To My Dear Mummy,
I hear you talk about the day I was born to those around me, yet I don't get to tell you about the day I was born through my eyes.
I remember the day so clearly, I was nestled closely into you. I was warm with water surrounding me. I could hear your heart beating through your body. I felt so safe and secure. I could hear your voice as you spoke to me sweet words and sung to me at night. As you walked, it would sway me to sleep. When you ate something yummy, I would jump for joy because I would enjoy it too! I thought this was life...
Then one day I began to feel this tightenings around me, like the walls were caving in. It wasn't too scary at first, but then these compressions began to get stronger. I decided it was best to head south, as I knew upwards wouldn't get me anywhere. These tight compressions began to get really strong.
Then suddenly...I heard a loud 'POP!' all the water was leaving me? I felt so unsure, but I could still hear your heart beating so I knew I was okay. I closed my eyes and trusted you knew what to do.
The compressions continued to get tighter, I felt like I was being squeezed out of you. I could hear you calling out for me, you sounded like you were in pain but I couldn't do anything to help you. I wanted to let you know that I was with you and that you were not alone. I continued to let your body do what was needed, I had to trust you. I had no other option but to go with what seemed natural.
"...you reached out for me, held me against your warm chest - with tears streaming down your face."
I began to see what I now know to be light, these two warm hands held my shoulders as you pushed one last time. I screamed! I was cold, it was bright! I couldn't smell you! I couldn't feel you! I couldn't hear your heart beating! I wanted to go back! I wanted you! I needed you to survive!
That's when you reached out for me, held me against your warm chest - with tears streaming down your face. I breathed your sweet scent. I heard your calming voice. I felt your beautiful heartbeat. I knew I was safe yet again. I was in the safest arms in the world.
I know that you felt so much pain, and that you went through so much fear and worry. But I am here now, nestled into your chest. Love me. Hold me. Guide me. For I am yours forever and you are mine.
Your loving baby.
"...you will spend more time worrying about the moment than enjoying it.'
From the minute that little warm body is placed on your chest you know that you have been given the biggest responsibility in the world...being the primary caregiver of a tiny, defenceless human being who needs you to survive.
I found this quiet daunting with my first two babies - I felt I didn't know what I was doing nor did I know where we were headed. I use to be a teacher - I was use to structure, timetables and teaching programs where I knew what the outcomes would be for each teaching day, week, month, term and school year.
Any mother would agree with me that it feels as though as soon as you have them sorted out. You know what you're doing with confidence...THEY CHANGE!
Any mother would also agree that it's when you feel on top of the world - when another mother will often unknowingly give you their advice on how you could improve on your mothering skills. BAM! You walk away feeling like a failure, an uninformed and horrible mother....Why? because your baby DOESN'T sleep for 12 hours night? (Which by the way is TOTALLY normal) Why? because you can't exclusively breastfeed and have to use formula? Why? Because you cuddle or feed your baby to sleep? Because you sleep train? Why? Because you start solids early? Start solids late? You get my drift.
I must admit that in the early days of being a mum - I was guilty of trying to support new mums but in the process made them feel like failures and, for that, I feel deeply saddened. I got so caught up on the latest info that I forgot to stop and see them as capable mums looking after their babies in the way that they believed was the best for them and their families. It has been through the experience of running an online forum that supports mums that I have learnt very quickly that most mums do the VERY best for THEIR child and THEIR needs. Sure there are parenting choices that I don't feel comfortable with but who am I to tell another mum what to do? We are all on this journey of motherhood, with each day, each month, each year and each child continuing to help shape and grow us into an even better mothers.
The other day I started counting how many times I had a little voice in my head being the voice of judgement and guilt! I lost count in the end! I was constantly second guessing everything I did with my kids, even the way I change their nappies! I then realised that I am riddled with constant guilt for not being the best mum, for being seen as a mum who doesn't care for her children or a mum that doesn't seem to have perfect behaving children 100% of the time. As a mum, do you experience this? It's crazy! We shouldn't be doing this to ourselves!
