This morning I was in the supermarket doing the weekly shopping with my nearly-20 month old in the trolley. We had been there for a little while, and he was tired and bored of sitting down. He saw me putting strawberries in the trolley, and he wanted some. But he had already had some crackers and 2 bananas, and I knew he would have made me open the strawberries and then refuse to eat them. I would have then been left with an open box of strawberries which no doubt I would have spilled on the floor at some point (in the shop, in the car, in my driveway or in the house…) I had been there and done that, and I knew that would happen! Continue reading “To the lady who judged and didn’t stop” »
This is Katy.
Katy is our BabyNatal teacher from the Newcastle area and runs BabyNatal and Infant First Aid classes through her business Calmer Parenting Newcastle. An ex Geography teacher, Katy is now an antenatal educator and mum to two gorgeous young children – a boy and a girl. Katy’s little girl is only a few months old, and today we talk to Katy about the recent birth of her daughter and about how being a Natal teacher has given Katy the confidence to explore her options and achieve the birth experience that she wanted. Continue reading “An empowered, calm and confident birth – Natal teacher Katy’s story” »
Excited, happy, overjoyed, lucky, grateful, impatient, disappointed, in denial, worried, scared, uncertain, anxious, guilty, ‘pressurised’, worried that I can’t share this with anyone yet, alone, terrified, in shock, ashamed, apprehensive while I wait for my first scan, sad, scared of being judged, unhappy that my body is going to change, that “I can’t yet enjoy it”…
These are only a few examples of the feelings and emotions that a few of us admitted experiencing in early pregnancy. Quite a mixed bag, right? And perhaps some words and phrases in there that you wouldn’t normally associate with pregnancy?
The ExCeL Baby Show is coming up, and if you’re going, don’t miss out on a great opportunity to visit The Natal Family stand…
We have some fantastic products for sale!
First things first, you’ll get an opportunity to grab a copy of The Expectant Dad’s Handbook, by our own Dean Beaumont, co-founder, with his wife Steph, of The Natal Family and all its programmes. Stop and talk to us, and you may catch Dean on the stand, in between speaking on the main stage and teaching DaddyNatal classes in our beautiful classrooms – why not ask Dean to sign a copy of his book for you or for that special dad-to-be in your life? Continue reading “The Natal Family meets The Baby Show (ExCeL)” »
Last summer I took a short trip to Canada, and one of the key takeaways from the holiday for me was how family friendly the place is. This was the beginning of my spending FAR more time than I ever anticipated analysing the toilet facilities around me, and wondering whether they were even sending out subliminal messages! Continue reading “Men change nappies too!” »
I am writing this on my son’s first birthday. Today is all about him, celebrating this first, big milestone with his brothers, who are super excited for him. Today, though, I can’t help to feel a bit nostalgic. I would happily go back to last year this time, feel the excitement of labour starting and do it all again. Continue reading “Can birth be ‘addictive’?” »
Earlier this year I sat in a school hall watching as my 8-year old son Jacob went up on stage to accept a ‘Super Pupil of the Year’ award. He stood tall and proud as the head teacher spoke about my son’s determination, sense of humour, kindness, how Jacob stands up for what he believes in and how he should never forget that being himself is what makes him special. I watched as my son walked back to his seat, head held high, grinning at his friends, looking so proud. I smiled.
Rewind 8 years, back to the moment Jacob was born – silent, blue, tiny and nine weeks early.
