Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Sex Education Conservative Style

Now, I know it's going to be a while before I have to worry about teaching Jess about the birds and the bees but given that I'm a sexual health and contraception nurse this is a topic close to my heart.

The teaching of sexual health and contraception in schools has long been a contentious topic. To my mind it's perfectly obvious that young people need to be aware of the risks of having sex and be in complete possession of the knowledge of how to go about things safely before they get down and dirty, apparently there are some (unfortunately some in our present government) who disagree with me.

I have come across an article in the Guardian about Nadine Dorries who seems to think that teaching abstinence to girls between the ages of 13 and 16 is the way forward. This is her blog and it seems that she's very pleased with herself as the House of Parliament has voted to allow her to have her bill read.

To give her her due, she doesn't just want abstinence taught on its own but wants it taught alongside sex education. And in theory I don't disagree with that idea. Part of sex education should be the legal aspect, the psychological and emotional aspect and the fact that you can and should say "no" if you don't want to do it and this should be listened to.

But why the blue rubbery fuck should this only be taught to girls? And only those above the age of 13? If you only teach this to girls it puts all the emphasis on them to control the situation and pops us in a time machine back to the 50s where boys are all ravening mindless beasts intent on getting their end away and girls are frigid if they say no and sluts if they say yes. This is not empowering young women but quite the opposite.
Check Spelling
Surely it'd be better to try to include in sex education lessons the importance of having respect for each other and if one partner isn't ready then you don't do it but if you are both ready then go ahead but do it safely. We do live in a highly sexualised society, it's everywhere and there is no putting the cat back in the bag. People like Nadine need to understand that and move with the times or we are letting another generation of young people down.

Daft bloody cow, but unfortunately not at all surprising given this government.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Cloth Nappy Rant

It's been a while again, it's amazing how working actually takes up so much time.... I may need to think about having the occasional rant on here and lots of short bits about what we're up to!

Anyway, today's rant is about nappies but it's not my rant! It's probably a rant about a rant

I recently had this article in the Torygraph drawn to my attention. Jojo Moyes seems to have a bit of an issue with cloth nappy users. She seems of the opinion that all cloth nappy users are middle class pseudo hippy hand wringers trying to assuage some of their guilt at their lifestyles by slaving over a hot nappy bucket.

I will hold my hands up; I am middle class, I am a bit of a hippy and therefore probably a pseudo hippy and I wring my hands about various issues. The issues which induced me to use cloth are concerns about the chemical gels in paper nappies, concerns about the environment and concerns about the cost of paper nappies.

Anyway, here are some of my main issues with this article:
"I did consider trying cloth nappies for my second child. At least I did until a visit to the house of a friend who used them. It took days for the twin fragances [sp] of poo and Napisan to disappear from my clothes."
Really Jojo? I suspect this is just bollocks. Babies poo, their poo smells wherever they do it and nappy buckets do not, if you rinse off the poo, smell of poo. They smell of wee which is still fairly unpleasant but that's why they come equipped with these things called "lids". So how your clothes smelt of poo is beyond me. And your clothes may have smelt of Napisan, I don't know what Napisan smells like.... which might mean it's not an essential component of a cloth nappy lifestyle. I'd also suggest that if your clothes were smelling you might want to consider taking them off and washing them.

"The bottom line is that it's easy to soak your nappies in a bucket when you have a) time, b) a utility room to hide them in and c) a garden in which to pin them out."

Ok, firstly; if you read any cloth nappy website they don't advocate soaking your nappies in a bucket (wet pailing), you just pop the dirty nappy in a dry one (dry pailing) but even if you did wet pail just how long would it take to fill a bucket with water and stick a dirty nappy in it? How much space does a bucket take up? and no, you don't need a garden you just need half a brain to get a decent clothes airer. Don't get me wrong, I wish I did have a garden! If I did the nappies would be out there but as it is they're drying in the sitting room behind me as I write this.

"The queens of nappy valley must be aware that the ecological argument is far from conclusive, given the extra water usage and leaching of detergents from the washing process. Friends who use cloth nappies admit that they tumble dry the towelling squares to avoid crispiness."

