Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spa days, Sun days.

This weekend I went on a mercy mission to my sister's. My niece turned eight and was having a spa party and sleepover, so I offered to go down to give my sis some moral support and act as a spare beauty therapist.
The girls had loads of fun having their nails done and making bathbombs, soaps and lip balms.

I got back late yesterday and then made a new shirt. On a quick trip to Hobbycraft last week I came across a magazine with a pattern in it for this tunic top. Weakwilled and unable to resist, found some Amy Butler fabric that gave it a great sixties pattern. Three hours later and .... 'tis done!

And then, just some daffodils as we've had a glorious two days of sunshine. It has almost fooled us into thinking that spring is on the way...let's hope it is!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who is to blame?

I have been thinking...okay, so that's dangerous, but someone has to do it, sometimes! I have been thinking about birth and my classes and the recent tweetfest and I just wanted to get something down about my definition of natural and about ownership of birth.

Listening to the radio this morning sparked my desire to write this. As you may have heard, this morning Christchurch, New Zealand, suffered a horrific earthquake. Something that was described as a natural disaster.

Now, in the next few moments what I do not wish to do is to offend anyone caught up with this disaster in any shape or form, nor do I wish to belittle the hideous-ness of this and my thoughts go out to anyone who may be searching for loved ones or has lost anyone or is just caught up in it all.

It was the words "natural" and "disaster" that came within the same sentence that interested me and caused me to think further.

When we talk about natural childbirth, one is generally of the impression that this means someone who births without any medical intervention as nature intended. Okay, if I'm honest, from what I've been reading over the last few hours, the general consensus is that natural birth takes place out doors in a pair of sandals with lots of singing and everyone involved has a beard (joke!)

But, is that truly what a natural birth might mean?

If you take a look out of the window right now, there is not one thing in nature, not one "natural" thing that is straight or follows a straight path. So ultimately if we are to teach women about what to expect when they have a natural birth, then surely we HAVE to teach them what to expect if birth deviates from the straight path. If nature decides to create a difficulty during labour, this difficulty may require medical intervention.
If nature can decide to create an earthquake, nature can also decide to make birth tricky for some women.

So as a childbirth facilitator, it is imperative that we help our parents understand exactly what natural means, so there is no guilt if their birth deviates, but so that they also understand when this truly is the case and when it might just be the fact that the textbook situation may say that this woman should be  xcm dilated after 5 or 6 hours of labour and if their choice of birth environment is conducive to this or not.

Think about SATs for primary school kids or Early years testing for five year olds - these all tell us that Sally, a first born girl, born in September and currently 5, should be doing exactly the same thing as John, a third born boy, born in August and still only four! It sounds ridiculous when put that way because we all know that Sally and John are entirely different, but then so are two women in labour.

This is exactly the reason I chose to work for the NCT because their main aim is to teach for informed choice. I work to provide skills, practically and through knowledge for my parents to birth as naturally as they can. Each week we do relaxation exercises and look at positions, breathing and visualising. I also equip them to understand jargon and how to decipher whether their natural birth is beginning to bend slightly like a blade of grass and what their choices now are and this means I cover c section and intervention in some shape or form. I am, always limited for time, particularly for those women who choose to come to intensive 12 hour weekend classes, and the agenda is lead by them (see my previous post!)

It is also imperative, however, that women take ownership for their births. The number of forums I've been led to since the twitter debarcle that have had comments "blaming" the midwife, "blaming" the NCT, "blaming" the NHS for something that happened to them during their birth.

Let's leave aside the families who truly DO have some reason to blame, because there will be many families out there who have suffered terrible tragedies and this isn't about them, this is about those people who just feel that it is always someone elses fault because they just feel unecessary guilt.

This is about the people who were on the radio this morning, blaming the lenders for loaning them stack loads of money and about why they are now thousands of pounds in debt. Could they not have researched? Could they not have thought about the bigger picture? Could they not just say "yes, I own my debt and I am actively doing something about it"?

Why is it always that we look for someone to blame? Who feels better in all of this? Does it genuinely make you feel better if you can rant about the "noxious" NCT, "useless" NHS, "mean" midwife or "rude" obstetrician or does it just gloss over the problem.

Maybe THAT is where we start. What DO you want from your birth? Aside from a healthy baby and to be healthy yourself of course, - that is a given.

Are you attending NCT classes because you want to be proactive in your birth or just because you feel you ought to because that is what "everyone in your area does"?

Are you going to birth at hospital because you want to or because that is considered the norm?

Are you having a second c section because you want to or because you've been told once a c section, always a c section?

Are you going to have an epidural because you have made an informed choice and know the risks and benefits or just because labour is painful and...well, it's there isn't it?

All these are choices, they're not forced upon you. You are able to choose what will work for you and you alone. If you make the choice from your heart, not because you feel it is what is expected of you, then you will be happy with your choice.

Maybe it is about assessing what is truly important to you. If you want a baby, you have to want a good portion of what goes with that,  and...that will be labour.

