Until you walk in her shoes… 

It’s an undercurrent, it bubbles away just below the surface of society. 

It rarely makes it’s way into coffee shop chat, actually it rarely makes it way into the darkest secret swap. 
This word is loaded.
Fewer words can draw out as much emotion in us.
Abortion. 
I am currently on my journalism ‘journey’. 

Cringe if you must.
Our remit is to always be looking for stories:
Angles, mostly. 
I came across a story last week: Ealing Borough council were to vote on granting an ‘exclusion zone’ otherwise known as, a Public Spaces Protection Order, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. 
A group, Sister Support, had launched a petition which gathered thousands of signatures. 
Crucially enough signatures to get the council to sit up and consider their wishes. 
These wishes were simple. 
Allow women seeking medical help the dignity and right to walk into the abortion clinic without being taunted by people chanting prayers outside the entrance.
Allegations of women being streamed on Facebook-live entering or leaving the clinic had been made. Being confronted by the protesters had left many patients of the clinic deeply upset. 
For 20 years. 
How many women, possibly wracked with confusion and despair, have had to walk past these protesters just to reach the treatment they are legally entitled too?
Come on Ealing. Make a stand. 
Shocked over the images of these ‘chanting elders’ I felt the need to investigate on a more local level. On the south coast we have a clinic in Brighton and Eastbourne run by BPAS. 
A charitable organisation. 
I contacted their spokesperson and asked how important this exclusion zone is, and why it is needed. 
The response was chilling. 
Brighton was by far the most targeted of the two clinics. Placards baring images of aborted foetuses, shouting indignities, attempts to humiliate and ‘call out’ any woman who dare to cross their path. 
Often the chanting of prayer and the shouting can be heard in the waiting rooms of these clinics. 
Women who are vulnerable. 
Women who are making one of the toughest decisions of their lives. 
Do they deserve this? 
Ealing council doesn’t think so. 
They ruled in favour of implementing the exclusion zone on Tuesday, October 10. 
A landmark decision that could, should, create a domino effect nationwide. 
Not wanting to be unbalanced I also contacted Abort 67. 
Abort 67 define themselves as being a ‘pro-life’ organisation who seek to educate women about abortion. 
I wasn’t sure how I would feel speaking to someone who organises ‘Public Education Displays’ as they are so-called. 
As a trainee Journalist and not yet a bonafide, experience-savvy Journo, I knew this would be a real test. 
One must remain neutral. 
I am merely reporting the facts. 
Don’t get emotionally involved. 
Their argument was surprisingly compelling. I listened while this passionate woman explained that her group see themselves as educators, and not protesters. 
Abort 67 are filling an education-void by showing images and sharing information: 
Abortion ‘The Untold Facts’. 
Not quite a blockbuster. 
Nonetheless it was fascinating listening to the other side of such an emotive argument. 
With such conviction. 
I asked what her thoughts were on the proposed exclusion zone around the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing.
Citing ‘freedom of speech’ as one of her fundamental human rights in this country, she felt appalled that they may be silenced. 
      * * *

Abortion has been legal in this country since 1967. 
Fifty years later, one clinic can now ensure that their patients can arrive in peace.  
Free of judgement.
A fundamental human right?

Best of the Rest feat. Mummy Rules

This weeks #BestoftheRest features a very special lady. Tilly and I met at a bloggers shindig last summer. I was a total loner and had no one to talk to until Tilly saved me and introduced me to her gorgeous Bloggy friends. My Lunch-for-1 fears vanished! Besides saving lost souls, it turns out that Tilly writes a fantastic blog: Mummy Rules . Go and check it out, there are a whole lot of funnies in there.

I’m so touched that Tilly has let me feature the first post she ever wrote. It’s full of feels, it’s funny and so bloody true- every line! I still refer to my children as Aliens. I don’t think that feeling is exclusive to new Mumas…

mummy-rules

Landing on another planet

Imagine walking through a door and immediately finding yourself on another planet. With an alien species, different customs, a whole new language. This is exactly how I felt about becoming a mother.

