Happy new month.

HAPPY NEW MONTHS FOLKS.

I know I havn’t been around a lot, life happened and that’s all I can say.

I have missed you guys but will do my best to read your blogs as often as possible.

Below are a couple of quotes that I hope to draw inspiration from through this month.

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This one isn’t optional, I love my rest.

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Same thoughts as above, if Rome wasn’t built in a day then ….

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Every dog will have it’s day and that’s for certain. The only problem is making sure the dog hasn’t lost hope of that day ever happening.

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One step at time, one step at a time…. am climbing my mountains with Jesus by my side.(who watched kids praise?)

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And this is to remind me that my little girl is the most precious person I will ever be privileged to impact any ‘life lessons’ to too.

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Failure to launch; independent children

Failure to launch is a funny movie; Matthew McConaughey plays the lead role of a thirty-five-year-old bachelor who still lives at home with his parents and has no plans of moving out. On the surface the story seems rather straightforward, he’s simply grown cold feet to the idea of living by himself. His friends Ace and Demo are no help either as they both live with their parents at home or so it seems on the surface. Present society frowns a lot at such activities, i.e the idea of a grown adult still ‘living off his parents’. It is seen as the movie is aptly titled a ‘failure of the individual to launch’, a failure of his/her parents to nudge them in the right direction. To snip the apron strings.

We are a very independent generation, we want to spread our wings as far as possible, we want to mount the highest peaks without any aid. Parents are coerced to encourage their offspring to stand on their own two feet as soon as possible literally and figuratively. Teachers, health workers, doctors are encouraged to ask children questions that encourage independence, questions which often lead to a certain desired answer. Parents are encouraged to have sleep routines, codes of behavior and learning objectives for each child. It’s no wonder extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping are frowned upon by a lot of people.

Being independent isn’t the absence of weakness or a presence of stable strength.  Being independent is having the ability to shoulder the level of responsibility appropriate for an individual’s mental and physical state per time. Individuals often aren’t aware of what they can handle which is why life steps in to throw challenges at us. For children, parents are often the tools used to point out these milestones, however, learning or surmounting these milestones must be done by the child with or without the assistance of the parent. How does this relate to extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping?

Let’s go back to the movie, Tripp (the character played by Matthew McConaughey) lives at home with his parents as a result of his fiancees’ death.  He sought solace in the one place he knew he would find it, a move born out of a need. Living at home with his parents was not a problem of any sort at first. Going by his mother’s account, his presence pushed the fear of facing an empty nest with her husband into the distance future. However, at some point his presence did become a strain for them not a bad unbearable strain, rather a strain they could do without if it could be managed in a loving way that left everyone feeling happy. Sadly, in real life we have limited options either to let the process run its cause or we rudely interrupt or we intervene in the most gentle manner we can, ready to soothe ruffled feathers through the process.

This is the same with the case of extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, no one except mother and child should decide when the process has run its due cause. It is not about nutrition as breast milk regardless of age maintains its nutritional value. It is not about independence as no child is self-sufficient at the age in question. Taking into consideration the definition of independence given in the previous paragraph one might be tempted to conclude that extended breastfeeding might hinder a child’s growth. This ideology, however, would be considered unfounded by several studies which have associated high levels of independence in children who experience constant loving and appropriate physical contact with their care givers/ parents.

There are no universal rules or manuals about parenting that fits every situation and life divide. Being independent is very important, a vital component for a balanced adult but we must be careful to help our little ones attain that height without feeling smothered or abandoned. As with everything in the life of your child, you only learn what they need or don’t need by paying attention to them and to your intuition. There is no shame in extended breastfeeding or in stopping at any point, there is, however, a sense of betrayal when your needs or your child’s need are buried under society’s acceptance or any other obligation. Don’t aggressively start the nudge for independence (fashion,mental, diet, health) or ignore the cues of independence either.  

Parenting is the toughest job in the world, but your children will teach you the skills you need provided you don’t juxtapose your desires over them or interpret their needs subjective to your feelings.

