“BABIES”

Written in honour & love for baby Mae, the little girl in this picture, now in heavenly places yet always in her mum & dad’s hearts.  Jas and Tris, thank you for sharing your intimate moment of pure love & grief with us.                             

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139

Well I am no medical expert when it comes to babies.  Yes I have birthed and raised 8, but all of them have been mine.  But it is these squirmy little creatures that have been both a passion and obsession of mine for as long as I can remember.  I remember being about 5, when at a checkout with my mum, that I had an overwhelming urge to steal a newborn baby that was in the queue ahead of us.   You can imagine my excitement when my mum announced, when I was 6, that she was having a baby.  A baby that I had decided would be all mine.  Moving forward to my uni days, I admitted to my brother, who was my housemate at the time, that there was nothing more wonderful than the smell of a newborn baby.  He proceeded to nickname me the “Psychopathic Baby-sniffer“.  A name which stuck for a while, thanks Ben.

This inner-yearning to nurture babies has never waned at any stage of my life, and it makes complete sense now.  I was destined to nurture many.  I don’t know what it is about them.  Remove the heart out of it, they come out bald, wrinkly and screaming.  They often don’t give you any positive feedback for possibly months, and they need you ALL the time.  Did I mention the nappies?  But there is just something so wonderful about these little beings.  That smell?  I swear it must be the smell of heaven.  I love the fact that they are purity embodied.  Hurt, rejection, bitterness has not reached them yet.  In them, is all the information encoded to grow them into unique, powerful beings.  Not another on earth is or will be like them.  I love looking into a baby’s eyes and dreaming about who they will be, all that is inside of them…….all the gifts and talents waiting to be discovered.  So much potential, like a seed of the most magnificent Oak Tree.  Only the one who created the seed, truly knows what it can become, given the right conditions.   And yet they are so helpless, they need our devotion and nurture to grow, or they will die.  Die physically yes, but their little souls and spirits can die also, if not watered with the right about of love, affection & protection.

Sounds heavy doesn’t it?  Well yes, but what I really love about that year of infancy, is that it is really so very simple.  I consider it to be the year of “falling madly & deeply in love” with a person you have only just met.  Nature, or as I prefer to call it the “creator’s design”, has put all these special measures in place to make it seamless, or help anyway.  We have so many delicious hormones gifted to us mummas, to help in this process.  Apparently, even before a woman gives birth , pregnancy tinkers with the very structure of her brain.  Activity increases in regions that control empathy, anxiety and social interaction.  Basically, these changes are prompted by a flood of hormones during pregnancy and postpartum period.  Oxytocin, prolactin and beta-endorphins are some of those wonderful few, but before I get into that, let me start at the very beginning.  Again, I am no expert, but here is what I have learnt about the amazing world of babyland over the past 15 years and who knows how many nappies later. I actually started writing about pregnancy, but it ended up being another blog in and of itself, so I thought I’d better just stick to babies, from those first few precious moments to the toddler years.

Bonding at birth; Oh how significant and precious those first few moments and hours after birth are!  Moments you can never get back but are so important for setting you up for a smooth transition into babydom. For your first birth, it is so hard to be fully present as you have just gone through the most life-changing, challenging, world-altering events and it’s hard for your mind to catch up and adjust.  However, if you prepare yourself in the lead up to birth, that no matter how your baby ends up on the outside, your focus will be on that little life in your arms like you have just been handed the world (which you have!), the adjustment is so much easier.  There is such a disproportionate emphasis on pregnancy and birth, that new mums are often left in a state of shock in what is expected “after”.  Our first birth had a very stressful moment in it, where he was nearly born with no heartbeat.  Things were quickly turned around, but I was left in a state where my mind and emotions felt separate to my body.  I was going through the motions of “bonding” with him, but I don’t think I was really feeling anything much at all.  Overtime, I did adjust and so did the bonding but I wish I could have enjoyed it more.  Sharing this with a friend before birthing our second, my friend handed me a book on the importance of those first few moments, and I devoured it in preparation to fully revel in the precious time with newborn Felix.  Fifteen years ago, there still wasn’t a whole lot of knowledge and research on such things so it was an eye-opener to me.  No matter how the birth ends up, no matter how you ended up with that baby in your arms, those first few hours are crucial.  Just considering this and making space for the original design around  the after birth moments is the key.

