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Blog – Mel Cyrille

Ramblings.....

Blog

Picture this: You’re rushing around, trying to get out of the house – you’re running late and it seems to be one thing after the other. You’ve finally got yourself – and anyone else needing seeing to – sorted, and you’re ready to leave. There’s just one thing left to do…..you pick your lovely little baby up, who’s been happily chatting to you, and start getting them secure in your sling or carrier, and BAM! Seemingly out of nowhere, they start protesting, fussing maybe even screaming. What on earth happened, and how the hell are you going to get out now?!

Don’t worry, there’s an answer! As the founder of Tribal Babies Sling Consultancy course and a professional who’s worked with hundreds of families using slings and carriers since early 2012, I’ve seen this sort of thing in its different forms time and again, and have a deep understanding of why it happens and how to avoid it. At sling library sessions, consultations and workshops, with my friends, and my own babies – nobody seems to be immune to it, and of course, it’s not just limited to slings! The majority of the time, it comes down to the state of consciousness your baby is in at that point in time.

So what are the different stages? It’s widely accepted that there are 6 stages for newborns, but I’ve noticed 7. These are:

1) Deep (quiet) sleep – you know this one, where your beautiful one is slumbering peacefully, totally gone.

2) Light (active) sleep – this is the time when you’re either glad they’re finally finished napping, or desperately praying the neighbours/toddler/children/dog/cat/tiniest noise doesn’t wake them! They startle in their sleep at noises and twitch or make some movements.

3) Drowsiness – that point in time where you feel either huge relief or smile at them with love, watching the huge yawns, eye-rubbing, droopy eyelids and the few seconds here and there of beginning to nod off.

4) Quiet alert – your little one is totally chilled out, quiet, peaceful and content. They don’t move much, if at all, and seem to be drinking everything in as they gaze at the world.

5) Active alert – this is where they’re stretching their arms and legs, making those heart-melting gurgles and cooing sounds, look around lots and are generally quite active. In this state they will signal in different ways what – if any – their needs are.

6) Fussing – fussing is usually included in the active alert state, but I feel it needs to be separate as they’re not in that state because they’re fussing. This state comes when their earlier attempts to tell you they needed haven’t been seen, so they then start getting more persistent and vocal about it!

7) Crying – when your baby has had enough of communicating in other ways, they reach the last resort…..bawling. They move frantically, screw their face up in upset, and make sure everyone knows there’s something wrong!

Are you thinking: “What do these states have to do with my baby suddenly hating the sling?!” Well, it’s as simple as, if you pick the wrong time to put them in, all hell may break loose!

What can you do to avoid the situation at the beginning of this post, where they went from active alert to unsettled (and quickly onto crying!)? Unfortunately I’m still looking for the answer to getting out of the house easily and on time, but avoiding the scream-y baby drama is something I can help with!

Top Tips:

  • If you know you’re going out at whatever time, pre-tie your stretchy, use this poppable woven wrap carry or set up your ring sling/mei tai/buckled carrier ready to use as soon as you finish a feed, see they’re drowsy or they’re in the quiet alert state.
  • Time going to to your local sling library meet around them napping if possible. Arriving with a sleeping baby rather than a tired baby will make it easier for them to like trying out slings, and means you can concentrate on how to use it! By the time you’re ready to try with your baby, they will hopefully either still be sleeping, or in the quiet alert state.
  • Learn how to feed your baby (breast or bottle) in a sling – this can be a godsend for those times when (as much as you want to sit down, stop and nurse them) you might otherwise feel like the only option you have is to delay their feed. This can avoid the crying stage (them and you!). You can learn to do this safely from a Babywearing Consultant.
  • Practice recognising each state, and notice what things help avoid the stressful ones. It’s amazing how much babies communicate their needs in different ways before they reach the crying state!

Clients have fed back over the years how that knowledge has not only helped instantly with carrying their baby in a sling, but also in getting to know their baby better, which in turn has helped with parenting this brand new human being. Invaluable or what?

