Sunday, 27 May 2012

Baby on Board

I'd been debating for a while weather or not I should wear one of these badges, for those outside of London, you can get them from TFL (who run the tubes, buses etc.) and wear them to let other travellers know you are pregnant and would like a seat.

Last time round I didn't get one, not many people had them and I could walk to work for most of my pregnancy anyway. By the time I couldn't it really should have been pretty obvious! This time I've given it a bit more thought. I agree that the badges are a good idea, I'd like to assume that most people, even in London, are decent human beings who would give up their seat for a  pregnant woman but that those same kind souls would be mortified if they offered a seat to a "pregnant lady" only to find they'd made a fat girl cry! So for those awkward in between months the badge removes doubt - kind persons offers seat, pregnant person gratefully accepts it.

But I just have these few niggly doubts:

1- How embarrassing is it going to be standing there, pregnancy branded and still not offered a seat?

2- What if I'm actually ok standing? The second trimester may be fine. Actually I could have done with a seat more when I busted my knee doing martial arts but there are no - "Jitsu Accident On Board" badges, what if others actually need it more than me?

3- The points I'm most likely to need a seat are when I'm huge and a badge really shouldn't be necessary or in the exhausted, nauseas first trimester when I didn't dare wear one for fear of bumping into colleagues.

4 - Isn't it just a bit smug?? "Hey commuters!! Look at me!! I'm Up the Duff you know!! Bun firmly in this here oven!! I'm special now! More special than you! haha! Gimme your seat ordinary people!! "

I really hadn't made up my mind until I almost fainted in the staff canteen last week and was packed off to hospital. As a result of this I've been told that my blood pressure is a bit low and drops when I stand so apparently fainting is to be expected. With that in mind I decided that however embarrassed I may be to  wear a badge, even given all the doubts above, it'll be a whole lot better than flopping face first into the lap of an unsuspecting commuter.

So - the badge is on - I'll be updating the blog and twitter with news of if anyone actually notices! Follow me @southwarkbelle #babyonboard

Or give me your comments - what do you think of these badges? Have you used one - and if so how did people react?

In the mean time -

Baby On Board Badge - Day 1

Wednesday morning rush hour, train full on arrival at my station - Not offered a seat when I got on, no one in "priority seats" even bothered to look up, but at the next stop I had to move to the end of the carriage where a nice lady kindly bashed her husband repeatedly until he offered me his seat. I'll call that a badge success.

Friday, 25 May 2012

#R2BC - A Pump, a Bump and a Rump!

Back to a more standard format for my reasons to be cheerful this week - the sun is shining and that just seems to make it so much easier to think of things to be grateful for:

1- I had to make an unplanned trip to the hospital yesterday, after a rather embarrassing fainty moment in the staff canteen on Wednesday. I saw the GP and she sent me for an ECG to check on my heart. Perhaps that doesn't sound like something to be cheerful about but it's the third time in as many years that I've had one so I wasn't worried about it and I waited in the walk in clinic for all of five minutes before a nice technician quickly and kindly did the test. Once again I am reminded of how lucky I am to have the NHS available to me, yes it's flawed but it's there and yesterday it was on top form.

2- I'm now 14 weeks pregnant - hello second trimester at last!! I haven't had any nausea for almost a week now, I'm hoping the tiredness will soon be on it's way too and of course getting through that first trimester means the chances of something going wrong are now reducing. I developed a thyroid problem after having E and if not treated properly it increases the risk of infertility and miscarriage, but everything seems to be well controlled at the moment and getting to this point is a really good sign.

3- I got a seat on the train! I'd been debating weather or not to wear a "baby on board" badge for my commute, but after the fainty incident I decided it was worth a try and it worked! No one in the so called priority seats even looked up from their metro when I got on, but as it got busier at the next stop and I moved down the carriage a more observant lady kindly hit her husband repeatedly until he noticed and stood up for me! 

I hope everyone else is finding things to be cheerful about this week? As ever have a look below for links to some other cheery blogs - I'm betting there will be plenty of sunshine!


