Baby Loss Awareness Day 15th October

Now, my intention for this blog was never to be journal-like, political ortoo much general musing. It is predominately a craft blog, and I want to stay within that realm. I know people follow blogs for different reasons, and most people following this one will be interested in the craft projects. Inevitably though, this blog will have different elements of me in it that will slip in, one of those, the biggest part of me, is being a mum. Again, I’m not really a ‘mummy blogger’ but kids are part of the package with any parent.

The point of this post is really to make people aware of Baby Loss Awareness Day, today, 15th October. I have been lucky enough not to have suffered the loss of a baby. But since becoming a parent I have become aware of how common miscarriage is. Far more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, yet we are all much more aware of the campaign promoting awareness and prevention of SIDS than we are about miscarriage.

I think one of the issues is that miscarriage is very much a woman-focused issue. Yes, the loss of an unborn child is devastating to men as well as women, but the loss is so much more physical for women, directly impacting on their bodies and their physical and mental health. Mumsnet is leading a campaign for a better code of care for women who experience miscarriage. The stories that some women have are dreadful. I’m not going to post them here, again, that is not what my blog is about. But I urge you to read some of these stories and join the campaign to support women. MmeLindor at Salt&Caramel is hosting a blog hop if you want to read more about the campaign and people’s experiences. The loss of a baby will stay with women forever. Their treatment and support at this time can affect how those experiences will impact on their lives.

Mumsnet crafters

The Viper's Nest

Say what you like about Mumsnet (goodness knows plenty of people do!) but when the chip are down, these women (mostly women) rally around like Lewis Hamilton at Monaco. (For those who are just here for the craft, skip to the bottom!)

Mumsnetters have been accused of being a nest of vipers, bullying and terribly middle class. The reality is it is filled with a diverse range of astute, articulate and funny women. Yes, you get your horrors, your trolls, and your hierarchies, just like you do on any other large forum. For the most part Mumsnet is fabulous. it has made me the parent I am today for better or worse. Yes, I may have neglected my kids on occasions while I have been ‘working’ at my laptop. Then there was the infamous Moldie-gate secret splinter group saga Christmas 2008 which saw DH nearly divorce me over my obsession. Not that I’d have noticed at the time. But without it’s support I’d not have breastfed for so long, not have discovered Baby Led Weaning, which wanky as it sounds, was a fantastic way of feeding our children.

Mumsnet is, unusually for a large forum, mainly self moderated and self policed. This means you can use the phrase “Tescos are cunts” quite freely, but describe someone as a ‘spaz’ or a ‘mong’ and you will, quite rightly, be rounded on quite harshly for your use of disablist language. The large community of Mumsnetters managing special needs and disabilities have certainly opened my eyes to the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Vipers, bitches, bullies; call them what you like, Mumsnetters have compassion and empathy in spades. More than that, they take action. From supermarket deliveries sent to the door of someone in need, to the annual Christmas appeal, where Mumsnetters send presents to the families of those for whom Christmas might otherwise be a sad affair for whatever reason, Mumsnetters give an enormous amount of support, both real and virtual. Sadly this means they have been caught out on occasions, by vile people trading illegitimately on the goodwill of people who give everything they can, emotionally and physically, even when they have little to give. These tenacious women continue to give, just in case they can make the difference in someone’s life.

This is why I try and contribute when I can and for a few days this week I put my frivolous yarn bombing on hold to do something useful for a change. It has become a recent, sadly all to regular, tradition on Mumsnet to make a crafty project for those who have recently been bereaved. It started out with a couple of blankets for the children of a Mumsnetter who lost her little boy very suddenly. The blankets were for the boy’s sisters to give them something comforting and memorable. As well as the crafty Mumsnetters who made knitted, crocheted or quilted squares, there were those who donated money so crafter with skills but little money could be sent wool to contribute the project. Since then there have been too many blankets made and constructed by Mumsnetters to support other Mumsnetters.

The latest project is for a Mumsnetter whose daughter was recently born prematurely with a severely under developed brain. Baby Beatrice Primrose is tenaciously fighting her corner in the SCBU. Those crafty Mumsnetters are making floral garlands for Beatrice and her sisters and this is my contribution:

I’ll give you details of the pattern tomorrow, for now I just want to say that I don’t know if you can send energy via yarn, but if you can, I spent every stitch thinking positive thoughts about baby Beatrice. Another Mumsnetter is collecting them all and stringing them all together to send in yet another attempt to give some comfort and support to a family suffering horrific sadness.

So you can say what you like about Mumsnetters, just don’t say they haven’t got heart.

Da bomb!

