Thank you for saying “yes, it’s shit”.

img_5330

I am the first person to think positively about anything, and I really am. I’m a total ‘cup half full’ kinda person and the older I get the more I realise it really is just the way I look at the world as opposed to any need to make it that way. BUT, sometimes I need to just have a moan, a cry and glug of wine and the friends that you can do that with, without judgement are just like gold dust.

This got me thinking about my friends and the different ‘stuff’ that makes each of those friendships so damn special to me. Those friends that want to fix everything and tell me it’s going to be OK – we all need those friends. Those that dance with me until there is literally no more dancing left to be had, make the pain of trying to be with two tiny people on two hours sleep totally worth it. And then there are those friends who will just hold my space, hear what I’m saying and  cheers to all those feelings you’re feeling (however irrational),  I cherish you.

It’s so easy to make assumptions about friends and so much of the work I’m doing – working with other women – is making me realise more than ever that making any kind of assumption, however slight, is just not OK. It’s not OK to assume your friend is coping because she has a full face of makeup, it’s not OK to assume they’re struggling because their child is screaming, it’s not OK to assume if she has ‘the perfect 2.4’ then everything is hunky dory and it’s equally not OK to assume that if she’s single at 45 then shes yearning for ‘more’.

I don’t want to assume anything, I want to be present in my friendships and in my work.  I want to ask the right questions, listen, celebrate or commiserate and just ‘be’ in the moment… no preconceptions, no assumptions, no judgement. Because I’ve realised that too often than not, life takes over, everyone is busy and these honest, raw moments are happening less and less.

So… to my friend who knows me inside out and back to front and can know exactly what I’m feeling even before I do and without muttering a word, thank you.

To my friend that dances with me until the end, thank you.

To my friend that says its shit and can offer a friendly face on those days that feel like groundhog day, thank you.

To my friend who takes an interest in genuinely knowing my children, thank you.

To my friend that always finds a way to help me find the why, thank you.

To my friend that will rummage to the bottom of her wardrobe to find me a dress because she can see I just want to ‘feel nice’, thank you.

To my friend who gets me safely to my train home because I had one too many vinos being out of the house and feeling like me, thank you.

To my friend who takes the moment to tell me I’m fucking awesome, thank you.

And to all those wonderful women and families who I have the privilege of working with and learning from and who genuinely inspire me each and every day, thank you.

So much sparkle is found in each and every one of these moments when real connections are made. Some say ‘girl gang’, some say ‘tribe’… I have no idea what I call you crazy lot, but I love you dearly and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

It can totally all be about the journey *

*and sometimes that journey doesn’t need to include eggy kids or endless snacks!

Today I had a bit of a revelation that sometimes the magic happens in the journey rather than the destination. I know this isn’t a new notion, but today it just hit me! Whether it be the food, the activities or the places we visit…  I find myself so often getting in a bit of a rut. Just hitting repeat and cracking on to get to where we need to.

I had a play date with my 3.5 and 1.5 year old in Clapham Junction, so I committed to making my little boy crazily happy and take the train. We don’t really take the train much so it was a fun treat. And it really was. It was a bit much getting out and to the station for the first off peak train – why is it always mornings like that that everything gets spilt and everything is an effort?! Bleugh! But we actually made it all on time for the train, all happy, no dramas… so I gave myself a little internal high five and started our journey.

Ollie was in heaven talking me through every single thing he was seeing and it was so gorgeous to see what was once my mundane commute to work, through his beautifully excitable eyes. Ella made friends waddling through a little bit of the carriage, connecting with people radiating her warm heart and sparkly happy eyes. 

One man actually took the time to stop and say to me “you’re doing a really great job”. I mean… how kind is that. Too often when I was pregnant I had people ignoring me and not offering seats, but this man actually took those few seconds to share such kind, encouraging words and be in the moment with us.

I then had a classic ‘got lost in Clapham junction train station’ moment amidst re-directions and searching for step free access. But the adventure continued. My phone then suddenly dropped to 1% so I just went off memory and asked a postman the quickest way. So that was followed by us walking with said postman for a good five minutes as he offered to walk us there, smiling and chatting as we went. I mean… I know it’s the little things but such kindness, it made my morning so much easier. 

The play date was less successful really, but I mean I guess I couldn’t have expected them to be angels all day could I?! I got to catch up with one of my fabulous fellow Developing Doulas and it was just glorious to be in her company for a cheeky couple of hours. And I guess that makes the whole day a raving success in my book! I know I often get so focused on the getting from a to b, trying to keep things simple or taking the quickest route possible that I forget to see the magic in all the small things. 

I don’t make New Year resolutions, but I do make a commitment to try and enjoy all these little nuggets of discovery & throw myself out of my comfort zone more. 

I want this for me, and that’s ok…

All my working life, I’ve enjoyed work. I mean… I’ve ‘liked’ it. Got the odd kick here and there, got paid ‘enough’ money and was ‘good’ at what I did. I had fun with my frolleagues (that’s what I call friends from work) and actually, some are now my nearest and dearest. But that’s it. It felt like a very means to an end situation.

