Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tabby McTat

A friend bought us this book which took a while to grow on me but is becoming a firm favourite. But what I think is so brilliant about it is it features a lesbian couple and makes absolutely no mention of the fact they are lesbians, they just happen to be two women who live together and who the protagonist goes to live with. More of this please.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Plans for my second birth

There was funny moment during the birth of our daughter. At one point, still inside me, she was showing some signs of distress. (That wasn't the funny bit). The medical staff asked permission to carry out a test, which involves going inside you to take a sample of blood from the baby's head. (If the results had been bad, which they weren't, I would then have had an emergency c-section). I gave consent of course, and the staff looked relieved. "Doesn't everyone consent?" I asked, and they said no, that women like me (I think they meant middle class women) are sometimes reluctant and ask the staff to wait half an hour to see how things progress before carrying out the test. "NCT women" I cried out. For that is what we had been told in our NCT antenatal classes - that where an intervention was suggested we should ask for it to be put on hold for a while to make sure it is absolutely necessary.

Yet of all the women I know who have taken NCT classes, in my group and in others, only a small minority had the natural complication-free births that you are led to expect in these classes, with problems ranging from breech babies to waters breaking without contractions to forceps to excessive bleeding to emergency c-sections to severe tearing. And for many of us, this was a shock, because the kind of birth that the NCT tries to promote, the type where women have as little pain relief as possible and as few medical interventions as they can and sit mewing on a bouncy ball throughout dilation, exists for very few women. Yet the emphasis on this kind of birth sets up the majority of women who don't experience this, to feel like failures.

We're expecting number two towards the end of the year, and I've been thinking about my last birth and my next one. In some ways, my approach will be no different. I took all medical interventions last time - from an epidural to all the monitoring offered, and I would do the same again. But this time there will be one main difference - I will feel no guilt for doing so. 


With my journalist hat on I am running a course on how to get ideas for www.journalism.co.uk. It's 6.00pm-9.00pm at Friends House in Euston. London. It's £95 which means if you sell just one article off the back of it then it will more than pay for itself. Book here...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

None of his business

When an animal poos on mole's head he sets about trying to find out who did it, analysing poo from other animals on the way before finding the culprit, and pooing on his head in revenge. It's funny, rude and has a rather dubious moral - in other word, it's perfect!

The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Rainbow rice

I made rainbow rice. What's not to like about running your hands through coloured rice and pouring it from container to container again and again and again. My 18 month old loves it, even though it smells a bit of vinegar. And I feel rather smug about making something she loves playing with - like a proper parent - even if the cost of the rice and the food colouring and the container means it is one of her more expensive toys. Oh, and it goes everywhere. But that's what hoovers are for right?

To make it you get rice and liquid food colouring and shake it together in a sealed bag or box with a splosh of white vinegar to set the colour. Some websites say you can just let it dry but it still stank of vinegar so I baked it in the oven for about half an hour and that muted the smell. It took ages - I did this four times for four colours. Still, it looks pretty.

Related post: Where dreams come true

Sunday, 1 July 2012

What to pack in your hospital bag

I wrote some advice to a friend whose baby is due soon, about what to take in her hospital bag, and she said I should put it on the blog for others to see too. So here it is, tidied up a bit. It's gleaned from antenatal class advice, friends, websites and personal experience. 
  • Food. Lots of it, for both you and your partner. It needs to be food that doesn't need to go in the fridge and isn't smelly. Crisps, biscuits, non smelly sandwiches, that kind of thing. Before I gave birth to my daughter a friend gave me great advice - if cereal bars aren't your thing in normal life then they won't be your thing in labour or after either. Take food that you like.
  • Drinks - but not fruity ones because you are likely to throw up in labour and throwing up acidic drinks is not pleasant, as you may remember from your malibu and pineapple days.
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush for both you and your partner - in case the food you eat, or post nap breath, is smellier than you think it will be.
  • Camera and battery charger and phone and phone charger, obviously.
  • Socks - because even though hospitals are very warm your feet always get cold.
  • A pillow - because hospitals never have enough, or comfortable, pillows
  • Flip flops - because they are funny about you walking around barefoot, plus you may want to shower in them
  • Bendy straws - that way your partner can give you a drink whatever position you may be in at the time, be it on all fours giving birth or lying down breastfeeding.
  • Flannels - at least one to put on your forehead as a cold compress during birth and one to put on your bits as a warm compress for the first post birth wees.
  • Money - you need it for food, for card to get tv access and for lots of other things I can't remember now but know we needed.
  • A proper big fluffy bath towel so you can have a shower. And shower gel and shampoo etc. 
  • Any beauty products you might want before being photographed or receiving visitors. No need of course, but if you usually dye your top lip every few days or pluck your eyebrows daily or whatever, you might want to do the same if you're in hospital for a few days.
  • Bottles and ready made formula - received wisdom is if you have it to hand then you won't persevere with breastfeeding. Patronising bollocks. If you decide that is best for you and your baby then that is best for your baby. Hospitals provide it while you're in hospital but you might not want to ask each time you need it. You'll find various advice on sterilising but next time I suspect I'll go the warm soapy water and a bottle brush route. 
  • Wet wipes. You'll be told to change your baby's nappy using cotton wool and water. But a friend from my antenatal classes who was having her second child told me, quite rightly I suspect, that no one uses cotton wool for their second baby so why put yourself through it for your first. 
  • Sudocrem and/or vaseline for nappy changes - early poos are sticky and horrid and this will help you protect and clean the bum.
  • Many more maternity pads than you think you'll need. There's lots of blood and wee and other fluids, and that's just from you. 
  • Comfy big knickers you can treat as disposable (because of the blood and fluids etc) - better than paper knickers in my opinion. 
  • Magazine type reading - if you have an epidural it might get a bit boring (in a good way). You might want something to do.
  • Lots of clothes for you and the baby - more then you think as it gets weed on and pooed on and sicked on and bled on.
  • Pen and paper - your brain really is a bit mushy for those first days (make that weeks, no make that months) and you might want to write down any questions you have for midwives or doctors in case you forget them later, or medication details etc.
  • Spare carrier bags for rubbish and dirty clothes etc.
Plus three more bits of advice:
  • Make sure you know how to work the car seat in advance. You do not want to be having an argument in the hospital car park as you prepare to take the hospital home for the first time.
  • Have a thermos flask ready at home, and any likely visitors primed to have one too. My hospital served lukewarm tea and wouldn't give me any hot water for hot squash despite me having a sore throat. My husband and my mum however kept a steady rotation of hot water coming in thermos flasks.
  • Pack your bag as if you are staying for one or two nights, but have another bag packed at home with clothes for you and the baby in case you are in for longer. That way your partner doesn't have to guess what you want bringing in, they can just pick up your ready packed bag and bring it to you.

Hope this helps - feel free to add other suggestions in the comments below. 


With my journalist hat on I am running a course on how to get ideas for www.journalism.co.uk. It's 6.00pm-9.00pm at Friends House in Euston. London. It's £95 which means if you sell just one article off the back of it then it will more than pay for itself. Book here...