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

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

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. […]

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: […]

Placenta booties: what’s the big deal?

I fear I’ve opened a can of worms. Yesterday a feature I wrote for The Sun newspaper about mums who made unusual keepsakes following the birth of their babies was published online, and as I write there are currently 142 comments on the story on The Sun’s Facebook page. Mainly bad ones. The main objection seems to be to taxidermy artist Alison Brierley who – quite naturally given she’s a taxidermist – made two pairs of baby booties out of the skin of her placenta (pictured, lit up by LED lights). Then there’s young mum Emily Jackson who discovered she loved breast feeding so much she had some of her milk solidified and set into a silver pendant to remind her of the experience forever. Comments range from the mild ‘yuck’ to ‘how sick’ to ‘they must be weirdos and freaks’. What’s the big deal? […]

By |May 14th, 2014|Breast feeding, Craft, Family life, News, Parenting|2 Comments

Poor Michelle Heaton…

There’s a line I never thought I’d write. This week the pop star, who had a double mastectomy in 2012 when she discovered she was a carrier of the mutated BRCA2 gene and had an 80% chance of developing breast cancer, revealed she was in tears just hours after taking her new born son home because he was rooting for her breasts but of course she was unable to breast feed him. As a mum who loved every moment of breast feeding I can’t imagine what this must have felt like, watching a tiny mouth desperate to latch on but being physically unable to give him what he was so naturally searching for. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the star was then blasted for not breast feeding her baby and ‘promoting’ bottle feeding by an (ignorant) Twitter follower after she tweeted a picture of a bottle sterilizer she had received as a gift from Tommee Tippee. […]

By |March 14th, 2014|Breast feeding, Family life, Health, News, Parenting|2 Comments

School name tapes: I freely admit I can’t be bothered

Lazy mums like me are being blamed for sending 140-year-old school name tag maker Cash’s into administration. Apparently the latest [...]

By |February 5th, 2014|Family life, Fashion, Money, News, Parenting|8 Comments

‘I’m guilt-ridden and torn between two roles’

Guilt-ridden, torn between two roles and overlooked. This is the current state-of-mind of working mums according to research revealed by The Work & Family Show this week. Apparently 80% of new mums feel guilty about going back to work and leaving their child in the care of others, and childcare responsibilities still fall on the mother’s shoulders even when both parents are working. I suspect this study is only scratching at the surface of the mental state of working mums today, who if anything like me are on a constant treadmill of trying to run a household and raise children while at the same time earning enough money to ensure the smooth running of that household and maintain a career. […]

By |January 31st, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, News, Work life|0 Comments

Standing when pregnant…perish the thought!

So the PC brigade have got themselves in a tizz after seven-months-pregnant equalities minister Jo Swinson was ‘forced’ to stand at prime minister’s questions this week because all the seats were taken by (male) backbenchers. ‘None of the MPs sitting just feet away offered her a seat,’ lambasts one report. ‘Really shocking lack of manners and decency,’ says another. Had she actually approached them and asked to sit down I’m sure they’d have readily budged up. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone that the poor woman may have spent the morning chained to her desk, ankles swelling and bum numbing, and may actually have welcomed 30 minutes in which to stand and get her circulation going again. […]

By |October 18th, 2013|Family life, News|1 Comment

Behind every (slimmed down) man is a great woman

So Colin Firth has shed a stone or two, prompting much media back slapping and extolling of the benefits of the ‘man diet’. It’s not clear how he did it – colonic irrigation? Weight Watchers? Hypnotherapy? – but I’m willing to bet his wife played no small part in proceedings, and I’ve not seen her similarly congratulated. I suspect there’s a woman’s hand in this because so far this year Misery Guts has also managed to shed a stone or two embracing the paleo diet, aka the caveman diet, which means no carbs and lots of meat, fish and eggs. It sounds simple enough, but try coming up with decent evening meals with no pasta, potatoes, rice, noodles, grain or bread week in week out. We’re going through 24 eggs a week (the checking of them alone adds 5 minutes to the weekly shop) and of course I’ve inadvertently been on the diet too because I can’t be bothered don’t have the time to prepare two separate meals. […]

