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Showing posts from 2017

Early Motherhood Clouded by Thick Fog, Just Like This Year's Supermoon.

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Our youngest has the box room at the back corner of the house, its window to the side.  Looking out, there's a disappointing view: a thousand bricks, rising high into the blue.  Yet, there is one slither of visible sky.  Every evening, after bath time, we snuggle on his low bed, reading stories and settling for a milk feed.  The curtains are closed and the lights are dimmed to a low warm light.

We must have been a bit rushed one evening, a later bedtime with an overtired baby.  We collapsed onto the mattress, comfortable and settled at last.  It was only then that I looked up and realised that the blinds were up and I'd forgotten to turn the night light on.  But the room had a glow more lovely and soft than usual; the moon was steadily rising up through the narrow visible triangle of sky.  We both stared up in awe at the bright crescent moon and our little 17month old pointed and muttered "moo".

We've now spent a few evenings pointing at the moon and have observe…

The young, the old and the lonely, part 2: 'Babble and Bubbles' at St. Joe's.

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After two years of trying and failing to set up a regular intergenerational social, I was delighted when Charley Allen, Activities Coordinator of St. Joseph's Care Home, Tring, commented on my post in the local Facebook group: a desperate last chance to team up stay at home parents, their little ones and isolated older adults.  The idea came from my often lonely and anxious experience of early motherhood. The major trial of leaving the house with a tiny baby was always rewarded by a natter in the shops or on a park bench, cooing into the pram, telling me "he's gorgeous".  His lovely little face brought so much joy.  Surely we could make this a regular thing?
Charley works with older adults in a local care home, specialising in dementia care.  She was excited by the possibility of opening the care home doors to babies, toddlers and their parents.  We chatted about what might appeal to both under 5s and over 75s, deciding on traditional nursery rhymes, a story, bubble…

The Young, The Old and The Lonely: Setting up a Playgroup in a Care Home, Part 1

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When I first became a mum, the biggest surprise was how lonely the day-to-day could be. Sanity was usually saved by elderly folk, who were also out getting fresh air in the middle of the day. They had time to chat and stories to share. The baby in my arms was proof enough that I was harmless.  His tiny presence made opening lines easy enough; conversation flowed freely between strangers, bridging generations, differences and histories. A park bench or check out queue became therapeutic moments in the day, cooing over little one's eyelashes, or sharing ad hoc games of peekaboo. They were brief chance encounters but spread so much joy.

It seemed obvious that these meetings need not be left to chance. For all the new lonely mums out there, there's double the number of lonely older adults.  If only I could adopt a granny, or visit someone housebound, or volunteer for a befriend the elderly coffee morning.  A hot cuppa: that'd be a dream. Adult conversation? Yes please.  Bringi…

There's Still Wonder in Mankind

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I began this blog a year ago today, with the smoke of bonfire night still clinging to my hair.  Since then, our eldest has learnt thousands of new words (maybe more), started nursery and now rides his balance bike everywhere. Our youngest (who slept on my chest throughout the firework display) is now fully mobile, brings me books to read, has grown fourteen (soon to be sixteen) teeth and says "papa", "mamma", "turtle", "tractor" and "bat".  He's asleep on me now, his little mouth recently unclamped from me as the fireworks explode outside the bedroom window.
Rereading this post confirms how much I'm enjoying our new town a year on: the most welcoming place I've ever lived; the amazing friends I've made and all the incredible growth and development that our little ones have been getting on with as the world does its thing, both organically and politically.
A year ago today, America was voting for its new president and I,…

Boo to Hallowe'en: zombie mum too cool for tricks or too killjoy for treats?

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At the eleventh hour, I've realised that I cannot be bothered with Hallowe'en.

I am sitting next to a truly beautiful specimen of pumpkin, grown by us, from seed.  We had two beauties from a virgin gardening project and have already roasted and frozen the contents of one, ready for a future soup or pie.  I've googled "how to carve a pumpkin" and quizzed more experienced parents whose neighbourhoods all 'do' Hallowe'en.  I imagined that I'd rather enjoy the artistic challenge and have been dreaming up novel ideas to impress my family and local community.  I came pretty close to lugging a hand-carved home-grown orange gourd to an outdoor playgroup in the woods.  I didn't.  After all, no one likes a show off.

However, I should admit that I have already paid one small homage to Hallowe'en this year (aside from the sleep-deprived zombie look I've been sporting since the dawn of motherhood).  In preparation for the playgroup, I did plan a H…

Will He Be Night Feeding Forever?

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No more moonlight, please.  Give me the dawn.  No more digitised lullabies.  Give me the chirping chorus of the breaking day.  No more glances at the neon clock, dividing the night into too-short chapters: 00:30, 02:00, 04:00, 6:50.
Twelve months ago, when I titled this blog "The Night Feed: words inspired by nighttime nursing", I was three months into the life of our second child, fully immersed in the milk-drenching moon-loving life-giving nocturnes of newborn survival.  I blogged enthusiastically through the night feeds, stretching my right thumb across my phone's key-pad, trying to capture the stillness of the night.  I romanticised the sleepless nights, delighted to be able to give our baby all the milk he needed, revelling in the confidence of a second-time mum, taking pleasure in night feeding and co-sleeping and loving every moment.
Fifteen and a half months in and the night feeding is starting to get on my tits.  There's no more self-indulging nocturnal pro…

Normalise Breastfeeding? Normalise breasts.

