Silent Sunday 17.11.2013


Is It Just Me: Who Finds the Idea to Force Feed Breast Feeding with a £200 Bribe a Farce?

Before I get the Breast/Bottle debate bullies going off on one in my comments, I have to stand up and remind you I did both. I breast fed one child, and formula fed the other. So I am well placed to approach this latest Government scam from both angles. So there. 

Its them there Tories again with their bullying tactics against us normal parent’s and our rights to a choice again causing a storm of protest and angst on social media platforms. 

Currently, a trial of 130 women in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire is attempting to coerce new Mum’s to breastfeed rather than bottle feed with the promise of £200 of John Lewis, Tesco and Poundland vouchers for taking part.

My thoughts?

It’s a bribe. Pure and simple. No matter what your viewpoint on breast is best or formula feeding being right for your child, waving a metaphorical fishing line with £200 on it is tantamount to a bribe.

I also feel the scheme- even though it’s only a test at the moment- is done with perhaps good intentions, as there is a massive divide depending on socio-economic factors whether a Mum decides to bottle or breast feed a child. However, with most Government schemes it falls at the first hurdle as it lacks proper thought and insight.

Firstly, take my situation.

I loved breastfeeding Mini. I loved the simplicity of being out, and having her wail for food, only to have to get my baps out and feed her in ten seconds flat (I had no worries sitting in public breastfeeding). I didn’t have to go through all that bottle nonsense, all that sterilising, or checking it was warm enough, or going into a cafe and asking them to heat it for me. No, it was ready and waiting on call, 24/7.

Yes, I was woken up all the time, and couldn’t share the load with Elder (he naturally supported my decision as he got no disturbed nights at all the swine). Yes, when her teeth came through, my poor nips started to resemble cheese graters. But I liked it, lost tones of weight, could stuff pizzas without a care in the world and bonded with my daughter from the off.

On the flip side, I tried to express my milk for Littlest in SCBU, but got nothing, zip, nada bar a tiny droplet before the milk factory closed for business due to unforseen early baby issues. 

I had no choice but to go to the dark side(!) and bottle feed him. I personally was under so much stress and worry at that time, I felt the utter pressure put on me by some of the staff in SCBU was completely out of order, I was made to feel awful by one old school Nurse as I was “letting him down” not trying harder. I tried so hard my boobs ached for days and were bruised. I even tried to get a 6 months off of Breast Mini to suck again to see if she could bring it on. 

I cannot imagine what I’d have felt like with this as well. No vouchers for me and my other SCBU buddies due to our babies being early- something we couldn’t control, is hardly fair or justified. It will also mean that there is an even bigger divide between the on time Mummies and the SCBU Mummies. It wont help the sense of failure by any means that we are treated like these supposed “lazy” Mums who choose the bottle from the off.

And what of these “lazy” bottle Mums? 

What about their freedom to say, “you know what, I just gave my body for 9 months, I don’t fancy that thanks”. Do they not have the right to say that? 

What of these supposedly poorer families who they are mostly targeting with this? There are plenty of Mum’s who may want to breastfeed but due to their family income rate may be unable to as they go straight back to work within weeks of giving birth. Why should they miss out?

Once again, the majority of those in the long term who will benefit from this scheme, should it become a nationwide thing, will be the middle to upper class Mum’s who have the time and help needed to breastfeed.

The idea that a women who previously didn’t want to breastfeed doing so for financial gain leaves a poor taste of selfishness in my mouth. I can see it causing angst and depression for those who can’t breastfeed, and worry for those who try hard and hate it.

This is your baby, its your choice, and no amount of government bribe should force feed you to Breast Feed. 

Hermes: How Not to Get Your Parcel. At All.

I am a lover of all things online shopping. I have an eBay account, and I shop quite regularly via it. I find it easier to find random stuff cheaply, like bags for my ancient Kirby vacuum, or books that I can’t find anywhere else.

