Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Should I let my partner have a baby with someone else?

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I received this very sad message from a Mum the other day.

Here is her question (you might want to not read this with anything in your mouth that you could spit out when choking).

Good day Lisa,

hope all is well with you and your family.

I just have a small problem?

My significant other wants to have a baby with another wommen, and wants all three of us to raise it.

You know that I’ve had chemo and radiation and six more months of preventive chemo, so what ever the treatments did took away my eggs and my menstrual.

I’m so weak in that department of men that I’m a little weak to throw him out! Im very upset and stressing about it, will u give me some advice? I know.I’m not on your pay roll and I apologize for that but will u please.


My Answer (first the rant)

I hope and pray that me saying this will help you and that you will hear me.


Only a bully would suggest this to you at your lowest.

He is attempting to make you feel even worse.

He is NOT helping with your recovery.

There is something so twisted about this suggestion that he is very lucky that he lives in a different country to me, because quite frankly I would like to go out and buy an extra specially large frying pan and take it to him so many times that he is scared of kitchens for the rest of his life.

Although cancer has it’s causes in the environment and chemicals that we eat, there is undoubtedly a part to play with stress.  You have just had the all clear.  But seriously, how long do you think you would stay ‘all clear’ with this scenario?


My Second Answer (sorry got to be honest)

I’m pretty sure that this man is the reason why you lost contact with your daughters?  Am I right?

In that case he SHOULD NOT BE HAVING CHILDREN anyway.

Children are vulnerable and are there for us to protect.  In anyway helping this man bring a child into the world is just plain wrong.

You told me that you desperately wanted to get closer to your daughters and from what I’ve seen that is improving?  Does that make you feel better?

How do you think they will react to this idea?

I suggest that if you don’t throw him out, they are likely to throw you out.

If he was a decent man, who desperately suddenly realised he wanted children, he would now be suggesting adoption or surrogacy, not ANOTHER WOMAN.

Picture this:

At the end of your life, do you want your children there with you, loving you and wishing you would stay, or do you want him?  A man who has bullied, mistreated and abused you?

If you can get to the end of your life having broken the pattern of abuse, then you will have the right to be VERY proud of yourself, whatever else you do or don’t do with your life.  You will know that YOU did it.  You.  The scared and frightened YOU.  Managed something very difficult.


My Third Answer (being more practical)

Saying that, there are probably millions of women in your position, and it is not easy to leave or kick an abuser out.  I totally appreciate that.

However, you have friends, and you have family.  They will help you.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about the states, but I know that in the UK there are places that vulnerable women can go for shelter and help in your situation.  There must be something similar in the states.  All you have to do is ask, and I know that your twin will get onto google and find you somewhere.


My Fourth Answer (how to do it)

Right, lets give you some things to do to help you get in the right state of mind.

1) FACE THE FEAR: write down all the worst possible things that could happen.  At the moment you are just paralysed by the fear, you haven’t actually thought through what you think will happen if you leave him or kick him out.  You need to dig down into the fear and think ‘Ok, so this might happen, and that would lead to this and that would lead to this etc etc’.

2) Tackle your assumptions: for all the worst things have a look at them and think ‘will this really happen?’ (lots won’t), ‘if it does, will it be so bad, after all at least I will be free’.

3) Write 250 reasons why you are strong enough and will have a better life without him.  Again dig deep think ‘without him it means that <abc> will happen, which will mean that <qpr> will happen, which will mean that <xyz> will happen.

4) Write 250 reasons why you deserve to have a good life and BE ON YOUR OWN FOR A BIT.  You have very low self-esteem and a lot of guilt going on.  You need to look at this in more depth at some point and tackle your issues.  But in the meantime think about all the things you have managed, achieved and the people who love you.  Think about what you could do with your life.  Open your eyes lovely to the lives around you and realise that you could have such a life too.  You have good genes in you lovely; it’s time to make the most of them and get your gorgeousness out into the world!

5) I suspect that you think that he has done things for you, so you ‘owe’ him; he will make you feel as guilty as he can.  When he does that remember that he is MANIPULATING THE HELL OUT OF YOU!  For everything that you think he did/gave you, write down what he got in return from you, until you can see that you don’t owe him anything.

6) BEWARE jumping into a situation were you are reliant on someone else.  We aren’t looking for you to jump into any kind of ‘helpful’ or ‘rescuing’ relationship with someone else.  The objective is to build a strong, new you.



