Pregnant then screwed

I’ve come across this excellent Instagram page recently, it’s content documents a cause which has very real implications for woman & men all over the world but in some countries more than others. Pregnancy & parent discrimination within the workplace. You can bet that as soon as the word ‘discrimination’ is mentioned that some privileged prick somewhere is rolling their eyes as if the subject is in leagues with debating the existence of fairies, life after death or…I don’t know…the Loch Ness fucking monster. What seems to be forgotten is that this is NOT a subject whose existence is open for debate. This IS happening to caregivers of varying age, class, ethnicity & culture now, in 2018, & it’s a disgrace.

By following @pregnant_then_screwed (website: I have recently been made aware of just how prevalent it still is. 2 days ago I read a post which stated that, in the UK a woman loses her job for getting pregnant every 10 minutes…6 women an hour…so in any given normal working day there are approximately 48 pregnant women made redundant with a child on the way to try & figure out how the hell they are going to support their new dependant! On the 7th of January I also read that companies such as The Co-Operative Bank & Virgin Money have released their figures on their gender pay gaps (which were shocking!) & all companies with over 250 employees being required to release their figures by April 2018 the reality of this will become transparent & *hopefully* addressed soon. The gender pay gap isn’t a new topic of conversation at all but it seems that even the repeated discussion hasn’t solved the issue so with increased awareness & acceptance that it IS happening we may begin to take steps to make a working environment which doesn’t penalise you for daring to procreate (by choice or by accident) or for having the gall to think that taking care of the health & wellbeing of your dependants is an important factor in your life decisions (how very dare you)…

Now, don’t let this ramble make you think that I am blindsighted in this particular topic. I am very well aware that, as an employer, it can be difficult to balance a workload when an employee needs to have some time off, whether this is expected or unexpected. I am also aware that there are finanical implications to this particular issue & that not all women (or men) choose to have a family. This is all fine &  are understandable points when discussing the issue. We cannot, however, gloss over the issue that it is seen as unacceptable to discriminate against the race, sexual preferences, religion, mental or physical disabilities of an employee…to forcast whether or not someone may, or may not, require time off their employment for sickness, to take extended leave to go travelling or whatever else BUT it is somehow acceptable to do so in the instance of bringing a new life into the world or to care for the ones that are already here. This doesn’t just relate to financial discrimination in the gender pay gap…this also relates to how many upfront or ‘behind the back’ comments such as those which target returning on part-time hours/flexible working (for reasons which I’ll discuss in part 2) or refer to maternity leave as a ‘holiday’. I, personally, wouldn’t consider the excrutianting labour experience & the sleep deprived, leaky boob, don’t have time or energy for a shower, ‘Why is he STILL crying?’, ‘Why am I ALSO crying?!’, haven’t washed my hair for 4 days, wiping varying colours of bodily fluids from my clothes/sofa/arm months which come immediately after the painful arrival in any way the equivalent of sipping a fucking margarita on a beach but there are obviously those who think that’s a great way to relax & unwind.

A bit of personal background on the subject. I have 2 sons, born 10 years apart from 2 separate fathers. I was in full-time, permanent employment during both pregnancies & have had 2 very different experiences on this particular issue.

I was fortunate enough to have, on my most recent ‘holiday’ *eye roll* to have a boss which was pretty bloody wonderful. Someone who always took the care to ask about my ‘munchkins’ & how I was feeling with a genuine interest; & who also regularly stated that he found it was much more beneficial to all parties concerned to take care of your staff because if you do they would repay the kindness *please note, this wasn’t aimed at me, this was something he stated in a general attitude to all staff & well before my pregnancy*. This may be down to the fact he has 2 grown daughters with their own families or it may have been because he was just a thoroughly nice man. Either way, I never felt that my most recent pregnancy was an infringement to him as my employer & although that is something a person shouldn’t have to consciously feel in such a situation, I nevertheless felt extremely grateful for it.

First son, Ryan, now 12.5 years old. I was 17 when I fell pregnant with Ryan after being in a relationship with his father for a mere 3 months together (cue the inevitable judgmental ‘tsk, tsk’). Now, I’m aware that this particular circumstance of pregnancy isn’t the most desirable but we did love each other (once upon a time) & we were using contraception. Negligence & naivety (& a bit of irony) were absolutely present in the creation of my eldest son as I had my first supply of the microgynon pill in the drawer throughout my entire pregnancy…looking at me…mocking me because I didn’t know that I was already pregnant when I came home with the box that would’ve changed everything about my life (but not necessarily for the better!)

