Boy or Girl?

Quite a lot of people have asked me if Jack would care if our child was to be gay. The honest answer is no, he wouldn’t give a shit.

These conversations often evolve into a discussion about gender identity. It’s big news at the moment (Although most definitely not new news). Would Jack care if our child was to be transgender. (The interest is 100% on my husbands views, maybe men are perceived to be less tolerant?) Again, no he wouldn’t. I can say that hand on heart. He lives his life by the wise old mantra of, “some people are just dicks, why don’t people just see through race or sexuality and see who the dicks are and who’s alright”. Can’t argue with that really.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion around raising a child allowing them to dress and act in accordance to a certain gender, even if that’s not what their body represents. There has been discussion in the media about Angelia Jolie allowing her kid to dress as a boy, John Lewis removing gender from the children’s clothes section and celebrities not revealing the gender of their child.

Growing up I had pals who were “tom boys” running around in football kits and getting muddy, defying all gender stereotypes and not being “girly” in the slightest. But it wasn’t analysed or pulled apart, they had a great time and grew up being satisfied with their gender. On the flip side I have other friends who grew up playing the part of their gender stereotype to a T, and I’m not fully convinced that they are 100% happy with their body’s representation of their gender, even at the ripe old age of 30 something.

My point is, I don’t think that we are anywhere near getting it right for our transgender population. Why are we so obsessed with gender? We haven’t found out what we are having and it’s a massive conversation starter. But we could get a boy who loves ballet and a girl who ends up being an international footballer, they could be gay, they could be transgender. Why do we care so much? I really struggle to get my head around what makes people feel uncomfortable about people not adhering to the gender rules.

I work in the service industry so see thousands of people every week. Historically, nothing sparks a whisper like a transgender person walking into my place of work, and it makes me so angry. We need to stop.

Stop over analysing what genitals people have and whether how they dress or act match them.

Being transgender needs to be normalised and I don’t think creating a fanfair around, for example- letting your little boy wear a dress is the answer. Just let him wear a dress, with no comment or judgment, no big announcement, just allow him to enjoy wearing what he wants. Maybe he will wear a dress for a week, or the rest of his life. But if this is just normal, not questioned or judged, not pulled apart and discussed at length, surely that gives him the time and freedom to discover who he really is and the be it?

We have such a long way to go. June is a big pride month, London, LA and Sydney celebrating theirs, to name a tiny %. Still I’m not seeing enough transgender representation in the main stream.

We have come such a long way in the last 50 years, but think it’s dangerous to satisfy ourselves that we are “there”. For our child my wish is that we keep challenging social stereotypes, keep pushing forward, allowing people to be their true selves,keep opening minds and hearts until our children can live without fear of being who they want to be and grow up to be accepting of one another, and not whispering when someone who is different to them walks into the room.

The Top Ten Things That Took Me by Surprise in My Second Trimester

  • I feel better, I woke up one day and didn’t want to vomit all over everyone. It’s excellent.
  • As people could see the physical changes that occur, my work colleagues mostly became warm and interested in my pregnancy. It was a lovely shift and one which I appreciate so much.
  • I’m a bit of a hugger. I have really noticed that people are almost worried to touch me. I think it’s out of respect and fear of being intrusive, but I don’t mind people I know giving the bump and little rub or continuing to be tactical. However, I get that not everyone is like me and I appreciate the consideration given to my personal boundaries.
  • EVERYONE of my parents generation LOVE to tell me, “make sure you get your sleep now, you won’t sleep much after the baby comes” or “ohhhh, you know your life will never be the same”. It drives me mad, I want to reply, “oh really?! I had no idea that babies cry in the night and we won’t be able to go out to raves in London every month”, and bop them on the nose. I mean honestly, we’re not morons.
  • You look pregnant. I know that’s obvious but this seems to take forever and it feels like a lifetime of being a bit chubby. Looking pregnant when you are is great- people smile me all the time and you get a seat on the train.
  • I have become OBSESSED with the movement in my belly, and freak out if the baby doesn’t move for a nano second more than usual. Basically I’m relentlessly worrying about it before it’s even born.
  • I hate being pregnant. I am so excited for the end result, but hate my body and mind belonging to someone else. I hate that I have no control over the changes and that pregnancy makes me ache, makes me tired and REALLY HOT all the time. I know how lucky I am, I don’t take that for granted for a second. I know when we meet our baby it will be worth it. But right now I would love to be able to sleep on my back.
  • Strangers love to undermine my husband by assuming he won’t help with the baby. Most unfair and untrue, he can’t wait to be a hands on Dad. It’s not OK to make these sweeping assumptions and honestly, it pisses me off.
  • I hardly had any cravings, one briefly for Heinz cream of tomato soup, that lasted all of two weeks. I thought I’d be sitting up at 3am eating gherkins.
  • The thought of walking away from work for a year became a scary reality. I was so excited basking in the idea of coffee mornings, long walks and play dates. As it gets closer It’s freaking me out. I’ve worked for the same company for 15 years- half my life and my entire adult life, it’s all I know, I am well and truly institutionalised. The sudden realisation of change pretty terrifying. No guaranteed adult social interaction. Complete unknown waters to navigate. I’m sure it will be fine, would could go wrong…