I know it is very easy to say all this.  But I hope with all my heart that you will hear it and believe me.

I’m sending you all the strength I can.

If you find the exercises difficult, then I know a certain person who looks just like you, with the same gorgeous freckles, who can get you through them on skype!

Keep in touch and let me know how you do.

(ooh and these books will help get you strong and deal with feeling down/depressed, plus you have my book don’t you – keep up the daily exercises)







Would you take back a present, or is it mean and rude?


For years I have taken the attitude that the Big Hairy Northern Hubby knew something I didn’t when buying me presents, and that given time if they didn’t quite hit the spot immediately, their purpose would become clear.  Not sure that quite worked with the model of the Star Ship Enterprise, but with most things it did.  He has always been very generous and ‘its the thought that counts’ right?

Well, this year I’ve taken a difficult and much harder decision.  To take back about 80% of what I was given.  We’d agreed to not spend much on each other, and were very careful on the kids, but clearly once out shopping with the extremely eager Curly Headed Boy all restraint was off.

Normally I would probably have found someone with bigger hands for the running gloves (I have freakishly small hands).  I’d have kept the big dressing gown as a spare and gone out and bought the little short one I really wanted.  More importantly I would have waited for the purpose to come clear for the very expensive snow boots, big fluffy hat, ear muffs, gloves and matching hat.  But, I’d forgotten to mention something quite important to hubby;  I don’t have a winter coat that fits me (apart from one that would work in the arctic, but would kill me in a shop), and I was really struggling with clothes having lost 2 stone this year and needing a lot of clothes.

So I made the very difficult decision to take it back (still keeping the gorgeous PJ’s and bracelet, so it wasn’t all wrong).  I felt guilty at not buying as much as him.  When I worked out how much he’d spent I felt angry and worried about the coming months living on a budget while he looks for work.  I was furious with the snooty woman in the shop that would only give me a credit note for most of the stuff.  I was even more furious a couple of days ago when I tried to sell the credit note she gave me and found that she had taken a ‘fee’ without informing me (got to look into the legalities of that).

I’m hoping that the hairy one is OK with the change in my present keeping/giving back behaviour, because I actually feel much better about it now after a week or so (I started writing this blog post last week but didn’t get a chance to post it).

My lessons learnt are:

  1. Don’t buy from small shops without checking about refunds
  2. Take stuff back quickly, some shops have a deadline of 2 weeks
  3. Taking it back in the sales is fab; you get more bang for your buck!
  4. Although uncomfortable admitting a present isn’t right, it’s worth taking it back
  5. Don’t give people a present that’s too generous, it can make them feel guilty
  6. Don’t give people a present that is more than was agreed on, it makes them feel uncomfortable, not full of glow at your generosity

Did you take any presents back this year?  Where you lucky and got fab ones, or did you get some doozies?  Have you had that experience where someone has given you much more than you were expecting and you felt guilty?

How to tell your children about your pet dogs death and decide when to do it

This time last week we said good-bye to our adorable, but daft 14 year old springer spaniel ‘Merlin’ (on the right).  It had taken me weeks to get to the point where I rang the vet.  Friends and family had been gently suggesting it was time for a couple of months.  But I couldn’t do it until last monday.

I’d known it would be time in September literally since the beginning of the year.  Partially, because we had two other dogs die this year who no longer lived with us, and partially because I can be a little witchy when so inclined!  My gorgeous shaggy Jim died first (left).  We had rehomed him in Potters Barr (nearby) when Curly Headed Boy started to toddle, because although he wouldn’t have bitten my son, we would have bitten Merlin who was clumsy and his eyesight was poor.  You could tell he was worried about it, let alone us.  We got to see him before he died and he got to meet Little Dimples briefly, so there was some comfort in that.  His new owner had allowed him to live on until he literally couldn’t walk at all and there was very little of him left in personality.  Maybe it was a little too long for such a characterful dog, but she was a lovely soft lady and he would have been very difficult to part with.  A couple of months later Danny died (middle), at a ripe old age of 18 in a working kennels surrounded by his girlfriends.  It’s a long story how come he ended up there, but we were basically paying for him to work for the last 8yrs of his life (suckers!!).  He never got to meet Little Dimples, but it was a comfort to know he died in his sleep.

