Wow – this is a hard one to sum up.
Every emotion I have felt in the last year has been tipped over the edge. I have felt the extremes of every emotion, which has ever run through my veins. I have also experienced new emotions, which I had not yet felt. It’s been wild, chaotic, turbulent, beautiful, emotional, incredible, vast, fleeting, extraordinary and eye opening.
I have experienced some of the longest days of my life and it has been the fastest year I have ever encountered.
I have cried, raged, released, surrendered and dug deep to keep connected to my intuition when all I have been able to hear is external noise; mainly about the best and most effective ways to parent from caring friends, family and strangers.
I have experienced fear like I have never experienced before, and born out of that, is a love so deep that sometimes, it physically hurts.
I have been challenged massively. My belief systems have been flipped on their head. My insides have been turned inside out with worry and guilt. For the first time in my life, I have touched debilitating fear.
I have grown rapidly and let go of so much shit I was carrying as I realised that none of it matters. The growth has felt like a constant state of dying and rebirthing – again, one that would often be demanding, not just on my mental and emotional state, but on my physical body.
I have experienced the most challenging times of my life and simultaneously, by far the most rewarding. A love was born that I had no idea existed. I never knew unconditional love until I held my baby boy. I realise that before him, all my love has been conditional, in comparison.
At the beginning
At times I was dumbfounded by the way that everyone told me that this was the most amazing thing. That having a child was the most incredible experience. In hindsight, I get it but I’m also under no illusion that it was fucking hard.
Really fucking hard.
I remember people always telling me it gets easier, but honestly, for the first 6-9 months, for me – it got harder. Our trip to Tassie was a saving grace because, by that stage, I felt like I was sinking.
The nine-month shift
Something happened when Nahlo turned 9 months old. I’m not sure if it was because he was much more than a blob that needed carrying around and a little human, who was more mobile – or that I had just grown into the role… actually, I think what it was, is that Brendan could fully step up.
Up until 9 months old, your baby really needs you – mamma: specifically if you are breast-feeding.
We started Nahlo on solids when he was 5 and a half months old. I wanted to wait until 6 months but he had been staring at our food for months. He wasn’t sitting up by himself yet and I was having a hard time getting the weight on him and felt an unnecessary pressure to bulk him up.
I wanted to wait until his gut was as mature as possible to reduce the risk of allergies, because this is something I have been challenged with in life.
After backing up my decision to start him on solids ‘two weeks early’ with the fact that I had him over ‘two weeks late’, made him six months old anyway.
This was a hard time for me. I was tired, emotional, and I needed someone outside my family and friend sphere who would support me.
Finding a decent doctor
I ended up driving down to Mullumbimby where I found an excellent GP, who supported our decision not to vaccinate. I was so scared after a shitty experience with a local GP who berated me about our decision. This resulted in me steering clear of the medics and instead, worrying myself stupid that Nahlo wasn’t getting enough of my milk.
The breastfeeding helpline was incredible. They were so helpful and the first time I called them, I cried for about 40 minutes while the lovely lady consoled me at the other end of the line. In total, I called them 4 or 5 times and every single lady I spoke to was amazing. I realised that the information I was getting online and from the medics was outdated and causing unnecessary worry.
Immunizing my child
God this is such a touchy subject. There are so many points of view and people really take it seriously – and of course, they should! It’s hard not to take things seriously when it comes to your tiny bundle of perfection.
The reason we chose not to immunize – well, I can speak for Brendan but I might just speak for myself…
When I found out one of the first vaccinations were for Hepatitis B, I was instantly taken aback. Isn’t this a disease that can only be caught via bodily fluids? Sex & unprotected promiscuity, sharing needles and through blood being the leading reasons why you would catch this?
I was pretty certain that my child was not going to be exposed to any of this… So, why would I inject it into my fresh baby, straight from the womb? This made me question everything.
To be honest, I have barley immunized myself when travelling among the depths of poverty, and if was going to travel again, unless there was a really high risk of me picking something up, I still wouldn’t. Actually, if there was a really high risk of catching something, I would be more likely to boycott that country and go somewhere else.
Anyway, this resulted in a shit load of researching and let me tell you – whether you are pro or con (I am neither) you will find the info to back your beliefs up.
We went to see a GP to check out this vaccine schedule I kept hearing about. I thought it was absolutely fucking crazy, to see how many needles are stuck in my child before his second birthday.
Anyway, we have still not vaccinated. To us, it doesn’t seem right. I am also aware that this kind of conversation can get people really riled up and quite potentially, someone will have something to say about this very topic. It’s all good. I get it. It’s scary, and I will continue to research both sides of the coin and following my intuition.
I have been so lucky with this. I have not had a single problem – oh hang on – other than being completely consumed by wondering and hoping that my darling son is getting enough milk. I often got lost in the mind in regards to this, cos you never really know. Nahlo has always been little. Like, off that stupid scale that everyone seems to go by. He was in the first percentile – I didn’t even know what that meant until he was 5 months old, when I finally gave in and went to that GP in Mullumbimby.
So, other than that – everything has been fine. For such a long time, Nahlo fed every 1-2 hours around the clock. It didn’t start to really stretch out until he was 9 months old, and even then, through the night he was still waking often looking for me.
When Nahlo was about 10-11 months old he started stretching out his daytime feeds to anywhere between 2-4 hours and not until he was 12 months old did he start stretching further, occasionally out to 3-4 hours during the night.
I have started to pull back giving him the boob every single time he wants it. It’s often for comfort these days, which is still really nice for both of us, but also because I start working the occasional full day (8-3) with Australia Yoga Teacher Training soon and I don’t want him relying on it too much.
