Nature's Mothers Blog

Childbirth, Parenting and Other Passions

A letter to my baby boy January 14, 2013

Dear Leander,

I cannot believe that 4 months has gone by since you entered this world.  You are the happiest, most chilled out, loveliest baby I know. Ok, obviously I would say that…I am your mommy!

Getting to know you has been such an absolute delight:  from the moment I reached down and touched the top of your head as you were crowning just before you were born to watching you doze off on my breast just a few minutes ago.

Some of my favourite moments with you include holding you in my arms seconds after you were born, watching you breastfeed for the first time, climbing into bed with you a couple of hours after you were born and letting your smell and oxytocin inducing gorgeousness envelope me in bliss, watching you sleep, smile and nuzzling your neck.

Now you are a whopping 4 months old, well out of your 0-3 month old clothes and some of your 3-6 month clothes are on the small side. You are a proper little giggler now and it’s so contagious! I can’t look at you without getting an overwhelming sense of how much I love you, and how I just – selfishly – would like to freeze time and keep you in all your gorgeousness the way you are now.  You are  like a drug – intoxicating to the max – I want to bottle your smell, somehow store and save the way you make me feel.  I love the way you reach for me in your dreams at night, put a hand on my cheek or my chin and immediately settle knowing that your mama is close.  I love the way you wriggle close to me when you’re hungry or need comfort in the night and latch on to my breast.  I couldn’t not share my bed with you, that would be just too hard and too tiring for us both!

I love the milky smell of your breath, and I love spending most evening feeding you. Truly I do! I remember your big sister wanting to feed all evening – and being my first it spun me out a bit.  I wondered if it was necessary, whether I was spoiling her as some claimed, or worse still over feeding her. I also had the sense that my evenings, in fact my life, was no longer my own and this used to scare me a it. But now I know that either you are telling my body that you are growing and I need to make more milk, or you just want to be close to me and suck for comfort. And both are fine!  I also now know how quickly this time goes and I absolutely treasure and cherish it! I love the way you giggle uncontrollably when we snuffle your neck or tickle you, only a baby can laugh like that. I am so happy to be your mummy.

One thing daddy and I really enjoy is chatting to you.  You really make eye contact(and have done for months!) and you look so chuffed and joyful when we copy the sounds you make and give you a chance to answer back.  We have tried to get these chats on video, but you’re distracted by the camera…but they are so precious.  You can almost see the neural pathways forming as you have realised that you have control over your hands.  You have quick reflexes too and will have our bowl off the table in a second if we don’t keep our eyes on you!  You want to put everything in your mouth now, which we don’t mistake for you being hungry.  You are discovering, and this is the way you do it. You are also chewing on things and dribbling as your first teeth must be lurking under your gums, not too many months away from making their appearance. You have a lovely little amber teething necklace now, and I have one to match. You enjoy holding onto it and pulling it while you breastfeed just lately too.

Your sisters love you very much. You make them giggle when you accidently bash your rattle against your nose, or drop things repeatedly on the floor. They want to hold, cuddle and kiss you constantly, and it’s not unheard of for them to wake you up to do so! You love grabbing hold of their hair – this makes them shriek and giggle and you look so pleased with yourself.

My only one regret is that I can’t be fully with you 100% of the time, that I have other jobs to do, but in a sense this makes the undisturbed times with you all the more special. I am so grateful for your calm and happy soul! Our family would not be complete without you!

Lots of love

Your mummy


Spring tonic January 12, 2013

Ok, so it’s not quite spring, but there are definitely signs of it on the horizon.  And with spring comes new colds and coughs.  Here is the perfect antidote… I made it originally with Jane from Nature Workshops, it is her recipe.

Collect equal quantities of:
nettles (the freshest, greenest leaves) – for your kidneys
cleavers(also known as goose grass – also freshest bits) – for your chest/lungs
dandelions (leaves only, preferably of ones that haven’t flowered yet) – liver/gallbladder
dock leaves (freshest greenest leaves) -blood

I collect a shopping bag full of each.

Rinse, put in a pot with a little water(about an inch) in the bottom, and put on low heat for about 15 minutes. (Don’t boil!) Leave to cool and gently squeeze water out of the plants. Throw away leaves and mix the ‘planty’ water with honey (or molasses for extra iron kick).  Mix a pint of the water to a pound of the sweetener of choice… bottle and take about 2 tablespoons a day.  Drink within a month – although probably keeps longer in the fridge.

AKA Goose grass


Exploring an alternative to Christmas… January 6, 2013

This is not written in the spirit of The Grinch, but is simply an exploration…

First a bit of history.  I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren (aka Exclusive Brethren) which is a strict Christian sect, or more appropriately – a cult. We didn’t celebrate much, and certainly didn’t celebrate Christmas. Jesus’s birth was mentioned in our usual daily meeting (church) on Christmas day, and “the world” was looked down upon for using it as an excuse to have a party..