“When a baby is born, oxytocin continues to contract the womb in order to restrict blood flow to the womb and reduce the risk of bleeding and to help detach the placenta which is delivered shortly afterwards. Blood levels of oxytocin and prolactin are very high, which supports bonding between the mother and baby. Skin-to-skin and eye contact between the mother and baby also stimulate the release of oxytocin and prolactin, further encouraging bonding. Many mothers describe being in a euphoric state just after labour; this is due to the effects of oxytocin, prolactin and beta-endorphins.” (http://www.yourhormones.info)  Isn’t is just amazing?  Nature is supporting you in the entire process, sometimes we just don’t trust it, or trust ourselves. Apparently, a newborn has a reflex called the “stepping reflex” which allows a baby to be able to make its way up unaided to latch and breastfeed on its own.  The design of conception, gestation and birth simply astounds me.  With each birth I have just become more in awe of the process and the intricate beauty of it.  This is why I have learnt progressively with the arrival of each of our miracles, to allow and make way for it.  That is, not to rush it or intervene where possible and to set up an environment to allow for our hormones (and the baby’s) to kick in and do all the work for us.  So I suppose, the greatest advice I can give for mothers-to-be or mothers-to-be-again, is to get that skin-to-skin contact going as soon and as long as you can, no matter how your birth ended up. Skin-to-skin time also helps to release homones in the mother to promote breastfeeding, oxygen saturation in increased in the baby and cortisol (stress hormone) is decreased in both the mother and the baby.  This is such a precious and integral time and unless medical intervention is necessary, don’t rush it.  You need an hour or more. Do all you can to be as present as you can be.  Speak to that baby, even if it sounds strange to your own ears.  It doesn’t come naturally to many when talking to babies, but take comfort in the fact that sound of your voice is home to them, and so is the sound of your heartbeat.  Let them be as close to your heartbeat as much as possible.  With my last few babes, my babies never left my chest whilst in hosiptial and as much as safety would allow after.  Let your baby sense, taste, touch and feel you……you were their safe hiding place for 9 months, don’t take it away from them too quickly.  Looking back, it was the babies that I got to pause most in this time with, were the ones that were the most settled and content.  I am no expert scientifically, but I am pretty sure post-traumatic-stress can affect babies who have been through stressful first few moments, hours, weeks.  Do all you can to bring your calm into their transitioning world.

Fourth Trimester; I caught onto the term “Fourth Trimester” with my third baby Ezra.  It was a beautiful, relatively easy birth with our “Ezra Treasure”.  There were no complications and no intervention.  I bonded with him quickly because I was getting the hang of this birth thing and I felt very present throughout.  Ezra, however, turned quite blue once moved to the ward from unexplained low oxygen levels in his blood and he was placed in a humidity crib for most of our stay at hospital.  I feel like it was yesterday, looking at his hairy little head through the glass.  Many around us were hoping, for our sake, that he would be a girl, which I think ended up making me even more fiercely protective and passionate about our third little man.  Once we were home, he was pretty unsettled in those early days.  I remember sleeping on the floor next to his crib because I knew the moment I left I’d be back settling him.  I thought it was reflux, like our first, and I did all the right things.  However, I soon found that it was only whilst lying on my chest that he truly settled.  Being a young mumma, I worried that I was getting him into bad sleeping habits and it wasn’t good for anyone that I spent a lot of my nights on the couch with him.  It wasn’t until a friend comforted me by telling me not to worry and that he simply thought he was still part of me.  It was only on my chest, close to my heart, my voice and my smell that he felt like he was “home”.  With this newfound perspective I let out a sigh of relief.  I relaxed, and I began not only to embrace this period, but to relish every moment.  The fourth trimester refers to the first 3 months out of the womb, where they are adjusting to the world.  Their little body, mind and spirits crave the safety and comfort of the womb.  They don’t realise why they are suddenly shoved into this loud, cold, foreign environment.  From Ezra’s birth on, I started to see the fourth trimester as the “gentle awakening”. The more gently you can accustom your baby to the world, the more relaxed and well adjusted that baby will be.  I am not sure if it is a co-incidence, but it is the babies that I relaxed the most with in this delicious time, that are the ones now that are the most emotionally secure now.  We can never underestimate the significance of this first year of life, and it’s link to ongoing development.  So, in short, embrace every inch of this time like each moment is irreplaceable gold.  Each interaction with you is releasing hormones in your baby that will either encourage optimal growth and development or inhibit it.

