The Lowdown On Baby Show London 2022

I can’t believe we’re actually saying this, but The Baby Show is finally back as an actual event in London this weekend at ExCel! No longer are we tuning into virtual talks from the comfort of home, as we can now try out products once again for ourselves before committing to buy! With Alex flying today, my dad came with Alice and me for the trip to London so we could give you the lowdown on what to expect at The Baby Show this weekend. 

Getting to the show: 

The best way to The Baby Show is by public transport. Not only is The ExCel well served by the DLR, with both Custom House and Prince Regent in easy reach. If you’re coming from central London, take the Jubilee line to North Greenwich and take the Emirates cable car across The Thames for £3 each way (under 5’s free) on the production of tickets or the email to show that you’re going to ExCel London for the event. If you don’t fancy the tube, take the Uber Boat from central London to North Greenwich instead for a different view of London. It’s incredible to compare the sights from the river and then the cable car either before or after, and Alice loved her first boat ride! 

Steph, a white woman with her brown and blonde hair in a ponytail is sat down wearing a blue jumper whilst holding Alice, a white baby with brown hair who is wearing a cream pram suit who is fascinated by the view. They are on the cable car going across the Thames!
On the cable car!

If you do need to drive in, the ExCel has plenty of car parking, and you can even drop your bags and pick them up when ready to leave. However you decide to travel, don’t forget to download your COVID pass before you make your way to the show, as you’ll need this to gain entry. 

At The Show

Once you’re inside The Baby Show, there is a lot to discover! The Made For Mums testing track is back, so you can try out different pushchairs. In addition, there are various other must-visit areas, including the baby changing area sponsored by Lidl, which features free wipes, nappies and other products from their Lupilu range. There’s also the baby feeding cafe with baby food samples from For Aisha. If your little one is allergic to dairy, soy or egg, I highly suggest trying this brand. You can pick up a range of samples to take home with you too! We will be trying out this brand with Alice, so keep an eye out on our Instagram to see how we get on. For Aisha are also running a competition on their stand, which can be found at C50! The cafe also has a quiet breastfeeding area for more privacy. 

Steph, a white woman with her brown and blonde hair in a ponytail is sat in her wheelchair wearing a blue jumper, black trousers and hand splints whilst holding Alice, a white baby with brown hair who is wearing a dark blue floral top with light blue jeans. Behind them is a green tent with a large grey cuddly toy by it. Behind on the wall is a false window with pink curtains.
Inside the changing area
A photo of a baby foodprep area with microwave, prep machine, bottle warmer and cups with pink and purple spoons in. Above is a shelf with various coloured bowls and pouches containing meals for babies.
Baby feeding cafe featuring For Aisha meals and pouches!

Must-Visit Brands

Nearly all of the brands at The Baby Show are offering discounts and doing special show only bundles no matter their size. We have used some of the brands personally already, and some we’ve only just discovered at The Baby Show, but we will be ordering if we haven’t already brought from those brands. 

MAM Baby (B72): 

Although Alice is breast/chestfed, we use a range of MAM products, including the soothers (their night range glow in the dark, making finding soothers so much easier in the wee hours) and the bottles when Alice has expressed milk. There are some fantastic show offers, including soothers from £4.50, Bottle accessories from £4.50 and huge savings on pumps. MAM is also offering 1 to 1 appointments with their experts at the show. 

Photo of various MAM soothers and dummy clips on their stand.
Soothers on the MAM Baby stand

Muchkin & Bear (C44): 

We’ve been looking at playmats for a few weeks now as Alice is starting the outgrow the play gym. Being a wheelchair user, we need a tough mat that can be easily stored or take a good bashing from the constant rolling over and, of course, is suitable for Alice! We got to try the large mat at the show, and Alice absolutely adored it. We just need to decide which colour combination we want (the mats are doubled sided), and then we’ll be ordering over the weekend! 

Alice, a white baby with brown hair wearing a dark blue long sleeved top with floral patterning on is laying on her tummy whilst holing her head up on a grey and cream striped play mat. In front of Alice is a bright green toy with a blue tree on.
Play time!

Snuz (E20, E50, E60, E80): If you have followed us for a while, then you’ll know Alice sleeps in a SnuzPod co-sleeper, and we use the Snuz Pouch and other products in the Snuz range. There are some fantastic offers over the show, including bundles with the SnuzPod.  

Ella Bella’s C41: When Alice had a sock emergency, this gorgeous brand came to the rescue! Not only did we leave with a pair of adorable socks with pom-poms on (they also do bow styles), we also picked up some booties that can tighten, making it more difficult for little ones to kick them off! 

photo of Alice, a white baby with brown hair who is wearing a dark blue floral top with light blue jeans and white socks with pom poms on being held by a person wearing a black leather jacket. They are on the cable car.
Alice showing off the pom pom socks!

Mima Accessories (B11): While Alice doesn’t like to keep headbands on (hence why we don’t have an extensive collection), that hasn’t stopped us from starting a hair accessories collection! We picked up 3 bows from their 3 for £5 bowl, and there are also other various offers on accessories from the brand. Mima Accessories happens to be the newest range from Mima Interiors, and products from the interiors range can also be found on their stand at The Baby Show. 