You’ve two choices when you yarn bomb, according to the book Yarn Bombing: leave your bomb when it’s late, dark, and you have less chance of being apprehended; or go out in the light of day and just act like you are supposed to be there, confident and unruffled. I’m not very good at the former, it gets to about 10pm and, quite frankly, I am ready for bed. I’m too tired to muster up the energy to go and bomb, and I want to enjoy the process.

The latter is fine, except when you are trying to manage two young children at the same time. Fortunately today I had arranged to come over the only friend I have who wouldn’t think I need sectioning when I told them what I was doing, and the only one game enough to help. She is American so I’m going to give her an American pseudonym: Georgia, after the State (she vetoed my first choice of Brittany-Ann, and pointed out that she had already commented using her real name, but this is more fun for me!).

Incognito

We had four children between us, so to get them involved I told them my plan. “Why?” Betty asked, quite reasonably. To make the world a more beautiful place, I explained. Plus, I had a fun idea that we would take them all in disguise. “Why?” my daughter asked, again, a reasonable question. How to explain it without making it seem naughty or wrong? Fortunately Georgia sensed my panic and saved me. “It’ll be a surprise for your neighbours!”. Ah, the magic word surprise. We have a rule in our house that we don’t have secrets, only surprises. It’s to try and avoid anyone else trying to make the children keep secrets from us. Any nice, legitimate secret can be a surprise. It’s a small thing, but it’s a way of trying to protect them.

Anyway, there we were, me, Georgia, Buzz Lightyear, Captain Betty, a fairy and a pumpkin in a pushchair. It wasn’t far to where we planned to bomb, on a busy crossroads. Buzz and Captain Betty scrabbled for stones on the pavement and pretended they weren’t with us. I got to work whip stitching the cozy onto the pedestrian light. Despite my initial fears, it was a perfect fit. I had measured the pole, but I always have trouble assessing the length of foundation chain I need to make the required width.

The book, which seems to have become my Bible, also says that most yarn crafters out there will have a stash of yarn that they thing they are will never use, their Stash of Shame, full of nasty acrylics in gaudy colours donate by some well meaning relative. Well, I raided my such stash and found a predominance of orange, which gave me the idea of adding varying shades of pinks that would give it an air of a sunset.

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Don't look, just sew!

The bumpiness on the pole is a laminated advert for a ladies only night, apparently involving semi naked men. It’s been on the for ages and is pretty bad taste, as well as probably illegally flyposted, so I didn’t feel that bad covering it up.

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I just concentrated on my sewing. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone stopped at the lights, confident, confident, I really am supposed to be here, I’m performing a civic duty. According to Georgia a guy on a motorbike was trying not to seem interested. As I was sewing a police car drove past. I forgot this is the road the station is on. No-one bothered me though, and it took less than 10 minutes.

Let’s hope it stays up for longer than that!

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Hmm, not quite as visible from a distance

A day of firsts

Today was the end of the era we shall call Doing As We Please and the start of a new era which will be known as Doing What The School Says. Yes, first day of school for Betty. And while the school eases us them in gently I fear it is going to be a shock to the system. The list of things that I don’t have for her yet include a PE kit, PE bag, more than one cardigan, a water bottle and co-ordinating hair slides. I was still ironing on labels this morning (yes, ironing them on. Not very crafty of me, but I’m afraid my sewing skills are rather more hedonistic). I just don’t think I am ready for this! Not because she is too tiny (she is), not because my baby is growing up (sob), but because DH and I are just not organised enough!

Fortunately Betty is ready. She was super excited and has been counting down the days for about a week. She didn’t start until after lunch, and was asking for lunch just after breakfast because then she could go to school. I was desperately trying to teach her to pronounce her teacher’s name proper “It’s Mrs Smith darling. Th, th!” “Mrs Smifffff. Smissss. It doesn’t matter because when I get to school I’m going to ask what her real name is and call her that.”So many things for her to learn. I’m excited for her and want to weep at the same time. How scary to be going to a place where there are lots of rules and people that you don’t yet know, everyone seems bigger than you, and you are away from the relative comfort of your daddy’s arms or your mummy’s caress. At the same time how exciting to be learning so many new things. Leaning to read her first words, and all the fantastic books just waiting to be read for the first time. The joy of learning about kings and queens, the weather, animals, the world, all for the first time and through innocent eyes. The world is her oyster, education will be her sword. All that I can do is encourage her to use it.

Can I just send the doll in her place?

My contribution to her day was a little mascot I made for her, a mini-Betty in school uniform. I bought this pattern from Kandjdolls on Etsy, and used it as a basis, though actually I’ve just found this post on her blog giving a free basic amigurumi doll pattern, one I am definitely going to store away for future use.

She's already a girl of great taste!

