Friday, 27 November 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name

Photo credit: Kuzeytac
Peanut’s First Photo Opportunity
I had my 12 week scan yesterday. I was surprised to see so much at such an early stage. With Els, I was only offered a 20 week scan. I just presumed that my scan photo this time round would look more like a weather forecast than a foetus. Given that Peanut is only 5.5cm long, I was amazed s/he looked so much like a baby.

J was thrilled, said seeing Peanut move about on the screen made it feel much more real for him. Poor love, missing out on all the things that have been making the pregnancy very real for me - nausea, tender breasts, frequent night-time loo trips and extreme tiredness!

Peanut looked a bit boyish to me. I can't wait for the 20 week scan as I'm really keen to know what flavour s/he is. I want to narrow down my name list to male or female only and start harassing J for his real opinion. So far my favourites aren't his and vice versa. Plenty of time to sort it out though.

Is One Surname Better Than Two?
Talking of names, on the morning of the scan whilst cuddled up in bed together before getting ready for school, Ella told me she wasn't sure about being a Barrass-Higgs anymore. I’ve reassured her that whatever she wants her surname to be is OK with me, but she doesn’t need to make that choice until she’s a few years older. But our conversation did make me feel a bit frustrated. Allow me to explain...

When J and I got married I thought it was a great opportunity to finally share a surname with my daughter (I never have done). Being an ultra-reasonable person, I wouldn't dream of taking her dad's name from her (Barrass) so I thought she could have both names ie Barrass (her dad's) and Higgs (my new surname).

I discussed it with her dad, who wasn't too keen for some reason (it's not as if I was suggesting losing his surname in favour of mine). However, he agreed I could discuss the idea with her and let her decide. I assured him I wouldn't change it legally until she was older and completely sure she wanted to add my name to his.

Having both surnames seems to me an apt reflection of her Shared Care Daughter status. She has two families - her House Family which is me and John and her Boat Family which is her dad and his girlfriend. The House and Boat terminology is Ella's own. Her dad lives on a river boat and we share her care 50/50 between both families.

The Freedom of Choice
Anyhow, as much as I thought this new name was a good idea, I am a great believer in Ella having choices and freedom so I was keen to give her the option of being a Barrass or a Barrass-Higgs. After all, it's her name.

So, I discussed it with her in a very neutral way, said it was her choice and I was happy with whatever she chose.

After a few weeks of quiet contemplation, Ella decided she'd like to have both surnames. So I told the school, doctors etc she is to be referred to as Ella Barrass-Higgs on their records but isn't yet listed as that legally - and won't be until (or if) she confirms she'd like to share my surname as well as her dad's. I thought ten years old would be a good age for her to decide once and for all. If she's still sure then, I'll change her name by deed poll.

Fair, yes? Enough said on that topic until she's ten, no need for anymore discussion. Or so I thought.

From our conversation this morning, it turns out El's dad has been chatting to her about how it's not important to have the Higgs on the end of her surname, and giving her examples of other families she knows who all have different surnames from each other.

He’s perfectly at liberty to discuss anything he wants with his daughter, but I was stunned to find this ‘name thing’ has now been playing on Ella’s mind. It was a non-issue for her until that conversation, and I really didn’t think we needed to discuss it again until she becomes ten. I felt quite annoyed.

What’s in a Name?
Ultimately, 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet' so I agree with El’s dad that it doesn't matter either way. Ella is part of my family whatever her surname. However, I have deliberately held back from influencing her choice as I think it is one she should make for herself
in a few years' time, with no undue influence from me or her dad.

Of course I'd like Ella to share a surname with all the key members in her family - her dad, me, her new brother/sister and her step-dad. But, if she prefers to be a Barrass only that's completely cool too.

So why am I getting my knickers in a twist - over something that is really nothing? Pregnancy hormones perhaps....

I'd appreciate your views on this. What do you make of it all?

On a more positive name note, here are my current favourites (but not necessarily J's!) for Peanut:

Jasper (J likes this too)


Alicia (J likes this..)
Daisy (..and this..)
Phoebe (..and this)

Which do you like best for Peanut Higgs?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Second Time Around

Photo credit: Koecklin
There I am intending to mark these exciting early weeks of pregnancy with voracious blogging activity, and what am I doing?

Watching TV mainly (loving True Blood! So excited about the new Gavin and Stacey!). Oh, and sleeping.

My mojo had left the building.

A combination of pregnancy, a horrible cold virus that drained the last reserves of my energy and the onset of Winter had basically turned me into a sofa-loving, bed-hugging almost-hermit.

But I'm starting to fight back! Nettle tea (thanks for the tip, Sarada), my usual concotion of vitamins and a very Helpful Husband (he even cooks now! Well, if you count reheating Covent Garden soup as cooking) are coaxing back my mojo.

The signs are there. I've started to reach back into the big wide world. I'm going for short walks at lunchtime. I'm phoning friends again. Even meeting them at cafes, and accepting dinner invites. Although nights out still don't seem to have the allure they used to.

Last weekend I blossomed into Uber Mum - it happens sometimes - and had a great time with Ella making novelty-shaped cookies, decorating jam jars to use as tea-light holders, and helping her create scrapbook pages on our (rather excellent) Halloween party.

Oh, and cooking delicious meals, taking her to see Fantastic Mr Fox and hosting a sleepover with one of her best friends. Amongst other things.

So I'm quietly optimistic that I'm starting to 'bloom'. Ten weeks pregnant now and it's not just my demaenour that's blooming. My tummy has got a little confused and clearly thinks it's a good deal more pregnant than it actually is. I've heard this happens second time around.

To be fair, before I fell pregnant with Ella I had quite a small tummy. And was two stone lighter than now (sigh).I'm not sure how much of my bump is actual pregnancy bump or just 'can't be bothered to try and hold it all in now that I can get away with it' bulge. I'm already living in leggings and posting desperate cries of help on Freecycle for maternity gear. Ten weeks! I look more like twenty.

That's another thing about second time around. I can't bring myself to pay for anything I might actually need. Because this time I know I won't need it for long. And living in Henley-on-Thames you get a better class of cast-offs daaahling.

In fact, the second-hand baby gear collection has already started. Apart from maternity clothes, I'm not actively seeking anything. Just welcoming anything that pops up on Freecycle. To date: a good-as-new Brita car seat worth £160 and an Ikea chest-of-drawers-cum-baby-changing-table.

And the other thing about second time around is the books I'm reading. Not much about pregnancy and childcare. A lot about childbirth. I'm trying to convince myself it needn't be such a medicalised ordeal. I'm even considering a home birth, or at least starting off that way with the option to finish off in hospital.

The four 'satisfying' birthing experiences I've heard first-hand accounts of have all been home births. I'm sure there's a correlation between being a bit scared in hospital and having pretty much every intervention known to man. And - before the epidural appeared - the worst sacral pain (back-to-back baby, evil Syntocin)in the whole world ever, so much so I distinctly remember thinking that I wouldn't really care if someone started to saw my leg off because it would pale into comparison with the pain I was experiencing. And I wasn't over-dramatising. It really was that bad. I wish I'd done my homework instead of studiously avoiding the whole scary subject of childbirth.

No more horror-movie style screaming for me. Surely that's not natural? I'm planning to prepare myself much better this time. I want a relaxed, bearable birthing experience second time around.Do let me know about your positive birth experiences. It'll boost my spirits even more..