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Archive for the ‘pregnancy’ Category

Another way to rip you off…

November 13, 2010 1 comment

baby surrounded by money

it's mine, all mine!!!

I was out in London last night, on a rare Friday chatting to various girlfriends over mountains of wine and cheese, and amongst the many areas of conversation was the fact that many of life’s events (the two that sprang up were getting married and having kids) are seen a massive opportunity to bleed you for cash.

I have at least three friends currently planning weddings, and each of them has a horror story about a venue that was £N until they found out it was a wedding (now it’s £N x 3), or some other related issue that suddenly becomes more difficult or more expensive as soon as the word wedding comes into play.

The remainder of my social circle seem to be almost all either pregnant, or have a pre-schooler toddling around their house, giving them innumerable opportunities to be sold to and feel guilty. Apart from the reams of advice about how and what you should do about feeding, nappies, work etc, are endless supposedly well meaning acquaintances and magazine articles swearing blind that they couldn’t have managed without product “x”, or they would feel like  a bad parent without it.

The problem is of course, that engaged couples and new parents are prime sales targets – they *do* have to buy a certain amount of things, and emotions are high for both. Weddings will forever be paraded in videos and photos, and what the hell, it’s only once in our life, right? So it must be worth spending another £100, £1,000 or more to make sure it’s perfect.

New parents are not only beset with hormones and insecurity, but also many of us don’t live near to our extended families to solicit their advice, and even if we did – their experiences and the products they used may be hopelessly out of date or even now considered dangerous! My mum was aghast looking at my pregnancy scans, and it only really hit home how different it was when she explained how in the 70s, pregnancy was a case of 1) no period 2) doctor having a fumble to confirm diagnosis 3) get fat 4)hopefully have live child – with barely any medical input and nothing except the baby’s movements to confirm whether the child was alive or not, and certainly not what sex it was or whether there were any complications or disabilities to prepare for.

I am therefore forever thankful that my parenting story started in 2008, with an amazing amount of foreknowledge provided to me by the ever under-appreciated NHS.

I am also massively thankful that Jules and I’s amazing photographer friend Robbie Ewing, has decided to use our daughter Eleanor as a subject for a project of his – taking photos around each birthday to show the amazing growth and difference there is during a child’s formative years – and also saving us hundreds of pounds on the usually extortionate prices of baby studio photos.

Thank you Robbie, and for those who aren’t already bored of me talking about her – take a look at our gorgeous little girl here.

Pregnant or fat – what bloody dilemma?

October 3, 2010 2 comments

I had a random conversation on Facebook recently about public transport seating, and the horrible middle-class dilemma of whether to offer your seat or not

Please give up your seat for someone less able to stand

New tube priority seating signs.

and I had to hold back from just shouting at people, especially when I read some of the comments on the BBC article about it. This one, for instance:

I will gladly offer my seat to an elderly person , I believe that you choose to get pregnant , but aging is one thing you cant avoid! I’m 31 and anyone that is obviously older than me gets offered my seat , but pregnant people … not !
Kevin, London

I hope Kevin never gets close enough to a woman to be able to make her pregnant – he has clearly forgotten/not been taught biology well enough to realise that he also is of woman born, and therefore made her back ache too at one point. Enough of misogynistic ignorant wankers, however, as their existence, though annoying, is incidental to this story.

The prevailing thought seems to be that as it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether someone’s pregnant or not (or fat, yes, just say it), there are legions of otherwise altruistic people out there who would jump at the opportunity to offer their seat to someone less able than them, but they’re traumatised at the potential of embarrassing someone by offering them a seat, as if they’re not actually pregnant, this will inadvertently be calling them fat.

To this I say utter bollocks.

I’ve stood there, heavily pregnant (and obviously so), and been looked straight through, and I’m neither surprised or offended at all by it. There’s no reason that pregnant women, old people, or anyone else should have the automatic right to a seat. Others may be suffering far more discomfort from an outwardly invisible knee injury, other illness or even, heaven forbid, an hangover.

What I am saying is that this fake guilt to cover up the fact that none of us really want to give up our seat, is exactly that – fake.

I’ve been commuting in London for 17 years and it’s a war out there – nobody enjoys the squeeze of the tube or the rush hour trains & buses, it’s thoroughly unpleasant, and I daresay we are all sometimes guilty of “I thought I could get away with it and hoped they wouldn’t notice me looking shiftily away.”

It’s not surprising that involuntary close contact with hundreds of strangers makes us guard our personal space so carefully. One of the methods we use is to have a book to read, or studiously avoiding eye contact – not surprising then that we sometimes miss the tell-tale signs of someone else’s greater need than ours.

That said, I am amazed when the occasional man tells me a story of a woman who has rudely refused an offer on the basis that it’s old fashioned/patronising – both at the woman that supposedly threw the offer back in their faces (sister, what are you doing??!!) and the man for taking this as a sign that all women will henceforward be like that. Is it ungenerous to suspect they’re slightly relieved to have an excuse never to offer again? 😉

My feminist sisterhood hackles are also raised by women who remain glued to their seat (older women are actually the worst offenders) in the face of a pregnant woman in obvious discomfort.

In reality we just have to accept that it’s supremely arrogant of us to expect anyone/everyone else in the same carriage/bus to a) notice us or b) care.

I know only too well that it’s hard to think of anything else when you’re pregnant, and it does sometimes feel like the entire planet wants to queue up and coo, guess the gender and stroke the bump, uninvited; but there remains a huge percentage of the population who are untouched by your own personal miracle, and just want to get to work on time without interacting with anyone too rude or smelly.

Baby on Board BadgeSo, take responsibility for yourselves, ladies. For a start you can now pick up from any underground station, a badge that says “Baby On Board. That takes away any excuses of those that do actually look at you.

For the people who don’t notice/hope someone else will stand up, there is always the tried and tested way that I used – walk up to a set of 4 or 6 seats (giving yourself the best chance by not putting just one person on the spot) and say “Excuse me, I’m heavily pregnant and uncomfortable, would anyone mind me sitting down?”. Not once did this fail me, and was usually met this choruses of “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t notice.” True or not, they have an excuse, and you now have a seat. Win:win 🙂

For those who still have a slight quandary, just bloody well offer your seat will you – if you’re really that bothered by it, why not offer your seat and not make it obvious why? A simple “Would you like to sit down?” doesn’t bear any social stigma for anyone, and will spare you the non-existent cringe factor.