Category Archives: Life Stuff

I don’t know what possessed me!

++++ POLITE NOTICE ++++

++++ MISSING SPACES ARE DUE TO BABY REMOVING SPACE BAR EARLIER TODAY ++++

N.B. Any other mistakes are entirely my own ūüėČ

When I was walking to Mum’s a few weeks ago in the rain and my feet were getting wet. Unusually, not because I had my flim-flams (fit flops) on – they finally broke earlier this summer.

No, it was all down to my tatty old hiking boots. ¬†They weren’t brilliant boots to start with but they were on sale in the Trespass shop at Gunwharf Quays and I needed a pair so I thought they’d do. ¬†The soles were having a conversation. ¬†Now, I can’t afford either new flim-flams or new hiking boots at the moment and had requested the latter for Christmas but I was sick of getting wet feet, luckily, Mr PinQ had delved into some of the (still packed – I know, I know but I have decorated two rooms,made a couple of sets of curtains, repaired appliances and a million and one other things!) boxes and had rather randomly, pulled my trail running shoes out.

They were a last-minute buy before my first event. ¬†I had ordered some at booking but the week of the race, they hadn’t arrived and when I contacted the seller, they offered to bring me a pair on the day. ¬†Yeah right. ¬†I asked for a refund and ordered a cheap pair of Karrimor ones because I had no intention of ruining my Brooks on a February cross-country event. ¬†They were tight but I didn’t have time to return them and get the half-size bigger that I should have ordered in the first place! ¬†I then wore them for the next event.

I cycled, skated and swam my way through most of that summer and early autumn but with the Team disbanded by our employer and a very poorly pregnancy, I didn’t run again. ¬†I carried on cycling, swimming and skating (the latter until a few weeks before Baby-Girl was born) and of course, Pup-Pup had come into our lives too so I was walking every day again.

I guess it was the wet feet thing. ¬†I binned my hiking boots when I emptied the bin and litter tray this morning, having worn the trail runners to walk to Mum’s yesterday and not only loving that I had dry toesies (it was a mizzy day yesterday) but also realising that they fitted beautifully! ¬†I’ve lost about 2st since that first run 2 years ago so my feet are back to normal – I was so pleased.

So today, I set off walking to Mum’s with Baby-Girl in her pram (which also contained a nappy bag, handbag and laptop) and Pup-Pup on her lead, which was slung over my shoulder as I had no spare hands. ¬†What did I then decide to do?

Run.

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I have all these beautiful hills around me again and what a shame it is that I can’t go cross-country running because I am (temporarily) a single mummy and whilst I can walk the dog all day in the hills, Baby-Girl is getting rather heavy in her little harness and the pram isn’t brilliant on most of the footpaths. I’m odd. ¬†I love cross-country running but I don’t particularly like road running and I hate treadmills.

I was doing a variation of fartlek training. ¬†There are lots of roads to cross on the way so I ran a block, walked a block, ran a block, walked a block etc. ¬†I’ll be honest, I do need to find my sports bras; a lovely, soft, cotton, non-wired maternity bra really isn’t the best for running but it didn’t stop me.

If I hadn’t surprised myself enough by running there, I only went and did it on the way back as well! ¬†The best bit… I thought that one block would kill me because it has been such a long time since I did any training but I feel fine. ¬†Let’s see if I edit that last bit tomorrow.

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Buying and Selling through Social Media

Before Baby-Girl, I wasn’t really aware of the marketplace that exists on Facebook. ¬†I knew people that used Facebook as a platform for selling htings that they had made but I had no comprehension of the variety and volume of sales of everyday things.

I think that it was my old, lovely, next door neighbours that had suggested it for buying things for the baby because toys and clothes that were barely used were available very cheaply. ¬†They weren’t kidding. ¬†In the last year, I bought her a Rainforest Jumperoo, a swing which is currently half height with a baby seat but with the parts to make it full height with a normal seat and a wooden, Mothercare walker (I was desperate for one of those, rather than the plastic toy station type). They cost me ¬£25 in total. ¬†That’s right, ¬£25. ¬†To have bought them all new would have cost ¬£245!

Having to move from a house with a fitted fridge and an attempt at a fitted freezer to one without was pretty scary from the perspective of funds so I decided to take a risk and replace those via FB too.  We got a reasonably new Hotpoint fridge freezer for £40.

