Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Introducing: Southern Natural Parenting Network

The eastern side of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne - from the bayside suburbs out to the Dandenong Ranges and down through the Mornington Peninsula - is a wonderful place to live and raise families.

As a family that practice many facets of natural-styled parenting - full term breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, modern cloth nappies and more - we have noticed that whatever group of mums we join, some familiar faces keep popping up!

In fact - the wide variety of online and face to face groups supporting our style of child raising is almost too great. Connecting with like-minded parents relies on word of mouth and a good deal of time searching Facebook and Google. Too often, individual mums feel isolated and unsupported among more mainstream parenting groups and family circles and unaware of a parallel community where they would feel so much at home.

When a mother I knew reached out to find a new mums group when one wasn't facilitated by her local council and another confessed her group had never really come together for that face to face support we know is important, I offered to hook them both up with other mums in the region looking for the same thing. A few status shares later, with several mums confessing they were in the same boat, I decided to put into action an idea that had been brewing and a new Facebook group was born.

I believe community is essential for mothering and the lack of a traditional village leads to many of the problems we face today. For parents for are swimming upstream against the norm, this rings true even moreso.

Southern Natural Parenting Network is intended to connect women with groups, services and resources which support their parenting choices. From neighbourhood mums groups to larger organisations, its purpose is to make those connections easier.

Raising the adults of the future is a responsibility of the whole of society. This is one way I can do my part.

Southern Natural Parenting Network

Breastfeeding in public: it's LAW!

Really happy to have my photography, daughter and granddaughter as part of this!

Check out The Brave Breastfeeder on Facebook for more great support for mums just trying to do what nature intended.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Velcro Babies: Separation anxiety in the older baby

Around 9 months of age, babies come to an amazing - but alarming - realisation: their mother is not a part of them, she is a separate entity.

This huge leap in awareness is a total surprise. For nine months in the womb and around nine months out, the mother is just like some parts of the body: you can't always see them, but they are there all the time.

Realisation that in fact, the mother could abandon the baby at any moment is a huge shock. And leads to the only reassurance possible: constantly keep the mother in sight. Suddenly, baby is no longer content to lie awake in bed, play on the floor or even be held by other people unless her mother is in close physical and visual contact.

Strap on the velcro - where you go, baby goes too!

Charlie has been in the midst of this development stage for a while now. At ten months, she is working hard on walking and it won't be long until she moves to the next stage of management: following mum everywhere!

Because we knew Kaitlyn would have to return to work at some time in the second half of Charlie's first year, she and I have worked hard to cement a strong attachment between Charlie and I so being in my care without mum would be less distressing. This has worked just as we hoped - to the extent that Charlie applies the same separation anxiety to me moving out of sight as she does with Kaitlyn! Even when Kaitlyn is right there beside her!!

We have learned it is sudden, unannounced movement which particularly triggers the momentary distress and that making eye contact, saying bye bye and waving  allow her to prepare for the separation: even if just walking into the other room to get something. Talking to her from the other room is also helpful and reassuring.

Interestingly, Charlie is quite as ease with Kaitlyn leaving to go to work and sometimes barely interupts what she is doing when she returns! Provided she is either involved in - or unaware of - the moment of separation, being apart is not a problem.

Other developmental changes occur around the same time that are related to this awareness of being out of sight but not gone forever: Peak-a-boo becomes THE game for babies at this stage, so they comfortably see someone disappear and reappear over and over, learning this is normal and reliable. Waving bye bye reinforces people go away and waving hello that they return. And the awareness that something out of sight still exists means looking into bags, boxes and buckets for toys is meaningful - out of sight isn't out of mind.

Babywearing comes into its own during this stage if you wish to do anything without holding a baby who won't leave your side. Taking them with you when you shower, use the toilet, collect the mail, load the washing and all the other quick tasks you could previously leave them playing while you go, now only get done with them in your arms or at your feet.

It is a frustrating stage at times, but necessary for your baby to move into more independence as a toddler. Soon, that separation will be a bonus for your baby, because life becomes a lot more interesting when mum isn't constantly by your side!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hubby's Head Update

Apologies to family and friends for not posting since I announced my husband needed surgery!

It has been a crazy almost-week, but today he came home from hospital. The surgery was successful and now all that is needed is rest so he can recover.

He needed this like a hole in the head

To say he has been lucky is an understatement: that initial injury could have killed him if he wasn't wearing a bike helmet. That he managed to go about life relatively normal for TWO MONTHS with his brain slowly bleeding is incredible. That he drove to and from Adelaide in the weeks before needing surgery is frightening!

The staff at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, our major trauma centre, are first class and knowing they are there when we need them at times like this is reassuring. Not wanting to ever need them again but if we do - best place to be.

After driving an hour each way to visit every day (except yesterday, when I had a breastfeeding class to teach) we are all looking forward to some rest!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

For family and friends not on Facebook

This afternoon my husband was admitted to hospital.

Tuesday night update:

We are home now, the surgeon told us to so we get some sleep. Rod  will go into surgery tonight, to have the blood clot removed. It is a sub-dural haematoma: they will cut a small hole in his skull. It is a good prognosis and better than if he had continued on without seeking medical assistance - he would have likely died in a couple of weeks. This is a trauma from the concussion he suffered in his second cycling accident, in late November. We had noticed he was a bit 'off" since he got home after nearly three weeks away but he had actually been compensating quite well until now. He saw the GP today because the headaches were getting worse and he was sent for an MRI.

The neurosurgeon will call me when he comes out of theatre, unless it is on the middle of the night (unless something goes wrong)

It is very possible - maybe likely - he will need a second surgery over the next few weeks. There will be some speech deficit because it is his left brain affected and his right arm and leg weakness will probably need therapy, so there will be rehab involved. He could be in hospital as long as two weeks but the doctor says he will hopefully be home next week.

I know family will be anxious to visit but I will ask you not to until we give the okay - he may be in ICU and his memory has been affected so he could be a bit confused and not need to be overwhelmed by people.

He is in the Alfred Hospital an hour's drive from home. At this stage, Kaitlyn is working tomorrow morning as planned and I will have Charlie. I expect we will probably go into the hospital in the afternoon, if he is up to seeing us. We will then take each day as it comes.

Your messages of support mean a lot. At this stage, I can't think of anything anyone can do to help but know I can ask if we do. Whether I can physically handle driving to and from the city daily I am not sure, but hopefully between the family we can juggle it.

Apart from being a little confused and forgetting things, he was in good spirits and under the impression this doesn't mean the end of cycling!! I would suggest he needs his head read!

We are actually quite calm and positive because he is in the right place with the right people and although there is risk, there isn't anywhere better to be taking that risk. The greater risk has surely been him carrying on as normal since December, driving to Adelaide and back and being on the road everyday for work!

I will update again as soon as I have news. (Facebook comes into its own as everyone except his parents is on here, so saves a lot of phone time.) keep wishing, praying, sending positive energy or whatever you are doing as I am sure it all helps.