As I write this I am hot, itchy and swollen laying spread eagled on my bed at 7 on a Sunday morning with a fan blowing on me. I awoke to a series of regularly deteriorating selfies from my husband who went out out with the lads- reason being, “wetting the babies head”. (His mates wife carried and gave birth to a little boy in January).
It got me thinking.
Firstly my impatience and intolerant side is wittering at me- “wetting the babies head”, is ridiculous. It’s an excuse to go out with the guys and get hammered for something that, quite frankly the physical input that men have in making babies is nothing but enjoyable. Well done, your sperm worked. So they get a party. Whilst I’m laying here overheating and blowing up like a character from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It’s not the first “wetting the babies head”, and it won’t be the last.
Lads, go out, have a wonderful time, drink beer and watch football. But in the name of celebrating your wife’s physical sacrifice for a year, where she’s not even involved or included? I think not.
I don’t begrudge the night out. Just the reason behind it. But I have to be a cool independent woman who’s totally fine with it all. Whilst hot, aching and fat.
As far as I’m concerned this pretty much sums up where we are with equal rights, feminism and all around gender fairness. As a woman you have to to do it all. By this I don’t mean all the housework, cooking and cleaning. I am not criticising my husband who, treats me with nothing but respect and support. No, this is a dig at society.
Nothing prepared me for the changes that my body would go through pregnant. I knew I’d get a bit fat, but the itching, swelling, hormones and painful hips, back, fingers? Yes fingers. Was not on my radar. I am lucky enough to be in a position where I was able to stop work at 31 Weeks due to to holidays- but I wasn’t doing my job. It was time to stop. The role is physically demanding and hands on, and I was sat on my arse for a fair amount of time leading up to leaving. I couldn’t do it. Had I not been in the lucky situation I am with my holiday entitlement I would have had not choice but to continue working for another 8 weeks. Yes I could stop anytime from 29 weeks, but I get paid for 14 weeks. (That’s considered “good” maternity leave). So really what choice do women have other than to keep going right up until the end? There’s hardly a choice. Just a rock and a hard place.
I’ll go on to give birth. I got a small insight to this yesterday as we had to pop over to Watford for a blood test. The delivery ward was busy, there was a lot of bloodcurdling screams echoing along the hot corridor, beds that looked like a murder had just taken place, waiting to be cleared and some very uncomfortable ladies making their way home.
When they get home it won’t stop there, healing from a physically and mentally difficult (different for every women, but I think safe to say challenging for all?) experience. Learning quickly how to keep a tiny human alive, often continuing to sacrifice their own bodies.
You get some maternity pay. Maybe six weeks, maybe more. But then you are left with a measly pay out for you to live off for nine months.
Now, I’ll get to my point. I’ve worked pretty much full time since I was 16. I earn a good wage and for much of our relationship have been the bread winner. I now contribute equally to the household. (Or I did). We own our house, a terraced ex council house in an ok, but not posh part of town. We’ve decided to have a baby.
As a woman I get 14 weeks to spend with my new child. Because, gender equality is still not supporting women. I am relied upon in my household not only for bringing up a baby, but to finically contribute in equal measure to my husband. We don’t live an extravagant life, we have a sensible mortgage and live to our means. Why should it be so hard to navigate this first year?
I say women in this first year because I feel we should be supported to stay at home (if we want too). Our bodies have gone through significant trauma and need time to heal, apart from anything else. As well as the time to mentally adjust to this life you grew being there all the time as well as ALL THE HORMONES. We aren’t allowed to say this anymore, because we can’t afford to show that it might be hard sometimes, at the risk of being perceived as weak.
Men don’t have to deal with it. Of course it’s tough for the guy, but come on. You can’t compare it really. So now we’re in a position where the woman is placed to do it all, I’m not sure what the answer is? Better flexible working would help, better maternity pay, bringing up a child or two being considered important in society and not an inconvenience to business? We don’t consider looking g after our offspring as a “job”, but it costs £75+ a day for someone else to do it for you.
Women should have more choice and options with regards to home set ups in that first year- and if they don’t want to stay home and want to go back to work, their Partners should get the same. There is a conversation to be had about after the first year, but for today I’m just talking about those precious initial 12 months.
Equal rights don’t support women, parents or families.
They support the money lead, greedy part of society where every family’s priority is earning enough to pay the mortgage, put food on the table and live a little. Often with huge sacrifice, mostly for the mother, the woman who carried and birthed a human being, with little acknowledgement, help or support from the big man. Frankly, because men are still running the show and equal rights have been morphed into somehow benefiting and taking the pressure of them. The balance needs re-addressing. Women and families need more help, more choice and more freedom.