My Top Ten Tips for a Home Makeover

When we bought our home there was no doubt we had bitten off more than we had an anticipated.

After a full re-wire, new bathroom and kitchen, new ceilings and floors downstairs we were out of money. Then we got engaged, got married and lived out the rest of our twenties in a blur of parties, holidays, festivals and meals out. It was awesome.

I found out I was pregnant and looked around at the dusty floorboards and something took over. We had to finish the house.

In four months we have made more progress than we had in the first three years. Growing up I never lived in a house that was finished. My Dad LOVES a project so it was a never ending merrygo round of “jobs”. He’s onto the next house now…

As an adult this experience I had growing up has helped me massively in the renovation of our little house. We have a tight budget but it’s working out really well.

Here’s my top ten tips for when you don’t know where to start. It’s worked well for us so far!

1. Get the big stuff done first. Bathroom, kitchen, electrical. Although it might not be pretty, you NEED these in your home.

2. Break your house down into rooms or segments. Completely finish these areas, so then if you run out of funds (or steam) your whole house isn’t half finished and you can grow into it but by bit.

3. Finishing an area includes soft furnishings, lighting and touches. If you don’t do it when you’re completing the room, you might never get it how you imagined. These things make it a home.

4. Keep as much natural light through your house as possible by using mirrors/glass interior doors. It will make your home feel so much bigger.

5. Shop around. It’s always worth investing in one or two good quality pieces of furniture (I love John Lewis) and then adding your “touches” from places like The Range/Dunelm. Outlets are amazing too. Where would we be without Homesence?!

6. Don’t be afraid to pay someone for the big stuff if you can’t do it. Use someone recommended if you can. We are rubbish at painting- and it was worth every penny to get a Decorater in. Think how much time and money you can waste getting it wrong.

7. Have a go at the little stuff. Not sure how to hang a mirror? YouTube it. Anything that’s not going to ruin you house or make it fall down, have a go at. My logic is “how easy or expensive is it to fix if it goes wrong”. It’s worked so far!

8. Copy people. Stuck for inspiration? Pinterest and Instagram are full of brilliant ideas and hacks. Don’t be to set in your way and go for some of the more off the wall ideas- they are often the best. Nick your friends ideas too.

9. Remember this is your home, not an Ikea set. Don’t forget to include storage solutions and comfort in your design.

10. Don’t worry if it takes time, you can move in room by room- it will be worth it in the long run when your home is exactly how you want it.

The Choices We Make

It was always a plan to get pregnant but I never would have referred to it as a choice.

Do we choose to be parents or is the fact that we reproduce something that we do to create our future?

Some people don’t want children, and I get that, and absolutely am not of the view that having a child makes you more accomplished at life or a better person.

However, I read a letter recently suggesting that people who “make the choice” to have children should not get any “special treatment”. (His words, not mine) from businesses. The context was that he felt that parents shouldn’t be allowed time away from work for a year, or to be given any sort of a leg up when coming back to work, he was worried that there was going to be a culture of positive discrimination towards working parents, and that it wasn’t fair as it is a choice to have a baby, a lifestyle choice that shouldn’t impact on the workplace.

