I posted recently about all the things you can do with two free hands when you carry your children, and I missed a vital photograph in my montage, dogwalking! Here we are dog and toddler having an explore of the local woods, Toby is a lovely, lovely boy but he is also the village rascal – barking, jumping up at people, as a rescue he came to us with poor manners and we have worked hard to bring up his confidence at the cost of his behaviour, he does not have a good recall so has to be on the lead and is not trustworthy around roads and small creatures (classic terrier-trait, no?!)
All this means that we were destined to forever walk very slowly with the pram in one hand and the dog lead in the other, Toby diving under the wheels and me struggling to manage the two of them, girl and dog!
Not with slings! Having two free hands to explore and allowing Joss the freedom and height to watch his every move our afternoon walks are something we all look forward to! Now if only the Manduca had a pocket for treats (or maybe two, one for baby one for dog) we’d be sorted!
It strikes me that an awful lot of people are too interested in how others are bringing up their children, I try not to concern myself too much with how others do things, mainly because I had a hard time early on getting to grips with all the different ‘types’ of parenting approaches and settled for the mantra, it works for our family so this is how we do it!
I was saddened to hear this week about a local mama who experienced a very negative response to babywearing, most of the responses I’ve had have either been very positive, or people have simply been interested in the how, why and wherefor of carrying a baby/ toddler. We do get a lot of questions though, some are interesting, some are just plain silly, so I had to share our experience from earlier this week.
We were up at Aldi waiting to pay, behind me I heard “look at that I couldn’t be ar**d with all that”, turn around, “sorry, I was just saying I couldn’t be faffed with carrying mine everywhere!” She was concerned that Joss would struggle to learn to walk being carried and that she will be clingy. I replied that she is learning to walk just fine and once she wants to be down and on the go she will be carried when she wants to, and that she’s a really independent little thing so I have no worries there. It did make me laugh though when she rolled out one I hadn’t heard before, “how does she eat?!”
Total comic timing Jossy pops her head out of the sling and both arms – with not one but two tickets to the gun show – a breadstick in each hand, big gummy grin! I told her that the crumbs are a bit of a nightmare and she just looked really bemused!
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock
(This post is written purely from my own experience, it is about mental health, it makes no claims to advise, only to encourage parents who may be experiencing PND)
When I had Joss I quickly developed an early onset anxiety. In the early days I worried I wasn’t going to be a good mama, when she was six months old it got too much to bear. These six statements are intended to encourage and support mamas experiencing similar feelings and issues. In my case this was probably more postnatal anxiety than postnatal depression, but I hope that talking about my experiences might help other mamas, without the labels as I’m no expert!
Number one: You know more than you think you know
This has become a bit of a mantra when I meet new mums at baby groups and the likes. I remember Joss being about five days old and I couldn’t rest, couldn’t sleep, I was frantic, reading books about breastfeeding, routines, anti-routines, turning night into day and day into night, child development, I felt overwhelmed! Things came to a head when my husband hid a copy of Gina Ford under the bookcase and a copy of Your Baby, the First Year in the shoe cupboard. How could I be the best for her? Was I meeting her needs? What more did she need? What about her development? Her weight? Oh my, her weight, was she putting it on, was she swallowing milk, how could I keep her awake to feed, questions, questions, questions. It was that classic anxiety, that old what if? that has followed me through most of my life. It was back, last seen at uni, 2005, back in 2012 with a vengeance. Looking back I knew more than I gave myself credit for, she is my daughter, she just sort of fits with me, I got to know her whims, wants and needs quickly and all seems to be well, so have faith mama, you know more than you think you know.
Number two: You’re doing the best you can
Try to let bad days be just that, a bad day, don’t fret and let it turn into a bad week, a bad month, this too shall pass and you are doing the very best you can.
Number three: If you’re worried it’s a good thing, it shows you care
When I was really really anxious, I remember it well, it was about weaning and whether Joss was eating enough and whether I was feeding her a good enough balance, at that time I was really worried that I was worrying too much. Someone said to me, what would happen if you didn’t worry about your little girl? It taught me that worry is on a continuum, too much and we tip over, too little and we don’t do enough, so a little worry is healthy, don’t beat yourself up if you’re an anxious sort, we’re ok, there are a lot of us out there!