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Silky webs

The number of spider webs around my house has suddenly increased, this does not surprise me, I guess it is be expected with the increasingly warm weather. It’s become obvious to Baby L that other living species like to bask in the bright rays of sunshine. The problem on my hands at the moment is how to effectively communicate to Baby L that not all spiders are pets. She fancies them (and several other insects if might add) to no end and judging from her giggles she probably thinks they fancy her too. Not funny to me nor the spider, but rather than relocate from our house I find the little critters setting up shop just round the corner. It’s like they’re on a mission to leave memorable prints of their web on baby L’s mind.

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It all got me thinking, how dedicated am I to leaving indelible memories on her young mind? What kind of memories will she have of me? And I am not talking about happy memories alone as that would be a daunting task for anyone to constantly pursue. I mean just memories of everyday living, memories of Sunday afternoons filled with shared meals (home cooked or take away) eaten together at home, Saturday morning chores and music blasting from the radio.

I remember my mom relaxing in the living room listening to the radio as the dust of all the usual Sunday scurrying around settled with the setting sun. From waking up at five to get breakfast and some elements for lunch going to attending a six to seven hours service (talk about draining); one could hardly blame her for passing out in exhaustion. Tired and overstretched as she might have been mom never failed to ensure we had our meals, looked good, had our water bottles and occasionally an ice cream on a really bad day. Even in her sleep mom’s warrior mode was set on auto to defend, if so much as a rat made an unsettling sound mom was up and ready to defend her tribe.

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It used to annoy me back then, as mom won’t let me put the telly on, I often had to entertain myself with a novel which wasn’t bad especially if I had a new one to read. But it was also fun to listen to the thank you messages and prayers sent in to recognize lovely people in the community. And as listened to my own radio this Sunday I couldn’t help remembering mom and days gone.

I couldn’t help praying that Baby L grows up with a head full of memories which make the world seem normal despite the chaos outside.

I hope the girl/lady/woman she becomes in the future loves me for the woman/mom I am today.

What matters? Does it really matter?

Breastfeeding Poster V2I had no plans of writing a post about this topic as it is one that really divides the ranks. And even as I write it the tune of a solemn nature echoes in my head as I fear that with my words I might be burying myself in murky waters. Gasping dramatically for air, here goes: so the discuss on discreet and indiscreet breastfeeding in public has become a reoccurring motif through the script of normalizing breastfeeding campaigns.

While everyone chants in unison ‘power to the breastfeeding mum, let’s normalize breastfeeding.’

Silent whispers rumble ‘normalizing breastfeeding doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be discreet.’

Silent whispers rumbles  ‘normalizing breastfeeding means we shouldn’t be discreet.’

Prior to writing this post I would probably have fallen firmly on one side of the divide, now I ask myself, what really matters here?

The underlying debate rises from our personalities as individuals which doesn’t change a whole lot with the advent of breastfeeding. Some mums are extremely private people and some are not, this has nothing to do with confidence and everything to do with their personalities. Some mums prior to baby had no issues with showing some flesh; some found a flash of skin a little off putting, and for some it’s the other way round; breastfeeding and motherhood doesn’t rid us of those traits, if anything it further compounds them. For all I know and can remember mothers have breastfeed their young in different places (on the farm, at the market, on the buses etc.), in different ways (covered with a wrapper, shawl, uncovered, breast out, breast underneath etc.) you get the picture.

So why the chasm and why is it widening?breastfeeding 2016

Social media: thanks to this fascinating tool of modern day life which makes it possible to share my thoughts with you, the same tool has the abilities of exaggerating the acts of everyday living into catastrophic levels. Throw social media into schools and kids start to pull all sorts of pranks including online bullying to get attention, throw it into politics and leaders say one thing to be politically correct and recant it via tweeter, throw it into entertainment and the most ludicrous or horrendous actions become entertaining.

