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The surrogacy process in the UK: What you should know

A pregnant woman - the surrogacy process in the UK
Image by Pexels from Pixabay
This is a collaborative post

Each country has different laws surrounding surrogacy. Here in the UK, surrogacy is a legal arrangement but any contracts or agreements made relating to the details are unenforceable.

Medical and reproductive advancements mean that surrogacy is now an option open to more people than ever before, including same-sex couples and transgender people. Intended parents might choose to use a surrogate because they can’t have a child naturally.

If you’re considering having a child through surrogacy, it can seem an overwhelming process. But, by understanding the different steps, you can make an informed decision and navigate your circumstances with confidence.

First steps

It’s important to avoid choosing an independent surrogate outside of an official organisation as this can increase the chances of something not going to plan with the arrangement. An organisation such as Surrogacy UK can provide useful information and support throughout the process and ensure that you choose a surrogate who has been through a detailed assessment and has a mentoring programme.

Choosing a surrogate

Once you’ve gone through the initial stage, you’ll choose a surrogate to have the child. The organisation you sign up with can help with this and facilitate meet-ups that allow you to get to know each other before making arrangements. It’s useful to get to know each other first to ensure you’re a good match and that you’re on the same page.

Your surrogacy agreement

Your surrogacy arrangement will be either gestational, where the surrogate is the host and the intended parents’ egg and sperm are used, or traditional, where the surrogate’s eggs are used. While there is no such thing as a legal surrogacy contract in the UK, it’s useful to set out the arrangement so both parties are fully aware of the expectations.

Choose a fertility clinic

You’ll want to choose a reputable fertility clinic such as one that’s listed on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Not all clinics can accommodate surrogacy so it’s important to check individual facility information. You might consider factors such as location, success rate, timescales and additional support.

Legal factors

Your surrogacy agreement will be based on trust rather than law and, as such, you won’t be able to pay your surrogate anything other than what’s classed as ‘reasonable expenses’. This could cover costs such as travel for example.

Once the child is born, as the intended parent or parents, you’ll need to wait six months to apply for a parental order. By law, the surrogate mother remains the child’s legal parent until parental responsibility has been transferred. It’s recommended that you choose a reputable children’s solicitor to assist with this process and help navigate the complexities.

While the process of surrogacy is by no means simple, by choosing to use an official organisation and seeking legal advice, you can ensure you’re as prepared and informed as possible, every step of the way.

Preparing For Parenthood: The Top Tests For Expectant Mothers And Fathers

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This is a collaborative post

Stepping into the exciting journey of parenthood can be thrilling, but it’s also a time of immense responsibility.

This article explores the importance of prenatal testing for expectant mothers and fathers. It examines common tests for mothers, such as blood tests, ultrasounds, and genetic screening. For fathers, we’ll explore tests like genetic carrier screening and the relevance of paternity tests.

Common Tests For Expectant Mothers

Expectant mothers undergo several key tests during their pregnancy journey to monitor their health and their baby’s development. Here are three essential tests commonly performed:

  1. Blood Tests: Blood tests provide crucial information about the mother’s health and identify potential concerns. These tests measure blood cell counts, iron levels, blood type, Rh factor and screen for conditions like gestational diabetes and infections.
  • Ultrasounds: Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of the baby in the womb. They allow healthcare providers to assess foetal growth, confirm the due date, check for structural abnormalities, and monitor the placenta and amniotic fluid.
  • Genetic Screening: Genetic screening tests, such as non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome. These tests analyse cell-free foetal DNA present in the mother’s blood to provide information about the baby’s genetic health.

These tests play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of both mother and baby, providing valuable insights into the pregnancy and guiding appropriate care and interventions.

