An Open Letter to Sanitary Towel Companies

Dear Sanitary Companies

I have noticed a rather disturbing new trend over the past few years, a change has occurred to sanitary products and it’s one that I find rather unpleasant and very disturbing.

For those who are not yet fully aware, you may or may not have noticed your olfactory orifices triggered as you wonder past the sanitary product section of a shop. Without warning, it hits you, a heavy headache-inducing plume. “What is that overpowering smell?” you may have asked yourself. Perhaps you shrugged it off as a passing fellow customer or a mass spillage of all laundry detergents in the vicinity at the same time. No. You would be wrong. The truth is, for some curious reason, a large proportion of sanitary towels now smell like my Great Aunt Nancy, well known for her massive breasts and overuse of terrible perfume!

I take serious issue with this new approach to ‘sanitary scenting’, in the first instance to the implication that women on their period smell at all. I can tell you this much, I have never ever smelled a woman on her period. The overpowering strength of the perfume in sanitary towels though, seems to suggest not only that menstruating women smell bad, but that they smell so malodorous and fetid that it is necessary (perhaps even a kindness to others?!) that they be immersed in alternative pungent scents to keep their deep, dark and bloody secret hidden.

Perhaps for a very few it may be an issue, but following careful hygiene would be enough to solve this, not wearing heavily perfumed panties! This message that women smell when they are on their period is shaming, untrue and unnecessary. Perhaps the scent was added to clear up any questions on sanitary products being a ‘luxury’ item? I just don’t know. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why a thick bouquet needs to protrude from my knickers for one week of every month? Maybe you hope that people will smell the perfume, recognise that my crotch now only smells like their Gran when I’m bloated and emotional and will rush out to purchase me chocolates and painkillers to support me through this tempestuous time?!

I wish I could believe that your intentions were good, that girls and women were at the heart of this decision, but I don’t. I think that as a business you wondered hard at how you could keep your products fresh, new and modern and that you concluded that the best way to take more money from the female sex was to make them feel ashamed and embarrassed. These products tell girls that they must hide their ‘period smell’ with heavy perfume, that people will notice if they don’t. What does it mean if people notice you are on your period anyway? Why must this be hidden? I cannot even fathom.

I urge you, I beg you, to give up this ridiculousness. Don’t sell me something I don’t need or want. After spending 15 minutes today searching the aisle for something unscented (unsuccessfully!) I have decided that my vulva and I will be taking our custom elsewhere until this nonsense changes!

Regards

Bethany Evans

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Who’s Your Daddy?

I always imagined that I would be a super chill parent, infallible to the unplanned, unshakeable by the unexpected, cool in a crisis. As seems to be the running trend I have since discovered that I am not. Not at all.

 

My darling child appears to be the most skilled person in my life at pressing all the right buttons to get my eyes twitching and temples pulsing. She is also highly skilled at defusing things at the final moment before I explode, perhaps by bending all the way forward and shouting “UPSIDE DOWN” or resting her curly head on my chest and saying “aww Mummy”. It’s amazing the hormones that are still triggered by this tiny human.  I still find myself at the end of most days looking through photos and videos of her, feeling my womb flicker and the warmth of love flowing through me. I think I might love my child the most when she is tucked up in bed asleep and I’m looking through the picture perfect moments of the day.

 

My little beasts newest talent is public humiliation. She is only in the early days of learning to tantrum so I’m sure this will only get worse in time.  To be fair to her a lot of the time when we are out and about she is utterly charming, a big smile is plastered on her face as she waves at the strangers we pass by. Often when in a queue she has befriended the people behind us and it takes me a while to catch on, normally when they start asking me questions about her or commenting on her curls.  In recent weeks though she has a new game saved for when it’s just the two of us together, she basically spends her time pointing at every and any man and says “Daddy?” in a slightly questioning tone. The act itself doesn’t embarress me hugely, however what becomes butt-clenchingly awkward is the reaction of some of the males as they turn red and profess to her that no, they aren’t her Daddy, followed by statements such as “oh no I don’t think I am your Daddy, I’m not ready for that yet”.  WHAT??  He doesn’t THINK he is your Dad?!  I tell you what I KNOW, I know he isn’t, why is he even questioning it?!  Surely not on the word of a 17 month old. It’s as if they think that we truly are on a search for the unknown father in our local ALDI store.