With the advent of social media we have all become extremely socially aware. And that’s the essence of social media; to be social with the media and with others who use the media and to unknowingly empower the media that uses us (Ezinne Ukoha). We can now create our own media stories, sadly the media only celebrates or recognizes extreme issues, no one wants to watch normal life on the media. Sadly no matter how awesome and widespread media is, it will always remain a snippet of reality, and though it seems intrusive we must remind ourselves that some of our own works,pictures etc might also seem intrusive to another person.

Secondly the breastfeeding cause is a cocktail of causes as it is a cocktail of personalities: breastfeeding and motherhood generally is a very empowering process. It makes us fierce as tigers, we not only want to feed our children in the best way possible but we also want to give/leave for them a world with equal rights and privileges for everyone. And it’s on this second note that we start to differ a bit. The picture of what the best world is differs for each of us, not in the all so big details but in the tiny ones that become obvious on closer inspection. It’s like those spot the difference puzzles, the general picture looks the same, some of the differences jump right out at you, others take a while to spot, some matter, and others don’t. More importantly each person takes a different amount of time to solve the puzzle.

What is the point here? We have mums who are activists, feminists, conservative, naturist, and so many other terms which describe people. At the end of the day the common thread between all of them is that they’re breastfeeding mums and that’s all that counts.

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Best way forward:

Stick to the cause that matters to you per time; for this week and beyond its breastfeeding. Strip off all the other labels and find the common ground – we want more breastfeeding mums and there is no single format for reaching out to everyone because there is no single format for being the best mum except putting the well-being of your child first.

We are all making statements on a daily basis with our choices, breastfeeding is no different; discreet/indiscreet you’re telling /showing the world how nature intended for us to feed our babies in way that suits you best. Doing what makes you comfortable, working at your own pace and a healthy baby is all the empowerment you need.

Whatever cocktail you make of your motherhood journey if you can remember where you came from, where you’re and most importantly where next you want to go I say rock on.

 

Normalizing breastfeeding: what it means to me.

I didn’t start my breastfeeding journey with a head full of knowledge or a mind set on a particular aim. I dived in on a whim and a prayer. I went to several antenatal classes, but it was more from the angle of a newly pregnant mum many miles away from home trying to get a holistic glimpse on parenthood. I don’t think I thought of how the baby would be fed until I went to those classes. The choice to breastfeed for me started as a trial decision, if it works well if it doesn’t … two months into it and I wanted to quit, but thanks to the support I got from my sister, and Bambis, I carried on.

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Designed by Emma Devine

Through our journey and afterward I have come to learn a lot more about breastfeeding, its place in society and the importance of normalizing breastfeeding. Normalizing breastfeeding is a major public health campaign; the link between to health of a baby and well-being of the future adult makes it a very important topic. This write up will attempt to summarize my understanding of what it means to normalize breastfeeding:

