Tag Archive | baby

A letter to myself

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Dear Mama,

Remember this. Remember this for it is at this exact moment that your heart expanded, became borderless in order to contain the love you have for your sweet baby daughter. Just short minutes ago your body was carried on a wave of primal energy as your womb contracted and a guttural moaning like nothing you ever made before emerged somehow from within you and you felt her move further and further towards the world. You are birthing mama.

Remember this. Remember the shock sensation as she slid from your body upon a wave of effort as you let out one final mother-bear roar and your eyes opened on a world that was forever changed because she was now in it. Just short minutes ago she was unknown to you, a little being hinted at in midnight kicks and wriggles. Child of your imagining, daughter of dreamy visions, of between-the-world auguries. You are visioning mama.

Remember this. Remember the first flutterings of deep blue eyes and the spark of recognition within them as they meet your gaze for the very first time, or perhaps for the millionth as surely you must now see that you have known this little soul since time immemorial? See how as you reach out to stroke her tiny little hand she curls her fist around your finger and in that moment you know you will do anything for her. In that moment you know you will reach for the moon, battle any dragon and shift mountains. You are warrior mama.

Remember this. Remember her rosebud mouth seeking your breast, her lips finding their destination and those first tentative suckles as she calls upon your body to nourish hers for the first time. Remember your breasts responding to the call to sustain her little form from yours, the milk-flow reaching her little mouth, and she sighs her pleasure and settles in for the first of many feeds. You are nurturing mama.

Remember this. Remember her sweet baby scent. Oh, the scent of her. No herb, no bloom, no expensive perfume has ever compared to her sweet baby smell as you seek to know her in your soul. In this moment you did not know it was possible to love so intensely. Years from now, when the milk has long since ceased flowing you will be able to close your eyes and relive the scent of her. You are loving mama.

Remember this. Remember all of this and more. This is a new world. Each day she will grow a little. Each day you will journey a little further away from this moment so take it all in. Every bloody, blissful, joyous detail of these first moments with your new baby daughter. Do not forget mama. Wherever this journey as her mother should take you always remember this.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she’s come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
  • Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
  • A Letter to MyselfThe Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
  • A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past… three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
  • Dear me: Nothing will go the way you’ve planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
  • A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
  • Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she’s about to enter called parenting.
  • Talking to My 18 Year Old SelfHannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
  • Dear highly sensitive soulMarija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits – one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
  • Talking to myself: Dear Pre StoneageparentStoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
  • Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
  • My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she’d figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that’s when her first baby was 6 moths old).
  • A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
  • To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
  • To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.


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Morning Rhythms

I love mornings. Waking up with a four month old baby fills my heart with joy. Each morning she greets us with the most incredible smile which lights up her entire being. Lately this is followed by her rolling over, investigating her world from this recently discovered vantage point. We usually spend some gentle time together, the three of us. My partner may read a story from one of the books we keep at our bedside. I usually get up then and head for a shower or bath and my partner spends some time chatting with our daughter. She then gets to spend some time on a blanket on the floor as we make the bed and so on. During this time she is so vocal. She is really beginning to find her voice and her chatter usually draws one of her older siblings in to play with her if they are at home.

My partner usually dresses our daughter for the day whilst I put clothes in the washing machine, hang laundry out and vacuum. We then go out to take our dog for his morning walk. I carry our daughter in a wrap or sling. If it is Sunday we go for a long walk so we will be out for two or three hours. When we get back she sits in the kitchen in her bouncy chair and we talk and sing to her while getting breakfast ready. We try to make breakfast a shared family meal though our son leaves the house at 6.15am for college a number of times a week so he doesn’t always join us. In around two months time our daughter will begin to try some solid foods and we’ve decided that breakfast will be the meal at which she will first have foods introduced. We have a fourteen day rotating meal plan so breakfast is always varied. The plan will change seasonally to reflect how our food preferences vary throughout the year. Our current breakfasts include pancakes and bacon, homemade bread, fruit and preserves, superfood muffins and a smoothie, eggs royale and blueberry scones and fruit. 

After breakfast my partner walks to work. After clearing up and dealing with more laundry we usually do some baby yoga and floor play. Floor play mostly involves repeatedly rolling over, her new favourite thing and her early attempts to crawl. She sometimes plays for a little while in a baby bouncer or with simple toys. By around 10am she is ready to take a nap so we settle down for a breastfeed which normally settles her to sleep for an hour. She sleeps cuddled on me so I use this time to catch up on social media, to write or read.

Rhythm is not the same as routine though it may contain elements of it. The rhythm of our mornings is not set in stone, it varies if appropriate and it is inevitable that it will change with seasons and as our daughter gets older. Rhythm is intuitive. This is what works for our family right now. What does your morning rhythm look like?

Baby on a shoestring: Having a baby needn’t cost the earth

it had been sixteen years since our last child was born so naturally with a new baby on the way we were faced with having to get all the things we needed for life with a new baby. But, just what does a baby need? As a community midwife I’ve seen all sorts of gadgets appear in women’s homes; vibrating, swinging, battery operated, mains powered, singing, music playing, lights-up thingumybobs that are the latest in must-have baby equipment. The consumerism surrounding babies does not fit well with my personal ethical beliefs yet even the more alternative and environmentally conscious books it came across seemed to have a long list of essential items for a new baby. Here then is my own list. These are the items I got in preparation for our daughters arrival.