Labour is long and labour can be painful and natural labour can result in a c section but it can also be achieved if you want it to be and if nature allows, without pain relief or intervention. If you want to learn about this, you have to give it time, you have to read, maybe you have to attend classes, perhaps you have to learn breathign or yoga or be with other women who have similar outlooks, perhaps you have to turn off your tv showing media driven birth and shut your ears to the horrid stories, after all, if you were having a root canal would people tell you the horror stories of their teeth ? I doubt it!

You have to take responsibility for achieving this, people can help you, but they can't do it for you!

After all, if you bought a car, you'd research the best one for miles per gallon, emissions etc. You'd test drive a few, read reviews, ask questions, maybe even speak to people who own the same car and probably not buy the first one you saw. However, at the end of the day, you won't expect someone else to drive it for you and you certainly wouldn't then blame the salesman if it got stolen or ran out of petrol (and I am NOT equating c section to a car crash Kirsty!)

My first birth was long. My first child came after 48 hours, an epidural and a vacuum extraction. I then didn't manage to breastfeed him for very long. Who is to blame? I was angry!

But was this the fault of my NCT teacher? Was this the fault of my midwife who was a newly qualified midwife and stayed with me two hours over her shift? No, it was NO-ONE's fault.  My natural birth, took a deviation from the non-interventionalist route and my son needed help. I am still annoyed that I remained on the bed for 24 of those 48 hours and didn't actually listen to my NCT teacher's advice to get up and in my situation maybe I could have done things differently, but I didn't and you know what, the only person who felt rotten afterwards, was me and the only way to change that was to do something about it and I did, for my next two births and in my choice of career!

Choice is exactly that. We can sit back and feel the victim when things go wrong or we can get up and think "right, I am going to try to help other women not make the same mistake I did, or, at the very least, totally understand what all their options are.

If you feel stigmatised for having a c section, please do something about it. Speak to people. There are groups out there, support groups, Sheila Kitzinger has a birth trauma line set up and the NCT also has a shared experiences hotline. I honestly do not see in life, a group of c section mums in the playground and a group of vaginal mums in the playground - no one give a shit out there, except you, honestly! If people around you do make you feel bad...change your friends, they're not good people to be around!

Don't, however, just paint a demoralising picture of a whole organisation that has forged ahead in ensuring that your partners are in the delivery room with you, that you are no longer shaved before having your baby, that you no longer have a hose pipe shoved up your rear end before having your baby, that works hard for women and their partners but that sometimes may get it a little wrong.

Speak to your NCT teacher if you feel s/he didn't cover what you wanted to know. Speak to head office if you feel you have been treated badly or unfairly. Do some research of your own if your situation has altered and you need more. Go back to your NCT teacher, they are there to help, they want to help. Don't suffer in silence and then shout the loudest about people not being there to help when you didn't ask.

Own your birth.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Peaceful sewing day

Today I have been home all day with Master Beehive. He had a temperature in the night and has had a rattly chest for a couple of days. I decided a quiet day in the warm wouldn't hurt, so he has been reading and drawing and doing "things" whilst I've tried to burn off some of my agrievances with the contents of my last post by sewing.
It's been a grey day here, still, calm but just vapid. I can't see the hills from my window as they are shrouded in a cloud, the sky and the cloud are identical so I can't see where one ends and the other begins. The brick in Edinburgh looks dreary on a grey day, but lights up so when the sun shines, it does a good job of dragging you further down when winter persists for as long as it does up here.

My inbox gets filled with spam saying things like "Get through the winter..." "Survive the dark winter evenings...",Even my coffee tastes bland this afternoon, so I decided to inject colour by getting behind the machine and making LMB and myself a few Spring items.

So, here are a few things I've recently made.
 These are my most favourite pants ever! These are my "Saskia-pants" although strictly they are called "Christ-catcher pants". The story behind the name is that they are worn by a tribe in Thailand I think who believe that Christ could be born again at anytime, of anyone. Hence they wear these in order for him not to land on his head when he is born. Of course, this tickles my humour, so from this point forth they are re-christened - "Baby-catcher pants". Rather apt don't you think? I wonder if there is a niche in the market to hire them out to fast birthers...?
 A fleecy Spring jacket for LMB. I didn't use a pattern for this, for my sins and had a bit of a mare trying to work out how to do a simple hood for it. In the end I scrapped the hood idea and went with a simpler mandarin style collar and a srap across fastening. It just needs buttonholes and a couple of wooden toggles and it'll be finished.

A camera bag in the same cord as LMB's dungarees I made the other day. I have a fantastic bag that hosts both my small lens and my telephoto, but sometimes I just want something small to grab with just the simpler lens and the Muffintop bag is too bulky. So this is a lightweight single lens bag, no pockets, no fuss, with a reinforced handle and it's padded too just for a bit of extra protection.
More of the baby blue cord - job lot ;-) My little sis has just purchased herself a sewing machine, she has decided to join the band of merry stitchers too, so I offered to make her a pretty cover. I've just appliqued a flower on and it's lined with a groovy turquoise and purple spot.

