44 articles Articles posted in Pregnancy

How to Teach Your Kids About Sex

sex educationI’m not a parenting expert, not by a long shot; I’m more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda girl (the fact that I’m quoting a fictional hooker has probably undermined any potential expertise I’d have gained, anyway…). Having said that, I like to think that Husband and I are doing a reasonable job of raising Sausage, who’s a kind, bright, inquisitive little girl and one of the things that has set us in good stead is our ‘no-bullshit’ rule.

When I was pregnant with Sausage, Husband and I made a pact that if we were ever in a position to explain something to her properly, we’d never whitewash her the way some parents do and would do our best to always explain things in a kid-friendly, but accurate manner. This is as much for our benefit as it is for hers. From our point of view, it means that we’ll never be in the tricky position of trying to think up some elaborate tale about the ways of the world, plus it’ll instill a sense of trust between us all. I often think that the more parents lie to their kids when they’re little, about things which are easily explainable, the more potential damage they could be doing to their relationship. Imagine growing up being told fairy stories about every fact of life, then having to learn it all the hard way when you’re older, not knowing if what your parents told you about anything  was ever true.

From Sausage’s point of view, I like to think that giving her information does a few things – firstly, it instils a sense of trust from us because we credit her with being logical and reasonable enough to be able to be given facts. Also, I link to think it brings us closer together. If, when she’s older, she knows that she can talk to Mum and Dad about anything, without having to watch us squirm with discomfort at “awkward” questions, she’s more likely to come to us for the really important stuff. And, on a totally different note, I’d much rather she learn about the science of reproduction from us than from her peers, who (I hope…) know a lot less about it than we do!

I’m always surprised that parents are reluctant to let their kids have sex education during primary school, too. The way I see it is that if you’re not able to give your child the information they need about sex, then why not feel relieved that a professional is doing your job for you? I completely refute the premise that teaching kids about sex will make them go out and do it – we taught Sausage the basic principle of nuclear fission once, but she’s not out trying to procure fissile materials. Kids aren’t sheep and I think many parents fail to credit them with enough intelligence and maturity to deal with cold, hard facts. If anything, teaching them that SEX leads to BABIES might make them think twice about unprotected sex.

The thing with kids (and some sciences, for that matter) is that there’s always a level to which you can break things down where they get the information they need, without making it too graphic. We’ve told Sausage that females have an egg and men have a different type of cell, called a sperm and they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The Dad gives his sperm to the Mum and it fertilizes the egg, then it lives in the Mum’s tummy for nine months so that it can grow into a baby. She was more than satisfied with this description and we didn’t need to go into details about HOW daddy gives mummy the sperm (although, it may occur to her to ask when she gets older). That’s the easiest way to break it down, for us, it doesn’t go into unnecessary detail (which I think would probably just confuse her at her age anyway) and allows us to give an accurate and totally squirm-free explanation.

Sausage found a book in the library called the Flip Flap Body Book, which tackles  How Babies Are Made in a way that we were really comfortable with and I highly recommend it if your little ones are asking questions that you aren’t happy to answer (if you read the Amazon reviews, people are saying that it’s even good for up to 9-year-olds, so don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat if you’ve never tackled the subject with your child).

All in all, I genuinely think that honesty is the best policy when it comes to kids, especially when it’s something like this which can, in reality, be so easily explained in a way that suits you both.

Good luck!

When PTSD Rears its Ugly Head

Its a funny old thing, PTSD. Not ‘funny, haha’; believe me, in that respect it’s about as funny as a bad case of genital warts. No, its more funny in a sardonic, “well, isn’t that a mother-fucker?” kind of way. The thing with PTSD is that you can think you’re well and truly rid of it, you can think that you’ve managed to unwrap yourself from its icy, black grip, and then one day, you find yourself surrounded by dozens of unpaired socks, in a darkened room, thinking about all the things you need to do before you die.

After I had Sausage and it all went wrong, that was the first time the PTSD hit me. Everything that was written in stone, AKA: The Birth Plan, had gone completely and utterly tits up, leaving me (the perennial control freak) feeling utterly out of control. I had premonitions of death and destruction and it took me a long time to consider myself ‘back to normal’.

