Thursday, 30 June 2011

Holidaaaay, sort of

The Owl has got this week off work, so we're mooching, doing fun stuff with the Bat and generally having a chilled-out time. Today is especially good because a) I handed in a German assignment yesterday and don't have another course deadline for ages, b) I had jam doughnuts instead offor lunch and c) the Oxford comma, which I hate, has been dropped from the Oxford style guide. See me not using it! This is the kind of thing that makes me happy.

Tomorrow I think we're going to Avebury, so that I can look at the standing stones and be all ooOOOOooooOOOooooo. I might remember to take the camera, in which case you'll get some family photos. Maybe Westonbirt or the seaside on Saturday, then lunch out with in-laws on Sunday. It's all v exciting.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

On being a pro-choice mum

Trigger warning - this is a post on abortion from the pro-choice perspective. There's also detail about pregnancy and birth.

(I've written this - slightly later than I meant to! - for the theme-free Feminist Friday over at Obviously the opinions here are all my own.)

My baby was really, really wanted. I was dead lucky and fell pregnant in our third month of trying, which is pretty quick. Right from the start, I thought of the wee zygote as my baby. It had a dozen different nicknames before we even had the first ultrasound. I loved my baby. I cherished every somersault and every prod to my internal organs (for the first six months or so, anyway). I sang to it before it even had ears. It was the beginning of our relationship, and it was right and happy and good. For us.

My strong loving feelings during my pregnancy were perfectly valid and natural. That doesn't make them some kind of objective truth that can be applied to all women and all pregnancies. If a woman doesn't think of her own embryo or foetus as a baby, that's entirely her prerogative. My emotions about my pregnancy are completely irrelevant to anyone else. If you don't want to have a baby, if you don't picture yourself holding a child and caring for it and picking the lint out from between its ickle toesy-wosies, then naturally you might not feel emotionally attached to a bunch of dividing cells. That little peanut-with-legs is only a baby if you think it is, and you don't get to make that decision about any peanut but your own. Women run the whole gamut of emotions when it comes to pregnancy, whether they're planning to terminate or go full-term. My own feelings are not universal and there's no reason they should be.

For me, pregnancy and birth were wonderful but terrifying. If you didn't want to be a mother at the end of it all, I can only imagine what a headfuck it would be. It's a big deal. It changes you and your body in ways that you can't always predict. In the last six weeks of my pregnancy, I had bad SPD. My pelvic joint got too loose, which was incredibly painful and meant I needed crutches to walk. It improved as soon as the Bat was born, but it's only in the last month or so - over a year after the birth - that I've been able to walk two or more miles without pain. Some women don't recover to the extent that I have, and I'm at risk for earlier and greater pelvic problems in subsequent pregnancies. We're not 'just' talking about saggy skin and a few stretch marks here (though adjusting to sudden physical changes can be bloody difficult, and a good self-image is not frivolous or unnecessary). Some people have severe tears. Some people lose continence to various degrees. And let's not forget that even an 'easy' birth usually means a lot of pain and a lot of strangers doing stuff to your private bits. It's commendable to go full-term and let someone else give the baby a loving home - you'll make an adoptive family very happy - but it's hardly a straightforward option. Should unwilling women have to risk all those problems when it's still early enough to avoid them, just because I happen to like babies? Hell no.

Women matter. Women's thoughts and feelings matter. Women's physical autonomy matters. My emotional response is not a moral imperative, and it doesn't justify forcing anyone through the danger and trauma of an unwanted pregnancy.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


I formed the cunning plan of hoovering while the Bat was down for her morning nap in the other room, because otherwise she gets scared of the noise. She's fast asleep, all is in preparation - EXCEPT for the hoover, which I left in her bedroom. Bugger. Do I sneak in and risk waking her up?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I hate low-fat alternatives

Out of curiosity, I bought a low-fat Milky Way thick shake with no added sugar when I popped to the corner shop after PEEP. I couldn't really see how it would be good but I was willing to learn different. Well, I was right. It's rubbish. It smells chocolatey, it tastes sweet when it first hits your tongue and then just kind of... disappears into weird floury nothingness. I'm popping the rest of it in the fridge for now and frankly I may have to doctor it with a splash of cream if I'm going to finish it. Yuck.