Finally, my spring skirt, very simple A line skirt that is made from panels. Zip closure at the back and then a contrasting band of material at the bottom. I've had to take a few darts in as my body is such a weird shape hips in relation to waist, but that is one of the joys of being able to make your own clothes, I can do that! I don't have to rely on being a clone size 12 or 14 depending on where I shop, I can be a lumpy, bumpy 13.5 if I so wish!

Now if this blasted weather would just do one and bring me an opportunity to wear it, I'd be a happy bunny.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tweet, tweet

I'm sure if any of you are tweeters, you've seen this week's twitter debate between Kirstie Allsopp of Relocation, Relocation fame and Belinda Phipps, the CEO of the National Childbirth Trust.

From what I have learned (it's so hard to keep up with tweets) Belinda has been defending the NCT over Kirstie's charge that the NCT don't cover Caesarean Section sufficiently and thus is being "reckless" and not giving the women correct information.

Of course, Belinda is getting her evidence from the statistics that come back on evaluation forms and Kirstie is taking hers from the tweeters that are all speaking up in outrage at the NCT. Not entirely convinced that Twitter is up to the Cochrane reviewers, however, there is obviously some division with NCT attendees.

I am so dreadfully saddened, partly that a celebrity and a well known charity have aired this in public on a site such as twitter rather than maybe taking it behind the scenes to come to some form of progressive conclusion, because, as we all know, this will always bring those with grievances out to attack, and that myself and my colleagues who work tirelessly to try to empower the women we serve are all being tarred with the same brush.

I am not saying for one second that there are probably many women out there who have suffered, possibly at lack of information in their specific NCT class or NHS class or maybe jsut through mismanagement at the hospital and yes, they need to have these issues looked at and maybe there could be a need for improvement somewhere, after all, we are reflective practitioners and personally we're always trying to improve things for our families and classes.

I am then doubly saddened that the likes of this blogger has written an open letter to Kirstie, for which I agree with the most part, except her slating of all NCT teachers  Apparently we're not covering things to sufficiently prepare women for birth - so now, not enough c-section OR enough natural stuff - WTF are we teaching then - dominoes?

We are all, supposedly, working for the same thing, to help empower women ready for their birth, whichever direction it takes. Why has this then become a vendetta to try to bring down the "noxious NCT Nazis" (a direct comment from a response to The Telegraph's article on Kirstie and Belinda's tweeting). I sure didn't go into antenatal teaching to be labelled as this!

Obviously I am taking this personally because, as an NCT teacher myself, my only aim is to teach for informed choice. I  cover C sections, but there will be some women there who don't want to know about it or will get upset because it scares them and they will be the ones to attack the NCT for being "too medical".

There are also women who don't want to know about home birth but I will bring this up too as I feel it has to be allowed as much air time as the potential 1 in 4 chance of a c-section. Actually, I wonder if the same stats would be there if more women were able to birth at home or in a birth centre, but that's another debate.

What has made me most cross though is that people seem to think that it is always the responsibility of someone else that they didn't have all the information. Surely, if you are concerned, and IF your NCT class or NHS class doesn't give you the information you require or to the extent you require, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have that information from somewhere else? Perhaps you could ask your NCT facilitator to give you more information, or provide you with some reading material. I always have material I can lend or give to my clients and I make them aware of this, but even then, not everyone asks for it. So, you can lead the horse to water, but you can't force it to drink.

Maybe part of the problem here, isn't what the NCT does or doesn't cover, but it's the fact that some women don't have time for birth, they attend intensive weekend courses because their lives are so busy that they can't dedicate the required time to learning about the possiblities that might arise, medical or natural, with their birth. This can then give an antenatal teacher as little as 12 hours in some cases to cover everything from labour through to life with a baby and beyond.That is a ridiculously short period of time in one or maybe two weekends. Within that groups there could be homebirthers, twin parents, lesbian parents, parents who are scared to death of the whole prospect, single mothers, first time mother with a partner who already has kids and has experience. I am just trying to make the point that classes are mixed beyond belief. Birth to some parents has been skewered by the media, or by friends' experiences, some women are very trusting in their bodies and believe they can birth naturally. This can be the group dynamic that we start with. Are we going to please all the people all the time? I doubt it, but we try.

With this in mind, I can only speak for myself, but am pretty sure it's universal, I get my parents to set the agenda. They are adults, the pedagogy is different to that of a child. Adult learners only learn what they need to know when they need to know it, so asking them to set the agenda will enable me to see what "bothers" them, what they may have read about and want clarifying. If c-section doesn't feature, I will cover it, but maybe not in the depth I would if it did come up.