Cybex (E20, E50, E60, E80): Cybex again is a brand we’ve used from birth as Alice happens to have two of their infant carriers. Both the Aton m I-Size and Cloud Z I-Size infant carriers fit onto the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 pushchair for convenience via adapters. The L.S.P. side impact system on the car seats is also a big plus as it enhances little ones’ safety in the car. However, one feature that the Cloud z has over the Aton M is that it can lay flat in pram mode, something to consider if you’re likely to be doing many short trips using Uber or taxis. 

The Positive Birth Company (C39): Whilst we didn’t find out these lovelies were at the show until after we left, we had to give them a shoutout once we knew that they are indeed at The Baby Show this weekend! We were honoured to be part of their #ProudParent campaign last year, and the courses that The Positive Birth company offer are second to none! The Positive Birth Company also have an Amazon Alexa skill which I loved using during my pregnancy to relax and keep the positive vibes going when the going got tough! 

Some brands sadly aren’t at The Baby Show this time around. Bugaboo and Ergobaby are the two biggest ones that people will miss from the show. We use products from both of these brands, and they have features on some products which are extremely useful for disabled parents. It’s sad to not see them there, but hopefully, they’ll be back in the future! 

Are you going to The Baby Show this weekend? Share your favourite moments, brands and tips with others in the comments! 

Why Children Need To Learn About LGBT History

With LGBT History Month almost over, we’ve only just realised that we didn’t do a blog post. However, that doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing anything in real life since we decided that we’d use this month to do a bit of learning ourselves. In particular, we wanted to know more about our ancestors and the fight they had to give us the freedoms which the LGBTQIA+ community has today, to help us in our fight to make the world a safer place for our community as a whole, especially as 71 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships with 11 of those imposing the death penalty and it doesn’t stop there. In 2022, it’s illegal to be transgender in 15 countries. Those numbers are a stark reminder of how lucky we are in the UK that, at least legally, we can be our authentic selves.

However, it doesn’t end there. Just because it’s legal to be who you are, doesn’t necessarily mean safety. As the community knows, attacks against LGBTQIA+ people are heartbreakingly on the rise again, with homophobic hate crimes tripling and transphobic hate crime quadrupling in the UK since 2015. Those stats are scary, especially being LGBTQIA+ and parents. As a community, we’re still feeling the effects of section 28, despite it being repelled in 2003, and it wasn’t until 2020 that schools in the UK were required to teach pupils about LGBTQ+ relationships and identities.

Children need to be brought up to respect, include and accept. People say that no one is born racist, which is true. It’s also true that no one is born homophobic, biphobic, transphobic or interphobic. However, what is heard at home spills out, so it’s vital for parents and carers to teach children to accept and respect others, no matter their differences so that the generations that follow us don’t have to experience the hatred that many LGBTQIA+ people have. Therefore, children need to learn about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, and there is a wealth of information and resources at parents’ fingertips.

Even though Alice is only 6 months, we’ve started to teach about differences already by using reading time with age-appropriate books. For example, Books like Aaaarrgghh! spider! and Perfectly Norman celebrate differences and teach children to accept each other’s differences no matter what they may be, whilst Super Duper You also challenges gender stereotypes at the same time. When exploring different families, Love Makes a Family is an excellent book to show children that families come in many shapes and forms and that some children have two mums or two dads, one parent or one of each.

Of course, you can also introduce the conversation around difference through play. For example, using they/them pronouns for characters to help children learn about non-binary identities and present different types of families when playing with dolls or character-based games. This will help children learn about inclusion and acceptance and the need to respect all people without even realising it. For older children, many video games are introducing LGBTQIA+ characters into their lineup. There’s also plenty of content out there, from content creators on YouTube to films and documentaries on various streaming platforms. So, as you can see, whatever way you wish to introduce new topics and conversations to your children, there are plenty of resources out there to support your and your child/rens learning. By introducing these conversations, you’re then building the foundation for children to learn about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, which is essential for children to understand why acceptance and respect for others are so important.

Have you found any good films, videos, books or other resources to help teach your children about acceptance of others? Share them below to help others!

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Going To Big Events With A Newborn

For some parents of newborns, there will be events that you wish to attend but are worried about taking your new bundle of joy with you. Whether it be a summer fair or a big event for your town or city, a fireworks display or a Christmas light switch on, attending with a brand new baby in tow means lots more things to think about! Big events typically mean lots of noise and lots of things going on, which can be overwhelming for your little one! 

Despite many stressful events surrounding Alice’s health, we have still managed to get out and about with her. Alex and I crave normality and for us, going out and about to our favourite events gives us that little bit of much-needed normality in what has been a stressful couple of months. But how do you safely take your precious bundle of joy to significant events and on busy days out? Well, here we share products and tips that have really helped us! 

1. A suitable baby carrier

Alice has two baby carriers, one which I use with her when out and about, and the other one is Alex’s favourite. For me, the Ergobaby Omni 360 is the best baby carrier for many reasons. Firstly, as the carrier is structured, I can safely carry Alice despite being a wheelchair user without risking any dislocations. Secondly, the pouch on the front of the carrier is large enough to put cards, passports, phones and other small but essential things in there and keep them on me. Not only is this excellent safety-wise, but it’s also an excellent feature for when travelling and at large events. For example, I used the Ergobaby when taking Alice to her first football match. In addition, the carrier is easy to get babies in and out of. This meant that Alice had lots of time out of the Ergobaby that day! 

a selfie Steph, a white woman with brown and blonde hair wearing a black baby carrier with Alice, a small baby with brown hair and wearing a white jacket inside. The baby carrier has blue and blue ear defenders and a blue Chelsea bib attached to it.
Alice in the Ergobaby!