Key Tests For Expectant Fathers

Expectant fathers also have essential tests that can contribute to their role in the pregnancy journey. Here are two potential tests for expectant fathers:

  1. Genetic Carrier Screening: Genetic carrier screening examines the father’s genes for specific genetic disorders that they may carry. It helps identify the risk of passing on certain inherited conditions to their child. Expectant fathers can make informed decisions regarding family planning and potential medical interventions by understanding their carrier status.
  • Prenatal Paternity Tests: These tests determine the biological relationship between a father and an unborn child. Prenatal paternity tests can be conducted during pregnancy through non-invasive methods like analysing cell-free foetal DNA in the mother’s blood. These tests provide early confirmation of paternity, which can foster emotional bonding, provide peace of mind, and help establish legal rights and responsibilities.

These tests empower expectant fathers with crucial genetic information and emotional peace of mind, allowing them to actively participate in their child’s healthcare decisions and establish a deeper connection with their growing family.

Preparing For Your First Prenatal Test

Preparing for a prenatal testing appointment can help ensure a smooth and productive experience. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Educate Yourself: Familiarise yourself with the specific tests you’ll undergo and their purpose. Understanding the procedures and potential outcomes will help alleviate anxiety.
  • Write Down Questions: Prepare a list of questions or concerns you want to address during the appointment. This ensures you don’t forget anything important and facilitates productive discussions with your healthcare provider.
  • Follow Instructions: If your prenatal test requires specific preparations, such as fasting or collecting a urine sample, follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider to ensure accurate results.
  • Bring Support: Consider bringing your partner, a family member, or a trusted friend for emotional support and an extra set of ears to absorb the information provided during the appointment.

By preparing in advance, you can make the most of your prenatal testing appointment and feel more confident and informed about your pregnancy journey.

Three Ways to Refill Your Heart and Your Nest When the Children Fly

empty nest
Photo by dabatepatfotos
This is a collaborative post

Many parents feel lonely and depressed after their final child leaves the nest. Although not a medical diagnosis, empty nest syndrome is a term used to explain these emotions. These strong emotions might be perplexing and unexpected because they appear to be at odds with your child’s accomplishment-related pride. You can learn about how to deal with this empty nest and accept your contradictory emotions by managing the changes effectively.

Acknowledge and Appreciate the Need for Parenting

The biggest challenge for parents may be the notion that they have completed their task or are no longer required in their child’s life. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your children still depend on you even though they are not home. You still have a lot of parenting ahead of you, just in different ways. It may seem more like mentoring than parenting but that is par for the course. Keep in touch with your young adult and look for opportunities to assist them. Many parents choose to continue spreading their experience and care by taking on foster children. Find out more about options in your local area at thefca.co.uk. These children can fill the void and help you to remember that there is more than enough love to go around in the heart of a parent.

Rekindle Connections

Build and re-establish relationships. Many parents neglect their social interactions in the busy time of parenting as there is often little time for socialising. Once your children have left, this might be the perfect time to catch up with former acquaintances as well as enter fresh social settings to make more friends. If friends are entering a similar life stage as you are, this could be the perfect way to get reacquainted. This is a positive diversion that can help you steer loneliness away from your door. You may help one another out and offer advice on what works and what doesn’t by working together.

Make the most of this opportunity to spend quality time with your significant other. It’s time to put your relationship back in the forefront now that your nest is empty. Being alone with each other for such lengthy periods of time may require some getting used to, but it will be beneficial to you both in the long term. Plan date evenings into your schedule and set aside time to spend with each other. You may rekindle your romance and strengthen your bond with some time and effort.

Accept the Emotions

Give yourself permission to be unhappy and grieve the changes you are going through. Work through the emotions and take your time. Also, remember to be gentle with yourself. It’s normal to feel empty and uncertain at this stage of parenting because you have never experienced it before. Just be careful not to wallow in the grief as the sadness will eventually fade as you get used to the new situation.

In this next step of the parenting journey, you will need to accept the emotions, rekindle connections, and acknowledge and appreciate the need for continued parenting.