So there you have it, and it’s not rocket science! Sometimes it can be a struggle to remember to keep ahead of where they’re at, but when that happens, you now know how to recognise it and how to quickly get them to where they’re happy again. You’ll be on your way in no time!

You may also be interested to know that carrying in arms or in a sling (the combination of baby being held, their body in contact with their carer’s, and being on the move) can actually help prolong the quiet alert state*. Who doesn’t want more of that?!

If this has intrigued you, and you’d love to learn a whole lot more about supporting families on their baby carrying journey, you can find out more about the training I offer here.

*Ref: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology – Anneliese F. Korner, Evelyn B. Thoman (Volume 10, pgs 67-78 – 1970)

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Oh my goodness, where do I begin?! I can’t believe this day has finally arrived, where I get to share with you all the incredible next step for Tribal Babies, and myself professionally!

Over the years, I’ve had lots of interests, lots of things that have filled my cup, both personally and professionally, and some which have overlapped. I’ve enjoyed learning more about different things, furthering my studies and working with families by way of both volunteering and paid work. As my personal journey has deepened, it’s had a knock-on effect with my professional life. Things I never thought would happen have, and my focus has shifted along the way.

Part of this news (but not the main bit!) is that I’m withdrawing most of my services. I’m no longer offering antenatal and postnatal services (with the exception of occasional birth doula’ing), and am putting my main focus onto babywearing. I will be running my Peer Supporter courses as usual, but will only be continuing with group workshops and one-to-one consultations until 31st December 2016. I feel sadness as I do this, as everything I have offered I have enjoyed doing immensely, but it needs to happen. This is to devote the majority of my time to……

 

…..Tribal Babies Sling Consultancy Course!

This is the epic new chapter for Tribal Babies and myself, officially beginning in January 2017! You can find out more by clicking the link above, but in a nutshell, it is something that both requires and deserves my full attention, as my babywearing tribe comes together. I’m looking forward to the year ahead, and working with some incredible people – will one of them be you?

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Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you’re basically stranded in the rain at a park just over a mile from your home with no extra clothes, no bus route and no sling. Yup, this happened to me the other day! What did I do? I picked the lesser of two evils and walked home. I kept Isaac warm by sticking him under my top before we set off, and he was more than happy to snuggle in. In fact, he fell asleep halfway home!

On our walk home, my love of carrying in-arms increased more than usual. For longer journeys (like this one) I tend to use a sling – sometimes for fear of him ending up feeling too heavy in arms at some point in the journey and other times for convenience, freeing up my hands. Carrying him home for that extended period of time got me paying attention to the little things that start to shift my body out of alignment. When I’m using a sling I don’t notice those subtleties as the shifts happen quicker. I also made note of the different things I naturally ended up doing further in the journey to continue effortlessly supporting his weight, like slightly changing his position or changing how I held him.

It’s also interesting to see how carrying changes when they’re asleep. This is where a sling really comes in handy in terms of supporting their weight without having to bear all of it with one arm, especially if you’re doing more than just walking (e.g. bending over, moving about lots).

I suffer with lower back weakness so pain is triggered fairly easily here if I’m not carrying him correctly (in-arms or in a sling). Being forced to pay attention to how carrying affects my body is always at the forefront of my mind, which is quite handy when breaking down the mechanics of babywearing is a passion! Understanding at least the basics of carrying in-arms helps you and your slingee’s comfort levels during your babywearing journey.

One of the things I love about in-arms carrying is that I find my children spontaneously engage with me more when they’re not in the sling. I love slings for stillness, that special comfort they bring, and how they’re that awesome tool in your parenting toolkit when nothing else is working, as well as how handy they are for things like keeping hands free or climbing up high ground to waterfalls (yes, that happened!). Both arms and slings are fantastic for different things, and I’m glad we have both. So if you see me carrying Isaac without a sling, don’t worry, my arms aren’t too tired – I’m enjoying another sort of carrying cuddle!

To learn more about in-arms carrying and more, get in touch via the contact options at the top of the page, or on Facebook, to book a Born to Carry Peer Supporter course in your area.

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This is the second part to “To my 24 year old self…..” – you can find part 1 here.