The one exception to my rule is, as you might have guessed, Diet Coke. I think it's way better than sugary Coke, which I really dislike. I need that aspartame zing. Oh, and low-fat cottage cheese is OK, because it tastes low-fat even when it isn't, so you really might as well get your fat in a more delicious form.

In which I kind of have a social life

We're off to PEEP later. PEEP stands for something about Empowering or maybe Educating and one of the Ps must surely be for Parents. Anyway, we all trundle down to the Sure Start centre, do some songs etc. with the toddlers and then they play while the mums (yep, it's all mums) chat with the staff about a different topic each week. Last week we talked about Tantrums, which was popular - we almost ran out of time for a story at the end. Can't remember what it is this week. Maybe feeding? Not sure. In previous weeks we've talked a lot about how they play at this age and what they get out of it, which was interesting. One of the staff also tipped me off to start shortening the Bat's naps during the day and see if that helps her go to sleep at night, which does seem to be working. It's been days now since we had an epic four-hour battle over bedtime, and she's even slept through the last few nights.

So! Yay for PEEP. There are some really nice people there. It's quite a diverse group as well, other than us all being white and female - lots of different ages, and we're scattered quite widely on the crunchiness scale, if you know what I mean. That scale where one end is putting McDonald's milkshakes in your newborn's bottle, and the other is weaving your own cloth nappies from home-grown organic flax. Obviously I consider myself to be perfectly balanced in the middle and doing everything just right. :D

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

This is as close to Supermum as I get

Well, I didn't make it to the library. But I did hold a fridge amnesty and dealt with the Things in the salad drawer that I've been avoiding for too long. That lets me off all chores for the rest of the day, in my humble opinion. But despite that I am STILL voluntarily making delicious cake for Owl's office. I'm that awesome. You can bow down and kiss my feet if you like.

Summer Solstice

I have to say, I think the solstice should be a bit more bloody summery. *glares at clouds* Not least because I've got to walk up to the library this afternoon and return the books that I've been repeatedly renewing online since, um, February. We tried to do some messy play in the garden yesterday with that wondrous cornflour-and-water mixture, but the rain started bucketing down after five minutes and we fled back inside. This is not the June I ordered!

I've been flipping back through our photos of the Bat with a view to getting some printed up for her great-grandparents, who aren't online and get a bit left out of the loop. It's very, very odd to realise how much she's changed - when I look back at earlier pictures now, I'm amazed that she was ever so bald and chubby, but at the time I thought she had tons of hair! Here's a recent shot;

[Image description: the Bat, a pale-skinned one year old with red hair, is sitting in a baby swing in our back garden. She is dressed for summer in a skirt and T-shirt. She is grinning at the camera.]

Here she is just before six months, having her first ever bite of solid food;

[Image description: the Bat, age as described above, wearing a red babygro. She is sitting in an infant high chair with a mouthful of food and pulling a disgusted face.]

Just a few months old, flat out in her Moses basket (to think she was ever tiny enough to fit into it!);

[Image description: the Bat, age as described above, lying fast asleep in a Moses basket that is lined with white spotted cotton. She wears a colourful babygro and is covered with a white blanket.]

And four days old, not long after she came home from the hospital;

[Image description: the Bat, age as described above, fast asleep on her back in a classic newborn pose with fists curled on either side of her head. She is lying in a Moses basket, covered with a white blanket and wearing a red and white babygro.]

TINY PERSON. I had a sniffle over some of her first babygros the other day. They're so little! I still can't believe I was allowed to be in charge of this fragile wee thing, or that I've successfully seen her through the last 15 months. When are they going to realise that I'm not grown up enough?

Monday, 20 June 2011

My secret shame (well, one of them)

Hi. My name is Sarah and I'm a Diet Coke addict.

I hate this! I hate Coca Cola as a corporation. I hate the sheer amount of plastic that comes into our house as the result of my insatiable need for Diet Coke. I hate the vast sums of money I spend on it. I hate that it's probably eroding my tooth enamel all to hell. (I have bad dreams about all my teeth crumbling away, seriously. I inherited stonkingly sturdy teeth and I have horrendous guilt about wasting this genetic boon.) I don't always enjoy the taste of the stupid stuff, even. It can be the flat horrible end of a bottle but I'll still drink it rather than pouring it away.

