Before children my life was totally unrecognisable from the life that I lead today. I met my husband in Australia and we spent a large chunk of our first 6 years together travelling the world and climbing the career ladder.
When I was 28, I had a cervical cancer scare and the “broody” feelings finally bubbled through and we decided it was time to start our family. We were fortunate that it only took a couple of months before I took a pregnancy test and a blue line revealed to me that my life was about to change forever.
I had a perfect pregnancy and birth experience and my husband and I soon found out that this parenting lark would be the hardest work we’d ever encounter but the most rewarding. My only exposure to parenting methods was that with which I was programmed with through my own childhood and what my peer group were using. I dabbled with a bit of Gina Ford but soon found that the routine was far too strict for my lifestyle. I was one of those mums who spent her whole pregnancy declaring that “this baby was not going to change me, it would just have to fit in around our lives” and to be fair she did. She was a very sociable. I cringe now as remember my attempts to get her onto a 3 hourly breast feeding routine at 6 weeks old because that was what Gina recommended! No wonder she cried. It took a good friend to point out that if I fed her she’d probably stop screaming! I gave up breast feeding at 10 weeks as I wanted “me” back again, I felt sacrificed.
I adored my little girl and was a very proud mummy but looked forward to returning to work when she was 7 months old to restore my ego and fill my days with hitting targets rather than changing nappies. She was happy, I was happy, I worked full time but ensured that I put in some long days so that a few times a week I could be at home with her in the afternoons to spend some time being a quality mummy. By her 1st birthday she was blossoming into a beautiful toddler and I started yearning for a newborn baby again. One flippant comment to my husband about expanding our family and low and behold there was that unmistakeable nauseous feeling and I didn’t even need to do a test this time…. I just knew that another baby was on its way.
In preparation for the arrival of baby no 2, we blindly sleep trained our daughter, using controlled crying. Horrific at the time and one of my biggest regrets, making an uninformed decision without ever considering that I may be damaging my relationship and brain development of my child. Note to self; if it feels wrong, it is wrong!
I sailed through my 2nd pregnancy again, a repeat performance from my last experience although this time a friend recommended I try HypnoBirthing as I’d been disappointed first time round to have quit my home birth dreams after hour 23 of labour at home with my daughter arriving 45 mins after getting blue lighted into hospital for no other reason than I lost my bottle.
This time round thanks to HypnoBirthing I had a quick, easy home water birth with hardly even breaking a sweat. Doors were opened in my mind due to my empowered experience. I started to believe in the mind and body connection and felt close to my 2nd daughter through the amount of time that I spent focussing on her, pre-birth. I trained to be a HypnoBirthing practitioner when she was 11 weeks old as I wanted to be able to share this knowledge with my local community. The more couples I taught coupled with the amazing feedback and positive birth experiences that were shared with me, the more and more I believed in the power of our minds. Freya was your typical HypnoBirthing baby, super well adjusted and super chilled. I couldn’t believe it when she only ever woke up in the night to feed and then went straight back off again. She was a little star. She made the transition into having a bigger family very easy as she wasn’t at all demanding. I could divide my time between the girls and give them both the attention they needed
So my maternity leave this time round was different. It wasn’t so easy to take two young children everywhere with you… My favourite pastimes of lunching, shopping & socialising were a distant memory and I spent a lot more time at home alone with the girls. My two girls were brimming with energy, ever so buoyant and cheerful but I felt pretty glum. I felt unfulfilled and undervalued. I missed my old life and its pay-packets.
This time going back to my full time work wasn’t a straight forward decision to make with two little ones. There was a lot of soul searching taken before I handed in my notice. Sobbing as I did so! I am a big believer in fate and honestly believe that that wasn’t the right choice for me at that time as a week later my boss was on the phone offering me a promotion. I was flattered and the pull of a monthly salary once again convinced me to go back. It was much tougher this time round, a new job role, much more responsibility and tons of travel with two demanding toddlers at home. I started to feel guilty about not being there for the girls as much as I’d like when that sicky feeling returned only 7 weeks after going back to work. It couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was. No way. But 7 days later… there was no denying that feeling. I was pregnant again!
Thankfully, I’d also been running HypnoBirthing lessons for many couples at weekends and evenings and was being pulled in a direction that I could never have predicted. I found the successes couples were having with the techniques and the fantastic feedback I received very rewarding. I felt like I was gaining momentum in raising awareness of HypnoBirthing and wondered if I could turn my hobby and passion into a part time business.
About half way through my pregnancy I became aware of BabyCalm and became a huge fan of Sarah’s blog. I was inspired by the information she presented and started to think very differently about my role as a parent. I loved the BabyCalm concepts which coupled with the Montessori education that I became exposed to via my girls preschool, I started to think differently and realise that this family wasn’t all about me and that by becoming more focussed on my children’s needs they could develop into their full potential. This was such news to me and I began to reassess what type of mother I was and wanted to be. This was such a change as I’d been very conscious of doing things “properly” with the girls. Setting strict boundaries and having strong discipline. I was so proud of my well behaved girls that everyone complimented me on their behaviour where ever we went obliviously to the perils of that “good” girl label making them eager to please whatever the cost.
And so my voyage of discovery continued and after my son’s birth I was a much more relaxed parent and started parenting the way that felt more instinctual to me much to my own mother’s disgust. My son breast feed to 18 months old, and has just chosen to leave mummy’s & daddy’s bed to sleep (mostly) in his own bed without any bribery.
I am far from perfect, and since training as a ToddlerCalm teacher I’ve realised how much more self-development I need to accomplish skills such as emotional intelligence and mindfulness so I can pass these valuable life skills down to my cherished tribe.
Being a mother is relentless. I do consider it to be an ongoing adventure with many highs and lows. I know that just doing what has been passed onto me isn’t enough. Simply loving, is a great foundation to start upon but there are many deeper life lessons I can expose my children to in the hope it will enable them to flourish into well rounded, contented, happy beings one day.
I’ve done things very differently with each of my children and I believe that has impacted upon their personalities. My eldest for example is still very needy at night time whereas the younger two settle and sleep really well.
Natural parenting didn’t come naturally to me, it’s an approach that has been drip fed to me via social media and many great books. When it is all backed up with all the science and brain benefits, it feels like the way forward for my unique family and I love sharing that wisdom & inspiration that BabyCalm & ToddlerCalm provides with new families.
By Naomi Newland, past BabyCalm & ToddleCalm teacher