Merlin went down hill quickly after Jim’s death, gradually losing the ability to use his back legs, and then beginning to mess in the house because he couldn’t get through the dog flap quickly enough.  But he was still eating and still so loyal that he would still wag his tail.  But when he stopped whining to come upstairs in an evening, I knew he was giving up.  We had that lovely weather at the beginning of half-term and took him out onto the green with the kids, and he got totally pampered.  You can see from the picture how much he adored Little Dimples; letting her take him for a walk, when he could hardly drag his back legs along at all.  But as the half-term week progressed he got quieter, and I knew that it was no longer fair for the Big hairy northern one to be cleaning up the kitchen every morning and that it would be near on impossible when I was on my own in the house with Little Dimples.

I think I felt guilty, because our cat Harry had lived 2.5yrs after being given 2weeks to live, and it was obvious when we had to give up because he was covering the house in blood.  Little Katy died within a couple of months of him, and didn’t make me make the decision for her, bless her.  But with Merlin I was feeling guilty because of the practicality of having an incontinent dog and a toddler in the house.  But spending that week with the family helped me to get my priorities straight.

So how did I go about explaining it to Curly Headed Boy and Little Dimples?

Well 2yrs ago when Harry and Katy died I used the Mog cat series and the book ‘Goodbye Mog’ by Judith Kerr.  It happens to fit perfectly with my philosophy on life and death, and it really helped Curly Headed Boy who would have been around 4yrs old.  (If you have favourite books, please do share them below to help out other readers).

This time I was going to have to be explicit and explain that we were putting Merlin to sleep, and not that he was dieing at his own timing.  So I’d been mentioning it for a few weeks, and Curly Headed Boy had been aware for a few months that Merlin was going to die.  Eventually I went into an explanation of the fact that the dog gets a bit of anaesthetic to make sure that the injection doesn’t hurt, and then an injection to help them go to sleep and not wake up.  I’d toyed with the idea of doing it during half-term, but I just didn’t want to taint our memories with his death, so I decided to go for the next monday when my son was back at school.

Ironically, Curly Headed Boy was sick on the day, and when the vet arrived he made the last minute decision to stay in the room.  This was a BIG gamble, because as the muscles relax in a dog being put to sleep, they can sound like they are breathing hard.  But gorgeous old Merlin was never going to scare my son; so as I Reiki-ed (a type of healing) him, Max played with a toy in a chair, and quickly he went to sleep without a sound.

For this I have a huge debt of gratitude to Merlin as Curly Headed Boy has always been aware of death, with both of my parents having passed on (my Dad died when I was 20 and my Mum when I was pregnant with him).  But he has now seen a very gentle version of death, and it appears to have really set his mind at rest.  He didn’t cry, instead he pragmatically sat with me pointing out (as I cried) all the lovely things about Merlin, how old he was, and how much easier it will be to have just the one dog.  This is of course the great thing about animals as they do introduce children to death so that it doesn’t come as such a shock.

Meanwhile what to do about Little Dimples who is 21 months?  She might be just 21 months (warning, parent proudness to follow), but she pretty much understands everything, and with a mixture of words and baby sign language, can say anything.  She’d been sleeping, but woke just as the vet was putting the blanket over the head of Merlin.  (Oh by the way, I strongly recommend paying the extra for a Vet to come to your house).  So I picked her up and showed her Merlin sleeping, put the blanket back over, and took her to the door to say ‘good bye’.  A few days later she was asking about our other dog, and I asked her if she remembered Merlin.  Yes she said, and signed ‘sleeping’.  So it is even possible to explain about death to a toddler.

So my advice is:

  1. Take your time
  2. Use books that match your philosophy
  3. Get the vet to visit you
  4. Decide whether your child is mature enough and not too sensitive to stay in the room
  5. Don’t shy away from telling them the truth, it’s useful for kids to understand, and we are all mortal however much we like to pretend we aren’t sometimes.
Will we get another dog?  I must admit I’d love to get something smaller, white and fluffy for little dimples, as Dudley our remaining dog is a huge big black scruffy labradoodle.  But the hairy northern one has put his foot down and I think he’s probably right.  By the way labradoodles do moult; MORE THAN ANY DOG I’ve ever had!!  But they are fabulous dogs, and despite being a spaniel lover, I would recommend a labradoodle’s nature for a family dog any time as they are much less hard work once you’ve done the initial training.
As someone once said to me ‘Out of great destruction, comes great creation’, so I’m going to leave a space in our lives to see what turns up.
Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: My daughters don’t want to see or talk to me

This weeks question corner is very difficult and sad to answer. In a blog post I can’t give a complete and total answer, but I can give guidance on where to start.