Lesson four: You know they will do it in their own time
Someone asked me recently whether Joss is walking, she isn’t. You know at baby groups, there’s always someone who wants to know what all the babies are doing, usually because their child is ahead? That used to get to me, not anymore, I look at that smiling face and think to myself, if I can make you smile every day and you make me smile too then the rest will follow, and it will!
Number five: If mama aint happy aint nobody happy
We had this on a babygro, I liked it, when I read it and realised it meant I needed to slow down and have some time for me it sort of became a mantra. Don’t burn yourself out, I sometimes (ok often) worry that I shouldn’t be away from Joss, mamas at baby group would gloat about never having been away from their little ones. If you want to stay with your baby that’s cool, if you want and need a break then ask for one, and don’t feel guilty, a little time may just refresh you, this is especially important for me now Joss is teething – on those days when you can do no right you sometimes just need five minutes peace and quiet just to catch your breath and head back into the fray with a smile.
Number six: It might help to do some sense checking
This won’t work for everyone, I used to do my sense checking via Google, see something I didn’t like and spiral away into anxiety. I learned through CBT to do it in my own head, so when I was anxious that Joss wasn’t eating well and skipping meals I looked to how energetic she was, windmilling away and rolling, I learned that babies can regulate their own appetites quite well thank you very much, and let her take the lead, it helped to work through my worries logically sometimes.
If you’re interested in CBT you could speak to your GP, many areas have self-referral into CBT now too. There are also lots of mental health and post partum networks online, just search #ppd or #pnd on twitter and a lot comes up.
Eek, my little girl is growing up too fast, she’s just outgrown our baby mei tai at 13m, not in weight mind, just those lovely long legs were no longer knee to knee so time to move on. I’ve a beautiful new Manduca, photos to follow, and of course the lovely Ellaroo! I’ve just agreed to help publicise and support testing of a new woven with Joy and Joe thus continuing our babywearing journey into toddler hood! Pics and more to follow!
We just took our first family holiday to Holland and didn’t take a pram or buggy, crazy or sensible?
I’d say sensible, the airport was a doddle with two free hands, we did have a carseat so we had somewhere secure for our girl to sit, but without a car other than the taxi to and from the airport our Manduca and Ellaroo slings saw us through travelling by tram and bus to Den Haag, to and from the airport, through naps on the go and cuddles and smiles at fellow tourists and locals, and the odd relaxing stroll by the canals.
I’ve been wearing Joss from birth, first in an old ringsling, then a Babasling and now we have a two sling stash, the cotton soft Ellaroo ringsling and Manduca soft structured carrier. If you’re thinking about travelling by public transport I could recommend checking out your local sling library and trying out a few slings, some may even let you borrow a sling to take abroad too!
In addition to two slings, a stash of 15 cloth nappies also came with us, we were staying with family so washing them was no problem and I found it no different to being at home, we used a huge Tiny Nippers wetbag as we had no nappy bucket; these nappies continue to save us money even on holiday, brilliant!
In a nutshell our slingy, cloth bum holiday was a big success!
About a year ago I sadly had to stop breastfeeding my gorgeous girl, I had postnatal depression and wasn’t coping well, support to continue was few and far between and I think I might blog about my experiences soon. I decided to take something positive from my experiences and decided to get my first tattoo, empowering and out of character I wanted to mark her birth and our early experiences in a special way, and chose lily of the valley, her birth month flower, on the base of my spine. One year on my lily of the valley is flowering and I feel much more positive and certain in my role as a Mam, something that I didn’t think I’d ever feel back then, I still look at others and think “they just seem to get it and it’s clicked for them” and it didn’t click for me for a while, Motherhood is a journey, as my blog title reflects and seeing this lovely flowering plant reminded me of the new chapter we’re embarking on with a crawling giggly girl.