Funnily enough, when it’s just Brendan and him, he doesn’t think about it, but as soon as I walk through the door, he is after that connect and we both still revel in it. I feel very blessed.
When will I stop? I have no plan in this area. We take it day by day and I just enjoy it as much as possible because I know that soon, he will not need, nor want it.
When Nahlo started walking, sleep started to show its face more. During the night anyway. During the day, he has never really needed much sleep. 30-50 minutes maximum twice a day, sometimes once.
During the night, he has very recently started to sleep 3-4 hours in one stretch.
This is one routine we have stuck to – but to be honest, we only secured it when Nahlo was about 8 months old… before that, we were still winging everything and routine wasn’t huge.
Dinner, then bath (Brendan and I share this), then Bren reads Nahlo books before putting him to sleep. I generally get into bed around this time, or not long after. Yep – total nana – some like to have time to do things for themselves once the baby is asleep. For me? I’m shit at things and moody if I’m too tired.
Whoever said you need to teach your baby to sleep? Those cry it out sleep trainers perhaps? I don’t buy it. Each baby is a unique human being, just like us. Some of them sleep, some of them don’t need much. Every time we have tried to teach Nahlo to sleep, it’s been so bloody stressful. At times we worried he would never sleep on his own but at some stage I realised that he is not going to be a 10 year old boy and still need me to rock him to sleep.
The sleep evolution, even for our baby who, for many months, woke every 30-60 minutes at some stage evolves.
I still have not ever let Nahlo cry on his own. I’m there with him (or Brendan is) every single time. I don’t believe in this method. I might get pulled down for saying this but ‘what if that cry it out method is a reason anxiety and depression is an epidemic?’ ‘What if it is a reason so many people find it hard to trust to the processes of life?’ ‘What if it is the reason so many people get sick because they don’t know how to express themselves or deal with their emotions?’
So, for those mummas who I know read this blog and share my peaceful and aware parenting ways, your babies will learn how to sleep on their own. Ride the wave and know that everything changes. You will never know when the last time you get to rock or feed your baby to sleep so enjoy every moment, as much as you can.
Like anything, you can find the evidence to support whatever you want to believe, but after chewing through numerous books, I ended up following the bits and pieces that connected me to my intuition – and leaving Nahlo in a room and walking out while he was crying was never one of them.
I only invite the tears when he is in my loving arms, while I am actively listening – just as I would do with anyone I cared about. This in itself helps our babies to sleep better. Allowing them to cry and release, while they are in our loving arms.
Getting Nahlo onto solids was a big one because of the freak outs we had about him not putting on the ‘required’ weight. He loves his food, but he also has days where he hardly wants to eat anything.
What does a regular day look like? Well, like me, he grazes. Or maybe it’s a case of ‘I feed him when I feed myself, so he has become a grazer’. I’ve never bought into the 3 meals a day thing. I eat when I’m hungry. Which is way more than 3 times a day.
From about 7 months old we started baby lead weaning – where you give them a variety of food and let them choose what they want to eat. I would feel that same concern many mothers feel, when he seemed to avoid the veggies and only want carbs or meat, but over time, I saw a pattern emerge and often he will only want veggies and no meat.
I do my best to let him lead, whilst feeding him what we eat. Currently, he will eat oats all day, every day and loves apples.
Going back to work
Yesterday was the first day of our In House Training for Australia Yoga Teacher Training. It was my first big chunk of time away from Nahlo and Brendan’s first big chunk of time as full time daddy.
Recently I was quite sick (bed ridden actually), which gave Bren and Nahlo a chance to fully bond and move through the day without me. They became incredibly close.
Yesterday, Brendan was excited about the day. Nahlo was apprehensive and clingy all morning and obviously knew something different was happening.
I had been so pumped about the training. Not nervous or anxious at all, just pure excitement. Right up until I got in the car. I became overwhelmed with emotion and the tears started to flow. More about the change than anything. About my boy growing up and not needing me as much anymore. Obviously, this is a blessing as I have dreamt about the space to be able to throw myself into work for more than a couple of hours at a time, but it was still a transition which was unexpectedly, a bit painful.
As I pulled up and opened the door to the studio, my heart was racing and I was holding back tears. I went to the toilet and let them flow, before coming out to greet my beautiful tribe with red eyes.
What a momentous day, for all of us. I feel so blessed, not only because I get to do what I love, with one of my best friends as a business partner, but also that Brendan is the person who looks after our son while I work – and is excited about it! We are all ready for this transition and I’m excited about moving forward into this new business venture!
All in all, I am just so grateful. This morning, Nahlo wanted to be put in his cot to go to sleep instead of being rocked to sleep, which is a massive shift and has never happened before.
It’s funny actually, about a week ago, Brendan woke up, after reading the sleep section in our fav book ‘Aware Baby’ and stated that things needed to change. We knew it was going to be hard and I was apprehensive because every single time we have tried to teach Nahlo to sleep, it’s been stressful. Deep down I have known his pattern would change without us doing anything.
That very day was the first time that Brendan put Nahlo to bed, with his eyes open, in his cot. Nahlo didn’t want to be rocked to sleep. He was squirming around so Brendan popped him in the cot, and with a bit of tapping and AUMing, Nahlo closed his eyes and went to sleep on his own.
This is a really fucking big deal for us. Our babies know how to sleep. They just need patience and time to transition in a loving and stress free environment, where they feel safe. We need to let them release any pent up emotion (in our loving presence and arms) instead of distracting them with toys, boobs and dummies, so their bodies can be free from tension and stress.
I hope that wherever you are, that you can find peace, patience, an open heart and an open mind.