three dear god what wouldn’t I have given to be able to pull out my laptop for an hour.  Thankfully I did have my iPhone with me so I was able to check in, instagram a picture or two and tweet about what we’ve been up to.

Ultimately:

Even though the disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages in this case, I can happily report that in spite of very nearly perishing of hypothermia, we had a jolly old time.  The sheer thrill of being so close to the sea, and spending so much time together, by far compensated for being a bit cold and having to spend half of our holiday either sat on a bus or worse, waiting for one.

Have you stayed in a caravan with babies?  How did you find it?  And most importantly: what are your holiday plans for this year?

If you enjoy reading Goblin Child, please consider nominating us in the MAD Blog Awards.  We probably fit the Baby, Writing and Photography categories the best.

+ - 4 comments

May 26, 2015 - 8:38 pm

Jodie - i really need a holiday. I’ve always enjoyed little caravan or camping trips. Even with the cold. I’m glad you managed to actually enjoy though. We haven’t had a proper holiday in a very long time.

May 26, 2015 - 11:38 pm

Bex @ The Mummy Adventure - I have stayed in a caravan with two toddlers, thankfully not so cold (We were in Rome) but the not having things to break was brilliant, ours also had a gated porch thingy so we could give them freedom and trap them in at the same time – win win! I love the little dungers x

May 27, 2015 - 7:23 am

Carie - oh it’s the unbreakeable aspect that wins me over! My inlaws are very into ornaments and I worry enough that I’ll break something never mind the children!

May 27, 2015 - 11:45 am

Donna - You survived! AND it looks like you had a great time too :) x

Five Days at Camber Sands

A walk and three trains and a bus and a walk, each with a period of waiting in between during which we joggled the babies to keep them amused, or conversed with each other and the dog, and nibbled the many snacks that we had brought to keep us going on our travels.

Then finally, FINALLY we tumbled off of the bus in a mess of suitcase and bags and bodies, and, righting ourselves on the grassy verge, trudged wearily toward the sign.

Have you ever been to Camber Sands?

I have.  When I was small, my grandmother broke her hip there.

Over time it became a funny family story; Nanny Noo sliding down the sand dune, the two little girls – myself and my sister – skipping after her.  Nanny frantically waving for Granddad, who had strode ahead, to come and help her and Granddad merrily waving back, assuming that she was having a jolly old sit-down in the sand until we ran ahead to fetch him back.  We laughed about often, it even came up at her funeral a few years ago.  In my family, old-lady-breaks-hip passes for humour.

Still, when a colleague passed on a tip about a great deal on caravan holidays at Camber, I thought it sounded like a great idea.  And within the hour, the thing was booked.  Signed, sealed and paid for – we were going on holiday!

To a caravan park.  Miles from anywhere.  With two babies and a dog.  Without a car.

What a super idea!

Actually we had a lot of fun.  I call this triumphing over adversity.

Camber Sands is gorgeous.  Takes-your-breath-away gorgeous.  When the tide is out, one can barely even see the sea from the edge of the beach.  It’s worth the trek across the dunes to stand atop of them and survey the magnificence of the beach below.  Wear a hat though and possibly a scarf because even in late May the wind is a force to be reckoned with.  Case in point:

Can you see goosebumps?  I can see goosebumps.  But LOOK AT THAT BEACH.

Best bits: Hot chips by the seafront; a rainbow-filled sunset on the beach, the journey (yes, really!); a whole week together that was mostly free of electronic distractions; chasing our Josephine-dog across that AMAZING stretch of golden beach; the glee on the twins’ faces as they played in the sand; an exclusively-babywearing holiday (we had enough to lug on public transport without adding a double pram to the equation!).

Kirsty would like me to mention that I haven’t shared HER favourite part of the holiday – the crispy deep-fried smothered-in-sugar doughnuts that we munched on our day trip to Hastings, and that she enjoyed so much that she demanded a second trip there two days later!  Oink…

The bits that we could have done without: The wind.  It was INSANE and made the babies roar; NO CENTRAL HEATING in the caravan – brr!  We slept under four duvets and I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous about the babies suffocating, but it was that or allow them to freeze; The one bus to civilisation that came hourly if we were lucky, and cost a fortune; Construction works that limited our access to the beach.  Somebody, naming no names (hint: it wasn’t Kirsty) packed herself a coat and three jumpers but nothing warm for the babies, necessitating a dash to the closest Debenhams, which happened to be all the way away in Hastings!  The resulting tiny jackets were tremendously sweet though…

Would we do it again?  Absolutely!  Though the price would have to be right.  And I’ve never been so tempted to learn to drive in my LIFE as I am after this holiday!  It would have all been vastly easier with a car – especially as the local supermarket was a(n hourly-running) bus ride away.

But I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life as during those five days away at the seaside, our first holiday as a family of five.

You’re going to see SO MANY PICTURES of our holiday over the coming week.

If you enjoy reading Goblin Child, please consider nominating us in the MAD Blog Awards.  We probably fit the Baby, Writing and Photography categories the best.

+ - 1 comment

May 25, 2015 - 9:04 am

Carie - oh wow it looks stunningly beautiful and all sorts of lovely. I also suspect it will be the kind of holiday that goes down in your family history and is repeated annually as a “do you remember when we went to…” story at Christmas!