9 Tips for Navigating Emotional and Physical Challenges Post-Birth

Black and white picture of a mum, dad and toddler son
Image by serrano1004 from Pixabay
This is a collaborative post

The postpartum period can be an emotional and physical rollercoaster for new mothers. With the joy of a new baby comes various challenges that can be difficult to navigate. Many women experience postpartum depression, anxiety, and physical discomfort after giving birth. It is important to understand that these challenges are common and that many resources are available to help new mothers.

So, this article will provide tips for navigating emotional and physical challenges post-birth.

1. Get the right support

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If needed, this can be from your family, friends, or a professional. Especially in cases where your child may have medical complications, having a support system can be invaluable.

Giving birth is one of the most transformative experiences for a woman. And it can come with several challenges, including physical injuries. If your child has suffered a birth injury, you can connect with other parents who have gone through a similar experience.

Childbirth injuries can occur during delivery and affect both the mother and the baby. They can be caused by various factors, including prolonged labour, the use of forceps or vacuum, and the baby’s size. While most injuries heal naturally with time, some require therapeutic intervention.

So, seeking support for any physical injury to you or your child is important. There are plenty of therapeutic options available to treat and manage birth injuries. You can visit Birth Injury Justice Center for any information regarding legal and medical support for childbirth injuries.

2. Manage Stress

Being a new mom can be incredibly stressful, and focusing on your mental health is important. Many stress management techniques can help you through this journey, such as deep breathing, meditation, and exercise. Prioritize your needs, get adequate sleep, and practice self-care. It is also important to maintain a healthy diet, as nutrient deficiencies can cause fatigue.

3. Take Time for Yourself

As hard as it may be to set aside personal time, it is essential for your physical and emotional well-being. Motherhood can be stressful, so make sure you take the time to relax and do activities that help you feel rejuvenated. Do yoga or meditate for a few minutes—anything that helps quiet your mind and energizes you is ideal. This will help you stay positive and cope better with the demands of motherhood. Also, ensure you get enough sleep and eat a balanced diet.

4. Bond with Your Baby

It is important to take the time to bond with your baby and form a connection. Even though it may feel like you are juggling multiple tasks, making time for your little one is essential. From gentle baby talk to skin-to-skin contact, there are many ways to strengthen the bond with your child. As your baby grows, this bond will become even more meaningful and provide you with moments of joy. And once your baby is a little older, you can introduce activities such as swimming and music or even make time to read together. Remember to cherish this special time, as your baby won’t stay small forever.

5. Seek Expert Advice

If you notice any unusual behaviour in your baby, such as lack of sleep, frequent crying, or digestive problems, it’s always best to consult a doctor or specialist. It is important to rule out any potential medical conditions, as early detection and treatment can vastly improve the outcome. Seeking expert advice can also be beneficial if you have difficulties with breastfeeding, introducing solid foods, or other parenting-related issues. Another reason why it is important to consult a healthcare professional is that they can provide you with the appropriate resources and support.

6. Share Your Feelings

It is natural to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or even frustrated with the responsibilities of motherhood. Sharing your feelings with a close friend or family member who can provide an objective viewpoint and offer useful advice is beneficial. Talking to other moms in the same situation can also be helpful, as it is likely that they have gone through similar experiences and can relate to your feelings. However, if you are struggling with severe feelings of depression or anxiety, it is recommended that you seek professional help.

 7. Have fun

Parenting can be exhausting and overwhelming. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Remember that even in the chaos of parenting, there are opportunities to laugh, smile, and enjoy the little moments. Make sure to find small moments of joy throughout the day, from your baby’s smile to a special activity you enjoy.

Having fun with your child is essential to forming a connection and creating lasting memories.

8. Embrace Your Motherhood Journey

Being a parent is a unique journey that comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. Every mother has her own story, and each day will bring something new. With patience, perseverance, self-care, and a good support system, you can become the best version of yourself as a mother. Don’t forget to take it one step at a time and celebrate the small victories along the way—from your baby’s first steps to the memorable laughs you share.