1. Naive newbie

The experience didn’t occur after I gave birth; or a few weeks after: whilst feeding bleary eyed in front of Homes Under the Hammer; or even at my first mum and baby group (an alien experience for any first timer). It began whilst waiting for my first antenatal appointment at our local children’s centre.

As I sat there in my tidy office clothes and heeled shoes, with my coat pulled neatly around me, I was suddenly overcome with a huge surge of emotion. This is happening. You are going to have a child. Sat on a waiting room chair, I studied the photos on the walls: documenting toddlers painting and babies lying on their tummies, next to laughing mums. I couldn’t identify with them yet. A kind worker at the centre passed by and introduced herself; she sat next to me and asked how I was and I was shocked by the wobble in my voice: “err a bit emotional actually, probably the hormones, hahaha!” The fact is, the reality had hit me that I was entering this new world without any experience or anyone else doing it with me. I was starting a new job in a strange culture: parenting.

2. Smug & silly 

Rather than explore these feelings, I decided to ignore them and focus on the things that made me feel excited.  I followed the babycentre updates and suggestions: “get a stylish new haircut”, “embrace the nesting instinct” “plan a baby moon”…I could relate to all of these! Soon I was ticking through these wonderful boxes on my journey through pregnancy: trips to the hairdresser, online shopping for sweet nursery bits and booking a romantic weekend in Cornwall. I even dressed as chic as maternity clothes allowed me to. “Pregnancy suits you!” people said; and as I rubbed my belly and imagined pushing my newborn around in yummy mummy atire, I felt happy and excited. I couldn’t wait for the birth when after a few intense period pains my baby would be presented to me in Cath Kidson pyjamas, perhaps on a fluffy white cloud…and I would be surrounded by adoring woodland baby animals and blue birds fluttering above, like in Disney’s Snow White. Then days would follow of cuddles, sling wearing and picnics in the sun…

3. When in doubt, refer to ’90s Japanese toys…

I have always had quite a vivid imagination and on this occasion I don’t think it served me very well.

When the baby appeared after what seemed like half my life gone, my partner declared that we had a boy: this was very confusing, because she was in fact female. He must have been as delirious as I. Then I realised she didn’t even look like us, she just looked like an alien. Not surprising if you have been stuck down a narrow tunnel for hours and pulled out through a key hole: yet straight away we were being hit by the unexpected…

“…the babycentre update for Day 1 doesn’t say this! It just says something about black poo”.

Of course time went on and after a few hours of being out of the womb, the familiar features of this sweet little soul did become apparent.

After my partner had left the hospital, I fell asleep for hours…and so did the baby, miraculously. When I awoke I panicked – I shouldn’t have slept that long! Straight away this situation reminded me of when my brother had bought a Tamogotchi as a child and I had looked after it overnight: by the morning it was covered in poo and skull symbols from my neglect. As I peered into the crib, I was relieved to see baby was still alive and not covered in poo. Then it struck me: just like a Tamagotchi, it would need a feed. The feeding button was located on me. Cautiously I picked my baby out of the cot, lifted up my top and kind of put her head near my boobs. I didn’t really want to do this, it felt weird. I was holding an unfamiliar and unpredictable creature to my bare breasts waiting for it to start drinking from them. A clamping feeling followed and after I had stopped cringing at the weird sensation, I watched with wide eyed amazement as the baby fed from me.

4. Beware the Breastfeeding Mafia

Over the next few days and weeks, I experienced more oddities on this planet. The baby didn’t sleep after that first night, in fact I don’t know how she found the energy to cry so loudly because she slept so little.

I was envious of people who went to bed or did any normal everyday activity: making a cup of tea, showering, chatting on the phone, going to work, watching TV. My vivid imagination had been sacked: I couldn’t imagine doing these daily things ever again.

Breastfeeding was excruciating. Health visitors seem younger than the legal age and sat on the floor looking up at me, instead of on the sofa or a chair like human beings do. They suggested breastfeeding groups with unappealing names such as “Latch on” and “Bosom Buddies”, but always seemed to turn up at my house on the days these groups ran. One day I clicked on websites to research formula. Big Brother was watching me, monitoring the newest inhabitant of the parenting planet. A pop up box appeared on my screen saying that “breast is best” and implying that if I proceed any further with my research then I would be committing a crime. I snapped the lap top shut, nervously glancing out the window at whoever was looking in on me.

