a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

Review of The Kensington Wing, Private Maternity Ward at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

So as you already know I’d decided to have the baby privately. To Americans reading this – this may seem an odd statement, so do please refer to my past post about this. In deciding to have the baby privately in London I had pretty much narrowed down my choices between the Portland Hospital and the Kensington Wing at Chelsea and Westminster. My Consultant would deliver at either.

I read as much info and talked to people who had been at both and for me the Kensington Wing won out due to it’s proximity and that they had a NICU and adult trauma center. I could be moved from private to NHS if an emergency merited. I had friends who’d been in the Kensington Wing, all of whom had a positive experience. Most private maternity wards and hospitals allow you to visit if you’re interested in seeing them before booking – you’ll generally need to call ahead though to book a tour.

When I first decided to go private (vs NHS) I was told to book my private place ASAP. For the Kensington Wing, they only have 16 rooms and can be booked up if you wait too long. They take the booking via your Consultant’s office. Mine delivered at both The Portland and Chelsea Westminster, Kensington Wing. I decided on the Kensington Wing as Chelsea Westminster is close to my home, has emergency care for both babies and mums. Further, I had friends who’d had positive experiences there.

When looking for more info and reviews, while I did find a few on Mumsnet.com I didn’t find as many as I’d like – as an info-mongering mum-to-be, so I decided to help others by writing about my personal experience there.

hallwayWhile we did have a c-section scheduled I ended up going in early for an emergency c-section. If you’d like the delivery details I’ve written of those previously. For this post we’ll continue on to the experience of the Kensington Wing. While vaginal deliveries do occur in the birthing rooms within the Kensington Wing (I’ve heard the birthing pool is lovely!) c-sections are performed outside of the wing in the surgery theater also used by non-private deliveries. You are wheeled on the gurney out of the wing and down the hall and back again. Not a huge deal as you’re generally more focused on baby in/out than who you might meet in the hallway. Further, its not a hall full of people but still worth noting.

When it comes to the rooms in the Kensington Ward itself, and the patient care – I found these to be very good.  Each of the rooms has windows, either facing outside, or the internal atrium and lavender walls. The rooms that face the internal atrium have baths with showers, seem a bit more spacious but require a sleeping cot to be brought in for husbands. The external facing rooms, while narrower – have built in murphy beds for hubs and only a shower not a bath.

I did have a Diva moment and ended up trying out both room types. As long as they aren’t full they are ok with asking for a room change (within reason of course.)

chelsea

When I toured the ward before my stay I had liked the exterior facing rooms because of the sunlight. So, when I arrived on the ward I requested one of these rooms. Living nearby, city streetnoise doesn’t bother me and the windows are fairly thick so while there was some noise I didn’t hear it as I’m used to filtering it out. It was handy having the murphy bed (pull-down bed) for hubs and just having a c-section, the walk-in shower was much easier to navigate. It was a bit cramped for space with my hospital bed, baby bed one side and hubs bed on the other but we managed.

kensington_wing

Layout of the Kensington Wing

Each room also had a chair, a small desk, flat-screen tv and fridge. They’ve replaced the usual tv remote with these mini remotes. I found this annoying as mine would stop working all the time, I’d ring the nurse and they seemed to be aware of the issue already as they’d often bring a larger remote to change or reset the tv then `i’d use my small one again until it would malfunction again. While they do provide meals, each room also has a mini-fridge for snacks or drinks. Mine in my first room wasn’t working. They kindly offered to keep my drinks and yogurt in the staff fridge, and that worked for about a day. I got tired of having to ring for someone to come, then me to ask them to go get a yogurt at 4am. It seemed like a really annoying thing for me to do to them, as if they didn’t have more pressing things to do – so I asked to move rooms, as most at that time were empty.

I decided to try out one of the internal rooms which faces the atrium. They wheeled in my bed while hubs and my Mum trailed with my stuff (and baby of course!) The room was larger, but being in there for just a few minutes I could already hear shouts and sounds echoing through the atrium. While perhaps the volume wasn’t as loud as street noise, for me – it wasn’t one I felt I could easily tune out, so quickly asked to be moved to another external facing room, this one with a working fridge. It was a total Diva moment – my entourage and I moving from room to room to room. Finally I settled in the room next to my original which was a bit disconcerting at first as it was the mirror opposite of my previous room.

In general the food was very good, someone would bring a menu in the morning so you could choose lunch and dinner etc. Having only stayed at hospitals in the US not UK I don’t have much to compare to here but I’d say the food was pretty good.

The midwives and other people there to care for patients in the ward were very kind and proficient. They were available when required but give you privacy and space to recuperate the rest of the time. That was the biggest difference between delivery in the US and UK. In the US it’s almost impossible to sleep in the hospital after delivery. While in the US you in general almost always automatically have a private room – which is not standard in the UK – in the US you are monitored and managed and interfered with on a regular basis.

