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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Birthing and breastfeeding - a journey

This is long post that has been wanting to be written for a long time.
A release, I guess.
I hope that you find some insight or inspiration in my journey.


My mother had two children. I was born in 1978. My brother was born ten years later in 1988. She delivered both her children naturally, with no pain relief. She was induced to have me. My brother was a very big baby and she ended up with problems with her bladder subsequent to his birth. Before she died, she was talking about having an operation to lift her bladder up again.

She would often lament about how terrible these birth experiences were. That she had no choice to have a caesarean, or pain relief. I would often hear how lucky I was that I lived in a time where I had the choice.

She did not breastfeed either of us. She had no milk.

I had colic. My brother was an angel baby - he just ate and slept.

This is all I know about those early years for my mother with small children. I have so many other questions, but she died when Annie was eight months old. I can only guess, I cannot ask her.

This is my maternal legacy in a nutshell. For those early years.




I fell pregnant with Annie very easily. I had a blissful pregnancy. I was so so happy that I was going to be a mother. I had always wanted to be a mother.

My obstetrician asked me what kind of birth I was hoping to have. I wanted an elective caesarean. I was terrified of going through natural childbirth. I did not want to endure the pain, the lack of control, the possible tearing, the pooping on the doctor. And because my mother didn’t have it, I wanted to have a choice as to what kind of birth I wanted.

I was so relieved when Annie was in breech. I had to have a caesarean. They say that babies who stay in breech position do that to be closer to their mother’s heart. I don’t think my heart was very open then. It makes sense that Annie wanted to be as close to it as possible.

I did very well in the surgery. I was not scared of surgery. I was up and walking around that night. I always recover well from things like that. It’s my Polish blood, we are tough stock!

My milk came in. My breasts were sore. My baby wouldn’t latch. My poor mother did not know how to support me through it. By the time we got home, Sohail was in a panic because Annie was screaming so much. He went out and bought me a breast pump. I expressed my milk and gave it to her in a bottle.

It suited us two accountants very well. She was getting the best form of food AND we could measure how much she was getting. We were so scientific in our parenting back then.

I managed it for six weeks. I was exhausted. She went onto formula. She had colic. I went back to work when she was four months old. I got postnatal depression once I went back to work. My mother died four months later.

What a start to motherhood.



Three and a half years later, Xavier was born. I was living in a new country. I was not working. I could see how well Annie was doing by being at home with me. So I started developing some guilt for the horrid start I had given her.

It was my fault that she was in breech because my heart was not open.  It was my fault for not persevering with the breastfeeding. She had colic and wouldn’t latch because I was so highly strung at the time. And I had done her the biggest injustice of her life by going back to work when she was so little.

How could I have done this to my poor child?

I could have had a VBAC with Xavier. But, I was too scared. We had no family here and my doctor was giving me six hours to push him out before she wanted to operate. And she wanted to monitor me all the time, I would not be able to be as mobile as I would like. We were in Australia for just over a year when he was born.

I had a lot on my plate.

After a lot of soul searching, I decided to have another elective caesarean. I am at peace with it. I have never experienced natural labour.

That is ok.

The caesarean with Xavier went really well. I was also really determined to breastfeed feed him. He came out and when they put him on my stomach, he crawled up to my breast and immediately started breastfeeding.

I was in love.

I struggled through mastitis for eight weeks, but after that, it was smooth sailing. I was in awe of my body. My body was able to sustain a human life. It was nurturing him. It was also nurturing me. It was truly blissful.

Xavier was an angel baby. He just ate and slept.

We reached a year of breastfeeding and I did not see any end in sight. People stared asking me when I was planning to stop. I said that I didn’t know.

By this stage, I had changed so many of my views on parenting. I was reading a lot of blogs about attachment parenting, co sleeping, extended breastfeeding. I was a natural mother. Carrying my baby in a sling and sleeping in his bed at night while he breastfed all night long.

I was also overcompensating for all the things I had not given Annie and carried a bit more guilt about what a horrible mother I was to her.

He was not eating very well. He was getting his fill from my breast milk.



But, a few months ago, I started feeling like it was enough. But, the attachment parents would say that I was a horrible mother, I had to keep breastfeeding until he was ready to stop. I dreamed of the day that he would just decide that he had had enough and that I would write a blog about being so sad that he had stopped before I was ready.

It was not happening. He had now started asking for his drink. The dynamic was different. He was no longer a little baby. He was a little boy demanding his drink.

It was not nurturing me anymore.

Shame also started creeping in. There were family comments about him having teeth and that it was no longer appropriate to feed him. It was getting to the point where society was getting creeped out by a child that big still breastfeeding from his mother.