9. Be Kind to Yourself

Lastly, it is important to be kind to yourself. Motherhood may not always go as planned. It’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly how you expected or imagined. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that parenting is a learning process and mistakes are bound to happen. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on your progress and acknowledge your small successes. It is essential to remember that you are doing the best you can with what you have—and that is more than enough.

Summary

Parenting can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience if approached with patience, kindness, and self-care. It is important to take care of your mental and physical health, seek professional help if needed, and embrace the journey of motherhood. With these tips in mind, you can make sure that the joys of parenting are maximized while the challenges are minimized.

Good luck on your motherhood journey!

How Fostering Can Change Your Life for the Better

Family Fostering children
Image by wendy CORNIQUET from Pixabay
This is a collaborative post

Fostering a child can be a transformative experience, no matter whether you’re short-term fostering or planning to welcome a child into your home for the duration of their childhood, adolescence and beyond. However, many of the benefits of fostering aren’t always visible until you’re officially a foster parent, so in this article, we’ll be discussing exactly how fostering can change your life for the better.

Improving the Lives of Your Own Children

If you have children of your own, then the decision to foster a child might become even more important to consider with care. You may have questions about how your own children will react to a foster child joining the family, for instance. However, fostering is incredible in its ability to bring your family closer together and dramatically improve the lives of your own children – not only will they be able to develop their social skills and bond with a new family member, but it will also teach them valuable life skills around the importance of being kind and compassionate to those who have faced adverse circumstances.

Opening the Door to a Welcoming New Community

When you foster a child, you automatically become part of a new community of foster parents who will welcome you with open arms. Fostering can be challenging at times, so having a group of experienced foster parents who have been through similar circumstances on hand can be a true lifesaver! Often, you can even find local community events for foster parents or get involved with charity fundraisers designed to support causes that expand the horizons of foster children. Additionally, no matter where you are in the country, you’re sure to find extensive fostering support out there – take orangegrovefostercare.co.uk for example, who offer a range of services across Brighton and Hove dedicated to local foster parents.

Developing Your Skills

Even if you’ve already raised your own children, fostering still gives you the chance to learn new things and develop your existing skills. Whether it’s communication, supporting children through challenging periods of their life or simply helping with homework, you can be certain that you’ll have the opportunity to develop your own abilities as a foster parent.

If you’re concerned about whether fostering will be too demanding, then don’t worry! Your foster agency will be well-equipped to help you deal with any hurdles that arise and can provide you with dedicated support in the form of a social worker and training courses. You can also access services like respite care if things feel a little overwhelming, so there’s no need to worry about the challenges that you might face. Above everything else, you’ll be completely supported at every stage of your fostering journey.

Fostering is about more than raising a child to succeed in society. Through fostering, you’ll develop a close connection with your new family member and learn that you are capable of more love and compassion than you could ever imagine. By reaching out to a fostering agency and seeing how you can support a young person through foster care, you’ll be making one of the most life-changing decisions possible, but one that is rewarding and worthwhile from day one.

Gratitude List – Blogtober 2022

Gratitude list

It’s day 6 of Blogtober 2022 and whilst I’m still not very organised, I have managed to get a post done each day!

Writing a gratitude list can help you focus on the things you actually have, not the things you don’t and thinking of positive things can help you stay positive for the rest of the day.

Gratitude List

  • I’m thankful for my super wonderful husband. He’s got so much going on right now, he doesn’t get much time to recharge as he’s looking after everyone else. Our holiday next week can’t come soon enough.
  • KayCee’s doing a wonderful job of growing our precious granddaughter and I can’t wait to meet her 🙂
  • My newfound love of exercise is helping me feel better inside and out. I love my Cubii elliptical trainer which is an early Christmas present from the super wonderful husband. I’m doing over an hour a day exercising and I love that I’m pushing myself rather than giving up as I would usually do.
  • I’m thankful for the friends I have at Slimming World. They’re all wonderfully supportive and I couldn’t do it without them.
  • Spending time with family.
family holding hands
Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Outdoor Gym Equipment – The Best Choice For Family Bonding & Fitness?

