Hi, I am the 27-year-old mummy of three beautiful children Zayan (9), Mariya (6) and Nahid (1). Over the last 10 years, I’ve had a rollercoaster of a journey with so many ups and downs. Today's the day I realised that all along, it’s been an imperfectly perfect journey. I hear you asking “What you on about, you crazy woman?”

Well here goes...

As you and I grew up, sitting and drawing out perfect homes with our lovely little crayons on the crisp white paper, we’d draw a symmetrical square and triangle top home. A mummy and daddy, brother and sister and maybe even a perfect little baby too, sitting in the corner with a baby doll, feeding it a bottle and changing its nappy.

As the years went along, dreaming of the fairy tale weddings with horses and carriages, with our perfect prince, then having beautiful perfect babies. Well, that's all a dream, sorry to say! That perfect picture that we all aim for is really not reality and the sooner we realise what we HAVE is more perfect for us than what we’ve always WANTED, the easier it will get.

I’ve got an amazing husband who treats me like a queen and always sees the best in me. Who has supported me through thick and thin. My best friend, my soulmate.

I have my first born, with severe communication delay, a history of Epilepsy and respiratory issues. He is currently doing really well, is full of character and has the most amazing imagination! He’s also great at problem-solving.

My little girl has suspected autism, issues with her ears (which she needed surgery for) but despite all that, she's very clever for her age. She’s got an amazing memory and memorises things like phone numbers. She’s a little missy, but she is a sweetheart.

My 21-month-old baby has an airway defect called Laryngomalacia and also suffers from GERD which has not allowed him to thrive. He is growing to be a cheeky little monkey and he is the smiley-est boy you can come across! No matter how sick he is, he will brighten up your day. He feeds through a tube which is certainly not what I imagined when I thought of a perfect little baby.

Despite this, this is my imperfectly perfect little family. What I want you to learn from this is...... what you have is PERFECT for you. Let’s teach our children the same. Wouldn’t it be great if they grew up with more realistic expectations than we did? Or at least knowing that, however life turns out, it’ll be just right because it will be THEIR life! It will be their own version of perfect.

Our journey has not been a smooth road and through the hurdles, I have picked up some tips and tricks that made life that little bit easier. Here are a few:

  • When Nahid was in the hospital and attached to all those machines, we found it difficult to settle him and not being able to carry him was the hardest! Putting some expressed breast milk on his cuddle toy really helped. He could smell me next to him. This can also help mums breastfeeding and finding that babies wake up several times for cuddles in the night. You can use a muslin square too.
  • Like I mentioned previously, I have a child with severe communication delays. getting rid of the television made a huge impact on his progress. Three years on and now that we no longer have a tv in our house, he’s now speaking in simple sentences. His communicating is getting better and he’s interacting with siblings even if it's sometimes in the wrong way! they can get up to some mischief! He is getting lots of therapy but doing this alongside it has really made a difference.
  • They still have iPad time, but it’s only when they have worked for it with good behaviour and good homework etc. and even then, they only have it for a limited time. This has also taught them patience.
  • Placing a nasogastric tube is never easy, placing it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes can really help it hurt less and slide in easier.
  • Having a visual timetable for my older two has reduced their frustration during the day. It gives Mariya stability in knowing what's coming next and helping her adjust to what to expect! For autistic children, visual timetables are amazing as it builds a routine. For children with communication delay it reduces frustration in that they the know what's next by interpreting simple pictures they can understand 
  • I am sure everyone's heard of having the same bedtime routine every night to help their children settle and sleep better. Well for us that was hard! As Nahid spent the first year of his life in and out of hospital, different wards and rooms, cots...we struggled to keep consistency. We found that having the cuddly toy along with his blanket and (most importantly) a white noise machine to blank out the hospital mayhem helped a great deal! We’d do the same every night. You can use an app, YouTube or get a CD. Nahid loves listening to the Quran recitation... it's so soothing.
  • Join or create a support group for like-minded parents. Having a child with special needs can be very isolating. I found great groups for each diagnosis on Facebook. Talking to family and friends can sometimes feel useless because they haven’t been through it. So, joining a group where others are on the same journey can really help.

These are tips I’ve picked up along the way and adjusted and tweaked around my family rhythms to meet my children's needs and to make our life a little easier and happier. Please take the tips away and adjust it to suit your lifestyle. I hope they help!

Remember there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. You’re perfect the way you are and you’re an amazing mother for trying your best...whatever that looks like!

Tasmina is a new Family Fund Blogger.

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