I feed my baby in public

breastfeedingI am one of those women who breast feed in public. I never got the hang of using a sling to feed my baby and quite frankly I tried putting his head under a blanket once at home…he hated it. Now that his older he may have a different opinion and believe that the blanket is fun to play peek-a-boo with.

I happen to have a healthy level of self respect and none of my family or in-laws have ever mentioned having a problem with me feeding my child around them. In fact my family encouraged me to breastfeed with them around.

If I needed to slink off into the shadows to feed my child I doubt that I would have continued breastfeeding as long as I have.

There was an interesting kerfuffle on Facebook the other day about breastfeeding in public and the main arguments were:

  • breastfeeding in public is the same as having a bowel movement in public
  • breastfeeding in public is the same as having sex in public
  • breasts are sexual and therefore breastfeeding is sexual
  • it makes some people uncomfortable and if mothers do need to breastfeed they should slink off to the bathroom and do it or use a cover

This attack on breastfeeding upset me quite badly, and Riaan gave me a beautiful perspective. He turned around and said that unless the person literally consumes all over their food and liquid either in the bathroom or with their head under a blanket they have no room to talk.

And it all fell into place for me, I breastfeed in public because I eat and drink in public and don’t see why things should be any different for my child.

Love and controversy,
Trisha

 

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I am still here

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Trigger warning: Suicide

This post has been buzzing around in my subconscious for a while now. I finally wrote it after reading Tim Ferris’s post: Some practical thoughts on suicide

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Once upon a time, some years ago. I nearly killed myself. Actually, I lie. It was not once upon a time. There were two occasions where I nearly ended my own life. The circumstances around each incident do not matter.

In both cases, the gremlins who live in my mind, had taken comments and twisted them. Some of the words were nasty and ill-meaning. Others were well intentioned but incredibly inconsidered, especially to someone who was battling with depression…obviously but silently. I believed that the world would be a better place without me, that I was stealing oxygen and I was unworthy of life.

In both cases, I was saved. The first time, someone asked me why I was googling “How to kill myself”, and made me promise to stay alive a couple more hours. The next time I read an incredibly personal account that someone had written about their partner’s suicide. That post, seems to have inoculated me.

The thing is, all of the small things that were going on that grew into a big snowball meant that the gremlins caught hold.

I am now aware of them, and I can generally keep them at bay.  I have gotten better at fighting the good fight.

Powerful weapons in my arsenal are the Therapeutic Lifestyle Techniques:

  1. Diet and nutrition
    Eating fresh real food makes a huge difference.
  2. Exercise
    30 minutes of high intensity exercise a day works wonders.
  3. Relaxation and meditation
    Practicing being is challenging but incredibly powerful. A good beginners mantra is to focus on repeating “I am enough” without actually thinking about it.
  4. Recreation and enjoyable activities
    In the depth of a depressive episode this is surprisingly difficult…keep at it.
  5. Relationships
    “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage…”
    – Lao Tzu

    People matter, and depression lies and tries to convince you that no one cares about you. But I promise someone does care, and you never know what a difference your presence will make one day.
  6. Spiritual pursuitsI love Brene Brown’s definition of spirituality in the Gifts of Imperfection, which talks about the fact that spirituality is about recognizing our common humanity, and the fact that we are all in this together.

    “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”

  7. Time outdoors and in nature
    I find this one to be the easiest and most effective tool, and is an advantage of living in sunny South Africa and in an area surrounded with trees.
  8. Contribution
    I struggle with this one, my gremlins know that there is power in harnessing the world’s obsession with consumption and material wealth.

The thing about these lifestyle changes is that they are small, and that you don’t need to do them all at once, and it is possible to combine them, talking on the phone while walking outside.

Another thing that has helped me is medication. Psychotherapy has also been wonderful, helping me gain additional tools and perspective.

One of the biggest advantages of having come out of the depression closet is that I am able to ask for help, and say that I am not feeling well. It means that other people can remind me that #depressionlies.

