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A first time mum at 39, trying not to let my son kill me off too soon. Busy juggling a new family, a new house and a tricky recording schedule I figured blogging would be less expensive than therapy and less embarrassing than shouting at rude and stupid people in the street/on trains/at the supermarket.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Just what the doctor ordered.

Apparently I have an overactive thyroid.

When my doctor told me on Friday, I almost laughed it off, thinking how unfair it was that one of the symptoms is meant to be excessive weight loss. HA! Fat chance of that (if you'll pardon the pun) as this condition increases your metabolism. 

He didn't make it sound terribly serious and told me that he would refer me to an endocrinologist (without actually telling me what that was) and they would sort me out with some drugs.  I pushed a little further to see what the implications were - I was worried this would cause me to put on the weight I had fought so hard to lose this last month.  All he could reply was that I needed to lose weight as my BMI was too high (tell me something I don't know) and it's all about calories.  Really?  Gosh, I hadn't noticed.  Perhaps you would care to ask me about my diet and exercise?  No?  Okay doc, I get the point, I must just eat too many cakes and sit on the sofa all day... 

Realising i was going to have find out for myself I went home to do exactly that.  

Wow.  Not that serious?  So now I'm more stressed that I've ever been (and apparently that is also a symptom).  Let's look at the list shall we...

* Feeling nervous, irritable or hyperactive
Ask my husband.  I think he will confirm at least 2 out of those 3. The dentist has confirmed that I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep for years - I am wearing them down and I have jaw, ear and headache a lot. 

* Sweating more than usual & unable to cope with heat.
So, something I have complained to my doctor about for years, even resulting in taking tablets for hyperhidrosis and having underarm botox injections. Unnecessary perhaps?
Does that explain why I can't even run for 10 seconds for a train without looking like someone has chucked water over my face?

* tremors/shaking
After short bursts of exercise, the hands go.

* Muscle weakness.  
Oh so you mean falling over all the time isn't normal?  Rolling my ankles on an almost daily basis to the point I sprained them so badly a few months ago that I couldn't walk for 2 days and there is still some swelling and my chances of going running again are pretty much shot - that's just one of those things is it?

* Palpitations and increased heart rate
The fact my heart rate goes off the scale during a run isn't just down to me being unfit (even though I did this 3 times a week for years)  considering my resting heart rate has always been really low. And the palpitations that I asked the doctor about 4 years ago... not in my imagination then?   Oh and the low blood-pressure ? Yep that's a symptom too. 

* thinning or loss of hair, more susceptible to greying.
It comes out in handfuls at every brush and my hair dye receipts are racking up.

* having more frequent bowel movements/diarrhoea 
So not IBS then as diagnosed?  Excellent. 

* excessive weight loss and increased appetite.
erm.  Nope.  Seemed to have dodged that one - the only one I could have coped with.

* reduced fertility and complications in pregnancy.
The reason the tests were done in the first place... Probably the reason I lost 2 pregnancies during the first year of trying and now, since Boychild was born, the reason I'm struggling again with the likelihood of at least one loss around Christmas last year.   It's a miracle we managed to have a child at all. 

These are all 'minor' things  when you look at them, however the more you read the worse it gets.  Without treatment, this can cause blood clots, stroke, heart attack, problems with your vision including sensitivity to light and blurring (yep, had all that too).

I know that self-diagnosis is a dangerous and scary thing, but when your doctor doesn't talk to you then you have little choice.  At least now I am armed for when my referral comes through.   Particularly given we are still trying for another baby.  The drugs are required to help but aren't conducive necessarily to being pregnant.   Brilliant.

Don't misunderstand me, I know that one or two of the things I have experienced over the last 10 years could well have coincidental and nothing to do with my thyroid and given that the most obvious symptom (weight loss) I don't seem to have suffered from then it's easy to see how this was overlooked.  But if you look at everything together isn't it obvious?

Anyway, it's all something else for me to worry about.  Brilliant.  Just what the doctor ordered. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

People in glass houses...

Can I just start by saying that I do not like or condone the tumblr site entitled 'Women who eat on tubes'.

I just had to put up that disclaimer  because when discussing this with a colleague this morning, she clearly misunderstood and seemed to think I was, in some way, defending the actions of the person 'running' the site. 

