As one door closes, another one opens. 


Our almost 2 year old big girl, decided to have a day of exploring some independence, today.
On leaving the house to attend our favourite playgroup, instead of climbing into her pushchair, she announced, “No. My can walk!” So, today, for the first time, she walked. 


She was so good at listening to mummy. She held my hand, stayed on the path and let me hold the reign when she wanted a bit more freedom. 

She stepped onto the bus, all by herself, and even sat on her very own seat, which she was thrilled with and told everyone, “My seat!”, with a huge grin on her face. 


When we got off the bus, she walked passed the workers, fixing the broken road, and watched as she held my hand. No jumping into my arms, scared of the big noise. Instead, her eyes stayed fixed in curiosity, as I explained, as well as I could, what it was all about.

On the way home, she learnt how to wait on the path, when the red man shows and only to cross when the green man shows. 
I think crossing the road was her favourite part, as she repeated “Cross the road!” every 2 minutes, each way! 😁

Yesterday, she didn’t have this hunger for autonomy. Today she explored a new world and I was left feeling a mixture of both sadness and pride. As one door closes, another one opens, they say. 

It’s crazy how your love develops for them, every step of the way. 

I think I’ll remember this day forever. 💗

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How a Modern Day Village is Helping Me Raise My Child

  

They say “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’ve read many articles that explain how important it is to recognise that humans, by nature, are supposed to raise their children as a communal effort with their extended family. But in our modern day society, villages are pretty hard to come by. 

I often close my eyes and try to imagine what an old time village of help might have looked like. Big houses full of people, laughter, good conversation. Children running around playing together. A big pot of soup on the stove, bread in the oven. It brings a smile to my face, at the thought. I imagine during spring and summer, children would be out in the garden, helping their elders grow the food that will be one day cooked up for them to eat and in Autumn they all go out to collect fruit for pies. I imagine mums, who can always take 5 mins or longer, to breathe and take care of themselves, while another member of the family watches the kids. And the joint effort that would go into the general care of the house. I like this place. Something in my blood misses this place.

But now, in a world that focuses on each person being as productive for industry as possible, we find that the people in our “village” are gone. Simply too busy to take part. 

Grandparents, aunties and uncles, our closest friends, all have jobs to commit to. Unless one person in a single family earns enough to take care of the family finances, alone, all parties must find themselves a job in order to contribute and sustain their way of living. This leaves new parents in a bit of a pickle when it comes to sourcing help and support from their village. New parents find themselves alone in the home, to take care of not only the children but the other jobs that need taking care of in the home. Again, something that in days gone by, would have been a shared responsibility. 

We power through, often struggling to raise our children in the way we see fit, whilst trying to understand why this whole parenting thing is so bloody difficult! 

It usually leaves us feeling like we are incapable or like we are failing at parenting. 

Some become anxious, depressed and find themselves needing medical care, either in the form of medication or counselling. Many others don’t even get this far. As a result of poor mental health education and awareness, many continue to struggle through, without ever taking care of their mental well-being, leading to many more problems in their lives. It’s a huge problem!

I don’t have the answers to this. I’m aware that if our government spent a little more time focusing on the importance and value of care in the home, whatever form that might take, then we might not be finding ourselves in such a pandemic with maternal or family-related mental health issues – You can follow Mothers at Home Matter Too to see how one organisation is trying to change government policy on this issue and also The Politics of Mothering to join discussions that surround these issues. – For now, all I can do is hope that many will see the merit that a politician like Jeremy Corbyn would bring to our government, and carry on. But what I do recognise, is that I seem to have created my very own, modern-day village. And many other parents seem to be doing the same.

It’s not as traditional as the villages we humans were once used to. The grandparents are still there, on certain days. The friends still exist. But in this village, there is a special group of other parents, who are all going through the same dilemmas. They are all helping eachother out with advice and personal success stories. They are there when a mum needs breastfeeding advice, when they are struggling to get sleep but don’t want to leave their tiny baby alone in a room to cry, or when they want to deal with their raging toddler without losing the plot. They are there for moral support, when someone has argued once again with their husband or the house is a complete mess and they feel they have no one else in the world to turn to. They are there to support eachother through things like Postnatal Depression. There’s even a library in this village, full of cookbooks, breastfeeding books, weaning books, attachment parenting books, self-help books, a book full of ideas on what clothes they can wear to breastfeed in. It’s quite amazing! 

It’s called the internet. 

As if by magic, this new world has opened, in protest and mourning, at the loss of our physical villages. People are digging through pages and forums, to find a new community that can help them with the hardest job on earth. And these relationships have become some of the most important in our lives. 

There’s a part of me that feels sad at this realisation. There’s a part of me that wishes my village could be filled with the people I love most, in the physical world. But there is also a part of me that is hugely grateful for those who play such an important role in my online life because without those special people, without the library of information, I dread to think of how I would be getting by with my day-to-day life. 