When I was pregnant no-one ever warned me about what could happen if my baby was born significantly before his due date. In fact I was told by family, friends and colleagues that as this was my first baby he would likely be born after my estimated due date. Okay I said as I booked my antenatal classes and read the variety of books that would tell me what I should expect. What I didn’t expect was my son to arrive at 31 weeks. What I certainly didn’t expect was to start what turned out to be a long grieving process, mixed together with happiness, guilt, love and fear. I grieved for my son, lying in the intensive care unit hooked up to a variety of scary, beeping monitors and with a mask covering his tiny face, helping him to breathe. I grieved for the loss of what I assumed would be my ‘rite of passage’ into motherhood – the ‘golden hour’ after birth when I could hold, smell, touch, look at and bond with my baby, hearing him cry, feeding him, being the one to change and dress him, the trip back home with my baby in the car, balloons and champagne waiting, congratulations cards lined up on the mantle piece. I even felt the loss of my ‘goodbye drinks’ at work and my longed for maternity leave, which were still weeks away. Instead I had a rushed hold of our tiny, quiet, 4lb boy before he was whisked away by a team of strangers. I spent my first night as a new mother either alone in my room, listening to the cries of other babies, or walking to and fro along the stark, quiet hospital corridors, visiting my son, and being told that the first 24 hours were “key to his survival”. I sat in a plastic chair by his cot (he was still too fragile to be moved to an incubator) hesitantly stroking his face and singing Lavenders Blue until the nurses made me go back to bed to rest. As for the cards, many people seemed wary of sending us one in case our son didn’t survive. There were no balloons to celebrate our wonderful son’s first hours and days in this world, and the expected tears of happiness were instead tears of shock and fear.
I cuddled my son for the first time three long days later, but felt nervous about dislodging the tangle of wires and drips. He was my son but I felt as though the hospital owned him. He was my son but I’d never been alone with him, held him without being watched, changed his nappy or fed him. He was my son but I didn’t feel like his mother. When I was sent home a couple of days later, myself and my husband went back to an empty house. We left the champagne in the fridge. I wanted to run out into the street and shout “We have a son! Please celebrate with us! Send us cards and presents, texts and emails, and use the words “congratulations” and “how wonderful” and not “we’re sorry to hear your news”… We then tried to sleep knowing that somebody else was holding our son.
Three and a half weeks, one brain bleed, lots of oxygen, frequent doses of caffeine (to keep his heart beating) and numerous bouts of jaundice later our amazing, well, strong son was able to come home. Our hands, dry and cracked from hand sanitisers could now hold, touch and love him whenever we wanted. We had to learn that this was our son and not the hospital’s, that we could hold him when we chose, feed and change him when we chose, and be with him through the night as well as during the day. Slowly we began to bond as a family. And he thrived. And he grew. And we could breathe again.
It took me a long time to deal with my ‘grief’ and my feelings of guilt that is was somehow my fault Jacob had such a difficult start to life. I had to try and come to terms with all that I felt was taken away from me when my son was born so early and so unexpectedly. But even though I admit to being sometimes wistful, imagining a different start as a mother, and Jacob having an easier, more gentle transition into the world, I know that this was Jacob’s journey, this was my journey, this was my husband’s journey, and we were on this journey together.
Eight years later, as I sat watching my son beaming with pride at having been selected for such a special award, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. The start of my journey as a mother may have been tricky and Jacob may have had to rely on tubes, wires, masks, heat and constant care from our amazing health professionals to survive those early days, but he made it, and we made it as a family, and for that I will be always grateful. I couldn’t be more proud.
Premature or preterm birth is defined as a birth that takes place before 37 weeks gestation.
In England and Wales in 2011, over 54,000 babies were born prematurely. Around 80,000 babies are born each year in the UK needing specialist hospital care.
This September marks the 40th anniversary since the foundation of the National Eczema Society (NES) – a charity dedicated to providing information, advice and support for people with eczema and their families.
The work done by the NES is particularly important as atopic eczema – a skin condition caused by a mixture of genetic and environmental factors – affects 1 out of 5 children and 1 out of 12 adults in the UK. It is estimated that 5 million children and adults in the UK are affected by eczema every year. Continue reading “7 things you need to know about eczema” »
Earlier this month Natal HQ we went camping in the Lake District. It was our opportunity to have some quality time as a family with no phones or emails. however, as it usually is, the divide between work and play was an slim one!
One day of our holiday our older two children (aged 6 & 7) went on Tree Top Junior at Go Ape. I was expecting it to be a lot tamer that it actually was – it was HIGH and in some parts even the adults accompanying some of the children were clearly finding it physically and mentally challenging. Continue reading “What do birth and Go Ape have in common?” »