‘Everything I learnt about the First World War came from the pages of dog-eared history books’

As we followed BBC2’s coverage and took part in ‘Lights Out’ to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War on Monday (pictured) I couldn’t help but think what a legacy the commemorations will leave for BB and children of her generation. When I was little everything I learnt about the first and second world wars came from the pages of dog-eared history books or a teacher’s scribblings on a black board, but with the advent of the internet and social media a whole new world has opened up, quite literally. My dad has spent the last few months uploading photos and information about his grandfathers – BB’s great-great grandfathers – to the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War ‘real lives’ database, meaning that at the click of a mouse she will be able to learn all about the roles her ancestors played. […]

By |August 6th, 2014|Books, Family life, News, Parenting|0 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: bye bye second trimester

Week: 27 Waist: 37.5 inches (+0.5 inches but 0.5 inches less than week 25) Feeling: Like I’ve swallowed a stick sideways It looks like we might have made it: against all the odds (it seems to me) this weekend marks the final days of the second trimester. There’s no doubt the baby is getting bigger. According to the midwife he or she is transverse, meaning they’re lying across my tummy sideways. And don’t I know it. With the placenta at the front acting as a kind of ‘shield’ I’m feeling all the baby’s movements to the extreme left and right, and sometimes behind, which feels very odd as this never happened with BB who was most definitely at the front. I also feel like I’ve swallowed a stick horizontally with the skin straining to accommodate it, so am slapping on the cocoa butter with even more zeal than usual. […]

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: my waist has got SMALLER

Week: 26 Waist: 37 inches (-1 inch) Feeling: Still chickeny Oddly, my waist measures a whole inch less than it [...]

What’s wrong with a big pot yoghurt poured into a bowl and eaten with a spoon?

It’s been almost 10 years since Ella’s Kitchen pioneered the squeezable ‘pouch puree’ baby food concept and despite claims the format is no match for real fruit/veg and is no substitute for a ‘proper meal’ blah blah blah it’s fair to say the market is now awash with copycat brands. Which is why I was surprised to discover that gourmet yoghurt brand The Collective’s new Suckies are the first fresh branded yoghurt pouches on the market for kids. You’d think Petits Filous or someone would have thought of it before – why has it taken so long? Needless to say BB’s eyes lit up when a polystyrene box full of samples landed on our mat for the purposes of review this week. Like Ella’s Kitchen, Suckies come in brightly coloured pouches which became instantly referred to by BB – and no doubt countless toddlers – as ‘the red one’ and the ‘green one’ as opposed to their proper names. […]

By |July 23rd, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Money, Parenting, Recipes, Reviews, Weaning|0 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: I’ve gone over to the elastic side

Week: 25 Waist: 38 inches (+ 2 whole inches!!) Feeling: Properly pregnant owing to new ‘over the bump’ jeans My plan to make do with low-rise jeans for the duration of the pregnancy has been thwarted: the button on my Levi’s simply won’t stretch any further and, not wanting to ruin them, I’ve gone over to the elastic side. I’m talking full-on maternity jeans with an ‘over the bump’ elastic panel (below – I’ll spare you a picture of me actually in them – it’s not a pretty sight). Misery Guts laughed out loud when he saw them and I can’t say I blame him. They weren’t what I intended to buy at all. I intended to find a non-maternity pair that simply fitted, but when the sales assistant in JoJo Maman Bebe enthusiastically encouraged me to try them on I was too polite to refuse. Oh. Lordy. They are sooo comfortable I was instantly converted. I knew as soon as I pulled them up and before I looked in the mirror I had to have them – I didn’t care what they looked like. Like my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder maternity bra, which also isn’t a pretty sight. […]

Would you have a ‘Viking baby’?