Whilst I absolutely adore the Ergobaby, Alex loves the wrap style carriers, so we also have the Hana Baby Wrap, which he uses with Alice when we’re out and about. However, he is going to try the Ergobaby later this month when we go to London! The wrap style is great as it can be used with smaller babies subject to clearance from a medical professional. It also allows little ones to be held in many different positions and closer to whoever is wearing them. However, I found that as a wheelchair user, the wrap style isn’t that safe until little ones can hold their head up, which is why Alice is carried by Alex a lot more than by me! 

Alex, a white man with red hair and wearing glasses is looking towards the camera smiling. Alex is wearing a blue and pink jacket, and a black baby wrap which has Alice, a small white baby with brown hair inside.
Alex carrying Alice in the Hana baby wrap

2. Good ear and eye protection! 

Tiny ears and eyes are extra-sensitive. A baby’s hearing can easily be damaged by loud noises and speakers if too close. For us, getting Alice not one but two pairs of Banz Baby ear defenders was a no brainer. Having two pairs means we can keep a pair at Alex’s and a pair at mine, which means no worrying about losing ear defenders and having no backup, or worse, leaving them at the one house when going to an event from the other! True story; Alex didn’t know about the second pair until I took Alice with my dad to her first Chelsea match! He was panicking about her having no ear defenders until I sent a photo of her second pair attached to the carrier, ready for when we got to Kingsmeadow! 

A selfie of Alex, a white man with red hair wearing clear framed glasses carrying Alice, a white baby with brown hair wearing light blue and black ear defenders.
Alice rocking one of her pairs of ear defenders!

As for eyes, sunlight can damage little eyes, and it can be hard to find suitable sunglasses for babies. Luckily, Banz Baby also have a selection of matching sunglasses to go alongside their ear defenders! The sunglasses fit around the head using an adjustable headband, and both the ear defenders and sunglasses can be used until the little one is around 2 years old before needing to move up to the next size. 

3. A good changing backpack

I have raved about this changing backpack in a previous post, but it really is excellent for days out, going to large events, travelling and just as your usual day to day changing bag. Not only does this particular bag from Amazon have a big main compartment for a change of clothes, snacks etc. It also has a bottle pocket that can store three bottles, a phone charging port (need your own battery pack) and a pocket for baby wipes! The most significant function for me, however, is the inbuilt cot and changing mat. Not only does it mean you can change your little one with privacy, but they can also nap in it when out and about during the day if at a picnic, for example. The cot also features a sun canopy for protection on sunnier days or as a barrier against the wind when using it when outside. It’s important to note that the inbuilt cot isn’t suitable for overnight sleeping, however, so you’d still need a travel cot if going away. 

Overall, large events can be done with a bit of planning and organisation beforehand. However, having a baby doesn’t mean life has to stop! You can very much still have a life and attend events like Christmas light switch on, Pride, picnics, fun days etc., with your bundle of joy! 

Do you have any tips to help new parents who want to go to events with their little ones? Then, share them in the comments! 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Meet Our Little One!

TW: This post details our NICU journey and the reason why our baby needed NICU. 

Following on from our birth story blog posts, it’s time to introduce our little one to you all, as well as what happened next! 

Our little miracle and fighter, Alice Frances Margaret, was born at 0710 on 21st August 2021, weighing 2480g. She came into the world face up, which meant the first of Alice’s many facial expressions we were greeted with was her extremely grumpy one which Alex managed to get a photo of. 

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is wrapped in a white towel and wearing a white hat. Alice has various bruises from the forceps on her face and is extremely grumpy!
Alice at 23 minutes old!

Perfect in every way, I was so glad to get some skin to skin with her. However, my right arm had been severely affected by the epidural, which meant I couldn’t lift my arm or move it very well, so Alex and Paige, the midwife who took over from Sarah shortly after Alice was born, had to help me with holding her. All was going perfectly until 79 minutes after Alice’s birth. 

People always say expect the unexpected, but what happened at 0829 on that Friday, just 79 minutes after Alice’s birth, shook both Alex and me to our cores. It really was the worst moment of our lives so far, as Alice stopped breathing while on my chest, and we didn’t even realise it. I genuinely thought that Alice had fallen asleep on my chest. Even when I mentioned it to the nurse looking after us in recovery in search of reassurance, the fact that she didn’t respond made us both think it was ok. It wasn’t until Paige came back in 30 seconds later and realised what had really happened that all hell broke loose. 

Having your baby swiftly taken off of you and seeing medical staff resuscitate them whilst the emergency buzzer means more medical staff are swarming into help is something that neither of us would wish on our worst enemy. I honestly thought we’d lost our baby, and Alex was that focused on trying to see what was being done to Alice that one of the staff had to try and force him to come and comfort me as I was being pushed out of the bay to a different area of recovery. We had no idea at that moment in time if our baby would make it. The 15 minutes it took to find out the update was the longest 15 minutes of my life. It truly felt like hours. 