When we got here, our old chest freezer died, I bought it from a friend about 6 years ago so I wasn’t surprised but with an extra little mouth and huge tummy in the house, I had to get another chest freezer too. ¬†I had my eye on a much larger specimen that I can get lots of different ice-cream flavours into next summer. ¬†I messaged the lady to ask for the dimensions and that I was at my mum’s and that I would get back to her after 16:00 when I’d been home and measured up. ¬†She said that she’d sold it. ¬†So, I grabbed a smaller one that had a broken hinge and a bit of corrosion on the outside (as they get knocked over the years). ¬†I bought new hinges (we’ll get to repair later) and the larger fridge freezer was suddenly available so, I put the other back on FB with a shiny new pair of hinges and a bit of radiator paint adn made a ¬£13.50 profit!

Now, I didn’t _need_ a tumble dryer but with a baby, I really wanted one after living in temporary accomodation that had one. ¬†Her little cotton nappies came off the maiden like cardboard if it was too mizzy to line dry them and I was ironing them. ¬†Inorite! ¬†Me, iron :/

Of course, a tumble dryer leaves them all soft and lovely and the turnaround for laundry is amazing so I thought I’d keep an eye out.

It turns out, the second-hand prices on FB in the North-West are quite a bit higher than those in the South. ¬†Perhaps there’s less disposable income up here or less of a throw-away society, who knows but the cost of dryers in the county was far beyond my budget, even second-hand. ¬†That is, until I saw one advertised with a broken belt that the lady needed rid of as the new place that she was moving to (within the week) didn’t have room… Of course, no-one wants to buy broken, second-hand (potential fire risk) appliances so I made a ridiculous offer, citing the fire risk – which she was ignorant to – and she accepted. ¬†When I took it apart, it transpired that the belt was broken because the jockey wheel was knackered so I ordered new ones, fitted them and I have a working dryer which is just awaiting the nice Hotpoint Engineer to come and modify in order to rectify the fire hazard issue.

My 13 year old Dyson Animal was also poorly by the time that we landed in the North and his was the first new part to be searched for…

I found a website called BuySpares.co.uk that is superb!  Around about the time I was ordering for the Dyson, the washing machine developed a fault too and I got the filter cover for the vac and the brushes for the washer for £18.  I found some helpful little videos on their site and YouTube adn have been able to undertake all of the repairs myself!

Now, I worked out the cost, like for like, of the items that I have bought second-hand and/or repaired against the cost of brand new replacements, taking my £13.50 profit into account and I have spent £141, new would have cost me £1035.

I have been washing and drying clothes, bedding, curtains and towels for about a week on and off every day. ¬†Prior to getting the dryer working, I took one week’s worth of wet washing to the launderette to dry and it cost me a fiver. ¬†Imagine if I’d taken the two massive piles of stuff that has been in storage for over 6 months. ¬†If that dryer works for 8 weeks just doing normal washing, it has paid for itself, anything beyond that is just a bonus.

If you are buying on FB. ¬†Be safe. ¬†It may sound stupid but you may find yourself in an area you don’t know, with a couple of people waiting for you who know that you are carrying x amount of cash and a mobile phone. ¬†Make sure, at the very least, that someone knows exactly where you are going.

19 days…

On Friday 24th March 2017, we will be filling¬†a¬†3.5 tonne low loader with the penultimate load of “stuff” to be transported to the North-West. ¬†We’re going home.

Here is where it gets a bit scary.

We don’t have anywhere to live.

A dear friend with a property portfolio is buying a house specifically for us to rent but the seller initially refused the offer and then changed her mind.  That means that the completion date could be anytime between 14th of April and sometime in May.  So I am faced with the challenge of finding somewhere for my Baby-Girl, dog and cat to live for anywhere between 3 and 8 weeks.  The chickens, rabbits, guinea-bobs and chinchilla have temporary accomodation sorted out but I need to be close by (within 20-odd miles) to care for them and Mr PinQ has several options for bunking down somewhere.

I have been bidding on social housing and searching for short-term lets but as yet, without success. ¬†We can’t stay in the South because of Mr PinQ’s start date for his dream job. If we extended our current tenancy, I would have to manage the move on my own and with the animals and Baby-Girl, not even I could deal with the logistics alone.

We have family and lots of friends who would put us up in a heartbeat but it is too much to ask anyone to take on so much and with Puppy-Dog being so young (14 months the day before move day), she still has very destructive moments and I could never forgive myself if she destroyed something belonging to someone that we love!