A few weeks ago I was approached by a mum who was wanting to ask the American courts to see and talk to her teenage daughters more often. They did not live close to her and were living with their uncle and aunt. It was a complex situation and because it went slightly beyond the remit/ability of a question corner and I wanted to make sure that she was really up for change (I often get approached by people who are desperate, but stuck and how ever much you assistance you offer, they are so stuck in being victims, they won’t do anything, they just want someone to come and wave a magic wand. It’s not wrong to be like that, but I don’t haves time to write a blog post in those cases). So I asked her to do some coaching exercises first, but although she may have started, she didn’t complete them.

Yesterday she wrote that she had heard from one of her daughters that they no longer want to see or talk to her.


First let me say that you must be feeling terrible. However, I’m here to help, not sympathise, so here we go.

For your daughters to say this they must be pissed off and hurt. That can change. However, you MUST focus on the long game, and basically as hard as it is suck it up and deal with it over the short term. I warn you now, if you push now and for the next couple of years, you will do yourself and your relationship with your daughter’s harm . Whereas do it right and you can regain a relationship with your daughters in the future.

In my past we called my mum the wicked witch of the west, and there was a time when I felt terribly betrayed by her, and just the thought of seeing her gave me a migraine. We had 10 very difficult years, but after me doing some serious work on it, we did get close again, and I know she died feeling loved. So I have personal experience of the other side of the story, and can definitely offer you hope. But I know plenty of people who don’t get back with their parents, so don’t take it for granted, you will have to do some work on it as you can’t count on them sorting themselves out as I did.

Guilt doesn’t help anything. However, I do think that it is important to take responsibility for our part in situations. So ask yourself honestly, and ask the people around you. Why are the girls so hurt? Do they trust you? If not why not? Is there a reason why you might have to prove yourself to them? How much are you willing to do to prove your love for them? How much or who are you willing to give up? How much of your own baggage and emotional crap are you willing to face and deal with?


So what to do?

  1. Politely and shortly let them know that you will do as they request. But that you do need something in return; maybe that they or their uncle/aunt give you fortnightly updates on how they are.
  2. Potentially say something like ‘I understand that for you to not want to see me I must have hurt you terribly, so for now I will do as you ask, and I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you’.
  3. Do NOT add a defense or explanation of why you did whatever it is they didn’t like e.g. ‘but … Blah, blah, there is a reasonable explanation blah blah’.
  4. Make sure you don’t give up your legal rights.
  5. Still make sure that you send cards for any birthdays etc coming up soon.
  6. It is likely that they are getting biased, if well meaning advise from other people. Don’t worry about this and keep your focus on the long game.
  7. Remember that they are teenagers. Basically their brains aren’t wired up right at the moment, and even a slightly difficult situation is massive for them. Be realistic in what you can expect in terms of wiseness and understanding from them at their current age.
  8. Do NOT get into the blame game and start trying to show them that other people in the situation have also done things ‘wrong’.
  9. Focus on sorting yourself out simply first by following the ideas in my book (luckily this mum is a beta tester for my new book which currently has a working title of ‘six weeks to a sparkling you’). So that’s what you are going to do for the next 6 weeks. When you get chapter 6 you will get another years worth of stuff to do!
  10. I will give your twin sister the beta copy of my book too, so that she can help you focus.
  11. After the 6 weeks, start looking honestly at how this situation got created.
  12. Create a plan of action of how you can show that you are a mentally and emotionally healthy mum, who has dealt with her baggage, and empowered herself. So that your daughters don’t have to listen to words, but can see factual proof of changes and that they can now trust having you close to them again.

Keep in touch xx

Mummy Went Out: Blogcampuk, TalkTalk, BangsInABun, SEO, BlogDesign, Blog Communities

Do you remember what’s it’s like to do that first independent thing purely for you after a baby, that required travel or something unusual?  Or are you still at the place where your baby is too young?  Well I went out yesterday, all the way into London for a Blogging conference no less.  It wouldn’t have meant much to me years ago when I was attending meetings and training courses all over the world.  But for me yesterday it was a big deal and I was insanely excited about it.

