Monday 8 October 2012

Talking About Termination of Pregnancy

I feel a little uncomfortable writing this. However it was a tweet that inspired this post, which I can't find now that said basically that the electorate has a right to have their voices heard. So I have a voice, and some opinions and my blog, so here goes.

I don't like abortion. However, I have seen societies were termination of pregnancy is illegal and I really don't like that either. If we outlawed abortion it would happen still, but putting women in extreme danger. Now you can, unbelievably, buy abortion tablets on the internet. Disreuptable illegal clinics would sprout up. Women would flee to other countries.  No I believe in medical termination of pregnancy in safe enviroments with counselling and support.

However, I believe strongly that something is going wrong in terms of the amount of unwanted pregnancy and all this talk of lowering limits is shutting the stable gate. Lets catch the horse first. 

As I was considering what to write I found this fabulous blog post by Dilly Tante, my new favourite blogger (is it wrong to idolise a favicon - so pretty) where she talks about Jeremy Hunt and his desire to see the limit for termination of pregnancy reduced to 12 weeks.

What annoys me is this, what are we actually doing to prevent the rate of unwanted pregnancies in the first place? Where is the debate about what is going wrong?And where are the Tory voices in this? We have more contraception choices than ever before, more means of communicating those choices, yet still the abortion rate continues to be high. We have sex education in schools. I don't know why the unwanted pregnancy rate is high, and I'd love to hear more debate about this and to understand it.

We also have increasing sexualisation of, well, just about everything. Seeing the world through my son's eyes, whilst oftentimes is delightful, is also downright scary.I see what he is exposed to on a daily basis and I worry. I was in my 20s and married before I lost my virginity. I worry about what age Joseph will be when he loses his own.

To me, the talk of lowering the gestational age of termination of pregnancy to 12 weeks is somewhat ridiculous, and that change inadvertantly may cause the rate of terminations to go up not down, as women feel under immense pressure to have the appointment booked by 12 weeks .Chloe talks about this on her post, also written this weekend, from a very personal viewpoint.  Also Jeremy Hunt is not giving the NHS any credit, for their target is to have most terminations done by 10 weeks. The vast amount of terminations are done before the 12 week mark anyway.

I totally agree with Dilly Tante, that Jeremy Hunt's comments are to make Dorries' suggestion of lowering the gestational age from 24 weeks to 20 weeks more appealing. But what really saddens me is that no one seems to be talking about what we can do to reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies in the first place. 

Currently the legal limit stands at 24 weeks, and for a lot of us, this seems very high. Many of my readers have had babies at 24 weeks gestation, or indeed younger, and I know that when these debates surface it is upsetting, as there are vehement arguments on both sides. The simple fact is, despite the statistics that might elude otherwise, babies are born at 22-24 weeks, and do survive, albeit with a lot of medical help and support, but they do survive and thrive.

I do think there is a case for lowering the limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. I do appreciate that no one enters into a late term termination lightly, however there is already provision for termination beyond 24 weeks in extenuating and compelling circumstances. Unless the Tories are considering changing this as well (and I've seen no mention of it in the press) then there is still a safety measure in place.

What I think we need overall is dialogue. Termination of pregnancy happens, for lots of reasons. I think as a community and as an electorate we need to unpick those reasons and work on them, help women manage their fertility in a way that suits them, but we need that safety net in place too.  We need to talk about termination of pregnancy, and we need to do it now.

Sunday 7 October 2012

ONE Mum Meme

My friend Michelle from Mummy from the Heart has just arrived in Ethopia. She is there with ONE to gather the living proof that international aid is truly making a difference in Ethiopia. I am excited about Michelle's trip with ONE because it is so easy for us in the UK to wonder if what we do truly makes a difference. I am excited to see what she finds.

ONE is different. We are not asking for money. ONE is a grassroots campaigning organisation, that seeks to hold governments accountable for their decisions in regard to aid. ONE is all about voices, using our voice to effect change. By showing that aid is working then this should mean more adherence by governments to the commitments they make. It's easy in a conference to say "yes we will help", but organisations like ONE, to coin a very Australia turn of phrase, are there to "*keep the bastards honest." 

When she tagged me in the ONE Mum meme I was delighted. I saw it over at Claire's blog Seasider in the City during the week, and it was on my to do list, so tagging has given me an extra incentive to get it done!

So Claire has asked us using the ONE Mums slogan to build a little picture of our thoughts on being a mum.

Olympian - being a mum is an Olympian task, huge resposibility requiring a multitude of skills
Neonatal - my experience of a mum, like it or not began in neonatal and that still colours a lot what being a mum is all about, for me.
Energy - to me being a mum is all about positive energy, and using that for good. And parenting a three year old takes a lot of it.
Memories - being a mum means creating memories, and taking time to reflect on those, and use them to build for the future
Universal - so much of being a mum unites us, wherever we are and whatever we do
Magical - from seeing my son grow from a 1lb 7oz tiny little baby to a gigantic 3 year old, seeing him say his first words, take his first steps, it's really magical
Sensational - being a mum is just fabulous. I never expected to be a mum, and its been an amazing journey.

