Sunday, 28 June 2015

My first carry a year ago!

The twins are a year old!! I survived, we survived. I have felt the whole year through that time has just run away from me, that anything before the moment I am in could not have ever existed. This has made me sad because I have felt I've lost my newborn baby days, lost my four month old baby days, lost my six month old baby days and so on. Pregnancy I was able to soak in, to fully make the most of- having dreamt of my second baby, having loved my first pregnancy and becoming a mum, having lost a pregnancy in between- this was so very precious to me. And then the twins were born and in the intensity and exhaustion it became hard to be in the moment, to hold on to every moment, instead it has felt like the moments have just slipped through my hands- impossible to capture.

But a year on and I am enjoying remembering 'a year ago I was....' and it is good to know that I do hold moments in my heart, that it did really happen, that I do know and feel it happened rather than it being a simple fact. That I did make the most of those moments despite being exhausted and overwhelmed. And now I have two amazing one year old and I cannot wait for the next year!

My one year olds and their big sister

There is still a lot of haze and blur and great big chunks I cannot remember like the first evening at home- I remember getting home and how that felt but I do not remember going to bed- seems an odd thing to want to remember but I wish I could. I do however remember the atmosphere of those first few nights bonding quietly in the early hours of the morning with my babies- stuck between a longing to lie down and sleep and a knowing that this would only be for a short time and simply just being in that moment. And then the relief of the sun coming up, followed a couple of hours later with the joy at hearing big girl and David waking up.

My first chance to use a sling with a twin (baby girl) at 4 days old

Then there is my first carry. I remember how it felt- not how I'd dreamt of it feeling, I remember asking for a photo to be taken and I remember knowing this was not a carry that would work with twins. The photo shows me feeding baby girl- I know it was liberating to be freed from the sofa and my complicated cushion set up for tandem feeding. I know it was not easy to wrap her beautifully as I had so wanted to for so long. Instead it was hard to get her snug and secure and it felt very different to my solid large demo doll. But I do not actually remember her being in the sling. I know it was tiring just to walk from the living room to the bedroom to look in the mirror. I know a little later I needed to feed baby boy (I assume baby girl was asleep in the wrap but I do not know this) and I could not see baby boy through the slip knot making latching him on difficult- hence not a carry useful for a mum with newborn twins. I have no recollection sadly of when I first carried baby boy.

Twins a day old, just returned from hospital, set up in our tandem feeding arrangement
I remember feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and battered (not that the photo captures this!!)

It was all so different to what I had imagined- even though I was careful to have no preconceived ideas of what having twins would be like, I did have preconceived ideas of what having a single second baby would be like and especially how carrying that baby would be. It started when I discovered all that I had missed in the sling world for big girl when she was a year old (oh how I wished I'd known about ring slings and back carrying for that first year). As I learnt more about carrying the more I imagined how I would carry my next baby, including using a short wrap with a slip knot as l had read someone suggesting for a newborn instead of a ring sling based on the knot being soft and cushy next to a delicate newborn rather than the hard rings. I had loved this idea, secretly planning to do this with my soft bamboo Natibaby elves wrap for my second baby. So having dreamed of this for several years it was the first carry I choose.

I had also dreamed of carrying a baby out of hospital but then the reality of how I felt physically hit home. I was battered and sore and exhausted. The twins first days were spent intensely feeding and resting when I could. Simply moving about was tiring and painful let alone carrying a baby. So I did not get to use a sling until they were four days old. It felt at the time like an age and that I was losing precious time to carry, to try different slings with a newborn but I was not. I was busy doing what was important - feeding, resting and grabbing any opportunity to play or be with my first born (evidence shown that a game had preceeded this by my necklace). So actually what I learnt is how overwhelming those first few intense days are and how fragile our bodies can be following pregnancy and birth as well as how difficult it can be to wrap a newborn, all things I hope I remember when I work with mums in the future.

A year ago it was hard for me to find the time or to have the ability to think to be able to post and share my carrying journey but I hope to in the next few months share what I learnt about carrying newborn babies and twins in those early days. I sadly have not as many photos as I wish as I had not mastered the art of selfies and as I say I was very absorbed with the day to day survival which I feel I still am but I can reflect and see it is not quite as intense. Hopefully I will be able to share more on my experiences both now and a year ago. I will finish with a photo of me using a short wrap with a slip knot, a carry I now love to use!

My baby girl 11 months on in a short Didymos orient wrap with a slip knot- a carry I am now using more and more

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Glimpse Behind the Photos

There has been a long pause in me posting a blog- all I can say is twins! I am hoping to start writing more but as well as giving information about carrying, I want to share the story behind the photos, to give voice to that which is not captured in the images. I have been experimenting with how to get my social posts more real, to not present a perfect, intimidating snap shot. I am finding this difficult though as not only in times of craziness is grabbing the camera the last thing on the agenda but my focus has been on the times I am carrying and these are usually the good times, the times that restore sanity and give me much needed reconnection- sometimes, but rarely, the sling is not the answer required and boy is that frustrating and definitely not a time for reaching for the camera or even for posting.