I didn’t realize there would be this difference until after my first night stay. In the US there are constant noises – calls over the hallway speakers for Drs etc, beeps from machines, patient noises etc. The Kensington Wing was almost silent – only the very occasional faint baby cry.  In the US nurses come to check your blood pressure, blood oxygen etc every couple hours and if you’re sleeping, wake you up to do it. In the Kensington Wing, they tend to leave you alone at night unless you ask for assistance. No waking you up to monitor you, so you actually get to sleep in the hospital! While like the US they did try and get me up and moving soon after the c-section, I didn’t have to do the hallway laps, and breathing machine exercises that were required in the US following a c-section.

Assistance was on hand whenever I needed help for myself or baby. While they don’t have a nursery like in the US, they were available to take the baby for a bit if required, but as my husband was there, and it was so restful (unlike the US) there was no need to send the baby to the nursery or away to catch up on some sleep.

All in all – my experience was good. While the facilities are on-par or average for what’s expected in the US, the quality of care and service was tops for either US or UK. I’d highly recommend the Kensington Wing to other expectant Mums.

Here’s another review of The Kensington Wing

An American Girl in Chelsea – her review of the Kensington Wing and comparison to the Portland Hospital

and if you need more info or contact details of the Kensington Wing they are available on their website.

Feel free to share your experience or questions on the comments below.

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4 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

BabyPing video baby monitor is a must for Expat Parents

One of the challenges of being a “transatlantic” family is that our extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc are overseas. While we miss free family babysitters, we miss sharing special family moments even more.

When we knew we were expecting we began searching around for the perfect baby monitor. When I was a first-time Mother, I had one of those monitors with an under-mattress breathing sensor. At the time, it gave me peace of mind knowing baby was breathing. For my second child, I no longer needed that extra piece of mind to allay my crazy first time Mom fears, but it was the one I owned so we stuck with it, but didn’t connect the under mattress sensor. With the new baby, it was time for a new monitor. It had been 7 years since I shopped for a monitor and I knew that I wanted a video monitor.  As I began researching video monitors, I found 2 on the market that displayed the video feed via an app on my iPhone. The features and reviews I read convinced me that the BabyPing would be the better choice for us.

The BabyPing has 2 iPhone (or iPad) apps, once displays the video feed from the monitor on my closed home network (works while I’m at home) and the other allows us to view the video feed when away from home – this is great for letting the Grandparents in USA and Belgium tune in to a live feed of baby Tinkerbell day or night.

Here are two iPhone screenshots showing the video feed with the lights on and off.

BabyPing video feed with lights on

BabyPing video feed with lights on

BabyPing video feed with lights off

BabyPing video feed with lights off

The monitor and accessories comes in a small box. While there seemed at first to be a lot of stuff in the box – the most important item is the video camera itself and the plug to power it.  You won’t see any receivers etc. because you use your iPhone and the BabyPing app to view the baby. (So you do need to have an iPhone or iPad already.)

BabyPing unboxed

BabyPing unboxed

To set up the monitor, we plugged it in to our wireless router, then followed the instructions on the BabyPing iphone app. Setup was pretty easy.After it connected with the app, we were able to unplug the monitor and take it to the nursery, where we had to position it within reach of the electric plug so it could be powered to operate.

Our wireless router is on the 1st floor and our nursery the 3rd, so although we were able to get an intermittent signal, our signal wasn’t strong enough to rely on all the time. This was easily solved by purchasing a wireless repeater  (we bought this one on Amazon) which we plugged in on the 3rd floor, strengthening the wifi to the BabyPing monitor.

As we discover more about the monitor, how our family abroad is enjoying it I’ll continue to post about our new baby monitor adventures! Next I’ll be walking my non-techy parents through setting up the BabyPing + so they can view the baby.

BabyPing retails on their website, babyping.com for £149.99 at the time of writing this post it’s for sale for £139.99 on Amazon.

*Disclosure – upon my request, BabyPing provided me with a monitor to review

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4 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

The disappointments of Christmas…

Ralphie from A Christmas Story and his Red Ryder BB GunThe boys have been excitedly making plans for Christmas.  They’ve made their wishlist’s and told Santa all about what they want for Christmas. It took explaining multiple times before “Captain Hook” and “Peter Pan” understood the list was more a guideline for Santa, the Elves and assorted family members to understand what they wanted, not a list of everything they’d for sure be receiving for Christmas. When I had suggested putting the list on the fridge – they insisted on taping it to the window facing out so Santa and the Elves could peek in at it. It’s been on the window since, although has come down a few times for last-minute additions.

