Changes

I know it’s not really ‘New Year’ any more but it is still January and so I feel it is still appropriate to write about change. Change is always with us but often it is subtle. Living with small children, as I have for the last eight and a half years, teaches me that every day. Children are always growing, always mastering new skills, going through small, positive, natural changes.

This year, I’m feeling lots of change in the air and luckily for me, I think it’s positive.

Babykins has started attending school nursery for three hours every afternoon. That is a change that I have been ready for for a few months. He is a very fun boy but lately he has needed a lot of entertaining. I think he has been through the kind of developmental change that means he is ready for more imaginative play, something that doesn’t come easily to me. When I watch him play with his sister it seems so natural but I find it so boring hard. However, now that he is at nursery and the pressure is off me I am finding it a bit easier to do the kind of silly, pretend things that little children love. You can laugh at me but last week we played all sorts of ‘animal noise’ games. I don’t mind admitting to sitting under the dining room table pretending to be a pig in a pig stye. There was another variation that involved being a hen sitting on an egg. That would probably have looked even stranger if a neighbour had peeked in the window, but he loved it. I loved the fact that we were able to play together, without inhibitions but most of all, I loved the fact that I wouldn’t have to do it ALL day! When your child starts nursery at 12.30 you’ve got to start thinking about eating lunch at 11.30 or you’ll never be ready in time.

All this time at nursery has meant a lot more free time for me. I’ve been anticipating this and wondering how (if at all) I should change my lifestyle. One of the things that I have committed to doing is getting fitter (I hate that expression). As a practising yoga teacher I hang my head in shame at how I have neglected my physical body. I’ve still got plenty of flexibility but probably not enough strength or stamina to match it. I’m hoping that in the summer I will have enough of all three to complete an interesting challenge but I’m not ready to go public with that yet.

I feel that my brain is starting to wake up a little bit from the haze of child-rearing. Of course I’m still predominantly a stay-at-home mother but slowly, slowly, my career is coming back to life. I’m looking forward to doing some studying again and to re-connecting with my peers within the yoga and birth community.

I’m trying hard to be more organised, to not put off the little jobs that need to be done, to make lists and tick them off. It’s great to know that I’ve got three clear, uninterrupted hours to work on something and I think it’s having that time to focus that makes all the difference. For the last few years I have existed, as most stay at home parents do, in a world where an uninterrupted thought is a rarity.

So now, I’m planning, thinking and hoping that 2014 is going to bring some positive changes, mostly small, but hopefully all significant.

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52 weeks of happy 27/52

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Inspired by my old yoga buddy ‘fannyanntut’ (that’s her instagram screen name) and her July fitness challenge, I did my version of an astanga session to give me a little work out. Not my normal practice but fun for a change.

IMG_7546Love it when the veg drawers are full. Sadly this lot was all bought, not allotmented. Give it a few more weeks though and I’ll be swimming in runner beans and courgettes.

IMG_7548Digging, in the sunshine, with my little babykins and pretending to talk with the pumpkin plants. Good job our allotment is secluded.

IMG_7563School sports day finally happened. This is Babykins pouring Grandma a spot of juice while Son Number One raced past. The weather last year meant that there was no sports day so this was a first for The Middle Miss and the last time Son Number One took part he was still on treatment. Then, his muscles were so weak from chemo and steroids that I had to literally help him over the line when he took part in the sack race. I love, love, loved seeing him striding down the track this year.

52 weeks of happy 18/52

Oh dear, the weeks seem to be catching up with me…IMG_7028Writing, done by The Middle Miss.

Translation: Getting ready for school then have breakfast then brush my teeth then put on my shoes get my coat on because it is school time to go to school and I need to water Barnaby Bear’s sunflower plant with a watering can.

I love that she is getting into writing lists, it seems to be a family trait. I also love the phonetic spelling, it cracks me up every time. She obviously knows that school is a strange word that has a ‘h’ in it but has completely forgotten the ‘c’ that actually makes the sound. Most of all, I am very proud of her lovely neat writing. If only that skill came as easily to all members of the family.

IMG_7053Finally, the camellia started to flower this week, a full two months after it came into bloom last year. It’s such a beautiful plant and right outside my kitchen window. I’ve been looking forward this show of pinkness for what seems like forever.

IMG_7050Finding a fully grown cauliflower in the allotment was a happy surprise this week. The Husband planted them last autumn as plug plants. We really didn’t know what to expect and had almost given up on them producing the white heads we wanted. Somehow they seem to have gone from large but mainly leafy plants to fully fledged food in the blink of an eye. We cooked the first on on Sunday. It certainly had flavour. There are at least two more waiting to be picked so I think some cauliflower and chickpea curry will be in order, unless I get a sudden urge to make piccalilli.

