Sunday, 30 January 2011

Why are more women "choosing" caesarian sections?

Yet another piece in another national newspaper today about "birth choices" and why women are, or aren't, giving birth in accordance with whatever the latest guru/bit of research/NHS funding report says.

And, actually, this time this one didn't really irritate too much. Mostly because Joanna Kavenna, a mother of two herself, acknowledges that each woman's "choice" is personal to her, and based on her history, both medical and emotional, the circumstances she finds herself in, the size and position of her baby and a million other factors, over most of which she has absolutely no control.

But she did get me swearing at this:
Now it seems we have lost confidence in our ability to give birth naturally: today one in four babies is born by caesarean, up from one in 10 in 1990"
Why, why, why, why, why, can't she and any of the other hundreds of people who opine on this subject not see what seems so perfectly obvious to me: this isn't about our confidence in ourselves; women don't choose to have caesarians.  The medical profession chooses for you. Women simply, in the main, do what they are told is best for them and their baby.

Look around at your friends and relations. I bet lots of them will have had, or their partners will have had, caesarians. How many of them actually, prior to the birth of their first baby, decided, with no medical requirement to do so, to have a caesarian?  One?  None?

How many of them, rather, after a 24, or 36, or 58-hour labour, exhausted and frightened, were medically advised that it was necessary; or were told their baby was breech and the hospital didn't have enough midwives with the necessary expertise to deliver a breech baby; or they were (like me) having identical twins and were informed (although it turns out this isn't the policy at all hospitals) that the risks to mother and babies meant a caesarian was the safest option? Pretty much all of them, I suspect.

So why do we say this is about maternal choice?  Why do we use words like "elective" caesarian, when what we mean is "planned" or "medically advised", or even "had an absolutely horrendous time last time, culminating in an emergency operation, followed by weeks of painful recovery, and is understandably terrified to go through it again"? Why does the media label four in ten British women "too posh to push"?

Now, I accept that there may be women who really do have the mythical tummy tuck at the same time, or want to time their birth so it fits in with the release of their latest fitness DVD or whatever, but I don't know any of them, and I'd be pretty surprised if they make up even a thousandth of a percent of the many, many women who have caesarians, on medical advice, and against what they had originally hoped for in this country every year.

So can we please, please, stop beating women up about this?  Why can't we accept that any delivery that results in a healthy mother and healthy baby (or babies) is a successful delivery, whether it costs the NHS more or less and whether it is the one we planned or not?

Monday, 24 January 2011

How do you get two whales in a mini?

Down the M4...

Unless you live in the Scottish Borders of course, in which case the M4 wouldn't help at all.

Anyway,  I digress.

A more important question. How do you get four children in an ordinary sized car?

I say "ordinary sized", but of course given that we already have three children, our car is anything but ordinary sized.  It looks like this:

It's even that colour.

It's not what you might call a nippy little number. It's not sporty, it's not speedy, it's not swish and it turned out to be rubbish in the snow, but it has one major advantage: you can get three small children, three large car seats and a vast amount of kit in it in (relative) comfort.

Only now we're expecting a fourth.  And I don't know where we're going to put him.

I'm not good with cars.  This one is the first car I've owned and we didn't even get that until just before A&S were born.  At university I had a bike. It was pink and I loved it until it got a buckled front wheel on the way back from my last final, so I abandoned it chained to a bike rack and for all I know it's still there (bad girl).  Then I had a tube ticket and a pair of comfy trainers. Then I had a baby and everyone told me that I'd need a car, but I like the tube, and I don't like driving, so although I upgraded occasionally to a bus ticket (easier for the pushchair) we stuck with the no car and the smug feeling that we were doing something for the environment when really it just suited us fine.

Then they said we were going to jump from being three to five, and I caved.

But, as I say, a mere two and a bit years later, I'm not sure it's what we need.