Sleeeeeeeeep; Oh Lordy, there is so much advice out there now for new mums, thanks to social media, that it can become overwhelming.  My approach is to keep it simple.  I now keep in mind that we are all designed to sleep, and it is simply our jobs as parents to facilitate it.  With our Number 1, we overthought everything.  I would feed him for an hour, burp him for 45 minutes and wonder why he was screaming all the time.  The poor bubba just wanted to sleep but we didn’t know how to facilitate it.  I read too many books during pregnancy and I decided I was going to whip him into a routine from day 1 and have him sleeping through by 7 weeks.  I would then have anxiety that he’d woken too early…….. as it was too early to feed him and the routine was totally ruined.  Even when he was sleeping I could feel my body tense ready for him to wake any moment. I may have looked calm on the surface, but I was a nervous mess underneath.  My whole world and my days were defined and graded by how well he slept that day.  I now see many FTM now and I just want to tell them “they WILL find their own routine I promise, just relish every moment.  Let your body relax, let your baby feel your body relaxed.  These sleepless nights will soon be a distance memory but it’s these precious moments that you wont get back”.  It sounds so cliched but its true.  Helping your baby to sleep starts with you.  If you can manage your stress levels, and be confident in your chosen settling techniques, your baby will pick up on this and relax too.  We want to keep those cortisol levels down for both of you, so those delicious sleepy hormones can be effective.  As for practical tips on sleep? Let me summarise my findings in point form, best for the sleep deprived parents! Keep in mind, we have 8 great sleepers now, but it came with some work and intentionality.  However, none of them had any underlying medical issues other than some mild reflux, so if you suspect your baby is in pain (lots of high pitched crying) then please see a doctor.