I am cheating just a little, and am tagging the members of my Facebook group in this meme!

* In Australia the word bastard isn't seen in the same light as the UK, and this is a common term of phrase, which I have to admit I quite like. I do apologise if it offends. Try hearing it in an Aussie accent and its not so bad honest!

Friday 5 October 2012

My Friday Round Up

One of the things I really missed about not having my computer was missing out on reading my favourite blog posts. I find reading on the phone very hard, and whilst I had a quick glimpse, I couldn't read and comment as usual.

On Facebook I have started a group for parent bloggers who blog about neonatal care, baby loss and prematurity. It's become a lovely close knit group. If you blog in this area and would like to join you can find it here.

This post from K at Mummy Pinkwellies is just gorgeous. Littlebit has just celebrated her second birthday and has come a long way in that time. She's just adorable, and I think you will agree this picture of her is very special. The anxiety that comes with having a tiny baby is so hard to appreciate at times, but these two pictures say it all.

Mouse at Nearly Everything But the Kitchen Sink has done some cracking posts this week, so it was hard to choose, but I decided on the post about parks in Newcastle , because I have never been there, and all I know about Newcastle is the Angel of the North and the bridge. I really love the photography, you really get a feel for the place, and I can't wait to visit one day.

Next is the very lovely Leanna and her post over at Diary of a Premmy Mum about her amazing night in London at the MAD Blog Awards. I was so thrilled when Leanna was announced as a finalist. I found that last year that being a nominee really spurred me on with blogging and I hope Leanna has found the same.

I will be blogging a lot more, and asking Kerry from And Then All I Thought About Was You to come and join us, as its Baby Loss Awareness Month. This post highlights that the pain of losing a baby doesn't go away, and mothers like Kerry need to know that we still care and are still here to listen.

I discovered Mommy Beadzoid on Britmums many moons ago, and was excited to find another premmy mum, with a child of similar age to Joseph born at the same gestation. I really love this post about her daughter smacking, as we are going through a similar stage with Joseph, and dealing with it is really difficult. Sadly, we seem to be coming to the same conclusion that there are no easy answers, or quick solutions.

I hope you enjoy this round up of posts. I will chose some more blogs next week. And please, feel free to join our Facebook group.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Things I Have Discovered Since My Computer Died

My computer died about 3 weeks ago now, and my replacement arrived yesterday. I was in no hurry to sort it and I waited until Joseph was asleep to set it up this evening. Here is what I have learned.

1. That I spend way too much time on line. Yes, no brainer really, but my real life was suffering and I didn't realise. Since my computer has been broken I have spent quality time with humans. And I've enjoyed it.

2. To cable knit! This is the person who was scared of increasing and decreasing, and I am knitting a lovely snood/shawl/scarf

3. That my cheap awful tablet isn't so bad after all. I was really disappointed that it only had a limited App store, that I hardly ever used it! Sadly it has now been lost to a 3 foot high person.......who optimistically refers to it as the iPad!

4. I enjoy reading. I read books. Nothing deep (and not that 50 shades of whatever either) but just read for fun.

5. I love the library. I used the local one, which happily is adjacent to preschool. We also have a lovely library in Ramsbottom. Through the library I had free internet access so I could still keep in touch.

6. The internet has been making me poorly. Well that's a slight exaggeration but I have noticed since having limited internet access my IBS has been a lot better. So here is my main lesson.

7. I must learn to manage my time better, and make lots of time for real life. Blogging and social media are fabulous, don't get me wrong, but there are lots of other things in my life too, that make me happy.

8. I love my blog. I am looking forward to blogging regularly again, but I have learnt my lesson. Blogging every day is NOT necessary. Tweeting incessantly, G+ing, Facebooking etc is not necessary either. I have loyal readers, good google hits, so need to relax, enjoy and not put so much pressure on myself!

9. That I am never going to have real life coffee and cake friends unless I leave my PC and get out there! I am delighted to have met a lovely friend at the library (hello Ellie if you are reading this) and making more friends at Joseph's school.

Feel free to remind me of these lessons!

Friday 28 September 2012

Ten Tips to Surviving Medical Appointments

Having a premature baby often means having quite a lot of appointments. I used my little group of parents on Facebook for help too, and here are my top tips.