By |September 16th, 2013|Family life, Health, News|0 Comments

Smile! Oh sorry, you can’t: new-borns making Facebook debut

57.9 minutes. That’s the average amount of time it takes for images of more than two thirds of new-borns to appear on social media after their birth according to the print website Posterista. And, surprise surprise, Facebook is the most popular choice for that all-important photographic debut. I don’t think we’d even managed to get hold of both sets of grandparents within 57.9 minutes of BB’s birth (after waiting for the phone to ring with baited breath for two weeks they’d given up and were gardening instead, phones buzzing on kitchen tables) let alone reach for the camera. I suppose smartphones are at play here – it’s not as though new dads have a camera poised, take the first pic, kiss wifey goodbye and then leap into the car and race home to upload the precious picture to their PC and hit ‘post’ within an hour of the birth. A few clicks of the phone and it’s done, which begs the question: why the 57.8 minute delay? […]

By |August 28th, 2013|Family life, News|0 Comments

If mums went on strike…

Our binmen have gone on strike. It’s only day two and the wheelie bins are already overflowing, and it’s only a matter of time before detritus starts spilling out too. I suppose the binmen (sorry, waste management and disposal technicians – I know, me too), who are facing a pay cut, have no choice but to down tools; theirs is the sort of job that no-one notices gets done until it doesn’t. Like coastguards who drive up and down seafronts every morning checking the life rings haven’t been carted off by someone who’s had one too many. Or mums who wipe drips of food from the kickboards under the kitchen cupboards and clean out the toilet brush holder. […]

By |June 12th, 2013|Family life, News, Work life|0 Comments

Mums-to-be: a bunch of reckless, risk taking half-wits

It’s official: all mums-to-be should hermetically seal themselves in a sterile bubble for the entire duration of their pregnancy. According to advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists today, pregnant women should avoid eating or drinking anything from cans or plastic containers, minimise their use of cosmetics and moisturiser and not buy any new furniture to avoid exposure to certain chemicals. It’s a wonder the human race has survived at all. The paper stupidly suggests women take a ‘safety first’ approach – implying mums-to-be are all a bunch of reckless, risk taking half-wits. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so ludicrous. […]

By |June 5th, 2013|Beauty, Family life, Health, News|2 Comments

M&S: Am I alone in thinking…?

So Marks and Spencer is in trouble. Again. The chain has reported a big fall in profits and the blame has been laid squarely at the changing room doors: sales of general merchandise, including clothes, are down 4.1% – that’s hundreds of millions of pounds to you and me. This surprises me. Since becoming a mum I have bought more clothes from M&S than I’ve ever bought in my entire life. Underwear used to be the only St Michael garments you’d find in my drawers – now I own coats, jeans, tops, jumpers, vests, bags, even shoes. I first ‘discovered’ M&S in 2011 while en route to the baby section for newborn essentials and was pleasantly surprised by their offering. Yet an industry ‘expert’ described their SS13 clothing ranges as ‘frumpy and shapeless’ on BBC Breakfast this morning. Oh dear. I fear this reflects worse on me than it does on them. […]

By |May 21st, 2013|Beauty, Family life, Fashion, News|0 Comments

Let’s get ready to rhumble…again!

It looks like a minor victory is about to be won. Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble is set to become the UK’s number one single this Sunday – 19 years after Ant and Dec, aka PJ & Duncan, first released it. This is the sort of thing (my) dreams are made of. The song only made number nine in the charts the first time round – when did Ant and Dec suddenly become so cool? They certainly weren’t cool in my neck of the woods in 1994. The only teeny boppers in our school, my partner in crime and I were routinely ridiculed for our love of PJ & Duncan and, mainly, Take That. To be fair, we didn’t help ourselves. All of our pocket money was spent on concert tickets and haring around the country in pursuit of our idols, with some interesting results. Sitting on Robbie Williams’ lap, aged 17, in the passenger seat of my aforementioned partner in crime’s Ford Fiesta has to be the highlight, although there were lows. Like standing outside the Top Of The Pops studio in the pouring rain for a glimpse of I can’t remember who, only to get a glimpse of Ian Beale from EastEnders instead, the set of which was at the same studio. […]

By |March 27th, 2013|Family life, Music, News|2 Comments