The doctor who came to give us the initial update on Alice happened to be one of the doctors who looked after my mum in 2013 when she was fighting for her life in ICU. The second he said Alice was breathing, I felt the most enormous wash of relief pour over me. It didn’t matter that they were still trying to stabilise her and that the neonatal team were transferring her to NICU at that point, she was alive, and that was all that mattered. 

Shortly after the initial update, I was transferred back to the labour ward, and Alex came with me. At this point, I was trying to process exactly what had just happened to us, but if I’m honest, my brain couldn’t take anything in. As soon as I saw my dad and he realised that Alice wasn’t with us, I burst into tears once more because I couldn’t get out exactly what happened and Alex had to tell him for me. It would be another 24 hours before my dad met his first grandchild, as our NICU had a rule that grandparents could only visit on weekends in the afternoon due to covid. Still, it was a lot more lenient than most NICUs in the UK. At the time of writing this blog post, some weren’t even allowing parents to visit their child/ren together. 

Soon we received another update from the doctors working on Alice, and with them came the news that our baby was finally stable but not yet out of the woods. One of us was allowed to go and see her, but I couldn’t push myself in my wheelchair, so I told Alex to go down and get lots of photos and videos for me until I could go myself. As upset as I was that we weren’t going together, I knew that Alex would be able to prepare me for when I finally got to see Alice. After Alex got back, we were moved to postnatal, so I sent dad home to get some rest before bringing the colostrum we’d harvested to the hospital. I was an absolute hot mess, so before going to neonatal myself to check up on Alice, Alex helped me get showered and changed. He then briefed me on all the rules and what to expect, but if I’m honest, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to be wheeled into. 

Having a baby in NICU is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Seeing your child so unwell and not being able to hold them is tough. Once Alex wheeled me down, and we’d both washed our hands, he took me over to Alice. She looked so unhappy, which make me shed tears once more. She was covered in wires, hooked up on oxygen and on fluids. Her incubator felt like this massive barrier; I couldn’t hold her or do skin-to-skin to comfort her. It was a far cry from how everyone expects the first few hours after giving birth to go. Thankfully, one of the nurses came over to ask if I wanted to put my hand in and comfort her that way, which I jumped at the chance to do. I felt awful for Alex, who couldn’t hold or touch Alice the entire time she was in NICU. It wasn’t until Sunday, when Alice was on transitional care, that he got to hold her for the first time since she’d stopped breathing 2 days earlier. On the other hand, I got my first cuddle on Friday night whilst being able to feed her. However, it was filled with anxiety as the position I had her in for feeding was the same position she was in when she’d stopped breathing 12 hours before. 

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is laying on a pastel yellow and pink coloured patterned mat in an incubator. She is wearing a nappy as has oxygen prongs in her nose, a cannula on her right hand and various wires over her body. She looks very grumpy!
Alice in NICU

Although Alice was out of NICU after 40 hours, followed by 2 days on transitional care before going home, those 40 hours taught me so much about a world few know about. Being NICU parents really showed Alex and me just how strong we are, even if we doubted that strength before. Before going home, we managed to catch up with Paige, the midwife who literally saved Alice’s life and between her and the neonatal doctors got as much information as we could. Unfortunately, not all the questions were answered; we’ll never know the reason why Alice stopped breathing. The fact she did in the first place shocked even the team looking after us, especially as Alice had an Apgar score of 9 just 1 minute after birth and then a perfect 10 at 5 minutes. A few have asked us if my Group B Strep infection caused it or if the reduced fetal movements played a part, which again is something we’ll never know. However, although we were fully covered with antibiotics for Group B Strep, Alice’s infection markers were raised when checked, so she was placed on IV antibiotics for a few days as a precaution. Since we’ll never know what caused her to stop breathing, we have been warned it could happen again. It’s something I constantly hope doesn’t happen, but if it does, Alex and I both know how to resuscitate babies and infants thanks to work. 

September is NICU Awareness Month, and we’re so proud of our little fighter who made it through. We’re forever thankful to all the staff who worked on Alice and got her well enough to come home as quickly as she did. We’re also grateful for the support of Bliss, a charity here in the UK that provides information and support to parents of babies born premature or sick, as well as research into improving care and treatment.

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is wearing a white vest and laying on her back with her head turned to the side in her snuzpod, which has a white sheet with grey stars on the mattress. There is a grey blanket covering Alice and she is asleep.
Alice Now!

Our Birth Story: Part One – Induction

Finally, the time has come for us to share our baby’s birth story! After our baby was born on 20th August 2021, we thought it would be nice to share our birth story and what happened. As it’s pretty lengthy, we’ve split it into two parts – induction up to labour in part one and labour/birth in part two. We hope that sharing our story will help those of you who are giving birth in similar circumstances.

Wednesday 18th August 2021

After nearly three weeks of being in hospital (bar home leave to sort out the last few bits between CTG monitorings), the day had finally arrived to induce labour and meet our little miracle. Although this date had been the planned date for the last four weeks of my pregnancy, getting there wasn’t guaranteed, especially after finding out about the fetal growth restriction and the low baseline heart rate that would often get picked up on overnight CTG monitorings. 

At 0830, the midwives who we’d gotten to know very well in the final few weeks came to transfer us over to the delivery suite. Unlike most people who have their inductions started on the antenatal ward, my consultant wanted me on delivery suite to keep a closer eye on me because of my risk factors. We were fortunate that because everything had been well planned out in the weeks leading up to induction day, we had the largest room in delivery suite, which is usually reserved for multiple births. It meant that I had room to move around in my wheelchair, even with all of our bits and pieces. 