I have been teaching families for over seven years now, have served over 30 families as a doula and I have lost count of the families I've "taught". I love what I do, I love to help these families realise that they have it in them to be powerful and strong and become great parents. I have a mix of results, sometimes in classes of 8 I'll have two c-sections, sometimes none, but this is not about ME, it's about how my parents feel at the end of it. At the end of the day, there is no badge of honour to be worn. What is important above all else is the fact that a woman is HAPPY with choices she made or if she felt she had no option as an emergency arose, that she is happy that her care providers gave her all the information to keep her in the picture, that she asked all the right questions so that she felt she truly understood. THAT is a happy birth outcome in my mind and that is what I aim for in my classes as I know many of my NCT colleagues do the same.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Taking a leaf out of Farmama's book and inventing some dungarees (or coveralls if you like!) for LMB using baby blue cord and some remnants of fat quarters (Amy Butler I think).
I didn't use a pattern, but they've turned out pretty well, very seventies, high rise trousers and then just a basic bib, that I have since adapted slightly as i felt the full on square front wasn't right. I've now taken it at an angle and I'm happy.
I just have to cover three buttons today with the fabric and then it'll be ready for her to wear.

I love the high back of the pants - they feel incredibly Twiggy!!

Oh, and this is where Meg hangs out whilst I'm sewing. She seems to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the machine. Cuddling her new squeaky duck toy too - cute!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One piece of fabric

Once upon a time, about four years ago, a lonely piece of very 70's style quilted fabric sat on the shelf in Walmart.
Nobody wanted it and it depreciated in value on a daily basis.
Each day, the Walmart worker who worked for peanuts - only, because she was allergic to them, worked for Hershey kisses instead, came along and, with her permanent marker, slashed the price of the fabric.
The fabric was so sad.
It had become a remnant...the curse of fabric everywhere!

Luckily an inexperienced seamstress and her two year old toddler, entered the store as she frequently did, to scour the fabric for remnants and bargains to use for her practice.
She came across the sad little piece of material and grabbed it with both hands. For just $2 there was over 1.5 metres, to think what she could do with it! She had visions of Clothkit-esque padded jackets and bags galore!

However, the material sat unloved and unused in a dark box under the stairs, despite illusions of grandeur of becoming a jacket for the toddler to wear. The seamstress had moved onto other projects and the fabric was cast aside.

One day, the seamstress opened her fabric box...which is the size of Dracula's coffin ("and the rest!" - added the husbeast!) and was already bulging at the seams. She was in a desperate, last bid attempt to downsize, rid herself of the stuff never used and reduce the contents of this box.

She came upon the piece of pink fabric once again and called her, now six year old, daughter down to discuss it's use.

"Socks?" suggested the six year old. The mother realised she had a long way to go teaching her daughter the weaves of fabrics and their uses, or more importantly, their non-uses.

"A jacket?" the mother tenatatively suggested again.

"For my doll?" replied the girl

"Well, I was thinking...oh well wouldn't wear it would you?"

The teenager in the corner, laughed at the prospect of the six year old wearing the garish material and agreed that the jacket was now lost in the blackhole of time.

"A hat?" suggested the boy

"Really?" asked the mother breaking out is a smallish sweat at the thought of putting her still relatively tender skills to millinery purposes.

"Ewww - no!" shrieked the girl, horror abound at the prospect of putting it anywhere on her body that might actually be on show!

"What about a bag?" suggested the mother? "I could make you a bag to carry on your back so you can take your books to school and to Grandma-ma's" (Yeah, okay, so I didn't say Grandma-ma because that would just be was blogger's  license!)

"Oooh, yes, a bag" said the girl - who likes bags for they are good to magpie things that don't belong to oneself!

This was met with protest by the boy who forsaw the opportunity for squirreling to increase before his eyes and could not believe his mother would condone the crimes of his sister and encourage her further by making her larger swag bags!

Thus it was agreed:

The mother made a bag:

And then she made a gift for her sewing machine to hide it from the dust bunnies.

But still there remained around half a metre. So the mother wondered if the toaster needed a cover, but decided that although the material was nicely kitsch, she didn't need to turn her whole house into something from the seventies. So she went back to the drawing board to decide what to do with the rest.


Here's the rest - turned into a yarn storage bag/sack to replace my much loved bag that the mice got!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Changing needs.

How do needs change as our children grow?

A question arose recently on a forum I frequent asking the order of priorities in our days at home with our kids.

It lead me to think a bit about how my priorities have changed from when the children were really young, but how I'd like to think that my parenting is still largely dictated by me responding to their various needs.

When they were small, the priorities were that they were with me, close, warm, nutritiously fed, played with or given company and my household chores were toward the bottom of my list. My ironing would pile up (still does on occasions) and my housework was quite neglected.

I suppose in many respects the first few priorities are still the first, but my housework and cooking has moved up to take more of a leading role. My crafting has become more vociferous and I even read books again and have time to study (well, I can make time!)

To be honest, I've never actually "played" with my  children.

Okay, that sounds bad, I mean, I've never gone on the same adventures they have with their action figures or cars or lego.