I guess her Dad does shop there sometimes…

 

What little things do your kids do that embarrass you in public?

Getting My Body Back

There is nothing quite like pregnancy and childbirth to make you feel like your body doesn’t belong to you. It’s a strange idea, but a universally accepted one that the moment you are growing a baby inside you, you no longer make decisions based solely on what you want.

I happily embraced pregnancy and the way it changed my body. I must confess that in the final weeks of maternity leave, when my child decided to stay inside for an extended period, I took to baking cakes and then eating them, all, mostly by myself. Therefore by the time my Boo arrived my body was storing a few extra nutrients (and fat) in case of emergencies. Post birth however there were no emergencies!

 

I found that a certain amount of weight dropped off naturally and I refused to diet or worry about my weight initially, I had bigger problems to deal with, with screaming child, sleepless nights, baby groups etc. I had hoped that breastfeeding would assist the weight loss, but perhaps consuming 3 slices of cake a day was effecting that? I really just may never know the truth.

It was when my Boo quit breastfeeding (for the fourth or fifth time) for good that I felt like I was ready to reclaim my body. The First simple step toward this was to buy a good, well fitting underwire bra. Oh heaven! I had forgotten how supportive those wires could be as my bosom no longer hung down, nipples pointing to the ground and they were lifted up on high, exultant and brilliant once again*. In all serious though, it felt good to have the ladies back where they should be. The other joy of no longer breastfeeding was the luxury of not having to wear boob-accessible clothes, which for some reason are never as exciting as they sound!

A new problem came with this though, my old clothes were still too small and all pregnancy/maternity clothes were unflattering and, well, dowdy. I only had one option…I went shopping. Alone! It was a pretty exhilarating experience, until I realised my entire body shape had changed and I cried in TKMAXX. That was a difficult day. Thankfully I wondered into a Joules sale and everything in there seemed to flatter. So I basically just bought the shop (sale items only!).

Thus began the journey of re-self-discovery. A new bra and a new wardrobe. It sounds silly, but in fact it has been so significant in helping me feel like myself again. No longer restricted to clothes I can fit a bumpy tummy into, or a top I can flash a breast in. I have the freedom to choose designs, fit and colours that reflect me as a person rather than having to go with what is available to me shaped as a new-mum. Huzzah!!

 

*Description of breasts in bra may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect

10 Ways Babies Are Like Cats

Those who know me must surely have seen this coming?! I’m a massive cat-lover and unashamed! I have four beautiful kitties and have noticed that my 10 month old has many similarities to her feline friends. Here are the top 10 ways having a 10 month old is the same as owning a cat…

  1. Sleep – 12 hours at night (it’s broken sleep!) plus 4 hours in the day. Both cats and babies have a sleep/wake ratio that I admire.
  2. Awake and Playful When I Want to Sleep – I thought being awoken by being pawed in the face would stop when the cats were banned from the bedroom but it appears they have simply been replaced by another small being who prefers to play in the early hours when I would rather be asleep.
  3. Lap Cuddles – It’s an unwritten law that if a cat or a small child sleeps on your lap you must not move, no matter what. Need to pee? Nope you can wait, it may be 10 minutes, it may be 2 hours, you must. Not. Move!image
  4. Poop – Yup, there’s nothing I love more than cleaning up the excretion of other beings.  At least the cats are vaguely toilet trained…
  5. Hampering Ability – I can no longer read a book, eat food, or even write a blog post without somebody slowing this process down and making it needlessly more difficult.
  6. Crappy “Gifts” – My cats take great pleasure in gifting me live frogs and mice, they especially like to hide them under the sofa for me to discover much later in the day. Thankfully, this means I have mastered the gracious excitement of receiving a shite gift, so when my 10 month old offers me a half sucked and mushy bit of breadstick or a shrivelled old pea she found under the table she sees nothing but joy in my eyes.
  7. Picky Eaters – both my fluffies and baby keep me on my toes by being unexpectedly repulsed by a food which they seemed to love only the day before.
  8. Obsession with Doors – Why of why are the bloody cats never on the right side of the door?? It doesn’t matter anymore though because my child spends hours opening and shutting doors to an extent which seems to now satisfy the cats.
  9. They Love Milk – A pretty obvious one, but man, milk pretty much always goes down well in this household.
  10. Poor Communication Skills – Never have I spent so much time trying to work out what the hell someone is trying to tell me through deciphering a (usually irritating) whine.  They all look at me like I should know what they want and quickly become irritated when this unknown need isn’t immediately met. Idiots!

