braindribbles

Posts Tagged ‘NCT

Hello everyone!  How long has it been since I last posted? A year? Goodness knows.

Well, I am firing the brain dribbles back up again, and specifically on this night, because in exactly 6 months’ time I will be doing something really rather crazy. In my opinion, anyway.

Let me rewind three months and tell you the story from the start…

Back in July, I resolved to myself that I would do a parachute jump for NCT and raise some money to help us set up a much needed baby café (breastfeeding drop-in clinic) in Wycombe town centre. I had always wanted to give it ago, and had already put it off three years running. A bit too much alongside having a baby and moving house…

So I emailed head office to enquire.  They emailed back, saying, sorry, not doing it next year.  How about something else? Maybe the London Marathon? Applications available in a month’s time.

My eyes popped out of my head. If you don’t already know me, I’m overweight, technically obese, and haven’t run in 20-plus years. I haven’t done any regular exercise since having my children. It was out of the question. And how disappointing not to be able to do a parachute jump after all.  So I replied, saying, not for me, thanks, not for an award-winning couch potato.  I’d had something altogether less strenuous in mind. Jumping out of a plane is easy by comparison.

But then I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  It’s as if they had sowed a seed and it had taken root.  The more I thought about it, the more I realised that by doing something WAY out of my comfort zone, the more it might be worth sponsoring.  And, for me, it doesn’t get further from my comfort zone than running a marathon.

So, when the applications became available, I sent it in the same day. Amazingly, they accepted me as one of the 8 NCT runners nationwide.  And all the money I raise (£2014, so I’ll need all the help I can get!), can go towards setting up the breastfeeding drop-in that mums of new babies so badly need in the Wycombe area.

Now it’s real, and I am training.  I think it sunk in when I ran in the pouring rain yesterday and I had to take my specs off to see where I was going…. So please sponsor me if you can!

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A is for Audible.co.uk – where I buy all my audiobooks before downloading them to my mobile.

B is for Braindribbles.wordpress.com. Of course.

C is for Clubpenguin.com.  Sigh

D is for Dance4all.biz – the people I do my weekly dance’n’tone classe with.

E is for Ebay.co.uk. I groaned when I saw this.

F is for Facebook. Yep, that fits too.

G is for – no, not Google but Graze.com. I really like the snacks they send me.

H is for Halifax. A spot of online banking every once in a while.

I is where the influence of Google returns – images.google.com.

J is for Jayisgames.com – a nice independent game/game review site, for when I’m procrastinating.

K is for KrispyKreme.co.uk.  I looked it up this morning when I was trying to find out why it was trending on Twitter.  Turns out everyone thought their Enfield shop burned down in the riots this weekend (it didn’t, it’s open for business as usual).  Shame it wasn’t on my prediction list for its own glorious sake. (And now I really want a doughnut.)

L is for local.which.co.uk, better known as Which Local. A place I go to when I need a tradesman I can trust.

M is for mail.google.com. Fair enough.

N is for NCT.org.uk.

O is for Ocado.com. Weekly grocery shopping has never been more serene.

P is for Photobox.co.uk, where I get my digital photos uploaded and printed.

Q is blank!  Not that surprising, really..

R is for Rightmove.co.uk.  I wonder what it would be if this weren’t the year we are moving house.

S is for Southbucks.gov.uk, namely because every time I find a house I like, I have to go here to check what the catchment school is.  I thought my other online bank would be here, but clearly I am more interested in schools than in money. Really??

T is for Twitter.com.  Not yet a regular user (except to publicize my blog of course), though the #bookswithalettermissing kept me fully occupied the other evening.

U is for UKcampsite.co.uk.  A great place to go to if you’re looking for sites with campfires – the most comprehensive site for the UK, even if it is crying out for a graphic designer to work their magic on it.

V is for Vente-privee.com.  A european designer sales site, where I get nice kids designer clothes (and other stuff) at high street prices without once having to deal with the stress of going into a clothes shop with three children.

W is for WordPress.com, of course.

X is also blank!  Seriously. I don’t do the x-rated stuff.

Y is for Youtube.com. Where I go for vast quantities of dodgy karaoke tracks.

and finally, Z is for Zoopla.co.uk. Another house move website.  Very useful for finding out what a house was bought for and when.

* * *

That was a slightly unnerving exercise.  If I was the model mum/teacher/student, who didn’t procrastinate, shop at online sales, sing to her computer and play club penguin when the kids aren’t looking, I wonder what it would look like then?

Oh yes.

Boring.  🙂

I write as I am already halfway through my third and last course prior to submitting my entire diploma.

I have 4 1/2 couples (the remaining half is an ex-pat in the Middle East, and I am sincerely hoping we will have the pleasure of his company next time).  All of them seem to be lovely, normal, and game to give everything a try.   This is great news for me and for teaching them. They are like sponges, soaking up everything we cover.  It has been very rewarding for me.

I wonder, though, is this luck or good teaching?  I did do a better job at explaining what’s going on during introductions, as well as explaining how one of the NCT’s prime objectives is informed decision-making and a smooth journey into parenthood.  Maybe they took that on board exactly how I hoped they would.