It’s not until I started training to support women during pregnancy and birth that I actually found something that I’m passionate about, believe in 100% and do you know what…. I’m good at it! And just for the record, there is no way I would have felt comfortable writing that before my training. But I am and I want to share with anyone that will listen…

I’ve realised that it’s OK to want more. I love being at home with my kids, I mean genuinely love it. But its HARD. And I do think that maybe I lost a little bit of what makes me ‘me’. But being able to offer this support and teach women is genuinely good for my soul and I want that feeling more and more… so yeah it’s for me.

I get an absolute buzz seeing how I have helped my couples and it makes me just want to keep learning and getting better so I can offer even more. I mean… I’m just going to put it out there… I want to earn MY own money again. For me. As I’m sure so many of you know, it’s testing when you stop working and go down to one salary, damn right bloody hard and I think i’m just reaching the point where there are other options out there and I want to fully embrace them for me. And yeah, its ultimately going to make me a better mummy & wife as I can share these bundles of energy blah blah blah, but my driver is me. For the first time in a long while, this is for me and I’m fucking excited!!

What is hypnobirthing?

A friend of mine who is 31 weeks pregnant with her first baby put a post on facebook asking what hypnobirthing was all about. I gave her a quick brain dump on it all and thought i’d share on here…

Ok… so HYPNOBIRTHING…

In lots of ways I think the term ‘hypnobirthing’ gets talked about in the same vain as hippies and airy fairy magic for a pain free birth. It can absolutely help women achieve birth which is ‘pain’ free, but why I want to teach it is I believe it can help women achieve the right birth on the day (the fabulous Wise Hippo principle). The theory is that Hypnobirthing techniques help you get into a state of relaxation which allows your body to basically ‘do it’s thing’. It allows you to be able to ignore peripheral things that are going on when it comes to the time to have your baby, so you waste no time or energy worrying about irrelevant stuff and you can just connect with your baby. It’s a team sport right? There’s two of you and you need to get your body in the most positively responsive state to birth your baby. No matter what shit hits the fan and intervention needed, you’ll be able to keep calm and in control which is so helpful if your birth does take a path you didn’t want as those calm messages will be reaching your baby.
So how do you do that?
By learning these relaxation techniques you can take control of your breathing and also of your ‘pain’. And I say pain like that because the pain I experienced in labour (and I only really touched on hypnobirthing techniques) was so different as although yes it was mighty uncomfortable at times, I felt in control of it. Honestly. 100% in control. It felt like a positive experience as I could feel my body doing what it needed to do to get them here safely. Sod just positive, it was magic. In a way I guess I learnt to succumb and see the ‘pain’ as a positive step forward.
The sciency bit… pain literally is in the mind. We have nerve receptors all over our body which send messages to our brain and it’s then that our brain decides if something is painful or not. So you can learn through hypnosis to occupy your mind so it doesn’t show any importance to that pain. Like athletes… they get themselves in such a zone during their sport that you quite often hear of them not ‘feeling’ an injury until they had reached a point where their brain had chosen to allow them to feel it – like the end of a match or something. It’s the same principle. You learn through the relaxation techniques to trick your subconscious (which reacts to your emotion) that you are calm and in control, which means no triggers are set off within you which could hinder your birth.
What triggers could they be?
If you’re scared, worried, anxious or whatever…  two key things happen. Firstly, the passive muscles in your uterus will be tense and literally prohibit your baby moving down. It also makes it a whole lot more uncomfortable given the extra level of resistance your baby has to go against. If you’re relaxed, you can control your breathing so every bit of oxygen is given to the uterus to help your muscles work with ease. Secondly… if you are scared, your body releases adrenalin which is pretty much ‘panic mode’ which stops the release of endorphins which are your body’s natural pain relief. If you’re relaxed, calm and focussing on all things positive, your body will produce those endorphins and oxytocin which together are the magic combo making your uterus to contract and offering pain relief.
If you Google ‘active birth’ you’ll find videos on how keeping active, mobile and upright help your pelvis have the optimum space to help your baby as they enter the birth canal and then you the most comfort possible. It also lets gravity do its thing.
I found the water amazing with Ella and would highly recommend it! Ella was actually born in the water and how natural and comfortable it was as opposed to birthing on a bed was mind blowing!!!!!
So I promise it’s not airy fairy, you really can teach yourself to be in control of it and it can be the most WONDERFUL experience. Take a chance and really believe in your body and how mind blowing it all can be – it’s fucking incredible!

The original mothers

I can’t help but notice the amount of grandmothers I see out with their grand children day in day out.  I don’t just mean families all out together, I mean grandmas taking on the role of the child minder day in and day out. It totally makes sense with the cost of childcare, I get it, but it just got me thinking about the difference a generation makes.

I just have to say that I’m exceptionally fortunate with how fabulous my mother is in supporting my children and I will be eternally grateful for her generosity and unconditional love and time. But I am also aware how many people out there aren’t fortunate enough to have the support to call on and it really must be so tough.

