Pack pony mothers? My take on the anti-parent media

Sling baby

Here I am spoiling my child by wearing her in a sling. Isn’t it pretty.

 

Babywearing seems to be this week’s hot topic among mums after a blasting in the Mail and on Loose Women.

It all started with a MailOnline story about mothers who carry four-year-olds, illustrated with one mum carrying an infant on her front, and preschooler on her back.

From reading the comments on the Loose Women Facebook page, one of the mums involved felt the tone of the article misrepresented the subject.

I’ll out myself now as an enthusiastic baby wearer. My slings were a lifesaver when my daughter was tiny.

Getting the pram up and down the stairs in front of the house and then inside to our flat, was quite frankly, a pain in the arse.

She was much happier strapped onto my front. I could always get a seat on the bus, too, no matter how many prams were on board.

A theme among the negative comments is children won’t learn to walk if they’re carried.

People yelled at me in the street “you’re spoiling that child”. Complete strangers chose to call out a mum.

Seriously, what’s the difference between pushing them around in a pram or carrying them?

Eventually they learn to walk. Using a sling doesn’t make it any less likely.

When they’re small they can’t walk far anyway.

I last used my toddler-sized sling in late October.

We had a lot of walking to do that day so I took the Tula.

When she complained she was tired and didn’t want to walk any more, I thought it was a bit early but rather than have a whingeing small child, it was easy to get her strapped in.

Within five minutes she was asleep. She was knackered.

It’s important to listen to little people. When you listen they appreciate it and it does prevent meltdowns.

Why do presenters and panelists on popular daytime TV shows and Britain’s most-read newspaper, seem to have an agenda against the different ways people choose to parent?

If it’s not Loose Women, it’s This Morning. Breastfeeding, baby-wearing and attachment parenting seem to be weekly topics for knocking.

There’s too much detachment in our post-industrial world.

Part of me wonders if the rise in depression and anxiety in modern society has something to do with detachment.

“Leave them to cry”, “don’t cuddle they’re manipulating you”, are all lines I’ve heard.

Cuddling and comforting small children makes them feel secure and loved.

They’re simple creatures who just need to feel safe.

Holding and carrying makes them feel safe and is healthier than pushing in a pram or driving in a car.

I love this open letter to the Loose Women production team from Something About Baby.

Let’s hope they’ll listen.

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Time to get moving – first Parkrun experience

Hove Parkrun on the prom. Image by EnKayTee on Flickr, licenced by Creative Commons

Hove Parkrun on the prom. Image by EnKayTee on Flickr, licenced by Creative Commons

Four years ago I felt tremendous.

I had lost nearly five stone thanks to determination and a combination of Weight Watchers and Zumba three times a week.

Then I fell pregnant at 41, 13 years after being told it was unlikely I would conceive naturally due to PCOS.

I didn’t put on much weight during pregnancy.

As a type two diabetic (thanks PCOS), I had to watch what I ate to keep my blood sugars at the right level.

By the time my daughter was born my sugars were normal. I mean normal human being normal.

As time passed they crept up again but were still within the normal range.

While I was exclusively breastfeeding I could eat ANYTHING!

I felt hungry constantly. I still reached my WW 50lb target (should add I always work in metric so was weighed in kilos every week. Why do people still use Imperial when metric was introduced in the early 70s?), taking me down to a size 16.

When we weaned on to solids at six months I didn’t change my bad habits.

It’s all gone back on again and my blood sugars have gone up, not to what they were but back into type two levels. (Imagine weeping and grinding of teeth).

I had to do something so I’ve stopped eating dairy. This was no biggy in the end as it wasn’t agreeing with me, and pushed myself to take more exercise.

As I couldn’t afford £100 a month for  Zumba classes three times a week(how I miss them). I decided to try out Parkrun.

My old friend Sue volunteers and takes part every week, sometimes with her daughter and grandsons, too.

I took to Facebook to ask my friends if anyone else did it and what they thought.

After a positive response I decided to go for it. After all it’s free.

It was freezing cold on Saturday morning when I dragged myself to Hove, seafront.

I had three layers including my coat. I must have looked odd with a coat and handbag.

The encouragement was tremendous. The runners lapping me cheered me on as I plodded on with the tail walker.

Even though I didn’t finish as my ankle and knee were hurting, I knew I’d done the right thing.

It wasn’t forced. It was friendly and welcoming. I didn’t feel like an out-of-place weirdo.

I will be back, I will go further and eventually faster.

In the meantime I’ll keep up with a daily constitutional.

Don’t think I’m a bad mummy

A tantrumming toddler clinging to his mother's legs

Tantruming toddler. Image by Francisco Carbajal, licenced by Creative Commons

Dear lovely mummy I was chatting with yesterday, I could tell from the look on your face you were horrified when I snapped at W.

She is only three. What you don’t know is she had pressed all my button since waking that morning.

It was pretty rough the previous night, too.

So when she climbed out of the car seat after being asked nicely to sit in it four times, yes, I did snap “get in your seat”.

You were lovely, on the crunchy spectrum talking about schools without uniform and freedom of expression.

I love the way my daughter expresses herself. She is wonderful and creative.

But, you know, sometimes I lose my shit.

When she rarely melts down, I cuddle and talk about her big feelings.

At other times I just want to yell “just eat your dinner”.

I grew up being yelled at and hit for random transgressions.

Every day I don’t lash out is a victory.

