Sunday, 15 December 2013

Finally out of quarantine!

It's been an interesting week. In the early hours of Monday I woke to the sound of Father Badger coating the bathroom in vomit, Exorcist style. Cue Badger Cub waking up, so I ended up standing outside the door nursing, while passing towels and disinfectant spray through the door to a very sorrowful husband. We went into full preventative mode - once Badger Cub was back asleep in his cot, I did a second clean of the bathroom then replaced all the towels, colour coded so no one shared. Antiseptic hand gel went out. Father Badger was put under strict instructions not to touch the children or any of their things unless absolute emergency.

We figured Baby Badger had had the bug as on Friday evening she'd been a bit sick with a high temperature, so off to nursery she went. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case and on Tuesday afternoon she decorated my parents' sofa in similar style. We went into lock down until Friday - no visitors, no trips out, no contact with anyone else.

Have you ever tried entertaining a stroppy three year old and a ten month old that chews everything without allowing them to touch any of the same objects? Challenging to say the least, but I must have managed it as neither myself nor Badger Cub suffered. I'm hoping we're clear now.

I've also been on the Sertraline for just over a week now. I'm not sure much has changed but apparently it can take a few weeks to have any effect. I have noticed that I no longer have the anxious knot in my stomach when driving in the dark, which is nice, but I was definitely on a low last night. I know why: I played at my band's Christmas concert last night, something that always signals festive spirit, but I'm just not feeling it this year at all, and it felt odd not to feel even a little bit Christmassy.

I had my first therapy session on Thursday. I don't think it's going to come naturally to me - it's all about opening up and me talking, something I'm not very good at. We did work out that I'm pretty angry at a lot of things but internalise far too much, so my homework is to spend half an hour per day writing whatever I want in my "angry book". Six more sessions booked.

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Thursday, 5 December 2013

I read too much

I spent part of today chasing a prescription for Sertraline, and at five o'clock I finally obtained the small plainly labelled box containing 14 pills. I chased it because I wanted to make sure I could start taking them tomorrow. Father Badger has taken the day off and then he's at home as normal for the weekend, and I'd rather not be alone when I start to take these pills. I also need to start on them before I chicken out.

I made a tactical error, you see...

I read the NHS website page on the side effects of Sertraline. It made for uncomfortable reading, not because the list was long but because many of the side effects were listed as likely to affect as many as one in ten people! I see that as rather a high hit rate.

I then made a much more idiotic mistake...

I read the leaflet in the pill packet. Oh. My. Word. The NHS appear to have been sugar coating it. Here are the edited highlights (because the full details would take far too long to type):

Very common side effects (more than 1 in 10 patients): Insomnia, dizziness, sleepiness, headache, diarrhoea, feeling sick, dry mouth, fatigue

Common (1-10 out of 100 patients):

  • Sore throat, anorexia, increased appetite
  • depression, feeling strange, nightmare, anxiety, etc.
  • visual disturbance, ringing in ears
  • palpitations, hot flush
  • etc.
Uncommon (1-10 out of 1,000 patients):
  • hallucination, [insert variety of mental states]
  • convulsion, amnesia, etc.
  • osteoarthritis
  • etc.
All in, there must be upward of several hundred possible side effects listed, both physical and mental, and of varying degrees of impact to life as we know it. I particularly like "terrifying abnormal dreams".

They may as well have just put in large red type: this will probably screw you up in some way.

I need to find a way of blanking this out of my mind before tomorrow morning.

Image courtesy of vorakorn /

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful: first steps, confessions and knitting

Truth be told, I'm a day early for Reasons To Be Cheerful, but I need to say this tonight.

Reason 1: The first real steps have been taken towards dealing with my depression.

Last Friday I had my initial telephone assessment with Talking Space, the local NHS mental health service. They decided I have "mild-to-moderate" depression, and offered me some group CBT sessions starting on 22nd January. That worried me - I can't imagine returning to work from a year's maternity leave to immediately ask for time off for medical treatment for a condition I don't want to share with my boss, regardless of whether I'm entitled to do so. I also really need to know I've made progress with this condition before returning to work - the idea of still feeling like this as well as working full time really panics me. I explained this as calmly as I could and was told they'd see what they could do.

I had a feeling that NHS treatment was not going to be immediate so I had already got a referral from my GP to BUPA - I'm lucky enough to be covered by my employer. I saw a counsellor today, where we talked through how I was feeling, what I thought might be the cause, and some more general questions. She came to the same conclusion as I had: the last trimester of my pregnancy was very stressful and I have had a high dependency baby (a "velcro baby" that needed to be in close contact with me 24/7 for almost nine months).

I also talked to my La Leche League leader yesterday about the Sertraline the GP wanted to prescribe me. I knew it was considered to be the safest antidepressant I could take whilst breastfeeding but I lost faith in the GP's knowledge of medications in milk when she talked about pumping and dumping after taking the medication - I knew that was rubbish! I feel much more reassured that Badger Cub will not be affected so I'm going to give it a go.

The next steps are also in place: I've been referred to another therapist through BUPA to talk more about the cause of my stress, and today's therapist has booked to see me in January to update on progress. Talking Space also called back and have booked me a one on one CBT session over the phone on 23rd December. I'm up for throwing everything I can get at this.

Reason 2: I told my parents.

As I mentioned before, my family don't really talk about this sort of stuff and that has really affected my ability to talk about it. They were looking after Badger Cub while I attended today's counselling session and I realised that they were worried that there was something wrong that I wasn't telling them about. It wasn't fair to let them assume something far worse than reality so I 'fessed up, and I managed to do it without crying - go me... They were great. Relief on my part.