In all honesty I wasn’t totally baby/child free as Little Dimples is still breastfeeding infrequently and I’m a rubbish expresser.  So she also got a trip to London, with the lovely irish granny that helps me look after her.  She didn’t like the trip in, and cried all the way; I don’t think she liked the people on the train and they kept getting on and off!  But she had a fab day with Nanny Bets, and then got to come up to the conference for the last couple of hours and play with another little girl a few months older.  So it wasn’t entirely child free, but I felt like it was a big adventure, so it worked for me!

TalkTalk (the sponsors) arranged it to coincide with a new home internet security product called HomeSafe which I must admit sounds brilliant.  Basically rather than have the protection and control for the kids on the computer, it’s on the wifi, so anything that uses the wifi in the house can be protected.  Not it doesn’t protect them on their phone network, but it’s a great beginning.  I’m sure you are going to see a pile of announcements about it and that all the other companies will follow suit soon.  (No, they didn’t insist I write all that in return for a free blogging conference, I thought they were pretty low key and well behaved about not pushing us to market their new product, hence I have mentioned it).

First was this gorgeous, tall, leggy brunette with a pink short dress and gorgeous heels and tights with little squares all up the side (Ok it might not sound right, but it looked fab).  What a brave woman!  She walked into a blogging conference, which was going to have a pile of different levels of geeks or mums in it, who are not known as the most glamourous set in the world, knowing that we were going to look at her and say ‘who the hell does she think she is?’.  It was a brilliant lesson for me about something that I have been thinking about in terms of being brave enough to put your head above the crowd in order for your blog to be found.  ‘Fight for every page’ she said, and she’s right.  Check out her blog <bangs and a bun> here.

Then there was a talk about creating a blogging community from Sian at Domestic Sluttery with some wise words about the difference between your friends and your community.  We had blog design ideas from Cite, and amazing technical advice from Lee Smallwood about SEO stuff, which I’m not going to share, so check out his blog and hope he writes about it!

The weird part to the day was wandering around staying at boobs trying to work out if you recognised the name of a blog.  I’m sure I missed tonnes that I wanted to meet, so a big *wave* to anyone I didn’t get to say hi to.  St Albans appears to be a prolific blogging area, so what I did get to do was meet up with the ‘naughty corner’ as we called ourselves.  If you don’t have kids and you’re reading this blog, you can’t possibly imagine the treat it is to see other Mum friends and be able to talk to them.  But that’s one of the blessings of being a Mum, you really start to appreciate the little things in life (well you actually get forced to, but it’s sort of the same thing).

So what a fab day, thanks to Sally Whittle (follow her blog, she makes me laugh every time I read it!) from Tots100 for sorting it out. Make sure you check out the Blog Camp UK website for more events, hopefully there will be loads more in future.  It’s even made me brave enough to consider ‘inconveniencing’ (if I was my own client I would so slap myself for that thought) the family and attending a course this weekend, to help me maintain my credentials.  You never know Mummy might get to go out more from now on, woohoo!

Holidays, I’m still a fan of ‘simple’ and some top tips for travelling

Ok so I know it’s easy for me to say that ‘simple things work best for kids’, when I like simple things.  It’s not so easy now a days for people who like expensive trips, toys, holidays etc and they can’t afford it.  It’s all very well for people to say that we shouldn’t be so materialistic, but for many who have got used to the ‘want it, buy it’ way of being, it’s very difficult to switch to ‘want it, save for it’ or ‘want lots, have to prioritise which to save for’. It’s going to take time, but I honestly believe that when the dust settles (which could be a while), those of us who have managed to adjust could have a load more value in our lives, even if there isn’t as much money. Let’s hope I’m right heh?

Kids arent just influenced by us, there are their mates, TV, shops, and the rest of the family as well. My kids like stuff, but luckily they also like the simple stuff too, so they don’t complain when we do things my way, although the Big Hairy Northern one is also very popular for his greater likelihood to reach for his wallet. Perhaps that is the perfect balance; Daddy to give them ambition to do well and have stuff, and Mummy to point out the other side (there maybe a huge dose of generalisation in there as I don’t not go shopping ever!).

Our easter holidays were not mega in terms of exciting holiday destinations, but they were definitely on my wavelength.  First off we moved all the bedrooms around, I’ll blog about that in another post, then we had a week with a few playdates and chilling.  Then I took the kids off on a road trip to Warminster (old school friend) and Devon (big brother).  Then we had a fab few days at home with Daddy and an easter party with the neighbours.