Who am I kidding? I don’t think you can ever be normal again after contemplating the mortality of your newborn child. Sausage’s birth changed both Husband and I indelibly.

However, I thought I’d got to a stage where I’d managed to get my head around everything, deal with it all, sort it into neat little piles and tidy it away into the sorting system inside my brain. Getting pregnant again, or being able to even contemplate having another child, was in no small part down to feeling like I’d finally shaken off the last of the trauma. But here I was, frantically pairing socks.

The house has been in dire need of a spring clean for ages and despite Husband offering on more than one occasion to pitch in and help, I’ve stubbornly refused to loosen my grip on the domestic side of our lives. Today, I plunged in and finally made some progress with the sorting and tidying, but while I was doing it, I felt those familiar thoughts creeping back in, hence the pile of socks. It occurred to me that if something were to happen – if the worst were to happen – while I’m having the baby, Husband might not be able to find a pair of socks for Sausage if they weren’t paired up properly.

Once those thoughts start creeping in, its very hard to stem the flow and before I knew it I was in full-on panic mode. My train of thought was something like this:

“Sausage likes having her hair in a French plait…I must teach Husband to do a French plait…I wonder if I can find a YouTube tutorial teaching him how to do it?…I need to write letters for Sausage to open on her 18th birthday and her wedding day…where did I put the manual for the new washing machine? Husband’s going to need that…what’s a living will? I wonder if I need to write one?…” And so on and so forth.

Last time, I spent the whole pregnancy convinced that the birth was going to go badly wrong, and ultimately it did. This time, I’ve been so consumed by all of the other things that have been going on that I’ve managed to keep it all at bay, but now I feel like I’m losing the battle against my own brain. I’ve got 5 weeks of this pregnancy left and I need to do my best to remain calm, not just for me but for the sake of the baby, and Husband and Sausage, but its not as simple as just knowing that I need to.

The shock of feeling that way again has almost doubled the effect. When you think you’ve got a handle on something like this, catching yourself having the same thoughts all over again is like being punched in the gut. That fucking pile of socks was my Everest and I needed to get it sorted, otherwise everything would go wrong. Its hard to explain how anxious a pile of odd socks can make you feel, but it was just a small part of all the things that I wouldn’t be here to do if my worst fears were confirmed.

The logical part of my brain knows that this birth will be totally different to the last. A planned c-section is a world away from the drama of an emergency procedure where mother and baby are in distress; so why can’t I get the logical part of my brain filter that information down to the bit that is convinced I’ll never make it out of that operating theatre?

I should have known this was creeping up on me – I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last few days and I’ve just put it down to hormones, but maybe its a bit more than that. I’d love to think that my new obsession with Sausage’s socks is just nesting, but it feels far more bleak than that. All I know is, I CANNOT allow myself to slide back to the place where I had to get off the bus 5 stops early because I was so convinced that it was going to crash.

I need to rebuild my outer shell and not let the blackness wrap itself around me again.

Newborn Essentials – The Blogger List

I’m getting to a stage now (just 6 weeks until c-section day!) where I want to start getting organised for the arrival of the new baby, and although I’ve done this all before with Sausage, 5 and a half years of parenting has apparently pickled my brain and I’m still flapping about what it is that we really need before Crammond 2.1 comes along. Being the social media dweller that I am, I though that the best way to come up with a definitive list of what we’ll be needing for the baby was to ask everyone else what they found to be absolutely essential when they had newborns, and I thought I’d share them here, just in case any of your is having a similar crisis!

muslins

I think muslins were the single most popular suggestion, recommended by Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days, Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger Too, Annie from Minisaurus, Helen from Actually Mummy and Angie from Cakes, Photos, Life!

 

feeding pillow

Feeding pillows were another popular suggestion, with Kelly from Domestic Goddesque, Laura from Tired Mummy of Two and Ruth from Dorky Mum all extolling their virtues. I was a huge fan of our feeding pillow too, even as a bottle feeding mum.