Reason 3: knitting.

Baby Badger requested a pink and purple scarf. Everything has to be pink and/or purple at the moment. She spotted the work in progress and got very excited that I was making a blanket for Bunny. I laughed and said that it wasn't a blanket, but I could do that next. I told her to imagine it longer and around her neck - first guess was a necklace, but then her eyes widened in wonder and pure delight and she squealed "scarf!". All through dinner she sneaked peeks at the knitting and grinned. Moments like that make everything worthwhile.

This month R2BC is being hosted by Ojo's World while Michelle takes a break.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Black Dog On My Shoulder

I've been feeling this way for quite some time: lacking energy and drive; regretting not putting more effort into friendships, new and old, but not able to do anything about it; crying; non-existent libido (why does that feel like the hardest one to admit?); angry; generally not enjoying maternity leave anything like as much as last time. I talked to Father Badger about it a few times, but we agreed that it must be down to the pitiful amount of sleep I was getting - Badger Cub has always woken multiple times a night, and at eight months I could count on my fingers the times I'd had a block of four hours sleep. The FBI would probably stop short of this level of sleep deprivation.

Then three weeks ago a switch flipped and Badger Cub started sleeping. Not reliably all night, but most nights (with a few notable exceptions) he has slept eight or nine hours with one waking, and a couple of times with none. The problem is that I didn't start feeling any better. In fact I probably felt worse as I had the mental capacity to start thinking about the emotions.

I met up with a friend and her six month old baby for lunch and coffee. We chatted about many things, mostly baby related, and then she told me about her postnatal depression and how the antidepressants and counselling were helping her. I didn't realise it, but she had obviously spotted something she could identify with in the way I was talking. By the end of the afternoon I had opened up to her, shed a few tears and agreed that I probably ought to find some help rather than continue to try and deal with it myself.

I know there is no shame in depression. When my friend opened up my immediate thought was her strength in telling me. I still struggled to accept it as my situation though - I've always been the strong one, thick skinned, bulletproof. I must remind myself that I don't have to be strong; that my children deserve to have the whole of me.

It took another week for me to gather courage to talk to Father Badger and use the label - postnatal depression - so difficult. He agreed, was amazingly supportive and the following day I went to my GP. To be honest it's been a bit of an anticlimax. I told the GP that I wasn't comfortable with taking antidepressants and she referred me to Talking Space, the Oxfordshire NHS mental health service. I've been booked onto an initial telephone assessment next Friday - TEN DAYS after calling them. The average wait time for the first talking therapy session is four weeks. That takes me to the start of January, just one week before I return to work, full time.

It took a lot for me to go to my GP. A lot. I laid myself bare. I feel as though the NHS has calmly nodded, confirmed that I'm not about to top myself or put my children in danger, then cast me to the bottom of the pile.

I would rant, but I've run out of words and energy.

Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc /

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The one where I whinge a bit

I'm having one of those days. It peaked when I found the cat peeing on the door mat. There's nothing quite like clearing up still-warm cat pee while a baby shouts at you from behind the stairgate (left there because he'll want to "help").

Father Badger took both children on the usual Saturday morning walk with his mum, sister and their dogs. In theory that means I can get an extra hour sleep, but realistically by the time I've helped get them ready I am far too awake to go back to bed, however tired I am. (And I am tired.) He took Baby Badger off to a birthday party at noon, then off to Oxford for some shopping. I had strange irrational dreams of Badger Cub having a nap for a couple of hours while I got stuff done. Nothing urgent or even important, but just stuff. Instead I've been feeding (expected), playing bricks, stopping him eating DVDs and having my knees chewed all day. And no nap.

I know I should expect to be doing these things with a nine month old baby, but just once I'd like to be me again. I dream of having the house to myself for a whole day. No preschooler asking for help at the toilet. No baby sucking my jeans, crying because I've taken two paces towards the door. I feel really selfish for these thoughts, but I am slowly going insane.

Just in case you're interested, he's still awake. Other than a few ten minute naps, he's been awake since 6:30am (ELEVEN HOURS AGO). You're thinking that at least he'll sleep well tonight, but you'd be wrong - I predict at least four wakings. That's him in the photo, strapped to my back in the Ergo so that I can at least leave a room without carrying him in one arm. He's keeping himself entertained trying to pull my hair.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Matilda Mae Welly Walk

Today was the Matilda Mae Welly Walk at Beale Park. Matilda Mae was lost to SIDS on 2nd February and her family have worked tirelessly ever since to raise money for The Lullaby Trust, the charity that works to prevent such loss and support families affected. The Welly Walk was a fundraising event and also a chance to remember Matilda Mae.

The day started with a fun musical warm up with chiffon scarves, maracas and dancing followed by a walk led by Jennie and family through the water gardens, decorated with pink and purple balloons. At the end we were all given little pots of bubbles to blow, and there were marvellous contraptions made from sticks and string for blowing giant bubbles. The air was full of bubbles - thousands of them, big and small! The rest of the day was spent on the mini train, watching meerkats, in the story telling tent... the entertainment was endless. It truly was a fabulous day, and we left with two very tired but happy children.

Although I have never met Jennie until today, and then only briefly, her loss has truly moved me. Matilda was lost on the day Badger Cub was born. I was sat on the bed in the delivery suite, just hours after giving birth, watching her outpouring of emotion on Twitter, having just found her precious baby girl silent and unmoving in the cot.

Since then she has shown such amazing strength, supporting her two elder children and family through their loss, and raising money and awareness for The Lullaby Trust. Take a look at her blog and if you also feel moved please consider donating via her fundraising page.