People have called me 'super mum' but I really need to make it clear I am not supermum. I am just a mum doing what she has to, as well as I can and simply getting through each moment as best as I can. I do not want to give the impression I am supermum. I am not trying to show off. I do want to share the virtues and the array of benefits of using baby carriers and slings and they do hugely make life easier around here. I love carrying and I would love others to benefit from all that carriers can offer but I want you all to know I have some pretty messy moments that I am very much not proud of.

I am not trying to show off but slings do enable me to get the essential basics accomplished-  in this case dinner! The photo hides my unbrushed hair, my tiredness and clothes I've not changed for several days.

It is often commented that I seem so calm, relaxed, ever patient and capable as I handle my twin babies and my four year old daughter. Whilst this can be the case, it makes me laugh as my days are managed by what feels like the skin of my teeth. It is a continuous, precarious fine balance which often gets tipped upside down but this is usually in the privacy of my own home. These moments involve shouting and screaming, leaving babies to cry, more crying, losing my temper, wanting to run far away, hating my children, more crying, feeling I'm no good, not knowing what to do/how to get to the next moment, more crying, questioning my parenting choices and more crying. Luckily they always are quickly counteract by the heart melting grin of a baby, by some wise words from my eldest, by babies falling into peaceful sleep, by a reconnecting cuddle or by some wondrous creative play.

A reconnecting cuddle with my baby boy after a fall out over naps (or the lack of)

I always question myself why in that moment did I snap? Could I not just have breathed, taken a moment, 'minded the gap' instead of falling head on into it? How could these beautiful children have seemed so hateful five minutes ago?

But I am tired, the anxiety levels are too high (these get increased by the frustration of not be able to get to one upset baby because I'm dealing with the other or their older sister and so on) and they have needs and wants that often are in conflict with mine. My biggest let down is expecting too much of myself, feeling I 'should' be able to do it all because everyone else does. I am all too often comparing myself to the other 'supermums' on Facebook and wondering why I am falling so short of the mark. I so do not want to add to another mum's feeling of inadequacy- we need to be supporting one another, sharing the everyday slog of it all, the emotional challenges parenting brings, acknowledging the relentless, ongoing hard work of parenting whilst celebrating the equal and luckily more poignant 'perfect moments'.

So if there are pauses in my posts/blogs it is because I'm trying to accept my limitations and trust the words I wish to share will be there when the time is right. I am not supermum but an ordinary mum, making the most of each day as best I can, busy surviving as best I can, accepting some days ensuring everyone is fed is the best I can do and anything above that is a bonus and ultimately remembering that:

I'm so Blesssed

Monday, 21 October 2013

I want to carry my little one, but which sling? Where do I start?

Dear Friend,

You have asked your friends who wish to give you a new baby gift to rather make a gift, whether it be crafted, cooked or simply a story. The gift I would love to give you is that of Babywearing, so in honour of that I would like to dedicate this series of blogs to you. From my heart I wish you many hours of cuddles with your little one, embraced by your sling of choice, close to your heart.

With love xxx

How to choose which sling?

Snugly stretchy wraps?
Alas there is no simple one answer- although this is a good thing as we and our babies are all individual, so should our carrier choice be. Why is this? Our needs are different, our parenting choices are different, our life styles are different, our personalities are different, our bodies/shapes are different and our babies are different and on top of that our needs, our parenting approach, our life style, our babies change as our little one(s) grows- it is an ever evolving thing. 

Pretty, versatile woven wraps?

So my question back to anyone asking this question is ‘how do you envisage you will use a sling? How do you want it to help your day to day life with your little one? For example will you use it for walking the dogs, to free up your arms round the house or walking the older children to school? What is it important that it does for you: that it is quick to use, enables you to back carry or that it simply looks pretty? Who will be using it: just yourself, you and your partner/an older sibling/grandparent? How are their requirements different?’ The answers do not necessarily conjure up a simple answer and of course our answers and requirements can change but it is a good starting point to focus the mind and maybe narrow the choices.                                                                                                   
Quick to use ring sling?
The Babywearing world can be overwhelming, especially when- whether you are pregnant, have a newborn or are chasing after a toddler- there is so much else going on. It can be hard to get to grips with the terminology, the wealth of information and variety of carriers and slings out there. So where do you start? The internet is always a great resource, but always be aware of ‘not best practice’ videos/pictures and conflicting advice and opinions. Next there are local sling meets and sling libraries, offering you the chance to talk to other mums and get your hands on/try the carriers available to see what starts to inspire you. If you want something more comprehensive and personal then you can arrange to see a Babywearing Consultant, who will offer professional, impartial information in the form of workshops or one to ones. This will be in an environment conducive to learning, where you will be taught how to use the carriers safely and with best practice.  