Although they are 2 years apart in age – they are in almost complete alignment for want they want for Christmas. One item in particular has caught their fancy this year, it’s a Spy Camera Watch. The thing is – they are 100% convinced that Santa is going to bring it for Christmas for each of them this year. They talk about it daily, they draw pictures of themselves wearing it in the future and have created plans for it’s deployment on missions. Their convictions aside, I’m not sure Santa feels the same about it.

From what I understand from Santa – all of their presents have all been made or purchased already – this would be on top of everything else. As a favor to Santa I also researched this Spy Cam Watch and not only is it really expensive for what it is, (about £50) it’s got a lot of poor reviews from parents etc. which were it something that didn’t have so much expectation and anticipation around it I’d never even consider, based solely on the overwhelming negative feedback.

So I wonder – which disappointment would be worse, wanting something so desperately for Christmas and Santa doesn’t bring it? (even though it was on your list and you told Father Christmas in person as you sat on his knee) or it does come, and it’s a complete piece of junk and isn’t as magical as you expected? 

The fervor with which they want these reminds me of Alfie from a Christmas Story who desperately wanted the Red Rider BB Gun, is told by everyone that he’ll shoot his eye out if he gets it, and then pretty much almost does…

So what do you think Santa should do?

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5 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

My son asked, “Is Karma Real?”…

Last night my son, “Captain Hook,” came up to me to ask “Is Karma real?”  That’s a tricky question when trying to answer a 6 year old, and a lot comes down to personal belief and context.

I told him, yes, I believe Karma is real – but not everyone does so. For example, your Father doesn’t believe in Karma, but I do believe it’s real. I believe that if you do good things, and your put good thoughts, deeds and actions out there – then it’s not instantaneous or measured 1 for 1, but good things do come back to you.

I asked him – what made him ask and he said “I got up from the couch and didn’t want my brother to have my pillow while I was gone so I tried to take it away with me, and ended up tripping and bumping my head.”

Ok – yes that could be seen as karmic retribution, but a little more cause-effect than what I was trying to thinking and trying explain.

Of course his Father popped his head in the door at that point to say Karma wasn’t true since not all bad people get what they deserve – but I had to point out he didn’t know that for sure, and we have to do the best we can each day in doing the right thing and helping others, regardless of the poor actions of others.

So now my 6 year old believes in Karma, at least on small level. We haven’t gotten to the tough questions yet like, why do bad things happen to good people, or why do little kids get really sick, or why are there floods/wars/insert other here… He does believe that having poor intentions and carrying through with them will come back to bite you.

How have you explained Karma to your kids?

I did take a look for children’s books on Karma but didn’t really see any. Let me know if you have any to recommend.

 

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5 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

Boys and girls…Oh baby!

baby inside mum's bellyWhen we first learned we were expecting we waiting until after the first trimester to tell our boys. Upon hearing the news they were pretty excited and immediately wanted to feel the baby through my belly. (My SIL is a few months ahead of me pregnant so they already understand the concept of the baby in the belly) Of course they couldn’t feel anything at that point – but it did lead us to a discussion of whether they thought they’d have a new baby brother or sister.

“Captain Hook” thought about it for a moment, and said “Well, we’ll have to wait until it’s born, take a look at it and then we’ll know.” A well reasoned response for a 6 year old I thought. Meanwhile, our 4 year old “Peter Pan” didn’t have to think about it at all – “It’s a girl!” he said immediately. I asked, “Really? Are you sure? How do you know?” his response – “It just is.”

(image credit: a drawing of Mum and the baby, by “Peter Pan” age 4)

Over the next few weeks and months before we knew for sure – we’d check back in with the kids, and “Peter Pan” stuck to his guns about it being a girl. I did ask – “What happens if it’s a boy?” he then replied – “Then you’re not having a baby, because it’s a girl.” Hmmmm…

One evening, still before we knew the baby’s gender –  as “Captain Hook” sat at the table coloring he turned to me and said – “Are you having a girl because you want a smart kid?” I think my heart just about broke. I told him we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, and that we thought he and his brother both were intelligent, kind boys who worked very hard and we were very proud of them. I asked him why he’d think something like that – and he said “Because girls are smarter than boys.” I had to wonder if this is something he’d heard in school, or felt – as young girls language skills developed at a faster rate at his age.

This incident did however remind me of something that had happened years earlier. The boys are 23 months apart. So when “Peter Pan” was born, “Captain Hook” was 2. A little less than a year after his birth – we began asking “Captain Hook” how he’d feel about another brother or sister. He always got really upset and would should “No!” at us. We were rather bemused since he got along so well with “Peter Pan” and really doted on him. Such an extreme reaction was a surprise to us. This went on for several months until one time when we asked – he expanded on the “No!” He said “No! I like ‘Peter Pan’ don’t take him back! I don’t want a different brother or sister!” Oh man – poor kid. For months we’d been asking if he’d wanted an additional brother or sister and the whole time we’d in effect been torturing him, as he’d perceived we were asking if we wanted him to replace/refund his baby brother!