I have to face facts. For me, Diet Coke is the new Marlboro Lights. I quit smoking five years ago, and have always figured that if I could do that successfully then I could do anything. Apparently I have met an even greater foe.

More food - I've got a one track mind

I'm currently eating Nutella with a teaspoon while wondering whether to also make some real food for lunch. Pretty soon the Bat is going to start picking up on my horrendous eating habits. I don't want her to think this how people are supposed to eat! So it really is time to get my arse in gear and have proper meals along with her. (Don't worry, she's currently having homemade cheese and pesto muffins with fruit for afters. I do know about food, I just don't apply the knowledge to myself.)

Right, I've decided. I will have soup like a normal person.

This morning has been semi-productive for once - Bat and I are both bathed and fragrant (yes, that counts as an achievement, thank you), a cot blanket is out on the line to dry and I'm planning another laundry load soon, and some necessary emails have been sent. This afternoon, when the Owl gets back, I'll skim and freeze the stock I made yesterday and try to work a bit more on the story I'm writing.

Goals for the week are:

finish spiffing up my translation CV and contact some more agencies
tidy up before a friend comes over for dinner on Thursday
plan meal for the same
bake carrot cake for Owl's work, which I promised a fortnight ago but was ill and germy when the time came to do it
wash, dry and pack up all my maternity clothes to be stored (why yes, it is about time)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Lazy Sunday

The chicken and ribs turned out quite nice. I'll probably futz with the oven temperature next time. We ate half for supper last night and half just now for lunch (I did slightly less meat than Nigella does - still whopping amounts, though). The Bat has some chicken that I stripped off a drumstick, but she's mostly pushing it around her tray instead of eating it. Ingrate.

The weather today is a massive improvement on the last week or so. I feel like I should be heading off for a sprightly energetic walk, but I also feel sufficiently oogy that we had to cancel going out for lunch with the Husband's family, so it's probably not a good idea. Instead I'm going to make some stock from the leftover bones and do laundry, both of which make me feel productive but don't require all that much physical effort.

Saturday, 18 June 2011


I'm trying a new recipe tonight (yes, I'm cooking it at 10.45 pm, why do you ask? All adults eat dinner at midnight. True fact). It's this one from Nigella, more or less. I'm incapable of taking a recipe and not tweaking it at all, but this is fairly faithful to the original. With it we're having crusty rolls and lemony green beans. And there'll be loads left for tomorrow, too, which makes me feel pleasantly organised and somewhat makes up for the ridiculously late suppertime. It's the Owl's fault, I swear. He came home late! A mere four hours ago!


The Bat is flat out in her cot after a walk in the fresh air, so here I am, using the free time to write my first post. Hello.

I'm an at-home mum to the Bat, an opinionated 14-month-old redhead. Her dad, the Owl, is an engineer with a massive beard and we all live together in Bristol, UK. When I'm not changing nappies or dangling the baby by her ankles, I like to read, cook, make jewellery and waste my time online. I'm also a linguist, gearing up for a career as a freelance translator with the aim of going full-time once the sproglet is at school (unless I've made my fortune as a novelist by then BWAHAHAHAHAww c'mon, a girl can dream).

Today the Bat and I went down to a barbecue/fete/whatchamacallit, held as a fundraising effort to try and save a lovely local building (possibly the only old-ish building in the area) that the council are after selling off. 50p to get in, 50p for coffee and 30p to buy the Bat a cuddly toy off a stall. I'm not sure my contribution is going to single-handedly rescue the building, but every little helps, right? The Bat charmed the socks off all the old ladies while I had my coffee. We were only out for an hour tops, but she fell fast asleep in the pushchair on the way home and I managed to transfer her into the cot without waking her at all. I don't often get to hold her while she sleeps - she pretty much stopped falling asleep on us months ago, and I only realise how much I miss it on the few occasions when it does happen. Awww, warm heavy sleepy baby.