So there you have it.  Cats and babies, more or less the same!image

Going out? The buggers know!!

Due to not living close to family my husband I have had limited ‘us time’ since the arrival of our bundle of joy, well that and general exhaustion! I’m not usually one for going out loads, I enjoy the comforts of my own home, make up free and wearing pyjamas comfortable clothes day in and day out, but as our beasty approached 7 months I felt the desire to actually leave the house, just the two of us, sans baby.

The perfect opportunity arose with an invitation to a wedding reception.  It was in my husband’s home town so we had willing Grandparents to babysit too.  Sorted.  A new dress was purchased for the occasion and we packed absolutely everything to ensure things went smoothly, cuddly bunny, dummy, blankets, bottles, black out blind. It was a simple plan, I would do hair and make up late afternoon (much time was required for this due to lack of practice) we do the usual bedtime routine and get the munchkin into bed by 7pm leaving enough time to put our clothes on and go. Brilliant. Easy.

Except it wasn’t.  Our bambina decided that arrival to the in-laws was the most perfect time to get sick! Not just a little bit snotty sick, oh no, this was fever, nose snot so thick it could be mistaken for treacle, complete loss of ability to sleep, nursing strike, proper full-blown poorly sick. Therefore before we even started our evening out I was sleep deprived, covered in baby gloop and now anxious about going. No amount of make-up was going to hide the deep bags under my eyes although I discovered snot can work to your advantage when trying to style hair, who knew?! Needless to say, our evening out that night was brief and for me at least, sober. Boo!

It’s OK I thought, she’s got that out the way now, time to try again, so I planned a date night with the bestie in Bristol.  This time the Husband could stay at home and make sure that a settled night was had by all.  Once again though, my little monkey decided the previous night was the best time to pull an all-nighter! Bleary eyed I made it out, I had a lovely time but by 11pm I was ready for my bed with a belly full of fine Italian food and wine. Yummers. I patted myself on the back for being sensible about not getting too drunk.  The child however (who had in fact slept peacefully for her Father while I was out) clearly felt that I deserved a late one, just like the old days, and decided to wake for a lengthy period in the early hours.

I took to Facebook for a good old whinge (like you do), only to discover that my friend’s child had done a very similar thing.  She was due to go out for a nice evening with her husband, but before they left her son had fallen and created a rather fetching hole in his head. Dinner was off the cards.  It seems that I am not alone in having my well-earned evenings out sabotaged by my mini-me!  They seem intent to either prevent you going out at all or at least pull off some kind of outrageous stunt that ensures you feel utterly horrid and guilty the whole time you’re out.  I have learned that this is a well acknowledged (yet to be named) phenomenon amongst parents alike.

How about ‘Sababytage’? That could work… “Oh man I was going to join you for drinks last night but I was sababytaged, sorry”.

SABABYTAGE

Noun:

 Any plan spoiled for any reason by your own juvenile offspring

The question is how do the buggers know we are going out and why are they so determined to sababytage any chance of fun we may have?!  I do NOT have the answer to this, but if you do please let me know, or better still, tell me how I can leave the house for a night out undecteted by the beasty…I need some Gin!!