I had been working for a few months as an Area Co-ordinator for a maintenance company in Cumbernauld. As if life wasn’t confusing enough at 17, in a full-time, demanding role & trying to appear like an adult in the workplace (see my first blog post; I still don’t feel like an adult now in my 30s) I now had to figure out employment with the proverbial bun in the oven. I was honest with my manager within a few weeks of finding out I was pregnant, thinking that, like myself, people appreciate honesty. I didn’t expect the first words out of his mouth to be ‘And you actually intend on keeping it?’….Yay! Nothing like a phrase of complete & utter unprofessionalism to stun the pale & nervous girl on the get go! After confirming that ‘it’ was indeed being kept, a lovely period of silence was had, broken only with the occasional huff or sigh as he fumbled around shuffling papers on his desk. I was informed that I’d need to take my medical appointments as holidays because I’d ‘only just started bloody working’ there & told not to tell anyone else in the office about my beautiful little ‘it’.

So, because I believed that my darling little fetus was a huge inconvenience to my employer & I desperately needed to keep my job I kept my mouth shut & done what I was told. It didn’t stay secret for long as my repeated trips to the toilet to vomit, my abhorrence for certain smells & the ghostly(ier) complexion I was sporting weren’t quite as inconspicuous as I’d imagined them to be. The rest of the office knowing I was pregnant didn’t make life any easier as the horror of my age & condition & what an embarrassment I must be to my family was discussed (& overheard by myself) frequently whenever I’d pop out to make a brew, or to the photocopier, or to the fun little bathroom trips I’d treat myself to. I took annual leave for my scans, tended not to go to antenatal appointments because they fell on days I couldn’t be excused & generally bumbled through my pregnancy as best I could. I worked right up to 2 weeks prior to my due date & although I had various meetings to plan my maternity leave, I had resisted the pressure to agree to come back when my infant son was 6 weeks old. I had the added bonus of being sent on many ridiculous errands such as an outhouse archive alone, in winter, to retrieve ONE file from many heavy boxes piled high. That was a personal favourite. I was fortunate enough that the one genuinely nice colleague ran out after me to help as she knew it was a dangerous task.

To include every instance of bullying I received there during pregnancy would turn this blog into a novel so we’ll just say that it was a hellish few months which I didn’t really tell anyone at the time because I believed that I was an embarrassment & that I probably deserved the treatment I was experiencing. I was also too young to understand the ins & outs of any discrimination laws present at the time so I kept my head down & carried on. When I did return to work I thought that things would be better…it wasn’t. It carried on to the level that I finally did speak up to my GP to ask for help & was told that ‘for the sake of [my] mental & physical health [I] had to get out of that place’ so off I popped as advised by the professional. The details of what came after are lengthy & more tedious to bring to the forefront of my mind than is worth sharing here. The jist of it is…it didn’t go down well, I had a long, lecturing phone call from the financial director of the company about what a disappointment I was & how greedy I was to expect to be paid for being on maternity leave when I’d ‘only been in the door 5 minutes’ *6 months in reality pre-pregnancy*. I did try for a period to discuss with the management my issues & how a path to return could be approached but it wasn’t to be so I left into the unemployed abyss & fell into a college course which was one of the best decisions I ever made. The fate of the wretched company I worked for didn’t end on a high note for them. I was urged by family members to raise a tribunal case against them to hold them accountable for the impact the treatment had on my fragile mental health (I was not always the outspoken verbal warrior I am today) & to save this happening to the next poor soul who dared to fall pregnant under such management. I worked with a few representatives who were appalled about the misconduct & done everything they could to bring it to a hearing but the wonderful D. H. Morris Group declared themselves closed for good 1 week prior to the set date. Such is life.

The second part of this tale I will conclude in another blog post & will shed more light on the excellent Pregnant Then Screwed cause, the general fight to be a working mother and the conflicting tale of baby ‘holiday’ number 2…I hope you tune in! There may even be another recipe card thrown in there to sweeten the deal.

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January…wtf am I doing again?

Ok…so we’ve all had a December to be proud of. One of those of which we done very few of the fun festive family activities we convinced ourselves that THIS was the year we’d finally do them, but still done enough to know that a festive period was actually had. You know the ones I mean, all the ‘Buddy the Elf’ stuff…eating sugar plums, singing Christmas Carols, covering the house with handmade decorations that the family lovingly made together without anyone bursting into tears or storming away in a huff. Nevertheless, it was still a pretty good Christmas yeah?