Jennie - thank you for today, for allowing us to share the day with you, to remember Matilda Mae, in our hearts even though we never met her. I hope the next few days are not too hard and that each day will become easier. You are amazing.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bringing up the next generation of Divas

Our preschool gives out a local magazine aimed at parents: Oxfordshire Families. It has a few articles around topics such as first days at school but is mainly full of adverts. One in particular caught my eye - a photo-shoot party.

Included is mocktail drinks, hair and face makeover, choice of accessories, red carpet catwalk, disco and a printed photo. All for £25 per child, minimum 10 children, additional photos a chargeable extra.

Other than the hideous price, the whole idea of the photo-shoot party makes me cringe. Or feel like shouting. A bit of both really.

If my daughter wants to pursue a modelling career and understands the level of determination and hard graft she'll need to display, then I'll support her. I am not belittling the career.

Surely there are more worthwhile themes for a little girls party?
Image courtesy of Marin /

Monday, 2 September 2013

It's time for a haircut

I'm considering the Sinead O'Connor look.

Two years of nursery under our belt and it's finally happened. Baby Badger has been scratching her head for a week or so. I've been checking her hair and rechecking... not a thing. We changed her shampoo... no real improvement.

Then it happened. This morning. I was brushing her hair to tie it up and I saw it. A solitary head louse. Then a second. The third appeared an hour or so later. I've been itching ever since and I think the only course of action is to shave off my waist length hair as I certainly can't face dragging a nit comb all the way through it!

I've spent the day washing all the sheets and hats and we have an exciting evening planned checking mine and Father Badger's hair - luckily Badger Cub seems to have escaped - followed by delousing Baby Badger. All I have to do now is find a way of bribing her to keep still while I comb out the little critters.

Image courtesy of

Saturday, 31 August 2013

"Staycation" 2013

Father Badger took this week off work. After a lot of deliberating we decided it was daft to spend our money on accommodation a couple of hours away then spend each day travelling to see something, so we stayed at home but planned a different experience for each day. It's been a heck of a week!

Bank Holiday Monday was spent within a few miles of home as Father Badger's band was playing at a local hospital fete. I shunned my Ergo carrier in favour of the pushchair for Badger Cub and headed in with Baby Badger holding my hand to explore the stalls and watch the entertainment. Baby Badger did us proud, being on the most part delightful and happy, especially when presented with an ice cream towards the end of the afternoon!

Tuesday saw us heading south to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park. We started off with the car safari: zebra, giraffe, monkeys (we risked losing bits off our car and survived even though one hitched a ride on the roof), elephants, lions, tigers and wolves. That alone would have made a wonderful day! We then headed off into the Adventure Park for lunch followed by penguins, sting rays, train and boat trips and a marvellous adventure playground. Another highlight was feeding nectar to lorikeets.

I would definitely advise booking in advance (you can do this up to the day before you visit) as there's a substantial discount on the quite hefty ticket price. Having said that, it really was worth every penny.

We had a leisurely start to Wednesday and headed to Blenheim Palace, less than 20 miles from us, in time for a picnic lunch in the pleasure gardens. It was a warm day and it was slightly challenging finding somewhere shady and wasp free, although I think the main grounds would have offered more of a choice of trees to sit under. The rest of the afternoon was spent with Father Badger and Baby Badger enjoying the playground while I strolled around with Badger Cub in the pushchair, pausing for the occasional feed on a park bench.

Blenheim Palace are currently offering a free upgrade to annual pass from a day ticket. We visited last month for their jousting and converted our day tickets, so our trip this week was effectively free!

We headed to London on Thursday to the Sealife Aquarium. The first thing you do is walk along a corridor with glass floor looking down into the shark tank! This huge tank that spans all three floors was amazing: sharks, rays and a vast variety of fish. It's an amazing place, with lots of fish of all colours and sizes, anenomes, crabs, octopus, sharks and penguins, and plenty of small person viewing windows and ledges to climb onto for a better look. There are also published feeding times and talks about different topics, but our littlies were too little to concentrate on these. We finished our day in Covent Garden for a very late lunch before heading for the underground and our train out of Paddington.

Again, we booked the day before for a discount, but also paid extra for Priority Entrance which allowed us to bypass the queue to get in (which was not small given it was the last week of the school holidays).

Friday took us to Birmingham, again after a leisurely start. We arrived late morning and went to Jamie's Italian in the Bullring for lunch. The staff were amazing, making the experience full of fun for Baby Badger, and were joking with me after realising they'd been chatting away to me while I breastfed Badger Cub! Baby Badger had chicken lollipops (chicken on skewers) with a mini kilner jar of chopped vegetable salad (which she demolished). Father Badger and I opted for seafood dishes, both delicious! After lunch we headed to Birmingham Museum for the Julia Donaldson exhibition. The hall was segmented by walls printed with scenes from her various books (Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, etc.) and each area had different props, dressing up outfits and activities themed around the books.

The museum itself is free but there is a charge for this exhibition.

Birmingham is local to my husband's family so we headed over to stay for the night. We had a bonus day trip before leaving them to drive home today: Tropical Birdland! Tucked away in a Leicestershire village is a small zoo full of every imaginable type of parrot, some in aviaries but many of them free flying and happy to take monkey nuts from your hand. It was an unexpected but good end to our holiday week and I'd definitely recommend it.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Marrow Mountain

Our garden is not as tidy as it ought to be. It became neglected during my first pregnancy, compounded during the following couple of years of having Baby Badger and definitely not improved during pregnancy number two. I'm gradually clawing back during my current maternity leave, but I have at least got control over the edible garden. Or so I thought...