So, when I wanted to buy some chef shoes for the nephew as an early Christmas pressie, I went straight for eBay- on there, the one’s he needed were £24.99, with £3.99 for packaging, rather over £50 anywhere offline.

I bought them on the 29th of October, and the company didn’t have 100% feedback but with 97.2% out of thousands of transactions I thought we’d be all good. They even boasted 48 hour delivery. Excellent- just in time for the interviews he had lined up.

I let him know they were on their way, and he was very chuffed.

By Friday, they hadn’t arrived so I dropped the company a quick email to ask for the delivery information. They replied with a tracking number for Hermes.

On Saturday, they still hadn’t shown up. Number 1 interview was missed. So I checked the tracking.

According to Hermes, the shoes had been delivered. On Friday. At 8.20pm, to my nephew. They’d been signed for.

Thinking that perhaps they’d been given to someone else in the building, I told my nephew to look. No shoes.

So, at that point, I asked the company on eBay for a refund, as they’d failed to provide the promised 48 delivery, and the company they used had clearly cocked up.

On searching Google, Hermes are notorious for cock ups. Amazon used to use them and they would deliver to several streets away and then lie and say they’d delivered correctly. Or put things in rubbish bins on bin day. Or throw stuff over fences that was then broken despite the gate being open and the item being clearly marked as fragile.

I started to think we were not going to get what we paid for.

The eBay seller declined to help, telling me to take it up with Hermes.

My general experience is that companies will have a contact button on site. Not Hermes- only business customers are allowed to contact them apparently, not lowly customers like me. So I found them on Twitter. Again, usually this means that you moan, they sort it, and it’s all done and dusted.

Not, surprise surprise, with Hermes.

I asked to see the signature- they refused.

I asked why the shoes had been marked as delivered when they clearly hadn’t been. “Because we have delivered them it’s on the tracking” was the response.

I asked them to cover a refund as the brand on eBay refused- as they’d done their bit.

I was told no, that they wont refund, I should have used an eBay seller and then I would get a refund from them. 4 TIMES I told them the seller was via eBay. They didn’t care.

Meanwhile, the nephew missed out on another interview, and his agency was not happy with him. Not his fault, but they aren’t going to want to set up interviews which go unattended.

Monday, still no shoes, still no answers, still no refund. I started a case on eBay. However, I was told via Customer Services chat that I was unlikely to get a refund from the seller, despite them choosing Hermes, not me, as they’d provided tracking. Their advice? Take it up with Hermes.

On Tuesday, I ranted again. Asking how they could lose a pair of shoes, why they were marked as delivered. On being asked for a screenshot of the transaction I found that- suddenly and inexplicably- the “delivered on Friday” shoes were out for delivery.

Now, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure “delivered” means, well, delivered. How on earth can these shoes disappear and I be told that basically my nephew is lying and the item was received by him on the Friday evening, only to magically be back for delivery 4 days after that?

I let my nephew know, he was so cross, as yet again he’d missed out on work. In this day and age, any work is hard to come by, so having to miss it is a joke.

He sat in. Again.

No shoes.

They were then marked as carried forward.

So, let’s review- the shoes were dispatched to Hermes on the 30th. They were “delivered” but not delivered on the Friday. They went missing until Monday, and yet on Tuesday they were out again for delivery, but not delivered despite going out at just after 5am.

At that point, and with Hermes telling me that they tell people who use their services that should they lose or break your goods the company will have to pay for them, or refund you, not Hermes (says alot doesn’t it?) I went back to the original seller.

They offered me a partial £15 refund, or a full refund if I sent the shoes back. So I got very cross and sent back that I was unable to send back thin bloody air, and that £15 was not good enough, I wanted a full refund as they had broken their own promise regards 48 hour delivery, they had cost my nephew 4 jobs, caused nothing but grief, and quoted what Hermes said, and promised should I not receive a refund in full, I would contact Trading Standards.

I suddenly got a full refund.