And there was shame that I was not a so-called natural mother who could blissfully breastfeed her child until he was ready to stop, even if it was at the age of four or five. Rudolf Steiner was breastfed until he was four, why was I not “natural” enough to do the same?

Shame on both sides. And me in the middle.

In the end, I had to stop listening to all the outside voices. Anyway, they were all figments of my imagination. Who knows what people say or think? Besides, it’s none of my business, is it?

I had to listen to my heart. I had to do what was right for my situation. Not anyone else’s.



I was a good mother to Annie. I did the best I could in the circumstances that I had. I have always loved her unconditionally. I could not carry the guilt of her colic or her not breastfeeding. We all come into the world with our own lessons to learn. She chose us as her parents. She wanted to learn her own lessons in life. Her situation was perfect for her and for us as her parents. It has brought us to this situation.

That is that. Guilt for any of it is a useless emotion. It wastes precious energy.

Yes, I am a good mother to my daughter.

I had loved breastfeeding Xavier up until that point. It had been a really nurturing act for me and for him. But, it was no longer nurturing. I had to redefine what nurturing meant. He had grown up. He was a little person. I was holding onto something that was gone.

Everything in life is transient. It was time to embrace all I had done for him. I had given my body to this person for two years. It was time to let it go.

I was holding him back from his growth by trying to hold onto something that was no longer serving us.

I was scared. I had to just do it anyway.

I was prepared for the tantrums. For the tears. I had to stand in my power.

I did a lot of yoga. I did the tree pose. Mountain pose. Earth sequence. All designed to ground me. To give me strength within myself.

I stopped the night time breastfeeding.

We had one night of screaming. And now he sleeps through the night.

This weekend, I went to yoga. We did the warrior pose. We were heartfelt warriors. I had so much support from my fellow yogis. I was ready to once again, lovingly stand in my power and tell my child no.

I had told him that there would be no more milk when I got back from yoga.

He has asked for it a few times, but is has basically been a non-event for him. He was ready to move on too.

I was not prepared for the engorgement and painful breasts. I sit here with breasts bursting with milk. And hormones raging through my body. And eternal gratitude for this whole experience.

I am so proud that I have done what my own mother could not do. What so many women cannot, or will not do.

He is so centred and grounded. He is a happy child. I have done him no harm by stopping when I was ready. When he was ready, too.


Sometimes we have to uplift our children.

It’s funny how these things never work out how we expect them to. But, they are always perfect.

I am claiming a bit of myself back now. I am a proud, loving warrior mother.

And that is the story of the early years with my children. It is their maternal legacy.


The events that are shaping their lives.


Blessings to you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reading


Reading this book again.
I picked it up a year ago and loved it.
I have grown quite a bit since then and it is even better the second time round.
I am making an effort to take my time with it.
I did that when I read The Peace Formula, by Mansukh Patel.
He is the founder of Dru yoga.
I read a few pages a day and then re read those pages again the following day.
It really absorbed into my system that way.
It was a great book and I am still hoping to share some of that one here.

For now, I will enjoy The Path of Practice.

Do you ever consciously take your time with a book?
Or do you just fly through them, like I usually do?


Just a quick photo of my little monkey.
Two years old and growing into such a beautiful person.

Blessings to you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekending

Joining Amanda in this weekending post.
Because my posts have been a bit heavy these days!
This weekend I...


Went to yoga and put my yoga mat back in my soon to be yoga room/study.


Got some nice boxes for my study.
And found my old Tarot cards.


Attempted some knitting.
I am being overly ambitious and am going to try and knit hats for my children.
I can't knit.
If you don't hear about this again, it means I have failed dismally :).


Bought this gorgeous bowl.
My husband asked me if I found it on the side of the road!
Haha!


Bought some flowers.
Waiting for them to open.


Saw some activity with the daffodils we planted for Xavier's birthday.
Clearly our Autumn is not cold enough as I was expecting these to come up in Spring!

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 20, 2011

On falling and courage

One week ago, I was walking down the stairs outside my home.
It had been raining.
The tiles were slippery.
My shoes had no grip.

My head was up in the sky.

And I fell.

I hurt my back and my arm.
I screamed.
So loud.
Screamed like I was dying.
I phoned Sohail in a panic.
He had to come home immediately.
I was so scared.

Yes, I could walk.
No, there is no permanent damage.

So why the panic?

I believe that when something like this happens, like stubbing your toe, or falling on your arse, the universe is trying to get your attention.
There are no accidents.
If we just pay attention, life is helping us along the way, each step we take.
And I knew that the universe was trying to tell me something.
And I knew that it was something important.

So I freaked out.