Lessons learnt:

  • Travel with febreze!
  • Have spare clothes in the car for both kids in case of puke or impromptu visits to a beach
  • Have spare plastic bags in the car for the puke smelly clothes.  In fact buckets for the beach are even better.
  • Dont travel near stonehenge between 3-5pm on a friday!
  • Remember to tell relatives that alternative easter presents are always welcome
  • Buy baby beach/water shoes before travelling, they are difficult to get
  • Crocs are horrid, but necessary on a beach trip

My friend said she had a big old house, but I didn’t realise it’s an amazing old grange with stone windows and huge wooden staircases.  All of which the kids ignored, they liked the gorgeous garden, ducks, chickens and cats; so visiting friends has now become a top fave thing to do according to Curly Headed Boy.  So watch out Sarah, we will definitely hit your camel sanctuary one day (I have really cool ex-school friends), and Angela, my kids want your horses so expect us soon!

Then we went off to see my brothers new house in Kilmington.  I blogged about our amazing find in Seaton, which I thoroughly recommend.  Both kids went in the sea, so it doesn’t look like they need the mediteranean (but I do!!).  How come he chose to live in Kilmington when he could have lived on the seafront in Seaton I don’t know; should ask his little sister for advice next time he moves.

We also went to a place called ‘Escot’.  Now I thought my brother had got it wrong and we should go to ‘Cricket St Thomas Near Chard’, but I was totally wrong.  Escot was brilliant, it’s an old estate that has added in children’s stuff like wooden pirate ships, mazes, a simple play barn and of course there are the gorgeous woods; I really recommend it.  It’s a bit like a place near to me called Willows Farm in that you could tell that locals used it lots too, which is always a good sign.  But it was much more wild and old fashioned. I was tempted to by a whole years pass, as I’ll definitely go back again when we torture/visit my big brother again (bear in mind the poor guy is 17 years older than me, so 2 kids descending on his house is a bit of a culture shock!).

The final big treat for the easter holidays was the big hairy northern one being off for a couple of extra days and our crescent having a big Easter Egg hunt. We are really lucky were we live. It’s that typical ‘everyone moves into a new house pregnant’ syndrome, so there are a tonne of kids and we now have lots of yearly well looked forward to celebrations. Plus we might be in townhouses with small gardens, but we have a green right in front of us, which we tend to consider our extended gardens. In fact Curly Headed Boy wouldn’t even consider going elsewhere and missing the Easter egg hunt. Extra family and friends turned up too, so in the end there were 3 year groups for the egg and spoon races, and I totally lost count of how many children there were. I’d post a photo, but can’t possibly contact loads of people to ask their permission, so just imagine organised chaos, one guy with a broken leg, a couple of paddling pools (shhhh), a beer or two, lots of melting chocolate, and oodles of children ranging from 5 months to early teens.

My kids haven’t complained about the lack of mega holiday destination, not that I’m not up for a bit of foreign sun, it’s just that I thought my post might help anyone worrying about holidays for the summer. If you felt guilty about not doing really exciting or expensive things, then think about the value and connection that you got; did it actually work better for you than previous years?  Did you spend too much and need ideas for Summer?  Let me know, I’m happy to help with ideas for you. Top tip number one, which fab friends haven’t you seen in a while?

I’ve got a real fancy for a bit of tree-hugging (ie yurts or something like that) for summer holidays, but that might need some big negotiation with the hairy one. Also hoping to descend on the big brother again as he has a place in Cornwall too, it’s a good thing he doesn’t read my blog or Facebook or he might be filling his diary already!  Claire at ‘Being a Mummy’ has a great offer on a festival in London in August which sounds fab too and is on my birthday so could be a really fun thing to do, maybe I’ll see you there!  Check out my exhaustion tip on monday for ways to reduce your need for an expensive holiday as well.

Hope for Mums with PND from a little black bear

I watched an amazing TV program a couple of weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it for ages.  It was all about black bears in America, so it had big time cute factor.  But then it had the most incredible story about a Mummy bear.

I’m particularly fond of black bears having accidentally ended up on one of those ‘working’ holidays, counting acorns in Shenandoah Virginia for Earth watch (it’s a long story, we were meant to be picking up orangutan poo in Indonesia, but someone got kidnapped and their head chopped off the week before, so they sensibly moved our trip!) .  We saw lots of very unattractive deer (they aren’t like our cute english Bambie look a likes and they smell when you weight them), but hubby got a video of the cutest baby black bears climbing/falling down a tree).