I can easily get a second storage unit for the last bits of furniture and as I have said, there is a Plan B for the chooks and small furries but I am starting to get a little bit stressed about housing the rest of us.

Stress aside, I can’t wait. ¬†I have loved being down South for the last 8 years. ¬†If I hadn’t moved here for that job in Easter 2009: I wouldn’t have met my husband or had our beautiful Baby-Girl;¬†I¬†would have missed out on becoming friends with some truly wonderful people; I’d never have found my big brother (we should have been brother and sister) and Nan-Bear (his mum); I wouldn’t be doing my Creative Arts degree or have had an exhibition of my own or a piece exhibited in London as a finalist with a V&A competition; I wouldn’t have returned to the stage or¬†begun singing again and found my panto family; I would never have begun ice-skating lessons and fallen in love with the sport; I doubt that I would have started running and cycling again; I certainly wouldn’t have had the amazing career that I did before becoming a mum and I wouldn’t be be building a business doing what I love.

We are exchanging this:

stokes-bay

For this:

dovestone

We had always said that we would return to the North-West, although we had planned to stay in the South for another 2 years, so when we were given notice on the house, it seemed like fate was telling us something. ¬†We sat and wrote a list of decent local dog walks within a few minutes walk to an hour’s drive in both locations, the sort of walk that you would do in a morning at the weekend. ¬†We spent five minutes on each list and came up with 12 down here and 55 with my home town as the cantre point.

We also considered different locations across 4 counties, all of which we were happy to move to and started to look at both rental and purchase costs. ¬†Although we can’t buy for a few years yet, we found some incredible houses for sale in the North-West at less than half the price of comparable homes where we are now.

This house is out of our price range for the moment and not necessarily what we will be looking to buy in the future but a property of a similar size and in similar condition costs £160,000 more down here.

Neighbours and friends have said, “Yes, but it’s hard to get work up North.” To be honest, there is no discernible difference in the job market. ¬†In fact, Mr PinQ has had more interviews, for better positions and a much more positive response with several more offers made than he’s had in 6 years here.

Our plans have had to change so many times in the last four months that I am still spinning.  A few weeks ago, we thought we had it sussed when I finally got a chance at a great job myself, on better pay than I had been down here and Mr PinQ was going be a stay-at-home dad.  Typically, he then got a start date that he has been waiting over a year for!  I am really pleased because it means that I can be at home with my beautiful baby, building my business and studying.

Apart from the worry about lack of accomodation from 24th March to when we can move into our new house, I can’t wait to be home.

Feeding Baby

Wow.

There is an overwhelming amount of (often conflicting) information out there.

I ignored it all.

My advice to anyone who is soon to becoma a parent: find what works for you and your baby.

I couldn’t eat much during the pregnancy due to Hyperemesis Gradivarium and if you think that is the same as morning sickness, try hurling until you suffocate yourself and begin to feel panic rising alongside the bile as your airways close and you think you are going to die SEVEN OR EIGHT TIMES A DAY FOR 39¬†WEEKS!

Anyhoo. ¬†As a rule, I cook from scratch. ¬†Even when I’ve been cash rich and time poor, I tended to devote a day to cooking and make huge batches of chillis, soups, stews and even bread that could be put in the freezer as “convenience” meals. ¬†I’m lucky because my Mum and Step-Grandma loved to cook so I learned to cook. ¬†Convenience food and even a lot of restaurant food just isn’t up to the high standards that were set by the magnificent women in my life. ¬†In fact, in recent months, our menu for the week was set by what Mr PinQ brought home form the food bank – it’s amazing how much more inventive you become! ¬†I suppose that I was hoping to be able to breast feed as a natural progression from that, feeding my baby formula that is full of palm oil really didn’t appeal to me.

“Oh here we go. ¬†Another of those self-righteous, blow-up-your-own-backside posts about how marvellous a mother you are because your baby was breast fed.” I hear you think. ¬†Well read on…

As it happens, I’m a realist. ¬†I was hoping to be able to breast feed but I know plenty of lovely mums and some of them chose to breast feed, some chose to bottle feed and others had to bottle feed whether they liked it or not. ¬†I was under no illusions on that score. ¬†To be honest, I found the posters in the local maternity unit intimidating because the message was that the best mums breastfeed their babies and I actually felt inadequate before my baby was even born!