How far would you go to have your ‘perfect’ baby? Apparently more and more Brits are turning to Danish sperm banks because they’d like ‘Viking babies’ with blonde hair, blue eyes and a strapping build. Online sales at one of the largest sperm banks in Denmark are up a massive 20%, with wannabe mums getting the stuff Fed-Exed to the UK with next day delivery. One can’t help but wonder if so-called ‘Nordic noir’ TV shows such as Borgen are to blame – I’m thinking actor Pilou Asbaek (although is he actually blonde?) My curiosity piqued, and with my journalist hat on, I decided to try and find a mum who specifically sought out a Danish sperm donor to find out why she did it. I came across Jessica McCallin (pictured), who single and approaching 40 realised she was facing a now-or-never moment in life. […]

By |July 16th, 2014|Family life, Health, News, Parenting, Pregnancy|0 Comments

Shock horror: I’m running in pregnancy

Week: 24 Waist: 36 inches (no change) Feeling: Pretty good Dare I admit it? I’ve been running throughout my entire pregnancy and with the sixth month almost upon us I’m still clocking up around 12 miles a week. It’s now clear I have a baby on board (pictured) and it’s amazing how many people I’ve been running past since we moved here 18 months ago have suddenly started smiling and saying hello. Which is heartening. When I was expecting BB and carried on donning my trainers it wasn’t long before I discovered people seem to view pregnancy as some sort of illness, requiring one to sit on the sofa and eat crisps for nine months. I also discovered – and became increasingly infuriated by – people who dished out their advice on the subject despite having no medical knowledge whatsoever. ‘I’m not ill, I’m pregnant’ I would find myself saying over and over again. Having run six to nine miles at least twice a week for more than 10 years, there was no question in my mind that hanging up my trainers in favour of the sofa would be more of a shock to my system than continuing to pound the pavements. Every pregnancy book you find will tell you – assuming your blood pressure is ok – to continue your normal levels of activity as far as possible. What’s more, I love it. Why would I stop? […]

‘Don’t worry, you can’t catch anything from the pool’

Living in a fourth floor flat and with the temperature rising we’ve been spending increasing amounts of time at our local public cess paddling pool (pictured – the goggles never fail to make me laugh). BB loves it – she splashes, she wades, she orders me to clap while does laps around the perimeter in the shallows and she fills up her watering can to ‘water’ my feet. As she approaches three this is the first summer we’ve used the pool on a daily and weekly basis, and as the water trickles from the watering can over my toes I can’t help but wonder what’s actually in the stuff. It’s probably best not to think about it. Being on the seafront, as we are, I know the first visitors of the day are seagulls who happily splash and preen their feathers. Then there’s a constant stream of pre-schoolers up until 3 o’clock, after which they’re joined by the bigger kids too. […]

By |July 9th, 2014|Family days out, Family life, Health, Parenting|2 Comments

Perhaps ‘Two Kitchens Kate’ simply wants to be a wife and mother

If you could have two kitchens, a fully staffed and automatically stocked one with catering standard equipment and a ‘private’ one for when you fancy preparing a meal in bare feet without a professional chef peering over your shoulder, would you?I ask because I’m becoming increasingly incensed by reports of ‘Two Kitchens Kate’ at 1a Kensington Palace. Apparently the Cambridge’s have put in an all-singing all-dancing kitchen, which presumably palace protocol dictates they have, and which  ‘scandalously’ cost £170,000 of taxpayers’ money (don’t get me started: it’s generally agreed the monarchy bring in as much tourist revenue as they cost, an industry which supports one in 12 jobs. And I bet the Cambridge’s are responsible for a large stake in that. Of course the methodology varies, but their wedding was said to boost London’s economy by £107m while the birth of Prince George boosted consumer spending by $383m according to Britain’s Centre for Retail Research) plus a smaller one for ‘Kate’s’ – why oh why does such sexism still wheedle its way into the British media? – own personal use.I don’t blame her. What if she fancies making Prince George’s tea herself, and actually wants to be the one to scrape the peas off the wall and floor afterwards? […]

By |July 7th, 2014|Family life, Food, Money, News, Parenting, Weaning|0 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: chicken soup for the soul (or baby)

Week: 23 Waist: 36 inches (+0.5 inches, possibly owing to Misery Guts’ work trip to the Cadbury factory) Feeling: Chickeny I’ve developed my first pregnancy craving: chicken soup. And not just any old chicken soup. It has to be fresh (tins are a no-no), it has to have actual pieces of chicken in and there can’t be any other ingredient other than chicken (sweetcorn is the stuff of the devil). I realise it’s been one of the hottest weeks of the year, but I can’t get enough of the stuff. I’m sipping as I write. It’s now got to the point that my local Tesco has been sold out of its Creamy Chicken Soup for three days in a row, and I’ve had no option but to move on to the Finest version instead, which oddly isn’t as nice (forget Covent Garden, have you seen the fat content?) […]

Miscarriage care campaign victory!