For the uninitiated among us, this is webpage that invites you to send photos taken of women eating on the London Underground.  And 99.9% of the time, these women are blissfully unaware of their image being circulated.

My first thought was 'What? And men DON'T eat on tubes?'  closely followed by a number of alternatives I could think of involving chaps who open their legs so wide you can't sit on the seat next to them perhaps called 'I think I have a large **** dot com'.  You see, we all have our own 'thing' and pet-hate about public transport or public displays or basically the public in general.  But once you stop making them your own private pet-hate and putting them out on general display you do have to think about things a little more.

There are many things wrong about the concept of 'Women who eat on tubes' ( I'm sure it will be discussed ad nauseam online and off), not the least that photos are being taken and posted without permission.  The thing that particularly sticks in my craw is the condemnation in the 'witty' captions below some of the pictures.  For example 'three little piggies'  and my personal  favourite

"She had a bag of Vanilla Party Wafers and a carrier bag full of toilet roll and no matter how hard she tried she just couldn’t stop jamming those party wafers in her mouth. "

Not 'eating'?.  She was 'jamming them in her mouth'. Really?  So were they actually being forced in until she couldn't move her face or was she basically eating them one at a time but you thought this was gluttonous behaviour and had to make a big deal of pointing out how disgusting you thought this was?

From what I understand, the website became famous this week when a female journalist was snapped and posted online.  She was then told about her photograph being there by a friend.  Since then, the journalist has been in touch with the administrator of the site and had her image removed. 

But for her to know about the photograph being there, someone she knew must have been perusing the page to spot her.  So clearly they thought it was okay to look at strangers but thought it's not on for their friend to be ridiculed in this way.  

This made me think - as, it appears, did the journalist in question.  If this site is offensive to me (and her) then what about other similar sites?   'Look at my fucking red trousers' is one such site where, again, the public is invited to send in photos of (predominantly) men wearing fairly loud red trousers (you can see, the clue is the name ...).  I'll admit it , I've looked at that site and found it amusing.  I know many others who have thought the same. From what I recall, the captions are nowhere near as scathing although I may be recalling it through rose-tinted specs.   Would I be happy if my picture appeared with me eating a bag of crisps on the Circle Line?  Probably not. But in reality these two sites should probably not be treated any differently - in my most humble opinion.

You have to decide in which camp you are going to fall.  If you are in the camp who is happy to chuckle away at other members of the public in garish clothes (or similar) then personally I don't think you have the right to be offended by something like 'Women who eat on tubes'.   If you are offended (and that is your absolute right) then surely you have rescinded your rights to laugh at others in a similar way.  It's made me take an alternative look at things and hopefully will change the way I share online. 

If these webpages are to exist and are not intended to upset or offend anyone then all they need to do is ask the subject's permission to take a photo and upload it.  If the people being photographed are 'in' on the joke and are happy to participate then I can't see any problem with it. 

Oh and perhaps also not make a crass comment about being a pig just because they are eating would help too.  You know, that thing that everyone does several times a day...


Friday, 21 March 2014

Kensington Muses...

Working in Kensington for almost 10 years has upsides (FABULOUS shops) and downsides (it's bloody miles from where I live) but there are a few things I've noticed recently that drive me mad about it.  Well, they make me shrug a bit anyway...

* If you don't push the 'Wait' button at a pelican crossing, the lights will never go red to allow you to cross.  I don't think people in Kensington have quite got that concept yet.

* Red lights at pelican crossings apply to EVERYONE.  That includes the following people: 1) Young chap in the clapped-out fiesta who 'beeped' us pedestrians who dared to cross the road when the green man was visible, whilst he revved his engine and inched forward aggressively. 2) The cyclist who narrowly missed me and several other pedestrians as he ran the red without even slowing down last week.  3) the chap with the trailer on his bicycle who almost crashed this morning when he realised the lights were red (I think the stationary cars and preceding amber light should have been your cue)

* So far the cleaning of the pedestrianised square, on which my office is situated, has taken 3 chaps more than 4 days to jet wash and they are still going.  It's about the size of an average primary school playground. It looks no different to how it did on Monday when they started.  They must be getting paid by the hour.