Because I would rather observe. I don't think they need me with my big cumbersome imagination, I will stifle them and also, now, they have each other.
My eldest would spend hours as a toddler lining up his cars and making imaginary towns out of blocks. Today at nearly 11 he spends hours with a fine pen and some felt tips recreating similar places and the intricacy is quite something. My youngest will spend hours dressing her dolls or playing with her siblings and my middley just loves his airfix, lego, kicking a ball around in the garden or copying his older brother.

Of course, we play board games, we play football, we go on bike rides or swim or go to visit museums together. We have a family reader. I teach them to knit and cook (Master Beehive the younger has just made turkish meatballs with pita breads for tea) but, I am strongly of the Montessori opinion that play of the imaginative variety needs to be theirs and they will also gain joy in watching me work and thus choosing "chores" - such as crafting, reading, drawing, cooking and even cleaning to entertain them.

I also feel strongly now they are older, that we live in a home together and to make it thus, we all need to contribute. Mr Beehive contributes by going to work and providing a roof over our heads and food in our bellies and we, collaboratively contribute by making the home clean and warm, putting the food on the table, ensuring the pets are looked after. This is something I have always instilled in them by providing a home for everything and also we run the mantra "The big kids look after the little kids, the little kids look after the littler kids and mama looks over us all."

So I have a family chore sheet whereupon everyone has basic tasks to complete, if nothing else, they are there to ensure they look after themselves. So they each have to make their beds, open their curtains, pick up their towels, keep their rooms tidy, but then on top of that we have extra jobs that they do such as laying the table for meals, emptying the dishwasher etc.

I think it's all horses for courses and when you prioritise it will only be the way it works for you. I know that come September, my priorities will have to alter slightly for three years. I may not be able to handcook everything I put in front of them, I may not be able to play board games or read to them every night, but ultimately my priorities will still remain that I am there to answer their needs and, if I were tested for that...they would come first without a doubt.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Home is where the chickens are and the tenant isn't!

For my girls' home!

Not much to say today, other than the tenant has gone. Our house is finally our own again. We are two months rent out of pocket - again (we do know how to pick 'em) but we have our home back, the keys returned and I'm excited.
I was so excited that this afternoon I allowed my enthusiasm to run away with me and paid my deposit for this:

It is part of a package deal including the house and run, food, grit, oyster shell, a rat trap, a book and, best of all...5, yes FIVE chickens.  My brood has now increased by two! I got all this from Tom at Jessie's Hens . Tom very bravely took on me, Emma and my bairns along with a pen of around 100 chooks last summer (if you remember it was the week after returning from Africa without a suntan and then burning in a fen field after about 2 hours *sigh), to aim to teach us a basic course in chickwifery and henmanship - or really that should be hen-womanship! He has a massive range of houses, chickens and  along with his continuing after sales support, makes me feel incredibly secure that I won't mess up too much if I stick with him! Thanks Tom!

Of course, I still have to make the large enclosure that I'm blatantly stealing from Em's design
Oh, and of course...move in!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chickens and midwives but not in that order!

The day is drawing closer and it couldn't come fast enough in my opinion.

Today, Sunday, I had a list of things to do that needed doing, but as it's half term this week I don't feel so bad that I've put them on a back burner to write my blog - after all, that needs doing too ;-)

We've only got 8 weeks left in Edinburgh now and so finally we're starting to do pre-move panic! Okay, we're not exactly panicking but instead rather than me making lists and Mr Beehive doing his usual "Churchill" impression, he's actually starting to take notice and is currently beavering away at trying to find a flat and booking flights up and down from now until August!

I, on the other hand am sitting here flitting from screen to screen twixt a campaign I'm involved in and chicken coops and runs.

The chicken house seems to be the thing that has taken a priority at the moment, I have no idea why and I go between a large house and long run to a smaller house and a build my own run. I think I will go for the latter and then we'll allow them to free range too. However, like all things that have become "fashionable", there are now so many companies all selling similar products at varying prices with conflicting reviews and for my poor addled brain all this choice is proving too much. I think I need some help from any of you chicken owners out there. Post me your coop so I can see it please and let me know the pros and cons. Thanks.

The campaign on the otherhand is a little less conflicting. Basically the campaign is against a recent decision by the government to cut back on midwifery places at university. HERE

