Work program. Really?

After my long ongoing battle with the DWP, I have finally been accepted on to the work program. As I mentioned in an early blog post, I was refered following an appointment with a jobcentre advisor. I was warned that I may not be accepted as I was pregnant. 

So yesterday was my first appointment with the company running the program. Before I had even left the house, I knew I was going to struggle. I just didn't want to go out. I know I wanted this appointment and it was hopefully going to help me, but just the thought of leaving the house was terrifying me.

Fortunately, my good friends on Twitter talked to me and I resolved that I would be ok, panic attacks may feel like I'm having heart attack, but I wont die! 

I managed to get there, I'll skip the vomiting and two more panic attacks, on time.

I waited outside the building, no response to buzzer, hmmm ok. Somebody let me in, when she arrived. I waited in reception. Nobody there, nor did it look like they would be soon. I could see the door for the company I needed to be at. After waiting 10 minutes or so, I decided to just go in. When I did, I saw a reception style desk, again nobody there. There were a few people in the office, but not seemed to acknowledge me. A man walked over and asked if he could help. I told him I had an appointment to see someone. He told me to take a seat whilst he got him. 

My advisor came to the desk, shouted over to me that he needed to get some stuff, they don't normally have customers until 10:00 and he doesn't know why I was booked in that early.

I cannot help but think, 'who cares, I have known about the appointment for a week, I'm sure you have too, why aren't you ready for me?!'

Basically the appointment is form filling. The advisor gave me a rough guide to what they do. I have to tell him that I am not on Jobseeker's, I haven't been looking for work, I am claiming ESA and why, and oh I'm pregnant. I am made two further appointments, neither time asked if they were convenient, although he did change one when I asked.

He asked me when I saw myself back in employment. I said within 12 months. He seemed a little shocked. 'Even with a baby?' Like I was going to stroll up to work, with a newborn suckling my breast. 'I presume there are options.' At which point he told me he would discuss the benefits system with me. 

I know the point of this program is to help people in to work, (I thought) from sickness benefits. I have struggled to survive with the ongoing battles with the DWP and now I'm wondering if having a child means they no longer give a sh*t. I'm one less statistic, because I will no longer be sick / disabled / Mental health patient, but a single mother.

All in all, I managed to get myself worked up and stressed out for nothing. To be honest, I could have returned forms and posted in my C.V.. 

As I cannot return to my previous role, I am considering what I want to do. I know I have a lot of transferrable skills and experience, I just don't know where I want to transfer them too.

I need a careers advisor....
Anybody know one who works with lost cases?

This Means War

I went to a preview of This Means War yesterday.

After being grounded for a covert operation gone bad, two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman. 

It stars Reese Witherspoon as the girl, both Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are dating. 

It was rather slow to start, but good fun.  The two male leads are good together, you believe in their friendship genuinely. Reese Witherspoon does well, but I felt she was let down by the script, she appears a little one dimensional.

Some of the funniest lines were delivered by the CIA agents working with on the 'case'.

Overall, a good funny Rom Com. I think the marketing guys missed a trick not releasing this for Valentine's Day. It's a Rom Com with car chases, explosions, and bad boy banter. The men in the audience seemed to enjoy it as much as the girls.

Pregnancy and Chickenpox

I am due to go visit my brother and family next week, and knowing that I am pregnant, they rang to let me know that one of their (three) children has chickenpox. They had been to the Dr's, who said it was only a mild case, but the contagious period could be anywhere from 7-21 days.

Now, as this is my first baby, I have no idea if chicken pox and pregnancy are dangerous, potentially lethal or just a nuisance.

I also visited my usual pregnancy / mums websites for advice. They all seem to indicate that as I have had them, I should be OK. The general consensus seemed to be that if I caught them, it is just the chickenpox, nothing dangerous, or worrying, but if I was closer to my due date and caught them I could pass them on to my newborn.

I rang my midwife team for advice. Eventually I got a call back that didn't help!
The midwife asked if I needed to go, I said I didn't need to go but wanted to. She said they wouldn't recommend it. But did say if it was my child that had them I would just have to get on with it!

So by now I'm confused. I obviously don't want to put my baby at risk, but she said that at worst, I would get chickenpox. Well that I guessed.

She helpfully suggested that she asks for my bloods to be tested for anti-bodies to it, as they keep bloods from booking in appointments. I agreed, so now have to wait until Monday for the results.