The Parenting Experiment

Before I entered the world of parenthood I was blissfully unaware of the stark truths that lay behind the parenting door.  I believed (as parents want you to) that parents know what they are doing.  Perhaps they have a strong passion or inclination toward a particular form of parenting, but generally (I believed) natural instinct kicks in and we follow those to produce a happy well-rounded little person.  So confident was I about this, that when my Husband asked me when I was 5 months pregnant “after we have the baby, what’s the plan?”, I laughed in his face.  What a ridiculous question I thought!  Isn’t it obvious?!  We simply raise said baby…  Yes, that is the plan.

What I’ve learned thus far (almost 8 months in), is that ‘plans’ and ‘children’ do not mix.  The reality of this hit me first during labour.  In the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birth I was advised to create a ‘birthing plan’.  I carefully took my time over this, trying not to be too specific so that I wouldn’t be shocked when those ‘plans’ didn’t quite happen.  Well, I may as well have used that plan to mop up my waters, it would have been more useful.  The only person that looked at that plan was my Husband for about 30 seconds before it became apparent that this ‘plan’ wasn’t ever going to materialise.  Goodbye low lighting, goodbye classical music, hello about 20 odd people up my bloody chuff!  I’m only glad I didn’t laminate the thing, so it could mock my pre-birth naivety.

Upon bringing my little bundle of tiny fresh baby home I realised that I didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing.  So focussed was I on pushing her out that I hadn’t really considered ‘what next’.  The natural instinct wasn’t quite at its strongest following labour, childbirth and a whole 11 hours post birth of wide awake and feeding baby.  What became really apparent to me and my Husband at this point was that we were basically making it up as we went along.  How often should she feed? Does she need a bath? Is she supposed to be able to lift her head like that?!  Why the hell is she pooping black stuff???  We didn’t know, we were too tired to read about it, and all knowledge we had previously had slipped away in a sleep deprived oblivion.  And so it began, the parenting experiment!

An Experiment in Action
An Experiment in Action

The experimentation is an ongoing joy, and covers pretty much all babying areas:-

  • Crying – Yeah, babies do this a lot!  All you can do is try out various different things in the hope that one of them stops said baby from crying.  Clean nappy, check. Not too hot/cold, check. Full up, check.  Being cuddled, check.  That’s the basic checks done, let me tell you this, sometimes those things can all be accounted for and your baby will still cry.  Sorry.
  • Sleep – Things that may guide your baby to sleep may include some,all or none of the following; feeding, rocking, pacing, singing, putting them down, picking them up, going out in the car/sling/pushchair, allowing naps, preventing naps, music, white noise, silence.  Through much desperate experimentation we discovered Lady Gaga (see previous post), and after she hit 4 months we learned that she actually would nap, but only if we put her down.  Phew.
  • Feeding – Do you breastfeed?  Can you breastfeed?  Can baby?  Is formula the best way for you? Or combination feeding?  Would a formula feed make your baby sleep longer at night (for us not a chance in hell)?  Would a dream feed bring you a more peaceful night? How much, how often, who best to do it…?  More recently we’ve had the joys of weaning too, though this is more openly a big experiment it has still caused stress in other ways and prompted previous rants!

The more I talk to other parents about this the more I realise that it is all just one big experiment.  None of us know what the frig we’re doing!  NO ONE EVER HAS!  Parental knowledge is a ruse, an illusion, a hoax!  Sure you can read a book, seek advice, but even the application of these to your own child, in your own setting is one massive experiment, and all too often a failed one.  That’s why there are so many books out there and so much unsolicited advice!

So here I am, still at the beginning of my parenting journey and the experiments have only just began.  I have decided to just embrace this venture, perhaps if I ever have another I will have some kind of clue what the hell is happening (unlikely).  I shall willingly accept that just giving something a go to ‘see what happens’ is OK, it’s more than OK, it’s what we’re all bloody doing anyway.