It seems simple enough, we're in the middle of a recession, we need to make cuts, let's cut back on training.
Well, that's all well and good apart from several things:
  • David Cameron originally pledged 3000 more midwifery jobs for an already overworked, understaffed NHS service.HERE and then HERE and HERE
  • Births in the UK will break the 800,000 mark this year. A down-scaled maternity service is ill prepared to cope. Midwifery staff moral plummets, litigation rockets but midwifery training places have been cut by 3.6%.
  • Of the number of students that get places each year, many will be lost to the lure of attractive packages in Canada, NZ and Australia or may even give up for numerous reasons.
  • There are birthing centres being closed all over the place due to shorfalls in the amount of staff available to work there and this will also have an effect on home births as midwives will be needed in the hospitals. Some birth centres are doing their best to reopen such as High Wycombe, but as fast as one re opens, another struggles and shuts.
  • Closing birthing centres has a knock on effect on birth outcomes for low risk women who will be forced to birth in high tech hospitals. It is a known fact that being in a hospital environment increases the risk that a woman will have a more medicalised birth. HERE and  HERE  
  • There is a higher risk of maternal and infant mortality if midwives are overworked and over stretched. Many midwives already work 12 hour shifts and often look after 2 or 3 women at a time.
 It's a really frightening reality. As someone who has worked in the USA where midwives are not utilised sufficiently and the majority of birth is managed by obstetricians in hospitals, I am only too aware of the costs that a c-section affords the recipient, the price of an epidural or forceps delivery. I am also very aware of the high maternal mortality rate in the US, often caused by complications and this is a country with high levels of medical intervention and a team of doctors running the show.

With an understaffed team, complications run the risk of going unobserved.
With more births in hospitals under the auspices of a doctor there are likely to be more c sections, and more c sections runs higher risk of post surgical complications.

No one in this campaign is saying that birth should be kept out of the hospital, no one is saying that there shouldn't be a judicious use of instruments for helping difficult deliveries, no one is saying that c sections are bad things.

We are saying that in order to keep birth normal, low risk births need to be with midwives, women need to choice to birth outside of a hospital environment if they choose, midwives should be able to offer continuous care.

Ultimately, in order to maintain a free National Health Service, it is about keeping cost low I'd have thought? If you can give a low risk woman an easy, cheaper safe birth at home or in hospital with a midwife, surely that's a tick in the "cost effectiveness" box? If I were David Cameron, that would be what I'd want to see on my spreadsheet thank you very much!

So please, if you are a midwife, doula, childbirth educator, have had a baby, are having a baby, will have a baby someday, have grandbabies, will have grandbabies or just think it's the right thing... show your support and follow this on Twitter  or Facebook

As Gandhi said and I quote over and over again;

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

Monday, February 07, 2011


Tonight I am a very proud mama. I have all but forgotten my wrath of yesterday and my "darling daughter's curious nature" God damn it! destructive little oik, whom I love dearly and has been a sweet as pie today - "mmmm, mummy, your vegetable chilli is the BEST!"

Tonight my eldest son found out he passed his entrance test and has been offered a place at the secondary school we wanted him to attend. He's as pleased as punch and I'm silently relieved that September now looks to be "hitch-less". Until today we had a rather large clound hanging over us that he might not get in, the other school had refused our application as we weren't actually living in. the. house. right now so we would only be on a long waiting list and I was thinking that I may have been home edding again and having to reapply to do midwifery in the future sometime. Big selfish sigh of relief.

Luckily the fug has lifted, bless his soul that he did so well and I didn't manage to crush him entirely under my selfish stress - poor lad!

Of course, now we have to pay for this and the uniform....agggghhh, the uniform. Luckily there appears to be a second hand shop, so I'm hoping we might be able to get some of it from there because 70 quid for a blazer and 30 for just one sweatshirt, that might last him a year is making me re think my career choice entirely! I'm wondering escort agency or stock exchange? Although I do see gaping flaws in both plans, namely the un-timely departure south of any areas that might be worth being escorted and together at that, and a less than willing desire to work with anything remotely resembling a number, not least whilst jumping up and down with my southward anatomy in a sweaty room full of yelling people. So...back to plan A.

Before finding the price list for his uniform, I did discover this blog and was starting to compile a wish/dream/slobber list for my birthday next month. I dearly want a chalkboard wall. I thought it would be an awesome way to stay in touch/communicate over the next few years with the increasing comings and goings of pre-teens/teens, life on shift, life travelling and life on our "mock-farm" with who, what and when needs feeding and was debating paint over buying a chalkboard and mounting it on the wall.

I'd also asked for a greengage tree for the garden.

I wonder if I could change my order to a blazer and pair of football boots for an 11 year old boy and a year's supply of baked beans and pot noodles please?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Stop. Rewind!

What is small, blonde, deathly quiet and sinister?

No, it's not a joke.

Normally LMB is really good at entertaining herself, or playing with one or other brother, so usually, when it's quiet in the house, usually, she's playing happily.

Look! How could she not be sweet?
She will dress her dolls, read, colour, play games. I know it's sickly sweet, but she's usually quite a delight. However, her one less endearing trait is that she does have a tendency for magnetism. She's known as "The Magpie" at times, for filling her bags with things that she's "borrowed" from around the house for her latest game. She loves "pretty, little things" and also not so pretty little things, in fact, she tends to love anything that didn't start life as "hers".

Most of the times I don't mind much, but this afternoon she seems to have done as much damage as a the iceberg did to the Titanic!
Not possible, with an expression this cute!