I knew I'd missed a few cucumbers in the greenhouse. They have a tendency to hide behind leaves. I wasn't expecting twenty-two of them. Likewise, I knew there were a few courgettes that should really be classed as marrows, but I was leaving them on the plant until I decided what I was going to do with them. There have grown somewhat, and the four largest of them probably now weigh more than my three year old. There's also a glut of knobbly beef tomatoes and cherry & baby plum tomatoes, but we'll have no problems getting through those, nor the big handful of runner beans.

Tonight's challenge is to track down recipes to use the marrows and cucumbers. Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Time to build an ark

A few minutes ago I was feeding Badger Cub in bed, still in pyjamas after a particularly bad night's sleep, when the doorbell rang. I left a rather disgruntled baby behind to answer the door.

It was a middle aged man offering me religious pamphlets, I assume a Jehovah's Witness. I politely declined and he left.

As an aside, I wonder how long it is since they actually "turned" someone at the doorstep. I do acknowledge that part of their faith is to attempt to convert/save but surely it's time to evolve away from cold calling? Maybe evolution is the problem here...

Minutes after he left I kicked myself for not saying what I wanted to say.

Thousands are dying in Syria because they have the wrong bloodline; men, women and children coldly executed. Young girls are raped with bayonets in Africa. In our own country children are groomed and prostituted, and others are starved and malnourished either through poverty or in extreme cases intentionally by their own parents. At the same time we are destroying the planet in our relentless quest for resources.

Don't tell me it's part of the grand design. If there is a god and he (or she) allows this suffering then I want nothing to do with him. The human race seems to be out of control so he either needs to sort out the mess or wipe us all out and start again. Until that happens I'll carry on trying to raise my family with respect and do what I can for the rest of the world.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn /

Monday, 19 August 2013

No more zombies for me

Driving home from town today, I was thinking how motherhood has changed me. Of course, it could simply be that I'm a few years older, but without children I probably would not have the uncontrollable impulse to shout "Moo Cow!" every time we pass a herd.

Prior to Baby Badger I was pretty child-phobic but now they seem to flock to me... and I don't mind! (Most of my friends would fall over backwards in surprise at this.) I find myself playing with them at children's centres, keeping an eye out in case they tumble, worrying about their teeth when I see them toddling round with a bottle of Ribena.

Films, television shows and books that depict suffering of children, physically or mentally, would in the past have tugged at my heart strings but it would have passed as I knew it was fiction. Now I feel as though my heart is being wrenched from my chest.

It's not just my feelings about children that have changed though. I used to love a good gory horror story. I now cannot watch zombie films; struggle with anything horrific that could be possible under human nature, although interestingly I can cope with vampires and werewolves - obviously far enough removed from reality for me to cope.

I'm guessing the old me won't be coming back, but I don't think it's such a bad thing.

Image courtesy of dan /

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Badger Cub is almost seven months old now, and pretty much the whole time I've felt as though I've been failing.

Most of the time I can cope with Badger Cub. Most of the time I can cope with Baby Badger. Most of the time I can't cope with both of them.

Baby Badger still does daycare Monday to Friday (three days in nursery, kept going so we don't lose the place for when I return to work) and a day with each set of grandparents (because they all enjoy it). I feel guilt that she's not at home with me, but also I feel as though Badger Cub should have the same amount of attention from me as she did. I also know that she has a much more fulfilling and varied experience not being stuck with me 24/7.

When I'm tired I lack patience, and when Baby Badger is tired she tends to play up. Not a good combination. Father Badger has been trying to encourage me at times, telling me when I've done well with her. He means well and it is nice to hear but it does highlight that it's the exception rather than the rule, which makes me feel a bit useless.

Father Badger was away today, so I had both for the day. Knowing that it would go more smoothly with activities planned, we headed off to Millets Farm Centre. We did bouncy castle, trampoline, space hoppers, the cupboard toilet with the blue water (oh yes, anything can be an adventure...), straw bale tunnel and bouncy castle again, all before lunch. The cafe was packed but, feeling like supermum, I negotiated the pensioners with a tray of drinks and sandwiches whilst pushing the buggy. Lunch was eaten with smiles and we made it out unscathed. After lunch we visited the farm animals, ran around the paddock and played on the swings. All without tears (apart from when she fell off the swing but we'll gloss over that one).

I've been drowning for a while but today, just for a while, I felt as though I was coming to the surface.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Flip the birdie

A random photo from earlier this month: this is what Badger Cub has to say to anyone that doesn't like breastfeeding in public...!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Enough is enough (aka never say never)

We are a family of four. Father Badger, Baby Badger (age three), Badger Cub (almost six months) and myself. Mum & Dad with son & daughter. We are complete. My pregnancies were far from hard, and my labours short, but quite frankly I'm 36 years old and done with baby making.

Father Badger knows this and hasn't raised any objections, although he always jokes that we should have two and a spare. I sold all my maternity gear on Ebay as soon as my postpartum belly had shrunk enough not to need it, just to make sure my position was clear.

I'm halfway through my second twelve month stint of maternity leave, returning to work in January. Luckily we can afford the childcare for two, but three would probably cripple us, plus my career in IT would probably not survive another baby. The grandparents (who currently lend a lot of practical support) are in their mid sixties, so will be mid seventies by the time Badger Cub goes to secondary school.

I'm done. Really. So why is a part of me not done? A little voice keeps whispering in my head.

Maybe menopause is approaching and Mother Nature is sounding the alarm. (Awooga awooga, time is running out.)

I've sold my maternity clothes as I won't be needing them. (After all, you are losing weight so you'll need a smaller size next time.)