  • Newborn and 0-3 month clothes: these were collected from Freecycle and local Facebook groups which give away free items. Our daughter is now four months old and we have bought one item of clothing, an organic cotton romper suit. Total spent on clothes up to four months old £20.
  • Cloth nappies and nappy covers: nappies from Freecycle and donated by a kind friend. Covers mostly from Freecycle. A few wool covers provided by a friend used for her little one and one knitted for us as a gift. Total cost for nappies £0.
  • Four in one travel system: from a charity shop. We bought this as we needed the car seat mostly. Our daughter has been in the pram on three occasions in the first two weeks before I felt up to carrying her. It is now in the attic. We Probably should  have just bought a car seat instead. Cost £40. 
  • Moby wrap: we use this daily. It was bought from a secondhand shop. Cost £30.
  • Bedding: blanket hand knitted by a friend, blankets from Freecycle, Moses basket sheets bought new. Cost £6.
  • Moses basket: used on the first day for about an hour. Not used since. From Freecycle. Cost £0.
  • Moses basket mattress bought new. Cost £7.99.
  • Sheepskin bought new. We bought this because of studies suggesting that babies who slept on a sheepskin were less likely to develop asthma, see here. In reality she has never slept on it but it has been used plenty for floor time and tummy time. Cost £50.

The total cost of baby items bought for the arrival of our baby was £153.99, far less than the cost of an average pram. More importantly to us, nearly everything is being reused therefore reducing environmental impact.

Introducing my baby to the elements part 2: more on working with earth

In part one I talked about how I introduced my baby to the element of Earth for the first time. Here I want to talk about some of the ways that we work with the concept of Earth on a day to day basis with a young baby.

One of the most important things I do with my baby is take her out virtually every day in my local area. There are a few places in particular that are important to us and which lend themselves to an ongoing study of the changes that occur in the natural environment. I want to instil in my daughter a sense of presence. By this I mean that I hope to encourage her to be present with what is happening in both her internal and external worlds. Through regularly checking in with the changes that are happening in our favourite local places we are working towards this. As we walk I talk to her about what has changed since we were last in that place. Right now the main changes are the budding of the trees, the herbs growing in the Abbey herb garden, the early spring flowers withering away, bulbs hidden in the earth until next spring.

There are certain spots that we often stop at and where we simply sit, more often than not without speaking using all of our senses to be present with what is happening in that place. Sometimes I talk a little to Berry about sounds, scents and so on. We stop to touch the bark of a tree or to feel the petals of a flower. We sit directly on the ground so that we can feel the earth beneath us and explore the world from this alternative perspective. I talk to her about earth spirits in a very simple way. So I read to her from classic Flower Fairy books and when we spot something we read about i tell her we might just meet the fairy there. We have a selection of these books. They have songs of all kinds of fairies, some seasonal so that we have just been reading the Songs of the Spring Fairies, others according to plant type such as the tree fairies or environment such as Songs of the Hedgerow Fairies. I thoroughly recommend these books to any family wanting to begin teaching about nature spirits. They are great for fostering a magical world view, are beautifully illustrated and also happen to contain a lot of wisdom about how the plants were used by our ancestors.

An awareness of her body is also an important part in understanding the concept of earth. After all, we generally understand our bodies to be physical, flesh and bone. We began doing baby yoga with Berry when she was just a few weeks old and we use songs to go along with actions. She knows the link between actions and song now and often expresses a sense of anticipation when we start singing a song she recognises. Her familiarity with our yoga practice means that she is aware of the body parts involved. We also sing songs such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes that involve physical actions. Through interacting with other people and with age appropriate toys she is learning how her body fits in with what is around her and is developing spatial awareness and physical coordination. She spends the little time in the day when she is not being carried or held mostly one floor. We have a number of daily practices that also address her inner world. I will write about these in separate posts but these include simple visualisation and meditation.

We also know that the bodies of our ancestors have been shown to carry an imprint of where we came from based upon what they ate, linking them to the earth of their locality in a very real sense. It seems unlikely that this will be true of us given our tendency to travel internationally and our disconnection from the source of our food. So in our family we base what we eat on whole foods, preparing meals from scratch from proper ingredients and avoiding processed goods. We eat organic and local where possible and this in turn means that we tend to eat what is seasonal. Berry at twelve weeks old isn’t yet eating but the food I eat reaches her via my breastmilk so eating well is so important to her health and development. We already involve her in mealtimes as much as possible so she sits in her chair in the kitchen while we prepare food, talking to her about what we are using and she sits around the table with us whilst we eat.

I will come back to the element of earth again in a few months and write about how we continue to explore this element as her developmental stage shifts from a babe in arms to a little explorer. Next time I will be sharing some of the ways we work with the element of water. You can follow me on Facebook at Barefoot Mama