A few minutes after arriving in our room, my consultant and the team on the delivery suite with her that day came to say hello, discuss the plan and see if we had any questions. After we discussed the plan and exchanged a few jokes about the size of my suitcase (a great mood lightener which helped put my nervousness at ease), we were left to get settled in. About an hour later, the midwife looking after me for the day came in to examine me and start the induction! 

As my cervix wasn’t entirely favourable, our induction was started with a Propess pessary which was left in for 24 hours. Alex and I spent the rest of Wednesday morning watching Netflix. Later in the day, dad arrived, so we decided to go outside and get some much-needed fresh air before they went home.

Thursday 19th August

At around 0330 on Thursday, the contractions I’d been having for weeks beforehand were finally strong enough to trigger my headaches. The problem with this, however, was that my blood pressure also became spiked. Thankfully paracetamol took the edge off a bit for a couple of hours until it stopped doing anything. 

Come 0900, the contractions were getting stronger but still not regular. The team looking after us for Thursday came to introduce themselves and discuss seeing if the Propess had done anything. At 1030 we had another monitoring done before the pessary was removed. Although it had softened my cervix, we still weren’t in a position for my waters to be broken, so it was time to try the gel! The gel went in around 1100, meaning we’d be checked at 1700 to check progress. 

By lunchtime, the headaches had really ramped up, and nothing was working. Alex had to help me transfer when I needed to catheterise as the pain was triggering my spasms and making transfers nearly impossible. Eventually, at around 1500, the team asked me if I wanted to try an epidural and set the wheels in motion to get it set up. Anaesthetics were called to discuss when to start it. As my waters hadn’t been broken, they were worried it may be in for too long if they were to do it at that point, so instead, they inserted a cannula to try and push IV paracetamol through in an attempt to take the edge off. Unfortunately, due to poor veins on my right side, it took the anaesthetist 3 tries to get the cannula sited. 

1700 soon came, and it was time to check my progress. Alex had gone home for a few hours around 1600 and joked that it looked like I’d peed myself; knowing that it would take a lot of retention for that to happen, I told him that was highly unlikely. Well, you can guess what it actually was that Alex saw – my waters! Somewhere between 1500 and 1700, they’d decided to go on their own. This was great news in that my epidural could be started. However, it also meant my IV antibiotics needed to be started as well. The team of midwives I’m under for my care were called, and Sarah arrived soon after. 

Sarah jumped into action when realising my antibiotics to cover us for the Group B Strep infection I was found to have hadn’t been started. It turned out that most of the team on the labour ward that day hadn’t realised I’m Group B Strep positive on top of all the other things they needed to know about me, so Sarah made sure they were brought up to speed. Around this time, the anaesthetics team came to put in the epidural, which thankfully went in without too much trouble, providing much-needed relief from the headaches. 

Alex arrived back just after the epidural was sited, and then it was time to get the oxytocin drip in that would make contractions more regular! The drip was started around 2130, and at this point, my cervix was still very much closed, so we knew it would be a slog – or so we thought! 

Fast forward to midnight and another check, we were still closed. But at 0300 on the 20th August 2021, the unexpected happened. We were 4cm dilated and officially in labour! 

Find out tomorrow in part two for what happened during labour and birth! 

Our High Risk Pregnancy So Far: Why We’ve Accepted Induction Of Labour

The last few weeks have been stressful with no news and, as a result, no plan. Finally, at 36 weeks, we now have one, but it might not be the plan everyone was expecting us to have. If you haven’t read our previous post about our pregnancy journey so far, you can read the last one here

From the start, we always knew that I’d require some sort of medical input when it came to labour time and birth. Our biggest fears were that I’d be pressured into accepting a c-section which for me would mean a difficult recovery and relying on Alex and our families for almost everything for the first 8-12 weeks, both in terms of my care and little one’s. I’ve always been for a physiological birth, or as close to it as I can possibly get, only going for a c-section or other interventions if absolutely necessary, especially as it would very likely need to be done under general. Luckily, the result of the MDT meeting was that if I don’t want an elective c-section, then I don’t have to have one, but it’s under the condition that I’m aware we could still be heading down that route if either little one or I don’t cope well in during labour. 

How the option of induction came about and why we accepted

One of the biggest things about not going down the c-section route is unpredictability and the risks involved. For us, not only do I have a medical condition which means I can’t feel movements or contractions and have to palpate for them, but I’m also at risk of precipitous labour. Then, to top it off, we found out that I have Group B Strep at 26 weeks, and I’m also at risk of other complications. It meant that the idea of induction was proposed to us, with all the risks and benefits involved. Benefits? We’d have an idea of when my labour will begin, and with it, the option to ensure Alex is off work for a few days so that he doesn’t miss the birth. It also eliminates the risk of me giving birth at home with no help other than Alex’s Avmed training, which, whilst the scope of what Avmed covers is fantastic, where childbirth is concerned, it doesn’t equip you for a complicated labour birth. Cons? If it fails or something else happens, it’s a c-section since assisted delivery via forceps or ventose is out of the question due to dislocation risk. It also further increases my haemorrhage risk, something my consultant already factored in early on so that there’ll be medication drawn up and on standby if it’s needed. 