Saturday, 19 May 2012

My First Trimester in Tweets

A while ago I spotted a few bloggers sharing their "Week in Tweets", giving a little bit of information about each day in 140 characters or less. I have to admit I'm a wee bit addicted to twitter, which made it agonising not to tweet some of my thoughts during my first trimester, but I didn't want to go public about the pregnancy at that point, so here are the tweets I would have sent, if I hadn't have been keeping my virtual lips sealed, one for each week of the first trimester.

Week 4:
Err apparently I'm pregnant again. Planned but #panic anyway #needalittlesitdown

Week 5:
Nauseas, tired and this mornings planned top didn't fit #andsoitbegins

Week 6:
Sure I didn't feel this fat, this soon, last time, #panic #gonnabetriplets #financialdisaster

Week 7:
7 weeks? only 7 weeks??? this is going to feel like the longest pregnancy in history

Week 8:
#excusesfornotdrinking 1-I'm hungover, 2-I'm driving, 3-I have hideous indigestion - actually the last two are both usually true

Week 9:
Counting the days to our scan, WILL THIS TRIMESTER NEVER END????

Week 10:
Nothing fits, don't want to be caught in maternity clothes. Have resorted to looking frumpy and fastening jeans with one of E's hair bands

Week 11:
Met midwife, I can't pronounce her name or her mine, but so glad to have caseload team this time. All women should have this option

Week 12:
Counting the days to my scan!! please please please let all be ok, and only one!!

Week 13:
Well hello there amazing, tiny, wriggly little creature. Wow.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


So here it is, one of those grainy grey photos that is pretty unintelligible and possibly rather irritating to everyone else, but which means the world those posting it proudly on facebook/twitter/blogger etc etc

Yep, I'm pregnant again, introducing Smidge2:

We found out while we were on holiday at Coombe Mill . Just like the last time it was only our second month of trying (we are incredibly lucky), and just like last time I was convinced I wasn't pregnant. I did the test just to be sure, as we'd been warned that pregnant women shouldn't handle the lambs and ewes (oh and there were some very cute orphaned lambs that really needed me to cuddle them). I emerged from the bathroom, shaking slightly, holding out the oh so romantic plastic stick and mumbling something along the lines of: "Oh my god Fred, it's coming up positive" (actually it may have been less polite than that). Just like last time, Fred was delighted, while I was somewhat wide-eyed and in much need of a good sit down and a cup of (now decaf) tea.

Writing this now, it already seems like a long time ago - BLOOMIN HECK the first trimester drags!

Since than I have mostly been hiding my head in the sand and the rest of me in a series of increasingly frumpy clothes. I didn't want to think beyond that all important 12 week scan, partly out of worry that something could go wrong, and partly because my memories of the latter stages of pregnancy, and especially of giving birth are not exactly fond ones. But now that I've seen the little creature waving, wriggling and generally being uncooperative on the hospital screen I'm starting to let myself get excited and look forward to meeting Smidge2. Boy or girl? Will he/she be completely different to E? How will they get on with a 3+ yr age gap? What will it be like caring for a new born second time around? What will E think of being a big sister? I'm increasingly intrigued to find out - although I'm still rather hoping that someone will invent birth by teleportation before November!

PS I have a whole lot more to update the blog on, it's been rather frustrating keeping quiet on this for the last few months, but I'll stop here for now and try to add posts in the next few days and weeks. In the mean time - anyone have any tips for pregnancy second time around??

PPS - this is very clearly my reason to the cheerful this week!!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Are you Mom enough?

Oh there is going to be a LOT on the blogosphere about this one!

The latest edition of the American TIME magazine features on the cover a model-esque young women, posed in jeans and a vest top, staring intently into the camera, with her pre-school child standing on a chair, leaning into her and breastfeeding. In small print we're told the boy is three but he looks older and the cover carries the headline - ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?

I've already seen a few American blogs commenting on this, one was concerned that the photo was deliberately staged to make extended breastfeeding look freakish, with particular criticism aimed at the "attachment parenting" movement which (amongst others) advocates it. Another blog worried that the cover piled yet more pressure on the majority of mothers who don't breastfeed for years and certainly don't look like stick thin, perfectly groomed models, whatever they're doing with their boobs. I guess it all depends what side you're on, and what you feel a bit defensive about.

But here's my point - why do we need to take sides? Why should we defend our position?