IMG_7057After over two years of ‘maternity leave’ (can you call it that when it goes on so long?) I am going back to work next week. The picture shows the new fliers I printed out this week. I learned how to refill my printer ink cartridges and saved a fortune. That’s a good reason to be happy. I am only planning to teach one class per week so it’s not what you would call a taxing schedule. I am really excited about starting to teach yoga for birth again. I honestly think it is one of the best jobs in the world. That’s certainly something to be happy about.

One Born Every Minute: Pain

I have found this post very difficult to write. Labour pain is such a personal thing. My experience will have been different to yours in some way or other. I don’t want to be preachy and say “This is how you should have your baby” because, clearly, that would be stupid.  On the other hand, I would like it if my words made someone think differently about how birth can be, and why.

When I decided to have a home birth and therefore restrict myself to only gas and air for pain relief, quite a few people told me I was ‘brave’. It didn’t seem that way to me. I didn’t make this choice because I had a terrible fear of hospitals or had any major political views about how birth is controlled (that came later).  I just never really had any fear of labour or labour pain. I figured I would be able to deal with it. Maybe it was the reading material I had around me during pregnancy. Maybe it was because my Mother never made a big deal of it (despite having what I would consider to be a grotty 1970’s birth). Maybe I rationalised that if it WAS that bad, I could get help, I could transfer to hospital and scream for an epidural.

Do I look fed up? This was just before we called the midwives at my second birth. Three hours later I had the Middle Miss in my arms.

Luckily for me, that was never necessary. I think these are some of the reasons why:

1. My first two babies were in the best position possible before birth. If your’s isn’t, see here.

2. I wasn’t fearful. Fear increases pain. This theory has been around for years. If you are fearful about birth, you can bet your system will be swimming in adrenaline. Adrenaline is generally the enemy of progress in birth. You can read more about this here and here. It is possible to overcome the fear of birth (tocophobia). Some women find talking to a trained counsellor helps, some find hypnotherapy is the answer. If you want more information on this, click here. May I also recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Yes, she’s an old hippy, but she’s funny too and makes a lot of sense.

3. I had good midwives (I wish I could post a picture here but I don’t think they would thank me for it) and a great husband supporting me. I didn’t know the midwives but they had an air of confidence that told me ‘everything is going well’. That contributed to my lack of fear (see above).

4. I was able to use my yoga experience to breathe deeply through labour and I wasn’t inhibited when it came to using sound. If you want to learn yoga while you are pregnant, find a teacher by clicking here.

5. I had a beautiful, deep, warm pool of water available. Although water will not take away the pain of labour, it does provide comfort. It’s buoyancy allowed me to stay in an upright, kneeling position for far longer than I could maintain on ‘land’. Upright positions generally aid progress in labour and can be less painful.

It’s not obligatory to move house between each birth, but it does make siting your pool more interesting.

6. My labours went at the ‘right’ pace. Very fast labours can be a shock for both mother and baby, whilst slow labours are undoubtedly tiring. Labours that are induced or augmented artificially in hospital can be harder to deal with. It’s not as easy for your body’s natural pain killers to keep up with the progress of the birth. Think carefully before you agree to induction. The NICE guidelines say that induction should be offered if you are overdue. There is little evidence to suggest that it is necessary.

It saddens me that so many women fear labour and the pain it brings. I get fed up of people saying “Well, you wouldn’t have your tooth out without anaesthetic so why have a baby”. The answer is that these two types of pain are NOT comparable. I think you could compare being stitched up after giving birth with having your tooth out, but I’m only guessing, from what other people have told me.

Having a baby can be one of the most exciting, exhilarating and empowering things you can ever do. Ask anyone who’s had a good birth.

I was lucky enough to hear Davina McCall speak about her birth experiences a couple of years ago. She too has had three home births. This is what she said, more or less – sorry Davina, wish I’d recorded you:

“Have you seen the Lion King? You know the bit where they take the baby lion up to Pride Rock and show him to all the other animals? That was what I wanted to do after my births. I felt so strong and a bit wild. I wanted to hold up my baby and shout, ‘Look what I did'”. (I can’t find the exact clip of her saying that but if you want to see her interview childbirth expert, midwife and author Ina May Gaskin, click here, Ina May is well worth it)

Wouldn’t it be lovely if all mothers felt like Davina did, because in a good birth, that is the bit you remember, not the pain.

Oh dear, all that house moving. I can’t find pictures of baby one after his birth.

Baby Two

Baby Three