I phoned my yoga teacher.
She told me that hurting my sacral area in my back had to do with relationships. Most importantly, the relationship with myself.
My arm was more sore. She said it was telling me that I was not meeting my spiritual needs.

I was paying attention.

I had been so focused on what I was going to do that day, that I did not watch my step. I was not taking things one step at a time. I was not grounded into Mother Earth. I was not present.

It's not easy being present.
The past and future seem so much more important than this moment.

But, I was listening this time.

It was time to take this whole spiritual path of mine more seriously. I have always been interested in my spiritual growth. I have been told that I speak like I am from the old world. I know that I am an old soul. I have unfinished stuff to do over here.

But, I was raised in a very westernised home. All this yoga, meditation, spirituality stuff was not very important. I have also surrounded myself with people who have not thought it very important, either. I have been hiding that part of myself.


It is time to set that part of myself free.

I have spent the last week doing what I feel I need for my own spiritual growth. Not what I think someone else would want me to do.

I am finding the courage within myself to walk my own path.

I have discovered Deva Premal and her beautiful Sanskrit chants. My children and husband are chanting at home with me. It is food for the soul.


You can listen to the Moola Mantra here. It is a mantra that evokes God, asking protection and freedom from all sorrow and suffering. It is being played in our home and it is creating such a sense of peace and harmony.

Annie has asked me whether it is the language of angels.

We listen to it in the car on the way to school.
We are so calm and peaceful when we arrive.
My children are walking around the house chanting this beautiful mantra.
You can read more about it here.

I am having revelations about converting our study into an adult retreat/yoga and meditation room.

I am finding peace.
And presence.
And taking one step at a time.

It is hard.
And it is a life long journey.
I am embracing finding my own voice.

My own, true self.

Because I am the only one who can do that for me.
No apologies.
Standing in my power.

It takes courage to go against all you have ever known.
And to find who you have always been.

I am so grateful that I fell.
It has opened my eyes.

Blessings to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Creating my ashram


I have always believed that it is important to make your home beautiful and welcoming and for it to be a place where it's inhabitants feel safe.
I love beautiful things.
I constantly work on creating beauty in my life.

 Recently, Katie led me to a place where I was told that I could convert my home into an ashram.

I am always wishing to go to an ashram.
To get away from my daily stresses and messes and constant responsibilities.
To go somewhere where I can be with God and do yoga and chant and sit in silence.
Bliss.

"An ashram is a place where people devote all their time and energy to the remembrance of God, doing selfless service and developing qualities like love, patience and respect for others. They do spiritual practices to help them see unity in diversity. Family life can also be like this. It was like this before, in the olden days."

My children bring me closer to God every day.
Every time they push my buttons, they challenge me to practice patience and acceptance.
They remind me that we are connected and their issue is my issue, for we only mirror what is within us by the people around us.
I do selfless service to my family every day.
And that teaches me presence and humility.
The many moments of delight and joy I share with my children are my payment for all the hard work I put into mothering them.
And mothering myself.
The connection I have with my husband - my soul mate - over a cup of Chinese tea is made in our beautiful home.
We sit in our little adults only corner and talk for hours and hours.
About life.
Love.
And everything else.
And we sit in each other's love in our little ashram.

He always teases me about my supposed hippie ways.
It's quite sweet, really.

He told me that one day, he will come to his wooden home in the tree tops and take his shoes off by the door.
Be greeted by the children, saying "Namaste".
And put on his orange robe.
He will go outside and see people doing a yoga class outside.
And he will yell "Namaste! Om shanti!"
And they will roll their eyes and say,
"Oh, it's that buffoon again."

I thought this was really funny.
And at the same time, I thought that this was all very appealing and probably how we will end up.

I am already creating my ashram, right now.
I create beauty and ritual at home.
I set the table every night for dinner.
Place mats, white napkins and our best china.
I light a candle.
We do a family blessing.
Gratitude for our food.
Xavier sings happy birthday and blows out the candle.
And runs off because sitting at the table is a bit boring for a two year old boy.
And that is ok.
Because I am creating the beauty at home.
And he will slot in as he is ready.

Allowing beauty to lead me to order.

In my ashram.
My place of spiritual connection with my family.
Because that is God.

Simple.
Not sitting on a mountain, chanting.

But, here, now.
God is within all of us.
If we just do the work.
And open our eyes to the beauty around us.

And create the beauty.

It is so worth it.

Blessings to you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday party reflections


My little baby turned two on Sunday.
Our little sunshine.
We had a really beautiful party for him.


Hummingbird cake.
Decorated like the sun by Sohail.
Yellow decorations.
Sunshine inspired food.
Planting of yellow daffodil bulbs.


