Monday, 27 June 2016

Top Picks for Baby


1. I really love this summery romper from Joules currently in the sale for just £8.95 // 2. And how cute is this zebra print romper from John Lewis for £9 // 3. I really love the camping themed long sleeved vest  from this pack of three Boden for just £16.25 in the sale // 4. I love this bright multipack of vests from Frugi for £20 // 5. I love this simply rainbow vest by Green Radicals, you can get it from Ethical Superstore for just £11.96 in the sale // 6. And finally, how adorable is this body bubble! from Ethical Superstore  currently £17.21 in the sale. 

I'm a big believer in pyjamas, so it's likely this baby will be dressed in sleepwear for the first few months of life. And with it being summer, I think vests and rompers and probably the way to go. I think the seaside romper above is my favourite. 

Ebony wants to choose the baby's first outfit, so we'll be going shopping at some point over the next few weeks to pick out something nice for the baby. 

* This post contains some affiliate links. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

I didn't want any of this



Have you heard of the Cambodian killing fields? I hadn’t, until recently. I studied history until A-level, but they only teach you white history at school, don’t they? You learn about Europe mostly. Long lessons on the rise of the far right in Germany and the impact that had on the millions of people living in and around Germany. We watched a video once about the end of the second world war. It was black and white. There were emaciated dead bodies being moved by bulldozers because there were just too many bodies for the soldiers to move by hand. I’ll never get that image out of my mind. It flashes back to me sometimes, reminding me of how horrible people can be. How decent people can become part of it by turning a blind-eye.

A mum from Ebony’s nursery told me about the Cambodian killing fields a couple of weeks ago. She told me what it was like to visit the memorial. I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of it. I mentioned it to another friend who is currently traveling the world and she told me a little more about it. Then I realised we had a book about it somewhere, buried on one of our bookshelves. So I read it. The book was called First They Killed My Father and, if you don’t know anything about the Cambodian genocide, you should read it. It happened in the 1970s. Millions of people were killed. Men, women, children. I read the book three weeks ago, while the referendum coverage was becoming increasingly hateful and misleading, and all I could think was, this could happen again.

Throughout human history, there are cautionary tales of racism, hate and the far right, and yet, that seems to be exactly where we are heading again. Our newspapers are not dissimilar to the propaganda put out by the Nazis in the 1930s. Our referendum campaigning looks almost identical to the propaganda posters used by the Nazis.

We don’t live in a world where people are told, yep, you voted for austerity so that’s what you got. Your hospitals, schools and public services are struggling because there is no money in them. Instead of that, we have far right politicians and ‘journalists’ pointing the blame at innocent minorities. And, for some reason, people believe it. The Daily Mail rhetoric became socially acceptable over the course of the referendum campaign. Attacks on Muslims have increased by 300% since last year and, of course, women are disproportionately affected by this. Racism was suddenly considered to be ‘legitimate’ and people were able to spout off hate without worrying about the consequences.

I didn’t hear any good reasons for voting Leave. I just heard racism and hate and misinformation. People seemed to believe everything they were spoon-fed by the right-wrong press. And, as my grandma so wisely pointed out, “there must be some truth in it, or they wouldn’t be allowed to put it in the papers.” So, there we have it. The newspapers lied, people believed the lies because it made their racist views seem ok, they voted accordingly, and now the whole world knows we’re a country of racist fools.

I never feel proud to be English. How can you, when our football fans travel the world beating people up and being racist? But today feels like a particularly dark day. I always feel embarrassed enough when the election results come out and too many people voted for the far right. But this morning I found out it was over half. The majority of voters decided to vote with the far right. They voted against freedom and against love. And they did this in front of the whole world. It’s embarrassing. I’m sorry, world. Please know we are not all filled with hate.

I thought the Leave campaign were going to win the whole way through this campaign. I grew up in Burnley surrounded by racism and hate, so I feel like I know that people are much more horrible than you might want to think. I have heard people say hideous things, friends, family members even. These aren’t people I don’t know. They’re people I do know. So I always thought fear would win. Hate always wins. It is stronger and drives people more than love ever could. And so I knew we would leave. I knew that those people who had once been in a minority would wake up this morning safe in the knowledge that they were in the majority, that it was ok to be racist and to hate. I thought that right up until yesterday when I foolishly let a little bit of hope in. My Facebook feed was filled with people saying they’d voted in, people who I might not necessarily have expected to vote Remain. And so I started to feel a little hopeful. Maybe good would conquer evil, after all.