Baby sling

Turns out, us bloggers are a bunch of baby-wearers too; Mary at Keynko, Aly from Plus 2.4 and I all loved our slings. Strapping baby onto your front and being able to get on with things whilst keeping them close can be a godsend, especially if you have a baby like Sausage who didn’t want to be put down after spending a week in an incubator.

baby swing

Helen from The Crazy Kitchen, Stacey at Five’s a Fellowship, and Jenny from Mum of One all suggested baby swings, baby bouncers or moses baskets, all of which mean that you can get a moment to use your hands for something other than holding a baby, something you seriously take for granted until you give birth!

breasts, boobs, breasticles

That’s right, dear readers, both Joy from Pink Oddy and Fiona from Coombe Mill said that the one thing that they couldn’t have got by without when they had a newborn was their BOOBS! On a related note, Helen from Kiddy Charts and Stickers, Stars and Smiles also strongly recommended Lansinoh for sore nipples during breastfeeding.

Baby Monitor

Liz from Me and My Shadow said “My daughter wouldn’t go to sleep without Twinkle Twinkle being played to her on her baby monitor every night and of course it meant I could relax in the evenings knowing I’d hear if (when!) she woke.”

Carolin at Mummy Alarm said that the one thing she could have lives without was her mobile phone “To keep me away during night feeds and keeping in touch with the world out there when I was stuck on the sofa!”

microwave

Sonya from The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock N Roll Mum tickled me with her answer to what was absolutely essential when you’ve got a newborn’ “Microwave dinners, and a devil may care attitude to housework and personal grooming!” – LOVE IT!

slow cooker

Marianne from Mari’s World is a mum to twins and her answer was…her Husband! She said that “With twins you cannot have too many hands so if anyone offers to help say YES!”. She’s also a big fan of the slow cooker, for pre-preparing as many meals as possible to make your life that little bit easier.

Big Knickers

Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger Too reminded me that big knickers are an absolute essential for the post c-section Mummy, but do let me know if you find any that are even a little bit prettier than the Bridget-tastic pair pictured here – one does like to maintain SOME standards!

dummy, pacifier

Donna at Mummy Central was worried that her suggestion might be a bit controversial, but it’s one with which I agree –  a dummy. She said “Brodie used to fall asleep either breastfeeding, or sucking my little finger – and wake up as soon as I removed myself from his gob! He rejected all the orthodontic dummies and a fellow mum said to get a traditional cherry soother. He loved it, and slept happily, sucking away. Also meant no sleepless nights during teething, as he just furiously sucked through the pain. When he was 2, we gave his dummy to Santa and he was fine”

Vanessa from HPMcQ is a super trendy mummy and suggested the Rockabye Baby CDs – “we put them on an ipod and rooster you to go to sleep to bob marley, the beatles, nirvana, blur and radiohead!”

white noise

And finally, Lucy from Lulastic has a suggestion which is apparently frowned upon by some parents, but she was a fan of a particular app for her mobile phone: “The White Noise app. My babies have been quite unsettled in those early days, perhaps due to very long labours, and I found that if I cuddled/ wore them in the sling whilst playing some white noise they would settle much quick after a feed. It also helped keep Juno napping while her big boisterous sister bustled about. Apparently it sounds just like the inside if our noisy wombs so helps them feel comforted.”

Becoming a Mother #LifeisReborn

When I was pregnant with Sausage, I had a million doubts going through my mind. I was terrified that something would go wrong during labour and that I’d never get to meet her, or that I’d be a useless mother, unable to sense what she needed, when she needed it. When she was eventually born and had to go into NICU, it felt like the world had stopped spinning. Being unable to hold my baby until she was a week old was agonising and watching doctors and nurses doing all the things for her that I wanted to be able to, like feeding and bathing, gave me actual physical pain.