Just two weeks in there’s a victory in the next phase of Mumsnet’s Miscarriage Care Campaign: following a live webchat with mums last week shadow health secretary Andy Burnham MP has pledged to include better miscarriage care in Labour’s 2015 manifesto. At first I wasn’t sure if victory was the right word to describe the commitment – the cynic in me asks what good being included in Labour’s manifesto will actually do – but the fact is that without Mumsnet raising the profile of this issue and without mums like me sharing our first-hand experiences and demanding action this wouldn’t have happened. So in my book that’s a victory. […]

‘My snaps are soft and my fig rolls are flaccid’

That’s not a euphemism, I’m deadly serious. There’s an emergency in the crummy mummy household: the biscuit tin is failing in its one sole task of keeping the biscuits fresh. Within days of opening a new packet the ginger snaps are soft and the fig rolls are flaccid, despite a satisfactory sounding ‘click’ when opened and closed. After a thorough inspection of the lid, which is pierced with lots of little holes I’ve always assumed are necessary for freshness, I can’t figure it out. Misery Guts says there’s probably rubber on the other side of the holes and something has perished, resulting in stalegate – is he right? I have absolutely no idea. The thing is I don’t want to just replace the tin with a new one because it was a wedding present from a school friend (I can’t tell you the number of kitchen utensils now forever associated with old friends). And it might only be four years old, but we’ve got history: I dipped into it for ginger snaps in a bid to relieve morning sickness, I feasted on fig rolls when possessed with breast-feeding induced roaring hunger and it’s where BB now carefully selects her chocolate covered malted milks between finger and thumb. […]

By |June 27th, 2014|Family life, Food, Parenting, Uncategorized|3 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: why can’t I just sit back and relax?

Week: 22 Waist: 35.5 inches (no change) Feeling: Like an overactive worrywart With the 20 week scan out of the way and all looking good, I’m now worrying the baby is going to come early. Too early. I’ve spent the last four months silently praying we make it beyond the next milestone: 8 weeks, when my last two babies died, 10 weeks, when the last miscarriage was actually diagnosed, 12 weeks, when we see whether everything appears to be ok or not, 16 weeks, when apparently the risk of miscarriage dramatically drops, and then 20 weeks, when again we see whether everything appears to be ok or not. I hadn’t really allowed myself to think beyond the 20 week scan, and now we’re here it’s almost as though my subconscious self is saying ‘you must have something to worry about’ and finds a new anxiety to harbour. […]

Why is NHS miscarriage care still so poor?

Ok, so I said I didn’t want to write about my miscarriages. However, this week Mumsnet published the results of its Miscarriage Care Survey showing that the treatment and support women receive following miscarriage is often less than ideal and fails to meet official national guidelines. Did you know that half of women who miscarry have to wait more than 24 hours for a scan to find out if their baby is still alive, and are treated alongside women with healthy pregnancies? Or that 58% of women wanted counselling after miscarrying, but only 12% were offered it? In a bid to improve NHS miscarriage care and lessen the trauma of pregnancy loss Mumsnet is calling for the three main political parties to pledge to improve the system, based on its Code of Care, by the end of the next parliament. Of course achieving this means women like me need to speak out about our experience, or nothing will change. There is no doubt elements of my care were less than ideal, and despite considerable – and unusual – encouragement from Misery Guts I have felt absolutely no desire to blog about it. But if sharing my story means another woman doesn’t have to face what I did, I will. So here goes: […]

Days out in East Sussex: Drusillas Park

With the weather hotting up we’ve been making a concerted effort to explore the often-overlooked attractions right on our doorstep [...]

By |June 18th, 2014|Family days out, Family life, Money, Parenting, Reviews, Travel|4 Comments