NO ONE TOLD ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS.

Antenatal classes talked about the sweet shop of options of painkillers we could choose in labour. They taught us how to attach a dolly to a knitted woollen boob. They said to make the most of visitors. But… I wasn’t given my chosen pain relief; the baby wasn’t a dolly and my boob wasn’t knitted, it was packed with flesh and nerves endings and attached to me. Every time visitors turned up, baby would be asleep and I wanted to be too. Mum and baby groups were attended: I chose a baby massage class. It wasn’t relaxing for either of us, although I did make a lovely mummy friend that day.

 5. And this time it will be different

Not because any of the above will not happen, but because I will not have the crazy expectations that I did, having absorbed every bit of media and information given to me and taken it as the gospel; all I need to know. I am now a native of this planet. I know the secret to survival. To quote Sylvia Plath: “if you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed”. This includes yourself and your baby and everything that happens from that first antenatal visit.

6. Becoming a real parent

I have a pair of Cath Kidson style pyjamas ready for new baby*, but I have recently swapped them in the hospital bag for the little white outfit worn by my first; complete with milk stain around the neckline. It is more realistic and means so much more to me.

*I am 36 weeks pregnant with baby number 2 at the time of writing.

Further Notes:

  • I still love the babycentre website; it is genuinely useful. The pregnancy app just makes me laugh a lot more than it used to. 
  • Breast or bottle, who cares, whichever one works for you and your baby’s happiness. 
  • Whatever planet you are on, your body is yours.
  • It’s your baby. Scary thought I know!

 

Thank you so much for sharing this beautifully honest piece with #BestoftheRest this week gorgeous Tilly xx

 

Jennifer, you legend.

At last: She has spoken.

Jennifer. Jen. Rachel has come right out and said what has been on the tip of the tongues of so many successful woman in the spotlight who just so happen to be outright awesome without *whispers* Being a Mother. Shock horror.

I love Jen’s article, it’s honest, thought provoking and kicks some serious female butt. Read it in full here.

Here are my highlights:

“…This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status…Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child…We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.”

It’s a crying shame that Theresa May couldn’t produce a similar response to Andrea Leasom’s ghastly attempt to get the edge over her opponent this weekend, based on her reproduction ‘achievements’.

I seem to remember a time right after school, probably through to my mid-20’s when a pregnancy was announced it was an ‘OH MY GOD THEY’RE PREGNANT’ moment. We seemed too young to have babies and it was almost a scandal that you would dare to reproduce. I’m now the other side of that (weeps), and this other side is worse. Much worse. Because this other side questions why a woman may not have borne a crying sh*tting machine yet.

Why is this? Why do we as a society, pivot a female’s success around the presence of a child? I feel lucky, not successful, to have 2 children. I certainly wouldn’t measure my success or suitability for a job based on the fact that I have children.

I wonder if Jenifer Aniston’s words will actually hit home to the Paparazzi and magazine bosses? (who might actually be fully grown women without children! IMAGINE!).

 Sadly I think her statement will fall on deaf ears. Inevitably, lining the newsagent’s shelves will continue be glossy post-lunch stomachs belonging to the A-Z listers, complete with speculation over the presence of a bambino within.

All the while we keep buying the Mags or sharing the articles and spreading the hype, they will keep dishing it.

It’s pretty sad when you think about it.

It’s a big day for Women today, a great day. Our 2nd female Prime Minister EVER will take up the reins and is set to be appointing top cabinet roles to some fabulous women. I know their gender is neither here nor there as long as they are the right people for the jobs, but I can’t help doing a little fist pump for Girl Power today.

Mummuddlingthrough

Pipe Down C-Section Haters

Baby Lila minutes old
Baby Lila minutes old

Since becoming a Muma and giving birth (yes, I will use that phrase, no, they didn’t come out of my hooha) to our two scrumptious Hells Angels I have come to realise there is distinct snobbery when it comes to the wonderful world of BIRTHING.