I was never told about Santa, or given presents, and to be perfectly honest was never bothered about it…just a bit confused. I remember asking my mom loudly in a supermarket about Santa at Easter time.  🙂 She blushed and shushed me.

When I was 18 I left the cult and was excommunicated from my family, and celebrated my first christmas with the lovely family who took me in.  I don’t remember it in lots of detail – emotions were high from having recently left home and there was a lot going on – but I do remember feeling blessed and lonely all at the same time. Blessed that I had such a lovely family including me in their celebrations and lonely because almost everyone else seemed to be spending time with their real families whilst mine wouldn’t even talk to me. I had joined a charismatic church at this point, so Christmas had some meaning. (By the way I am no longer completely excommunicated…my mom even sends parcels sometimes and we chat on the phone about twice a year, but their rules do not allow me to see her so my husband and children will probably never meet her. My 3 brothers don’t communicate with me.)

For a few years after that I celebrated Christmas in various rave clubs in Somerset West and Cape Town where I lived at the time. 🙂 I had been shunned by the happy clappies at this point, as you can imagine – and to my great relief I began exploring a world where there may or may not be a God and where fear wasn’t a factor in determining this. Christmas in South Africa was a different affair to here in the UK – buffets and braais (barbecues) around the swimming pool and swims at the beach…and I don’t remember getting loads of presents at any point.

Then I came to the UK on a working holiday – almost 8 years ago now – and a year later I met my husband.  Christmas officially become a stress. It’s not anybodies fault, and is slightly tricky for me as I don’t really know which of my experiences are ‘the norm’.  We spent our first christmas together at my in-laws. We were presented with astonishing amounts of presents – a bin bag full each- nevermind the bigger stuff for the kids in the family – and not just the immediate family. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity, and whilst I got some really useful  and lovely presents, I also couldn’t help noting the quantity of stuff that I may never use.  I also felt terribly guilty that I could not possibly reciprocate.

Before long Steven and I discovered The Story of Stuff Project and other more balanced ways of living.  We became much more aware of what we buy and have even requested no presents from family members. We started shopping at charity shops (we very rarely go into a regular clothes/toy shop). It is truly liberating! I can now not fathom how people are bustling about spending all their money on an i-phone or playstation that is going to be upgraded again in a years time – only to be left broke and in debt.

Then there is the issue of quantity. I am used to nothing, but now like to get a present or two. Steven grew up with Christmas being about lots of presents.  We now have to find a happy medium. This year we bought quite a few charity shop pressies for each other and the kids, but I am still feeling rather like a consumer. Instead of 10 to 12 presents that will be thrown to the side while fumbling with the wrapping on the next present, how about two or three really treasured ones?  The thing is, I like giving and I don’t intend to give that up just yet. I like making a little something for friends and family – and I like seeing my daughters eyes light up as she rips the newspaper from a new swing (even if it is temporary while she grasps at the next present).  But perhaps less is more – I think we may try this next xmas.

But what we want to figure out more than anything – is what are we celebrating if not Jesus’ birth? Since we are not Christian I feel that if  we celebrate Christmas we really are just being sheeple(at best). Although I do really like the opportunity to spend time with friends and family, and have a good meal, and think we will continue to do this – I don’t think we should need an excuse to do this.

Winter Solstice/Midwinter is on the 21st and it was apparently around and celebrated by Pagans, with greenery(hence the christmas tree), before Christmas came along. We feel much more connected to the rhythm of nature rather than to any religion so really it’d make a lot more sense to celebrate this. We could take it the other way, and instead celebrate the New Year with presents…  So what do we do? Change the day we celebrate it? Change the way we celebrate it?

Will this make the kids feel left out? Does it matter?

I have friends who don’t give presents at all and instead go away for a few days together, or go out for a good meal. I have friends who buy lots of expensive presents, I have friends who buy lots of cheap presents, I have friends who make presents or shop at charity shops. I love home made presents. Most people say that they don’t have time to make presents, but isn’t it ironic that they don’t have time because they are working their butts off to make money to buy presents and pay off their credit cards?!

My husband has told our 4 year old that Santa is just a story. This Christmas I have felt cruel that she ‘knows the truth’, but really – why should she believe in a funny man bringing her presents if she’s good? It’s freaky, in my opinion. I’m happy for her to believe in fairies and elves…kids need make believe.

I think it’d be quite fun to have a treasure hunt for your presents…perhaps an idea to try next year.  Do you have any ideas for an alternative to Christmas? I’d love to hear from you…



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