mum, dad and 3 children in their garden - outdoor gym equipment
Image by Kenny Holmes from Pixabay 
This is a collaborative post

Many parents today find that it is difficult to bond with their children because they do not get to spend a lot of time together. We live in a time-poor society, and a lot of parents find themselves working long hours. At the same time, it can be difficult to pry children away from their video games and such like. However, all hope is not lost, you just need a little bit of joined-up thinking, outdoor space and some equipment, and you can create a place where your children and you can use outdoor gym equipment to prioritise your health and the time you spend outdoors with your children, allowing you to spend time together, get fit, and stay off the screens for a while.

Why do parents struggle to bond with their children?

A lot of parents struggle to bond with their children these days, and there are many reasons why this is the case. One of the most common reasons for this is because parents spend a lot of their time working. They may have limited time available to spend with their children. While we would all like to stay at home all of the time and not go to work, it’s simply not that easy, and it can mean that you do not bond as much with your kids as you would like.

At the same time, when children start to grow up, they make friends, and they develop their own likes and interests. This can become incredibly consuming for them. They may want to spend all of their time with their friends or playing video games. Prying them away from this can be difficult and it can even result in resentment in some cases. This is why you really need to think about how you are going to bond with your children. Exercising together is an excellent option, and we will explain the reasons why in the next section.

How can family exercise help to strengthen bonds?

If you are looking to strengthen that all-important family bond, exercising together is a great option to consider. When you exercise together, you spend time with each other on a regular basis. Plus, doing this outdoors is even more beneficial. After all, being outside positively impacts us in many different ways. You will be at one with nature, which will lower your stress levels and make you feel happier. Plus, by doing something active, you can have fun and it won’t feel forced. It can build the perfect foundation for other family activities in your life. 

Aside from this, exercising together is beneficial because you are all going to be working together toward the same common goal. You can encourage and motivate one another. You also learn all about the value of teamwork and how you can work effectively together. All of this can help to strengthen your family bonds. By being there for each other, you strengthen your relationships, and this is something that is going to flow into other areas of your life. So, exercising together can certainly help to strengthen your bonds in many different ways.

What sort of options are there when it comes to outdoor gym equipment?

As you can see, outdoor gym equipment is a great choice when it comes to strengthening your family bond. However, you will want to make sure that you purchase outdoor gym equipment with care so that the entire family can have fun and get fit together.

You will want to think about the sort of gym equipment you should purchase. One piece of equipment we would always have high up on the list is monkey bars. Monkey bars are great because they are heaps of fun and there are so many different ways you can use them, which ensures you are working all of your muscles and getting a full-body workout.

Aside from this, you may want to consider setting up your own outdoor obstacle course, with various pieces of equipment used throughout. You can amend this course after a period of time to keep things exciting. If your family is competitive by nature, you will find that this adds an extra element of fun to your outdoor exercise sessions.

 From bench presses to stepping stones; the only limit is your imagination when it comes to creating an outdoor gym area, and this is one of the reasons why this is such a good choice for families of all ages.

Final words on how parents and children can benefit from using outdoor gym equipment

All in all, if you are looking for different ways to strengthen your family bond and spend more time together, purchasing outdoor gym equipment could be the perfect solution. You will spend valuable time together every week, keep fit, and have some great laughs along the way. 

No End Of School Questions This Year

KayCee and Ella

I started asking KayCee and Ella some end of school questions back in 2012.
It was KayCee’s last day at infants and Ella’s last day in reception.

They’ve answered the same set of questions every year since, except this year.
This year Covid-19 hit the world and school as we knew it had to drastically change.

I can’t actually remember when the schools closed or how long they’ve been off, I just know it feels like a very long time!
Both KayCee and Ella coped well with the lockdown. They didn’t moan about all the new restrictions, they understood why we had to have them and just got on with it.