Only it didn’t. At all. The power of the racist nan won out. It didn’t matter that 75% of people aged 18-24 voted to stay in the EU, because they couldn’t compete with the racism of the over 50s. The average age of Daily Mail readers is 58, so no surprise there. But it’s not fair, is it? This should never have gone to referendum. This is a big decision and it’s complicated. Decisions like this shouldn’t be based on referendums of people who don’t know what they’re voting for. Decision makers should decide based on facts, not fiction. Rupert Murdoch shouldn’t get to decide what information decision makers have to hand. Nigel Farage shouldn’t get to lie to decision makers. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

And now, here we are, waking up with the mother of all hangovers. Ashamed, embarrassed and more than a little bit terrified of our neighbours. Who knew there was so much hate in the UK?! My Facebook feed is filled with upset people ranting about the results, so where are the people who voted Leave? They’re here, walking amongst us. Hell, they outnumber us. And they just woke up in a world where they hold the majority view, a world where they are stronger. And that’s a world I didn’t want to wake up in. I don’t want my children to grow up in a society where hate and racism are considered ok. I didn’t want any of this.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pregnancy Update: 32 Weeks



Oh my god, how has it only been 32 weeks?! I have been pregnant FOREVER. I keep having to double check my pregnancy app because eight more weeks sounds so ridiculously long that I assume I have made a mistake. But, nope, I’m just currently experiencing the world’s longest pregnancy.

I’m being asked how long I have left to go a lot at the moment, I actually think this is why time seems to have slowed down. When you are saying “Another eight weeks” fifteen thousand times a day, it sort of feels like more time has passed and surely, surely it must be seven weeks by now?!

The baby is now the size of a junior tennis racket. Hey, here’s an idea, pregnancy app creators, why don’t you choose more streamlined items to avoid filling the hearts of pregnant women with stone cold fear? There is no way I can fit a tennis racket out of there - junior or not.

Week 32 has mostly been a week of discomfort and moaning. I dug out my birth ball in the hope that it would provide some relief from the backache I am now experiencing. But it turns out, if you don’t sit on the ball, it doesn’t help. I haven’t really spent much time sitting down this week, I’ve been busy trying to get things sorted before the baby arrives. I’ve just finished decorating my office which took a lot longer than expected. Everything is taking so long now, I think I am the slowest I have ever been. Even getting dressed in the morning seems to take 10 times longer than it usually would.

I’ve also noticed that pregnancy insomnia has started to set in this week. I don’t seem to be able to get to sleep as easily as I once did, my mind is too busy compiling a never ending list of things I need to do before the baby arrives. If I do manage to fall asleep, I very quickly wake up in need of a wee. Sometimes I don’t even get all the way back to my bed before I realise I need another one. I think this baby must have hold of my bladder and is using it as a squeeze toy.

I find myself pottering about more these days, I seem to have less motivation than ever. I have the best of intentions but never quite seem to get all of my jobs finished. Whereas I usually rush home after the nursery run so I can fit in as much work as possible, I’m now starting to take things a little easier. I’m very aware that by this point in my last pregnancy, I had just one week of work left before the start of my maternity leave. This time, I’ll be working right up until my due date and I’m starting to feel the weight of that.

I feel huge and yet my bump growth doesn’t seem to be slowing at all. I can feel it pushing outwards and stretching more throughout the day. I’ve also been getting plenty of Braxton Hicks, usually in the evenings but occasionally throughout the day too. They are so annoying.

I’ve also started feeling a bit anxious about the birth. Not about giving birth, but that I might be refused a home birth due to staff shortages on the day. This happened to a mum locally last week and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I’m going to have to speak to my midwife about it at my appointment next week because the worry is keeping me up at night. I’ve started reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and that is filled with beautiful, positive birth stories which is helping to put my mind at ease a little bit.

Missed my 31 week pregnancy update? Catch it here.

Monday, 20 June 2016

To the Father of my Babies



By the time Christmas comes round, I will have known Laurie for 14 years. Nothing makes me feel older than working out how many years have passed since I first stumbled across Laurie in my politics lesson at college. Those early days feel like a whole other lifetime ago or two whole other people, perhaps.

Every so often, through our long and checkered history, there have been turning points that have completely changed how I’ve felt about Laurie. Little moments in time that have forced me to see him in a new light, to appreciate to a whole new side to him and to realise that he is so much more than even I know.

One of those times, was when I was pregnant with Ebony. I was struggling with pretty much everything. I felt miserable, frustrated and in pain. I also felt pretty nervous about the birth and what the future might hold. Throughout all of this, Laurie was unbelievably supportive. He did everything I felt unable to do. He was empathetic, caring and reassuring every time I opened up. He let me know that we were a team, that we were in this together and that he would be there to make things easier every step of the way.