You know, sometimes, when you feel worse for having a conversation..?

Btw, if you every need to search chickenpox during pregnancy, make sure google is not set to pictures :-(

Safe House

I was lucky enough to go to preview of Safe House this week.

In case you have being living under a rock or just busy being a parent, partner, worker, etc. Safe House is a film about a young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge. 

It stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds as the main characters. 

Denzel Washington is extremely good as the fugitive, convincing acting, helped by a good script. 

It is great to see Ryan Reynolds get a meatier role, instead of the usual guy-next-door, love interest style roles.

The film is a fact paced action adventure, full of explosions, chases, thrills, and shoot outs as the two try to keep one step ahead.

Definitely a recommendation for cinema viewing, I don't think the impact will be the same on the small screen. 

Pregnancy Massage

As part of my groovy mum post recently, I mentioned that I had my first pregnancy massage from Karen at The Green Room and that I was meaning to book another. Well I did and I enjoyed it as much as my first. And even booked a couple more.

Before becoming pregnant, the only massages I had ever had were sports massages. I had never had a relaxing pampering massage. As my pregnancy progressed and I suffered horrible morning sickness and every other possible side effect / symptom of pregnancy, I started to look into massage.

I did not really think about needing someone who specialised or was trained in pregnancy massage, I mean surely massage was massage, whether pregnant or not?

Apparently not! I asked on Twitter for advice and recommendations as the original therapist did not feel happy to proceed with my appointment once I told her I was pregnant. 

Through Twitter, I was introduced to Karen from The Green Room. 

This is taken directly from The Green Room website:
Massage during pregnancy can be beneficial for both mother and baby. It can help the mother to relax and focus on the positive aspects of pregnancy, and can help to build the bond with the baby. You can have massages throughout the entire pregnancy, I will adapt to the physical changes in your body to make the massage the most beneficial it can be.
During a session we can also work on breathing & relaxation techniques, and exercises to support the physical changes, and even help to encourage optimal fetal positioning. It can be a good idea to involve the partner during the latter stages of the pregnancy so they can use some of the techniques to help the mother in the pregnancy and labour.

At my first appointment she went through all my medical health history, pregnancy and general, physical and mental health. I thought she was very thorough and did not feel like she was asking anything too personal or irrelevant. She has a warm personality and made me feel comfortable and relaxed.

After my massage, I was so relaxed, mind, body, and soul. I could have stayed curled up on the bed for the rest of the day. However, I had to negotiate public transport! (I learnt my lesson and booked a lift this time).

Again, at my second appointment, Karen welcomed me, checked if there had been any changes with me or baby, made me comfortable and worked her magic. 

This time, before I left, I made the next couple of appointments.

Book yourself in (or book for someone else, great present!) for some pampering today,
You deserve it.

Follow Karen on Twitter

Feel free to let her know how you found her. 

Stress, stress, and progress

On Friday I started with painful stomach cramps, not knowing what is and isn't normal in pregnancy as this is my first baby, I used the NHS Direct website symptom checker. Having completed the options, I was presented with a recommendations page. Nothing to worry about, but someone will call you within the hour.
Within minutes, I received a call from a nurse. She went through my details, symptoms, etc. again. After the phone assessment, she advised me to call my midwife or the delivery suite at the hospital where I am planning to give birth. 
At 16:50 on a Friday I didn't hold out much hope of getting in touch with my midwife team, but they answered and talked me through what I was feeling.
The midwife said it was possible it was Braxton Hicks although a little early, or it was ligament pain from where the baby had moved to. Basically either way, take some paracetamol, rest, maybe add a bit of heat with a hot water bottle if needed. 
I had been rushing around and the cramps were only lasting a minute or two at the most, but they were around every five minutes. Once I actually sat down, it started to calm down. I think knowing from the midwife that it was normal, made me relax. 
It's times like this I wish I had family / friends close by.

Today I had an appointment with the JobCentre for Work Related activity re ESA. The personal adviser I spoke to was a lovely lady, she gave me lots of details, etc. but did inform me that company may not take me on to the program as I am pregnant. They usually don't take people who are within 11 weeks of of their due date or with a child under 5, so I now have to wait.