At any rate as our 18-20 wk scan rolled around we grew increasingly nervous. While we’d have been happy with a boy or girl – “Peter Pan” was so convinced it was a girl we didn’t know how to break the news to him if it wasn’t. When we learned we are in fact having a girl we were so relieved. When we told the boys – there was no crowing from “Peter Pan,” just more of an eye roll as in – but of course, that’s what I’ve been saying all along.

Once they learned it was a girl – they wanted to help with the name selection. First up was “Rango” (having been watching Rango quite a bit during that time), then “Rexo” (which I’m pretty sure they got from “Flexo” Bender’s evil twin on Futurama) then Kadija (the name of girl in “Peter Pan’s” class) then “Rosie” (from that CBB’s show). Clearly if I want to influence their name choices I should start selectively slipping in tv shows and movies with names I like!  After their initial naming spurt – a few days later, “Captain Hook” came to me to tell me he had the perfect name, “Lisa Simpson, so she’ll be really smart!” Again, my heart broke. I explained that while a lot of names have history or meaning to the people who pick the names, that they don’t imbue the person with skills or know-how, that’s learned. It’s something we develop, and work hard at – and can achieve when we try really hard.

We’ve officially selected a name, the boys know it and call baby girl by her name already. It hasn’t stopped them from contributing new names – they recently asked if the baby could be named after them with the exact same name. (not going to happen!) I asked them  - wouldn’t that be confusing? And they didn’t seem to think so.

What I find so amazing – is that without having met the baby yet, or having a baby in the house that they can remember – our new little girl has become a part of their view of our family. All family pictures they draw feature the baby too. She’s either in my tummy – or in some images standing beside the boys, as part of our family. While the boys play quietly with toys – I often hear them discussing the new baby and their plans on big brotherhood. “Peter Pan”, 4 the other morning was patiently explaining to “Captain Hook”, 6 that they couldn’t let the baby play with their gooey alien in slime as the baby was too little and could choke on it.

In the same way that it’s hard to imagine life before the boys – here I am on the cusp of having a third child, a girl. Our life these last few years has been focused on the boys, the 4 of us as a family. In a few short weeks, it will be hard to remember what that life was like, as we won’t be able to imagine life without our little girl too, a family of 5.

 

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5 years ago 0 Comments Short URL

The Hospital Packing list – so now you tell me!!

naked baby feet

This being my third baby I pretty much thought I had the drill down by now. But having this 3rd baby in a different country than the previous 2 has really thrown me some curveballs. I’ve previously mentioned my surprise about the differences in maternity wards in the US and UK. I thought I’d figured out all of differences and either planned around them and or made peace with them. That is until yesterday…. 

Ok UK Mums, please humor my naivety for a moment – it’s not based on a feeling of entitlement, rather, in my experience of having babies to date – this is how it’s been done (in the US).

When you pack your hospital bag in the US – it’s pretty much just for you. It’s stuff for the labor and after delivery, change of clothes etc. For the baby, pretty much the only stuff you need to bring is outfit for leaving/and or photo and a car seat or carrier (even then if you can’t afford one generally one will be provided). Everything else – and I mean everything is provided for baby. In fact – so much has been provided, you’re even supposed to pack up all of the extra diapers they give you to take home.

So they provide the little onesie, hat and blankie they put the baby in just after delivery. The nurses make sure you pack up the diapers, the wipes, the pacifiers, and nasal aspirator and comb etc. You seriously need to bring an empty bag to hospital with you for the baby stuff.

When perusing UK baby site yesterday I came across a few discussions about packing the hospital bag and couldn’t believe what I was reading. “You need to bring what? No they must be joking!” So I asked around in my office, and then to some Mum friends on Facebook and they confirmed it for me. You need to bring EVERYTHING for the baby – from the cap and outfit for just after birth, diapers/nappies, and shockingly, maternity pads! (My first thought – isn’t that a medical supply, can people even buy those??)

Seriously, not having discovered this now – I would have rolled up to the hospital with my stuff – nothing for baby and had a naked dirty baby! (Probably closely followed by a visit from family services for my clear ineptitude as a parent).

I suppose it makes sense from the perspective of NHS provided services, this would be a cost saving measure. In the US you (or your insurance) are automatically charged for these items – so if you don’t take them with you you’re leaving something you’ve already paid for. But I just find it so different, and I had no idea about this difference. My friends in Germany and Belgium, also expecting say there it’s just like the US and they too find this surprising about the UK.