When facing the question of childcare, there are so many considerations; Do I want to go back to work? Can I afford to go back to work? Can I afford to not go back to work? Do I have the support to actually be the mother I want to be? It was a clear cut decision for me after my second child…Yes I wanted to be at home with my children and no, I didn’t earn enough money to cover the childcare… I would literally be going back to work for no financial gain. So decision done, I embark on being with my children 24/7.

And the world really is 24/7… whatsapp groups to call on at crazy o’clock when sleep training isn’t going to plan, local area facebook groups where to discuss anything from ailments to events, coffee mornings, google at just a phone grab away to clarify something or be that little bit of entertainment for a necessary moments peace. A ton of Instagram accounts of various mothers documenting their own journey of motherhood allowing you to voyeur, buy the tshirt, compare, aspire or tut at. Whatever way we look at it, we are so connected. And whether that means we have greater aspirations, a greater feeling of anxiety to ‘keep up’ or a greater sense of community… there is this security knowing that so much is at our finger tips.

But our mothers who are now looking after our children in this crazy connected world we live in… they did this all on their tod. Yes they might have had family support, but those questions driving you mad at 3am, that rash that appears at 7pm or that feeling when you have no plans for the day and you can’t see straight you’re so tired… well they just all had to wait. And I watch those grandmothers when I’m out… and they aren’t glued to their phones or walking at a crazy speed to get from a to b, they are just in that very moment. They are pushing the swing, singing songs and walking hand in hand and it just got me thinking… maybe in some ways we just need to strip it all back. I want to have real solid memories of looking into my kids’ eyes, I don’t want to just remember a haze of me trying to do it all. And its the biggest dichotomy of all really, because all the mundane everyday stuff does still need to tick along, but I think in some ways I want to remove myself from all the other connections and just be with my children.

Love your body?

Since the moment I fell pregnant with my first born, the feelings I had and continue to have about my body have completely shifted. It’s like I was able to see my body in it’s complete being for the first time. I used to fixate on the negatives and the way my body didn’t meet whatever ideal I had in my head at the time; be it size, shape, colour or physical ability. Don’t get me wrong… I was not a down-in-the-mouth type person, but my body was never something I felt comfortable with.  An early miscarriage after my first pregnancy reinforced this negativity even further, leaving me to ask questions like… Will I ever fall pregnant again? Is there something wrong with me? Will I not ever be able to carry a baby? And then I eventually got pregnant again and it was like something shifted in my whole being.

My body wasn’t just mine anymore. My body (and obvs my husband had something pretty major to do with it too!) had created a life. And it was doing all the necessary things required to create a home for that life. It literally blew my mind. I think I had about three different apps which told me everything that was going on inside my uterus pretty much to the day and I was transfixed by it all. I mean MY body was doing all this – the same body that I’ve predominantly grimaced at in what in so many ways now feels like my ‘previous life’.

You hear so many people say ‘I’m not going to let motherhood change me’, but I can honestly say that it has changed me, in a way that I was just not expecting. My body carried, birthed and fed a baby and now looks after that baby each and every day. I know I can function on such little sleep and am a survivor of a two year battle of baby silent reflux and glue ear – if you’ve been there, you know what I mean! And for all those things I am truly grateful. The list almost feels flippant just writing it like that, but each one of those… carrying, birthing and feeding a baby are absolute game changers for me, I mean you can’t get more sensational than that in my eyes. Our bodies absolutely rock and I appreciate mine every day for what it’s given me.

IMG_2267 (3)

The birth of affinity birthing

I had been looking forward to Saturday for ages. I had booked into my ‘Introduction to becoming a doula’ course by Doula UK. I was initially excited to just find out more about a career path which I’d looked into, but weirdly I had an underlying feeling that I was going to discover that I didn’t like the reality of it, or the logistics wouldn’t work. A negativity that rarely ever shows it’s head, but for some reason it was there. So I focused on the fact that I get a day off from being a mummy and get a day to myself! You know… the chance to actually eat lunch with a fork, drink a hot drink and focus on me.

I was absolutely not prepared for the emotions that followed. After six hours in a room with incredibly positive women; all passionate about birth and women’s wellbeing… I was completely blown away by how uplifted I felt. All of us were there to gain more information on a ‘career’ that would allow us to nurture and care for women at an exceptional time in their lives. And I put career like that, because clearly the wonderful Steph and Ali who were running the course have chosen an all encompassing way of life. And WOWEE was it infectious and inspirational!! I left the course in the pouring rain and got absolutely drenched… with two kids in tow this would have been a recipe for disaster, but on this day I smiled the whole way home, making friends with a random shop keeper who helped fashion me some kind of poncho. A day of kindness and connections.

So that was that. Decision made. I’ve always been jealous of people that had a vocation in life… something that they just knew what they wanted to be. But I have no doubt that this is the vocation I have been waiting for. I am currently researching which course looks best for me and looking into parallel training to go alongside my doula prep course. Watch this space… I’m VERY excited!

Blog 1