However, this in itself is not a sustainable model. Why? Because behind our screens, these people are alone too and far away. 

One solution I found to this, was to set up a local parent support group. I recognised the need for realtime people, face-to-face support and friendships. And you know what? It’s going pretty well. 

There’s around 200 members in this group and around 30 volunteers. As volunteers, we aim to come together and help any parent we recognise to be struggling on their own. We make batch meals and deliver them if a parent is too tired or too busy to cook. We arrange playdates in eachothers houses, so that no parent ever has to feel isolated. We go for walks in the park together, meet up in coffee shops and at playgroups. We wash pots and hold the baby so mum can take a shower. And we’re also there for that all important online support. 

I’m really proud of what the group has achieved and feel it’s a great attempt to claw back a little of what has been lost with our sense of community. I urge any parent who feels the same to do similar. Find your village! Find that help and give it back. There’s a huge community of parents out there, just like you, feeling alone, stressed, believing they aren’t capable of this job. But they are. YOU are! We just a need a little help. We just need to find our village. 😉

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Patriarchy for Mothers

 

So, I’ve just finished watching that video with Jada Pinkett-Smith and her reply to her daughter’s question, “How hard is it being a wife and a mother?” 

Her response was astounding and admirable. Her voice feels like one of survival, as she reveals the biggest lessons she has learnt as a wife and as a mother and wow, is it emotional?

As a mother myself, who is currently learning just how important it is to remember yourself in this game, I could really relate. And I think I’m not the only one. 

However, one of the most important aspects of this lesson for me, is how this problem that we face as mothers, is one born out of habit within our culture, rather than simply the messages that float around, within in.

It’s interesting she blames “messaging”. I think it can seem that way because we feel so judged for our actions as mothers.

In fact, I believe, it comes from our patriarchal culture.

We come from a country where men were, first and foremost, in control of women. Women were slaves to their own society. They had no rights and were oppressed and taken advantage of and any work they did was largely devalued. 

Much of that still remains today. While women have been given certain “freedoms”, ie. in the workplace, voting, the right to divorce her husband, the right not to be abused by her husband etc… many attitudes still remain as a by-product of those horrible Victorian ways. 

I still don’t believe that the work we do as mothers is valued enough. If a woman chooses to stay home with her children, then she’s seen as having an “easy life”. If she is on benefits, as well, then she really needs to sort her act out and get a job and stop being “lazy”! If a woman decides to work, she is criticised for not being a “full-time mum”. Where are the men in all of this? What part do they play? Who is criticising them for not being a stay-at-home dad or for going out to work? How guilty do they feel about their choices as parents? 

Women have so many burdens, both physical and emotional, to carry as mothers and I don’t believe those burdens are being either valued or shared equally, in partnership. 

So, it’s easy to look at it as a problem with the “messages” we’re sending out but I think that is only a result of a culture that has always heavily criticised and judged a woman’s work and life, and all-around general self. Women can’t seem to win. And women are even turning on each other. 

I would like to see attitudes changed in this culture. I would like to see more women taking what they want and making themselves happy. Standing up for themselves and realising they matter too. They are important. ❤️

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My Letter to MP Andy McDonald Regarding APPG for Infant Feeding and Inequalities

  

I think it’s fair to say that issues surrounding infant feeding are some which are very close to my heart.  

The opportunity to create a group in parliament that can help tackle the issues mother’s face while attempting to breastfeed their babies, has arose. 

However, the wonderful people trying to get this group off the ground are struggling, as our MP’s are currently not aware of how important it is as a public health issue and are therefore not supporting the group in parliament. 

Therefore, I feel it is our duty to help raise this awareness with them and wrote this letter to my own local MP, asking him to represent me in parliament on this issue.

I hope you will find this inspiration to write to your own MP and let them know just how important this is to you.

Has your family suffered as a result of bad advice from your HCP about infant feeding or because you were unable to access good breastfeeding support?

You can be apart of preventing women from experiencing those same problems, in the future.

It doesn’t have to be as detailed as this letter. Simply providing your MP with the details of the APPG and asking them to represent you, will suffice! 

For more information on how to write your letter, please see this link. 

Together, we can make things better for all future mothers who want to reach their breastfeeding goals!

✌🏻️

Dear Andy,

I am writing to you today, as a mother, a breastfeeding peer supporter, in-training, and as a person who cares about the general health and well-being of the people in this country, in the hope that you will represent me on this very important issue.

I am writing to ensure that you will be attending the APPG for Infant Feeding and Inequalities, on Tuesday 19th January 2016.
I’m sure that you are already aware of the immense benefits breastfeeding has on our health:
– Lowered risk of gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Obesity, Type 1 & 2
diabetes and allergies in infants and also cancer in later life, in infants.

– Protection against breast and ovarian cancer, and hip fractures later in life, the longer a mother breastfeeds.

– Recent evidence also suggests a link between prolonged breastfeeding and postmenopausal risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CV) in mothers.