Here’s a list a good friend of mine shared with me after I got over my initial surprise yesterday. I’m not sure where she got it from, so if it’s been copied from somewhere and you recognise it, please let me know so I can credit it.

What to pack for labour

  • Your birth plan and maternity notes.
  • Dressing gown. Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be better
  • Slippers / flip flops
  • Socks. Believe it or not, your feet can get cold during labour
  • An old nightdress or a T shirt to wear in labour. It will probably get a bit messy, so don’t buy anything specially to wear in hospital
  • Massage oil or lotion if you would like to be massaged during your labour
  • Lip balm
  • Snacks and drinks for you while you are in labour
  • Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, games etc
  • A hairband. If you have long hair, you might want it tied up
  • Pillows. The hospital might not have enough to make you really comfortable
  • TENS pain relief machine if you are planning to use one
  • Toiletries
  • Music to listen to. Take a battery-operated machine, as most hospitals won’t let you plug things in. Some hospitals provide their own CD players or radios – again, check first

For the birth partner

  • Water spray, or a hand-held fan to keep cool down the mum-to-be while she’s in labour
  • Comfortable shoes. You may be pacing the corridors!
  • A change of clothes
  • Watch with a second hand, to time contractions
  • Swimwear, if you want to join the mum-to-be in a birth pool
  • Camera or camcorder. If you want to bring a camcorder, check with the hospital beforehand, because not all of them allow them in delivery rooms
  • Address book or a list of phone numbers. You and your partner will be able to use a mobile phone in parts of the hospital, but bring lots of change just in case
  • Snacks and drinks. If you take some with you, they can stay with you rather than leaving the room to search for food!

For after the birth

  • A going-home outfit. You’ll need loose comfortable clothes to wear while you’re in hospital and for the journey home. You’ll still be wearing maternity
  • Nursing bras. Take two or three
  • Breast pads
  • Maternity pads. Bring a couple of packs
  • Nightshirt or T-shirt. Front-opening shirts are useful in the early days of breastfeeding
  • Toiletries
  • Towels, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Old or cheap knickers, or disposable knickers.
  • Ear plugs, in case you end up on a noisy ward!

For your baby

  • An infant car seat. Some hospitals won’t let you leave by car without one
  • One outfit for the trip home (all-in-one stretchy outfits are easiest)
  • Two or three sleepsuits and vests for baby to wear while you are in hospital
  • Baby blanket. Take a warm one if the weather is cold
  • Nappies and cotton wool
  • One pair of socks or booties
  • Hat
  • Jacket or snowsuit for winter babies
  • Muslin squares
So after perusing the list – and deciding to ignore the first 2 sections since I’m having a c-section, I was still a bit confused when I got to the “For your baby” section – they lost me at “cotton wool” and “muslin squares.”
So I went back to my UK Mum friends and apparently for wiping newborn bums – they use cotton wool here. It seems like it would be a bit awkward and fiddly but apparently it’s the done thing. They use cotton wool and water to wipe the babies.  I’ll be skipping that from my list and instead using wipes. The Muslin squares are apparently used as swaddling or burp cloths – an all purpose type of thing – in the US this would be the equivalent of “receiving blankets” although the texture seems a bit different.
There is a US and UK version of BabyCenter (BabyCenter.com and BabyCentre.co.uk) , it’s the same company but the packing list has been modified for the US/UK check out the differences for yourself on these packing lists.
US BabyCenter Hospital Packing List
UK BabyCentre Hospital Packing List

the essential one bodysuits

But have no fear reader! My baby will not be naked after delivery. I’ve received the most wonderfully soft and colorful newborn set from “The Essential One”  When they originally sent it they said they’d be sending me something for the hospital bag. I was thinking – uh huh, sure, just as soon as we get home from hospital. But now I know – it REALLY IS for the hospital bag! Good thing they’ve got me (and baby) covered!  They’ve sent over these really bright and lovely sets for newborns. Some red, white and blue bodysuits and sleepsuits as well as some matching hatsEach set came in it’s own matching little drawstring bag which will make it handy for packing in my hospital bag. So thanks to the kindness and foresight of some lovely people at The Essential One, my baby will not go nakey in the hospital.

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5 years ago 2 Comments Short URL

Re-introducing my cast of characters…

So as I’ve been blogging the last few years and having posts which include references to my kids – what to call them has varied. I’ve called them my son and named their ages, or referred to them as eldest or youngest, and very occasionally by the first letter of their name. I’ve found it can be a bit confusing and lacks consistency and as our cast of characters is expanding (we’re currently expecting #3) I need to come up with something I’m good with calling them.

I don’t call them by their full names even though I include their photos in that they don’t currently have a choice regarding their participation and I figure as they get older and more active online I don’t want all their old kid photos and stories cluttering up their online profiles. I did of course reserve their gmail accounts in their names at birth and so they’ve had email accounts since they were babies- but when they are on whatever social network is cool for teenagers I don’t want the story and photos of their 5 year old antics virtually haunting them.