“This pregnancy and beyond is going to transform you. I could go back further to find the roots of it all, but this is where it all starts to happen. The year ahead is going to bring so many learning experiences, feelings beyond any other and a sense of peace.

First you’re going to have to get to the 12 week mark. That’s going to take so much from you, as you will be living in fear every single day that you will lose this baby too. Even when you first see that heartbeat flickering away, that fear won’t go. Not once you pass the point when your baby died, nor at 12 weeks. The truth is it will never fully go away, not even in future pregnancies. There’s an underlying fear laced through each pregnancy from now on, and although it feels like the magic and joy has been robbed it really hasn’t. Something has changed for sure, but one of the positives you can draw from this is that you appreciate pregnancy on a deeper level. For all the pain, it amplifies the joy when you feel it.

This pregnancy helps you to start to heal, to accept that there is another path ahead from the one you had planned. When you reach 3 months, you’ll start to have hope that this baby will be ok. You allow yourself to start preparing for the birth ahead and begin 6 months of reading, learning and self discovery. This is when all your beliefs about birth become validated and you discover more ideas that spark your interest. Here’s where you’re first introduced to Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent and Laura Shanley amongst others. You first hear about doulas and realise that’s what you need for this birth, and also what you want to be instead of going down the midwifery path you’ve always planned.

You’re going to see the cost of a doula and be heartbroken that you cannot justify that expense at a time when Tom is between jobs. I want to share with you of the value of a doula, I want you to realise that it’s not something that should have to be justified. You deserve her and so does your baby. In terms of extravagance, unconditional, ongoing support and continuity is right there as a basic need. In the future – when money isn’t a daily worry – you will see this clearly. Even when it’s still a struggle, once you’ve given birth you will recognise this for the first time. At this point in time you think you really cannot afford it – there’s not even an option to put that purchase on a credit card to worry about at a later date! But there is an access fund for these sorts of situations, which would enable you to have a doula. Oh, I wish you knew this.

At this time your thoughts are about giving birth in the most normal way possible to you. You’re planning your birth experience knowing that you want things to be different from your first birth. You’re so focused on the birth that you don’t look beyond that bubble. If you had a doula you would experience that female support you’ve been lacking. Sure, you’ve got your online support from the women who virtually walked by your side during your journey of trying to conceive, pregnancy, loss, and pregnancy again. That support has been a lifeline, and will continue beyond this pregnancy through to the present day. What you are missing though is in-person support. The love and guidance of a woman with a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Your doula would be so much more than support at your birth.

Unpacking the emotional baggage you’re carrying with you from your loss. Unraveling your first birth, hearing you, acknowledging what happened and looking together at how you can make things different this time. Someone who isn’t telling you what you should do. Someone who is far enough away from you to see you clearly for who you are and what you believe in, yet close enough to be emotionally invested in you and to want only the best for you. Coming from a place where a healthy baby isn’t the only thing that matters, a place where you and your mental health is just as important. Walking the path with you, watching you become empowered from being listened to and believed in, knowing your hopes and fears inside out. Watching you journey within yourself and bearing witness to the person you’ve grown to be.

Take heart though, that what lies ahead shapes your beliefs further and takes you down a path which results in another 2 fully empowering births and manifests an antenatal course which fills the gaps in your locally available classes. You even get to “do” the course yourself when you’re pregnant with #4! This path you’re going down means you are able to truthfully say that you have 100% confidence and trust in a woman’s instincts, with no hidden “except if…..”. It provides you with a wealth of knowledge and experience to use to lay your doula foundations on, and gives you the perspective to see your role clearly from the start. You focus on empowerment rather than looking for fixes. You love, trust and hold that space in a way you could never imagine before you started doulaing.

This is the beginning of the next chapter of your life!”

