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October also saw two of my good friends getting married – so congratulations both, I wish you all the very best for the future.
So next up for the Singledaddydaycare ‘Getting to know you’ parenting feature we have Sarah Beaumont. Sarah is mum to a gorgeous vehicle obsessed seven-year old, Joseph. Joseph happens to have drug resistant epilepsy, specific learning difficulties and a few other problems which don’t fit neatly into diagnostic boxes.
Sarah is 45 and a cognitive behavioural therapist for the NHS, she is single but remains optimistic (best way to be! Her interests include running, procrastinating, dancing, pale ale appreciating, dress buying and Instagram scrolling.
As a parent, what’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced?
My toughest challenge as a parent has definitely been dealing with the uncertainty and anxiety that epilepsy brings. The majority of children who have epilepsy respond well to medication. Unfortunately, Joseph is not in that camp. That’s not to say we haven’t tried; at its worst he was on five anti epilepsy drugs twice a day.
There have been some really scary times, like sitting in a high dependency unit watching him on a drip in a drug induced sleep. Or the multiple ambulance rides as his seizures have not stopped and he has needed oxygen. These times have certainly been tough, but as least then there were competent medical professionals in charge.
The biggest challenge for myself was when he started the ketogenic diet, when he was having multiple seizures a day. This is a medically supervised diet for kids who’ve exhausted multiple medications. The dieticians gave me recipes to follow and the consultant prescribed a bewildering array of items to get started. Every meal had to be precisely 10g of fat, 10g of carbohydrates, 9g of protein plus additional high fat prescription products. In addition to the four anti epilepsy medications he was on.
Trying to work, run a house, look after myself and a five-year old, count his seizures, attend multiple health appointments and make all this new food was mind-boggling! Suddenly I was the one responsible for trying to keep him seizure free.
What do you enjoy most about being a parent?
- When I remember to lighten up and focus on the bonkers, kind, affectionate and joyous boy I’ve helped to grow.
- His love of ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis
- When he begs me to tickle his naked tummy with my hair.
- When I remember to focus on his skills and talents like his ability on a BMX track, rather than the things he finds difficult like putting his socks on or reading.
If you could, what one piece of advice would you give to a younger you?
- Buy hair straighteners as soon as they’re invented
- Royal blue mascara does no one any favours
- Worry less about what others think
- Don’t stop exercising
Anything else you want to add? (Free speech about anything you want… topics you want to raise awareness to, ideas for parents, difficulties, issues – literally anything)
Having a child with additional needs can be isolating at times. It’s easy to feel alone as you try to navigate the confusing special educational needs assessments and beg for referrals to specialists.
My advice would be to find and keep your tribe, as being a parent of a child with special needs means you need more support and more wine. For me, this support was needed from all areas and angles. My great friends, family, my manager at work and a couple of brilliant charities, The Daisy Garland and Epilepsy Action.
The life of a single parent is usually one of feast and famine, all or nothing. This is even more pronounced when your child has additional needs. As most of the week I’m sleep deprived, trying to juggle health appointments and work. So what works for me is planning fun stuff for me when he’s at his Dad’s. It’s easy to lose yourself as a mum, but the benefit of shared parenting as it gives you time back for you.
Wow! What a story and thank you for sharing Sarah, I am sure many will resonate with this and be able to relate to it. It sounds as though you lead a tough and challenging life but your advice at the end will certainly ring true to majority of single parents and that is to make the most of the time you have on your own and to have fun! Go you!!
If you want to get to know more people from the ‘Getting to Know you’ feature then the last episode can be found here. Also, if you want to take part in this feature then please send me a message on my Facebook page.