Let's start at the top of the house, she's obviously played in a box, that we obviously used at some point for the pigs and there is now straw and hay and bits of woodshaving all around the spare room. But, it hasn't stopped there, exhausted from her game of "box" she's climbed into the bed for a little lie down, so piggie bedding has followed her from floor to clean sheets.

From there she's discovered the delights of stamp hinges (her brother's). She has always been a bit partial to the odd post it note or two and when she was around three, spent a fun afternoon sticking postage stamps all over her body. It can be seen a sweet when she sometimes leaves me cute little messages on a post it. Stamp hinges are transparent on the other hand, sticky and bloody small. They stick to most things they touch too, so often you won't find them until you think you've got serious callouses on your feet.
Mama! They're only ditty stamp hinges...

Then there was the beautiful roll of gingham ribbon that I bought for my crafting. I suppose, if I chose to look on the bright side, we have similar taste as she thinks it's beautiful too and helped herself to a couple of yards, "snip, snip". I now have a remnant of pink gingham pathetically hanging off the cardboard roll  and two grubby, crumpled yards of something that looks like it may have been a cat's innard at somepoint.
I like pink, pink is pretty, ribbon is pretty...your problem is?

But does she stop there? No, she really is like El NiƱo, in fact, very apptly named I must add!

Her top trump is to try to dye her carpet red (it's normally cream...and we live in a rented house...and I was staying off the wine tonight...) with some make up that she found on the top shelf of her wardrobe (yes, we're talking 6ft off the floor) and is reserved for when she has had to do her ballet show each year and I have had to put cruddy slap on a four and five year old.
Mmmm, you can see the criminal number now!

If I wasn't so tired this evening, I really would like to rewind the day and begin it all again, perhaps I'll just make do with that self medicating glass of wine, an early night and the chance to let her teacher enjoy her company tomorrow *sigh*.

Ooops....sorry...guilty as charged!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Hats solve everything!

After the no-spend January, it would appear that February is here to bite me on the butt. In just two days I've managed to get myself a parking ticket for not seeing the very faded sign saying the bay wasn't for cars when it was blowing a rainy gale yesterday and my wipers were on double speed. I was desperate to find somewhere to park so Master Beehive the younger could get to his badminton lesson without getting totally soaked and I'd put three quid in the feckin' meter too, so grrrr...

Then both LMB and Master Beehive the younger need new school shoes as they have holes in their current ones - this is proving more expensive as MB the younger has flat arches so needs shoes now that we can put orthopaedic prosthetics in. 

At home my slow cooker has given up the ghost. The lid has already been mended once, but now the dial that operates the darn thing has died. 

Ho hum, that was the third thing at least!

Still, it's Saturday today. Master Beehive the elder is in London with Mr Beehive at the British Museum as Master Beehive the elder wanted to see the "Book of the Dead" Egyptian exhibition. I've done the soccer mom bit, done the new shoe buying bit, changed the sheets on the bed. 

Imagine how delighted I was to arrive home to find this fantastic hat in the mail from Emma!

There is a silver lining when friends remember you and manage to cheer up your day with something beautiful and handmade like this. I love it Em, thanks. 

Then some doula friends have invited me out for pizza this evening, some birth junkie chat over a veggi pizza seems just what the doctor ordered . Right now, my solace is a Saturday afternoon cuppa with a slice of left over panetone from Christmas and a silly kids' movie!


I am making the choice to stuff the expense and enjoy this weekend - my first in a while, free from work!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

What did you really do today?

Have you ever seen Sliding Doors?
It's where Gwyneth Paltrow's character has to make a choice which determines which way her life leads.
Erin over at Bluebirdbaby has a challenge for the year. It's a challenge about making choices.
We all make choices, daily, but how many of us make choices that we think will please others, or make choices with our eyes half closed rather than truly open? How many of us make choices but wonder if it was the right choice, if there might be a sign to show us?

Life is full of choice. Do I blog today, or not? Do I take this doula client on, or not? Do I have a glass of wine this evening?
 I teach my clients to ask about all the choices otherwise they can't possibly make and informed decision.

I sometimes wonder whether we are guided into the choices we make too. Maybe there is a pre-chosen path that we are all meant to take and if we choose to take another route, maybe, what if, we hit brick walls until we rejoin the path we are meant to be on?

I think about this a lot at the moment as I'm making this new career choice and seemingly starting on the path over again. But then, am I? Was I meant to end up here? Was I meant to meet my husband, have our babies, move to Belgium and get involved witht the Brussels childbirth trust and train to teach for the NCT - was I meant to go to the USA to learn about being a doula and ultimately find the thing that makes me tick? Was the fact that we had our three children and then couldn't manage to get pregnant with our fourth a pre-conditioned destination that I'd end up with a place at university for midwifery?

What if we'd taken the Japan job instead of choosing the USA?
What if I'd chosen to continue on the Montessori training programme?
What if we'd chosen to buy the house in Sawtry instead of choosing to pull out?

