Monday, 30 May 2011

The Wet Welly Years

This is perhaps becoming a bit of a recurring theme on this blog - one thing that really annoys me is how negative so many parents can be about being a parent. Recently I've heard a few people moan that they haven't really had a holiday in years because it doesn't count when you're running about after your kids the whole time.

Before we had Evelyn we went on holiday a lot. We were fortunate to graduate at a time when the euro was weak, budget airlines actually were budget, and to be honest our standards were pretty low. So in the space of a year we'd easily cram in a week skiing, a couple of city breaks, a three week expedition to somewhere requiring vaccinations and a drunken winter weekend in a cottage in the country with a bunch of friends.

It is true that things are a bit different now. For one thing the cost of travel (and our standards) are somewhat higher these days, (I'm just not prepared to have to kill my bed with 100% Deet before I get in it anymore) and having a baby, now toddler, has changed things. But shhh don't tell anyone - it can be a good thing!

I'm not saying I don't miss our old holiday habits and I hope that when Evelyn is older we'll be able to introduce her to the sort of trips we used to take, then one day leave her behind while we take them again ourselves. I'd also be lying if I said that taking a toddler on holiday isn't actually more exhausting than having one at home,  but much as I'd love another few weeks in South America or nights in romantic mountainside restaurants in Andalusia, I have done those things.

A big part of travel for me has always been trying something new. A week in March on a farm in Cornwall may not immediately hold the same appeal as backpacking in Asia, but it is ultimately a new experience. Having Evelyn has meant stepping out of the pattern we were forming and trying a different sort of new. It may seem very ordinary but if you're 19 months old and live in London then getting on a tractor in the morning to go and feed some lambs is every bit as amazing as seeing the sun rise over the Tikal pyramids, and watching that amazement is pretty awesome too.

Those of us lucky enough to have a child, have such a tiny little window in our lives when they are small and will scream with delight at the sight of a pig. So let's embrace the wet welly and donkey sanctuary years and the ordinary pleasure of seeing our children having fun. The beaches, mountains and smart hotels will most likely still be there for us when the little ones are all grown up and off having adventures of their own.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Czech Out This New Research!

I'm sorry, that's a terrible pun....

Last year I had a bit of a rant about the thyroid problem I developed after having Evelyn and the apparent ignorance of the condition shown by the medical professionals involved in my care. So it was interesting to read about a study conducted by a team in Prague (you see where that pun came from now?) looking into screening for the condition in early pregnancy.

The team followed healthy women who tested positive for a particular antibody in the early stages of pregnancy and found that 36% of them had developed thyroid disorders by the time their babies were 22 months old. The investigators concluded that all women found to be positive for the antibody in pregnancy should be routinely monitored postpartum so that any thyroid problems can be quickly picked up and treated.

This was a fairly small study and didn't get a great deal of coverage but I was very interested to read the BBC article about it in which a spokesperson for the Royal College of Midwives seemed rather skeptical of the need for thyroid screening. I agree that a larger study is needed, but not with her assertion that:

"In the UK we have a comprehensive programme of antenatal care from as early as possible in pregnancy.
"This gives us a good baseline to monitor women throughout pregnancy and immediately after pregnancy."

At least in our part of London you don't normally see anyone for the first three months of pregnancy and my thyroid condition was picked up by a friend many months after Evelyn was born having been completely missed by all the medical professionals I'd already seen. Had she not spotted it I suspect it would never have been diagnosed.

Now there are far worse conditions to have but it can have a big impact on your ability to cope with the already demanding task of looking after a small baby. More seriously, if untreated, it can cause problems for future pregnancies included an increased chance of miscarriage in those unmonitored first months.

I had to give a heck of a lot of blood samples during pregnancy, sadly non of them were for the antibody that could have indicated this potential problem, I for one would have been quite happy to have given up a few more mls and had a bit more monitoring to have avoided 9 months of feeling hopeless, old and exhausted.