I also feel much happier with the activities I am doing.  They are neat and tidy, I feel they work well, and I am better organised than I was last time round (something the assessor mentioned in my last course).  Better still, I’m mixing up antenatal and postnatal activities, since it helps to keep a good balance of what’s important. After all, labour is one event, and parenting lasts a lifetime.  Mixing up the activities shows that there is a good balance of content throughout the course.  I’ve heard people complain about not doing enough postnatal stuff if you mix it in, but I’ve been careful to acknowledge what we’ve covered from the original agenda setting exercise at the beginning of the course, and show the items on the list being crossed off from session to session.  It also stops stuff from getting too samey.

Another thing that went down brilliantly was having a decent shared lunch in the middle of the session.  I allocated an hour for lunch, and everybody helped out bringing stuff  and setting up. We had the branch volunteers come and talk to us at the same time, and everyone was getting on like a house on fire – I was even praised for it  on my mid-course evaluation.

It was also really great to see the men getting on so well.  After one coffee break, I had to drag them back inside, they were getting so involved in their conversation.  Wonderful.

image courtesy of NCT.org.uk

image courtesy of NCT.org.uk

I heard from other teachers that an intensive format (the bulk of this course is being taught over two 6-hour Saturdays) can be difficult for bonding, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem here.  Whether it’s down to luck or judgement I’m not sure, but I’m certainly glad things are going so well.

We’ve ranged from easy topics (straightforward labour, practical babycare, safe sleeping) to more challenging ones, and whilst it was clear that subjects such as interventions and caesarean were quite a lot to take in, they still listened, asked questions and kept an open mind right the way through – though they were relieved to go onto some lighter stuff straight after!

I had one negative comment on my evaluation forms, which was that at one point I seemed a little disorganised (my epidural kit had gone missing – I found it shortly afterwards). And no doubt I can be better organised.  But, for now, I know that I’m a lot more organised than last time and the time before, and so I’m happy to keep trying to improve for now.  Who knows? Maybe my next session will be perfectly organised!

All in all, though, I’m delighted with the way this course is going.  I’m really enjoying it, and I also feel like I am making a difference to these people.  It’s exhausting teaching for six hours straight, but I do like the format in spite of that.

I hope I am still this positive after next weeks class. The ex-pat is due to return to the UK this week, although it’s unclear whether he will be able to make time for the course… if he does come, it may upset the balance, I’m just not sure yet!  But I’m not going to worry about that just yet. It will be what it is, and that will be fine.

It happens but once a year. Nevertheless, an NCT Forum is not an event to be taken lightly. Follow these tips and you should breeze through the day…

Image courtesy of Decembermum on Flickr

1. Wear good sturdy shoes. Flip flops, high heels and the like will take their toll on your feet as you mooch around the exhibition stands/chat to fellow specialist workers practitioners. By the time you leave, you will have been on your feet for around four hours or more, and, no matter how wonderful your pedicurist, your feet will be dirty, sore and swollen if you chose flip-flops as your footwear.

2. Remember to use the word ‘Practitioner’ so nobody realises you haven’t read any of the mountains of emails telling you useless stuff like this. Say ‘Specialist Worker’ and you will give the game away.

3. It may be unfashionable, but a backpack is a really good idea. You get monstrous amounts of paperwork, free samples, water, and that’s before you’ve bought anything off the stands. Those free samples add up. 14 sachets of SpaTone? Of course you’ll need them all. Without a backpack, your arms will drop off by lunchtime.

4. Don’t worry about bringing your chequebook. The good stands will invoice you by PayPal before you get home. The better stands will take a credit card number. The bad stands won’t, and then you have an excuse not to buy anything off them.

5. Don’t try and talk to all the people on all the stands, unless you want to miss the really great talk by the latest author on a relevant topic.  Which, incidentally, you’ll kick yourself for missing because it turns out she’s actually an excellent speaker with something extraordinarily worthwhile to say.

6. If  you don’t like staple sandwiches, bring your own lunch. It’s almost always sandwiches. They’re OK as sandwiches go, but the Ritz hotel this is not.

7. If you have a gripe with head office, by all means use this opportunity to air it, but be careful how you say so in a plenary session. Whining will be sure to earn you dirty looks from people who feel you’re wasting your time. Best to have a valid complaint followed immediately with a viable solution. Saying, ‘this stinks and we hate it’, is unhelpful, and everyone would much rather be outside drinking coffee even if they do happen to agree with you.

8. Do not expect all the exhibition stands to have any relevance to NCT work. Those that have a tenuous link can be deathly boring and you can be suckered into a ten-minute conversation about something you really didn’t need to know. Such as amniotic leak detection. On the other hand, those stands with the least relevance may be the most interesting. My favourite stand was about green electricity. I know. Green electricity and NCT? Who’d have thought it.

9. Take the opportunity to talk to head office people – and be smiley and enthusiastic.  That way, when you ring them to whine about something three months down the line, they’ll be more inclined to help you out, even though they are rushed off their feet trying to do the work of three people on one measly charity salary.  Also, they’re really, really nice, which helps.