 

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I’ve been struggling recently, feeling completely out of my depth, and I feel the need to write about some of the not-so-pleasant daily realities of being a parent to an almost-teenager. What I want to talk about is not to shame her, or any other teen/pre-teen. It’s to touch on the realities of everyday life with a 12 year old. When I started writing this it was 10:30pm and I’d had 2 rather intense, in-depth conversations with her since she came home around 9pm. I’ve been reflecting on the evening and reminding myself that although those were some of the most challenging conversations I’ve had with her so far (oh so many yet to come), it’s helped me to communicate with her better and this is all part of my journey towards better patience.

The other weekend, I facilitated one of my regular Born to Carry Peer Supporter courses here in Ipswich. One of the women who joined us is a mother of 9, who had 5 teenage daughters at home at one point. She was talking about the hormones that take the person hostage, about how it’s not their true self, it’s a mask, and that we just have to keep showing them that we still love them, even if they need to change their current behaviour to respect the boundaries within our families. This really resonated with me, as some people view my parenting approach as permissive, yet it’s far from it! Boundaries are a cornerstone of my parenting. Just because I’m not looking for excuses to say “no”, and want to hear what’s going on inside their head, doesn’t mean they have free reign to do whatever they feel with no consequence or thought to who is affected by their actions etc.

I vividly remember when I was a teenager, vowing that I would never be like my parents. I could feel everything, every injustice, every desperate attempt for control, so vividly. I promised myself I would never forget how it felt, even as my father would say to me “one day, when you have children of your own, you will understand”. I couldn’t imagine ever being so unkind to my children and thought he was crazy. Well, I grew up and had children and ended up with an almost-teen in the process. While I can categorically say that there is a lot I don’t agree with about my parents methods, I don’t want to shame my parents. As an adult, I can see that they were doing what they thought was best with the information they had at the time. As a parent, I hoped to gain better information and act accordingly, and for the most part I think I do. So, my children’s childhood is in stark contrast to my own, and when you think about it, surely that should equal happy, cooperative children who co-exist in harmony? Wrong.

One thing I struggle with, having an older child, is that even though their happiness is put above all else, that I bend over backwards to make their lives a good one, nothing ever seems to be enough. It seems that boundaries always need to be tested, to check that even though you tell them your love is unconditional, it really is. That they can let out that cocktail of hormones in a safe space and be heard, held and respected. I cannot live up to my teen-self’s promises of how I would treat my children because I am a parent now. There are some things you cannot understand unless you have lived through the experience. Being a parent is very high up that list!

I swear this is why there is no “manual” that works for raising children. The reason why after all these years, there is no magic formula. Sure, there are some children who seem immune to or fare easily with the hormonal upheavals of the transition from child to adult, but they are the minority. Those wonderful traits in adults that are challenging in toddlers and small children become battle-inducing in older children. Walking the line between honouring their feelings and thoughts, and reminding them of the boundaries we all adhere to with respect to one another is exhausting on a good day, and hibernation-inducing on a bad day. Every child is different. As they get older, those nuances of personality get more and more subtle and before you know it you are faced with an infinite number of possible outcomes to each (seemingly) simple everyday task. The only thing my head can come up with in comparison is what a toddler on drugs may look like. An awful analogy, I know, but fitting in terms of the unpredictable behaviour in addition to the constant emotional upheaval.

When it comes to attempting to impart nuggets of practical information or – dare I say – wisdom, it’s much the same as learning other life lessons as an adult. Unless you are at the right point in time to receive and understand a lesson, it doesn’t matter how much it’s shared with you. You will not hear it or learn from it unless you are in the right space to receive it.

I think that the constant dance with the child is why “attachment parenting” is less popular with over-5’s. As children get older, things aren’t as simple as they once were, and it seems harder to carry on that path. The stress that can be induced by the character and voice of a child allowed to express their true feelings and thoughts becomes harder as their vocabulary grows and they feel safer knowing they can express themselves without judgement. You know that deep down you should be thankful that they know themselves, and that you are able to provide them with the safe environment to hold onto their identity, but at the same time you are only human. It can be scary as a parent, and more so if you were confined as a child. Even more so if you have multiple children who are allowed and encouraged to be their true selves.