  • The first 6 weeks particularly, there is NO ROUTINE! When they seem like they are hungry, feed them!  It doesn’t matter if it was only 2 hours from their last feed, or even 1.  I truly believe you cannot overfeed a newborn, especially a breastfed newborn (I will touch on feeding more later). Trust them, and let them lead.  They are designed to let you know what they need, it is just tuning into the cues.  This period should just be about getting to know one another, bonding and learning to read each other’s language.  Each baby has their own language I believe, and the first 6 week’s or more should be just studying this new little gift.  Newborn babies cannot yet get into bad sleeping habits, I believe it’s too early for that.
  • SWAAAAADLE!!  I am a sold-out swaddler.  Taking into account how they were squished in your unterus, swaddling is the next thing to recreating home.  I would use large, stretchy organic cotton ones that can double fold right around their little bodies.  After about 6 months (or when they start moving/rolling) I would switch to zip-through sleeping bags.  For our more unsettled babes, I would make sure the swaddles smelled like me by wearing them for a periods.  Remember YOU represent safety to them.
  • Keep the similar routine around sleep/nap times.  Establish what you want the sleep associations to be with them and keep it consistent.  Some examples are a comforter/sleep toy, white noise, music, dummy, swaddle.  A darkened room will definitely help as it cues the brain to shutdown, even for us adults.  My routine always involved (in order) swaddle, dummy (if they took one), a lullaby and cuddle THEN straight into a darkened room with the door closed or ajar.  My mum would often laugh that their little bodies would go all limp like I turned a switch off when I started singing the lullaby because their little brains would be so well trained to the cues.
  • At some stage, you may need to train your baby to sleep.  Using the above strategy helps, but I think the most important thing when you are ready to train is to be CONFIDENT!  Some need sleep consultants to help with advice, but I often think it’s more about having someone there telling you it’s OK, so you can remain confident in your strategies.  There is a lot of advice out there.  Some just co-sleep (which I did with my fourth and subsequent babies) but to do this you have to put safety measures in place and only do it because it suits you and your baby, not because you can’t figure out another way.  If your baby is past 3 months old, and you are still ridiculously sleep-deprived it may be time to put some plans in place.  There is the pat-pat method (or that’s what I call it), the slow withdrawal and many others.  I have chosen to keep it simple with our babies.  Once I was ready (and our baby), usually around 6 months or more, I would shift them to another room.  I would put them down using some/all of the above sleep associations.  They would cry, and I mean really cry at first, but because I was confident I would not get rattled.  Your confidence is what makes them feel safe…… they know when you start to question yourself.  If the crying continued beyond 5-10 mins or so, I would go in, lights off, no eye contact, offer some soothing soft words, lie them back down or tuck them in and leave straight away.  AND repeat.  Yes the first few nights may be hard, but its for the greater good. They WILL get it!! As long as they feel safe and you remain consistent, they WILL learn to self-settle.  If they wake in the middle of the night, simply do the same thing.  If your baby is a boobie/milk monster, follow your instincts…… if you think they are hungry feed them, don’t overthink it.  But do it in the dark, no eye-contact, talking, extra rocking etc.  Feed, quick cuddle and back.  You will soon work out if they are hungry or just having trouble self-settling by whether they have a full feed or not.  Sometimes even bigger babies need some nighttime feeding on and off when they have a growth spurt, so don’t freak out when/if the sleep-training has back-tracked.
  • CONSTANTLY remind yourself that this too shall pass.  You will look back of these days and want to tell yourself to enjoy these nights, these secret moments with your baby.  Keep your body relaxed and full of love.
  • DON’T BE SCARED OF THE DUMMY!! I have often joked to parents who were reticent about using a dummy that I consider them the greatest gift to parents.  The common concerns are potential dental problem, delay in speech and long-term sleep issues.  Six of ours loved a dummy, and two did not.  I kid you not, its the two dummy rejecters that need orthodontic work and the ones that were most hooked on the dummy are the ones whose speech was advanced for their age.  We may be an anomaly, but my advice is don’t sweat the small stuff….and a having a dummy is small stuff.  Babies just love to suck!  Sucking is your baby’s innate way to relax, and when a baby relaxes their ‘Parasympathetic Nervous System’ is turned on.  When this is engaged blood flow is increased and hormones are released which aid healthy digestion.  A baby that is digesting well is usually a happy, content baby…..receiving all the nutrients they need for their rapid development.  Sucking also affects cortisol levels.  As I have mentioned before, cortisol is our stress hormone.  It is such an important hormone which regulates the immune system and our metabolism, regulating it is so important for a baby’s wellbeing.  Research shows that excessive stress disrupts the architecture of the brain, so where you can keep your baby relaxed, do it! In other words, if your baby wants to suck, let them suck!!  Our eldest, was a very unsettled baby with digestion issues and the dummy was an amazing tool in settling him.  The only time it wouldn’t settle him was when he was hungry.  With each of our dummy-suckers, in regards to giving up the dummy, we waited for an age when we thought they were ready and had an understanding of what was happening .  It was actually a special time, like a rite of passage, when they gave their dummies away.  It resulted in maybe one restless night at the most before they adjusted.  Did I say I love dummies?  I was actually devastated when our youngest, Elsie refused one…… it’d be so helpful now with juggling her toddler fussiness and a full household of remote learners!