On the day that she was allowed to come home, she had to have a load of tests before we could take her, one of which was a blood test. I’m hugely squeamish and was about to leave the room so that the nurse could go about her business, but something stopped me. I looked at my baby and I knew that, regardless of how queasy the sight of blood made me, she needed me and that was more important than anything. I think that was the moment I realised I’d really become a mother. I held Sausage tightly while her blood was being taken and I knew that I’d never, ever let her go through anything painful or traumatic by herself. Ever.

Now that I’m pregnant again, I’ve no doubt that Sausage is going to be an amazing big sister, in fact she’s already an amazing big sister. She kisses and cuddles my tummy, she sings and talks to her little sister and even rubs stretch mark cream into my growing bump for me, which is even better when her baby sister is wriggling around and she can feel her moving. Husband and I have done our best to include her in every step of the pregnancy, taking her along to all of the scans and talking to her about what life will be like once the baby arrives. She’s already exceeded our expectations in terms of how wonderful she’s been and I cannot wait to see how my big girl takes to being a big sister.

My Husband became a parent even before I did. He was left standing in a hospital, ashen faced, while I got rushed into surgery, unsure of whether Sausage and I would be okay at the end of everything and I literally don’t think he’s stopped worrying about either of us since that moment. I was under anaesthetic and unaware of everything that had happened until the next day, while he was sent home with a grainy Polaroid of Sausage in her incubator and told to come back the next day. He’s an incredible Dad, someone I’m SO  proud to call the father to my children and I don’t think I’d be half the parent I am today without him on my team.

The folks at Johnson Baby have produced a gorgeous advert about what happens when a baby is born, which you can see here:

I think the advert well and truly hits the nail on the head and it’s reminded me of all of the wonderful (and worrying!) things that we’ve got to look forward to, when the three of us become four of us (and not forgetting Chuck!). I think I speak for all of us when I say that I cannot wait!

Johnsons Baby have sent me a hamper of products in exchange for this post

Carry On Regardless (or: Life With a Newborn)

baby in cinemaI’m not going to lie; while I’m really excited about our imminent (yep, less than 8 weeks left now!) arrival, I’m also apprehensive about what it means for our lives. There are lots of things that we enjoy doing, as a family of three, that I’m concerned won’t be able to continue as a family of 4. For instance, we tend to take Sausage to the cinema quite regularly, especially if there’s a new kids film out, but I’m not sure how a newborn would fit into that scenario?

The cinema we go to is a small, independent theatre with fewer seats per screen and early morning showings (it’s also not as loud as a lot of cinemas seem to be, either), so in theory I’m hoping that I can wear the baby in a sling and try to time showings between feeds, that way if she gets fussy during a film, I can simply walk outside with her and try to settle her without disturbing other film-goers. I know some theatres do baby-friendly showings, but I don’t think there are any near us.

Sausage and I like to go swimming together occasionally too, and our pool has strict ratios of how many kids per adult there are. I’m hoping that Sausage will see taking her baby sister as a fun thing, not an interruption of Mummy/Sausage time, although obviously there’ll be times that Husband is able to take care of the baby whilst Sausage and I go for a dip.

I’m also getting pre-emptive guilt about taking Sausage to school and having the baby at home with me. I know I’m being irrational; Sausage had her time at home with us and was lucky enough to have both parents working from home during that time, so a LOT of quality was spent together during those years, but she still struggles on occasion with being left at school while her Dad and I are at home and I’m worried that knowing her sister will be here with us too will make her feel worse or isolate her somehow.

I know it’s totally normal to have all of these worries and, in a way, I’m glad I’m thinking about everything now so that I can be marginally more prepared if these situations arise. However, I most certainly don’t have any answers at this precise moment and it’s causing horrible anxiety levels ahead of my due date.

I’m pretty certain that Sausage is going to WOW us all and just be totally amazing about everything, in that way that she always is, showing her usual levels of patience and understanding. The age gap is both a blessing and a curse – Sausage is old enough to understand everything that’s going on and has been as involved as possible in the pregnancy, coming to scan appointments, helping me to rub cocoa butter into my bump and feeling her sister moving around. But she’s also old enough to feel pushed out when Mummy has to spend her time doing baby-related things, and that’s what’s worrying me.