Should I save the cosleeper crib for my friend or should we sell it? (Or maybe keep it for number three...)

Is this normal?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Elephants and boobies

We had a day in Kent on Sunday. The lovely Menai is back from India for a little while and it was her youngest daughter's christening.

It was a 10:30 service so we opted for travelling the night before and staying locally rather than trying to wrangle both children into leaving the house at 7:30. We had a relaxing night's sleep at a local Premier Inn, leisurely breakfast and headed back to our room to get into our posh clothes (we sensibly decided they weren't a good mix with a three year old eating baked beans).

Back at the room I made a discovery... in my haste not to forget anything the children needed, I had forgotten my bra. I would be freeboobing in my white strappy summer dress. Oh well. At least the breastfeeding meant I had the cleavage to carry it off. What could possibly go wrong...?

The christening service was good fun, with Menai's father (a Methodist minister) presiding. Afterwards we went for a lunch at the local WI hall, which had been decorated with an elephant theme. This is where disaster struck...

It appears that the plastic adjustable clasps on my strappy dress did not appreciate me pulling them over my shoulders to feed Badger Cub. They broke. Yes, both. With no bra. Thankfully I managed not to display my baps to the world.

Thank you to Menai (for being supermum and prepared for anything and supplying a safety pin) and Father Badger (for not being bothered to remove the dry cleaning tag from his suit and therefore supplying the other safety pin.

Image courtesy of koratmember /

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Liebster again!

The lovely Rhia over at Virtual Rhiality has tagged me for the Liebster Award. Like her, I have been tagged before, but the award has evolved somewhat since I received it last time as now I've got to 'fess up facts and ask questions! I' scraping the bottom of the barrel this time having already spilled the beans on these seven things and another ten!

How does the Liebster award now work? I tell you 11 random facts about me, pose 11 questions and then tag 11 bloggers with less than 400 followers (although how I work that out I don't know) to answer those questions. I also have to answer the questions Rhia posed to me!

11 Answers
  1. What is your favourite book or author? Currently Ian Rankin - I'm working my way through all the Rebus books.
  2. What is your favourite type of cake? Chocolate. Sticky gooey chocoolate fudge cake. Mmm...
  3. What's the one thing you love that most people you know hate or dislike? I honestly can't think of anything. Maybe that's because I'm surrounded by people with similar interests in life, or at least people that don't hate the things I love. The closest would be jazz - I like it whereas Father Badger would rather stick pins in his eyes.
  4. Favourite sandwich? Chicken, bacon and avocado.
  5. Favourite childhood toy? Lego. None of the fancy themed stuff you get nowadays, just good old fashioned bricks you can use your imagination with.
  6. Favourite colour? Purple.
  7. If you could invent one thing to make your life easier what would it be? Detachable boobs so I could get someone else to feed Badger Cub but without him losing the comfort factor.
  8. If you could learn one new skill/language/craft etc what would it be? Willpower. That's a skill, isn't it? Willpower to get fit and healthy.
  9. If you were a superhero what would your power/name be? Captain Obsessive. Everything in its place, especially those darned apostrophes.
  10. If  you had a whole day to yourself & loads of money; where would you go? What would you do? I can't believe I'm saying this as I'm not really girly: a really nice spa by myself where I'd get a massage and pampering, lovely food and good magazines.
  11. If you could achieve one thing this year what would it be? Become a shadow of my former self: finish my year of maternity leave in the best physical form of my adult life.
11 Random Facts
  1. I played in my college ladies football team with two years in goal. Ladies' football at that level (i.e. enthusiastic but generally unskilled) is definitely not non-contact, and I once ended up with a boot imprint including studs in my stomach.
  2. During my third year at Durham University I lived yards away from the cathedral, whose bells toll every fifteen minutes 24 hours a day. You don't hear them after a while, unless you're having trouble sleeping in which case you lie awake waiting for each one...
  3. I am a trained breastfeeding peer supporter.
  4. The house where I grew up (which is round the corner from where I live now) still has a dent in the garage door from when I learnt to ride a bike. I was a bit slow learning how to use the brakes.
  5. I work in IT but have no interest in computer games, which is somewhat of a rarity.
  6. I don't do heels. I appreciate many of them as elegant works of art, but I have no intention of putting myself through the torture of wearing them. I even got married in jewel-encrusted birkenstocks.
  7. We've lived in our house for almost six years but have not yet unpacked all of the boxes. I have a suspicion that some of those boxes were also not unpacked in our previous house where we lived for five years. Just think of all the treasure there may be to find!
  8. I hold music grades in five instruments: grade 8 trumpet and tenor horn, grade 4 piano, grade 3 trombone and grade 2 violin. I suspect the violin was the most painful experience for my parents.
  9. I am a confirmed sci fi geek: Star Trek (all series), Battlestar Galactica (old and new), Doctor Who, Babylon Five.
  10. I once built a brick barbeque in the garden. My bricklaying skills are poor and it was more functional with a slight tilt rather than attractive. Thankfully that was in our last house and someone else now gets to look at it.
  11. Baths bore me. They seem like a good idea at the time but then you get in and there's no entertainment and it gets cold. Maybe someone could invent a bath that keeps the water hot?
11 Questions
  1. Marmite - love it or hate it?
  2. Which three famous people or celebrities would you like to spend an evening at the pub with and why (or afternoon at a coffee shop if you'd prefer)?
  3. What sort of cook are you? Do you follow recipes, throw things together or phone for takeaway?
  4. Which living person do you most admire, and why?
  5. What was you favourite childhood television series?
  6. What is your dream holiday destination or activity?
  7. Tea or coffee?
  8. What is your ideal comfort food?
  9. What is your favourite item of jewellery?
  10. Are you girly or a tomboy?
  11. For what are you most grateful?
Time to tag...