Development; With our first, Jem, I was OBSESSED with scrutinizing his development and reaching milestones on time.  I would go to our Mum’s group and analyse what the other babies were doing, and stress over any potential delays.  Jem was slow to crawl, and I thought it was the end of the world.   It’s like time slowed down waiting for him to reach this marker.  I since have discovered that all our babies were over 10 months before they crawled, no matter what I did to encourage it.  All of them walked at 14 months too, and I soon realised this is perfect for our babies.  There is a time and season for everything, and relaxing into that made my parenting so much more enjoyable second, third, fourth time around……  It’s comforting to know that it’s your Maternal Midwife’s job to look out for any underlying issues, rather that resorting to the internet.  I have also learnt over the years that our children’s brains don’t develop on a gentle steady slope, exactly the same as the baby’s next door.  At times I would worry that one of my babes was not progressing then he/she would just leap ahead. I would also often find that before a new milestone my baby would be fussier than normal.  This is very common, as they are simply feeling frustrated with the status quo, likely needing more stimulus (or comfort) while the brain is busy forming these new pathways.  Now I am no neuro-scientist, I can only offer my insights as a mum but this would be my main advice in regards to development; DON’T SCRUTENISE EVERYTHING.  There are books, websites and apps with an overwhelming amount of advice but I believe an overload can steal your joy, heap you with guilt and send you into an unhealthy spiral of worry.  As parents, I really believe we need to trust nature, and the DNA of your unique child and THEIR timing.  However, I did want to offer a shortlist of  3 MUST DO activities that supports nature and developmental design in regards to your baby.

  • EYE-CONTACT; The number 1 best thing you do for your baby’s development is bulk up on the eye-contact and multiply it some more.  The University of Cambridge discovered that when a parent and infant are interacting with eye-contact their brains are actually syncronising.  How amazing is that?!. Your baby is actually learning about their social environment, communication cues and subtleties simply through your eye-contact and voice.  The better the synchrony, the study has found, the quicker the child learns.  So the power is in your hand, or in your eyes, so to speak.  So talk, sing, coo away but do it with lots of eye-contact.  Imagine your brains synchonising, connecting and helping your baby to form those wonderful new pathways.
  • READING;  One of the first things I received from our Community Centre when we had our first was a Library Card.  I actually still have it to this day as a momento even though we live in a completely new area.  Promoting early reading was really coming to the fore back then.  Actually, throughout my Primary School teaching degree there was a big emphasis of early reading being the key to success in literacy.  Now I can’t confirm or deny this in my experience.  The children I actually read the most with, when I had more time, are actually the ones that aren’t particularly strong in literacy.  HOWEVER I do know this…. having your baby nestled in you lap with a book, with all those lovely bonding hormones being released from the close contact, definitely helps with your baby’s positive association with reading.  The more you routinely read with them the more your baby will anticipate that time with delight.  It also sets up an environment to expose your baby to the rhythms and patterns of language whilst their brains are developing new pathways at a rapid rate.  The broader the range of exposure, the more likely your child is to develop extensive language.  With Jem, the teacher in me went a bit crazy with books and reading, collecting too many and often reading ones that were too advanced for his processing capabilities.  However, I soon discovered my favourites and I started repeating those ones with my babies and pre-schoolers.  I learnt that short, sharp but regular reading sessions were better that long, drawn out ones.  Books with plenty of repetition, playfulness and engaging pictures are best for this age.  Anything by  Mem Fox and Pamela Allen are my favourites!
  • TUMMY-TIME; Well I learnt the importance on tummy time the hard way. Jem was a spewy baby with a little reflux, colic and constipation to boot.  I knew about all the benefits of tummy-time but there never seemed to be a perfect time.  After a feed would result in spew everywhere and before a nap he would be too crotchety and tired.  He then ended up just hating it because it was so foreign when we did get around to it.  The result was delayed core strength and gross motor skills.  I have since prioritised tummy-time. For the others I got into a habit of a bit of tummy-time after nappy changes on the change table, facing me so I could talk to them and encourage them to raise their head.  I would then progressively add more time in throughout the day, as they were awake for longer periods in the day.  I had a few that were slow to roll also, so I would often gently roll them from side-to-side holding their hips.  I would sing to them and they would soon enjoy the sensation of rolling and seek to do it themselves.