So without further ado let me re-introduce you to my motley crew.

My eldest son – until further notice my six year old will be referred to as “Captain Hook.” A creative storyteller, raconteur of fantastic adventures- he’s a conscientious older brother and honest to a fault.

My middle (and until recently, youngest) son- until further notice will be referred to as “Peter Pan.” Always when asked what he wants to be when he grows up – he responds “a boy” this fashion forward four year old is as sweet as his sweet tooth.

My youngest (and yet to be born) child will be my first daughter – and for now let’s just call her “Tinker Bell” – as even though she’s not born yet,  her presence brings magic into our lives.

 

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5 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

Pregnant and Passive Agressive, Undeground – What do you think of the “Baby on Board” badges?

So the bump and I commute to work daily by tube. For any of you who’ve jammed yourself into the tube during rush-hour you’re aware of what it’s like. For those of you who drive to work or have never taken the London Underground, it’s a hot, steamy smelly metal tube so full of people you don’t need to hold on to anything as the carriage sways because you’re propped up in some stranger’s armpit. Seats on the tube are always a hot commodity, seats on the end of the row even more so. People like them because you have a glass partition on one side you can lean against, are close to the doors and only have to sit next to 1 person.

For me, I haven’t had too much nausea with this pregnancy, but I’ve had a lot of hip pain which makes standing for long periods difficult, and certainly my center of balance has and is continuing to change making it more likely for me to tip over as the train sways and I lose my balance.

TFL (Transport for London) has recognized the tube is a problem for Preggie Ladies, and have developed a “Baby on Board” badge.

Research shows that Londoners agree that pregnant women should be offered a seat but also reveals that men are afraid to act on their chivalrous instincts in case they give offence. The badges give pregnant women the opportunity to identify themselves to other passengers and it is hoped that they will give them the confidence to ask for a seat if they need one.

London Underground’s Elizabeth Norris said: “It is sad but true that passengers who need to sit down feel that they cannot ask fellow passengers for a seat. Priority Seats on the Tube are clearly marked and anyone who really needs to sit down, including pregnant women, should ask.

“We want to find out if pregnant women will find these badges empowering, encouraging them to ask for the seat they need. We also want to find out how their fellow Tube passengers will react when they see the badges, encouraging them to offer a seat when they know it will be appreciated.”

London Underground has conducted some preliminary research into the issue of pregnant women and seats on the Tube. The research showed:

  • 92% thought that people sitting down should offer the seat to a pregnant woman without having to be asked;
  • 85% think pregnant women should ask for a seat if she needs one;
  • 78% of currently pregnant women stated that they never ask for a seat when they need one.

The end seats I mentioned, are designated “Priority Seats” and are labelled as such with instructions to give your seat to those less able to stand and include a picture of a pregnant woman and a person with a cane.

I don’t feel comfortable just flat out asking the person already seated in those seats to get up and give it to me. I’d like them to – but what if they have some disability I can’t see, a gimpy leg, or just had a really crappy day? Maybe they need it more than me.

My “solution” therefore to try and secure a seat on the tube has been to get on of those “Baby on Board” badges from TFL. I feel like such a ridiculous dork when I wear it.According to TFL:

MUMS-to-be travelling by Tube can get a baby on board badge so passengers know they may need to sit down.

The badges, available from Transport for London (TfL), overcome the awkwardness often felt by pregnant women of having to ask someone to give up their seat.

It also means passengers in priority seats can see when they should give up their place.

But the thing is – I’ve found it only helps me get a seat about 10% of the time. It looks like a follow-up study from TFL has validated my personal experience:

The ‘Mind the Bump’ study revealed that pregnant passengers are currently made to stand for an average of five stops before being offered a seat, and 35 per cent of mums-to-be are never offered a seat.

I’ve found myself racing men to seats, they win then spend the rest of the journey trying to avoid looking at me. It’s only been women who’ve given me a seat, and those have never been one of the “Priority Seats.”  Ok, I understand men are less observent, but I wear the badge on my boobs – can I put it anywhere more likely to be viewed?? Besides, most of the time men take a seat they race me to, other women on the tube start grumbling – so it’s not like the guys can’t hear what’s going on.

This guy (pictured at left) sat in the Priority Seat for 6 stops while I stood directly in front of him, bump and badge pretty much in his face. His face got closer and closer to his paper as he studiously avoided me.

I’d like there to be a second set of badges, stating something like “I’ll give you my seat if you need it” or “Knocked up? I’ll stand!” so then I could say to those people hey, thanks I’d love your seat, thanks so much! Or what about rewarding good behaviors we want to encourage in others. When the TFL gives us the badge they should give us a coupon booklet. Anyone who stands for us and offers us a seat unsolicited gets a coupon or voucher for something.  I’ve been so grateful the few times someone’s given their seat for me – I wish I could have done something more than offer my heartfelt thanks.