– The World Cancer Research Fund includes breastfeeding as one of 10 recommendations to reduce the risk.

All of these illnesses, with regard to the mother’s health, represent the greatest threats to women’s health across the ages.

Please see link for an overview of the evidence, including links to the most significant studies: http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/News-and-Research/Research/Breastfeeding-research—An-overview/ 

Aside from this and on a more personal level, I have to point to the humanity and positive mental health aspects of a family receiving sufficient support to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is something that I learnt about through studying an Early Years course at college, 13 years ago, where infant physical and mental health featured largely throughout. Ever since, I have always known I wanted to do this for my baby, no questions asked. 

However, I soon discovered that it wasn’t as simple as I first thought and not because breastfeeding is difficult but because our local area does not provide sufficient support to any woman who wishes to breastfeed but experiences problems. 

My education on the matter has continued and I am now training to become a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter, so that I may volunteer to support women to achieve their breastfeeding goals. 

However, while peer supporters do help people to overcome some problems breastfeeding, I feel this doesn’t look closely enough at why women experience problems in the first place, nor does it efficiently prevent those problems from ever occurring.

The South Tees Infant Nutrition Team have been a life-line for myself and many others, however, their services are limited and there is no International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) working on that team. An IBCLC is the only person who is qualified to give out advice to the breastfeeding mother, as doing so unqualified can, and commonly does, contribute to the premature end of her breastfeeding journey. I am speaking generally, as, of course, the staff members who have worked for the team for many years, along with the other fully-trained peer supporters, obviously have a fair knowledge of breastfeeding. But support and advice on breastfeeding are two very different things and currently, there is no one person, fully qualified to give breastfeeding advice in the whole of Middlesbrough. So, you can understand why so many mother’s are finding their breastfeeding journey cut short. 

Research suggests a strong association to postnatal depression (PND) and a mother who wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t. Research also suggests a strong link to poor infant mental health and maternal depression. 

I hope you can see why this issue is one of importance in Middlesbrough. I would love to see an improvement to not only the health of our children in this area but to the health of mothers in this area, too. 

I believe that establishing a group, such as the APPG for Infant feeding and Inequalities can help overcome this problem.

Efforts have been made to establish the APPG for Infant Feeding and Inequalities in the UK parliament, recently. However, I was disappointed to discover that despite the group trying to form in November, there wasn’t enough cross-party representation, in particular, from Conservative and Labour MP’s. Unfortunately, this meant the group were actually prohibited from getting off the ground.

However, another opportunity has been formed for MP’s to help this group establish itself successfully, with another short meeting on Tuesday 19th January at 9.30am in W1 of Westminster Hall.

Will you attend this group on my behalf and ensure this group gets off the ground? Will you add your name to join the group?
As I have highlighted, this is an exciting opportunity to get involved in such important discussions and campaigns, which should be considered around the area of infant feeding, and I would be delighted if you, as my MP, could attend
and help raise the issue on my behalf.
I look forward to hearing from you, 

Yours Sincerely, 

Lucy Marie Cuzzocrea

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Self-Soothing for the Gentle

I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to teach your child to “self-soothe” than to simply always give them a choice. 

It’s about saying, “How do you want to handle this? Do you need me to hug you or do you want to work this out on your own?”

Maya often falls and hurts herself and I always ask her if she needs a hug or some milk. Sometimes she does, and I welcome her embrace with open arms. Other times, she will tell me, “No”, very confidently and soothe herself.

This gives me great pleasure to see, because it shows me that we don’t need to force our children to “self-sooth”. They will do it themselves when they are good and ready, safe in the knowledge that if they are not up to soothing themselves today, or in that particular moment, their parents/caregivers are right there for them. I couldn’t think of a better way to build their confidence and security! 💗

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A Mother’s Rest

 

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A Poorly Toddler is Never Too Old for Some Skin-to-Skin

Maya is sick today! 😢

After an all night boobin’ session, she woke up with a high temperature, snotty nose and cough. Her cousin had tonsillitis and they’ve spent all last week with eachother so pretty sure that’s what it is. So, I went back to basics, stripped us both off and did some skin-to-skin. 

Skin-to-skin is a really amazing technique. It increases the baby’s oxytocin levels in the body, which acts as a natural pain killer and mood enhancer. It’s also a great way to regulate their temperature so good for fevers!

Maya settled immediately and the boob was right there when she needed a drink. I could feel her temperature dropping and rising on my body, which was pretty amazing! – Just goes to show, they’re never too old for a bit of skin to skin or boob! 14 months old. 

I passed her to daddy for skin to skin to give me a break (toilet, breakfast etc..) She then proceeded to puke all over us both so we took a bath, which conveniently cooled her right down and she actually managed to play for ages. Now back to boobin’ and snoozin’, skin to skin. Thought I would post this for anyone who goes through this in future, it’s worked brilliantly for us and not even used any medicine! Just nature’s best 😉💗💗💗

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