The vast majority of Mums know that breast is best for young babies. Of the Mums I know, all attempted to breast feed with varying degrees of success and longevity - are those Mums still breastfeeding their three year olds more "Mom", more woman, than those who only managed a few weeks? Heck no, breastfeeding is really really bloomin hard and I know very few Mums who gave up without weeks of utter anguish and guilt.

But equally I don't subscribe to the idea that extended breastfeeding is somehow freakish. It is absolutely the norm in a great many cultures, the reliable availability of clean water and safe food (and contraception) in wealthy countries means that there are fewer practical reasons to breast feed long past weaning, but to suggest it's somehow unnatural is ludicrous.

Ultimately in this issue, like so many others in parenting, every family has to do what is best for them as a whole and for each individual child. When we start to divide ourselves into competing tribes be they attachment parents, tiger Moms, Gina Ford followers etc etc and then claim that our way is the only safe and  loving way to raise children, we just make the job harder for all Mums, and it's bloomin well hard enough already. Let's all PLEASE do what is right for our own kids and try to accept that our way, might just, possibly, not be the universal correct answer for everyone else too.

Do you love your kids? Do you do the best you possibly can for them? Yes? Well then you are Mom enough, just as you are.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Bedtime Procrastination Concert

E knows, it's nearly bedtime.

E knows one guaranteed way to prolong it - be cute:

                                           Part 1

                                          Part 2

                      Part 3 - Featuring a previously unheard (totally made up) ode to Uncle Bryn

PS. Anyone know the Penny Ballon song from part 2? I've never heard of it but assume she picked it up at nursery and keeps asking us to sing it!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Poorly Sick

I'm off sick, boo, but it's Thursday, which means it's R2BC (reasons to be cheerful) day so I'm on the sofa under a blanket, looking for the bright side:

1- I'm sick on a work day.

I do feel bad that I'm not in work today, there was stuff I wanted to get done, I'm missing our monthly lab meeting and there is also a slight risk that my colleagues just think I have a hangover. We hosted a meeting last night, the kind that comes with some food and a fair bit of booze. I actually had none of the latter as I was already starting to feel dodgy, I just hope this was noted by my lab mates! (If you're reading this - I'm really really not just hungover!!)

However, the down sides of being poorly on a work day are as nothing compared to those of being ill on a Mummy day. The sick leave policy of the stay at home Mum is positively Dickensian. Pounding head? Snot face? Running to the loo every five minutes? Tough. There is a small person who wants food and entertainment and will scream as loud as needs be to get it. There is the DVDs on the sofa option but it will only last so long and you'll probably feel guilty about it - other people are doing crafts, baking, learning chuffing mandarin you're grumpy and hoping you're child will be zombified in front of Happy Feet for as long as humanly possible. ooh the guilt fairy.

So being poorly sick on a work day is, relatively speaking, pretty sweet. I feel rubbish, but after the struggle to get E to nursery I could just gingerly sip my peppermint tea, then go back to bed. I am so very glad of that!

2- Vaccinations

The Lovely Mr McG landing at the sort of airstrip that makes me feel even sicker...

I'm not really all that poorly, I'm taking the opportunity to feel sorry for myself of course, but while I've been under my blanket on the sofa I've been catching up on some TV that's reminded me just how lucky I am.  Ewan McGregor's Cold Chain Mission follows the lovely Mr McG as he travels with teams delivering vaccines to some of the remotest places on Earth. Here we pretty much take it for granted that our kids can be vaccinated against diseases that killed or disabled many in our parents or grandparents generations. It's horrible seeing those pins stuck in your tiny baby but they won't remember it by the time you get home from the GP's surgery, and home is probably only minutes away. The Nepalese families in the first episode of this programme live 22 hours walk, not from the nearest hospital or big town, but from the nearest road. Others in the Republic of Congo are days away from the outside world, only able to travel in small boats. For them popping to the GP is out of the question so they rely on teams of people who will literally trek over mountains and wade through swamps to ensure their children are protected. If the weather, or the politics stops them getting through then the children could miss out. How lucky I am to just take it for granted that I need never worry about my child being crippled by polio, blinded by measles or god forbid something even worse.

Also, frankly, how lucky I am to have 2 hours of Ewan McGregor to watch while I'm feeling ill, although unusually for him he remained fully clothed at all times...