As I mentioned in my What am I doing to get my groove back? Or just get one? blog post, I have started:
  • to gather various quote on to a page aptly titled Quotes
  • used the sewing machine and cretaed a couple of baby related items.
  • started to collect my library of note books with various scribblings in, to make a current portfolio of work in a degree of drafts.
  • I have started my next TMA (Tutor Marked Assignment) for OU (Open University) course.
  • I have registered my interest (or rather intent to start) the next module of my degree. Of course, that largely depends on my ability to finish this one adequately!

Attempting to get my groove on!

I recently mentioned that I wanted to start being Crafty again and had rescued the sewing machine from the depths of the cellar, I have attemped a start on doing something. 
As usual with a lot of things lately, it is baby related!

I made a cot bumper and a matching 'Taggie' style comforter. They are not great, but they will do they job. I'm sure as I practice more my skills and confidence will increase.


What am I doing to get my groove back? Or just get one?

Another Groovy Mum blog post

Following on from my blog post about becoming a Groovy Mum, I am going to list what I am doing to help achieve that.

  • Crafts - I used to do a lot of craft style things, card making, scrap booking, etc. but I haven't do anything creative in a long time. I aim to restart this in some way. My first thing is sewing. My mother was a seamstress and I'm ashamed to say that I never learnt beyond the very basics, and that was a long time ago. I have recovered the sewing machine from the cellar, it's had a service and I am trying to get back into it. 
  • Pampering - We all love a bit of pampering. I had a great pregnancy massage from Karen @ The Green Room recently. It was lovely. I WILL book another this week. I will also make an appointment for a hair cut, or at least look at new styles.
  • Creative Writing - I have always had a passion for writing, be it technical, creative, poetry; but again, it has become a casualty of my depression. I will post some other my writings and ask for feedback. As I am currently studying Creative Writing with the O.U. I really should be more on top of this. 
  • Quotes - I like quotes. Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I disagree, some make me laugh (intentionally or not), some are triggers for writing. I have various dotted about on my blog, my Twitter timeline, various notebooks, etc. I will combine them all into one place.
  • Acceptance - I must learn to accept sometimes I just cannot do things for whatever reason, it doesn't make me a bad person. I like to think I am gracious in accepting help, but I want to be able to train myself in to believe that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, regardless of what it is for.
One of the greatest pieces of advice I was given was:
Treat yourself how you would treat a friend.

Are you harder on yourself than you would be to a friend? 
Be kind to yourself.

So how about you? What are you going to do for you?

What Is The Matter And What Are You Going To Do About It?

1. Body – What are you looking at? What can you see differently? On a practical level, how is your eyesight and eye health?
I have actually just made an opticians appointment, for a contact lens check up. I have been wearing glasses since I was about 8 years old. I didn't need to wear them all the time but found it easier to keep them on than keep taking them off. 
I got my first pair of contacts for my 11th birthday and loved them. A great birthday present!
I now wear contacts or glasses constantly, I have poor eyesight without them. I recently (last year) upgraded to contacts I can leave in, which are amazing, being able to see on a morning without having to find my glasses!

2. Mind – How is your mental health? Are you stuck or if you think really hard, can you find ways to improve things for yourself? What can others do to help you?
My mental health is suffering at the moment. I have had a lot going on. I stopped taking my anti depressant medications when I found out I was pregnant. However after discussion with doctors, pharmacist, and psychiatrist, I decided the minimal risk to baby was better than me not coping and having a relapse, so I restarted taking one of them at the start of the second trimester of my pregnancy.
I have been taking them again for a few weeks now and hoping to notice a difference soon.

3. Spirit – What memories are you making? What would you like your legacy to be?
As I am currently pregnant with my first baby, I am hoping than will be a good legacy. 
Also following a recent blog post on Mum Bloggers Club, Helen Spencer told me of her site Save Every Step. It is a free website where you can lay out your memories on a chronological time line, and preserve them for future generations. Which I would like to start for my baby.
I have lost part of my heritage since my parents and grandparents are now deceased and I would like her to have some groundings.

4. Blogging – Do you think people miss you when you don’t blog? What can you learn from that?
I am still quite new to blogging, but from using social media (twitter, facebook, etc.) I receive messages if I don't post for a while, and that makes me feel valued.

5. Special Days – Valentine’s Day is a week away. Do you acknowledge it? How do you show love on that day or all year round? Who loves you?
Valentine's Day was never a major thing in my life when I was married. We met on 25th February and married on 25th August, so we always made sure we went out as a couple on Date nights on those days at least. It was nicely spread out, although that wasn't intentional. 
Now I am single, I can't say I am looking forward to it any more of less than any other day. Who knows may be I will receive a surprise.
Who loves me?  That is an interesting question and I have a few good friends that definitely do, but other than that, I don't know, so may be they need to tell me...