One of the things that went into my “grab bag” was a tub of Cow & Gate formula, just in case. ¬†In the hospital, everyone was talking about Aptimil like it was the food of the Gods so again, I felt inadequate.

I had HELLP Syndrome, my kidneys were failing a week before the birth, my liver was failing during and after but I managed about half of my Baby-Girl’s feeds myself but I had to combination feed. ¬†After 5 months, my milk was completely gone.

On her first day, she showed me that she was hungry by sweeping her finger down her cheek towards her mouth so on our second morning when I was snapped at by a midwife:

“When did this baby last have a feed?”

“About midnight.”

“That was over 5 hours ago! ¬†You must wake her up for a feed every 2 to 3 hours.”

I thought, “F*** off. ¬†She tells me when she is hungry and this place is covered in posters about feeding on demand – which is it?”

Anyway, my milk should have come in on the Wednesday (I gave birth on the Sunday) but even by the Friday, it hadn’t. ¬†I had been too poorly and we’d been thrown on a ward with a bright light over us all night on our last night in hospital so that messed us both up and my beautiful little girl lost far too much weight. ¬†I decided to combination feed for as long as I could¬†and persevered with expressing and lots of skin-to-skin but I was never going to be able to feed her wholly myself, regardless of how much I wanted to. ¬†In 5 months, I had only two days when I was able to feed her entirely myself.

I decided to do¬†a little research into baby formula, partly because of the people raving about Aptimil and partly because we have very little money and guess what I discovered… there is NO DISCERNIBLE DIFFERNCE between the brands of baby formula because it is so highly regulated. ¬†That decided me. ¬†Cow & Gate – that said, Lidl are now selling baby formula¬†in their Bebivita range and it’s only ¬£4.49 a box so I shall be trialling that in the next few weeks.

I had also planned to take the Baby Led Weaning route.  I read about how stressful spoon-feeding could be and saw the sense of letting baby have control over what they ate etc.  Then I had a little lightbulb moment.

If all baby has ever had is milk, he/she is bound to pull their face when you shove a spoonful of dinner in their mouth.  It must taste really strange.

So, the plan changed and a little shy of 15 weeks, everything that I (or Nanny or Nan-Bear) cooked got my little finger dipped in it and I let my Baby-Girl have a tiny taste.

At 17 weeks, she had her first baby porridge (Aptimil stank and she wasn’t keen so we replaced it with a plain Cow and Gate porridge and some Heinz Peach and Apricot porridge) and for dinner,¬†vegetable and rice medleys that I’d boiled, blended and frozen and she absolutely loved them.

We tried a couple of flavours of “proper” baby food time and again but she¬†didn’t like them.

At 33 weeks now, she has a list of “Big Girl Dinners” 50-something long which includes: hot smoked salmon; home-made celery, onion, rice and green lentil soup; crumpets; bacon sammiches; blueberries, mashed banana, smoked mackerel; tiny pots of fromage frais; scrambled egg; salami and cream cheese sammiches; home-made butternut squash and red pepper soup, black pudding; mashed potato¬†with broccoli and cauliflower; tiny pancakes with lemon and many more.

I started a list in case there was anything that she wouldn’t eat but so far, she’s liked everything!

As a tiny baby, she set her feeding and sleeping routine and by week three, she slept through until 05:30.  That gradually got later and later and now, she normally wakes up at about 07:00.  I suspectthat is because of the combination feeding, the people that I know that were breastfeeding seemed to have to get up a lot in the night.

We start the day with a 150ml bottle and then play and cuddles for an hour and a half to two hours; then she has her baby porridge¬†with some juice or water (I’ll come to that) and a nap until about 11:00; then it’s time for her second 150ml bottle and play for a couple of hours until lunch.

Lunch consists of one of her big-girl dinners, followed by a fruit pot, mashed banana, chopped strawberry or about 7 blueberries with a drink¬†and then it’s time for another nap of about an hour and a half. ¬†When she gets up, she has a little bottle (120ml) and we play for another couple of hours and at 17:30 ish, she has her next big-girl dinner, followed by a fromage frais and then it’s more play for a couple of hours and a 150 ml bottle before bed at about 20:00.

