When I first found out I was pregnant, my behaviour changed. I don’t mean I suddenly went all neurotic, emotional and irrational – oh no, these were already stable parts of my personality. I mean my buying behaviour changed.
When I went to do the WBS (Weekly Big Shop™), stocking up on red wine was no longer top of my list. We didn’t eat much blue cheese, cured meat or seafood anymore, I bought tents instead of dresses and shoes that accommodated ever-swelling feet, rather than pretty beauties with heels.
I also found myself on various mailing lists for baby stuff: your baby’s development at x weeks, the realities of childbirth, baby paraphernalia that you can’t live without* etc. I still get a load of these emails delivered to my junk folder daily, but you know what – I signed up to them, so that’s fine.
*Turns out I could live without it. I manage perfectly well, in fact.
The Bounty bunch
One of these sign-ups was to Bounty. Not the chocolate bar (we’re Cadbury-only in this house, don’t you know) – Bounty the baby people. I signed up because I got to get some freebies at various stages of bringing a baby into the world (and who doesn’t want freebies). Freebies and emails; nothing particularly stressful there.
On 21st August 2013, after 15 hours of contractions, a rush into theatre and surgery, Bear entered the world. Wonderful, what I remember of it. Once feeling had been restored from my boobs down (anyone that has had an epidural knows what I am on about), I got to move along to the maternity ward for a 2-night mini break (of sorts).
It was about a million degrees outside, and the ward was much the same. The morphine was making my face itch and sweat (attractive, eh? Form an orderly queue, gentlemen…) and I was trying to get used to everyday functioning while effectively wearing a humongous nappy. My nipples – they were something else (and not in a good way).
And the hormones – man alive! Half the time I didn’t know why I was crying (could have been the nipples, could have been the nappy, who knows). I didn’t really sleep for 2 days and 2 nights – not an uncommon story when you’re unable to go home with your little bundle of joy soon after birth.
Just then, as Paul and I happily tried to get our heads around the last 24 hours, while we changed Bear’s nappy for the first time, and absorbed every remaining ounce of concentration in our beautiful daughter, our new little family, we hear “Well helloooooo! Congratulations! Ahhh boy or a girl?”
The curtain of invisibility
It’s the same spiel she gave to the other 5 couples on the ward and, as she ignores the privacy of our closed blue hospital curtain, it appears it’s our turn. Over the next few minutes I was asked if I wanted to sign-up to regular email marketing (right at that moment I just wanted a shower, truth be told). Did I want to collect my bag of freebies from Boots or should she just “leave them here, on the bed?” (well on the basis that I can’t imagine walking unaided for some time to come, you better leave it right there on the bed – after all, we’re overflowing with space in this tiny little cubicle, as you can see). Oh – and would we like her to take a photo with her camera, for the one-off charge of £5? Let me think about that. How does “no” grab you?
My brother and his wife had a similar situation in November, at a completely different hospital. They, too, were enjoying relaxing with their newest gorgeous girl, in the privacy of the infamous (and, it appears, invisible) blue curtain, when in came their invading Bounty brigade.
They learnt 2 things that day; 1 – while it may have magic invisibility powers, the curtain is not sound-proof. If you mutter abuse at the Bounty brigade from behind the curtain, she will hear you. 2 – they’d been bringing their 3-year old up without the essential, must-have parental accessory, and the free Bounty pack was about to enlighten them….
Rice. Yep, what every new parent wants. Basmati bloody rice. At least it made them laugh I guess.
Why Bounty can bog-off
When my buying habits changed, when I signed up to receive pregnancy and baby-related bumf, I did so out of choice. I may not have read the small print in minute detail, but I can confidently say there was not a box that said Tick here if you would rather a total stranger pushing a pimped-up mobile photography trolley didn’t barge into your personal space uninvited, mere hours after going through the most life changing – and personal – of events. I did it for the freebies, end of story.
And while hospitals limit both visiting hours and the number of visitors at any one time (and rightly so), to welcome a pushy stranger to my bedside when we’re not allowed to have both sets of grandparents at the same time will always be a bitter pill to swallow.
Am I on my own with this view? Am I just being a right old misery bum? Or should more be done by maternity wards to keep these (effectively) marketing people out of the ward and back behind their email campaigns?