As my daughter edges closer to puberty, hormones almost seem to possess her. When I’m caught up in the every day stresses of a home-educating/work-at-home-mum way of life, I admit it’s often very difficult to take a step back and remember how I used to feel, how it’s a fluctuation in the chemical balance, that it’s not a calculated, intentional response (most of the time anyway). I strive to be more understanding, more patient and more loving. I also have the benefit of seeing where my parents came from in their frustrations. I still vow to do things differently, and I hope that however my “methods” turn out, the fact that I will not stop trying to express how much I love my children will win out and pave the way forwards for them to do better than me with their own.

It doesn’t stop it from being incredibly hard, from me failing every single day. All I can do is keep that intention, put it into action, and hope that I’m doing it as close to “right” as possible, and that my children will look back and think that too. Love-bombing is one thing that seems to work for my family to diffuse situations the majority of the time, if verbal communication is failing. What works for you and yours?

 

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*****TRIGGER WARNING – MISCARRIAGE*****

There are so many things I can think of that I wish I could tell my past self. Don’t we all think that to some extent though? I know that I’m only where I am now because of everything I’ve been through, but sometimes I daydream and wonder what life would be like now if I’d known things back then that I do now. There are so many points in time I can think of, but being 24 stands out as one of those years where so much happened that I learned from, so much heartbreak and so much joy. Here’s what I would tell myself…..

“You’ve just turned 24, and I know you’re reeling from the devastating miscarriage you lived 2 months ago. Even though, rationally, you believe that you will carry another baby to term, you’re feeling like holding your baby safe in your arms is an impossible feat. Everything is incredibly raw. The world crumbled beneath your feet and although you’re desperately trying to rebuild the ground on which you stand on, it’s more like you’re struggling in quicksand. I know you’re conflicted between not wanting to feel anything, and desperately not wanting to lose the true, devastating feelings of what you’ve lost. The enormity of those feelings are enough to make you think you will drown in sorrow but at the same time you cannot comprehend ever feeling less, that doing so would mean this baby didn’t matter.

I want to tell you that this baby mattered so much. Everything you are feeling now, and will feel from now on is legitimate. Even today, more than 6 years later, I still have guilt that life moved on. I have some things that I can take from everything that happened though. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t lost this baby. Although I would give most things to have him/her here with me today as opposed to having that personal growth, I take comfort in knowing that there are some positive things that stemmed from such a horrendous thing. I know you are thinking I’m awful. I’m not you. I would never, ever feel this way. I’m an impostor. How could I say such things?

Well, the truth of the matter is that this baby was the catalyst to the family life you are living today. Nothing can ever take away the loss of life, and nothing should. You will wonder more times than you can possibly count, how life would be different if s/he had lived. Playing out every milestone in your head. You will realise, through a guilt like nothing you’ve ever known, that if your baby hadn’t died, you wouldn’t have your 3 youngest sons. These boys who you look at and cannot imagine a life without, and that to do so threatens to tear you to pieces. You will battle with these feelings, telling yourself that if this baby had lived then you would have had other children too, others that you could equally bear not to live without.

In the end, the only thing you can do to survive is to focus on what you have in your life now. You know that if you entertain the thoughts deep down you will be consumed with guilt, regret and misery. Knowing what you have is what gets you through each day. For example, take the day you find out you are pregnant with Logan. It’s in a month and a half’s time – Tuesday 30th March 2010. This is the date that everything starts to change for the better. The date you are begging to be told, that day in the future that will bring you a glimmer of hope. Just shy of 4 months after you knew something was wrong. You know that this is it, this cycle, yet you dare not quite believe yourself in case you have another huge blow. You will want to wait until April 1st (Niamh’s birthday and the earliest you let yourself test when you found out you were pregnant with your last baby – you knew then too), but your friend is having a planned C-section on the same day, and don’t want your happiness for her clouded by your devastation of not being pregnant.

