A Man’s World?

Girl bump

Girl bump

Since finding out in April we were having a daughter, I’ve thought a few times about what this means and whether, in 2015, there really is any difference between bringing a girl into the world and having a boy. Certainly, in the advanced age we live in there’s far fewer differences between the genders than there ever was and my girl isn’t going to be consigned to a life of learning to sew and cook and then being married off in her teens and producing child after child for years on end. But I think it would be foolish to think there aren’t difference prospects for her than if she was a boy.

I grew up in the 90s, when ‘girl power’ was horrendously fashionable thanks to the Spice Girls (yes I have just put the whole feminism movement down to them!) and I was also lucky enough to have a really strong female influence in the form of my mom who has done really well in her chosen sector and has always inspired us to do the best we can. But the facts speak for themselves: following this month’s election it was widely reported around 29 per cent of our 650 MPs in the House of Commons are female (up from 23 per cent last time round) – so an increase certainly but it’s still not 50/50. The Guardian reported in March this year the pay gap between the genders will not close for another 70 years if change continues at the current rate (according to the UN).

And probably the biggest one of them all: they still haven’t found a way to get men to have babies. At some point in her life, my daughter is going to have to choose whether she wants to have children and if there’s any career setbacks because of that, it will be her not her partner who is likely to experience them. Maybe one day in the future childcare will be truly split half and half between the genders and more men will take advantage of new paternity leave rules, maybe one day no employer will disadvantage a woman simply because she’s of child-bearing age. But I don’t think it’s happening now while I’m having children and I’m not hugely hopeful it will have happened by the time my baby’s my age.

Another, slightly more imminent, thing for me is the issue of safety. I’ve got no brothers and one sister but having spent a lot of time with friends who have brothers or just generally walking around with my eyes open, it’s apparent that boys get a lot more freedom than girls. A teenage boy wants to go for a walk in the dark, not a problem. Teenage girl, slightly more worry and risk associated there. Girls are seen as more vulnerable, not just from people they know (I think I’ll be a nervous wreck when she starts dating!) but also from the wider world.

But there are so many advantages to being a girl too. I hope to teach my daughter to embrace the fact in my opinion girls enjoy a closeness with their friends which simply doesn’t exist with boy friendships, girls will always have a circle round them ready to help them eat lots of ice cream, watch films and cry/moan/gossip. Girls get to dress so much more inventively. Girls get to grow up and bring new life into the world, which is pretty special! But now they’re also able to access the best of both worlds growing up – want a Barbie and an Action Man/digger/Lego etc? Go for it!

In the title of this blog post, I posed the question of whether it’s a man’s world and in the intro I wondered if bringing a girl into it was different. My answer is yes it might be a man’s world but my daughter will be one generation nearer to an equal world. And yes having a girl is different, but not worse!

Harriet and bump x

It’s A…

Baby!

We had our anomaly scan on Monday and are over the moon to report everything is going swimmingly. They did all sorts of checks on head circumference, abdominal circumference, heart, spine, brain etc and reported all the measurements were spot on and everything looked healthy. I can’t describe how elated we were to hear that. There had been no signs anything was wrong but you never really know what’s going on inside the bump so to have confirmation baby is growing healthily and happily in there is fantastic!

Now obviously the main priority was finding out if baby was growing normally, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also hugely excited to find out the gender! We’ve resisted paying for a gender scan in the last month (I said ‘we’ – I mentioned it, Dylan said it was a waste of money when we’d know at 20 weeks anyway, I knew I wasn’t going to persuade him otherwise and managed to contain my anticipation!)

If you’d asked me before I got pregnant my preference, I probably would have said a girl – I’ve got a sister, no brothers, I went to girls’ schools throughout my education, most of my friends are female, I like shopping and hair and all the stereotypical ‘girl’ things. However, pretty much the second I got pregnant I had this instinct it was a boy. I was dreaming about boy babies, the boy name choice came much easier to us than the girl one, I was drawn to all things blue and colourful in the shops, we picked out a boy nursery theme for once we found out. I was calling the bump ‘he’ so often people thought we’d already found out the gender. Every time I thought about holding my baby, or shouting its name across a playground, or registering it at school, it was a boy.

I had minor doubts around week 16 but other than that I stuck to my guns and stayed firmly in the Team Blue guessing camp. So fast forward to Monday and the sonographer informed us we are having a baby…girl! After I’d paused long enough to pick my jaw off the floor, confirm I’d heard correctly and wonder how my mothering instinct could be so wrong, I began to think about all the amazing girly things we could now start buying and how lovely a little Team Pink bundle will be! Now I feel like it was almost inevitable: Dylan has two daughters already, my family is mostly girls, it feels like it was the only outcome now despite the last four months of thinking otherwise!

Before the scan, I was a little worried I might feel odd hearing pink news – not that I would ever be disappointed as long as baby was healthy. But if your mind’s set on one outcome and the complete opposite happens it can take a little adjustment. Conversely, by about half an hour after the scan when I’d digested the news I was fizzing like a bottle of pop. We managed to call most of our friends and family, and see a couple, to tell them the news and getting them to guess pink or blue then revealing the correct answer was honestly thrilling (to the point where I’ve called everyone but keep thinking there must be more people who want to know! Do you think my dentist will care?).