Love and staying alive,
Trisha

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Now we are ONE

Dear Lucas,

Baby Lucas - 2 days oldA year ago you came into the world on your own terms, after being very patient about a slow labour you decided that you wanted out NOW. And so, in the early hours of a Monday morning you were born via an emergency cesarean section. When you were in Karen’s arms you made the most precious mewing sound and melted your dad and my hearts. You were the most amazing and curious little person from the get go.

We started to count your life in hours, (I whispered happy 24-hours to you while we were still staying at Genesis). This year has been a roller coaster powered by love, chocolate and maxims (“A crying baby is not a dying baby”, and “This too shall pass”).

As we were walking in the garden earlier today I was thinking about how many times I have missed my own mother since you have been born, there are so many things that I would love to hear her opinion on.

We have had innumerable precious moments together, and nearly everyday you will fall asleep cuddled in my arms while you feed.

It seems that you have a favourite author. You love the onomatopoeia of Neil Gaiman’s stories — I can recite Chu’s Day from memory for you — but you prefer to change it up by flicking through to the pages where he nearly sneezes. You laughed with delight when I read Fortunately The Milk to you. I love the magic moments of story time with you.

You have started saying words in between your babbles, and are a constant delight. You constantly watch the world and explore. Yesterday, you figured out how to turn on the bath taps, so I can no longer quickly put you in the bath with some toys while I sort out the laundry.

Lucas - Nearly one!While I start the day in clean clothes, I invariably end up covered in sticky, and I would not have it any other way. It has been an amazing adventure, and I am looking forward to many more years with you.

Love,
Mom

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Have a new dog by Friday

Hello blog,

So last week Tuesday something happened and I felt terrible. I felt like a complete and utter failure. Echo jumped into the playpen with Lucas and he bumped Lucas on the eye and gave him a shiner.

My knee-jerk reaction was that, that was that for the dogs. We needed to find them a new home STAT. The dogs had hurt my baby. I had failed to protect my baby. I felt so ashamed. I had failed as a human mother, my son had been hurt by one of my animals and this hurt could be serious. What if this happened again? I had failed as an animal mother. I had not managed the situation and my animal was able to hurt my son.

I phoned the Labrador Retriever Club’s Rescue person and just got voicemail. I did not hear anything back for the whole afternoon. I phoned again in the evening, and spoke to a charming lady named Ruth, who referred to me to a dog behaviorist named Samantha Walpole. I phoned her and got through to voicemail. So on Wednesday I phoned Samantha again and this time I got through.

Time and Riaan had calmed me down and I was no longer going straight to the option of rehoming the dogs, and I am very grateful for that.

Samantha came through to our house on Tuesday and had a very thorough consultation with us. I had caught the dreaded incident of Echo jumping into the playpen on video. I had been trying to catch some footage of Lucas being cute to send to my sister. Because of this, we had the advantage of being able to get a behaviorist’s perspective on what had happened, and some strategies to handle things differently in the future.

She also gave us a number 0f practical tips on training the dogs, and helped us do some exercises with them. And, while it is an exaggeration to say that they are new dogs there has been an incredible improvement with them and already this week they have stopped jumping on us and are behaving much more calmly.

Love and optimism,
Trisha

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This is how a post works

Hi,

I am just showing someone how easy it is to use WordPress :) .

Real post coming soon.

Love and promises,
Trisha

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Elements of Parenting

One of the things about having a kid who feeds while he sleeps is that I spend a lot of time trapped. So I have been watching some TED talks. I found the description of a language parent by Chris Lonsdale to be particularly interesting.

Lonsdale begins by making two observations about the parent child interaction:

  • The parent is part of a safe environment where the child is understood even if the rest of the world does not understand the child.
  • The parent talks to the child in simple language that the child understands.

He then goes on to give four language parent rules:

  • The parent works to understand what the child is saying.
  • The parent does not correct mistakes.
  • The parent confirms understanding by using the correct language.
  • The parent uses words that the learner knows.