Twice.

Only one family was invited.
So as not to overwhelm our little man.

Beautiful, really, it was.

The only problem is that I worked myself to death to make it so beautiful.

I spent the whole morning in the kitchen, making and baking and cooking.
I had just put the pumpkin puffs in the oven when our guests arrived.

And then I entertained.

And my baby boy turned two.
And I missed it.
I missed soaking it all in.
And now it has happened.
And he is two.

And I was super mum.

Because I put up a great birthday for him.

And I have been feeling pretty shitty about myself because of it.
I am always ranting about the mothers who do it all and how it is not possible.
I wrote about it here, just 10 days ago.

Where was my self care?
How was I kind to myself?
I was not.

I was trying to impress...
Me?
My blog?
My friends?
My children?

My children will not thank me for putting up a colour coded birthday party.
Especially if I have not been present enough to actually connect with them.
They will not remember that the pumpkin scones matched the yellow napkins.

They will remember how they felt on the day.
How it felt on the day.
And I want their birthdays to feel warm, loving, nurturing and celebratory.

I was still tired from killing myself for Easter. 
(Do you see a pattern here?)
And Sohail had been working very hard that week.
So he was tired.
And I was tired.
And yet, we put up a colour coded birthday party.
Well, it was my wish, he was very happy to go out and buy some party food, to which I looked at him in shock and horror!
Super mums don't buy the party food.
They bake it all with a smile on their face and not a bead of sweat lost.

I ran into my yoga teacher today.
And I told her how silly I had been because I should know this stuff.

And the universe was perfect, as it always is.

It had set it up perfectly so that we would meet on the day that I needed her words of wisdom.

She said,
"How will you know your limits if you don't do silly things sometimes?"

And I was ok again.

And I remembered that I do have limits.
And that is OK.
I can do it all.
But not at the same time.

We need to do silly things to learn.
Our experience in this life is perfect.
Every experience is here to teach us something.
If we only open our eyes and pay attention.

And we are tested.
Every time we make a commitment to change, we are challenged.
This is good.
It tests our resolve.
And we need not be scared of it. We just need to walk through it.
And make a few more mistakes.

I am not super mum.
I need a few lessons to learn this one.

And that's ok with me.

I am simplifying my life some more.
One day at a time.

Clearing the clutter.
Making way for new experiences.

And clarity. 

I am making space for clarity.
And peace.
And beautiful birthdays.

Blessings to you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Preparations


Our little sunshine is turning two tomorrow.
I am only just grasping that he is no longer a little baby.
We are looking forward to a quiet day with some special friends coming for some afternoon tea.

Wishing you a wonderful mother's day.

I am grateful to my own mother who loved her children with all her heart.
She taught me how important family is.

If your own mother is still around, be grateful for all that she has done, as she has shaped who you are.
And you would not be where you are in your life without her. Perfect, or imperfect, our mothers are the most profound influences in our lives.
And we should celebrate that.

Blessings to you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My first sewing project and some more reflections

Thank you for all the amazing comments in my previous post.

I am always amazed at how people respond when I write from my heart.
I don't often write such things because I feel that so many other people have things to teach on the internet.

But I am realising that I do actually have quite a bit to say.
So I will say it.
Because maybe someone can learn something from my experience.

And, one day, when my children read about my life when they were little, they will not be disillusioned that their mother's life was all sunshine and roses every day.
That would give them a false sense of reality.

We are all human beings travelling on our journey.
And, boy am I on a journey!

Just a few insights from that post:

I need to get myself better organised.
That means meal planning and cooking for freezing. That will free up a lot of my time.
I need to ask for help in a kind and loving way - something that I am still learning to do.
I need to get Annie to take more responsibility for herself. I am doing her no favours by meeting her every need - she is growing and needs to learn to be a strong independent woman one day. That means packing her own school bag when she is five years old!

I need to get some space.
Time to breathe.
Think.
Reflect.
Create.

Xavier is turning two on Sunday and he is growing up.
It is time for us to take one little step away from each other.

I need to make a plan to get someone to look after him for a few hours a week.
At the moment, all I get is my Saturday morning yoga, I need more.

Happy mama = happy family.


So here it is.
My first sewing project.
A birthday banner inspired by Soule Mama.

I made it from an old bed sheet that had ripped.
There was a top that Annie used to wear that I really loved. So I cut out the letters for the banner from it.
Now, it will be used for all our birthdays.
I am really proud of what I achieved.

I now want to sew new cushions for our lounge.
But first, I am going to try and knit hats for the children.
And I don't really know how to knit.

I look forward to the experience.

Blessings to you.

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