It’s been a day of firsts. Iris’s first shoes came in the post today. Let me just say that I did go into a nice independent shoe shop, but they didn’t have her size and couldn’t order them, so what can I do? I got them online, and they came today. They are direct from the Robeez website and so cute. The baby is pretty impressed with them. She is already obsessed with accessories. This morning she put on a necklace, a bag over her shoulder and was wondering around talking into a phone. She is 11 months. This does not bode well for the future.

First day of school, first shoes. It’s important not to feel sad and lament the passing of these milestones. I am grateful to experience these firsts, and look forward to many more. Better firsts than lasts.

Crafty educational ideas for kids

Asia Continent from Countin Coconuts

I absolutely love the blog Counting Coconuts. She makes all kinds of educational resources for her children, based on the Montessori methods. Now I am not really into these fringe educational ideas. I’m a state girl to the core, a mix of liberalism, socialism, and down-right laziness! However, I might just make the Continent Bags for my daughters, I think they are fab. Unfortunately I am not well travelled, mainly due to my poor upbringing <sob>. I had no university gap year, I slaved away in sweaty kitchens and smelly bars to pay for my education. So I may have to beg, borrow and steal paraphernalia.

I Spy Jar

I also love these I Spy jars. I’ve seen tutorials for the I Spy bags, but let’s face it, I’m not going to battle with clear PVC and my sewing machine, I’m far more likely to do this with some jars I don’t have to make myself, after all, it’s the filling that’s the fun part. Check out the blog, it’s great. And she’s just had a baby you can coo over too!

From Ridiculous to the Sublime

I made it out of the bedroom without disturbing the Target. Mission complete once again, and once again I find myself contemplating how ridiculous some aspects of parenting are. From the silent escape from the bedroom, to the times I find myself blowing raspberries to the tune of “The Animals Went in Two By Two” round Sainsbury’s.

 

Anyway, for the brief moments that I find myself with time to concentrate on my hobby I have recently taken delivery of some delicious yarn. Now, I’m not usually a yarn snob. Yes, I can appreciate the lovely silky touch a of a ball of Rowan Cashsoft, but my budget usually only stretches to acrylic blends like Stylecraft DK, and that does me well enough. There are a nice variety of colours and it’s cheap enough that it doesn’t sit around waiting for a project special enough to use it. But Black Sheep Wools have a sale on and I bought some lovely Sublime Organic Cotton with which to make some children’s toys.

The cream yarn below is Sirdar Balmoral, a mix of alpaca, wool, and silk. That’s going to be a Christmas blanket for my mum’s partner. The Sublime Merino I periodically buy and snaffle away for use in an afghan for my own bed which I have planned for one day. And I also got a lovely ball of Noro DK which I could never normally afford, but this was all on sale, and this is going to become some fingerless gloves.

Right now I am in the middle of a birthday gift for a 3 year old. Got to be done by Monday – last minute as usual!

Ridiculous

I tell you no lie. I am currently squatting behind the desk chair in the baby’s room. She is quiet in her cot but not sound enough asleep that I can risk opening the door to get out. I am very uncomfortable. This is ridiculous.

Hobbycraft: the Tesco of the craft world. But not as cheap.

Urgh, disastrous morning chez Tante. I am at home with the Tantettes today, DH doesn’t get back till half seven tonight. 11 hours with the little cherubs…. I really needed some craft bits so I thought I would combine a trip to Hobbycraft with a visit to Toys ‘R’ Us. There is your clue as to how my morning has gone.

After a short negotiation with Betty, in which she threatened a tantrum and I compromised, we agreed Toys ‘R’ us first, then Hobbycraft. That was a mistake as once we were out of Toy ‘R’ Us I no longer had any leverage. I managed to dissuade her from buying poxy Moxie Dolls and Dora The Explorer tat, and she settled on some clothes for her doll Rupert. I also wanted to get a doll for Iris as she has taken a bit of a shine to Rupert, much to Betty’s chagrin. Let me tell you, it is practically impossible to find a soft bodied doll which doesn’t walk, talk, cry (why, why would you want to buy your child a doll that cries, just when you are coming out of the endless crying stage of parenting yourself?). At the last minute I managed to find one that didn’t cost £40 (no Baby Annabel for us.)

I then dragged Betty past the hideous fibre glass ride on toy where you can pay 50p to be rocked back and forth on Iggle Piggle’s boat with the man himself for a total of 27 seconds. Into Hobbycraft, hissing at Betty that if she whinges or complains after I’ve spent an hour in Toys ‘R’ A Fecking Rip-Off then I would take her newly purchased toys away, which of course she did, and I didn’t. It wasn’t worth the tantrum.