6. The Big Question – This is the challenge that is supposed to help you to reflect deeply. This week’s is …What good are you doing?
I am not sure about what good I am doing. 
I am currently working on various things for the O.U. Disabled STudents' Group, mainly website and forums. I have some great support from people who have lots more knowledge than me, so I hope collectively we are doing good. 

I am (will be?) a Groovy Mum!

I mentioned in my How to be a Groovy Mum blog post, that Kate @ Kate on Thin Ice had asked these questions of herself. 

I am going to use them to tell you a bit more about me and  what I am going to do to ensure I become a Groovy Mum once my first baby is here!

Have you ever felt one or more of the following …
1. You lack time to do your own thing
Although I am not working due to long term illness at the moment, I seem to be constantly doing things.
I am studying with the O.U.; trying to prepare for my first baby and all that entails; dealing with the never ending debacle that is the DWP;  having various appointments with medical / health professionals, etc. 
Where does the time go? 

2. You have forgotten what you like
Before my mental health deteriorated due to a serious amount of stress, I enjoyed lots of different things, including reading, writing, studying. Now I have no idea what I enjoy doing!
Unfortunately my low mood and lack of motivation, haven't helped either. 

3. You can’t quite remember who you are
I am currently see a therapist / psychologist and mentioned recently I do not feel like my personality is my me anymore, I have changed so much in the last 5 years, I don't even recognise the person I used to be.
He told me people often say they think their thoughts aren't theirs.
I replied telling him that I know mine are, that is the problem.

4. You feel frumpy, fat and/or old
I have always been overweight, but for the most part fit. I used to run and enjoyed it, but it is something I haven't done for quite a while now.
When I went to my first maternity appointment, the midwife told me I was very overweight (obese) and that I should not gain any weight in pregnancy. Fortunately, I had already requested to see a Dietitian, it helps to have someone on your side.
As I get further into this pregnancy, I feel huge. I ache, I waddle, I generally feel crap! 

5. You feel you never put yourself first
I don't have anyone else to put first, but I still neglect myself. 

6. Your energy and joie de vivre has gone 
My energy is seriously lacking. Pregnancy combined with depression, low mood & motivation, makes me really unproductive.
As you know from my post on sleeping problems, I suffer from insomnia so that hasn't helped. I kept been told that the first trimester of pregnancy was the worst as I would be constantly tired but it eases of by the second trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, it hasn't.

7. You are not sure what the future holds
I have no idea what my future holds. Some days that really bothers me, other days I don't care. 
All I do know is my first baby, a daughter, is due at the beginning of June. My pregnancy is not how I planned or wanted it, but it's giving me the chance to be a Mum and that is something I wasn't sure would ever happen.
I may be a single mum, but so what? Lots of mothers do. Mine included and I think I turned out okay (well most days). Besides it does mean I get all the love and cuddles *smiles*.

8. You feel powerless 
As mentioned above,  I have a lot going on at the moment, but I do feel that I am constantly plugging away at things and getting no where fast. DWP is a great example. Nearly a year for appeals, which I won (although horrible stressful!), but they managed to mess up the paperwork.

9. You feel isolated
I have lost contact with a lot of (so called) friends over recent years, this makes me sad, but not in the sense that I miss them, but because I am limited to people I interact with in real life. 
I have met some great people through Twitter and various parenting sites, but I would like to have a more active social life.

10. You sense something is missing
I sense a lot of things missing from my life. And it's far too short to list them all here.

How To Be A Groovy Mum

Kate @ Kate on Thin Ice started a new blog hop / group support for helping mums get their groove back. She aptly titled it Groovy Mums, you can find out more here

Kate asked:

Have you ever felt one or more of the following …
1. You lack time to do your own thing
2. You have forgotten what you like
3. You can’t quite remember who you are
4. You feel frumpy, fat and/or old
5. You feel you never put yourself first
6. Your energy and joie de vivre has gone
7. You are not sure what the future holds
8. You feel powerless
9. You feel isolated
10. You sense something is missing

I felt most of these things when I established the #groovingmums blog hop and Twitter support group.