With all of her big-girl dinners and during play time, she has juice or filtered water. ¬†Initially, my Mum had bought some baby juice and I carried on but then I realised: I was paying ¬£1 for 500ml of watered down fruit juice. ¬†I checked the sugar content and it’s 4.7g¬†per 100ml and she can easily drink half a bottle in a day so… ¬†I went into Lidl (Tesco’s or Asda’s own would work just as well) and bought cranberry and raspberry – less than 60p a litre – and watered it down with filtered tap 1:1. ¬†The sugar content is 6.2g¬†per 100ml so watered down, it is only 3.1g; so in making her baby juice myself, I am saving over ¬£1.40 and she is having less sugar!

I also researched whether or not she could have fromage frais when she got to 6 months old and discovered that she can! You can buy 18 Petit Filous for ¬£3, although it was half price in Tesco the other week so that was a major bonus. ¬†The sugar content is 9.9g per 100g and the pot size is 47g, so she’s having 4.65g of sugar in that pot. ¬†With a 200g jar of baby yoghurt at 10g sugar per 100g, even if you separated it into 4 portions, that’s still 5g of sugar per portion- although I suspect that you’d be tempted to feed a third or a half a jar as one dessert. ¬†If you averaged one jar for 3 desserts, you would have to buy 6 jars and at 80p per jar, that’s ¬£4.80. ¬†Yet again, I am saving money and feeding her less sugar.

She eats beautifully and daintily from a spoon with only a tiny bit of mess around her mouth when I’ve overloaded the spoon or she’s been excited about what she’s eating and so far,¬†with the exception of actual¬†baby food, she has loved everything – she even tried KieŇābasa this evening (Polish sausage)! ¬†I swear that it’s down to the finger dip tastes that she had just prior to trying her on pur√©ed solids.

Now, just because that worked for me, doesn’t mean it is what other people should do. ¬†So regardless of what route you take, it has to be what’s right for you and if you want to (and can afford to) buy organic fruit¬†pur√©e, then do it. ¬†My only advice would be to read enough to make sure that you can make an informed decision but try not to be overwhelmed and let the volume of inormation out there confuse you. ¬†In truth, you will know what is right for you so even if you read something that tells you that you MUST feed your baby on a diet that includes meat and oily fish but you want to raise them on a gluten-free and vegan diet, just read how to do that in the right way to make sure that your baby gets all of the nutrients he or she needs and you’ll be fine.

Our Last Hope

You may think that this is me playing at doing something I fancy but it really is our last hope.

The crowdfunding page has been up for 4 days and not a single donation ūüė• so here are the links for those of you that would like to help – if you can afford a few pounds, that would be great, if not, please re-post; very many thanks in advance and thanks to those that have already posted the original appeal on FB:

Seven and a half years ago, after recovering from a major depressive episode and other personal issues, I moved 250 miles South, away from the people and places that I knew and loved. I had no money and many of my friends all over the world bought pieces of my art to help me to buy things that I would need. and three close friends made the actual move possible. ¬†With only a weeks’ notice, no savings¬†and coming into a job that didn’t pay enough to get a mortgage; my¬†friends pitched in and helped me to rent a house and move – I couldn’t have done it without them!

Since then, I have made a lot of lovely new friends, some of whom are now like family, and met my husband¬†and over the years, we worked hard to repay debts that had been brought into the relationship. We lived a simple lifestyle¬†but just as we’d got to the point where things were finally getting settled and straight, I was made redundant. ¬†I took it as a chance to recover from the stresses of the job and to focus on my studies and it turned out to be a fantastic blessing because after four years of marriage and not being able to conceive, I discovered that I was pregnant!

Now, I was earning good money in the job that I had been made redundant from so I had encouraged my hubby to take a risk and accept a one year contract working for a youth charity that meant a great deal to him.  He was finally doing a job that he enjoyed, was intellectually stimulated at work and giving something back so he was extremely happy but before our beautiful baby-girl was born, his contract came to an end.

I applied for short-term contracts (up to six months) in my field but found that I was unable to secure a position once I told potential employers that I was pregnant Рeven after being told that the job was mine.  I decided to change direction and do something more rewarding and was able to secure a part-time position as a youth worker.  It pays very little but it was enough to keep us from sinking and despite not yet being fully recovered from developing HELLP Syndrome towards the end of the pregnancy, I am still applying for suitable roles within my field as a quality manager.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want to leave my baby-girl with a childminder and I certainly don’t¬†want to go back into a highly stressful career again but I will do whatever is necessary for my family – who wouldn’t?