I think the key here it, with all areas of development, is do whatever you can to bring warmth and connection into reaching a milestone.  If their brains are are flooded with dopamine and oxytocin, the more likely your child is going to form those pathways with efficiency and success.  Love really does make the world go round, particularly in a baby’s world.

Feeding; Now I left this one until last because this is the area I feel I have the least advice to give.  I am a passionate breastfeeder of course, but I am not a one-eyed one.  All the bottle-fed babies I know have thrived just as much as the breastfed ones.  I also know that breastfeeding is not for everyone, and not everyone can do it.  Often it is most beneficial for both baby and mum not to breastfeed, for various reasons, and a healthy baby is number 1 priority.  It is NOT a failure if a mother cannot breastfeed her baby, a bottle-fed baby can get just as much contact and cuddle time as a breastfed baby and that IS the priority.  A loved and nourished baby is a success, however that is achieved.  Having said that, I have been an exclusive breastfeeder for going on 16 years (with breaks whilst pregnant).  My “booboos” as Elsie calls them are well used!!  It’s for this reason I can only offer breastfeeding advice, based on my experience and my experience only. So here is what I have to offer;  Breastfeeding didn’t come easily to me.  I latched our first born not long after birth in a fumbled and stressful fashion and I did plenty of damage.  My nipples were so sore that I was in excruciating pain with each feed.  I didn’t realise this kind of pain was not normal, but I was determined, so I just continued tortuously.  I couldn’t even talk during a feed I was in that much pain.  Eventually my nipples did heal and it became easier and I ended up enjoying feeding him until the toddler years. With each child following on I became more experienced in the do’s and don’ts of breastfeeding and can honestly say the last with the few babies is has come with a joyous ease.  So for anyone keen to breastfeed, or to continue breastfeeding, here would be my advice.