We had the added Christmas treat of my 12 year old son, Ryan, slipping on ice, splitting his forehead open & being rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Cue the teary, panic attack-ridden mother filled with the guilt of 1) not being able to prevent such an accident & 2) the total abandonment of my job 1 week prior to my annual leave. Thankfully, Ryan is A-OK & is now rocking a nice Harry Potter-esq scar on his forehead that I’m sure he will use to his advantage in his early adulthood to captivate an audience with the tale.

So, now the turkey has been devoured, the bubbles have been sipped, we’ve all stopped saying ‘Happy New Year’ to anyone we come into contact with & the decorations have been shipped into storage for another 11(ish) months. Here we are, on the 6th of January in a brand new year, still in the festive hangover period where we fondly remember last week & are confused about whether or not we’re still allowed to consume the remaining Ferrero Rochers & After Eights hovering around the fridge. It is in this window of time we try to remember wtf our priorities were before we started gift wrapping everything in sight. What do I do as a job again? How do I work the hoover? What’s on a normal shopping list now I don’t have to buy Baileys every time I walk into Tesco? The moms of us start to produce lists upon lists of what needs to be taken care of & we look to the year ahead. Absolute nightmare!

Talking of the year ahead…I have some very specific, potentially life changing, aspirations for 2018. I’ve been speaking a lot about goals recently; it’s a strange thing that it can sometimes be easier to realise your goals by speaking them through with someone you hardly know than with those closest to you. I have had an excellent opportunity recently to work with Alexis Miller ‘The Creative Marketer’ and have the scope to figure out where I want to go & what I need to do to get there. Having a fresh perspective and some clarity can really be a positive step when you have goals to chase down. I will discuss these goals and how I plan on getting there throughout my series of blog posts. I’ll also be discussing various snippets of our family life, how to live in a house of boys and retain your sanity (albeit only just) and how to feed them too!

As promised, I will begin with the method for making my husband Shaun’s excellent Chicken Noodle Soup which you can make in your slow cooker. A bit of insight first on why; Shaun & I both pour over recipes online, in books and on some T.V. shows, change things around, we talk about food a lot & often cook together. Our meals together are anticipated by our kids (well…3 of them, the toddler is in his ‘picky eating’ phase- joy!), they talk about food with excitement and it has become part of our family life. That, and repeating ourselves constantly because, it would seem that the first four times we ask for hands to be washed or beds to be made, it doesn’t count. Shaun & I either cook together or take turns depending on the meal.

This one is Shaun’s…& it’s one of my favourites!

You could do this without using the slow cooker by sweating the onions, celery & garlic first in a little olive oil, cutting your chicken breasts into strips & frying for 30seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients as detailed below. Adjust your cooking times to 1.5 hours on a low heat before shredding your chicken etc as detailed below & a further 20 minutes before serving.

Shaun's Chicken Noodle Soup

A Glass Half Full

To blog or not to blog….

I have been blogging away in my head for years, intermittently considering whether or not to put my inner dialogue into the real world. As with many, the uncertainty of whether or not my thoughts & opinions were worth writing down (or typing out as it would be) for others to read has kept me from starting this years ago…but here I am anyway.

I am under no delusions of grandeur about myself. I turned 30 in February and haven’t achieved all the things I had aspired to as a teen; I am a middle of the pack mam, I drink too much wine, raid the cupboards out of boredom or habit, I don’t do nearly enough exercise, I shout, I curse, my house always has that ‘lived in’ look regardless of how often I clean/tidy, I leave items in my ASOS basket for weeks before realising I had no intentions of buying and I waste my own time more frequently than I should. However, on the flip side, I work hard to keep my kids/stepkids happy, healthy & emotionally intact, I love my husband, I am loyal, caring, friendly and try my best to remain a morally conscious human…oh…& I make an excellent homemade soup.

I imagine that my intentions with this blog is to give some level of insight into the absolute minefield that is being a woman attempting to adult effectively. Even now, with 2 sons, 2 stepsons, a husband, 2 jobs, a dog & a mortgage I STILL need to actively remind myself that I am in fact a woman…the term ‘woman’ was always reserved for those special few that had their shit together and who knew the secrets of stain removal & power dressing all while remembering to twease their eyebrows AND make routine appointments for the opticians/dentist/GP. Every now & then a friend/work colleague makes the light hearted comment that I’m her hero & all I can think when I hear that is ‘I can’t be your hero…I dont even have matching socks on’. I’ve come to the realisation that no matter how incompetent we perceive ourselves to be there is usually someone looking at us in some sort of admirable manner so perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves is to humanise the hero/heroine.

So…I will persist in my fancies, aspirations and general bumbling with the hope that I will, at some point, realise my own title as a ‘woman’.