So you test 2 days earlier (10 days past ovulation, with a 12-13 day luteal phase), once Tom’s left (so that he doesn’t have to be dealt that same blow before heading to work) and cry bitter tears in the dim light of a late winter’s morning as you stare down at that one pink line in the bathroom. You move into the bedroom, crying your heart out. You look at the test again through sobs and think “what a cruel trick, my tears are making me see things”. To prove to yourself that someone is having a laugh, you move to the blinds and let the natural light in. You stop, shocked. Squint. Can hardly believe it, but yes! There is the faintest of faint lines. There is a second line. You wonder if you are actually imagining it but you know it is real. Even when your camera can’t pick it up, you know that your eyes aren’t deceiving you and you well up with the most immense joy! Almost as quickly as it came, it passes into fear. What now, if it’s true? Then again, uncontrollable happiness and excitement! Swinging from one to the other is going to be your life for the next 8+ months.

Even as this glimmer of hope starts to shine through, you have no idea of what the coming months will hold in terms of your physical health. In just over a week you will injure yourself at work, which is the catalyst to a pregnancy full of physical pain as well as what is already there emotionally and mentally. Looking back I wonder if the physical helped distract a bit from the emotional pain. Know that every single second is worth it. Every second of every feeling is a part of the path you will walk to where you are now.”

To be continued…..

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Today I had my monthly massage, which is part of my self-care routine. I’ve actually not had one the past 2 months because of issues with my availability, so I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time!  I visit Melanie for No Hands massage, which has been absolutely incredible for my body. She has a beautiful space in her home dedicated to treating people, and the atmosphere and smells are all part of the experience for me.

Most of the massage is performed with her arms, and a very good amount of pressure can be achieved with using her body weight through them. I like deep pressure, and always get what I need! Before each session, Melanie asks me questions to get an idea of what I’m wanting from the treatment this month, and what sort of pressure and speed I’m looking for. Her questions are both great for getting me to really think about what I actually want or need each time, and for giving her a good idea of what end result to achieve.

From the first time I had a massage with Melanie (a hot stone treatment – my favourite!) I was aware very quickly that she was both an expert and gifted at what she does. As she works on me I get a sense that through touch she is diagnosing what my body needs and responds with the strokes/techniques needed. Sure, you’d expect this from any therapist, but she gets it spot on every time. It all feels very instinctual and just flows naturally. The No Hands experience is obviously very different to traditional massage techniques, but I enjoy it and I find it better for my body than most of the other types of massage I’ve had. The only exception has been hot stone massage with No Hands elements added to it.

The smooth gliding of arms gives a gentler – yet no less effective – massage is terms of it being given from a larger surface area. Any pinpointed pressure is easily achieved with elbows. The best way I can describe it really, is being more like a warm, loving hug. All-encompassing and nurturing.

It’s easy in some ways and hard in others to describe how transformational the treatment is. I enjoy the quiet time to myself, having my body nurtured by a loving person, and feeling aches, pains and tension release and fade away. When I stand up afterwards, the first thing I notice is how balanced, grounded and aligned I am. Then I realise that my body feels normal. No tightness, aches or pains, and things I hadn’t even noticed were wrong before feel corrected. The mental clarity and general sense of wellbeing is something you just have to experience to understand! It’s more than just a massage. I raved on about it to my husband earlier this year and it wasn’t until I bought him one as a gift that he got what I was on about!

After my first experience, I decided to sign up to a year of them (one per month) as I realised that this was something I actually needed for my health. Before, I classed massages as a luxury, something to treat myself to once in a blue moon. The impact these treatments have on my body and mind have moved my thinking from luxury to necessity. While she is worth every penny (and more!) that she charges, the deal she does on a year of massages has made it easier to afford, and going for this was one of my earlier breakthroughs in letting go of guilt for spending money on myself. I’m not one to feel guilty about having time out and doing things for myself though – it’s essential for me to refuel so that my family is able to have the best of me.

I really needed today’s massage, especially after all that time, and I’m surprised it “fixed” me to the extent it did, seeing as I’ve missed a couple of regular sessions. My body loves being loved! If you’re anywhere near Claydon/Ipswich, or are prepared to travel from further out, I cannot recommend Melanie highly enough. She also offers several other services including doula’ing, placenta encapsulation and hypnobirthing! Here are her details, if you want to find out more or get in touch:

Vital No Hands®

Note: I will not receive any benefit, financially or otherwise, from sharing this with you – I just believe that good service should be rewarded with good reviews!

