This week we meet the lovely Louise from Little Heart Big Love. Thanks so much for taking part Louise 🙂
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m Louise, mummy to two beautiful little girls Jessica and Sophie who are four and two. My eldest daughter Jessica was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which basically means she has half a working heart. She has had several heart surgeries (including one whilst she was still in the womb) and will need more as she gets older. At the moment though she is doing well, and we mostly enjoy a normal life with her and her little sister who is thankfully heart-healthy.
Hubby and I met at university through the ballroom dancing society and got to know each other through competing in acrobatic rock ‘n’ roll before getting together one night at a karaoke evening. He’s an only child; I’m one of nine! I have four brothers and four sisters – and my twin and I are the youngest.
What do you like doing to be you, when you are not parenting, working (if you do), or blogging?
I love musical theatre – going to see shows and performing musical theatre songs on stage. Hubby also shares my love of musical theatre and we have performed together on stage a few times. We also love dancing – not that we get much chance to do much dancing these days other than when hubby decides to suddenly waltz me around the kitchen whilst I’m trying to cook dinner!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Being a mummy – I am so proud of my two little girls and the wonderful people that they are. Prior to that though, it would probably have been going self-employed as an independent midwife. I’d been made redundant from my job as a birth centre midwife just before Christmas and by New Year I was working with a few former colleagues and setting up an independent midwifery practice together. A week later I found out I was pregnant with Jessica so my stint as an independent midwife only lasted eight months (I’ve been a stay at home mum ever since) but perhaps one day I’ll retrain and go back to midwifery.
From your own experiences, what do you find the hardest part of parenting and what is the easiest/most rewarding part?
The hardest part of parenting for me has been seeing my child fight for her life in hospital and having to hand her over to a surgeon whilst praying that she will survive the surgery. Living with the knowledge that I will probably outlive my child is also incredibly hard. However, being a heart mummy has brought me so many joyful moments too and has taught me so much. Not knowing what the future will hold has forced me to live in the moment more and appreciate it and that is a good thing. I’m much more thankful for what I have as a result of it.
With parenting in general, I find anger management is my biggest challenge. I have always had a bit of a short fuse and, like many people, I am particularly cranky when sleep-deprived. I have lost my cool and shouted at my girls more times than I would like to admit and it breaks my heart to see their hurt on their faces when I do, especially when they have really done nothing wrong other than being little children. Learning to take a deep breath, count to ten (or ten thousand!) and not react in anger has been a difficult lesson for me to learn but thankfully it is becoming a little easier with practice!
The most rewarding part of being a parent is those sticky kisses and spontaneous cuddles; to hear the words “I love you, Mummy” and seeing just how happy my girls are to see me if I am away from them even for just a short time. It helps remind me that although I am far from perfect, I am still the best Mummy my girls have.
Parenting in itself is no mean feat; how do you juggle everything you need to in order to get everything done on a daily basis?
I’m a big fan of using lists to help me keep track of things! I use Todoist on my phone which helps me keep track of all the things I need to do. I have a bit of a schedule for general household tasks, which come up as recurring tasks, as do other regular tasks, especially with the blog. We also now have a fairly structured routine for our day which makes it easier to work out when to tackle the household tasks. I try and take advantage of small slots of free time, e.g. emptying the dishwasher whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, sorting out clothes for the next day whilst running the bath in the evening etc. Most of my blogging is done in the evenings once the girls are asleep and I try and stay at least a couple of days ahead and have posts scheduled so that I don’t feel under pressure to blog if I’m tired or just need some time out.
Why did you decide to start blogging?
I’ve been blogging on and off for probably about ten years and can’t remember what prompted me to start my very first blog. I started blogging more regularly shortly after we found out about Jessica’s heart condition as it was easier to keep everyone updated through her blog than keep sending email or text updates. Writing has always been how I work through my emotions and keeping a blog during Jessica’s surgeries and hospital stays was incredibly cathartic. After a while though, I found that I wanted an outlet for my own personal reflections as a heart mummy and it didn’t feel appropriate to share those on Jessica’s blog which was (and still is) very much a record of her journey. I decided to start my own blog which eventually evolved to become Little Hearts, Big Love.
Tell me a bit about your blog?
I write mostly about our life as a heart family. It’s a mixture of posts – some about parenting and family life in general, some about crafts, product reviews or fun days out and others are focused on raising awareness of congenital heart defects and sharing our story to help other heart families. I run two linkies – ‘From the Mouths of Babes’ which runs weekly on a Monday and is all about sharing the funny, adorable or embarrassing things that children say, and ‘Heart to Heart’ which is a monthly linky for other heart parent bloggers to share their stories, and opens on the 15th of each month.
What do you want your blog to achieve and where do you hope to see it go as it grows?
My main aim for my blog is to help raise awareness of congenital heart defects and to help other heart families by sharing our story. I felt quite alone when we first found out about Jessica’s heart condition – all of sudden I couldn’t relate to the worries and concerns that other pregnant women seemed to have, all I could think about was whether my child would survive or not. What really helped was a friend reaching out and sharing her story – suddenly there was someone else who understood, who knew how I felt and who was further ahead on the journey. As we got to know more and more heart families, that sense of community helped us through the rollercoaster of hospital life and seeing older children with a similar heart condition to Jessica gave us hope. I want to give that back to other families, but to also share the normal side of our family life; to show that life as a heart family isn’t just about hospital appointments and surgeries but that the vast majority of the time we have a completely normal and happy family life.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting a blog?
Stay true to yourself and write from the heart. Hold on to the reasons why you want to start the blog and don’t get too caught up in stats and rankings – if you become too obsessed with them, they will suck the joy out of blogging. Remember that this is your blog and your space and go with what feels right for you.
If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
My dad, my mum and my nan. My dad passed away six years ago and to have dinner with him one more time would be the most wonderful thing. And of course, I couldn’t possibly have dinner with my dad without having my mum (who is still living) there too. The third person would then have to be my wonderful nan who died when I was about five. I remember her as a very warm, very funny lady and she and my dad were incredibly close (he was her only child) and my mum loved her too. I’d love to see the three of them together and hear some of the old family stories that I’m sure my nan would be happy to share.
Tell me three random facts about you
1) I was a surprise baby – my mum didn’t know she was having twins until my sister was born and the midwife said “hang on, there’s another one!” My mum always says that was the best moment of her life!
2) I won a free holiday when I was seventeen by coming first in a talent contest.
3) I refused to go on a plane until my mid-twenties because of a flying phobia. I decided to take a fear of flying course out of the blue – hubby never knew anything about it until I phoned him to pick me up from the airport having been on my first flight!