What do you think of the badges? Have you worn one? Have you given up your seat for someone wearing one?

Lastly, some interesting stats from LU’s “Mind the Bump” Survey:

  • One in three (36 per cent) frequently felt they had to avoid public transport for fear of having to stand for the duration of the journey
  • One in five (20 per cent) of expectant mums in the Capital spend more than £100 on taxis and private vehicles during their pregnancy to avoid situations where they may have to stand for long periods of time on the Tube
  • London emerged as the least pregnancy-friendly place in the UK, with 45 per cent of London mums having been shocked by the lack of consideration they were shown while pregnant.  (full survey results here on TFL)

LU’s Baby on Board badges are available from the LU Customer Services Centre (0845 330 9880) For further info, or to request a badge, email TFL at babyonboard@tube.tfl.gov.uk  (and if you do get a badge and wear it – let me know what your experience with it is)

 

 

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5 years ago 19 Comments Short URL

Beaufort House in Chelsea… Our local with kids

For some time, Beaufort House in Chelsea has been our go-to place when going out to eat with the kids. Their Brasserie is a large open room, tastefully decorated – and most importantly ringed with booth seats.Parents who are reading this – I think you’ll fully appreciate the strategic advantage of this. We put the boys in the middle, and my husband and I sit at the ends so there is no escape!

Fortunately the kids love eating there as well. We’re always warmly welcomed by the staff, while there are less kids there at dinner, other families have surely felt the warm welcome for families, as on Saturdays and Sundays this place is packed with families enjoying leisurely brunch/lunch etc. Hakim, the front of house Manager is extremely welcoming to kids and families and while the waitstaff has generally been different people each time we’ve visited they’ve all been very kind and great with the kids (and their needs for extra napkins and ketchup!)

From the kids perspective – they’ve enjoyed the tasty kids meals. The kid’s menu is a nicely designed menu/placemat with scenes of London. Each child gets their own menu/placemat as well as their own set of Beaufort House colored pencils with sharpeners. There’s enough to color to last the whole meal! On one visit, their delight – the boys were even given Beaufort House boys. This has happened once, so I’m not sure if it was a one off thing or not.

We found the kids meal prices reasonably priced and sized and includes dessert. (They were even running a kids eat free promo for a while, whose absence I miss!)

For adults I’ve been impressed with the creative menu, which seems to change frequently – and their cocktails are delicious.

While we’ve spent most of our time downstairs in the ground floor Brassierie, they do have a Member’s Club above.

This week, I was invited along with some other London Bloggers to come see the Member’s Club. The club is spread over several floors and while during the evenings it’s generally full with members and their guests – during the days they use the event spaces for kids parties! I think I’ve found our new birthday venue.

Stairs up to Members Club above the Brasserie (it’s over several floors)

Guests were served Mojitos, champagne and delicious appetizers like duck spring rolls, mini fish and chips, truffle arancini and decadent lemon meringue mini pies.

Beaufor House Champagne Bar on the top floor, this has been used for teen disco birthday parties

(Sadly I was unable to partake of the cocktails and pate, and some of the other tasty looking items because of my baby bump)

While you probably wouldn’t see those items on the menu for a kid’s party, the kids party menu and setup looks interesting, and seems like it would be nice for the parents accompanying them.

Kids Party in Club Room at Beaufort House, this room can also be used as a screening room and there is enough room for an entertainerI’m glad I was invited along and get to check out the Member’s Club and hope to be back soon for future events. They had a children’s event over the summer with Pippa’s Poppets, and from speaking with Simon, one of the co-owners it looks like their planning on more family focused events during the daytime, which I think would be great and certainly look forward to.

For the neighborhood, I think their prices are pretty good for children’s parties. Here’s a photo of their brochure for the price list for kids parties (accurate as of this publication, but do ring them in case menu items or prices change in the future)

Have you been to a kids party here before? Or visited the Brasserie with kids? What did you think? 

For another perspective on Beaufort House, read this blog post from Life At the Zoo, Beaufort House Chelsea – A Hidden Gem.

See what the Domestic Goddesque has to say about it here Domestic Goddesque, Cocktails at Beaufort House and also more reviews here at the Goodlife Bloggers , Beaufort House King’s Road Chelsea – yes please, thank you very much!

Beaufort House kids party menu

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5 years ago 6 Comments Short URL

My failures as the Toothfairy…

My failures as the Toothfairy are numerous. In fact I should probably be banned from the job in the future. Seeing as how I’ve pretty much struck out repeatedly with my eldest son – and I have 2 more kids to follow in his footsteps, I should just hang up my wings now and call it a day.