As my midwife talked to me about induction some weeks ago when Alex’s roster and being back at work was causing me stress around whether or not he’d even make the birth, Alex and I had actually spoken about the possibility of induction. We researched the risks and benefits before my consultant had even offered it to us to come to a decision together without feeling pressured. After those discussions with Alex and my midwife, I said that if induction was offered to me, I’d accept it to reduce the risk of that happening as him not being at the birth would be heartbreaking for us both. It also gives us some control over the situation as long as little one stays put and I don’t go into labour before induction day, something which could happen and my consultant warned us about when we accepted the offer. Alex had already made it clear that he’s scared of waking up during the night to find me still asleep whilst in advanced labour, something which we both know would affect him massively even with all of the training he’s equipped with, thanks to him being crew! 

As you can see, accepting an induction of labour was an easy decision for us once we’d weighed up all of the risks and benefits. Even with the risk of having to go down the c-section route if something goes wrong, the thought of having an unattended labour and birth with all of the dangers attached due to my complex medical history scares Alex and I more. We are also fortunate that we never felt pressured by the team looking after us to accept induction, mainly because we’d had that discussion ourselves beforehand, giving us time to fully consider everything. Not only is there information on induction of labour available to read in my handheld notes, but we also turned to Google to research the specific risks that are unique to our situation and spoke to other pregnant people who have EDS. But what if you’re enjoying a lower risk pregnancy and offered induction, or just don’t know if you want one?

Research is your best friend

Alex and I both know people who have been offered induction of labour and felt little pressure to accept, as well as plenty of people with low-risk pregnancies who felt forced into accepting an induction to keep their team happy. We started looking into our options quite early on once our consultant told me that she’d do everything possible to keep our options for labour and mode of delivery open. That kind of support from her when every other specialist outside of obstetrics had told me that c-section was the safest way forward meant the world to both of us. It also meant that we felt even more supported by the teams looking after us, both at our local hospital and the Silver Start Unit in Oxford, who we’re so thankful to have the specialist input of. 

Great places to research induction include Google (especially as you can tailor your search to your unique situation) and your handheld notes if your hospital provides information on induction of labour in these. I also highly recommend speaking to people who’ve had an induction of labour offered about their experiences, even if they didn’t accept the offer, as firsthand experiences can often help the decision making process. This same piece of advice goes for those who have medical conditions which could influence management. There are plenty of online groups on Facebook etc., which allow you to connect with others going through similar! If you can, start researching and discussing your thoughts with someone else early! This means by the time an offer of induction is given to you (if it is), you’ll have already thought about it and either decided on whether or not to accept, or you’ll have an idea of what questions to ask. It also means that whatever your decision is, you’ll be able to explain the reasoning behind your decision to whoever is looking after you knowing that you’ve given yourself time to consider all the risks and benefits. I’ve also learned to use one acronym that has helped us massively with each decision we make, called B.R.A.I.N. 

What is B.R.A.I.N?

B.R.A.I.N really is what it says it is; it’s using your brain to make an informed decision. 

B – Benefits (what are the benefits of this test or procedure for me and my baby?) 

R – Risks (what are the risks of this test or procedure for me and my baby?)

A – Alternatives (What, if any, are the alternatives?) 

I – Instinct (What is my instinct telling me? What do I think and feel about this test or procedure? Who else can I ask about it?)

N – Nothing (What could happen if I decide to do nothing or wait and see? Can this test or procedure be delayed? Can I take some time to think about it or research?)

B.R.A.I.N is something we’ve used throughout our pregnancy journey to make informed decisions and choices that we know are right for us without feeling pressured into doing something we may not necessarily want to do. It’s also something that we will continue to use and advocate that others use, especially as it is such a handy tool to have. With the NICE draft guidelines meaning that an increasing amount of people are already being offered induction at 39 weeks even if there isn’t a clear clinical need, now more than ever, birthing people and their partners must be able to make informed decisions without feeling pressured into accepting something they may not actually want. 

Have you been offered an induction of labour or had one in the past? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments with us! 

Navigating Pregnancy When One Of You Is Intersex And The Other Is Trans

Firstly, Happy Pride! June happens to be our favourite month of the year, not only because it’s pride month, but our anniversary also happens to be today! Yes, we got together on the 28th of June, the same day as the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. For the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s the month where we celebrate how far we’ve come thanks to those who came before us, but at the same time raise awareness that there is still much more to be done. Even in 2021, the world isn’t a safe place for everyone, especially when there are still countries in the world where being your true authentic self is dangerous. There’s also those in power who keep trying to take away our community’s basic rights, rights our elders fought for.

2021 for us is special though, it’s the year that we become parents and a family of 3. But being LGBTQIA+ parents is far from easy. The journey to parenthood has been tough on us both. There have been moments of heartbreak with repeated miscarriages, and the system itself is full of red tape and discrimination. In addition, it’s been exhausting having to deal with people who don’t understand what we’ve been through, which is why for us, it’s so important that we’re visible, not only to challenge the outdated views and myths that you can’t have children if you’re intersex or transgender, but also to provide hope to other LGBTQIA+ people who want to become parents themselves. This year, we’re honoured to be part of The Positive Birth Company’s #ProudParent campaign, sharing our story alongside some other amazing LGBTQIA+ parents and parents-to-be, and you can read all the stories here.