I have to disagree with this sentiment. As it gets closer to having to face the reality of being a working mum I see that it is going to be near on impossible without a “leg up”, and too right I’ll be taking a year off to be with my child.

I will need flexible working, which I will get to an extent, but I have no option to work from home, and can have two absences in a year before being managed for not attending work.

My friends little girl has been poorly at least three times already this year and on these occasions she’s worked from home to be there for a cuddle if needed. Too right.

What do us working parents do in that situation who don’t have that option? The people in the service industry, the pubic sector workers or people working for small businesses who don’t have the funding to support these needs?

I’m a capable, fairly intelligent human who has given 15 years to the business I work for. Is it unreasonable to ask for a little help making a side step into a job that would work better for my parenting needs? I don’t think so. I’m not sure it’s even a leg up- I’m already on the back foot. (Working parents are still viewed as a pain in the arse by many).

This doesn’t just apply to women, it would be amazing to see support for the working Dads out there too. Maybe, even families having the option where both parents can raise their children with two adults in a household being allowed flexible working without it bankrupting them. Single parent families getting even more support, not just from companies but from the government as well.

Surely it’s better for the economy for businesses to go above and beyond for those raising the next generation? You never know, they might be the future leader of that company?! It must be better for businesses not to loose years of experience and loyalty.

I feel this has to get improve, I don’t think we should have to sacrifice because we’ve made a “choice”. These choices we make are our future, and we need to be given the tools to do best by them, to raise good humans.

The Smart Phone Generation.

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Jack and I recently went to a Jessie Ware gig, as I stood there, bloated with my hair everywhere I looked around at the perfectly preened early twenties looking ridiculously cool, the first dates and the pints of beer, and, for the first time I felt old. And fat. And pregnant.

We were stood at the Hammersmith Appollo and as Jessie Ware came on stage it didn’t matter. I love live music. It’s my favourite, and she did not disappoint, she was mesmerising. What did disappoint was the audience. We were standing watching a powerhouse musician sing the songs she had written and the viewing public were so easily distracted by their mobile phones. As soon as she started to sing a song that wasn’t a high tempo hit the girls surrounding me were lost into the glowing light of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and IMessage. In this order, on a loop. I wanted to take their phones and stamp on them. Fair enough, take a photo, but this was incessant, really distracting and downright rude.

On the way home I moaned at Jack and expressed my concern about this generation. Yup, I am old. What is it going to be like when our child is twenty one? How can you get lost in the moment with an artist if all you are worrying about is how many views your Insta story has got and if the right person knows you are there.

That weekend we went to visit my parents, and as we were eating our Sunday dinner the conversation was not floating my Dads boat, I could see his mind wondering and then his mobile phone came out. I challenged him, “errr, Dad we’re in the middle of dinner?!”. He argued he was looking up a song that was playing, no different to looking at a record cover. I kind of got his point, but it had nothing to do with what we were talking about. Twenty minutes later, his phone comes out again, I asked him what he was doing and he started laughing as he informed us he was looking at an AVOCADO KNIFE. WHAT THE ACTUAL.

I’ve picked on my poor old Dad here, but I think most people are guilty of this, me included. It was during this visit that I understood that living through the a mobile phone screen isn’t generational at all. It’s a sign of our times.

For our babies sake I hope and pray that the balance restores itself. I wonder if our obsession with our phones and social media is extreme because this technology is so new, it’s novel to have a PR tool for our lives. To be easily distracted and entertained one hundred percent of the time. Fifteen years ago the internet was dial up, that is no time at all for us to adjust to the magnificent power we have at our fingertips. To be everywhere all of the time.

As I continue on the journey to becoming a Mother, of course I worry about the danger of the internet, the lack of control, the trolling and the catfishing, but these things happened to an extent already. It was teenagers having a fondle instead of sending a photo, it was half of my school year sneaking to the park to drink vodka, insisting to their parents they were having a sleepover at a friends house. It’s not the same but there are definite parallels. What worries me most is our children missing out on life and genuine feeling; going on a date, listening to music at a gig uninterrupted and sneaking out with their mates without a parent being able to track them down on Find My Friends. These life experiences and bolts to independence certainly made me the person I am today, lessons learned and memories made. I want my children to have the same thrills and excitement when breaking free into adulthood as I did. Because, it was so much fun.

