G’day dearest ones!
I’ve been writing this post ever since my world got tilted and she was born.
This is for you if you’ve been doing it for 1700 days, or in the case of my dear friend Lena 17 days.
Or maybe you haven’t yet begun at all.
This is for you.
Here’s what I’ve learned from 900 odd days of parenting (emphasis on the odd).
I’m adding my voice + my experience to the collective pool of mama wisdom.
Take from it what you will.
Some may resonate.
It’s all good either way.
Take what fills you up.
Let go of the rest.
Destroying The House is an acceptable (and even encourageable) hobby to cultivate your children’s interest in. You’ll even pull out a set of playing cards and a box of tissues and leave them in a tempting array on the lounge room floor, ready to be annihilated and spread to every conceivable surface. Reason? It can often buy you 20 minutes of time. You soon learn that buying yourself time is the best purchase you can ever make.
Every.single.cliche about kids is totally true. You think you’re the first to discover it, but it really is enchanting: Kids really DO love boxes more than they love the toys that are in them! They really DO manage to get yogurt in every nook and cranny! You will get pooed on! No matter how many times you get told, there’s just nothing like having it happen to you.
You will think your kid is ridunkulously adorable. Like stupidly cute. Like OMG I JUST MANAGED TO CREATE THE CUTEST CREATURE EVER CONCEIVED ON THE PLANET.
I remember seeing my darling soul sister and cousin-in-law Jodie after she had her first son. “Oh Jodie! He’s so beautiful!” I crooned.
“I know! I made him! I am so clever!” she beamed. And it was one of those true beams, ya know?
Of total pride and joy.
I JUST MADE THE CUTEST PERSON THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN.
You will find random shit EVERYWHERE. It’s like the fairies uproot your home & then put it all back together… but forget some of the places. It’s normal for me to go hunting on the verandah for saucepans, to find a whole village of toys co-existing beneath the couch, forks in the garden, a solo shoe beneath the stairs, oracle cards wedged artfully into plant pots.
You will become more of a buddha than you ever thought possible. You’ll serve, help, love, kiss this other – even when it’s no longer fun or easy. Sometimes you’ll lose your shit as well. But, because you are a buddha, you’ll get back up again the next day & keep serving, helping, loving, kissing with as much as you have in you.
Breastfeeding. Let’s talk about the real truths about it, yeah?
I think there’s so much misinformation about breastfeeding & boobs & what it takes. So I’m really happy to tell you what I’ve learned.
- (Usually) easy to settle babe
- Excellent source of distraction when babe turns to kid & starts having meltdowns
- It’s cozy & cuddly & connectiony & intimate
- It’s an excellent way of being lazy. Here kid, here’s my boob, I’ll read a book on my Kindle while you go to sleep.
- It takes a BUTTLOAD OF TIME. Ummm… like some days in the first four months, I would be breastfeeding for 16 hours a day. SCREWY. I remember crying with longing for my own hands to do shit. Like! Making toast! Without it being a fuc*ing artform of acrobatic proportions!
- In tribal communities, there’s always a number of women lactating. So there are readily available working boobs, and arms to pass kids around to. Perfect for when mama needs to go walkabout before she loses her shit. In modern society? There’s just one pair of boobs per kid. Thus making only one person in the world who can feed their wee one. One person who may desperately need some Time Out, but finds it really hard to get. I wish I’d gotten into the habit of expressing and leaving Ostara with her Daddy-o for a couple of hours, and letting them work out their dance a lot earlier on. Chris said to me early on: “It’s just a bit silly really that I don’t have boobs. Not even little babycino ones that could just give baby a snack ya know? That would be really handy!”
Indeed, it would. BIOLOGY, PLEASE CATCH UP TO MODERN CIVILISATION!
Some kids are just boobtastic.
I have one of them.
I remember midwives talking about 2-4 hours between feeds. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
My kid never did that. Ever. Not until she was about 2.
At 20 months old we still breastfed every 2-3 hours.
If we’re out & about, she might go up to five hours without a feed – but this doesn’t happen often. She still feeds during the night.
At 2.5, she still boobfeeds during the day and at night.
At some point, I’ll need to consider weaning as I’ve got a medical condition that gets exacerbated by breastfeeding.
I have no idea when that will happen, or just how hard it’s going to be. I always thought we’d do child led weaning, but le medical condition has caused me to start considering it sooner rather than later.
(Please, no advice on this one. It’s a personal choice as to the length of time a mother breastfeeds her child, and we all must make the choices that are best for our individual needs.)
Again: whatever works for you is the right answer.
I have NO idea what the *real* average of sleep is for kids.
And I’ve taken to trying not to compare Ostara to the averages.