*  Famous people only come out to play in the shops I used almost every day on the days I decide not to bother.  Adele spent a couple of hours in the kids section of H&M the one day I didn't go in last month.  Prince Harry went into the office next door on the day I worked from home. 

*Cycling on the wrong side of Kensington High Street is, apparently, perfectly acceptable if the traffic lights are red. 

* Grandmothers navigating pushchairs seem to think it's also perfectly acceptable to steer their charges into the paths of oncoming traffic if the pedestrian crossing isn't working fast enough for them.  

* I am not phased in the slightest by the armed policemen walking up to the Police Checkpoint at Kensington Palace Gardens even though they are carrying bloody great rifles with their fingers poised on the trigger.  I feel this should scare me slightly more than it does. 

*  The Circle line.  



Wednesday, 5 March 2014

WTF?????

I happened upon an article in 'Mother & Baby' today and followed the link.    In a nutshell, it was a blog about a letter that had been pushed under a hotel door complaining about the occupants' crying baby.  The neighbours to aforementioned crying baby decided to wait 2 days before taking action.  

What action did they take?

They could have knocked on the door of their neighbour on the pretence of checking everything was okay, thus alerting the parents to the thinness of the hotel walls.

They could have called reception to ask them to do something - taking the pressure and awkwardness away from them.

They could have had a quiet word with the parents the following morning.

Or, if all else failed, they could have spoken with the hotel to see how long the baby was staying and then to request a change of room. 

They did none of those things.  They waited til they were leaving and pushed an anonymous note under the door telling the parents how irresponsible they were, how inconsiderate they were and how disgraceful they were.  They said that a baby had no place in a hotel at a ski resort - a resort that was also hosting a conference that baby's father was part of, and a hotel that offered baby facilities/kids clubs etc, so not an adult-only one.  

By this point the parents had no chance to speak to their neighbours to apologise or try to explain.    It appears, the baby in question was teething.  Ahhhhh, teething.  That amazing phenomenon that comes and goes without warning and strikes fear into the hearts and minds of parents everywhere.  You see, one day your little cherub could be a gummy, laughing bundle of joy and the next she will take the form of the secret love child of Damian from the Omen and Linda Blair from the Exorcist.  Within hours this beast could have vanished once more only to reappear an random times over the course of anything up to three years. 

I feel for both parties in this situation.  I've been on the other side of wall to noisy neighbours and I've also been the frazzled, powerless parent to an inconsolable child in the middle of the night.  It's nerve-shattering on both counts. 

My biggest objection to this kind of note is that if the Sleep Thief had been a 6'4" drunken Footballer or a mass of Spring Break youngsters or even a very amorous couple, I imagine the writers would have been on the phone to the hotel reception immediately.  They would never have left a note for those people and they certainly would not have waited 2 days/nights to make a complaint.   But because the perpetrator was a small baby being looked after by some desperate, tired, possibly tearful parents then BAM! Hit them where it hurts.  Something they can look at whenever they need to just to remind themselves what crap parents they really are.  

Don't misunderstand me. There are places that you simply should not take your baby - in my opinion.  Places like bars and pubs that do not welcome children particularly in the evening, cinemas (unless it's a baby friendly showing), theatres and adult-only hotels.  If you take a child to one of those places and it screams it's head off then please don't be offended when you are asked to leave .   However, as far as I am concerned, if somewhere is a public place and does not specify 'no children' then it's fair game.  Particularly in a family-friendly hotel. 

The notion that, as parents, you should not take your child ANYWHERE if there is the remotest chance it could cry or make some other noise (laugh, maybe?) is ludicrous.  I refer back to my previous posting about it becoming acceptable to berate parents for noisy children but nobody will ask the annoying cretin on the train to stop yelling down his phone or to turn down his music or refrain from picking his nose etc.  

Clearly parents and children should only be together in the privacy of their own homes and never leave that place unless the child is sedated, bound or gagged. 

But to be honest, the thing that actually floored me was the response to this guy's blog posting.   I haven't read all the comments but generally there seems to be a huge rally of people suggesting this guy is an arsehole for thinking the note was wrong and that the people who wrote the note had a point.  And that's possibly the least offensive way I could describe it.  I am stunned, genuinely stunned. 