Actually the government report that stated cloth nappies are just as damaging to the environment has been discredited. See Go Real for details. If you use mainstream detergents, bleach, wash at 90 and tumble dry or possibly iron your nappies then yes, they are probably not very good for the environment but if you wash them every 3 days when you have a full load, use ecover or similar or ecoballs, wash at 60 and allow to air dry or in the sun (if you have access to it) for stain removal and don't bother to iron (why would you) then they are much much greener than paper. Most cloth nappy users no longer use towelling squares either as there are many more fabrics and designs that won't go "crispy" in the wash.

"Others, who can't face the task, use a laundry service - and what's the carbon footprint of a 20-mile round trip in a white van?"

Most laundry services try to use greener transport as far as I can tell and most will be fairly local. They also won't just travel 20 miles to collect one persons nappies, they'll be picking up a fair few. What I would like to know is what's the carbon footprint for manufacturing and transporting paper nappies to shops? Oh, and the carbon footprint for mothers like Jojo driving to the supermarket to buy them? And the rubbish vans that have to come and collect them? And as they sit in landfill slowly decomposing and filling the atmosphere with methane? I do realise that you'd be going to the supermarket anyway and the rubbish vans would be coming anyway but if we all tried to use more reusable goods maybe more trips to the supermarket could be made on foot or maybe fewer rubbish vans would need to prowl the streets.

"These "green mums" also tend to be the mothers who preach, but don't see the inconsistency in purchasing expensive Bugaboo pram
s, immaculate new nursery furniture from the White Company and lovely new outfits from Boden. Not forgetting the two holidays a year on a big, carbon-spewing aeroplane."
Actually most of the cloth nappy users I know of are more likely to carry their babies or use second hand pushchairs, second hand furniture and clothes and may go on holiday on a big carbon spewing aeroplane but I doubt they have two a year. A lot of cloth nappy users that I know of don't even have a car.... However even if parents are buying a load of new stuff and jetting off at every available opportunity, at least by using cloth nappies they are doing something to reduce their waste. Surely it's brainless to say that anyone who buys a bugaboo can't use cloth nappies without being hypocritical?

"This nappymania is a peculiarly female obsession. Men believe their time is valuable. My husband, domestic animal though he is, would no more wash a nappy than he would attempt to breastfeed."
So you have a useless husband. No reason not to use cloth! Maybe I'm just lucky in that my partner was very receptive to the idea and has taken to using them as well as I have. He doesn't wash them but I suspect that is more down to my control freakery than any unwillingness on his part. He will hang them out on the line and put them away. Maybe he's unusual. I doubt he is. And I believe my time is valuable. I just happen to believe caring for my child and all that comes with it is a good use of what time I have.

"An unscientific survey revealed that other mums at my children's playgroup had reached the same conclusion: too much time, too much detergent and definitely not safe for bumshufflers."
My issue here is the bumshufflers comment. What nappies have these women tried? My nephew could bumshuffle for the Olympics, I've never seen a baby move so fast. He also wears a wide variety of cloth nappies and not one of them has fallen off or befallen any mishap in any of his bumshuffling adventures.

So Jojo. All in all a very lazy and badly researched article. I would guess the real issue here is your laziness in not wanting to use cloth and guilt because you know you should. You get around it by being defensive and having a bitchy pop at anyone who does actually take the little extra time and effort to do what's best for their child and the environment.

Who can resist a huge cloth bum anyway?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sleeeeep! And lack of....

Sleep is one of those really contentious issues when it comes to children and for some reason whenever strangers ask me about Jess they seem to question how well she sleeps.

With my return to work I recently became very fixated that Jess should be sleeping through the night, in her own room. You are repeatedly told that this is what should be happening and it can make you feel like a bit of a failure if your child is still waking up three or four times a night! In addition to this I am very attached to my own sleep and really hate being dragged from my nice warm bed a couple of times a night to coax a child back to sleep. Especially when said child is exhausted but is for some reason fighting against the inevitable.