Up until she was a year old, she didn’t nap on her own without waking up every 20 minutes.
Since she was born 2.5 years ago, she has woken up on average 3-4 times a night. There have been a few terrible nights when she’s woken up 8 times a night. I can count on one hand the times she has woken up 1 or 2 times during the night.
A friend of mine said she’s cool with wake-ups until it’s after 4 times, at which point she starts to lose her shit. I’ve found this is true for me too.
As she’s gotten older, it’s taken less time to breastfeed her back to sleep. As a newborn up until about 3 months old, her breastfeeds lasted for an hour every single time, including during the night. Slowly it went back to 45 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Then 20 minutes. Then 15 minutes. (This is all over a year and a half). Now they last about 2 minutes and I don’t even really wake up for them.
Occasionally, I get her to go back to sleep without boob, but that takes a buttload more effort than flopping a boob over.
At some point, obviously, we’ll need to add more sleep-inducing rituals to our parenting toolkit, but for right now, this is what works for us.
We co-sleep. It’s a pain in the ass in some ways AND it’s a blessing.
Pain in the ass parts:
- We don’t shag in bed anymore.
- I don’t get to play starfish in bed anymore or roll around as recklessly. Sometimes I get sore from it.
- I just feel super close and snuggly with her all night long. She’s always got a little hand reached out to touch my shoulder, and she wakes up with the biggest grin.
- I don’t have to get out of bed when she wakes up. PRAISE TO GLORY BEE!
On the Partner Issue:
- Chris is totally cool with co-sleeping
On the Practical Front:
- Do we use co-sleepers?
No. We tried a Safe N Sound when she was a newborn, and it just felt REALLY odd to us.
- We also tried her in a bassinet beside me. Both me & Chris ended up sleeping as crammed up to the bassinet as we could with our hands through the crib. I didn’t feel like I could hear her and tune in with her as well as I could with her beside me.
- It takes time to adjust to co-sleeping and find positions that work for you. Best things I know about it is to have as flat & stable a bed as you can. Have separate blankets – we have 3 on our bed. Don’t put them near your pillow. Don’t co-sleep if you or your partner are heavily overweight, on heavy medication, are smokers, are drunk or overtired. The overtired part cracks me up – what parent of a baby isn’t overtired? Still, it’s handy to know that. I was extra cautious when I was overtired to make sure she had her own sleeping space in our bed, and put my elbows in such a way that I couldn’t roll towards us.
- Research also shows that babies shouldn’t sleep between the two parents as fathers don’t tend to have the same anti-rolling instincts that mothers do about babies. For us, we tried that out, and didn’t like it. We checked in with our intuition and felt it would be fine to have her between the two of us. Chris is a very light sleeper and sensitive to energy, so we felt it would be fine.
- It gets more awesome as it gets older as you worry less about a tiny wee baby who can’t move. It also takes more space when they do become active kidliwinks who spread-eagle over the pillowy planes.
- We started with a King Size bed (with my side pushed against the wall). Once she was about 9 months old, I convinced my love we (I) needed more space, and we bought a single bed that we popped next to our kingsize bed and made a Kingdom bed!
Again: whatever works for you and your family is 100% groovy. This is just me adding my voice to the collective pool of mama wisdom.
If you’re wondering why your kid is waking up all of a sudden, go check out if they are having a Wonder Week.
Made me feel SO much better knowing that it wasn’t for NO REASON AT ALL that our kid’s sleeping patterns would go flippy.
The Bell Curve of Boobs
We hear ALL.THE.TIME. about how breastfeeding comes naturally, every woman should be able to do it, easy peasy lemon squeeze!
And THEN. Reality.
Here’s what I’ve seen and learned:
It comes with challenges. Butt loads of them.
And there is a bell curve of boobs.
Some boobs produce not much milk. Some boobs produce shiploads.
Within tribal society, kid sharing & wet nursing was totally normal. Which is awesome, because all our boobs are different and make different amounts!
Yus, they produced milk. Gallons of it. I remember the midwife squeezing my boobs just after I gave birth, and she was all “woah! you’re already lactating heaps there!”
And when a midwife visited us at home on Day 2, she warned me that my milk would soon come in.
“Too late!” I cheerfully said! “Already has!”
“No no, love, it won’t have come in yet. They’ll be like giant rocks when they do!”
“No seriously. Come feel my boobs!”
And so she did, and was pretty impressed at the Super Milk Bazookers my boobs had come.
And so began the weeks and months of The Jet Propelled Milking Boozwas. When we’d wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of milk. When I left puddles of milk everywhere I went.