1.  If you are an adult, then you were once a child. 

2.  If you were a child then you were [at least] once very annoying to someone other than a family member.

3. If you have children and your children didn't upset or annoy anyone other than yourself, ever, then you are either a) lying b) deluded c) someone who boarded their children in their rooms until they were 18. 

4.  If you don't have children then can you be sure that you have never made a nuisance of yourself to anyone else in public?  ie: never been drunk in a public place, shouted at a friend or lover in public, used bad language language loudly on a train or in a restaurant, walked home late at night in a built-up area and not been as quiet as you could have been, never had a party even though your neighbours were sleeping, revved your car very early in the morning... the list is endless.  If you've never done any of those things then you are either a) lying b) deluded 3) were one of the kids who was boarded in their room until they were 18 and are now too scared to breathe. 

5.  If you never want to be bothered by children or anyone else for that matter in public, might I suggest that you never leave the safety and sanctity of your own house.  Just a thought. 

Most parents (and yes, I use the term 'most') are more than aware that their little darlings can be irritating as hell and will go out of their way to avoid upsetting people but having a child does not mean you don't go out or go on holiday or shop or take public transport or eat out.   And we  will continue to go about our daily lives in much the same way as your parents did when you were annoying, irritating and noisy little ankle biters.  

If you promise you won't argue with someone outside my house late at night, or get drunk in the daytime and fall into the path of my pushchair, or have sex loudly in the hotel room next door to mine (yes I'm talking about you, you weird, noisy couple in San Francisco in May 2011) then I will promise not to take my child into an inappropriate place and bother you. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Proud mummy!?

Boychild is a bit bright.  Well actually, he's very bright. 

There I've said it. The world didn't implode, nobody died and nobody is any worse off now it's out there.

All children make their parents proud and there is no better feeling (when you're a parent, that is) than when your little one reaches a milestone, be it walking, talking, becoming potty-trained etc.   And, as parents, we do like to share these little titbits especially with our peers.  It's not meant as one-up-manship or belittling their own offspring's efforts if they have not yet achieved them, it's just our way of being proud.  

I've always been cautious and tried not to be a baby bore but yes, I did announce 'we have a walker!' on Facebook at the appropriate time.  But generally if a reference is made to Boychild's abilities it's usually because it's part of an amusing anecdote rather than being the focus.  For example, I recently posted something on Facebook about him not quite 'getting' the Christmas thing as even into January he is insisting on eating from a Christmas bowl, keeps singing Christmas songs and looking up our chimney to try to find Santa.  A friend of mine posted that her child won't even say 'mummy' yet, let alone sing a song! Her son was born on the same day as mine.   So what did i do?  I dumbed down my comment and suggested that he wasn't exactly Robbie Williams just yet (he's really not!) but as a mum you can understand the jumbled words that come out of your own child's mouth more than anyone else. And I'd deciphered 'santa', 'chimney', toys' so knew what he was trying to sing.  

The one who makes me laugh every day. 
What I failed to mention was that if I sang along with him, he interjected those words in the correct places and la-la-la'd along in all the places he didn't know the words. 

I know that my friend will not be concerned that my son can do this when hers can't (she's a pretty clued up kinda gal) especially as she already has an older son, so she knows the score.  She also knows that her little boy had a beautiful shock of hair and mouthful of teeth before I had even worked out what teething powder and baby shampoo was even for.  He was pretty advanced on that score and, even now, Boychild isn't blessed in the teeth department!  But other readers would be looking and judging and making assumptions about both of our children - good and bad.  And probably making assumptions on our parenting styles too.  But they would never say, oh no. (snigger) 


But I have to have some kind of output for my happiness that my son is a mini-genius (okay, perhaps that is a little exaggerated...). He's just 20 months old and knows all his colours, can count from 1 - 12 depending on who he's with and whether he can be bothered, he feeds himself (unless he's being lazy), chats away to his toys (coherently), makes himself understood about what he wants when he asks a question, understands that people he can't see do still exist and where they are at that time (quite a massive concept for a small child), can form pretty good sentences and is well on the way to understanding consequences.  He also recognises emotions and tells us when someone is happy or sad, and then tries to comfort the person or toy in question.  He understands jokes and misdirection. He understands the concept of sharing and tries to share his food with us and his toys.   Things that often children don't understand or can't do until the age of 2, 3 or 4. 