I don’t think they worked as hard as they could have on their school work during lockdown but I’m confident they’ll be able to catch up when they get back to school properly.
If your children need some extra help before going back to school, check out Tutor Bot to find lots of online, educational games.

Fingers crossed, the schools and the school children will be able to get back to some sort of normality in September, although, what ‘normal’ will mean then is anybody’s guess!

So, while I haven’t got the answers to the end of school questions this year, I do have updated photos of my beautiful girls 🙂

KayCee
Ella

Today We Met Our Older Half-Sister For The First Time!

I grew up the eldest of four siblings. I have 2 brothers and a sister, John, James and Stacy. Growing up we always knew we had an older half-sister called Claire who had been born on Christmas Day.
My mum had her when she was only sixteen and she put her up for adoption.  She didn’t really talk about her and we never pushed her as we knew it must have been really hard for her.

Genetic Disease

My sister, Stacy’s little boy and my brother, James’s youngest son, were recently diagnosed with CMT. CMT stands for Charcot Marie Tooth disease and it causes problems with the legs. Sufferers have problems walking and may even end up in a wheelchair or having to use a mobility scooter to get around.

Stacy and my sister-in-law, Kirsty, joined a support group on Facebook.
A local woman saw a post my sister put up in the group and offered to meet them in town for a coffee and give them information and advice.

After Stacy and Kirsty had met her, they both said they felt that she looked familiar but didn’t think anything else about it.

Later that day, Stacy and Jayne were chatting online and from this conversation, they came to the realisation that Jayne was the daughter my mum had put up for adoption.

Whirlwind Of Emotion

When my mum phoned me to let me know, I went through a whirlwind of emotions. I was stunned at first. I couldn’t believe that Stacy had met her and had coffee and neither of them knew they were sisters!

The shock was then replaced with excitement. I’d always hoped she would find us. I had thought about trying to find her but I had no way of knowing if she knew she’d been adopted and I didn’t want to bring any upset to her or her family.

I often wondered what it would have been like to not be the eldest and to have an older sister.

Group Chat

That same night my sister got us together on a group chat; we chatted for ages and arranged to meet a couple of weeks later.  It was all a bit surreal and felt like everything was moving very fast.

It was good not being able to meet straight away because it gave us all a chance for the news to sink in.

I couldn’t imagine how Jayne must have been feeling. She was coming alone to meet her mum, 2 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 sisters-in-law and a brother-in-law. I would have been terrified!

A Great Time Was Had By All

The meeting nearly didn’t happen because it snowed last night and everywhere was white over when we got up this morning. To top it off, our car wouldn’t start. It was looking like we wouldn’t be able to go but luckily we were able to borrow Ant’s mum’s car and the main roads were all clear 🙂

I’m so happy to say that we all had a wonderful afternoon. Stacy said afterwards that it was like we’d always known each other and I totally agree. Everyone seemed to be relaxed and happy and we all laughed a lot!

Our family is already quite big and now we have another sister and four more nieces and nephews! It’s going to be lovely getting to know them all.

Welcome to the family Jayne, I’m so glad you fit right in with this bunch of mad-heads!

Me, Stacy, John and James - Meeting our older half-sister, Jayne, for the first time.
Back row from left – James and John Front row from left – Jayne, Stacy and me

Mum, Me, Stacy, John and James - Meeting our older sister, Jayne, for the first time.

Mum and Jayne

Jayne, James, John, Stacy and me

Gemma (John's wife) taking a photo of us all at the table

 

 

 

Sisterly Love

Ella wanted to make a PowerPoint video for her homework about the ancient Egyptians. I’m not very good with PowerPoint as I’ve never had to use it so I told her to ask KayCee for help.
KayCee was upstairs working on a 2000 word essay for her homework but she kept coming downstairs when Ella needed help.
I snapped the photo because it’s not often I get proof of the sisterly love between these 2!

Sisterly Love

sisterly love - Kaycee helping Ella with homework

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