I wanted to have a home birth. I hear plenty of women say they would have loved a home birth, but their partner would never have allowed it. I didn’t even think to ask Laurie, I just always knew he would support me. I think he would support in pretty much anything I wanted to do. He didn’t tell me home births were dangerous, he didn’t try to scare me off the idea or accuse me of being irresponsible. Instead, he helped me prepare for it, he did his own research and he got excited about welcoming our new baby in the comfort of our living room.

On the night of Ebony’s birth, Laurie was amazing. He encouraged me, supported me and helped me to stay calm. He didn’t get panicked or scared, he didn’t talk too loud or ask too many questions, he just did exactly what I needed him to do. He was there in exactly the way I needed him to be there. He wasn’t playing games on his phone, moaning about being tired or asking how long things would take (people do this). He was as much in the moment as I was, gently encouraging me along.

I can remember Laurie’s face the first time he held Ebony. His wide eyes looking down at her in awe. He looked besotted, terrified and overjoyed all at the same time. I can remember thinking then how lucky she was to have a dad like Laurie. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to suddenly become a family. Despite the nine long months of growing a baby and the hours spent trying to push her out, it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden, Laurie had gone from being that boy I met in college to being somebody’s father.

For weeks after the birth, I was on a very hormonal cloud nine. I spent most of time feeding Ebony, gazing at her in amazement or moaning about how tired I was. Laurie, who must have been equally sleep-deprived, spent those weeks taking care of me and Ebony. I have never felt quite so loved and lucky as I did in those weeks following the birth.

When Ebony was born, my heart exploded in size and I felt a love so strong it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. But I also found myself loving Laurie more as well. Watching the way he cared for Ebony made me heartache. I loved watching them together, her snuggled up asleep on his chest. I loved overhearing the things he said to her and the games he played with her while he changed her nappy upstairs. I loved watching the pride on his face whenever he introduced her to somebody new. I loved seeing just how perfect he was as a father.

And those feelings haven’t faded with time. I love seeing them together just as much now as I did then. I love hearing her squeal with delight as she plays with him, seeing the way she clings to him in the morning because she doesn’t want him to go to work and seeing the excitement on her face when she discovers it’s a weekend so he’ll be with her all day. She loves him so much and it is so lovely to watch their relationship developing as she grows.

And soon there will be another baby to look after. In around seven weeks time, Laurie will have not one but two babies to care for. Sometimes I try to imagine having two children to look after and I feel a little panicked, but then I remember Laurie will be here, so it will all be ok.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Are You Ready For The New Booster Seat Rules?

I’ve written about car seat safety before, it’s something I am particularly strict about. It’s always confusing when the law changes, there’s often a period of confusion when people are unsure if new rules have come into effect. With changes to laws governing the use of car seats, you may be unsure whether the seats currently being sold in shops will meet the new regulations. And, if you have old seats stored in the loft awaiting your next child, you may be unsure whether they will be up to the job. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming changes to child booster seat legislation:

1. The changes come into effect in December 2016
The changes are due to come into effect in December 2016. This gives you a few months to get your affairs in order, but then you’ll probably want to make sure you have the right seat for your child. The change in law will only apply to new booster seats, so parents will still be able to use existing booster seats if they want to. It is, however, important to educate yourself about the change is taking place, you may just decide that it’s worth forking out a few pounds when you see the difference it could make in the event of a car crash. In fact, a new high back booster car seat doesn’t have to cost much at all, they start from as little as £19.95 on Online4Baby.

2. Backless booster seats will be a thing of the past
At the moment, children as young as three are legally allowed to travel in a backless booster seat. Experts, however, say this is unsafe and puts children at risk. Thanks to calls for updated legislation, rules will be changing later this year to help keep children safe. As of December, it will be advised that all children travel in booster seats with backs until they are either 125cm tall or weigh 22kg (about three and a half stone), whichever comes first.

3. Backless booster seats are unsafe
Unfortunately, backless booster seats are failing to adequately protect children in car crashes. Smaller children are particularly at risk because the seat belt sits too high on their body. Backless booster seats simply aren’t secure enough and are therefore considered unsafe. In a side-on collision, a backless booster seat doesn’t offer adequate protection. A booster seat with a back reduces your child’s risk of injury in the event of a crash. According to a survey by Which, over half of 4-12 year olds use backless booster seats, the new changes will ensure these children are offered better protection when traveling in cars.

Will you be purchasing a new booster seat in line with the regulations?

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