10. Finally, go out of the correct exit. If you leave by the door most convenient for the train station, you will not pass go or collect £200 be able to collect your attendance certificate – which could be disastrous if you are a student needing to show off your study day brownie points in your final portfolio.

Well done! You made it through the day intact. Expect to sleep well, once you’ve travelled however many hours back home. And dream NCT for several nights running. Sorry about that.

It’s Monday and, having been on a study/work related trip to Manchester, I have so much to ponder about.  I’ll see how far I get.

We had an amazing study day. This was a chance for me to get up-to-date with new procedures in maternity services or changes in NHS policy, as well as just getting my head back in the game; it’s been four years since I first did my compulsory study in this area and, my brain being rather sieve-like, I’ve forgotten a lot of it.  We had a quiz to look over and, whilst I knew at least half of it, the fact that there were several questions I’d never even heard of was rather intimidating.  Clearly I need to get more familiar with a midwifery textbook at some point…

Image courtesy of patient.co.uk

What took up most of the day was a detailed look at a partogram. (What’s a partogram? It’s the document that the midwife fills in during labour to keep a record of what’s going on.) It was absolutely fascinating. I hadn’t considered it in so much detail before, but it very soon became clear that every single little mark a midwife makes on such a chart has so much significance. Our tutor for the day is well known within the NCT for her gentle, approachable expertise, and I soaked it up like a sponge.

We also looked at some problems people can have during pregnancy – pre-eclampsia, morbid obesity and gestational diabetes – and looked at how it can affect their hopes and plans for labour and birth. How realistic is it for a morbidly obese woman to have a home water birth?  Well, easier than one with pre-eclampsia, if she’s prepared to challenge the hospital’s normal practice.

What I got out of the day most, though, was not the top-up and refreshment of knowledge,  but a chance to talk to other antenatal teachers (though I didn’t meet a single other student). I chose this training because the subject is so fascinating, and to talk to others who are equally interested can lead to some amazing conversations.

The study day was six hours long, but for once I didn’t lose concentration – it was just too interesting. And in the breaks, we’d talk about it even more. Amazing stuff.

More on the second day next time – watch this space.

I write this on the eve of a work-based trip to Manchester. A colleague is doing the driving; all I have to do is take in the sights – mostly of traffic jams on the M6 – and I get around 40 hours away from small people and loved one.

It’s at times like this that I have to remember who I am without all that other baggage.  If I don’t identify myself as a mum, or as a wife, what I have left is music (not what the trip is about) and my training (entirely what the trip is about).  I am going to spend two whole days behaving like an adult, or at least, behaving as if I were the most important person that I have to deal with on a regular basis.

an NCT antenatal class

Image courtesy of the NCT

If I have music and antenatal teaching to outwardly define me when I’m out on my own, what does that mean? I am using the words as if they were labels. I feel strongly that they are not, but nevertheless they are the two most important things in my life after family.

Since this trip is all about antenatal teaching – a study day and a national forum – perhaps I should try to work out why that in particular is so important to me. Earning money as an antenatal teacher is a bit of a joke; unless you compromise on family life, it’s very difficult to work for more than sixteen hours a month or thereabouts, and it’s quite difficult to manage even that much with the current bookings system.  So, it couldn’t possibly be about the money.

an NCT class

Image courtesy of the NCT

What teaching antenatal classes means to me is the opportunity to help people find their way through such a special time in their lives. They come to the first class anxious, scared, knowing very little, and by the time they leave to have their babies, they feel revved up and ready to face the challenges and wonders that make up childbirth and becoming a parent.  It’s amazing to be able to give people the tools to help themselves through what can sometimes be a very difficult period, and to see them make friends for life through the classes.

Nevertheless, when I go to these big forums or conferences, I do feel very intimidated. I, a mere student in a sea of qualified teachers, unused to the hustle and bustle, and not entirely sure I belong at times.  Particularly on this occasion, when events have caused me to question things in a way I wouldn’t have dreamed of a year ago.

So, I’ll go, and I’ll feel small and insignificant, but at the same time I will revel in doing something that means a lot to me, and that has nothing to do with family.

I say that, of course, but…I would never have been inspired to teach if it hadn’t been for my family.  Funny how these things come full circle, isn’t it?

Manchester UniversityIn a week or so, I’m going up to Manchester. Without children.

It’s for a good reason: there’s a study day I need to attend, and a national mini-conference for NCT workers that I’m supposed to attend once every two years, I believe. But I can’t help of thinking of it as two days off.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love being a mum. I love my children to bits.  When I’m not stressed out, I love the mundane little tasks that make up my daily life.  I do, however, miss being an adult in my own right.  (Somehow conversations with loved one don’t seem to stimulate in quite the same way.  Probably because we’re both dog tired by the time we have an opportunity.)

image is a postcard for sale at zazzle.co.uk - look out for their beautiful stationeryI get to have conversations with real grown-ups about grown-up stuff.  I get to learn stuff.  I get to find out what my charity’s been up to in the last year while I’m at it.  I even get to vote in the trustees and approve the annual accounts at the AGM.  I’ll be exhausted by the time I get home.   But I shall enjoy my time away immensely, simply for the sake of being myself for once, and not ‘just’ a mum.