As I blogged the other day, I was deliberating over my choice to continue with my OU module. Ultimately, it is my choice and I just need to be happy in whichever decision I choose. The fact I got 80% today for a TMA may also influence my choice...however, maybe that's the destiny part, pushing me in the direction, on the path I'm meant to be treading?

Anyway, I'm going to choose not to waffle and be a bit more conscious about finding the "half full" choices out of any situation.

Right now I'm still working out what choices are available to us when we buy our groceries in order to reduce our garbage ;-) Still just the one bag this week, but I have to confess it seemed fuller than last week and I still have a growing bag of plastic trays that no one seems to want.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Funny old week

It's been a bit of a funny old week emotionally this week. Highs being very high and lows being quite down there under the carpet.

It began on Monday when I nearly knocked off a cyclist. Perhaps I can be forgiven for telling you that this cyclist was cycling in the dark, with no lights at all and as I was waiting and signalling to turn right, she shot round the right hand side of me. How I missed her can only be down to a higher force at work that night.
It made me think hard about cyclists on the roads here in Edinburgh and probably all over the UK, in fact, it did even inspire me to work on a blog post after I'd calmed down, entitled Viscious Cycle (yeah...Joey cool eh?!) but I've decided to scrap it as I was still fuming and just try to rationally re-blog what I said.

When I was a kid, I'd cycle everywhere. Admittedly we did live in Hicksville, but station wagons and tractors aside, the world was so much more open to me once I got on two wheels. I'd love for my kids to have that freedom and we have taught them to ride their bikes, but I couldn't allow them to just take off here like I used to do.

I'm not a helicopter parent but the thought of them out on the Edinburgh roads causes a complete melt down inside me, I am sure there are many of you out there who will tell me otherwise, but I just stick my fingers in my ears and then I can't hear you!

I think it stems partly from a huge increase in the amount of traffic we have on our roads, the fact cars are bigger too - my current car is far wider than the mini metro my mum used to have and waaaay longer. I think that it really is a circle that results from more traffic, less bikes, then when people do cycle, car drivers have far more awareness of this or tolerance, this is then making the cyclists more aggressive...although, the fact that cycling proficiency seems to have hit the "cuts" bin in the council offices too and are offered in less and less schools. Cyclists in Edinburgh weave in and out of the traffic with little regard for the highway code. No understanding of the fact that they are not entitled to swing out right to pass traffic at the lights and then undercut. No regard for hand signals or lights. It's actually quite terrifying. I have also cycled here in Edinburgh and I find it terrifying from the cyclists point of view too. Drivers don't slow down, they don't give me room when they pass me and cycle lanes are parked in or buses use them too, which is equally scary.
I'm not sure where I'm heading with this. Both parties are to blame. Maybe we should be putting proper cycle paths in more cities that allow cyclists to go safely to and from their destinations?


So, the ups;

I attended a birth this week and managed to successfully identify an OP baby just from observing the mother and "feeling" her contractions with her. It's funny how happy this has made me. It's made me realise that I can do this and there is so much to be learned from observing the mother.
Her waters broke at around midnight and she started to have gentle contractions from around 2am. She did, however, note that her waters seemed to have stopped leaking. I arrived around 6.30am and she'd not had much more leakage, but contractions had picked up. They were low in her abdomen and she was finding comfort lying over the ball.
After a while her contractions seemed to intensify and double peak. I did wonder in my head, if she was experiencing some coupling, which is a sign that a baby could be posterior.
The pains had been intense and quite close together too. After a while she had a rest...slowing of contractions, again, some train of thought that baby might have been posterior, so we concentrated on an all fours position and lots of rocking back and forth.
One contraction caused her to cry out a little about the baby's movement being really strong and I wondered if we'd managed to turn it.
As she sat up, she began leaking quite a lot of water again, also evidence that it may have been the hind waters that had gone caused by the position of the baby.
At hospital an internal exam revealed a slight swelling on the baby's head, these oedemas are sometimes caused by the baby trying to turn against the cervix and back to back labours taking longer to do this.
The midwife confirmed our theory that the baby may well have been posterior but had now turned. Small things, but what a high that I had diagnosed it, acted on it and it had successfully altered the baby's position. Of course, as no one really "gets it" and my poor other half and mother just have to nod and make the right noises, where else to share it than out there into the silent wide world, to all you wonderful listeners who don't have to make any audible noise, or nod your heads, but I know you understand ;-) It reassures me that I can do this job, it is the right choice for me, I will be able to symbiotically merge holism and elements of technocracy to be a good midwife, the best I can.

Oh, and post script:
I asked her if I could take a guess at the sex - thinking my odds were pretty even ;-) Apparently according to the mum, everyone was thinking it was a boy, but, I felt girl, nothing to do with position, her bump shape, heart rate etc blah blah, just something secret about the mama...

8lb3oz baby girl born on 1/2/11 - If I don't make midwife, I understand there is an opening in a local coven!!