Being LGBTQIA+ in a maternity/pregnancy care environment throws a whole host of emotions at you. So often misunderstood, Alex and I were extremely guarded and protective of each other until I met my community midwife, who, with her compassion, empathy, and determination to get it right, broke down every single barrier in the space of two hours. Unfortunately, she left when I was 16 weeks, but our new midwife is just as caring and empathetic, and it’s meant that we’ve felt welcomed, included but above all, safe. How did they manage it? By asking open-ended questions, not making assumptions, and giving us the time and safe space we needed to open up. It takes a lot to trust someone in the medical profession when you’ve been subjected to medical trauma in the past.

For me, my medical trauma started as a young child. Put on hormones at just 9 years old because my body didn’t ‘conform’ to the not so lovely little tick box that doctors have. I struggled with body image, being bullied and even comments from some family members regarding me being on hormone replacement therapy. When I moved in permanently with gran at 14, one of the first things she did was attempt to get me off the hormone tablets that I didn’t want to be on. We went to the doctors, only to be told that it was in my ‘best interests’ to stay on them despite horrific side effects, mood swings and further down the line, a blood clot. Intersex kids are seen as medical emergencies, our bodies over-medicalised and decisions on surgeries, hormones etc., made before we’re even old enough to voice our own opinions.

For Alex, on the other hand, it was a case of not being believed by healthcare professionals. When Alex first went to ask his GP to refer him to the GIC, he was told he needed therapy instead (he didn’t). That wasn’t the only issue; once the GP finally did the referral, rather than changing gender markers and details on his record, they completely deleted his old NHS record and set up a new one. It meant that vital medical history was deleted, putting Alex at risk, and even now, any medical problem he has is often blamed on his hormones rather than actually investigated. It’s resulted in Alex becoming so guarded that we’ve often gone to walk-in for medical attention instead of the GP. The only time he now goes to the doctors is for blood tests and testosterone shots, as these are handled by the nurses with who he has a better experience.

We had this conversation about our struggles with healthcare professionals a while back, and a few things became super clear. Firstly, those who stop trans people from accessing the healthcare and referrals they need are often the same ones dishing out hormones to intersex kids causing irreparable damage. Secondly, those in power trying to restrict trans healthcare are often the same ones who allow doctors to perform cosmetic surgeries on intersex kids before they’ve even been able to voice their opinion. Not only is it hypocrisy at its finest, but it’s a massive issue because cosmetic surgeries on intersex kids are irreversible and come with lifelong consequences, especially when they’re performed before the child has even had a chance to explore their identity and tell the world who they are.

Back to our journey to parenthood, and as you can probably already tell, my decision to be the gestational parent wasn’t an easy one. Alex would never even contemplate carrying, so we knew straight away that if we were going to do this, it would be me doing the carrying. So naturally, I felt excited but nervous because of my past experiences. However, I found focusing on the end and having our bundle of joy helped me through the appointments and hormone courses.

What no one prepares you for, however, is the heartbreak of pregnancy loss. The one in 2019 shattered me, and my mental health took a massive hit. It’s difficult enough to deal with miscarriage alone, I was away with work at the time, and Alex was working as well, so he couldn’t come on this trip with me. No one on the trip knew I was pregnant. We’d all been at pride the day before, and my excuse for not drinking was that I was on antibiotics at the time. Not a complete lie, as I actually was! But it meant that when I realised I was miscarrying just before boarding the flight, I didn’t feel able to tell any of them. I took the flight, got to the hotel, checked in and then made an excuse as to why I wouldn’t go shopping before making my way to the hospital. From there, it was confirmed that I was miscarrying. I had Alex on the phone in a panic and feeling guilty that I was going through it alone, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the lack of empathy and support from one of the nursing staff. When they looked through my notes, realised I’m intersex and had repeated miscarriages, they took it on themselves to tell me that they were surprised I’d even gotten pregnant in the first place and that Alex and I should look at other options. Anyone who’s suffered miscarriage or baby loss will know that it destroys you inside. To have that comment thrown in the mix sent me to an extremely dark place. It was the very thing that caused both Alex and I to become guarded about what we shared and whom we shared it with regarding maternity care after breaking down the walls we’d previously had built up from our individual experiences with healthcare professionals.

Back to now, and to be so close to meeting our baby fills us with joy, hope and a sense of achievement. Joy because we knew that one day, we would become parents; it was something we’d spoken about early on. It was just a case of when would be the right time not only work-wise but also allowing a new team of healthcare professionals into our lives when we’d both had previous bad experiences. Hope for the future, that the world is a more welcoming place and more progress is made, so that future generations don’t have the same struggles that we do now. Finally, a sense of achievement in that my body isn’t a failure, and we’ve proven the person who made that shocking comment almost two years ago wrong. Being intersex or transgender doesn’t exclude you from becoming a parent; we’re living proof of that fact along with many others.

Why We Aren’t Throwing A Gender Reveal

There’s no better feeling during pregnancy than finally getting over the halfway mark! There’s just something magical about having the 20-week scan and the sense of reality that comes with it. It also marks the point where the planning and preparation for your little bundle of joy gets into full swing. Except for us, we’re not thinking about whether to paint the nursery pink or blue. The fact is, we’re not focusing on the gender of our baby at all. 