I will admit that when I have put her down, crept back to bed and then heard her start crying again I have, occasionally, lost the plot completely. Even though I know that screaming at your child to go to sleep is actually the last thing that will encourage them to do so.

So, nearly on my knees with the lack of sleep and having to go to work (I know it's only three days a week but I am weak!) I decided to go for some serious sleep training. I went and looked at the "No Cry Sleep Solution" which I understand is very good, I seriously considered some form of controlled crying and weaning her at night. I know for some these measures do work but I could not deal with the idea of leaving Jess standing in her cot screaming or denying her a bit of boob when I know that's what she really wants. I did look at the NCSS but didn't think it would really fit in with the way we do things, especially when I read the bit about keeping a sleep diary, I don't want to keep a diary, I want her to sleep now!

Fortunately John demonstrated his ability to take a step back, have a think and come up with a simple solution. So now, she starts off in the cot and when she wakes up after we've gone to bed, she comes straight in with us and we all snuggle up together. His reasoning was that things are a bit weird for Jess at the moment, what with starting nursery and trying any kind of controlled crying or night weaning will make her feel even more like we're pushing her away.

So far this has been working brilliantly, she comes in, she sleeps, we all sleep. I feel far happier about getting up in the morning when I have spent the night in my own bed not sitting in Jess' room practically crying from exhaustion and Jess is sleeping for up to seven hours in a stretch not just two or three.

To be honest, I've always been a bit ambivalent about co sleeping. I don't think it's a magic cure all and, on the flip side, I don't think it's creating a rod for your own back. Everyone has to do what feels right for them. The reason I haven't really done it is because I like my space and I sleep better when I'm not worrying about rolling onto a tiny being. The tiny being is now less tiny and is much more comfortable to sleep with because of that. I still hope that if we continue what we're doing for a little while she will eventually become more comfortable with sleeping and spend longer and longer in her own cot but for now this is suiting us.

I thank my lucky stars I have a partner who can bring me back to the path and remind me how we wanted to bring our child up. Once again, the practice of following our instincts on what is best for our child has worked better than believing in the myth that children should sleep all night long on their own from a very young age!

As an aside, Jess has learnt to kiss this week! It's delightful, despite being a bit heavy on the teeth, tongue and dribble!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Interlude Over and The Real World Reasserts Itself....

Well, I've started back at work and the year that a year ago seemed so long has gone so very fast! I've started a new job where in a lovely clinic in Soho. It's reigniting my love of sexual health which is great and putting my brain back into gear which is also great but it's taking a lot of effort.

What I'm finding strange though is my different status in a new work place. My usual approach when starting new jobs (and I have started a fair few if I'm honest) is to work out who is likely to go to the pub after work and ingratiate myself with them, an approach I can't really use this time. I will admit, I feel old! Suddenly I'm the "Mum" who only works part time and has to leave at five to pick up her child from nursery. I guess I'm struggling a bit to work out where I'll fit in and I suspect it'll take longer than usual for me to feel settled. It's also taking a huge effort not to rabbit on about Jess all the time, I know how easy it would be to do so and how boring my new work mates are likely to find that. It's probably quite good for my baby ravaged brain to have to think about other topics of conversation!

Jess has started nursery but only went in for one day last week as she developed a bit of diarrhoea on Wednesday. Luckily for me but not so luckily for John she could stay at home with Daddy who was off sick for two days. I'm actually finding leaving her easier than I thought I would though. Probably helped by the fact that she seems quite happy with the whole situation. Saying that it's a bit odd and quite upsetting just dumping her in a room at nursery at eight in the morning with a few other kids and a couple of members of staff who don't actually ignore her as such but who aren't as focused on her as I would be.... She looks very small and alone as I walk off and I can't linger in case she picks up on how I'm feeling. I completely trust that once I've left she's fine which I think is probably some sort of survival mechanism kicking in as if I didn't trust she'd be fine I could never just walk away. A big part of me is looking forward to seeing how she develops away from me. I think hanging around with other children and the nursery workers who are experienced in looking after small people will be really good for her, especially with regards to getting her to go to sleep without a boob in her mouth!