I've thought about this:

It's called a  multimac, and it fixes into your isofix points and magically turns your back seat into four childseats (with optional clippableonable baby seat).  It's also, while not cheap, significantly cheaper than a new car. Sounds perfect? Well it could be but it strikes me that they'll be sitting awfully close together, and given that any journey longer than about ten minutes with my three already invariably degenerates into a slightly less muddy car-seat reenactment of trench warfare, with endless millimetre-sized incursions into enemy territory met with excessive and violent reprisals, I'm not sure that putting them closer together than they already are is really the most sensible plan. 

So then I thought about putting two of them in the middle seat, and two in the pop up seats at the back. Which could be fine, but what about getting them in and out of the dreaded car seats?  How does that work when the only way at those seats is by leaning over from the middle?

So B says we're going to have to do something like this:

But the thing is, that while I'm not a car person, I'm also most definitely not a van person, and especially not a van that looks more than a little like a hearse.  I realise that having four children means there will be a lot of compromises, but I'm just not sure I want to start this early.

So, is there a solution? Is there a way to transport four children, all still requiring car seats, in comfort and, if not style, at least something that looks like we might have chosen it because we like it?

Answers on a postcard. Or in the comments box. Please?

Monday, 10 January 2011

2010 in pictures

Some significant years in my life:

1976, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008...

And now 2010:  It started somewhere over the mid-Atlantic, and ended with an Upstairs Downstairs marathon and a Thai meal.  I started as a Londoner, an employee, a mum of three and ended as a rural-dweller, a Scot (by adoption anyway), a consultant, and with the weeks until I have four ticking away a lot quicker than I expected.  

We passed through a third birthday, two second birthdays, Tunisia, Spain, the North of England (several times) and a great deal of weather.  We said a lot of sad goodbyes, and just as many happy hellos (and hello agains).

And here we are, ten days in, 2011 definitely underway, and I'm looking back at the year that was.  In pictures.  Sian at Mummytips has set up a competition, which I absolutely want to win (the prize is a ticket to CyberMummy, and the predicted arrival of number 4 some three weeks earlier means I'm reluctant to go out and spend the money now, but am nonetheless twitching in case it does all work out, I can go, and then then there aren't any tickets left. (I was sceptical last year, couldn't go anyway, and then saw how much fun everyone else had....)).

So here goes.  This was 2010.

Here's to 2011...... 

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Finding out (part 2)

I am told, with 99.9% certainty, that my future holds some, if not all, of the following:

Unconditional love (but not always when I want it*)
Mud, lots of it
Cold rugby touchlines
Blue and khaki and green and brown
The other half of the baby names book
Being weed on*
Tractors and cars and boats and planes
Less whinging (couldn't really be more)
Sticky sheets
Lists and quizzes (cricket averages, presidents of the US, flags of the world, top goal scorers in 1974 with a Z in their name....)
Never having enough food in the house
Willies (well, just the one)
Sympathising with girlfriends
Train sets
Grubby knees
Socks under the bed
Computer games
Boundless energy and enthusiasm

Slugs and snails, and probably some puppy dogs' tails too

Here he is:

Our son.

He might do, and be, all, or none, of the above.  But I am so looking forward to meeting him, whoever he is.

*Thanks to Mwa and Trish for those pearls of joy....

Thursday, 6 January 2011

I don't want to go.

Ok.  First off, I'm a spoilt brat.  Clearly I want to go.  Clearly I am a very lucky girl who has a very lovely husband who spoils her rotten.  Clearly I should be jumping for joy with excitement.  But....

...On Tuesday, L and I, courtesy of her best friend moving there, B having a load of air miles that he's uninvited and un-hinted-at offered to us, and a pair of very loving and tolerant grannies, are off to Singapore for six days.  A and S are staying here.   They will be looked after very capably by B and his mother for the first four days, then he'll take them down South and my mother will take over the granny role for the last two days, before we get collected from Heathrow on the following Monday.  They couldn't be in better hands.

It's a minimum of 26 degrees in Singapore.  It is clean. It is tidy. We have free accommodation with utterly lovely people (and I'd be calling them that even if they weren't putting us up).  We can swim, and potter, and shop.  I will have only one child to look after, and someone else will be cooking for her.