The lovely mei tai?
Bare in mind that slings are a little like shoes, one pair of shoes is not necessarily the best option for every given occasion or situation, sometimes we need different shoes for different activities, so do remember not every sling will necessarily meet your every need from newborn to toddler and beyond, so you might want to be open to the possibility of needing more than one in your babywearing journey. Budget of course is always a consideration and there are ways to be economical (although be aware of cheap fakes and remember in some cases cheaper carriers will not be as padded, supportive or comfortable). And never forget that most carriers can be sold on – there is a huge pre-loved market out there so it is possible your carrier will have a resale value.

Overall though I recommend that you enjoy researching, trying, playing and finding the carrier/sling(s) for you. Your one(s) are out there. 

To help get you started, or just for your interest, I will be posting a blog for each type of carrier over the next couple of months to give you a little more information of what they are, some of the terminology to note and the pros and cons whilst trying to keep it simple and informative.

Practical, man friendly buckles?

Further resources:
Starting points for internet research click here and here
Online (babywearing) advice and information by Anne McEwan from WrapMyBaby
To find your local sling library click here
To find your local babywearing consultatnt click here
Babywearing on a budget by Anne McEwan from WrapMyBaby
Natural Mamas: amongst other useful information and forums have a FSOT Slings and Carriers forum
An Important Note on Safety

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Embrace Sling Library- What is it all about? Why have I set it up?

Firstly why have I started a sling library?
Ultimately because I am completely and utterly passionate about Babywearing and I want to share and pass on the gift of Babywearing to parents and little ones.

What is this funny, hippy sounding term ‘Babywearing’?
It refers to carrying your little one in a sling or carrier; it does not refer to a particular style of parenting as it is often misinterpreted to. Carrying your little one in a carrier is relevant to any parent, whatever your parenting approach- it is a parenting tool which can be used as little or as much as you want, depending on your family life.

Why am I passionate about it?
My daughter and I have gained so much from it in these first precious years together. I have loved simply getting to share my world with her, having cuddles and chats as we go about our daily lives, enjoying walks over the hills and fields as well as having help with the trying times, for example when I have an overtired little girl who needs that extra reassurance.

Reassurance and cuddles

In addition to being practical, cuddly and special it is beneficial from an emotional, physical and cognitive developmental perspective. As parents we want to give our children the best possible start to life, I am a firm believer that these early informative years are vital for providing our little ones with firm foundations so that they can head off into the world confidently. Carrying your little one is one of the many ways we can help make those foundations as secure and strong as possible.

So how does a sling library fit into all of this?
Our Babywearing journey was not all smooth running, whilst I thought I knew what I was doing and had it sussed, unknown to me at the time I was missing out on so much more that I could have gained from it in the first year of my daughter’s life, plus I was often not carrying my daughter as safely, securely or optimally as I could have. I want to be able to provide the information I did not access to parents, hopefully early on in their parenting journey so they can gain all they want to from this amazing parenting tool.

Which sling?? Often overwhelming for a parent to know where to start

There is a wide range of carriers out there and it can be overwhelming to know which one to choose. From experience there are carriers which are not as comfortable for one person as for the next as well as simply uncomfortable carriers that do not carry our little ones as optimally as they could be. An uncomfortable, not supportive carrier can easily put a parent off from carrying their little one in a sling- I want to try to reduce the chances of this happening for parents.

What is a sling library all about?
The sling library enables parents to try before they buy, helping them find the right carrier for them and their family life, or it could be that they simply want to borrow a carrier for a short term need, such as a holiday or family occasion. The library currently has a basic range of carriers that I hope to increase by reinvesting all proceeds from loans so that I can build up a comprehensive service for the local community.

It also gives them access to correct information about optimal positioning and safety guidelines when hiring a carrier and in addition to the library I run a consultancy service which includes an ‘Introduction to Babywearing’ workshop as well as consultations which can be tailored to the individual’s needs for if they want more in depth information or one to one time to learn how to use the carrier of their choice. Consultations can range from half an hour long for as little as £10 to a full comprehensive 2 hours.  