Why? 

Well, there are several reasons. Firstly, I’m living proof that what a scan says regarding gender isn’t always true. My mum has an ‘It’s A Boy’ teddy bear with quite an interesting story behind it (embarrassing for the person who got it, though!) Why? Because my parents thought they were having a boy after being told what they thought was my gender on a scan, and then found out I wasn’t a boy when I was born. Ok, the 1990s didn’t have the best ultrasound machines, but you can see why you shouldn’t rely on your scan results. My body produces too much testosterone, and, as a result, I have a lot of masculine features like excess hair (especially face and neck!). Upper estimates suggest that 2-3% of the world’s population are intersex like myself. That’s about the same number of people born with red hair, so it’s not as rare as people are lead to believe, and yes, intersex people can and do have children!

There’s also the simple fact that gender and genitalia are two different things. Those who have found Family Of Wanderlusters through my travel blog, Instagram or YouTube channels, or through Alex and I sharing our story via The Positive Birth Company for Pride will already know that Alex is transgender, and he is very much of the opinion that colours and clothes should not be gendered, which I agree with! Will our child be brought up entirely gender-neutral to enable them to explore their own identity as they grow? I wish we could do that, but the world is so gendered that all we can do is show them that toys, clothes, activities, colours etc., are not gender-specific. If they want to play with lego? Then they can. Want to play football? Go ahead. Want a dolls house? Then we’ll get them one. Wear dresses? Fine. You get the picture.

For some in the intersex, transgender, and non-binary communities, gender reveals hurt. They reinforce the idea that girls like pink, wear dresses and play with dolls and makeup and need to be wrapped up in cotton wool, whilst boys like blue and play rough, which certainly isn’t the case. Not only does it reinforce dangerous stereotypes surrounding gender, but it also erases those who are intersex and reinforces the idea that we don’t exist along with those who are transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming. Let’s face it, they aren’t gender reveals, they are genital reveals, and frankly, children shouldn’t be treated differently based on what’s between their legs. 

Last but not least, on top of reinforcing gender stereotypes, gender reveals also have an environmental cost. There have been instances where these reveals have caused wildfires, explosions, and worse, affecting biodiverse ecosystems for years to come. There are also news articles online linking them to deaths when the reveals have gone horribly wrong, and nobody wants that on their conscience. 

Let’s face it, we’re in 2021, and frankly, the outdated practice of throwing a gender reveal party needs to stop. As for those who have gender reveals just to celebrate their bundle of joy, that’s what baby showers are for, and you can easily have a gender-neutral themed one to do just that! 

Five Things You Should NEVER Say To LGBTQIA+ Parents

Two things have unfortunately angered us over the last few weeks or so. First of all, someone in the family decided to share the news that Alex and I are expecting before we had a chance to tell extended family and friends. The second? Responses we’ve had all because we’re LGBTQIA+ parents to be on top of the fact that I’m disabled and pregnant. There are just things you NEVER say to disabled parents (see blog post on that here), and there are also things you NEVER say to LGBTQIA+ parents! The following list is not exhaustive, but these are all things that we’ve had to listen to from various narrow-minded people since a particular family member outed our news (which you don’t do. Period.)

1. Asking how we’ve had kids

Tip – none of your business! Fact is, there are many ways to have children. Families are created in many different ways, come in all sizes, and no two families are ever the same. Whether someone adopted, used a donor, had a surrogate pregnancy etc., is none of your business, and the intrusive questions aren’t welcome, nor is the calling out from such narrow mindedness.

2. Asking who the real parents are 

We are. End of conversation.

The fact that people even ask us this question gets to me, especially as it’s often asked at the same time people question how we’re having our child. People see parenthood as a very biological thing, but that will never be the case. It takes more than biology and being a donor to be a parent.

3. Asking if our children are or will be LGBTQIA+

We are not mind readers. We don’t have crystal balls, and we can’t see into the future. We can’t tell if our child will be LGBTQIA+ themselves, and guess what? It doesn’t matter, and it’s none of your business whether they are or not! After all, it’s not a choice. Right now, all that matters to us is that our child grows up to be happy, well-rounded, respectful, and as healthy as possible. No matter who they are, they’ll always be loved and accepted because they’re ours.

4. Assuming that our children will get bullied for having LGBTQIA+ parents

Just stop right there. Firstly, I like to think children today are more tolerant and accepting of each other compared to when Alex and I were in school. Also, when we were in school, LGBTQIA+ issues weren’t talked about, something that is now thanks to a requirement for schools to provide LGBT-inclusive education. I’m pleased about this, as it’s something Alex and I didn’t get taught at school, partly because of Section 28, which was finally repealed in England on 18th November 2003 when we were both in primary school. To assume that our child will be bullied just for having LGBTQIA+ parents is hurtful and something we’re hoping won’t happen.

5. Commenting that our children will miss out because of us

Miss out on what exactly? Our child will have everything they need to ensure they aren’t missing out on anything. Saying that they’ll miss out simply because of who Alex and I are is entirely disrespectful. You wouldn’t want anyone questioning your parenting ability or how you plan to bring your child up, so why would you question ours?

As I said initially, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it gives a little bit of insight into what we have to deal with, just because some can’t keep their noses out of our business. Even if it’s under the guise of being inquisitive, it’s not on.