One great point about starting work is being able to cycle to work. I have missed my bike and it's been a lot of fun pootling about on it again! It's another sign of how motherhood has changed me that I won't go anywhere without my helmet and I seem to be a lot happier to stop at red lights. I look at helmetless lunatics speeding through traffic lights and tut, conveniently forgetting that was exactly how I used to cycle. Gratifyingly I'm not too sore either (apart from the obligatory sore bum) which means I can't have been as unfit as I thought I was. It was a nice surprise to be able to get to the top of a stinker of a little hill behind Mount Pleasant post office on my first ride home too.

So I apologise for my rambling and slightly pointless blog post but it's been a big week for me! Hopefully I'll have some more coherent thoughts to blog about in the near future.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Day Out In East London

We had a lovely family day out today in east London which for some reason I felt the need to share!

Went first to Hackney City Farm, which wasn't that great to be honest but maybe we'll go back in baby animal season and see if it's any better!

Sleepy donkey in a field a long way away.

Huge pig

Then we went to the museum of childhood which was great fun, Jess actually slept half way round but once she woke up seemed to really enjoy it!
Sooty and Sweep with a Dogtanian puppet in the background, she's actually eyeing up the Care Bears which are out of shot (her mother's daughter!)

With some weird Japanese puppets, they were a bit scary actually....

And finally showing off my / Jess' new sling. Didymos hemp size 6 (if that means any thing to you) and dyed to my specification by the very talented Ola at Turquoise Fields. It's inspired by my distant memories of caribbean beaches and Ola named it Anegada which is very fitting. I love it, the colours make me smile so much and it's such a cushy and supportive wrap for my growing girl. I now have all the wraps I will ever need (I may have said that before but this time I think I mean it!) but I suspect none of the rest will get a look in for a while!

So all in all we had a lovely day, bit overcast but hey ho.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Where has this year gone?

I'm taking a quick break while my custard cream dough sits in the fridge and I should be taking the opportunity to do the washing up but I'm blatantly not.

Jess turns one tomorrow, this time last year I was in my second day of labour and thinking that it was worse than the first day of labour but not realising that it was still a walk in the park compared to the third day when things really got going!

I've been mulling things over in my mind for the last few days about how amazing this year has been and how quickly Jess is changing and learning. The little things she used to do like sooth herself to sleep by sucking her middle fingers which suddenly stopped without me noticing; how, before she could crawl, she would lie on her front kicking her legs and pumping her arms with such energy and frustration. I can see everything with such clarity right back to when she was born and I first saw her face and heard the wonder in John's voice as he stood behind me, the sadness I felt as, with tears running down my face, I poured formula down her throat while she was wrapped in a sheet when we were readmitted to hospital after my milk failed to come in.

She's now crawling, pulling herself up to her feet and, I think, will soon be walking on her own. She eats amazingly well and only needs me to feed her about three times a day and I suspect that is mostly for comfort but I'm happy to continue as long as she wants. She is still being carried in her ever expanding sling collection and I have no plans to get her a buggy. Maybe this has now become a point of pride for me but whatever, it's my choice. I've had too many people tell me I won't be able to carry her for ever that I seem to have taken it as a challenge. Anyway, I couldn't imagine not having her that close when we're out and about.

We seem to be in full swing of a really annoying phase where anything and everything is emptied out or pulled off shelves; the nappy bucket, the laundry basket, the cat's litter tray and water and food bowls, cds, books, laundry hanging out to dry, the bin etc etc. You name it and she'll do her best to make a mess out of it. But I get such a kick out of watching her explore and work out what she's capable off.

She's completely fearless and will happily mooch off in the pub and attempt to get behind the bar. We have started going to a music group in Stoke Newington and on our first visit she slipped off my knee and crawled out to the front to get a closer look at the proceedings while bigger children ran around her. I am so proud of my little girl and really hope she keeps this up and isn't inflicted with the crippling shyness I had as a child.

So, my gorgeous girl, happy first birthday! I'll go and get back to making your birthday goodies now!