So, do any of my readers have a 5 and a half year age gap (or more)? Is it possible to continue doing normal family activities with a newborn or am I going to have to compromise on certain things? And is there a good way to make sure Sausage and I don’t lose our special bond? All advice is muchly appreciated.

Pregnant? Here’s What You’ll Need…

Post provided by Koochi

You there. Yes, you. You’re pregnant, are you not? Yes, yes you are. So, one day sometime soon, the stork will visit and you’ll have your little bundle of joy, wailing away in the crook of your arms. Lovely jubbly.

But wait! You forgot something! Actually, you forgot everything! There’s loads to do – you can’t get pregnant and just wait around for nine months! Stuff has to get done!

What do you have to get hold of? We’re assuming you’ve got the nursery nicely decorated, but if you haven’t, you know where to start. After that, it’s time to get enough supplies to get you through those stressful first few weeks.

Friend, you are going to be busy. Very busy. Take a load off and we’ll give you a hand.

General Supplies and All That Jazz

Right. There’s a lot of stuff to get in this category, so we’ll try to keep it short. Basically, anything we put here you’ll probably need. And in large amounts. Best break into that rainy day fund and get it out of the way.

Nappies are obviously a must; buy about three tonnes of these. You won’t be able to predict how many of these you’ll go through in an average week, and you don’t want to run out at a crucial moment…

Baby wipes, kid-friendly bath stuff, and talcum powder. You’ll also want a cupboard full of baby bottles (and the requisite cleaning stuff), and a breast pump may come in handy. If you don’t like having a stiff neck (c’mon, who does?), get a nursing pillow. Lanolin ointment too, for… related reasons.

Infant formula’s good too, when he or she is a bit older.

Feeding time – get a highchair, with straps. Definitely with straps. Baby bowls and plates are good, and you’ll definitely want some bibs and sippy cups. Keep ‘em happy with toys and dummies, and make sure you have enough babygrows to clothe a small nation.

Around the Town

Get a pushchair. They’re more convenient than prams; you can use the bus. You’ll need one that can recline right back though, so take a look at the range from Koochi pushchairs. For the ultimate in versatility, think of investing in a travel system – these have a car seat built in. Brilliant.

Sleepy Time

You want to be a good parent. You don’t want to arouse the interests of child protection services. You want to buy a bed.

For a cot, look for the British Standard Mark 1753. This is a safety thing; it means your cot’s a good one. Get a mattress too (firm, not soft), and some light blankets. Don’t buy pillows or duvets. For information why, check the NHS site.

Get a baby monitor too.

Safe N Sound

You need to childproof the house, otherwise the whole place is one big death trap. Do it. Do it now. Safety gates on the stairs, covers in the plug sockets, latches in the cupboards.

Grab a digital thermometer too, to put your mind at rest when the bairn’s under the weather.

‘Course, this isn’t quite everything – you’ll want cotton buds and nail clippers and so on – but it’s most of it. Best o’ luck pal, you’ll need it…

Sit Down, Love. Have a Cup of Tea…

I’m a live and let live kind of person, you know? I don’t hate anyone because of what they are or what they do, if it’s legal/consensual/doesn’t hurt anybody else. But there have been a string of articles in the papers recently which are seriously making me resent the women they’re written about. Meet Crystal Green and Lea-Ann Ellison:

cuppa

 

Crystal is a martial arts champion who has continued her training right the way through her pregnancy and Lea-Ann has stirred up a whole shit-storm of controversy after posting pictures of herself doing weight-lifting whilst heavily up the duff.

Now, I’m from the Charlotte York school of pregnancy – her doctor tells her that running is fine for her to do because it’s something that she’s always done, so I’m sure that both of these women are fine to continue the levels of activity that they were doing before they fell pregnant (although, the weight-lifting one scares me a bit, I’m sure you’re supposed to be careful lifting heavy things whilst pregnant…?). But, as the title of this post suggests, I do feel like taking both of them to one side and saying “Come on, pet, why don’t you sit in a comfy chair and watch some telly?”.