When my hubby’s contract was coming to an end, one of the organisations that he volunteers with¬†encouraged him to apply for a full-time position and he is now eight months into the recruitment process and just awaiting a start date. ¬†In the meantime, he is doing temp work on less than ¬£250 per week, our savings have disappeared and it could be another 6 months before he gets a start date. ¬†He applies for jobs that pay more – although he realises that it wouldn’t really be fair to start a job and then push off when the start date comes but he is only thinking of the family – but there isn’t much locally that is suitable.

To add insult to injury, our landlady has given us notice on the house. ¬†We have 7 weeks to vacate the property. ¬†With my hubby in temp work, me on maternity leave from a very poorly paid part-time job (and not entitled to statutory maternity pay), we haven’t a hope of privately renting and certainly no chance of buying somewhere. ¬†That means that we are facing homelessness with temporary, emergency accommodation whilst we wait for social housing.

Now, I had been toying with the idea of starting a business for a long time and realised that our current circumstances could well be fate giving me a kick up the backside so I wrote the business plan and have set up the crowdfunding page etc.  My next job is to write some funding bids.  I have to be working or we will have to re-home the puppy, the cat, the chickens and our other furries before we are made homeless Рthat is how desperate our situation is now.

My weekly shop costs about ¬£30 and it is subsidised with vegetables and bread from a food bank, as well as my Mum giving us¬†food to bring home when we visit. ¬†Those visits have been paid for by car boot sales and over the next few weeks, selling things that I have made at Christmas fairs. ¬†If it hadn’t been for the generosity of family and friends, we wouldn’t have even had enough clothes for our baby-girl.

I could spend the next seven weeks breaking my back to do the house and garden up to try to get our deposit back. ¬†We did a lot of big jobs at our own expense over the years – things that were the landlord’s responsibility but they never had the money and as some of you may remember, left us for 8 weeks with an electrical circuit that wasn’t earthed when we moved in;¬†with no heating or hot water for over 3 weeks a few years ago through January and February and more recently, took over 8 weeks to have a collapsed bathroom roof and ceiling repaired. ¬†Incidentally, they wouldn’t pay for the full job to be done and left us with damp, mouldy walls and rotten skirting board so I stripped the bathroom, let it dry and re-decorated just so that it was safe for baby. ¬†With that in mind, I expect that it would be best to just clean it and spend my energies starting my own business and sorting out where we are going to live.

What is left of our savings will pay for a deposit and move but if I can’t get the funding in to start my business, we’ll be homeless within a month anyway so it really is critical that I get the funding in to start the business.

The business will not only be a way for me to sell my own pieces¬†and to raise the profile of other artists and craftspeople but we will also be able to provide workshops in order to share our skills and knowledge with people who want to learn. ¬†Most importantly, 25% of those workshop spaces will be free to individuals who are in some way disadvantaged and would not normally have the opportunity. ¬†I certainly won’t get rich from it.

EU: the FACTS

Was the title of the leaflet that came through the door this afternoon.

I can’t say that I was surprised to find a UKIP logo with contact details on the back, the leaflet proved to me that they are aiming for a less intelligent following. ¬†The “IF WE VOTE TO LEAVE THE EU” page had green headers and the “IF YOU VOTE TO REMAIN IN THE EU” using red.

N.B. The use of “WE” and “YOU”

You are part of a nice, snuggly, warm club/family if you choose to vote leave.  Isolation and doom for you if you choose to remain.

Not surprisingly, the “facts” are not particularly factual. ¬†Opinion is not fact –¬†even when it’s mine ūüėČ

I had a look at it because Star (the puppy) kept trying to paw at it so I thought I would read it to her.

Now, the reason that I kept it on the coffee table in the first place was so that I could lodge a complaint.  When we got Star, Mr PinQ put chicken wire across our wrought iron garden gate and fitted the following sign (on both sides):

Please Close the Gate

The sign is approximately 5″ x 7″ (roughly 13cm x 18cm) and the gate is easy enough to operate so I was not impressed when I went out with Star earlier and found that the gate had only been pulled to rather than closed. ¬†I was taught that when leafleting, you should always leave the gate as you found it and I KNOW that I closed it earlier; never mind the fact that there is a SIGN asking people to close the gate.

Further to all of this, I then tried to call the number on the back of the leaflet to complain about the gate, only to be put through to the UKIP membership hotline!  Really? Membership?