I'm going to go with some lovely Tweeps I recently added to my Twitter list:

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A lullaby I used to know

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all

This always struck me as a bit of a rubbish lullaby: I'm going to stick you up a tree and leave you there, but when the storm arrives you'll plummet to the ground. Not the reassurance I would want. I guess it's a good thing that baby doesn't understand the words!

I've always sung to Baby Badger, partly as a way of keeping myself sane during any bouts of crying but mainly in the hope it brought her some comfort. As she's grown older we still sing, and she loves it: she has a good sense of rhythm and drinks up lyrics, teaching me all sorts of new songs she's learnt at nursery. Father Badger is a little less inclined to sing after being told at primary school to mime in assembly (an unforgivable thing for a teacher to do) but is coming out of his shell in the comfort of our own home.

Baby Badger's bedtime routine has evolved somewhat. I say routine - the time she goes to bed is anything but regular, but we do try to go through the same tasks in the same order: potty & nappy, pyjamas, teeth, story, YouTube.

Yes... you heard right. YouTube. She's crazy about animals and we found out about six months ago that a couple of BBC Earth clips were a valued reward for getting everything else done. They are generally three to four minutes long and cover a wide variety of animals: orangutans, lions, Deadly 60, Walks With Dinosaurs. Would you believe some of her favourite clips are of big dinosaurs tearing apart little dinosaurs?! We were slightly concerned when we overheard her talking in her sleep one night: "meat eating dinosaurs...".

A new favourite is competing with the animals: a certain Belgian-Australian singer. Every night it's now one "animal" (although that is sometimes a dinosaur), and "The Drawing Man". So, we nominate Gotye as our top lullaby. Enjoy...

This post is inspired by Jennie over at Edspire who is campaigning for The Lullaby Trust after her own tragic loss earlier this year. Please go and show her some love.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

My Body, My Birth Badge, My Choice

I came across this image in my Facebook feed today. Take a moment to read its message...

That's a tall order for me currently.

I've always been dumpy to a degree, even back in primary school. I'm now a size 18 and not in great physical shape. At just under eight weeks postpartum I am out of maternity clothes and back into my jeans, which I am pleased about, but it's hardly the size and shape I want to be.

I've never had a huge amount of confidence in my appearance and to a degree have chosen to ignore my extra pounds, wearing baggy clothes and using a vast amount of boisterous character to distract. I guess it works more or less, but I certainly feel as though I'm the token tubber in my circle of friends.

Part of that lack of confidence can probably be attributed to my mother, who has always struggled with weight and has been on one diet or another for my entire life. It's worth noting that she recently found the diet that worked for her and has lost over four stone. It's also worth noting that having lost that weight she's been commenting on mine in her own inimitable style, for example she was concerned that I was actually putting on weight in pregnancy. There have been a few other unhelpful comments, none of them intended to hurt but still slightly infuriating.

I really don't want to pass that lack of confidence down another generation to Baby Badger (or Badger Cub for that matter, because image is also so important to boys nowadays), so it looks as though I need to give myself a virtual kick up the backside.

My Body. I have no one to blame but myself, but that also means that no one other than me is standing in my way.

My Birth Badge. I was talking to Father Badger earlier this evening about my stretch marks. I actually don't mind them: I've never been one for bikinis, so he and the little Badgers are the only ones likely to see them. I see them as a birth badge of honour, which is a good thing really - I really was huge by the time Badger Cub came out and the pattern on my tummy looks like a good bowl of spaghetti! I would however like them to be sitting on a tummy that was a bit less wobbly.

My Choice. It's up to me, entirely my choice, my decision, to get off my backside and do something about this. And it's time to do it.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Your Body, Your Birth, Your Choice

Do you watch One Born Every Minute or Call The Midwife? ITV are showing Home Delivery at 9 o'clock tonight, a documentary following an independent midwife in Kent.

You may not know that this October the government is bringing in legislative changes that are going to prevent independent midwives from practising, meaning that childbirth will be one of the few areas of healthcare where you will have no choices. Independent midwives have a huge amount of knowledge around childbirth that our NHS maternity units are generally lacking, and this knowledge and experience will be lost to us.

Independent Midwifery is widely recognised as the gold standard against which the NHS cannot compete (no doubt because of cost and staffing levels). The solution should not be to remove that gold standard so what remains becomes the norm.

There are a number of ways you can show your support:

Sign this petition urging the government to find a workable and affordable way for independent midwives to obtain the compulsary insurance and continue to practise

Join midwives, mums and other supporters in a peaceful protest in London on Monday 25th March, details on the Facebook ChooseYourMidwife page.

Most importantly, spread the word. Don't let our choices be quietly taken away from us.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


When I was young, perhaps three or four years old, my grandad died of a heart attack. I don't remember much about it other than suddenly spending a lot of time at my grandma's house. I now know that it was because my Mum had to sort out everything for my grandma - everything had been in his name and she hadn't a clue what to do, obviously compounded by the grief over his sudden death. Once everything had been sorted, the funeral done, she moved from their home in Essex to a cottage in Oxfordshire, in the village where I lived with my parents.

Soon after that I started primary school and my Mum retrained as a teacher. My grandma collected me from school every day and looked after me until my Mum got home (my Dad was often working abroad and then later did shift work). She became almost a second mother, in my life on almost a daily basis, always around to talk to, never judgmental, always proud of me.