While I am looking after my one child, my babies, my tiny, defenceless, two-year-old, obstinate, stroppy, wonderful babies, are going to be a million* miles away.  What if something happens?  What if something happens to one of them and I can't get back? What if something happens to me, and I never get back? There are planes, and motorways, and icy roads, and illnesses, and accidents of unimaginable kinds to contend with.  What am I thinking leaving them for so long to go so far away?

A, in particular, is not making this easier.  I think she knows.  She's at that stage where she understands a lot more than she can say, and I think she knows.  I think she realises I'm going and I'm certain she doesn't want me to.  For the first time ever, I'm having to sit in their room with them until she falls asleep because she won't let me leave (and now she's capable of climbing out of the cot - and I don't think it's fair to take the sides off and then leave them with other people for a week - I can't leave until I know she's not going to take a nosedive).

I actually tried to explain to her tonight.  I sat and I stroked her hand through the bars, and I told her I was going away but that I would not be gone long and I would do everything I can to be back to her soon.  And I find myself thinking, again, so that I bore myself and can't sleep: "But what if I can't? What if I'm not?"

And I know, I really do, that as soon as we're on that plane, and L, who is beside herself with excitement, has settled down with her own private telly, and I have a book, or a mindless movie, and the anticipation of all the wonderfulness ahead, that it will be ok.  That it will be more than ok.  I suspect that this may end up being L's first memory that she takes with her into adulthood, and I hope it's going to be a wonderful one. I'm determined to make it a wonderful one.  It's our girls' adventure, and we've been planning it for months. We are so very lucky.

But there's still a very big part of me that wishes we weren't going at all.

* Please note, distances may not be geographically accurate, but emotionally they're spot on.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Finding out

This time next week we'll know.

Boy or Girl?

Entirely new wardrobe of stuff with cars and monkeys on it? Or a lifetime of handmedowns?

Because we've decided.  We're finding out.

We didn't with L.  We didn't want to spoil the surprise.  But the thing you realise when you actually have a baby is that the baby is the surprise; the crying, wailing, blood-and-gunk-covered, amazing bundle of pink and white and odd grey-blue that someone's just handed you.  She could have been boy, girl or anything in between and I'd still have been astonished by her.

We did find out with A and S.  We were being scanned every two weeks. Somehow when they're giving you fortnightly updates on their blood flow, projected weight and leg length, it feels stupid not to find out what there is (or isn't) between those legs.   We knew so much about them before they were born, but the meeting them was still nothing I could have imagined.

So this time, we've got form for either. But we're going to find out.  I think.

I want a boy.  Everyone else wants me to have a boy.  It's my turn for a boy.  I've got three girls already. A boy would be amazing.

Mums of boys tell me that no-one will ever love me like a son.  I'd love to know if that's true.  I'd like not to be scared by the thought of changing my friends' boys' nappies.  It's about time too that B had someone to keep him company, now and in 12 years time when this house becomes a monthly war zone of oestrogen;  that he, the eldest of three brothers, had someone to be a boy with himself.

A boy would be so exciting.  For me, for B, for our families who are inundated with girls.  Of course we want a boy.

But I want a girl too.  I know girls. I have girls.  The girls want a girl (well, L does; the little ones are more at the pointing at my tummy stage and saying "baby" because they know it makes me smile.)  A girl would be easy. The dynamic of four girls would (I hope) just work.

So I lurch - I imagine it's a boy and get all excited at the thought of telling people, of the different, of the new.  And then I imagine another girl, the familiar and safe, the four little girls playing together, and I want a girl.

I guess I must just want a baby.  Maybe we should leave it as a surprise... Because really I know: whoever (and whatever) he (or she) turns out to be, he's going to surprise us.


Oh, and I hope everyone had a splendid Christmas!  We were mostly ill, but still managed to have fun, and even better Father Christmas (or Santa as they definitely call him this side of the Border) managed to find us in our new home.  

And here were are in 2011....Happy New Year!