With my Aryan looks, I might have to ask Mr PinQ to put on some DMs so that he looks as BNP as possible and pay a visit to the local UKIP member’s office…

Pregnancy update

I’ll start with yesterday¬†morning.

I’ve had an ante natal appointment booked for several months now and like all of my other appointments, I thought that it was just routine.

As with the glucose test last month (which came back fine for anyone who missed that newsflash), I was asked if I knew why I was there. ¬†Yet again, I had to say, “I thought that it was just routine.” ¬†It turns out that it wasn’t. ¬†It’s another appointment that has been booked because I turned 40 this year. ¬†With the resource issues in the NHS, I can’t help but feel a little resentment.

I was there at 08:35 for the appointment time of 08:40 and at 09:55, was taken into a room by a Maternity Assistant to have my blood pressure checked, my urine sample dip tested and to be asked if I had experienced any swelling – apart from the belly? ¬†No. ¬†At 09:20, a doctor called me in, advised me on diet (Really? Has he looked at the other women around here?), felt Baby’s position (she’s breech again), listened to her heartbeat (which left gel all over my tunny because he was struggling – the Midwife is so much better at it and does it in one) and then filled in a form to have me induced on my due date. ¬†WTF?!?!

Apparently, new research suggests – yes, that’s right, suggests – that at and beyond 40, it is beneficial to be induced at term.

Baby-girl, please oh please be two weeks early!

All-in-all, I felt that I had wasted another morning. because despite living only 5 minutes away from the hospital (by car – normally a 10-15 minute walk but much longer now that I am waddling), I didn’t get home until just after 10:00 and to be honest, the doctor didn’t do anything that my Midwife doesn’t do and he did those things less competently. ¬† His bit about diet made it seem like he was reading from a script, especially considering that my glucose levels were fine. ¬†The worst thing was that when he was feeling my belly, he tickled me and I flinched and he looked up, smiled and said, “The baby is kicking.” ¬†No, you idiot, that was me flinching because I am so damn ticklish!

Anyway, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been working out some of the detail that hasn’t really been necessary up until now:

The birth plan (which is what we’ll be covering in next week’s Midwife appointment) is for a water birth, just gas and air, no cutting please in either direction unless necessary for baby,¬†Mummy AND¬†Daddy skin-on-skin time once she has arrived and if the worst happens (as with friends a few years ago) and they have to ask Daddy to make a decision between Mummy and Baby – Baby takes priority.

Hospital bag packing – a couple of items still outstanding but inbound.

Realising that we needed to get a tub of formula just in case I can’t breastfeed for whatever reason. ¬†That is now with the hospital bag “stuff”.

Researching reusable nappies.

Long before I was pregnant, I would read the County “Baby” magazine when I was sat in the Doctor’s waiting room because it was either that or auto-trader (or similar). ¬†It does tend to lean towards the ridiculously wealthy and I often found myself growling at the articles. ¬†Now that I am pregnant, we have had our own copies given to us so I can growl in the privacy of my own home.

The latest issue featured a set of books that came to us hot off the press:

Animal Babies

Which can be purchased here if anyone wants them, they are an absolute delight!

Other than that, as usual, I found myself having a bit of a growl. ¬†On the page containing the magazine editor’s letter was a baby dress for ¬£165. ¬†HOW MUCH?! ¬†Even when I was earning a decent wage, I wouldn’t have dreamt of spending that sort of money on a dress for a baby.

Then came the article about water birth, more specifically, the benefits of. ¬†Now, I want a water birth because of my problems with my spine and hip but I am not so na√Įve as to think that there aren’t any cons to go with the pros. ¬†I realise that an epidural isn’t possible with a water birth, that there is likely to be more tearing because the midwife won’t be able to support my perineum, that someone will have to stand by with a sieve and that if baby is in distress and I have to get out, the pain will hit me like a tonne of bricks but that’s all fine. ¬†For me, the pros do outweigh the cons. ¬†Unfortunately, the article wasn’t particularly balanced and that, to me, is wrong – people should be given the all of the facts in order to make a balanced decision.