Having a healthy pregnancy is vital and while part of me admires these women for their get-up-and-go during their gestation, I also can’t help but feel that they should be taking it easy, even if it’s just a little bit. I’m sure they’d look at my sedentary ass and hyperventilate at the thought of sitting on their butts for 9 months, but surely there’s some sort of middle ground.

There’s no way I could do either kick-boxing or weight lifting at the moment. Do you know why?

BECAUSE I’D WEE MYSELF.

That’s right, people. The combination of having had one c-section and being pregnant again means that the only safe place for me to sneeze or blow my nose at the moment is sitting on the loo, for fear of letting an involuntary stream of urine escape when my stomach muscles are engaged in such a way, so squatting down and attempting to heft a barbell around would undoubtedly end in some sort of dirty protest from my pelvic floor.

And, aside from the wee, do you know what happens when I so much as dare to separate my knees at the moment? A loud *CRACK* emanates from my pubic bone and I tend to spend a minute, holding the front of my fanny, trying to recover from the pain.

It’s not so much that I think these women are making me look bad, it’s more of a culmination of the “womens sanitary product advert effect” (catchy name, huh?). Anyone aware of TV in the 80’s and 90’s will know that women were besieged by images of other women, who through the use of subtext and blue water in a test-tube were hinted at being on the blob, yet they rollerskated with herds of Dalmatians, went running, partook of a spot of yachting and engaged in a whole load of other activities to demonstrate how UN-BOTHERED they were by their periods.

Which is great. If that’s what you want to do, then go for it. However, most women I know choose to wear jogging bottoms with a hot-water bottle in the waistband, eat chocolate and carb-based snacks and watch shit TV. WHICH IS ALSO FINE.

All I’m saying is, whilst being active is great, pregnancy is also a time to be gentle with yourself, be happy with the changes in your body and, if the mood takes you, have naps in the afternoon. Women are awesome and we can do awesome things, but sometimes, admitting that you need a rest is just as awesome as swinging a kettle-bell around. Don’t let the standards of others make you feel bad about your own choices.

There endeth the sermon…but mostly because it’s nap time.

Pregnancy Hormones: Diary of an Unhinged Fatty

onedoesnotsimplyI’m almost 25 weeks gone now and the last few days have brought a new development in my pregnancy.

I’ve turned into an emotional wreck.

Okay, so anyone who knows me well enough will know that I’m not exactly the most…stable person at the best of times, but this is like some whole new level of emotional turbulence. Let me give you an example: yesterday, Husband and I were standing at the queue in Waitrose and there was a man, probably in his late seventies or early eighties, in front of us waiting to be served. The contents of his basket were a single serve apple crumble and a Radio Times. Upon seeing the loneliest collection of items ever, I proceeded to burst into tears in the middle of the supermarket. The thought of this poor old man, sitting alone with only the TV for company, eating his apple crumble made my heart hurt. I felt terrible for crying, though I’m pretty sure he didn’t see my woeful sobbing, but I just couldn’t help it.

It’s not just sadness that gets me, either. I’ve written before about how people’s lack of manners gets to me, especially when driving, but that seems to have escalated now too. I gave way to three people in a row the other day, two of whom failed to thank me, and I felt so cross about their ignorance that I could feel my pulse in my fingers. I sat in my car thinking (amongst plenty of words beginning with ‘f’ and ‘c’ that I won’t write here…) that I genuinely hoped every single one of those people tripped on their seatbelt on the way out of their cars and knocked their front teeth out. I was SEETHING.

As I said, I’m not exactly a measured person at the best of times – I’m a bit of a match-head (can I blame my ginger genes for that? They do say redheads are more fiery and my Dad is as red and fiery as they come!) and do tend to react before I properly absorb a situation, but it’s like that side of my personality had been amplified by a thousand times.  I keep thinking of that quote from Fight Club…”I am Jack’s raging bile duct”

I’m fairly sure it’s the pregnancy hormones doing it to me, and they aren’t going away any time soon – I’ve got 13 weeks left of being a human incubator, so I’m guessing there’s going to be plenty more tears and rage between now and the end of February.