  • To normalize breastfeeding is to welcome the different identities, social, and religious lattices that exist inside the folds of motherhood. Each phase of motherhood has a way of highlighting our abilities and shortcomings, however, it doesn’t change who we are; contemplative people or social butterflies, naturist or non-naturist and so forth. Each mother ought to be supported to breastfeed in the manner that suits her, publicly or privately.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to acknowledge the effect a mother’s psychological well-being during pregnancy, baby blues and beyond has on breastfeeding. Everybody knows breastfeeding is a physical act; most do not know or acknowledge the emotional demands it places on the mother. The latter makes it twice as hard for a mother who has encountered or is encountering emotional issues to keep up long term breastfeeding. This is very important as we all know that a well-rested/balanced mother leads to a well-rested/balanced baby. (Rees, 2016)
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to eliminate one of the many divides that can exist in motherhood and parenting as a whole: at some point in history, infant formula was introduced as a status symbol, a commodity afforded only by the working class/wealthy mother. This relegated the breastfeeding mother to the place of an uneducated/common/unemployed mother (Nathoo & Ostry, 2009). The tides are slowly turning, but I fear it brings with it an alternate divide; nature mother vs. synthetic mother, confident mother vs. non-confident mother. These labels do more harm than good for the breastfeeding cause. The choice on how a baby is fed should be made with the optimal well-being of baby as the focus point. This in no way implies that moms wellbeing isn’t important (see point two), but if ever there was a relationship that demanded and tugged at the heartstrings of sacrifice motherhood is at the apex of such. This is a lesson that I am as yet learning.
  • Slide1To normalize breastfeeding is to accept that while the use of infant formula might not be an immoral act, the misuse or marketing of it might be considered unethical. This ranges from the aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in countries with poor sanitary conditions and limited access to clean water, to the distribution of formula samples to new mothers as they leave the hospital in developed countries. This has been proven to derail the breastfeeding journey for most mothers. (Bai, 2013) This point is very important to my breastfeeding journey as the first and the only bottle of formula my daughter had was a free sample from the hospital, thankfully she rejected it, I imagine if she hadn’t and I didn’t have the support network I had in place, I would probably have quit breastfeeding on another bad day.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is not to sexualize or to desexualize the breasts or nursing mother. Through the decades organizations standing on the back of a patriarchal society have made a sex symbol out of the woman’s breast; a tool for selling cars, luring the opposite sex and bolstering your feminine nature. On the other hand, several artworks, campaign groups, and activists have tried to desexualize the breast; I fear both sides haven’t done the nursing mother much good. She worries about feeding in public, she worries about their sexual appeal (which is changed more by pregnancy and less by breastfeeding), she worries about her own personal image, and for some, she worries about her modesty (see point 1). But at the end of the day, she just wants to feed her child in peace and sincerely she doesn’t care if they are sexual or not, those things are secondary. The breast is both a sexual and nurturing organ, it was designed to carry out both roles, and they are not mutually exclusive.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to accept the previous methods of feeding in the past and align with the present research. This is especially important for people in the medical field, it is true that at some point in history formula was branded the perfect solution for feeding an infant (several reasons have being proffered as to how formula came to be so dominant: some attribute it to an increase in mothers joining the workforce making it necessary for a child-minder to have a ready supply of food, it has also being linked to the industrialization of milk production while others believe it was probably due to a need to have children grow up faster after the war, as breast milk was thought to be insufficient for quick growth), however present research refutes that claim. It is important that medical professionals embrace breastfeeding in its entity, as this will enable them to make sound decisions on how best to support a mother without feeling cajoled to say keep trying even when they can see whatever form of feeding isn’t helping mother or baby. The pressure shouldn’t be to promote either formula or breastfeeding, the demand should be to handle each case individually with the best outcome for both mother and baby in view, regardless of how they were fed or how they fed their own children.normalizing breastfeeding 2016
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to acknowledge the true history of breastfeeding and infant substitutes: finally, we must acknowledge that infant substitutes have always existed in the past, however, the ratio of children who needed it as against those who were breastfed either by their mothers or a wet nurse were few. Babies were fed using different instruments and substitutes including terracotta pots, donkey’s milk, pap, and soaked bread (Dailey, 2014). Formula probably became popular as it was the one substitute which could be transported around the world, had more sterilized equipment, and thus had a lower probability of causing food poisoning when compared to others.

       To normalize breastfeeding is to start baby on the best diet known to man.


Sorry for the mix-up, scheduled the post wrongly and had to repost it again. Breastfeeding week starts on the 18th of this month, I hope we all join in to celebrate it, if you’re new here (i.e. to livehomeandaway) I hope you find this part of my life as interesting as the rest.

Love and light.

Motherhood creed.

To birth and to hold,

To nurture and to succour,

In sickness and in health.

Through tantrums, glitter storms and super hero rescues,

may we bond beyond the placenta.

Motherhood creed.

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Designed by Emma Devine and I

Breastfeeding … helping you uphold the creed.

Share your thoughts on motherhood, parenting, and breastfeeding.

I will be putting up posts (not everyday though) to celebrate breastfeeding week between the 18th – 27th of June. Thanks to Liverpool BAMBIS, for supporting me through my breastfeeding journey and letting me volunteer.

 

Twice as much.