A few years ago we realised she was becoming more forgetful and it was confirmed that she was showing the early stages of dementia. Conversations became repeated, and she became less interested in making decisions for herself, but the essence of who she was, her sense of humour and her kindness, remained. From what I know of the disease, we were very fortunate - many sufferers become disoriented and confused, sometimes even violent. We kept her in her own home for as long as we could but a couple of years ago, shortly after her ninetieth birthday, we moved her into a residential home for her own safety - it's impossible to teach someone with no short term memory how to cope with new situations around their own increasing physical frailty.

We celebrated her 92nd birthday a few weeks ago. She enjoyed having lunch out with us, and met Badger Cub. I noticed that she wasn't engaging in conversation as much as previously but still seemed happy.

I had a call from my parents this morning. They had been called to the residential home at 3am. Grandma was having difficulty breathing. My parents were at her side, talking to her. Her breathing became more laboured, but she continued to acknowledge them and the staff, smiling. She slipped away peacefully at 6am.

I am grateful that she died in her own bed. I am grateful that she died peacefully, without pain. I am grateful that she believed, even though I do not, that she was passing to a better place and would have comfort from it. I am grateful that she died with her daughter at her side, and more importantly that dementia had not taken away her ability to recognise her daughter. I am truly grateful that her body failed, gracefully, before her mind did.

Goodbye Grandma. I love you very much and will miss you.

Image: Graeme Weatherston /

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Birth Story Take Two

Badger Cub is five weeks old today, so it's about time I wrote about the birth. It's going to be a long read: it's important that you know the background. The pregnancy has not been straightforward; not because there was anything wrong with me but because I didn't fit into standard pathways from the point of view of the NHS.

Baby Badger came out rather quickly - a three hour labour with us only just making it to the hospital before I started pushing. Understandably this made me rather nervous second time around and I was hoping, given that the labour was otherwise very straightforward, for a home birth. This was scuppered when I failed my glucose tolerance test and was referred to the diabetes clinic, which meant the NHS no longer considered me a good candidate for home birth.

There then followed a number of frustrating hospital appointments where the consultant repeated that she couldn't support a home birth and I repeated that it was all very well but I was unlikely to make it to hospital so her position wasn't helpful. After a referral to the consultant midwife and a long discussion, they eventually allowed my community midwife to help me plan a home birth as plan B for if labour looked to be progressing fast.

I finally felt as though things had taken a turn for the better, but at 36 weeks it was confirmed that Badger Cub was breech - this is where the baby is head up, presenting their bottom as the part to come into the world first. The consultant told me I would of course be booked for a cesarean section at 37 weeks. It felt as though my world had ended.

I got in touch with a lovely local independent midwife for advice. She pointed me at various sources of information around breech birth and reassured me that breech was just a variation of normal. I did my research and came to the conclusion that cesarean was far from the inevitable outcome. Breech birth has become a rarity in hospitals, and the NHS default recommendation is cesarean section. This means that the skills are being lost in hospitals, but community and independent midwives continue to see some, mainly because they are not diagnosed until labour begins.

I attended two ECV clinics, where they attempted through manipulation to turn Badger Cub. They failed. My consultant begrudgingly agreed that I was making an informed choice to birth vaginally and the cesarean was booked for just before 42 weeks - the race was on.

At 40 weeks and one day I woke up with mild contractions, as I had been doing for weeks. Father Badger and Baby Badger joined me for breakfast and I ate my toast and tea (for which I was later very glad). I realised that I was having to lean over the table to get through each contraction so we called my parents to say that they would probably be needed that day. I sent Father Badger upstairs to shower and dress, and when I stood up a few minutes later my waters broke! Father Badger persuaded me to call the midwives, we summoned my father to collect Baby Badger and I headed for the shower.

While in the shower I had three more contractions, so things were progressing fast! Two midwives arrived moments later - I had been on their red alert board for a few weeks due to the expected fast breech labour - and I headed to the kitchen where I was planning to labour. I continued to progress on all fours (the best position for breech) and one of the midwives confirmed I was already eight centimetres dilated. The ambulance they had called had arrived and Father Badger was busy making them tea when the midwife suggested I transfer to hospital in case of complications. I trusted her judgment and agreed.

I was bundled onto the trolley on my side with my TENS machine and a sheet draped over me to retain some modesty (a neighbour described me as a tent on wheels as I headed out to the ambulance). I was also told to use the gas and air to stop me from pushing, so the remainder of the birth is a little foggy: Father Badger filled in the blanks for me!

Both midwives got in the back of the ambulance with one paramedic, while Father Badger travelled in the front with the other - this turned out to be a good thing as the ambulance had come from a different county and had only been to the hospital once! The student midwife who had been caseloading me had just arrived so she followed in her car.

The journey must have been 20-30 minutes. I puffed away on the gas and tried my utmost to breath through the contractions, managing until we were almost at the hospital when I yelled that I couldn't stop myself for much longer. Apparently the paramedics were discussing which entrance was closest to the birth suite, and whether they should reverse up to the doors - everyone was aware how close I was to giving birth.

I was wheeled in to one of the delivery rooms and asked to move onto the bed. I did so and got onto all fours, but I was shortly asked to stand on the floor and lean over the bed. I had made it clear in my notes that students were welcome - breech birth is so rarely seen in hospitals and I wanted as many people as possible to learn from the experience. The room was packed - Father Badger counted no fewer than 12 people! A registrar was sat behind me for the delivery with several students, some newly qualified midwives, my student and the two community midwives. I'm not entirely sure who the others were but they asked the paramedics to leave as there wasn't enough room for them!