Anyway, back to the TV program; A black bear called Lilly abandoned her cub, the kind of sad animal watching event which we often see, which ends up in sentimental music and them cutting to a sad picture without showing us the poor dead cub.  But this time the people involved couldn’t bear to see the little cub die, <big cheers> so they helped it along a little, so that it tried to survive on it’s own and then held their breaths with little hope of a happy ending.  Suddenly something AMAZING happened.  A couple of months later they found the cub back with it’s Mummy; They were together, playing, hugging and loving each other.  big tear shedding time!

Even more amazingly, the mummy bear had managed to re-lactate.  Now I’ve read about this care of the Breast Mates posts from the lovely Aly at Plus 2.4.  But I’d never heard of an animal doing it.  But there it was, clear as day, feeding the baby bear.  So it shows how even in the animal kingdom a Mum can change it’s mind and go back to breast feeding.

So if you are a Mum with Post Natal Depression, or even just feeling a bit knackered and wanting some time to yourself for a bit, I’m hoping that this little story might give you some relief.  It is possible to get over it and come out the other side, and your child doesn’t have to be damaged by the process.  It’s a ‘normal’ condition that even animals suffer from (i.e. feeling separate from our babies is something that many experience).  And when you overcome it, you can have a great relationship with your baby.  It’s only guilt (which the bears don’t feel like we do), which will get in the way.  Try to enjoy being back, and keep the image of a big black mummy bear rolling in the leaves with it’s baby.

If you are a Mum who has given up breast feeding and is now feeling that it is premature; for a start I don’t believe in mistakes, do don’t beat yourself up, but if you want to learn more, check out the breast mates posts for information on relactating.

The program was called ‘The Bear Family and Me’ on BBC2 with Gordon Buchanan a wildlife cameraman.  It all ended up happily, with the baby bear eventually building up enough fat to be able to go into hibernation just after all the others (it was a little underweight for a while), and with them surviving the hunters; phew!

Breast Feeding, Why Doesn't it Work Out?

You might have read my other blog about choosing what would suit you between breast feeding and formula feeding, (or remember, there is always the choice of both as well!).

I thought I would write about how come it doesn’t always work out for a Mum to breast feed.  Now it might seem a bit weird for me to do that, as it did work out for me (first time – who knows if it will work second time), but I do have friends, and many didn’t manage it, or only did so for a while.  There are many reasons, so I’m going to chat about a few, but would love your views and experiences as well.

1) Lack of Understanding – I’m going to start with this group, but I do think that it is a SMALL number of Mums.  There is no doubt that there are some Mum’s who don’t read books about pregnancy, don’t search the internet and have no interest in the fact that breast feeding is good for the baby.  Everyone else around them formula feeds, and so they are going to as well.  They may be affected by a couple of the other reasons as well.  I also, don’t think that this group is always socio-economic, as I have met the most well-read Mums in the worst areas around me, and the most ignorant in the best.

2) Traumatic Birth – I’m not considering a painful birth traumatic, thats parr for the course really (unless you are a fab meditator!), but it can be traumatic for a Mum when it is longer/shorter than expected, or if medical/surgical interventions happen when not expected.  I kind of get what that very controversial male midwife was saying when he said that pain can help the Mum to adjust to becoming a Mum.  But I don’t think it is just the pain.  I think that it is more wether whatever happens gives the Mum the feeling that they have been through a rite of passage, and if it doesn’t then it does seem to affect their ability to breast feed.  A friend of mine had a very long birth, which ended up with an emergency caesarian.  She bravely attempted to express her milk for 6 weeks, as she hadn’t been able to BF – I’m a rubbish expresser, so I was amazed at how she did.  But at the end of 6 weeks, it was too much and we (her friends) where relieved when she stopped.

3) Lack of Teaching on how to do it – I often wonder what happened in ‘ye olden days’!  There was no option then, so I’m assuming that Mums always found a way to BF.  The fact that I got 2 lots of tuition on how to BF is definitely one of the reasons that I succeeded.  So I’m pretty sure that if a Mum doesn’t get help, and then ends up with INCREDIBLY painful bleeding nipples, then it’s a brave woman that keeps going.  I suspect that in ‘ye olden days’ there was a community of Mums who would help out, but that there were also babies that died from ‘lacking to thrive’.