Hobbycraft is a necessary evil in my life. It’s crafting by numbers. It’s the Tesco of craft supplies, selling just enough of a variety of craft supplies to get you to go there for convenience, but never that one product that you need. In my case it was chalkboard fabric. I asked one of the assistants who didn’t take my making a request of her very well and looked at me like I had asked her to sacrifice her first born child. I was well ready to sacrifice mine at that point. Suffice to say they didn’t have any, so I picked up a couple of wooden embroidery hoops; stood in front of the embroidery floss for a while, overwhelmed and not really sure what I wanted; then realised that it’s a friend’s birthday tomorrow and wondering if I could cobble together a necklace for her with some jewellery making supplies and my non-existent jewellery making skills. Before I knew it I had spent half an hour growling at the kids (well, they were growling at me first), spent £23 and not really got anything I needed.

That’s the other thing about this crafting business, it’s blooming expensive! I know  that shopping at Hobbycraft doesn’t help. It pains me. I really want to be one of these thrifty crafters who knocks something up from supplies they found for 20p in a charity shop, but really, who has the time to shop in charity shops? I do love them but I just don’t have the tenacity for them, especially when I am dragging around my children. I also don’t have the eye to spot something cheap and hideous that I can magically make into something lovely. Nor can I make 1970’s kitchen crap look retro. I just can’t pull off retro chic. Or shabby chic. Or even handmade chic. That’s why I’ve always avoided all these (admittedly wonderful) blogs. They make me feel dazzlingly inadequate. Still, maybe if I read them enough some of their magic will rub off on me.

Only four and a half hours till DH is home…

Let's see if I can make these into a necklace someone might actually want to wear

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one

I went back to work today. I could tell you what I do but I’d have to kill you. Actually, you’d probably just die of boredom. Anyway, back to work, part time, after ten months. I’ve been having work nightmares for a few weeks now. Last night it was that I accidentally took the baby into but when I tried to call DH to come and get her I couldn’t remember my home phone number and couldn’t work how to use the phone. It proved to be strangely prophetical, well, apart from taking the baby in. It was fine though, felt like I’d never been away, which was sad and a relief in equal measures.

In anticipation though, Iris picked this time to launch Phase 2 of Operation Teething Nightmare. Yesterday she was hot, crabby and very clingy, and early this morning she was awake between 4 and 5am, it’s like she knew…

Sleep has never been great with darling child number 2. For 3 months she would only sleep on me. I eventually managed to get her to sleep in the baby hammock, though she would only go down after 11pm. Even up until 9 months she was waking 2 or 3 times a night. “You need to put your foot down” people would helpfully say. “Have you tried XYZ?”. I’ve had a non-sleeping baby for 9 months – yes, I’ve tried everything! Yet somehow, without really changing anything, she started sleeping though. She’s still a bugger to get down though. She is still up now at 9pm, but I’m letting her off as it was my first day back to work. Trying to get her down at night is like fricking Mission Impossible, it goes something like this (click here to set the mood – warning audio!):

Step 1 Start feeding baby, at least 40 minutes in anticipation of sleep time
Step 2 Spend 20 minutes being kicked getting teeny tiny baby pinches
Step 3 Baby appears to be asleep, don’t be fooled, it’s only been 20 minutes
Step 4 Baby starts vigorously feeding again
Step 5 Baby appears to be asleep once again
Step 6 Do the arm test: lift arm and see if it drops. If test fails you will have to go back to Step 4
Step 7 Try to remove sleeping baby from breast. If this fails you will have to go back to Step 4
Step 8 Nope, too soon, she’s rooting around again. Go back to Step 4
Step 9 Try to remove sleeping baby again, good baby still sleeping
Step 10 Stand up with sleeping baby
Step 11 Wait for 3 seconds to ensure baby still asleep
Step 12 Lower baby gently into cot, taking care not to let any part of the baby slip causing a startle reflex
Step 13 Hang over cot with hands still on the baby, contorting body into unnatural position
Step 14 Gently remove hands, hovering over baby for immediate replacement if necessary
Step 15 Sleep established, prepare for exit
Step 16 Oh no! Her eyes are open, replace hands, avert eyes, DO NOT LOOK HER IN THE EYES!
Step 17 Eyes shut, stand up and move away from the cot, baby stirs
Step 18 Stand still, do NOT move a muscle, do not attract her attention
Step 19 Tip toe towards the door. Wish thighs didn’t rub together, how can they make so much noise when I walk?
Step 20 Side step a ball, and step over crinkly book, phew, that was close
Step 21 Ow ow ow, fucking Peppa Pig toy, muffle cry of pain
Step 22 Head back towards door, crap, stirring again, duck down behind the chair, stay still
Step 23 Open door gently. Why, why does DH keep his guitar behind the door of the baby’s room?
Step 24 Crawl out on hands and knees, hoping the crack of knee caps doesn’t wake her – why is my body so noisy?
Step 25 Back out into the hall, stand up again
Step 26 Downstairs for wine and Hagan Daaz until she wakes up in an hour and I have to repeat from Step 1

Mission accomplished!