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A trip down memory lane

I found an old notebook today, with some old affirmations. I figured that they were worth preserving:

  • Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. ~ Mary Anne Rodmacher
  • The only thing that you do perfectly is nothing.
  • Acknowledge your fear, then lock it away somewhere in your mind where it won’t bother you. It’s human to be scared. And it’s human to not want to get moving…so acknowledge that, too, and take a step forward. ~ John Carlton
  • Remember: you are here and this is now.
  • The present is our place of power.
  • Breathe.
  • I am safe.
  • I am loved.
  • I am special.
  • My existence is enough to justify my existence.
  • It will be sunny one day.
  • The world will not be a better place without me.
  • Depression lies!
  • My mental illness is part of me — not all of me.
  • Everything is okay until proven otherwise.

Love and affirmations,
Trisha

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Learning to speak

My primary paradigm is now that of a mom, so I found this TED talk by Julian Treasure to be particularly interesting. In the section on vocal warm ups so many of the exercises are so similar to the sounds that Lucas is making…Warming up to learn how to speak.

Love and perspective,
Trisha

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Why can there be only one?

Hello Blog,

I just watched an interesting Ted-x Talk, Larry Smith on Why you will fail to have a great career. I’m not sure how I feel about what I just saw, I feel conflicted. It seems as though he was presenting the idea that passion for one thing excludes everything else. That you need to choose between having a career or being a great parent and human relationships, that you can either have accomplishments or relationships.

I think that idea makes me profoundly uncomfortable. In fact, I am pretty sure that I think that he is wrong. Why is it that we are only allowed to be passionate about one thing. We can either choose this or that, why can’t we embrace the complexity of life.

In fact, writing this now, I think that he has definitely gotten me thinking, but I think he is wrong. Perhaps we have one main passion, but what I have noticed in my self and in some others, is that by becoming passionate about one thing I become more interested in other things…perhaps I gain this interest in order to see how it can enhance my passion. But I think we are far more expansive and we are big enough to be able to have many passions…and perhaps we are able to grow with them and put some on the back burner. For now, my main passion is parenting.

It is interesting to take a moment to look at the definition of the word passion. According to Wikipedia, passion:

Passion (from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer) is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something.

Passion originates from the word suffering implying a tumultuous and difficult journey. It also implies that passion has control over us, and not us over it. I can understand using passion as a driving force but I think I am at heart a believer that we are made for more than just one thing.

I remembered that Matt Mullenweg (the co-creator of WordPress) had a very apt quote on his blog explaining that a person should be competent in multiple fields but I was unable to find the quote, but I came across this one instead:

Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.

And I think that is something to aspire to in the future. At the moment, I am a full time mom. And boy, it is the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. So for now, I guess I need to just figure out what is my overall general goal, and see how I can fit that in it to the shape of my life at the moment.

Love and confusion,
Trisha

UPDATE: Hugh MacLeod wrote an interesting post about this exact same video. And he says:

Yes, raising a family and having a career makes both pursuits more difficult, and yes, there will be compromises – nobody is perfect.

But at what point do we start using family as a convenient excuse, a socially acceptable way to cover our own fears?

Most importantly: are we taking away our kids’ chance to dream big, when we set the wrong example?

Which got me thinking again. As time goes on I want Lucas to see me following more pursuits than just momming, but for now I think momming is a very full time job and it is okay to be looking at having help with the momming in order to engage in a career.

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Unexpected similarities

The last hour has been surreal. I am not even sure that it has been that long. A friend of mine sent me a message: Did you hear about Pratchett. I hadn’t. Sir Terry Pratchett has taken Death’s hand. I hope that he had the death that he wished for. Among family and friends and with good music playing on his iPod.

We knew this day was coming. That one day the embuggerance would claim him. But knowing that something is coming does not necessarily mean that it is easier when the event occurs. I had warned Riaan that when I learned of Pratchett’s death I would be devastated.

But, I am surprised by how it hit me. The same hollow feeling in my chest that I felt when I learned of my mom’s passing. I did not expect that.

I began to explore Sir Terry’s world when I was a teenager, and I believe that I am a better person for having travelled there. My encounters on the Discworld have helped me become a kinder, more gentle, compassionate person.

When I decided to come out with my mental illness his words that:

Before you can slay the monster you must be prepared to say its name.

kept going round and round in my head, helping me find courage.

The world was a better place for him being in it, and he will be sorely missed.

Love and grief,
Trisha

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