  1. Ask about choose and book for new appointments. For our recent referral to a consultant we used choose and book. I was able to choose the time, date and location which I found really helpful.
  2. Know what the appointment is for. Sometimes other specialists will make referrals to other professionals, so its useful to have this clarified if you receive a letter on your doorstep you weren't expecting.
  3. Make a note of any questions or concerns that you have. It's ok to write these down and pass them over to the consultant. It can be helpful to ask other people involved with your child if they have anything they think needs raising,
  4. Arrive with some time up your sleeve but not too much. I made the mistake of arriving at Monday's appointment 20 minutes early and the consultant was half an hour late.
  5. For older children role play can be useful. Joseph loves playing doctors so I got him to pretend he was examining my hips and feet. Make the trip as fun as possible. We took a taxi, a tram and a bus to the hospital, and played games on the way.
  6. Take distractions. A lot of the parents who responded on my Facebook question use iPads, we don't have one. For this appointment I just had "mucky" the comfort blanket, and some books. At the Children's hospital they have an amazingly well equipped room.
  7. Bring snacks. Some mums bring chocolate buttons etc. For long appointments I tend to bring a little packed lunch. For this one I used Macdonalds as a bribe (bad parenting there but I don't care!)
  8. A great tip from one of my expert parents is that for very involved appointments ask for a play therapist to come in and keep the child busy whilst you ask questions.
  9. Bring some children's magazines, they often have toys and stickers and can provide good, inexpensive distraction. I tend to keep all ours and reuse them for craft projects too.
  10. It's absolutely fine to ask for clarification, for information to be written down, and for second opinions. Medical appointments can be daunting, and a good consultant will be able to address your concerns and put your mind at ease.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Astute Mum? Me?

On Monday I took Joseph for his long awaited appointment at Manchester Children's Hospital to see a consultant about his walking.

Unlike many of his other appointments, I wasn't nervous. I think now Joseph is 3 I am far too busy managing him to have much time to mither about appointments. A little tiny part of me was a little concerned that perhaps something had been missed with his hips, but not too worried.

I love Manchester Children's Hospital. It's shiny and new, which helps, but its very laid out, and the waiting room for outpatients has lots of toys, and even volunteer playworkers. It's a fantastic place. I suspect my creepy child does have some sort of memory of being there, as he looked upstairs and said "please don't make me go up there again". Joseph had hernia surgery here when he was 7 months old....

We saw a really lovely consultant, who spent a lot of time talking to me, and watching Joseph. The first thing she did when we entered the room was obtain another box of toys, as she quickly realised that Joseph was a very busy little chap who needs a lot of stimulation. She started by asking lots of questions. She asked if I had any problems with his expressive language, to which I replied "he's a little too expressive at times - which she was soon to find out!

He wasn't that impressed with being examined, which helped show off his sentence structure "I can't take my shoes and socks off, its raining, and I want to go and have something to eat instead". The doctor was very impressed!

She managed to have a quick look, and thankfully, as expected, Joseph does not have any spooky hip dysplasia, which I have to admit crossed my mind briefly. He is very hypermobile, and can quite easily suck his toes, which he never did as a baby but certainly does now (ewww I know where those toes have been....)

I explained that Joseph had never really had interventions, that I've just let him develop at his own speed, with the occasional physio visit and orthotic visit just to make sure he is on the right track. The consultant asked what clinical experience I had or whether I was just an expert premmie mum!

She said that my decisions had been very astute, and she was very pleased with his progress. She said unless he was falling and hitting himself, losing teeth, bruising, bleeding she would be more than happy just to let him continue on.

I felt enormous relief. I guess any parent, whether you baby is premmie or term, has no idea what is right or wrong, and just makes it up as they go along.

When you are a member of the international premmie community and hear tales of early intervention, regular physiotherapy, occupational therapy involvement, you wonder whether the "hands off and leave em to it" approach is the right one.

Joseph was very pleased to get to the end of his appointment, and most excited to run through the puddles to "the cafe".

I am so proud of my little boy, he's a star!

Wednesday 19 September 2012


Not me, my computer. It has suffered a toddler related accident and is off to hospital.

However, it is clear that Social Media (darling) and blogging have loomed too large in my days, and I have taken it as a sign that I need to get my house in order, figuratively and literally.

I am currently working on my diploma in Health and Social Care and fear I am falling behind due to life, as well as the blog, so I am going to try having a break from blogging for a bit.  My long term plan is to write a book and have a website, that contains all this information in an easy to read format rather than searching through posts. For now I am stepping away for a bit. I still very much want to be involved with Bliss, Tommy's and Sparks, but maybe using other social media more, with the blog just in the background, but we'll see.

The IBS I was diagnosed with over summer is getting harder to control and I know its because I am putting myself under too much stress to be all things to all people, and I can't keep doing that.

I am also suffering from PTSD more than I like to admit. I am dwelling more on what happened, and the ramifications, and am finding the blogger baby boom very difficult to manage personally. I am thrilled and delighted for my blogging friends and don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but for me sometimes, its really hard. (and I am crying in the library - not cool)

I feel I need some time to reassess what I'm doing and get a better balance. I want more time to glue, playdough, paint, make mud pies, collect autumn leaves, make stick dinosaurs, sew, knit.....

So we will see what happens in the coming weeks. I'll still be around with limited access either at my local library where I am now, or on my phone, and can still be reached on Twitter and Facebook from time to time.