I knew most of this , but the rest (especially the 1 - 12 counting) was told to me by his key worker at nursery last night at parents evening.   Boychild adores CF, his key worker, and it's clear that she adores him too.  He talks about her when he's at home and she will often attempt to have her day off on a day Boychild isn't at the nursery.   But, even if she's not there, he is still perfectly happy to go to any other carer and then comes home talking about them too. 

I am immensely proud of my little munchkin and I love him enormously but the fact he can do these things has made our life a little different to many of my friends with children of a similar age.  We've struggled to travel much or eat out (or shop!) as he is difficult to keep entertained when confined to a chair. He was a terrible sleeper for over a year and responded to none of the tried and tested tricks - even the Health Visitor was at a loss. 

He will seldom just sit on your lap  - not even when he was 4 months old.  He wanted to be on the floor to roll about and explore his toys.  

At first, this upset me.  I felt like the odd one out and whenever I went for coffee with other new mums, I was always the one standing and jigging about entertaining a newborn whilst the others slept for HOURS in their prams or on their mother's laps.   I was the one on my knees with exhaustion when, even at 12 months old, he needed attention several times a night for no reason other than to say 'hello'.  I was the one feeling jealous of mothers going shopping as their tiny babies slept peacefully, waking only for a feed and cuddle as I watched on with a screaming child who settled only if you kept walking and never stopped to browse or make a purchase. To the point of me failing to even try after 3 solid months of hell. Bring on grocery deliveries and online shopping!

As time has gone on, I do know of one or two other parents with children who became more like mine when they hit walking and talking age and that makes me feel better.  To be honest, my biggest fear is being able to keep him entertained and stimulated enough as he gets older.  But I'm sure it won't come to that. 

I also know that the children who haven't reached the same milestones yet, will do so very soon.  There is no right or wrong.  All toddlers are different - thank goodness! - and at what point they speak or count or walk will not matter a jot in the future.  They all level out eventually and I'm sure that by the time they hit school age, none of us will be able to tell who did what first. Likewise, if we have a second child, I'm sure that he or she will be more in line with regular expectations and that will probably confuse me all the more as I'll have to learn to deal with a whole new set of challenges.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that unfortunately I see myself dumbing down and belittling Boychild's achievements and efforts to avoid upsetting or worrying my friends because he can do something that their child cannot. I know there will be camps of people who think that we've been drilling our little darling at maths and english and lord knows what else, but we really haven't.  All we do is what most people do.  We play with him and we talk to him. He watches TV, he builds with blocks, he pushes his cars and trains around, pretends to make us a cup of tea, talks to his soft toys and calls them his friends and he looks at his books and we read to him.  All the stuff that most children will do most of the time.  I guess having a father who is a bit of a boff probably helps too though!  Clearly he's not getting this from his mother.

Anyway, I just want to say somewhere (here) that I am unbelievably proud of him  and I love him more than life itself.  He makes me laugh every single day. 

I am also thrilled and excited when you share your news that your little darling learnt to crawl today and that your munchkin said 'Daddy' and fed herself or successfully used the potty.  I want to share your excitement too as all kids are amazing in their own way. 

But for now I will keep my 'boasting' on here and not on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram as I know I will be labelled a pushy parent or someone who just wants to gloat.  I know that's not the case and most of my friends know that's not true, but we all know that once you get on social media there are plenty of people who like to stick their oar in.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Katie Hopkins - does it really matter?

After reading yet another scathing attack on mothers, of various varieties but predominantly ones that do not work (and get paid for it, as opposed to the work they do at home with the kids), I was about to launch into another round of Katie Hopkins bashing but then stopped myself.

Why?

Because, let's face it, in the real world - a world far, far away from the one Ms Hopkins inhabits - she doesn't matter and it doesn't matter.