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Breastfeeding supporters get excited when a politician/actor/presenter feeds her baby in public.  The beauty of social media means that good news travels fast.  The fact that this basic act is news at all is what’s newsworthy.  Shaming and respecting in equal measure follows every breastfeeding article, photo and video.  It’s how babies get their food, drink, vitamins and comfort.  So why all the fuss? My sister-in-law was handed a “thank you for breastfeeding in public” card, acknowledging how this helps other nursing mums to feel comfortable to feed while out and about.Indeed, I now don’t hesitate to unbutton a blouse, or lift a t-shirt, feeding my little one wherever he needs it. But, I wasn’t always like this.
My first public breastfeed was on a hot September afternoon when my eldest was about four weeks old, in a park near our over-heated home.I was incredibly anxious and kept putting it off.I had struggled with the latch and sharp pains.Beyond flustered, I fumbled with a fresh n…

8 Benefits of Flying with Babies and Toddlers

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I'd been putting it off. Finding excuses. My pre-motherhood life of foot-loose fancy-free travelling had long gone. I did not want to take our mobile baby (13 months) and active newly potty-trained toddler (34 months) on a long haul flight. I imagined never-ending wails of discomfort and boredom, challenging nappy changes in tiny spaces and meltdowns amongst judgemental grumpy passengers. I'm not the kind of mother to write little anticipatory sorry notes to fellow passengers, or dish out party bags with ear plugs and sweets. Worrying more about my children's discomfort, I dreaded their ears popping, turbulence or worse.

Yet in a rare serendipitous moment, I agreed to a family trip to Canada.  A long overdue visit to see family and friends, including our youngest to meet his great-grandmother for the first time.  Despite all my anxiety and fear, we had eight near-enjoyable hours and by the end, I'd identified all the benefits that flying long haul with babies can bring…

"Don't Look Back in Anger"

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I stopped watching the news during my first pregnancy.  Footage of war-ravaged far-away nations and desperate faces clung to my nightmares.  I imagined myself as the mother of every ill-fated child, crossing choppy seas on flimsy boats, shipwrecked on swollen shores. The tragedy of every lost soul shook the walls of my womb.  I wept into my pillow with all the sadness of the world, cradling my unborn child, promising hope and safety.  I gave money to relief funds and futile tears to the moon, but feeling too pregnant to volunteer my sweat or blood, I ultimately felt useless.

Instead, I focused on my changing body and realised that I had to give all my strength to our tiny baby.  It was clear to me that I had to believe that our world was pure and good for this little child who'd one day walk its streets.  By 10pm, the TV was off and my brain was immersed in positive thoughts.  As my body stretched to accommodate his growing limbs and powerful kicks, my mind shrunk away from the r…

#TakeBackTheRebozo

In my last blog post, 'Babywearing: One Mum's Fall Down the Rabbit Hole', I referred to three Babywearing terms that had interested me: 'Shepherd's Carry', 'Candy Cane Chest Belt' and the 'Rebozo'.  I had come across these words during various online tutorials.  I did not know their meaning and to be honest, I'm still not sure what a 'Shepherd's Carry' is.  I chose to use these words to illustrate my ignorance and to induce some empathy to show how overwhelming any new lexicon can be.

I had researched a definition of rebozo to check spelling and context, but I was unaware of its controversial significance in social history and culture.  Rebozo means:
  ".... a handwoven shawl specific to certain Mesoamerican countries.  The colours, weaves, and patterns are specific to regions.  A rebozo can accompany a person from birth (being carried in one) to death (being buried in one) and everything inbetween." [quoted from #takeb…

Babywearing: One Mum's Fall Down The Rabbit Hole.

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Before parenthood, my husband and I assumed that we'd need to spend money on a pram.  Wrong.  We assumed that our baby would happily fall asleep in a pram.  Wrong.  We assumed that we could buy one of those cute baby carriers from a reputable baby shop and all should be well.  Wrong.

My other half purchased the best-reviewed carrier online and we (rather uncomfortably) carried our eldest as much as we could, especially for walks, short naps and trips on the tube.We liked the versatility and the cuddles.Our baby liked the comfort and the warmth.We also thought it was some unwritten law to train your baby to sleep in a pram and many unhappy hours were spent jiggling the buggy, or once finally asleep, avoiding potholes, sirens and dog-walkers with their barking packs - we'd avoid certain shops with harsh lighting, or smooth floors, or those with steps and heavy doors.Whatever the ambience though, he always contentedly nodded off in the carrier.I tried to carry him as much as I co…