I am fearing that our current world of information and social media is a two-edged sword. We have on one hand fantastic forums, groups, websites where mums feel supported and accepted - a safe place to ask questions and learn new ways of doing things - if THEY seek it. Then we have a world of judgement, blogs on how to do things better - because the way we do it is wrong in their eyes - and us mums being treated like we are cruel to our children and don't know how to care for them. I must ask - how on earth does that help anyone? Attacking mothers is simply not cool! (lol using a phrase like that probably shows my age!).
We need to learn to have confidence in what we do as mothers, our choices or way of doing things. We need to do everything with the confidence and the knowledge that we are doing the best we can. The other day I told my husband that I felt like I was on mothering-prac when out in public - similar to that of teaching-prac. You know what you are doing but knowing you are being watched suddenly makes you feel insecure and you fumble your way through the moment until you can get home again to a place you feel less judged.
But there is hope! The only way that things are going to change is if it stops here...right now...with YOU. Just like myself, we have all been guilty of judging other mums...so STOP IT! Support each other in each others parenting and choices - tell the mums around you that they are doing a great job raising their beautiful children. Because guess what? THEY ARE. Tell yourself everyday that YOU ARE a terrific mum in the eyes of your children. What others see and think has no bearing on your abilities as mother or on how much you love your children. Finally, let it go...let go of the guilt. It will continue to eat you up, and you will spend more time worrying about the moment than enjoying it.
Continue to love your children and to learn hold your head high...because you are doing a wonderful job!
The Reflective Mum xx
Instinct? What is it? When I think about instinct; I think about the natural instinct to run away if I was to come across a bear, and no one can really tell me to do otherwise - because thats my natural instinct. A fight or flight response to the situation. However, when it comes to motherhood our natural instinct to embrace our children, feed our babies, settle our little tired ones, discipline even what we dress our bundles of cuddles in come under constant scrutiny. By ourselves, fellow mums, family, society and the media.
So often, I hear mums say that even though their instincts tell them otherwise - they MUST follow what the book says, or else they will fail as mums, their babies will develop bad habits, their toddlers need to learn to be independent to become an adult. I've read parenting books, blogs, resources - lots of them. But over the years as a mum I have learnt to read these resources with some discernment. There will never be a 'one size fits all' approach to parenting, as we are all individual - both us and our babies. However, I am such a huge believer that we as mums MUST follow our natural instincts to raise OUR family the way OUR instincts tell us too.
We as mums need to stop doubting ourselves, stop judging ourselves and others and place more trust in our natural instincts as mums. What natural instincts have you followed? Or wish you had?
The Reflective Mum xx
My 18 month old has this game he likes to play with me, whereby after a nappy change he stands on the change table, and at the count of three he leaps off and into my arms. For just a few milliseconds he is in mid-air with nothing holding onto him. However, if I try this game with my 2.5 year old, he will not let go of my arms while he jumps and says the whole time 'Be Carebul Mummy, Carebul Carebul' (Carebul in toddler language = Careful!). He never use to be like this - we have an awesome collection of photos of my husband throwing him high up into the air and catching him when he was about 6 months old and he loved it!
It got me thinking...When do we stop trusting? Is it a learnt awareness that we are not immortal, that we can fall and get hurt? Is it from a developmental leap and a new understanding that unless your feet are planted firmly on the ground - then your possibly going to get hurt? Is it Fight or Flight kicking in? Or is it simply that our trust was placed in someone - only for them to break it?
I struggle with trust - I used to struggle with trusting the right people. I trust that a majority of people are trustworthy and that I try to always see the best in people.
However, this has sometimes back fired - to soon discover that in fact the ones I trusted the most - were the ones who broke it the most.
Now I struggle with trust full stop. I am now a stay at home mum, who spends her days raising her children, cleaning the house, cooking dinner and writing blogs. (Oh! how I would l love to squeeze in some time to paint! one day soon I hope!)