If anyone has any tips with how I can ride this roller-coaster without losing my mind completely, I’d be really grateful for the advice. And do me a favour, don’t suggest “The Little Book of Calm”; my love of Black Books has rendered me terrified of tiny tomes.

“Before 24 Weeks”

I’ve blogged before about being pregnant with diabetes and one of the implications of this is that I need to travel to London to have a foetal cardiology scan, to check that the baby’s heart is developing properly. Various scheduling issues have come up, mostly to do with the fact that St. Thomas’ appointment plan means I have to be in London either at the crack of dawn or just before the afternoon rush hour, making travel tricky. We had an appointment planned for the Thursday in half term, but decided to postpone it as the idea of dragging Sausage to London during half term, on Halloween no less, then trying to get her home on the tube during work-kicking-out time just didn’t appeal, especially as she’s not a huge fan of stairs, having lived in a bungalow her whole life.

When I called St. Thomas’ to change the appointment the lady on the other end of the phone started to make the appointment she stopped and said “Oh, wait, how far gone are you? How far gone will you be on the 18th?”. We worked out that I’d be 23+6 on the day of the scan, but the lady at the end seemed unsatisfied with my answer. She said “We like to have these things done, you know, before 24 weeks”. At first, her subtext didn’t penetrate my thick skull, but after I put the phone down, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Before 24 weeks” was her way of telling me that I needed to have the scan done in time to be within the legal limit for abortion, should there me any major issues with the cardiac scan.

I was told about the scan weeks ago and until now, I’d viewed it as a bit of an embuggerance because of the London factor, not something that would be a deciding factor in whether the pregnancy should be allowed to continue. It had never occurred to me that this could be a life or death situation.

Husband and I are pragmatic enough to have had discussions in the past about ‘worst case scenario’ situations, agreeing that we wouldn’t feel right about bringing a child into the world if we knew they’d have a severe disability which would leave them ill or in pain for the rest of their lives. It would be selfish of us to put our sadness at losing a child above the quality of life of another human being and I strongly feel that it’s our responsibility as parents to bear the brunt of this decision.

Having said that, the thought of getting this far in a pregnancy and having to terminate made me feel sick with anxiety. We already knew that our child is a little girl, we’d discussed names and even bought her her first item of clothing. She’s a person to us, not just a blob on a screen and we were seriously struggling with the idea that we may have to end her life.

I’m a strong believer in choice, not just for women but for humans in general, and I believe strongly also in a woman’s right to abortion, so I’m not objecting to termination on any sort of moral level, but this is a life that we intentionally created, a life that we already love.

Last Saturday, we had a nice lazy morning, spent lounging around the house, and the three of us (plus Chuck) sat on the bed for about an hour, playing music to my bump, waiting to see what sounds the baby would react to. As it turns out, she’s a huge fan of Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys, as well as her big sister’s voice, and Sausage felt her move for the first time. It was amazing but almost added to the anxiety and sadness that I was feeling ahead of my appointment.

Yesterday, I travelled to London to have the foetal cardiology scan done, and I’m delighted to say that, in the words of the consultant who scanned me, “the baby’s heart is perfect”. Today, I’m 24 weeks pregnant and I finally feel like I can start to enjoy the pregnancy, knowing that we’ve had all of the major tests completed and everything is hunky dory at this point, but it’s been a tough few weeks up until now. I don’t know what I would have done without my Husband, who’s been a rock during this time, soothing my anxiety and wiping my tears when I needed him to, as well as my group of EPIC online friends (they know who they are) who’ve provided me with support from all over the globe.

Today, at 24 weeks pregnant, I feel very blessed.

Sometimes, Breast Is NOT Always Best

Bottle FeedingI promised myself I wasn’t going to chime in on this debate, it’s one of those subjects on which people will never agree and I completely respect the right of any woman to make the decision she wants to make in regards her own body and that of her baby. However, this latest piece of news about breastfeeding is leaving me feeling really upset. In case you haven’t heard, the Government has put forward a proposal to offer mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies a £200 shop voucher as a reward.