I was relieved to hear the consultant arrive - not the one who I had been under the care of, but the one that had performed my second ECV attempt and had been fully supportive of my wish for breech birth. He supervised the registrar, ensuring he kept hands off (essential for breech birth), and I pushed. Having watched many breech birth videos and read about how it works, it was a bizarre experience. I felt the bottom emerge. I felt the first leg come down, then felt a bit of assistance from the registrar to bring the second leg down. Badger Cub apparently then sent an arc of wee across everyone watching before wriggling himself round ready to bring his head out! The registrar supported the body and popped a finger into his mouth to bring his chin to his chest and he was born. Badger Cub was a little bit flat but my wish for delayed cord clamping was respected and he was passed through my legs to be where I cuddled and rubbed him until he picked up, no assistance required.

That's it folks! No doubt I'll write further about breech birth, as it's definitely an interest of mine now. Something to look forward to, huh?


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Another Badger has arrived!

As you may have worked out from my recent Silent Sunday posts, Badger Cub has arrived! He has been keeping me busy, mainly as a boob appendage as he's an enthusiastic feeder. Obviously, there will be a birth story to follow, just as soon as I get both hands free for the keyboard for longer than five minutes!

Baby Badger has reacted amazingly well. She spent the night with my parents on the day that Badger Cub was born, coming home the following morning with grandma and grandad. She clocked him on Father Badger's knee while I gave her a hug and kiss (we made sure I was free to see her), but decided not to go over and instead spent a couple of hours playing on the other side of the room. Once that initial period was over she came for a peek and since has been excited but gentle, wanting to hug and kiss him but without flattening the poor thing!

She has, however, been playing up a little with us. Dinner time and bedtime have been slightly fraught, and taking longer each day as she pushes boundaries, but over the last few days things have taken a turn for the better. I'm guessing it's nothing unexpected - her life has been radically altered. I keep reminding myself of this and hope that I have the patience on reduced "I've got a newborn" sleep to get through the next month!

Image: Jonathan Fitch /

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Turn baby, turn!

Disco Inferno...

I'll stop with the cheesy pop references soon, but they're stuck in my head for now.

Needless to say, Badger Cub has not yet made an appearance. I was so convinced he would make an early break for it, I now feel as though I'm overdue at merely 37 weeks and two days. I finished work on Friday so I'm officially in the thumb twiddling stage. I think I'm going to slowly go insane.

As expected, last Tuesday's scan confirmed the breech position and I was referred straight through the the ECV clinic, run by a midwife with a well-known high success rate for turning babies. Unfortunately it didn't seem to be my day. They tried twice, once without drugs and a second time with intravenous salbutamol (relaxes the uterine muscles, gives horrendous palpitations & anxiety for 2-3 minutes), but no success.

Assuming Badger Cub has still not arrived, I'm back in for another ECV attempt this Tuesday with a male consultant with "big strong thumbs". Ooer... I'm guessing I'll come out feeling a bit beaten up, but it's worth a go.

My current plan is to go for vaginal breech birth. I've done a huge amount of research, talked to midwives both NHS and independent, and have agreement from my consultant. As I pointed out to her, they wouldn't usually schedule a c-section until 39 weeks, and with my history I may go into labour well before then anyway. It was at least reassuring to be told that Badger Cub is the best kind of breech - he's in a flexed position (knees bent almost in a lotus position, presenting bum first) and average size (likelihood of complication rise both for large and small babies).

I have to admit though that I am more than a little nervous.

Image courtesy of maya picture /

Obviously the photo is not of me. My tummy looks nowhere near as good as that...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

It's the final countdown...

Dada-laaa-laaa dada-la-la-la... (cue cheesy eighties rock in my head).

I'm closing in on Badger Cub's due date now: 1st February. I'm also rather near the 36 and a half weeks that signalled Baby Badger's arrival - that would be 5th January - this Saturday!

It's been a tough few weeks. Because of the speed of Baby Badger's arrival, I've been told that the slightest indication that labour is on its way and I should head to hospital. That has meant two rather boring five hour stints in the Maternity Assessment Unit, being prodded, poked, monitored and (eurgh) probed. It luckily turned out that the first time was unusually strong Braxton Hicks and second time wasn't actually a membrane rupture.

Scans and the various prodding keep confirming that Badger Cub is stubbornly breech, although they haven't confirmed the actual presentation. I'm trying not to worry about that - as long he's not foot first I have faith that I can deliver without too much issue. I'm guessing that I will, once again, be referred to the ECV clinic to attempt to turn him. My next midwife appointment is on Friday, so I'd be referred to next Tuesday's clinic. This is feeling all too familiar from Baby Badger's final week in the womb - she arrived three days before I was scheduled for ECV clinic. That again tallies with 5th January being the big day. Hardy conclusive, but I just keep getting the feeling that he's coming out soon...

As a result, I am categorically done with being messed with. I'm feeling rebellious; belligerent. My consultant has finally acknowledged that I'm borderline on the gestational diabetes scale; that I only just fall under the risks associated with the "condition". The developmental stage of this pregnancy is done, with the remaining time down to putting down body fat ready for birth. My blood sugars have not indicated raging issues so I'm not worried about Badger Cub producing excessive insulin. The scan I had a couple of weeks ago clearly shows he is bang on average size, so I obviously haven't had raging sugar levels before I started monitoring. Quite frankly, the monitoring of sugar levels was making me miserable, so I've stopped. I'm still eating a low GI diet and reluctantly avoiding cakes, chocolate and the nice things in life, but I refuse to stab my fingers.

I'm sure at some point they'll rant at me; tell me that it's against medical advice. I've done my research; I'm an intelligent, educated women, and it's my choice to make.

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