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The other day I talked about where I’m at on my journey to finding myself again. I decided to start sharing my journey as I wish I’d started it sooner. I say that, but I know that it’s happened at the right time for me really. I think that what I’m saying is that putting it out there, some things may resonate with some of you and get you questioning whether you are where you want to be in your relationship with yourself, and if not, is it time for that to change?

It’s ok if it’s not the right time for you. Something I’ve realised over time – when thinking “why does it take decades for a person to become (or begin to be) wise?” – that no matter what anyone says or shows us, we have to be at the right time in our lives to be open to the teaching offered, and may also need to have gone through something to actually be able to understand that lesson in the context needed.

I know that I’m nowhere near reaching wisdom, but I’m definitely at a point in my life where I’m ready to take next step on my journey there! I’m ready to stop caring (so much) about what others think of me. I’m not prepared to waste any more of my life ignoring my inner self battering the door to my outer self. It’s time to break down my defenses, listen to my inner-self and act upon what I’m needing.

Isn’t it interesting that we tend to call that our inner child? Isn’t our inner “child” just our true self, no walls, barriers, pretenses? Maybe with some basic wants and needs and honest feelings, which society has branded “childish”? The part of us that wishes for simplicity and to be able to express our true feelings without worrying what other people think of us.

My inner-self – right now – screams for self-care, for time alone, for a break. I don’t have all the answers, but I know that self-care is an essential piece of the puzzle for loving yourself. I have a young baby at this point in my life and a lot of my go-to methods of self-care aren’t easily done right now, which is compounding my feelings of needing to run away. Not for good – just long enough to not be clock-watching, worrying that I need to be home soon. To not feel needed or wanted by anyone. To only have myself to answer to.

Most of my self-care needs and wants involve me being alone or away from my family. Maybe it’s because most of my life is spent with my children (due to home-educating), so I’m completely touched out both physically and mentally. Some I can do with them around me, but I don’t get as much from them that way. Here’s a list of some of the things on my personal list of self-care activities that really nurture me:

  • sleeping with nobody else in the bed, for as long as my body needs
  • spending time with friends, child-free
  • spending time with my husband, child-free
  • reading a book without any interruptions
  • going for a walk (preferably barefoot) alone
  • going for a drive alone, with the music right up
  • talking to a friend without interruptions
  • sitting somewhere in peace and quiet
  • going trampolining
  • writing
  • going to a women’s circle/red tent
  • meditating
  • having an unhurried, undisturbed poo in peace

As you can see, for me, most of these things cost nothing but their worth is priceless! I find that in the early days of having a baby, it’s like a switch goes off in me. Yes, it can be incredibly hard with a newborn/young baby, but my self-care needs go back to the absolute basics. Things like having a shower, eating one meal without having a baby on or attached to me, getting to spend one-on-one time with the older siblings who undoubtedly are feeling the change in their position in the family – those are things that fill my cup in the early months. Now, at 7 months in, I’m yearning for the “bigger” things. Things that I can’t quite do easily yet, but can see the point where it’ll become possible. That limbo. When I get to do some of those things, it’s like a taste, leaving me wanting more.

Trying to find the things to bridge the gap between now and when I can do things more easily is challenging. At the moment, I’m combining work with self-care – work is where I get to be child-free. It’s awful that I feel I need a reason to validate my getting self-care, isn’t it? It’s because it’s interchangeable, that I get more of it this way. Still not good, but I’ve recognised the problem at least.

The problem is, I need that self-care. It is essential for filling my cup so that I have something in it to give others. I’m working on ways of meeting my needs during this transitional time, and would love to hear what fills your cup. Maybe something will resonate with me!

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There are some things that I rarely enter into discussion about, and one of those is politics. The fallout from the result of Thursday’s vote, however, has compelled me to say something. I’ve spent a long time writing from the heart about this, but decided not to publish most of it as I feel it is loaded. People will read it how they want to hear it, and I’m not interested in fuelling negativity, no matter how strongly I feel about what’s happening.

