Confessions of a benefits scrounger

With the UK General election coming up I’m seeing the old arguments pop up about benefit scroungers and people who don’t give a s*** about paying in to the system for something they don’t believe they’ll ever get out.

I’ve always believed the opposite – that those who can afford it should contribute to look after the most vulnerable in society. And as some regular followers may know, I recently joined the ranks of the ‘benefit scroungers’

My youngest daughter was born with a disability and now we claim Disability Living Allowance for her. It enables me and my husband to share her care and pay our mortgage, my husband can work less so we share the load (and the jobs that require two people!). My other daughter suffers less because she has more parental time than she would if I was looking after her higher needs sister by myself. 

For the people that think benefit claimants sit on their arses smoking and watching jeremy kyle all day, here’s what I spend my time doing:

  • Drawing up medicines
  • Making up specialist formula
  • Washing and sterilising syringes
  • Changing ostomy bags
  • Emptying ostomy bags
  • Emptying and cleaning personal care equipment
  • Arranging appointments
  • Planning for hospital stays
  • Monitoring temperature
  • Monitoring output
  • Monitoring wet nappies
  • Calculating fluid balance
  • Uh oh! Ostomy bag leak, finding something quick to entertain my eldest so I can change the bag again
  • Cleaning up and sterilising after everything got covered in poop
  • Washing clothes
  • Cleaning more syringes
  • Emptying the ostomy bag again
  • Dropping in prescriptions
  • Washing more clothes (sigh, more poop everyhwere)
  • Cleaning the super sticky special formula out my sink drains
  • Collecting specialist prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy because my local one won’t do it
  • Filling in dwp forms
  • Sending dwp evidence
  • Arguing with trolls on social media who think we’re all scroungers who sit on our arses
  • Reading the back of food packets for ingredients that will put my girl in hospital 
  • Ordering new medical supplies
  • Emptying extra bins full of used medical supplies
  • More washing
  • Oh yeah…. looking after my other child!

The list could be longer. It doesn’t include all the normal mum stuff everyone does like feeding and playing or the school run.  I didn’t choose this life but it’s the one I have. I’ve been a high earner who never thought I’d need to claim benefits but now I’m so grateful the system is there so my family can stay afloat.

A lot of nurseries aren’t set up to look after kids like mine. You know what it would cost to pay a nurse to do what I do? About £300 a day, presuming they only do basic care (they can’t arrange appointments or prescriptions for me) and I came home to take over after work. How much do we get in benefits? Just over £300 a month. As far as I’m concerned that’s win-win.

It prevents me from experiencing the severe mental health problems I’ve experienced before by reducing my stress (shall we calculate how much that super specialist care costed??) It prevents my husband from burning out at work, it protects my older daughter’s mental health. How can this be anything but a sound investment?

I hope next time you come across someone who believes us benefit scroungers sit on our arses all day, that you’ll think of us and show them this article!
Image copyright: British Broadcasting Corporation 


Birth Planning after Trauma (Part 2: The actual plan!)

So now you know what happened the first time I met my fairy godmother (you don’t? Read here). An apt description of my obstetric consultant I think, given her ‘your wish is my command!’ approach to my birth plan!

I was pretty anxious going to meet with her this time, not just because of potentially having to talk about the last birth again. I had this irrational fear that she would somehow have changed her mind about what she said last time, despite basically having written me a get out of jail free card for whatever birth I wanted. I was also worried I might not actually get to see her, but would just see one of her juniors as so often happens in clinics like this…

…which is exactly what happened. He was kind, and friendly, and sympathetic. And he told me everything looked fine and they would see me again near delivery, after approximately 5 minutes. Huh?? I timidly asked to see the consultant, and my friend made it clear that I’d been expecting to discuss a birth plan and that’s what should be happening right now (love her). He went to fetch her, and Fairy Godmother strides in beaming, welcoming me back and asking how I am. I instantly relaxed and thought ok, this is more like what I was expecting. 

We discussed a regime for treating and monitoring a few of my medical risks, then got down to the nitty gritty of birth planning. I’d imagined that’s ‘whatever you want’ just meant  a choice between a vaginal or c section delivery. Nope, she meant it literally! For the second time, I could have kissed this woman. 

I articulated what some of the worst bits had been last time (funnily enough, the forceps didn’t bother me as I finally had adequate pain relief by then). The main low points were the excruciating pain of the hormone drip and being on continuous  foetal monitoring. So we have agreed that if I/baby really need monitoring, it can be mobile or intermittent. I can use the pool and all the usual birth suite stuff, and no one is allowed near me with syntocinon! I asked her to reapeat that last bit… Nope, I WILL NOT be induced. If any of this becomes risky to me or baby, or if it just isn’t going according to plan, we can switch to an elective section. This is such a weight off my mind I can’t even describe it!

I’m meeting with a specialist midwife in a few weeks to go through all the what ifs and make a detailed plan with their seal of approval on it (maybe someone will read it this time!).  I hope I’m not repeating mistakes of the past by trying to think through different eventualities; I know I can’t control everything. But it does feel very reassuring to know that certain things won’t happen, and that there are a whole lotta people on my side. Wish me luck!