Apparently it takes six weeks for milk production to settle down. Mine took six months. I’ve had countless rounds of mastitis (I think 8 was last count, 3 requiring late night trips to emergency) not to mention a gazillion mornings to realise that once again, the Milking Bazookas had jammed up with blocked ducts & needed heavy duty massage/hot showers/hungry baby/herbal poultices/fancy organic herbal creams/I can’t even remember everything else I did but let me tell you, there was no stone unturned as I attempted to stop Blocked Ducts from turning into Mastitis.
Wow. Isn’t this fun to talk about?
I actually feel really, really tired thinking about newborn period. Does anyone else feel the same way?
I still think to myself how awesome life is now Ostara is over that whole first 12 month period.
I could have fed four kids with my gushers. That’s definitely what they were trying to do. I wouldn’t have gotten mastitis so many damn times if we were all tribally and spare kids could have been harvesting off me like a cat feeding a litter.
SEE? BELL CURVE!
Where I had buttloads of milk, other women might have had exactly the right amount for their baby, and other women wouldn’t have enough. And we’d be able to average each other out in the Land of Tribal Boobs.
I think this calls for a Very Beautifully Designed Leonie Infographic.
(FWIW, if you have limited milk supply, you may be able to induce more through the use of galactagogues (I adore that word) – lactation inducing foods and herbs or a lactation consultant.)
We’ve talked boobs. Let’s talk shagging. Natural progression, you know.
It takes boatloads of time for sex life to get normal again.
I sniffed at the thought of 6 months without sex. “Yeaaaaaah RIGHT!” I thought.
It’s amazing how much you know it all before you have a baby.
For us, it took over a year for it to be actually somewhat fun again.
My vajayjay needed to heal. I’d had an episiotomy. I was totally touched out from so much hands-onning.
Plus, there was that whole time thing – we had a baby that didn’t sleep for longer than 20 minutes on her own.
What I most want to say is this:
It’s okay for it to take time. It’s going to be okay. It will get better. Your vajayjay will heal.
In the meantime, keep communicating with your love. Be creative with how you both get *cough cough* your needs met.
And most of all, big cuddles.
I remember thinking “my maiden vagiiiina!!! it’s gone foreverrrrrrrrr!!!! i am irreparably damaged!!!!!!”
I wasn’t. It just took time.
Actually, the best thing I ever heard about this was from my intuitive healer, Hiro Boga.
“Just remember Leonie, the deva of your vagina still holds the perfect pattern for your cells. And it can begin to realign it and heal it and bring it back to normal.”
So whenever I’d feel scared about my vagina disappearing into the Land of Forever No-No, I’d pray to that deva, and have a happy lil smile on my face knowing that it knew the way back to Happy Healed Vagina Land.
And it did.
Me and my vagina say YAY!
Not me and my vagina. But me and something that came out of it.
I don’t say vagina on my blog as much as I do in everyday life.
Maybe I might change that.
(When I have the courage.)
If you find any spelling mistakes or weird letters (aka kkkkieii9999999999;.;;;;;;;;;;), you know the cause of it. Just found Ostara prising open the laptop lid, opening this document and typing slap-happy away. SUCH a helper!!!!
If I ever comment on your Facebook post with something totally irrelevant or unintelligible, you’ll know it’s NOT ME. It’s my iPod being commandeered by baby fingers.
I think that about rounds it up.
Everything I have to say about babies and kids.
I’ve been writing about pregnancy and parenting for over 3 years now, and I think I’ve got everything off my chest I needed to share about that whole pregnancy and baby era.
HA! It only took me three years!
For more reading, I think I’ve got it covered:
- Ostara’s Birth Story
- The Best Friend’s Guide to Newborns
- The Goddess with Post Natal Depression
- Post Natal Depression Q & A and Deleted Scenes
- The Creative Rainbow Mother
- The Mother I Am
- 11 Secrets of a Creative Mama (aka How I Get Stuff DONE with a kid!)
- How Art Healed My Mama Soul
- Top 10 Books I Think Every Mama Should Read
- Two Years of Ostara
- Mama Goddess Resources
- 31 pages of every Mama Goddess post I’ve written from the very beginning – including the hilarious, tear streaked, vomit-powered vlogs I did from the moment I got pregnant!
And just because you may not know right now:
You are incredible.
You are way more courageous and stronger and determined than any Olympic athlete.
You are on the fast track to being a bodhisattva.
You are undertaking the hugest of tasks: to give it all to a new little being who needs SO much love, time, attention and energy so they may grow into the world and fly into their own adventure.
You are a parent.
You can do it however you like.
You deserve nourishment, support, comfort and help.
You deserve to find a way that works for you and your family.
Mamahood ain’t for sissies.
I’m your biggest fan.