She has some kind of ritual dislike of anyone weighing more than 8 stone and makes the assumption that if you are overweight you obviously smoke too and probably feed your children turkey twizzlers and lard for breakfast.  Likewise if you dare to recycle in any way, you clearly are a hippy who doesn't use deodorant, and washes your hair in rain water.  You probably aren't either of these types, but maybe you have traits of one or both of them.  But my point is ...SO WHAT!  

I don't agree with her views and I have quite a few of my own that other people may not agree with, however it's unlikely I'll ever be invited on Phil & Holly to row with Peaches Geldof about them (if the truth be told, I'd probably be on Peaches' side anyway).

Being a mum is a tough job.  Always has been and always will be. Our mothers and grandmothers may not have had so many mod cons to help them but then they also didn't have domestic energy bills that Solomon would have struggled to pay.  Chances are, our children will have a different set of issues to contend with, along with the standard 'terrible twos', sibling rivalry, food battles and sleep thieving.   And however they choose to take those battles on, there will always be a Katie Hopkins waiting in the wings to tell them they are doing it wrong.

We just need to learn to let it wash over us and stop telling ourselves that we should listen or take notice or be angry or frustrated.  Life is too short and on the whole, mums of every kind are doing an okay job.  Their charges are fed, clothed, educated, kept safe and, most importantly, loved.  Yes, they may not have had a proper face wash last night, and Saturday's tea might have consisted of a frozen pizza but the last time I looked, that never did anyone any harm. 

She doesn't matter and it doesn't matter. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Let the judgement begin...

Something occurred to me recently, whilst attempting to calm Boychild down enough to eat dinner - we dared to schedule it 90 seconds into an episode of 'Timmy Time'.

We, as parents, are constantly bombarded with disapproving looks, comments and rolled eyes on trains, in coffee shops, in restaurants and in shops, for the crime of having a child who has decided to choose that moment to throw a tantrum within eye/earshot of a childless person.  If that wasn't enough, we then have to put up with endless online comments on how bad we are as parents to put up with that kind of behaviour and 'allowing' our offspring to ruin the atmosphere and quiet for everyone. 

So what do we do?  We find a way to hush them as quickly as possible.  We couldn't possibly upset the chap working from his 'office' in Costa Coffee or the lemon-sucking-faced couple with the perfect [read 'boring'] toddlers sitting reading Price and Prejudice on the 12.34 to London Bridge.  Anyway, I digress, we are hushing them up...And how do we do that exactly?  Usually in the way that we try to avoid most of the time - bribery.  Generally in the form of food, or more specifically, the food you don't really want them to have too much of.   Or else giving back the toy you had just taken away as they had thrown it on the floor in a temper far too many times.

In doing so, we are doing the things we don't agree with and would never do at any other time.   It goes against how we usually discipline and try to bring up our children.

So what am I saying exactly? Do you think the judgemental childless people in these establishments realise what they are doing?  Rather than helping to mould these kids they are, in effect, telling them they are likely to be rewarded for being a pain in the arse. They are helping to turn them into the little brats that we have been trying to prevent.  I'm not saying anyone should have to listen to a screaming child in a public place unnecessarily but, when dealt with correctly, tantrums rarely last that long. And believe me, if it looks as though one is about to go on too long, most parents WANT to vacate the area so won't subject others to it for longer than they have to.  But if we don't let them tantrum it out from time to time, they will learn to use their tantrums as a bargaining chip.

I'm also not saying that parents can offload the blame onto others either but just think about it... When that child screeches or even has the audacity to cry because it is simply a newborn and that it's what they do, do you think the parent wants to listen to it too? Do you think they have become immune?
NO!! They are embarrassed, often very tired, and acutely aware of how irritating their child or baby is being. At the point when said child is reaching their peak, if you look closely you will see other parents casting sympathetic looks across the coffee shop. And in the case of a new mother alone with her small crying bundle you may also see the beginning of tears.

There are plenty of annoying people in public most of the time but nobody would dream of picking on the fat bloke obstructing the pavement or aisle, nor would you confront the girl playing crap music from her phone or the commuter who refuses to switch off the annoying key tones whilst texting, so why is it fair game to tut loudly and comment loudly to parents who, most of the time, are doing the best they can?

 Perhaps all those Katy-Hopkins-a-likes out there should start looking inside their own glasshouses before trying to throw stones into other people's.