  • GET THAT FIRST LATCH RIGHT; I made this mistake with my first 6, yes 6! You’d think I would learn a bit faster.  I actually thought the pain I experienced each time (albeit less) was just “my lot”.  However, with Benji I just happen to have a midwife that was an expert breastfeeding consultant.  She showed me how to get that first latch on perfectly…..a big open mouth, chin on chest kind of latch. With Benji I experiences no pain at all! However, in those first few days of breastfeeding, that little baby can suck hard because colostrum is much thicker than milk, so it can really take it’s toll on your nipples.  Get help with every latch in hospital if you can, it can make all the difference with successful feeding once you are home.
  • LOOK AFTER THOSE NIPPLES; There are all sorts nipple care products out there now.  My miracle cream was Lancinoh nipple cream that I used after every feed.  There are also all many kids of Gel Breast Discs available now which were amazing for healing and recovery from any grazing.  I particularly used Hydrogel Breast Discs and also Multi-Mam Compresses.  It’s also important to keep in mind that it takes a while for your nipples to adjust and “toughen up” so give it time because time is what it takes!
  • RELAX YOUR BODY;  I still find it pretty crazy that after a woman’s body goes through the most challenging and life-altering experience of birth, then has to turn around and quickly focus on the challenge of feeding.  Some women find it natural and easy, but believe me, they are the minority.  I remember with my first few feeds, I was holding holding myself so uptight, it was like my whole body was clenched.  My shoulders were stiff, I was holding my breath and I was almost sweating with the stress of it.  However, the most amazing things about the body and nursing is that everything is connected…..all parts of your body, your mind and your baby.  If you are stressed, your body senses danger and it will have trouble releasing/producing the milk or colostrum.   So my advice would be, before each feed, take a few deep breaths and feel your body relax.  TELL your body to relax and that it is safe.  Be confident in your abilities to feed this child that has been given to you.  Be confident that your baby is designed to know how to feed and survive as well.  Your baby will sense this and relax also.  If there is any underlying issues like allergies or tongue-ties etc, the professionals will pick it up, it’s their job! It’s your job to relax, enjoy and trust your body.  Your were made for this!
  • TRUST YOUR BABY’S INSTINCTS;  Something that drove me a little mad first time around was the unknown.  I hated not knowing how much milk my baby was getting.  Sometimes he would feed for 5 minutes and push me away, other times he would feed for 45 minutes and seem like he wanted more.  I was a breath away from throwing it all in.  At least with a bottle I would know how much he was getting, then I wouldn’t second guess whether it was hunger causing him to wake up half-way through a nap.  Seeing my distress a friend encouraged me that my baby was taking exactly how much he needed for that day and that time.  Basically she was kindy saying “Just chill mumma, he knows what he is doing more than you do!”.  And you know what? She was right.  I started to notice that the days he only nursed for what felt like a second, he would still sleep solidly.  I learnt to just let go and trust his lead.  I also discovered that the days that he would cluster feed all day, were actually boosting up my supply for the following day.  This would usually happen around the time of a developmental leap or growth spurt.  I went from frustrated and concerned to marvelling at the wondrous design of our bodies and the intrinsic link between mother and child.  Trusting your baby’s lead is also applicable when introducing solids.  My advice would be not to rush it.  Don’t resort to introducing solids in an effort to get your baby sleeping better (which rarely works), wait for your baby to let you know.  Just look for the signs and study your little one.  Some examples are; your baby watching you intently while eating, opening up their mouth when you have food and mimicking your chewing action.  Mine were all at least 5 months before they showed these signs, although every baby is different.  I do believe introducing solids before they are ready, though, can lead to digestive problems later. If you can breastfeed, don’t hurry the weaning either, the enzymes in the breastmilk can actually aid the digestion of the food! I am actually still feeding Elsie at 19 months, which has been a complete joy knowing as she is my last.  Yes I know we will have to move on at some point, but for now, knowing my fussiest food eater is getting a nutrient boost through my milk is a great comfort.

I am sure there are many more facets I could discuss about my experience of babyhood, but this will have to do for now.  I am always available to any parents out there with questions, not medically orientated of course.  My passion for babies and their glorious design is obvious, and it is possible that I missed my calling in regards a career involving babies.  I have often thought of retraining in midwifery but I am concerned I want to take those little parcels from heaven home with me, not even kidding! I suppose my greatest encouragement in all of this, is to not let the details steal from the shear miracle of it.  On the nights, when faced with sheer exhaustion, I would always go back to that place of when I was praying desperate prayers to conceive them.  Despite having eight, conception has never come easy to us.  It took up to a year for some, and in the beginning I was told I may not conceive, so I see each as a complete miracle.  I can only imagine the heartbreaking yearning of mothers that are not mothers in the physical yet, my thoughts and prayers are with them, hoping their dream will come to pass. I also consider those who held their babies in their wombs or arms, but  never got to see them grow and flourish on earth.  It is these parents who have tasted love in its most rawest form.  I am just so sorry for your loss if this is you.

It is for this reason that I dedicate the post to baby Mae.  A beautiful little girl born 18 weeks too early to take her first breath.  Her life is just as significant as if she lived a long life on the outside, now growing up in heaven instead of earth, but destined to be in her parent’s (Jasmine and Tristan’s) arms again one day.  So to all the parents or parents to be reading this post, speaking to myself also, treasure each moment like it’s gold.  Know that every gaze, cuddle, read and feed is nourishing every part of that little seed you were gifted with.  Your love can never over-indulge, it is the very thing that will nourish that seed to come in to flower.

“Babies are the buds of life ready to bloom like a fresh flower to refresh humanity” (Debasish Mridha), they are the very breath of life so cherish them well.

Much love,

Greta, The Butcher’s wife xx