Then came the short piece about why women aren’t breastfeeding. ¬†There was the point that there is insufficient support and that when awkward questions are asked in ante natal classes, they are glossed over or ignored because, “we don’t want to put anyone off”. ¬†The final line of the article basically said that we MUST point out the health benefits of breastfeeding. ¬†Now, it is only recently that I have taken a personal interest in breastfeeding but I can honestly say that there are only two things that I was¬†aware of through the media; one of those is the anger of some people towards¬†breastfeeding in public and the other is the health benefits for baby. ¬†Why not try using the three things that will actually make people sit up an take notice of:

  1. The fact that you will lose more pregnancy weight because breastfeeding uses 500 calories per day.
  2. That it will cost over £600 in the first year to feed a baby on formula Рbreast milk is free!
  3. When you breastfeed, you will save time because you aren’t having to sterilise bottles and mix formula for every feed.

I have decided to breastfeed (if I can) because I know that it will be better for baby but I see people in town with a little one in a pram that is holding a box of “popcorn” chicken or a pack of cheap fairy cakes. ¬†Those mothers don’t give a toss about baby’s health but one or all of the three reasons that I have suggested might make them pay attention. ¬†Yes, I realise that I will have to express some milk and have some bottles in Baby’s “bottom drawer” for exactly that reason and as I said earlier, I even have a tub of formula just in case I can’t for any reason but I am going to try. ¬†Of course, there is also a small environmental impact too, sterilising bottles requires energy (in my mind, steam but I expect a microwave could do the job too) and over the time that you are bottle feeding, that small amount of energy needed every day adds up – but that wouldn’t be a selling point for the mothers who don’t much care about the health benefits.

Babmboo Breast PadsIn readiness,¬†I have bought a supply of breast pads; one¬†box of disposables (for¬†in case need to change them whilst I’m out and about) and some washable ones for the rest of the time.

I also have a lot of cotton, a sewing machine and some bamboo/cotton blend wadding for quilting so if I can work out the construction, I might make some more.

Which takes me nicely into my next point.  Nappies.

There was an article about washable nappies. ¬† Oh I know they are referred to as “reusable” but let’s face it, that is just to make it sound prettier, more attractive to the more affluent mummy.

This time, the bulk of the argument for washables was about cost and the environmental impact. ¬†Depending on which website or article you read, the cost of using disposables varies¬†but on average, it seems to cost about ¬£1000. ¬†Then of course, there is the environmental impact: nappies take a long time to break down and make up a vast amount of landfill – again , the figures vary but at roughly 5000 nappies per child, I’m sure that we are capable of visualising it!

Again, I found that the article wasn’t really balanced. ¬†It blathered on about how with everything that you would need for using washable nappies, you would have to spend in the region of ¬£350, which compared to the ¬£1000 average for disposables, is very attractive. ¬†But you see, in my little scientific brain, there were questions about the environmental impact of washables. ¬†Surely they have to be boil washed or treated with harsh chemicals to kill off any nasties. ¬†What does that do to the environment in this day and age of washing at lower temperatures and using eco-friendly detergents? ¬†How much would your¬†gas¬†and¬†electric bills increase by? ¬†What about drying? ¬†If, like us, you don’t have a tumble drier, do you then have to buy a second set of nappies, almost double that initial outlay, in order to be able to dry them in the Winter? ¬†If you do have a tumble drier, what are the environmental and financial impacts of the increased volumes that you are drying? ¬†Why did the article not account for the financial and environmental costs of baby-wipes and what are the alternatives there? ¬†I realise that the latter is probably because it is considered “negligible” but is it really? ¬†They may only be the size of a tissue compared to the bulk of a nappy but if everyone used 5000 baby wipes (and the rest!) over 2.5 years, what is the tonnage of landfill there?

Anyway, after conducting a lot of research myself and discussing it with Mr PinQ, we have decided to use washable nappies.  However, we are not entirely stupid and have also realised that at each size stage, it will make sense to have a bag of disposables for things like days out because we would rather not have to carry around a wet bag full of soiled, soggy nappies as well as everything else that we will need to take with us.  We also have a pack of disposables for when she is born just to get us used to the whole nappy thing!
Nappies
As it happens, I was lucky enough to get a “Birth to Potty” pack for under ¬£105 and the only bad review of said pack was from a woman complaining that the nappy covers (on the “unisex” pack) were all white. ¬†It was basically an angry one-liner because she expected pretty patterns on the covers like in some of the images and that “they should be done by the advertising standards”. ¬†Yes dear.

I haven’t really started nesting. ¬†It’s a bit of a struggle because I don’t know how soon we will have to move house so everything that I had planned for our home has gone out of the window. ¬†Why put the energy in and find that we have to leave in a month or two?