Dear baby L,

you turned two this month; two for the number of lovely arms that hug me goodnight, two for the number of little legs playing round the house.

Two for the lovely pair of eyes that smile at me, two for a set of listening ears catching every phrase and sound.

Two a number I hope let’s you know that I’ll always be there for you,

Love,

a learning mum.

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Copyright Kirsty TG

Written for Sonya’s TLT – WEEK SIXTEEN.

I tried to use the comma’s to make it into long sentences while sticking to the three lines rule.

Let me know if it worked.

Learning a new skill; my breast feeding journey

The most natural thing in the world: that’s what I used to think about breastfeeding before I had a go at it myself. “Just be positive and it will be an easy ride,” I told myself, just as I did with pregnancy and childbirth. And whereas with those two this attitude worked a treat, breastfeeding was a whole different matter.animated-breastfeeding-image-0018

Do you ride a bike, play a musical instrument or swim? All these skills seem perfectly easy once you’ve mastered them, but they all take a certain amount of time and effort to learn; having a teacher or instructor at the beginning helps someone to show you the ropes. Breastfeeding is also a skill, and it makes a massive difference if you have someone who can show you what to do, how to hold and position your baby, what signs of a good attachment to look for and how to solve any problems you might have.

animated-cycling-image-0073A lot of women put a great deal of trust in their GP, pediatrician, health visitor or midwife. This is as it should be. However, when it comes to breastfeeding, their knowledge can be very superficial. Most of them aren’t trained to aptly assist the breastfeeding mum and infant, thus making it necessary for you to get a certified second opinion when faced with challenges. There are certain websites with varied resources that I consider the “Breastfeeders’ Bible” and it might be worth familiarizing yourself with them. They include kellymom.com and Dr Jack Newman’s on http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca. I know of women who have actually taken printouts from these sites to their GP, ensuring they got the right treatment. There is A LOT of information on Kellymom and Dr Newman’s page; don’t worry; most likely you won’t need to know all, or even half of it. But you can usually find the answer or solution to your problem there. Local support groups and forums are also an invaluable source of first hand experience.

So, riding a bike? Playing an instrument? Well, that’s all good, but there is certainly more to consider where breastfeeding is concerned. After all, there is a second (and possibly a third or fourth?) person involved in the process, not just an inanimate object like in the case of cycling or playing the piano. Also, breastfeeding comes at a very special moment in your life, when your body and your mind are prone to be in a delicate state, and you’re bound to feel vulnerable. This all adds up to making breastfeeding a dicey skill to master, this is true especially with your first child, but many women still feel apprehensive even if they already have kids.

breastfeeding journey 1If you have a relatively uncomplicated birth, it’s best to give breastfeeding a go right after. This is what I did, having watched videos of babies instinctively climbing to their mothers’ chests (my husband still reminisces on those videos shown at antenatal classes!). Even if you have a Cesarean section, you can usually have some skin-to-skin contact with the baby straight after, an attempt at the first feed. And guess what: you don’t have to wait for an invitation from the health professionals looking after you to do it, you can demand it. Don’t be afraid; follow your instincts, sometimes mum just knows best, even if it’s your first time.

Sometimes your baby just wants to sleep after a long, tiring labor; sometimes pain relief might be involved and baby is sleepy – don’t worry, it will happen for you two, just give baby time keeping them close to your skin as the chances of the first feed is likely to happen under such conditions. This new person is very likely to know what’s good for them and the two (three etc.) of you might be lucky enough to have a smooth start of breastfeeding, and carry on, without ever looking back.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for us (but perhaps this was a character-building exercise? Who knows!). My son had a severe tongue tie, which was picked up at the hospital right after he was born, but snipping right away sadly isn’t normal practice. After a nice and easy start, baby latched on but then failed to let go of my nipple for hours, things progressively worsened with my nipples suffering really badly and the baby getting full of wind. When a referral letter from a children’s hospital arrived nine days later, with a consultation (and possible snip of the tongue tie) planned for six weeks away (and each of those weeks seemed to be an eternity), I was in such a state that we decided we couldn’t wait any longer and booked a private appointment for the next day. It cost an arm and a leg, and it changed our breastfeeding story from a potential failure to a slightly less painful journey. Would I pay this much and drive almost 60 miles each way again to have this snip? I’m not sure. Was it the best decision in that particular situation? Yes, I believe so.