If people or friends in my everyday life ask how I am - I have learnt to smile and nod. When deep down I am battling with a lot of things. I have learnt to hold my cards very close to my chest - even though I want to scream at the top of my lungs that in fact I am struggling and I am lonely. I have learnt to no longer trust people with such information and so, when I play that game with my boy, I can't help but wonder what exact moment in time made me be this way? When did I stop trusting?
Its not something I am going to figure out at this current time while writing this blog - its just something that I am pondering at the moment...I am amazed everyday at how the little people in our lives can unknowingly make us grow as people and heal from the past. They are only so little with still so much to teach me.
The Reflective Mum xx
Who am I? Yes, I'm a mum, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. But Who am I?
Before I had my children, my identity and self worth was so heavily entrenched in my career as teacher that when I became a mum I felt I lost all sense of self. I struggle with self esteem and self worth at the best of times, so to then loose what I thought was me as a person - a teacher, an educator. To then become a mum? someone who cleans pooey bums, wipes snotty noses and fills hungry tummies.
I remember the day I gave birth to our first baby, I went from being a pregnant teacher to a mum within 8 hours. He was laying there all wrapped up in his bassinet and I thought 'Okay, what now?'. The first three months were immensely difficult to find myself as a person and my self worth. I went back to work later that year doing casual relief work and I found as soon as I stepped back into a classroom - even if it wasn't my subject area, I instantly knew my identity and felt worth again.
However, I am becoming to realise that perhaps it isn't about me having self worth in a career but to find it instead in the big blue eyes that look up at me everyday. The cuddles that are needed when they fall over and hurt themselves. I have realised I have been asking the wrong question, instead who am I to deserve such a previous gift as motherhood? Why me?
Who am I, to be blessed with three beautiful children?
Who am I, to be blessed with receiving morning cuddles from these little people that God has entrusted me with?
Who am I, to be given the opportunity to guide my babies into caring, loving, accepting adults?
I now get it, self worth is not in our career or even the things we buy but instead our self worth is in God and our relationships with our family and friends. Perhaps we should listen to our children more, they seem to have a way of teaching us at times.
The Reflective Mum xx
My first child was the typical spoon fed baby from 4 months, I would spend hours a week chopping, steaming, pureeing a variety of foods. Dutifully feeding my little baby his meals for the day - with highchair, bib, spoon and mush ready to go. This happened until he was about 8 months where it became more chunky - but still being given his cutlery and not allowed to play with his food.
By 12 months my baby was beginning to loose interest in food and had to be given more bottles of formula to make up what he clearly wasn't eating. And already being a small baby, I was worried about him loosing weight. Then one day - I just gave him chopped up food on his tray and let him play with it - eating with his fingers. I never looked back.
When my second baby came along 12 months later - I had read more information into solids and decided to delay solids until 6 months. I could tell at 6 months he wasn't entirely ready, so I spent the next month looking into introducing solids. I came across baby led weaning. A method that is starting to change the ways mum feed their babies. When my second baby was 7 months, I steamed some veggies and placed them in front of him (thats right - no mush!). It took him a few goes to co-ordinate his hand to pick it up and get it in his mouth - but it was the beginning of a fun journey that I hadn't realised I was about to embark on.
From that point, he would eat what we ate. He would play with his food, put it through his hair, throw it across the room, stuffed his cheeks full of grapes. We found introducing solids this time around so easy and so fun! not to mention so messy!
However, we have had some people close to us and within our family who are convinced our children will grow up with no table manners. Despite my best efforts to share with them the wonders of baby led weaning; it just hits a brick wall.
A few months back I watched this really interesting American show about battling childhood obesity - starting at how toddlers eat. One particular family had an 18 month old who refused to eat anything but fast food - which they gave him because they would rather him eat something then nothing. The dietician was in their home trying to sort out the issues with the child. It soon became evident that the parents were getting so fixated on him needing to use his fork and knife to pick up his food, that meal time was not a fun occasion. The need for table manners became the focus (a negative one at that) instead of him eating and enjoying his food. The dietician said something that I will always remember; She said 'Fun with food comes first, manners will come later.'