When he lost his first tooth (bottom center-ish) I was out of town on business. He skyped me to show me the missing tooth, and tell me the story about how it came out while he was eating an apple at the playground. I explained to him via video chat about the Toothfairy and I think the concept of some magical adult sneaking into his room at night to swap his tooth with money was a bit frightening so he said he’d prefer to wait until I got home before setting out the tooth for collection.

He kept the tooth in a glass on the top shelf of our cabinet – and once I got home quickly added a second tooth to it. (bottom center next to the first). He was still hesitant to welcome the Toothfairy so we let it sit longer in the glass. A couple months later (and much showing of the teeth to visitors and playmates) he had apparently heard how his friends were making out like bandits from the Toothfairy visiting their homes and was finally excited about the idea. He asked if we could please put the teeth out for the Toothfairy to come.

I said sure – and that evening went in search of the teeth. Which, given that we’d put them someplace safe shouldn’t have been such a difficult chore, but it was. We had put the teeth in a decorative glass that was a collectible Nutella jar/glass. It had sat with the teeth on the top shelf of our glass cupboard, over all of our heads and out of reach by all but my husband. When I took the step-ladder out to go collect it, it wasn’t there. It was missing!

So began the search for the tooth glass – which I ultimately found…. toothless.

You see, it was still serving a tooth related job, it was in the boys’ bathroom holding toothbrushes, but how it got there is a bit longer story. I had in fact put it there to replace the plastic sesame street sippy cup that was holding the toothbrushes, and had brought it from my bedroom. How did it get to my bedroom? Well, a few days earlier hubs and I had gone out with friends and had a few drinks and before hubs came to bed I asked him to bring me a glass of water, as we both were well on our way to pickled. He did bring the water which I promptly chugged. So this means – I either swallowed my son’s two tiny teeth – or what I’m pinning my hopes to – when my husband reached down the glass and filled or overfilled it with water it swept out the teeth from the glass.  In any case, all I can do is say YUCKY! I suppose you could say I recycled it since it all started out in me in the first place – but still yuck.

The next tooth my son lost, it was the day he had surgery (see that post here) and was afterwards resting on the couch with an ice-lolly (popsicle) and all was well until I heard, “Oh NO!” “I swallowed it!” I came running having no idea what he’d swallowed but it didn’t sound good, only to learn it was his tooth. He was pretty upset and wanted to know if he could still get the tooth back to swap it with the Toothfairy. I told him we had 2 options – 1. He could wait until he pooped it out but this would be a messy and complicated chore or 2. He could write a note to the Toothfairy and since they are magical anyways she’d have no trouble getting the tooth out of his tummy (and to answer his question, no surgery would be involved). No surprise he picked option #2.

“my tooth is in my tummy”

He was delighted to find in the morning the note was gone and replaced by an American Dollar bill. His younger brother meanwhile burst into tears and was nearly inconsolable since he didn’t get a dollar too.

The 4th tooth my son lost the day before this school year started while out at the playground having a snack with the babysitter. He chomped on it thinking it was part of the pretzels he was eating and was able to fish it out of his mouth before swallowing it. He proudly displayed it when I got home and asked if he could leave it for the Toothfairy that night. Finally! A tooth I could magic away for him! So he placed this tooth in a little bag under his pillow before he went to bed. Before going to bed, I found a tiny little tin that I could place the tooth into, and replaced the tooth with another American dollar.  (BTW, the Toothfairy is now low on US currency in the UK and will need to stock up on her next trip to the US).  Unfortunately, the Toothfairy was very tired and forgot to take the colorful tin including the tooth away – and left it on the dining room table. So of course while laying in bed the next morning I hear first, “Oh the Toothfairy came and I got a dollar.” quickly followed by – “Hey what’s this tin and who’s tooth is this?”

The boys came running into my room with the tin enquiring who’s tooth? What’s this tin, where did the tooth come from? My hubs tried telling the boys not to worry about it as he quickly put the tin away but they wouldn’t let up. Finally I said “it’s my tooth!” Which was quickly followed by two boys scampering over me to peer into my mouth. Luckily a few years ago I had a molar removed which left a space at the very back and I pointed to this large space and said that’s where it came from, and amazingly they were good with that – and calm resumed and they promptly moved on to the topic of breakfast and who’d get the iPad first….

*Sigh*

So here we are – 4 teeth down in the bottom center for my eldest son, and the first 2 to be lost have grown back. He’s got a full mouthfull of teeth to go and then comes my younger son and later on, the new baby.

 

Is it time to hang up my wings and or pass them on to my hubs? Or do you think I’ll be 5th tooth lucky?

 

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5 years ago 2 Comments Short URL
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