What I’m going to share is this:

Those of us who voted “remain” are going through a grieving process. It’s disappointing and sad to read some of the things being said (presumably reflexively) by a small percentage of those going through the first 5 stages. The percentage who voted “leave” for racist reasons are vile, I know. Thing is, do we really want to stoop anywhere close to that level of hatred and idiocy? I really hope that once #6 is reached, there will be clear-headed, constructive thinking so that mountains may be moved by the time we reach #7.

 

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For all of the reactions, emotions and responses that have come from this result, the thing this nation needs most is love. It doesn’t need each “side” turning on each other, being distracted as to what else is going on unnoticed in Britain whilst we’re fighting. The majority of people I interact with online have hearts full of love, are tolerant and inclusive. They’re intelligent, informed, revolutionary game-changers, with loud and far-reaching voices. How about we work together, respectfully, and channel our (valid) emotions and opinions into taking action. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world.

 

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I never thought I would be feeding a 5 year old. Feeding a child was normal to me, since my youngest brother was weaned at close to 4 years old, but my first breastfeeding journey came to a standstill at 6 months in, and was over for good at 7 months. Right now, with my youngest being 7 months old, I can’t quite believe it. But that’s what happened due to a lack of support locally. Thankfully support has generally improved in the almost-12 years since.

Here are my reasons (now I know what a nursing strike is) for letting my children wean at full-term, whenever that may be or them.

 

1) Because it’s more than just nutrition

Don’t get me wrong, the nutrition side is brilliant, especially if they’re going through a phase of not eating much in the way of solids, or their food choices have looked a bit questionable of late, seeing how nutritionally dense breastmilk is. What’s great is the added bonus of nursing being a comfort to them – think tumbles, scrapes, big emotions – milk solves pretty much everything! Nursing provides a compelling reason to walk away, an opportunity to collect thoughts or retreat from the world, a chance to allow themselves to be the little people they are – for that handful of moments – instead of trying to prove they’re big enough/strong enough/old enough. In short, it strengthens a secure attachment. That may sound like being clingy to the outsider, but meeting their needs promotes independence, as they know that in their most vulnerable moments you will be there for them.

 

2) Because even though I don’t love breastfeeding, it’s worth it a million times over when they are ill

Breastmilk obviously has tons of antibodies and immune-system-building properties, which are a benefit at any age, but when they eventually succumb to an illness it still helps out further. For one, it’s already helped in fighting off some of the illness. Breastfed children have decreased incidences of illness and lower mortality rates. My third child is prone to upper respiratory infections, which are more commonplace in babies fed formula, so I’m glad he has extra protection. Then, for all the negotiating, fobbing them off, pleading and feigning sleep when I’m touched out, when they are ill it is an absolute lifesaver. There’s nothing quite like a milky snuggle to settle a baby/child who is under the weather. With sickness bugs, it’s been the difference between staying hydrated and a hospital admission.

 

3) Because it normalises breastfeeding

My eldest was breastfed until she was 6 months old. Seeing her younger brothers feeding until term is just what having a baby and children looks like. For the boys, it’s the same, breastmilk is just what babies and young children have. For every person who sees my older boys feed (which is few and far between – they usually have milk when they wake up, and the odd extra feed if they’re upset/extra tired) it shows that it’s just a normal part of raising children. I don’t see a reason to prematurely wean.

 

4) Because it gives me added protection

It’s been scientifically proven that those who breastfeed are less likely to have breast cancer. There’s also a reduced risk of ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. The benefits are cumulative, meaning the benefits increase with the more you nurse for.

 

5) Because my children won’t…..bloody…..wean

Even if I wanted to, they aren’t ready yet. Feeding through one pregnancy? Check (L and X). Feeding through two pregnancies? Check (L). Carrying on feeding at 3.5 and 5.5 after me being away for 5 days? Checkmate. They’re never going to wean are they?!

 

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My older two nurslings, once I arrived home after 5 days away

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