I have been reading the blogs with interest. Some are funny, some are poignant,  all are written with honesty. 

When Kate started the blog hop I had not long since found out I was pregnant with my first baby. I was not sure whether I could add anything relevant. Besides as a newly pregnant woman, did I count as mum? Or did I need to physically have a baby?

I have decided that Yes, I am worthy, I do count, so have signed up and look forward to sharing new blog posts with you all. 


Competition: Win a Barbie Princess Charm School with our friends at Argos

I have had my 20 week pregnancy scan and I am pleased to share with you that it is a healthy baby girl.
I was so shocked; I had convinced myself I was pregnant with a baby boy, no idea why, just a feeling. She is healthy, measuring all the correct lengths and everything looks to be working correctly. 
I was informed there is no guarantee, but are there any in life?

In conjunction with Argos, I am offering a competition to win a great Barbie prize to celebrate my good news.

A Barbie Princess Charm School 
Royal Bed and Bath

Worth £45.00!

Your little princess can re-create scenes from the magical movie Barbie Princess Charm School. 
This enchanting playset is fit for royalty. 

Barbie will love her glamorous surroundings as she relaxes in her luxurious bath or has friends stay over for a cool sleepover in the two bed dorm. 

This glamorous playset is portable so your little one can take the fun anywhere she goes. 
The bed magically transforms into a luxurious spa bathtub. 
Size H32.5, W48.5, D14cm.
For ages 3 years and over. 
WARNING(S): Not suitable for children under 3 years old.

 A Royal bedroom for two princesses!

  • 2 furnished rooms in 1
  •  Sleeps two  Bath Spa
  • Flip-up & pull-out surprises!
  • Flip bed for bathtub!
  • Pretty vanity is a desk too!
  • Closet doors open and close! Hang an outfit in the closet.
  • Get ready for school or study at the vanity!
This is a really cute play set for little Princesses 3+
And for mums, it is contained in its own case, so easy to tidy up.

How to enter?
To win the prize of one Barbie Princess Charm School, you must:
  • be an email subscriber 
{there is a subscription box on the left hand side of the blog, or click link here}
  • leave a comment on this post telling me why you would like to win.

For extra entries:
  • comment on one of my posts and let me know here which post you commented on.
‘I want to win a Barbie Princess Charm School with Ramblings of a Mad Woman @NikkiCrick & @Argos_Online’ 
Don’t forget to comment here saying you have tweeted.
Please add one comment per entry.
Thank you.

Argos offers five Barbie Princess Charm School toys:
Barbie Princess Charm School Blair Doll £14.99 Reduced! Save £7.00

Competition terms and conditions
The closing date of the competition is 29th February 2012.
The competition winner will be chosen at random from all entries.
The winner will be contacted by email, if no response received with 5 working days, another winner will be drawn.
I will also post winners name here and on Twitter.
The competition is open to UK subscribers only.
The competition prize is one Barbie Princess Charm School Royal Bed & Bath supplied by Argos.
The competition prize has been opened for photographs only.
No cash or alternatives will be offered.

Bella’s a Tease (An Alphabet Story)

Amazing, fantastic, wow, I cannot believe it,” she gushed.
But Bella had always been a drama queen.
Curiosity got the better of me this time.
Damn it! Tell me,” I demand.
Ever elusive she mumbles her reply.
For Pete’s sake, tell me,” I demand again.
Giggling, Bella asks, “Who’s being dramatic now.”
Hate you at times,” I growl.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that,” I offer as an apology.
Just as she gave me the look that I know, others hate.
Kisses?” I offer pleadingly.
Laughing, she tells me “I could never be mad at you.”
Maybe not, but you do scare me sometimes.”
Never has a woman been so attractive, but left me feeling so vulnerable.
Oh hunny, you know I love you,” she purrs.
Patronized a little, I asked again, what her news is.
Questioning Bella is always a game she wins.
Rarely do I feel in control.
She smiles her teasing smile.
There, she knows she has my undivided attention.
Unsurprisingly, she does her flirty little giggle and lowers her voice.
Victory is mine,” she whispers.
Whilst smiling, she dances, twisting and turning.
Xenial, is not something you could accuse Bella of.
You know babe, forget it, I’m sure you’ll tell me when you’re ready,” I turn to walk away.
Zealously, she shows me the page in her hand, ‘Congratulations, you have been selected as the featured writer in ABC.’