I wanted to be the first to buy her some girly clothing so we picked up a couple of bits and bobs, including my fave trainers ever. I want some in my size, desperately. Primark – make this happen for me please! So now we have pink booties, a lovely profile shot of her (where she looks a lot like I did when I was younger which is crazy when you consider it’s a black and white image shot through my belly!) and a whole lot of excitement! Obviously she was planned and very much wanted so we’ve always been excited to welcome her into the world later in the year but I think this week is the most fantastic I’ve felt about it all – knowing we can call her ‘she’ and we’ll be meeting a girl in September, knowing what her name will be and all of that makes it even more real (as if the hormones and bump hadn’t!). Hugely looking forward to welcoming our little lady into our world!

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If these don’t make your insides feel a bit wobbly there’s possibly something not quite human about you.

Harriet and (pink) bump! x

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Paying for Private?

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Around the time of my first scan.

So far during my pregnancy I’ve had a scan at 13 weeks (which I talked about here) and by the time you read this I’ll also have had my 20 week scan. Unless there’s a specific need to, I won’t have another now before baby’s born (that read as though they might give me one after the arrival…you get what I mean!). It doesn’t seem a lot when you think about it but equally, the two scans have their very specific purposes – the first to date your pregnancy and confirm there is indeed a foetus in there or if there’s more than one, the second to look for any issues with the baby’s development. Anything more than that offered on the NHS (unless there’s a problem) would be simply to let mom and dad have another peek at their little one. As lovely as that would be, I can see why it doesn’t happen.

A lot of people seem to be paying for private scans these days. I’m in two minds about this – if you can afford it and you both want to then I can see it’s very reassuring for the mother and can be a great way for dad to start bonding with the baby. In the early days before my first scan I’d convinced myself there wasn’t going to be anything in there so it might have helped a little bit with the worry. But where do you stop? I thought at 12 weeks, which is generally considered the ‘post danger’ time, I would start to feel a little more relaxed about bambino arriving safely and in perfect health. Conversely, I think I’m worrying more in the second trimester.

Perhaps it’s because it’s all getting much more real now? Either way I can feel myself being a little paranoid about things and think if I could book myself in for a scan every week I would do! (It’s the same reason I’ve not bought a Doppler as I think I’d be permanently attached to the thing. Anyway, I’m getting slightly off the point – or maybe I haven’t even got to the point yet. Plenty of people pay for private scans and I’d be the first person pushing for one if we don’t find out what the baby’s gender is at our 20 week. But it can be a huge expense and I wonder how much these private companies are almost cashing in on the fear something might go wrong? Particularly for first time moms who don’t really know what’s normal/not normal to feel.

It would be lovely to see baby on screen all the time but the likelihood is if something was going to go wrong, it would have done by now, or will be picked up at the NHS scan. Of course tragically things do happen after that but would a private scan give a hint if there were to be issues up the road? Or is it simply indulging ourselves in the fact the technology is there now?

I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts: did you have a private scan? Do you think they’re worth it? What did you get out of them, other than reassurance?

Harriet and bump x

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Blue/Pink/Yellow?

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Thanks to all the new and exciting technological advances since our grandmothers (and in some cases mothers) had bumps, it’s now possible to find out whether you’re having a boy or a girl from around week 16 of your pregnancy (although if you’re waiting on an NHS scan that doesn’t happen until around 20 weeks so anyone finding out earlier than will have had to book a private gender scan). I’m really pointing out the obvious here but some parents-to-be decide they’d rather not know until the both – thus opting to stay ‘Team Yellow’.

I get that there are a whole host of delightful reasons why you’d want it to remain a surprise – perhaps you want baby daddy to tell you if you’ve got a Harry or a Sally, perhaps you think it’ll help you through the birth knowing the end of pushing also signifies the end of not knowing, perhaps you just genuinely don’t mind which it is and want to keep everything neutral anyway so what’s the point in finding out?

I however, am not one of those people who could wait a whole 40 weeks without knowing. I’m one of those people who will see a chocolate bar in front of me and HAVE to eat it now, regardless of whether I’m full or whether I might enjoy it more later. If there’s some sort of news or gossip going round it pains me not to know it! (I was a journalist…!) so I guess nosiness and impatience is a massive reason for me in wanting to find out bumpy’s gender. However, there are some other, probably more valid, reasons:

  • I feel like the day I give birth to my first child will be such a momentous occasion and one I’ll remember forever anyway, so having the ‘added extra’ of the gender surprise doesn’t really seem necessary.
  • A few very kind people have offered us things they’re no longer using for their kids and much of it is gender-specific so it would be nice to be able to let people know if their stuff will actually come in handy.
  • We’ve decorated the nursery in very neutral tones and the furniture is all very plain and white/cream too – but we desperately want to add some accent tones in which would be gender-specific. Arguably we could wait to do this until baby’s here as he/she won’t be sleeping in the nursery for a while anyway, but I’m super organised and want to have everything ready before the birth so there’s no need to worry about decorating afterwards. I’m sure we’ll have plenty else to occupy ourselves!
  • I want to get used to using the name we’ve chosen – we’ve had this inkling it’s a boy and so have generally called the bump ‘he’ but it would be nice to have those few months being able to be definite about that and getting used to the name, being absolutely sure we want it before baby arrives.
  • Have you seen baby clothes?! We’ve bought some white/cream bits and bobs but I am itching for the wardrobe to be full of blues, pinks, greens, whatever it may be!

Harriet and bump x

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