As I have said, Babywearing can be interpreted differently for each family, from simply having a quick and easy carrier to use for carrying little one when walking the dog to ditching the pram altogether in favour of learning the art of wrapping your little one. I am here for all Babywearing needs and wanting to ultimately ensure that babies are carried safely, securely and supported optimally by parents who are comfortable and confident using their carrier.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Versatile Must Have Sling

Slings can be so much more then simply getting your little one from A to B- a must have when out and about for many reasons. Here are just a few of the ways my slings came in handy whilst on holiday:

Keeping comfortable whilst having a 5 minute power nap following a 3 hour morning run and hike up to a waterfall, featuring Emeibaby carrier as pillow and Bara Barn shorty as blanket

Bara Barn in action- Piggy back with Uncle- very special

Emeibaby in action- Cuddles with Daddy

Emergency skirt- I will not go into details as to why this was required! Featuring tonga ready to go, which was particularly useful for carrying nervous toddler whilst paddling

Not just a handy carrying tool for little ones but great for carrying supplies (featuring apple juice here)

Great for collecting shells on the beach

My didymos shorty keeping me warm and snug

Didymos in action- tired girl requiring a carry- when she got down she said 'I am better now'- the magical, healing power of the wrap

and finally more cuddles with Daddy- a cosy break from being on Daddy's shoulders

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow Painting/Playing

Daddy came up with the brilliant afternoon activity of 'Snow Painting'- what could be better to do when there are increasing drifts of snow outside the door.

Our 'ingredients' included:

One plastic tray
A piece of paper to fit tray- watercolour paper a good option
Colour- daughter choose poster paints, I choose food colouring and Daddy choose some beetroot paint we'd made the other day

The Plan was to:
Place the piece of paper in the tray

Get a bucket full of snow and tip on to the tray

Start adding colour

And see what happened.

What did happened:

We started by adding our colour

A little mixing

Getting hands in

More colour and mixing

A request for paint direct on hands

Rub together


More mixing

Now for some scrapping out of the tray and back into the bucket

A request for a spoon

Feet in!

Quick wait plain paper will be better

Now for some foot painting

Results after standing up and having a really good twist in the paint with feet

A little later to return to snow having melted a little

Some painting with snow paint

Then back to pouring from bucket to tray- sadly I missed a photo of the paper after the first pouring into the bucket as the snow paint had made some lovely marks- but busy toddler needed next pouring to be supervised (I am fairly relaxed but did not fancy snow/water/paint all over the kitchen!).

The pouring and spooning continued for quite a while as we watched the snow melt more and more and become less crunchy and mushy. Baby was also enlisted to help with the activities.

End result

So whilst the end result was not exciting (although I think can be taken forward to our next painting fun- more interesting to have a coloured/textured piece of paper to paint on), this was not what it was about. My daughter and I got to spend time together experimenting, playing, being creative and simply being together. My daughter, in addition, learnt a little more about snow, melting, colour, mixing, pouring, instructing baby what to do and generally just got to play!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

'Twas a Night Before Christmas' Baby Art Class

Stockings are out and full of presents for babies to explore, paper is cut and prepared such that it can be folded into a stocking once the masterpieces have been painted, Winter Wonderland is playing in the background and mulled orange juice is on the stove ready for parents.

Bags of discovery are ready- Christmas colours and items like pine cones to be explored and dragged through the paint.

Babies arrive and quickly venture over to the presents, which are inspected, bashed and rattled (all containing what babies really want- boxes and random objects like lids of pots!) but abandoned when the first 'paint' is handed out- frozen berries.

From frozen berries on to warmed berries- much messier and fun to paint with- although some beautiful marks were made with the frozen berries. Fruits are mixed with Christmas spices- nutmeg, cinnamon and all spice to add to the sensory experience.

My favourite aspect of the classes Mum and little one enjoying some painting together.

Truly immersed in the paint and all that is going on, with beautifully crossed over feet- sadly missed capturing the big grins and clapping.

Eating is an added bonus (interestingly the frozen blueberries at the beginning were a hit for eating!)- joy of using natural food paints no need to worry about what is consumed! And some bashing of pots, not just used for containing paint.

Bags of discovery being discovered- 'What's in here Mum?' 

There is always something that is good to chew on.

Busy, content babies! I love to sit and watch how amused the little ones are throughout the class- enjoying the space, the paint, the props, the exploration, time with one another and especially time with Mum (or Dad or Granny or other important person).

And I forgot to take a picture of the finished painted stockings! Suggestions are that they can be used to wrap a lucky relative's present or simply to hang on the fireplace. My daughter made her own stocking this afternoon (we used paint, brushes, hands, feet, glitter and 'Baby' helped), she decided to make hers into a Christmas card for Mummy (I am very lucky :-)).

Once again a thoroughly enjoyable class, a lovely end to a year of Baby Art. I look forward to more classes next year, putting together fun themes with various materials and paint and ultimately watching babies paint for the first time, seeing their individual reactions- so different and varied but always absorbed and inventive.