So, my two toddlers continue to play with their food, eat what they want from their tray, and throw it on the floor (they are now learning to pick it up though!), often letting kids be kids can have the most positive, long term affect.
The Reflective Mum xx
I have been blessed with two lovely toddlers who are 12 months apart. Its been nice watching them grow from little sleepy newborns - to little people who toddle behind my every step.
This journey doesn't come without its funny moments that just makes my heart melt with laughter. It also doesn't come without moments of trying to go to the toilet on my own!
They truly are a bundle of fun - even if they wake several times a night. The energy and warmth they bring to my home is unlike anything we have had before. All the delightful squealing, running around in circles, loud chuckles, contagious giggles, funny words and phrases, throwing their food instead of eating it, pulling all my clothes out of the drawers, taking a crayon to our walls definitely make for a entertaining day. Then as evening comes we might get the meltdown tantrums but soon after we get the warm, goodnight sleepy snuggles. We love our little bundles of fun!
The Reflective Mum xx
My story is a very long one when it comes to breastfeeding that I will share parts of from time to time in my coming blogs - I have three children, and I have struggled to feed all three. It wasn't until after my second that I twigged that something just wasn't right. I ended up looking into IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue) - something I hadn't done before because everyone told there was no way I'd have it as a only a small percent of women have it and that I would have to be terribly unlucky. Once I went looking on good ol Google friend, I soon realised that in fact that is what I had. I have all the visual markers along with low supply when breastfeeding.
In the time when I figured this out and having my third baby, I went through so many emotions from 'No, my breasts are fine, I'm just making up something thats not there' to ' Wow, my breasts are dud boobs - I can't feed my babies'. When I fell pregnant with number three, I joined a facebook group about IGT and chronic low supply mums. I learnt so much including every single remedy known to man to help boost supply.
I also read about so many heartbreaking stories of mums so desperately wanting to breastfeed their babies they go to extreme lengths to experience the bonding that comes through breastfeeding. Some may say - 'You can get the same bonding through formula feeding', but unless you have experienced this type of loss - where it is taken away from you within the first few days or weeks without personal choice; its really hard to help people understand that it is a really heartbreaking thing to not being able to feed your baby. I do however have a few very close friends who have been by my side with all three children and have witnessed first hand the pain it causes - and through this they understand that this truly devastating to a mum - we get no choice.
One thing that can help with breastfeeding with IGT is to have a drug free birth. So, I hired a doula (who was also an independent mid-wife) and planned a drug free birth. Our birth went almost to plan - it was a very fast one hour labour, but now a few months the other side of it - I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. I remember birthing on all fours - then they passed him to me through my legs, I was trembling and just so desperately wanted to hold him so close. Thank fully we have a photo of this moment - I still choke up when I see it.
I fed and fed him, he was born a strong sucker who was instantly ravenous. While in he hospital he was my first baby to not loose more then 10%, so I went home thinking that maybe I had it wrong, maybe I could feed him. And I did - for 3 weeks, then he started urinating urates, and extremely hungry no matter how much I fed him. I had to make the heartbreaking decision to start comping him, so I chose donor milk from friends this time. Eventually we went to formula for a while and now at almost 3 months on we are getting donor milk most of the time and formula in between. I have stopped stressing about my supply, and I feed him on the breast every time before a bottle, and any other time he is unsettled and my favourite - I feed him to sleep. We have times where he doesn't have much comping and other days where I just can't keep up - no matter what I do. I am coming to terms that this is just how it is, and my lactation consultant said in a very supportive voice 'Comping might just be part of your breastfeeding relationship - not instead of'. So, I feed him all the time, and comp in between. I am enjoying getting to know him in a different way then I knew my other two.
There are still days where I cry because he feeds and feeds and nothing comes. I think and wish that things were different. Why me? Why do I have to be in the 2% of women? Then I am reminded that all the trials in this life can always turn around to help to others. So, I share my story, my pain, my knowledge...
The Reflective Mum xx