Taking my New Body Clothes Shopping

Last week was the first time I experienced shopping for clothes with a semi bump. I still look like I’ve had one to many cakes but the bump is starting to take shape and I’m sure it will be “proper” in the next week or two.

We are off to a wedding next weekend and I had absolutely nothing that fitted me. Jack and I had a rare day off together in the week. I work shifts so am often galavanting around mid week, taking advantage of the not so busy shops. It was a real treat that Jack had a days holiday to take. We took the opportunity and went into London. After an AMAZING lunch at Spiltalfields, where we consumed masses of melted cheese in a tiny cheese shop, Androute. We actually stopped and spent time together, it was long overdue and I loved every second. If I had known what the next hour would have in store we might have stayed for another drink. But no, I had a great idea.

We headed to Oxford Street, where, I was confident there would be a plethora of suitable maternity options for the big event next weekend. How wrong I was.

Maternity tights. I needed them and I needed them immediately, the non maternity version I was wearing were cutting my vagina in half. “It’s ok”, I thought, “I’ll find them straight away”. Nope, it took ages.

The first surprise I got was that many of the shops maternity sections were in separate shops out the back, we literally had to walk out the front of the shop and go round to the separate Maternity door. I’m over sensitive at the moment and it made me feel like the dirty secret the clothes shops were catering for. The second surprise I got was that they were TINY, with not a lot of choice. I fully understand the beauty of online, but I’m no fashion guru and have no idea how to dress this new body of mine. I wanted to try stuff on. It really took me aback. Now I’ve had time to reflect it does make sense, it wouldn’t be viable to have massive maternity sections, but I wasn’t prepared for it to not feel like the normal, shopping for clothes on Oxford Street experience.

In the end the only shop that came through for me was H&M. Amazing bras and tights, (thank you very much) and I managed to find a respectable dress to wear to said wedding. And all for under fifty pounds. Thank goodness.

Feeling a sense of relief we headed to Soho, where I immediately changed into my fabulous new tights. Going on to have the most wonderful time with some of my oldest friends celebrating a birthday. It was the first time Jack and I had been out and I hadn’t felt like falling asleep standing up since we found out I was expecting. It really lifted my spirits and although the clothes shopping experience was fairly frustrating, I know I’ll get the hang of it. It didn’t nearly ruin our day and I discovered the amazingness of a mocktail, this revelation has literally made my life. And please- Mums out there- any tips on dressing my baby bump would be gratefully received, I can’t continue to wear my dressing gown pretty much all of the time. 😉

Who Runs The World?

Still white men in suits or women trying to be white men in suits. Annoyingly.

When I fell pregnant I couldn’t fault my boss. He has been nothing but supportive throughout.Worryingly it is some (not all), but enough of my peers who silently disapprove of my inconveniencing them due to my pregnancy, and these people are mostly WOMEN.

One of my wonderful friends said to me today, “it’s like being pregnant is a hobby that women have”. And that is exactly how I have been made to feel. We went on to discuss, and forgive me if I’m wrong, that having a baby is making our future, that it’s quite convenient when they grow up to be pillars of society, make changes and save lives.

I can tell you now, feeling like you can’t put one foot in front of another and wanting to vomit every hour is inconvenient for me too, Janet. So get over it.

I hope that these attitudes change quickly. With amazing movements like Times Up and International Woman’s day I see the most wonderful empowering posts that fill me with joy and make my heart soar.

But then I go back to work and have to deal with the attitude because I won’t do some of what I used to. Because I won’t risk my baby and I don’t bloody well feel like it- it will probably make me sick on my shoe. And that breaks my heart.

Nothing will move forward, nothing will change, until us ladies, the ones on the ground, in the shops, restaurants and offices, the ones living our normal, boring lives, not the ones on the red carpet, step up and have each other’s backs.