We’re past the three-and-a-half year mark now.

There are times when she pushes her luck and I’m okay, I can handle it.

Some days aren’t so good.

Forgive me for my five-minute failure. I felt so judged but I beat myself up about it, too.

Just what mummy always wanted

Oh yes, Seat and Cosmopolitan have come up with a car for girls, or women, depends how you define yourself.

Phoebe-Jane Boyd rips it apart pretty well in The Guardian, citing the Bic pen for her and Sellotape for girls as sexist PR disasters.

I started thinking, what would be my ideal car as a mother.

Two stereo systems that cancel each other out. One plays nursery rhymes in the back, the other plays my choice at the front.

Wipe-clean surfaces are essential.

I swear I have no idea where half the sticky marks come from.

Make it mud proof.

Drinks and snack holders are also a must. Not just for mum but for kids, too.

A pocket for the water bottle, another for YoYos, another for wet stuff like carrots, grapes etc. Then the dry pocket with auto crumb collection for those biscuits, cakes and all things that crumble.

The boot should accommodate 15 bags of shopping, a balance bike, scooter, assorted helmets, buckets and spades, beach shelter, three changes of clothes (mother and child) and an automated body drying system.

Stick, pebble, shell, leaf, flower, feather and conker storage for those treasures found in the street or on adventures.

Crafts, audiobooks and a TV system (Peppa Pig disabled) is also essential for longer journeys, along with safe small child bed for when they fall asleep.

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Better colours are great.

There are too many black, grey, silver, red and white cars.

Little W is ever so excited when she spots a green, purple or yellow one.

Maybe automatic colour change.

Now that’s a mum car.

 

 

 

 

Review: Flyaway Katie

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Waiting for the show to start

Taking your not quite three-year-old to the theatre for the first time is daunting.

Will she be okay? Will she sit through it? Will she mutate into a screaming banshee? Will she need a wee-wee five minutes into the show?

I picked Long Nose Puppets production Flyaway Katie, as its Brighton Fringe billing suggested it was suitable for three to seven-year-olds, and it was 45 minutes long.

As we entered the Big House at The Warren on Twitter, a pop-up venue within walking distance of home, I took a deep breath.

W knew she was going to a puppet show and was very excited.

When the light went down she squealed with delight and gasped when Katie the puppet appeared from behind the curtain.

From the first moment she was captivated.

It is such a delightful and positive story, about finding happiness and colour in your life with friends’ help.

Katie’s grey day is transformed, as is she, with the wonder of the imagination.

The story is based on the children’s book by Polly Dunbar with music by Tom Gray of Gomez.

I tried to encourage W to sing along, but she looked stunned when asked.

The songs were wonderful and gentle tunes, illustrating the story perfectly.

It was a magical experience.

Flyaway Katie is on at 10am and 11.30am on Sunday, May 15. Tickets are £8.

One week on – musings on being among a million miscarriages

It seems strange two weeks ago I was pregnant, now I’m not.

After the catharsis of my post loss blog I had an overwhelmingly positive response.

Maybe not negative is a better word.

One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and I am reminded this is not one in four women.

As so many people I know share their experiences with me it seems more than half the women I know have lost at least one pregnancy.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shared the miscarriage problems he and his wife experienced before finding the confidence to share what looks like a successful pregnancy.

It’s breaking a taboo. 

The more people talk about it and share, I’m sure more people won’t feel so alone.

In many ways I feel luck, I’m okay. It didn’t happen out of the blue. I have a healthy, happy child. There wasn’t much to see.

Sometimes a wave of sadness suddenly hits me. Generally I’m okay. I feel much better, apart from a migraine as the hormones crashed.

The pain experienced by people who suddenly find they’re losing, or lose a second, third or more pregnancy, is so much more than mine.

It seems so unfair when people don’t want children and other potentially wonderful parents are unsuccessful.

Joining the one in four women

Embryo at seven weeks

Embryo at seven weeks

Last night I joined a statistical group.

One in four known pregnancies ends in miscarriage. I italicised the known as goodness knows how many more may go early on.

The posters in EPU prepare you for the worst. 

During our first visit for a viability scan I thought it was a bit doom and gloom.

Our unexpected little bean was alive but not yet kicking.

Less than a week later it was dead.

On Friday (September 4) we were back in EPU after I became concerned.

When the sonographer passed the sonographic thing over my stomach I could see it didn’t look like a nine-week embryo.

More searching and she called my husband over: “Here is your baby, I’m afraid there is no heartbeat.”

I felt an overwhelming sadness and guilt. Having a second child wasn’t something I wanted at 44.

I felt bad for not wanting it, but I had got used to the idea so my love was growing.

“It’s not your fault, there’s nothing you could have done,” Claire the EPU sister told us.

Just two weeks earlier we had joked about our unexpected middle aged pregnancies and how we should know better.

“We’re old, our stuff isn’t high qualify,” I replied.

“Not old,” she responded, “We have extensive life experience.”

It made me laugh.

The rule of thumb is don’t tell anyone until you’re 12 week, but I told loads of close friends and family.

Passing on the bad news was not great. Mostly by text after short calls to my mother and sister. 

I wasn’t in the mood for conversation.

Four days later it decided to leave at 3am.

It’s been a rough night.

Even though it was tiny and didn’t look like much, I wasn’t going to flush it away.

We’ll bury it in the garden. At least it didn’t feel or know anything.

Now we press on and love our two-year-old even more.