According to the BBC: “The pilot scheme is being targeted at deprived areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and funded through a collaboration between government and the medical research sector. A third area is expected soon with the plan to trial it on 130 women who have babies from now until March. If it proves successful, a nationwide pilot could be rolled out next year.”

While I don’t debate that helping women who want to breastfeed is a positive thing, this scheme couldn’t be any less helpful to women who are not in a position to be able to breastfeed. Further to this, there needs to be a more general acknowledgement that being ‘physically unable’ to breastfeed isn’t the only valid reason for women to choose not to do it. What about those women for whom there’s a psychological issue? Is it fair to further add to the stigma for them?

The main reason I wasn’t going to comment on this issue was because of my own relationship with breastfeeding. As soon as I fell pregnant with Sausage, I knew that I would be unable to do it. The thought of breastfeeding is literally repellent to me; the thought of a child latched on to my nipple makes me feel physically nauseous (for reasons which are real and genuine, but I’m not going to go into here) and while some women may consider it selfish of me to not try and overcome these issues and feed my child, for me it was easier to reduce that pressure and give my child adequate nutrition by other means, enabling me to concentrate on being the best mother that I could be.

Am I jealous of earth-mother types who have no problem breastfeeding? Well, yes, I suppose I am, but only because they’re viewed as better mothers than me. As it turns out, because Sausage was in the NICU and I didn’t get to hold her until she was a week old, I never produced any milk at all, not even a slight leakage, so when people ask about feeding, this is the part I tell them, so worried I am about the stigma of bottle feeding by choice. But, consider this:

I’ve never smacked my child.

She’s never stayed with anyone other than Husband and I overnight and we rarely go out as a couple and leave her with anyone else.

She’s developmentally advanced for her age.

She’s kind, polite, well spoken and deeply considerate of others.

Do I deserve vouchers for this? Is none of this on-par in terms of importance with how I chose to nourish her as a baby? Does the person that we’ve raised not have more of an impact on society than whether she was fed from a bottle?

Whilst talking about this on Twitter yesterday, the Tots100 Twitter team asked:

totstweet

In short, my answer to this is no, you can’t please everyone all the time, but I’m not sure if this scheme does represent the many OR the few in either case. I receive a whole load of press releases each day and this morning alone, I’ve received emails with the following titles:

“Newly-Qualified Student Midwives Cannot Find Jobs”

“Pay Freeze Forces Nurses To Take On Extra Shifts”

“Maternal Mental Health Alliance Launches Innovative Guidance About Specialist Mental Health Midwives”

I’ve blogged before about the fact that I’m a huge fan of the NHS, but surely these three short sentences illustrate perfectly that there are SO many more valuable areas in which money could be spent? I understand that it’s NHS policy to encourage breast above bottle, but surely improving care and empowering women by helping them to have happy births is a far more sensible distribution of resources? As a mother who dealt with more than her share of pregnancy and post-natal issues, I can wholeheartedly say that a very close second, in terms of importance, to the health of the child is the mental health and happiness of the mother and pressurising women with financial incentives is just cruel.

In typical Tory fashion, the areas which have been chosen to pilot this scheme are ‘deprived’, which means that the Government is basically making new mothers jump through hoops for a small financial gain. Does that not seem rather distasteful to you? What of those women who have genuine issues with breastfeeding, but feel unable to turn down the financial incentive because of their circumstances? One of the biggest factors in causing post-natal depression is the feeling of loss of control at some point during the pregnancy or birthing process, so by forcing women to make decisions which make them uncomfortable, because they simply cannot say no to the cash, makes me genuinely concerned about the potential for a huge rise in cases on PND in the UK.

And more to the point, what right do these people have to try and regulate our breasts? There are FAR bigger issues to deal with than this and encroaching on women’s freedom like this is disgusting. But I’m not at all surprised – it’s Conservative mandate to systematically dismantle and divide, starting with the poor.

I guess we should have all seen this coming, really.