The shoes, meanwhile, were out for delivery again. And not delivered but carried forward again, despite this time being out at 4.06am. 

They then just stayed at the depot. 

I bought the nephew another pair from a company using Royal Mail. 

Meanwhile, the shoes were now out again! And this time, yesterday, they- according to Hermes but not my nephew- were refused at door! 

So that’s twice now the shoes have been delivered according to Hermes, but not been delivered at all. Or refused.

Hermes do not care. They simply couldn’t care less. They have no customer services, at all, they have not a shred of faith in their own company in that they feel warning companies that they wont refund or take responsibilty for items lost by them, they are a farce. And not to mention a bunch of liars.

What do I think went on with the shoes when they went missing after apparently being delivered successfully last Friday? I wonder if the weight meant the courier- prone and happy to lie that they had been handed over- took them home to see if they were worth pinching, and on seeing they were the work equivalent of Crocs, took them back when their Head Office Twitter lot asked questions.

With all of you probably about to embark on mass Christmas shopping, save yourself grief and find out if the company you use has Hermes as their courier.

Or expect a Christmas devoid of presents and a never ending cycle of a parcel disappearing round in circles.

Notes About Being a Prem Baby Parent

As many of you long term friends and readers know, Littlest was a 28 week premature baby. 

He is now 5, and he has health stuff down to being premature, like his lung problems, and his allergies, but I am never going to let it define him, or allow him to use his status as early as a reason to get a way with naughtiness.

Being early is not a badge you wear as a parent either, it’s something which happened, and which you’ve dealt with.

The thing is, I know a few great Mum’s whose babies where prems too. We don’t dwell on it, we ask each other questions if there is something we feel they may have experienced, a new health quirk or a possible medication, that they may have knowledge of. 

All kids are hard work, they have their own individual quirks and foibles. Mini was bang on time, by section, or I think they’d have needed to smoke her out she was quite comfy in there, but I don’t say “Oh, Mini can be a gobby cow and a bossy mare as she was on time“. That would be ridiculous.

I feel it is the same with Littlest. He’s not a bit naughty sometimes because he was early. He’s just 5. That’s what 5 year old boys are like. Little terrors.

Why have I chosen to write this?

Two reasons.

Firstly, I have been very kindly invited to Westminster and asked to talk about my experience as a Mum to a prem child. I have wracked my brain trying to think what to say, as I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning, or being a bit “woe is me”. 
I was lucky- I brought my child home, whereas plenty don’t. I have a little boy who yes, has ongoing health problems, but it’s part of life, you can’t be given a receipt and take the child back can you? It’s not like buying a faulty laptop and taking it back to PC World- “oh sorry, hospital, this one’s a bit wonky, he’s got crap lungs, and will keep me up night after night coughing (and with fear for at least the first 4 5 years), can I have a different one please?”

I will be in a room with someone I admire so much, who lost her child. Not even a year ago. What right do I have to stand up and say having a prem baby sucks when my prem baby is 5 and here and OK?

The other reason is simple. I simply hate those who do use the prem baby tag as an excuse to be badly behaved. That do use it for “woe is me” purposes.

I tried to explain on a blogging group earlier why a thread was removed to be met with abuse and patronising comments from a blogging member. Someone who I don’t know, I’ve never to my knowledge met them. I suggested that if they didn’t like it, they could leave. 

They did. Cool beans I thought, we can do without that in a group which is friendly.

Except they messaged me to be nasty, again. So I blocked them. I can’t be doing with angst from others. I have enough of me own thanks.

So they messaged someone else and used the “I have a prem baby” thing, even sending a photo. 

Hate it. Really hate it. 

I couldn’t do it personally. I know the other prem Mums I know would frown on it too.

If we let it define us, then what will happen to our prem child as they grow? They will face enough trials in life without having that tag front and centre all the time.

Yes, being a prem parent is hard. But isn’t being a parent hard sometimes, full stop?

It’s what makes the fun bits so much better, after all.