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Knowing what I know now, I would’ve insisted on being referred to other clinics in the area, and I would’ve probably gone for a free (NHS) cancellation appointment five days later, which my husband managed to secure. But I only found out about all those options after the tongue tie was snipped, and it wasn’t really an issue anymore. Just in case you’re wondering how babs took the snip – well, he cried for the whole of 20 seconds it took for me to stick a nipple in his mouth, and he never looked back. The 120 mile-round drive and the fact that he had to be hungry before the appointment were slightly more traumatic.

Did we breastfeed happily ever after? Well, not straight away. Having been through a near-BFJ 2complete nipple destruction mission, my breasts decided to take revenge. And so, began a long journey of recurrent blocked ducts and bouts of mastitis, which lasted for the next three months. Mastitis, that word has the potential to truly terrify breastfeeding mums… as much as it’s not pleasant, it can be treated. My first bout took place on my husband’s 40th Birthday, and it wiped me out completely; I wasn’t able to get out of bed, give him his Birthday gift or even write out his card. I had a high temperature, hot and cold sweat. After a telephone consultation, my GP prescribed antibiotics that were safe while breastfeeding, my husband picked them up and a few hours later I felt much better.

A similar situation happened a few weeks later (after I gorged on buttery oat biscuits, facepalm!) and after that second lot of antibiotics, mastitis and blocked ducts left me for good (I hoped!). I found not-knowing when or if it would ever get better the most worrying aspect of the process, it really brought me down. Looking back it seems like an insignificant period of time, but at that time, it seemed like my whole life was collapsing under my feet and the pain would never go away. It was hard, it was tearful and I didn’t need the pain or anguish on top of the normal new-mum anxiety and hormonal rides. Now, almost a year after having my son, I don’t regret going through it. Would I  endure it again? Hell yeah!

BFJ3I was fortunate as in my case baby was putting on weight fabulously; he didn’t seem to suffer at all. This saved me a lot of worry. Some mum’s resort to giving formula, is formula the root of all evil? Errrm… no. Formula has its place in the world; there are situations where it is the only viable option to sustain a child’s life. I know there are also mums who have all the information on breastfeeding, but simply don’t want to breastfeed, and that is absolutely fine, and nobody’s business but their own. However, giving formula to a child because they are fussy or because you’ve mastitis isn’t necessarily the best course of action. It interferes with your milk production especially in the early days; research also shows it has an impact on the baby’s gut. (The virgin gut concept might be worth a Google search).

The rate of women initiating breastfeeding right after birth speaks for itself: a vast majority of women want to breastfeed. They believe it’s best for their babies; they want to feel the mother to child bond at the breast. And some, like me, don’t want to spend a fortune on formula, bottles and sterilisers, if they don’t have to. This article is for that mum who starts out but comes face-to-face with hurdles that seem insurmountable in the moment, don’t fret it does and definitely gets better. Your experience isn’t new, as with every new skill, support, proper information and a persevering attitude pays off in the long run. I’m almost 12 months in, and it is one of the best aspects of motherhood for me.


Ola&BenWritten by Ola Jones.

The breastfeeding mother of a lovely smiley baby called Benjamin. Ola, her husband and Benjamin make their home in Liverpool UK. Ola and Benjamin are a testament to the benefits of persevering through challenging and some what complicated breastfeeding journeys. 

Ola acknowledges the tremendous impact the support and guidance received from BAMBIS (Babies and Mums Breastfeeding Information and Support) had on her journey and recommends that such services should be duplicated across the country.

Thanks Ola for sharing your beautiful story.

Disclaimer: this is a personal story  and not a medical recommendation. Please consult your doctor and lactation specialist.