4) Lack of Milk – Now I’ve got plenty of ‘spare me’, eat plenty and drink plenty of water, but even I have noticed how what I eat disrupts the supply.  (I never had a plentiful supply, like some Mums who can literally hit the opposite wall with the jet stream!).  There are definitely some Mums who don’t realise how much they have to eat and drink to keep it going, or they don’t have anyone around to help them (I was planning at one point to pay the teenager next door to come in & make me a cup of tea every day after school, it’s not easy to feed yourself with a new baby!).

5) Stress – This is probably the biggest culprit of them all.  A Mum who desperately wants to BF her baby, because she thinks that she ‘Should’ and that otherwise she is a ‘bad mother’, can get really stressed in those first few days.  As you know, my whole premise is that when the Mum is balanced and content, the family tends to just settle around them, and this is particularly true in this instance.  If you happen to be reading this and feeling soooooo guilty, then do me a favour.  Sit down and think about the advantages that your baby will have if you end up formula feeding (there are as many benefits to BF’ing as there are to FF’ing).  For example, ease of going out into public, involvement of other members of the family in the feeding process, comfort in being taken care of by other people, a more energetic mum (there is no doubt about it BF’ing is tiring).  Keep going until the stress reduces and then make the decision that works best for you and suits your family (see my other blog).

6) Exhaustion & Pain – It is a painful experience in the beginning and it takes a certain degree of determination to continue.  Someone promised me it would stop after 6 weeks, and I just held out until then.  But I can understand if a Mum didn’t.  I certainly wouldn’t have continued if the pain hadn’t reduced!!!  The stomach cramps are lovely, because you know it’s making you slimmer, but I used to get really painful ‘let down’ pains too – ooouch!  I went to the doctor in exhaustion and he didn’t give me any assistance at all.  As I left, I was in tears, and a neighbour of mine, who I hardly knew at all, saw me, took one look at said a magic word ‘Floradix’.  It’s a liquid iron supplement for pregnant and nursing mothers, and for me, it has been incredible.  There are several on the market and you can get them from chemists and supermarkets.  Then at 6 months, away for a family funeral, I again hit a wall, because I was attempting to do the ‘right thing’ and keep my baby in a cot.  But he didn’t want to be in it!  My husband turned round to me and said ‘why don’t you just sleep with him’, and after reading some fab books about it, I realised why it would suit me, hubby and the little one.

7) Medical reasons – Then of course there are some Mums who can’t feed their babies because of the medication that they are on.  There is an amazing Mum that I know, who has managed to BF her baby for over a year, despite having narcolepsy (sudden falling to sleep) and therefore not being able to take her pills.  Some Mums might not want to mix anti-depressants and BF’ing.  There are tonnes of reasons.  The most important thing for a Mum to think of here, is that baby would prefer Mum to be healthy and around, they don’t care that they are being fed formula.

8) ‘Sexual Issues’ – I forgot about this one when I first wrote this blog, so I’m cheekily adding it in!  This is a very ‘british’ issue.  Complaints about ‘boobs being for my partner’, or discomfort about a baby so close to something that has in the past been sexual.  I even knew someone who was totally freaked out by the baby looking at her – which is what so many Mums quote as being the ‘best’ bit.  Now this might be a bit trickier, but if you are struggling with this let me know and I’ll give you some ideas to overcome it (if you want to – no worries if you don’t).

So you can see, there are tonnes of reasons why it might not or doesn’t work out.  So please, don’t feel guilty if it didn’t work for you, and don’t get on too a high horse about the fact that it did work, sometimes it is just the luck of the draw.  Please do let me know if there are other reasons that I haven’t included, or if some of these ring true with you.

Update Jan 2010

A fascinating article has just been printed in the mail and BBC websites suggesting that breast feeding isn’t better for babies than formula, but that breast feeding is just a sign of a healthier time in the womb, which tends to create the ability to BF.  The research is based upon Professor Sven Carlsen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim who has found a link with higher levels of the male hormone testosterone during pregnancy, which makes it more difficult to produce milk, and tends to appear more in.  So Mums with PCOS, carrying a boy, smokers, small/premature babies, are more likely to have problems.  There is potentially still a slightly higher IQ average in BF babies, but they haven’t had a chance to review those studies yet.  So, although I loved BF’ing, and would thoroughly recommend it, I also recommend being grateful that we have an option.  Check out my other blog about how to make the choice: <click here>