You know the kind of thing I’m referencing here:

“Oh there was no time for gas ‘n air, just gentle chanting with a dash of hypnosis.” Good for you honey, but please turn off ‘pity eyes’ when I relay my C-section tale in return.

Here’s the thing: I LOVED my Caesarean Section. Yes, you read that correctly. Our first was a stubborn breach baby who chose to arrive earlier than my planned Section, leading to a swift trip straight to theatre. I’m not going to lie, I was bricking it. I had never had an operation before or been admitted to hospital, I had no idea what to expect.

I had endured long nights of NCT classes learning all about breathing and the various stages of labour. But that was all irrelevant now, my unborn baby and I were solely in the hands of a group of strangers – all holding rather sharp implements! That said, the spinal block has kicked in with almost immediate effect, the pain of the contractions had stopped and I was enjoying a strange state of calm. Hubster has a strong stomach and watched the entire process, my body being cut in two and clamped open while they rummaged around to pull Darcie into the world. The stress my body was undergoing was massive, but I was not in pain. I was listening with every fibre of my being for that first cry; for me that was my first ‘meeting’ of Darcie. I didn’t see her all blue and fresh out of the drawer, it was all too quick,and they wanted to check her over. After an eternity we heard a noise I was going to become very familiar with over the next few months, a cry, from a baby: my actual baby!

The reality of having a baby had finally dawned on me, (thank god) this was real, and it felt great.

To add to this kind of idyllic setting, the radio was playing none other than ‘Your Beautiful’. Good old Blunt had come up trumps, you couldn’t have wished for a cheesier moment!

Major surgery teamed with a new baby was a little tricky – for darling Hubster. For me, it meant sitting on the sofa feeding our baby while he ran around for the first couple of weeks making dinner, bringing me coffee, entertaining the endless line of baby watchers, sorting through mountains of baby washing, basically being a human Jack in a Box. What’s not to love about seeing your husband take up the slack after your nine months hard work?

A couple of years later, we were DING DING round two and I was all about the elective C-Section. So off I trotted to the hospital to meet with a midwife around week 25 to ‘discuss options’.

This is when I realised that birthing snobbery was far from being exclusive to baby groups: this midwife could run the movement.

I understand and fully appreciate that medical staff have to present you with the facts. I just wonder how much the figures and cost of elective C-sections over hooha births really effect their advice and stance.

Count Midwife’s opener was along the lines of: “You do realise by choosing a C-section you are increasing the risk of foetal death and death to the mother?” Super. Just what I wanted to hear. The tears flowed while I was brainwashed into agreeing to attend a V-BAC class with several of her other victims.

Why was I being made to feel guilty for wanting to re-enact the same magical experience I had loved the first time round? What happened to a mother’s choice? I hear the haters out there: “Magical?? Pa!” But yes, it was magical. If magic isn’t a new life being pulled from a water-logged hole INSIDE of you, whilst you are awake with darling Hubster getting a full frontal of your innards, then I don’t know what is.

Finally the pressure from the midwives got to me, “You can do this! Give it a go!” Like they were encouraging me to try the new Big Dipper in Blackpool. So I did. It didn’t work. After four hours of labour not progressing as they had hoped I was wheeled into the familiar setting. Once again the contractions disappeared and I braced my body to take on its next challenge. Baby Lila arrived and our world shifted a little more to the right once again. It was cheesy, and beautiful. This time I saw her as a freshy: all blue and icky. A piece of the puzzle I was glad to finally have.

Recovery second time around was not quite as luxurious as the first – my butler now had his hands full with a nearly three year old. However, the scar healed faster, and I felt stronger much quicker; possibly this was through necessity rather than nature knitting it all back together in record time!

I guess all I’m trying to say is, pipe down C-section haters – I earned my stripes just as well as you did. And to those who are dreading their ideal birthing plans ending in a C-section, please try not to. The fear is far worse than the reality.

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