Saturday, May 20, 2006

Breastfeeding Awareness Week; Home Births; Green Parents

Brew of the day:
Dandelion Tea…good for detoxing the liver. Dandelions are out in abundance in the Eden Valley at the moment. I’m in bliss when out walking alongside fields of golden yellow. Such a sight!

Welcome to Saturday Morning Cuppa. I awoke this morning to my luxurious Saturday morning lie-in being disturbed by a racket from the girls’ bedroom that went on and on and on. Being too lazy to get out of bed and investigate, I waited till they came to our room to find out what the ‘problem’ was about. No problem, apparently, just doing Shakespeare!

Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Little Angels and The Way Nature Intended took a petition to no. 10 Downing Street to support David Kidney MP’s bill campaigning for the right for women to breastfeed in public. Baby Milk Action had hoped the photo they were taking of Stella Onions breastfeeding outside no. 10 would be great for their report of the Bill and also for their popular breastfeeding calendar. The photo they got was of a police officer asking her to stop breastfeeding. So much for the government saying they support breastfeeding! Says a lot really, doesn’t it?

I don’t think I can stomach one more conversation (or interview question) based on the ridiculously stupid “Should a woman be allowed to breastfeed in public? ”It isn’t about women’s rights, it’s about children’s rights!


If not, then we have some serious human rights issues going on here. At the very least it is a case of child abuse. Hunger to a child reliant on breastmilk is excruciatingly painful and NO child should ever be forced to go through this experience. How many people would actually stand up and reveal their abusive instincts by saying a baby/toddler shouldn’t be allowed to meet a basic need such as hunger?

During a local radio interview the broadcaster suggested to me that a baby breastfeeding in public was a bit like a man urinating in the street! You know, a scary bodily fluid leaking out!! Clearly we need a scientist to come forward to explain to middle-aged men that their stinking urine (stinking because of too much alcohol or coffee and not enough water!) is a WASTE product and that sweet-smelling breastmilk is a living FOOD. Clearly this man was playing Devil’s Advocate, but his words echoed that of a lot of people!

I seem to be seeing a lot of bottle fed babies around lately. The last time I saw a breastfed baby (who didn’t belong to a friend) was at least six months ago. But then again, Cumbria doesn’t seem to have many Black or other ethnic people either, so breastfeeding is going to be just another prejudice to add to the collective Cumbrian belt.

Also in the media this week….

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills announced the end of their marriage this week. A counselor from Relate said that it was because of their age gap and that only emotionally healthy people could survive an age gap like that. As a woman married to a man 19 years older than me, I read her comments with interest.

ANY relationship will only survive well if both the people are emotionally and mentally healthy ~ such health isn’t the preserve of those of us who are attracted to a different generation! We can honestly say that in our 11 year relationship the age difference has never posed a problem.

When we met Paul asked me where I’d been all his life.
“In nappies!” was my reply.

Home births

Homebirths hit the news this week with the plan to make home births an option for every woman in the UK who wants one. You’d wonder how humanity survived this long wouldn’t you? What did we do before hospitals? Heaven help Aboriginals giving birth to generation after generation in the Outback! Though I suppose if you’ve never heard of gas or epidurals you just get on with it, don’t you?

Paul heard a Radio 5 live interview where one woman (clearly anti home birth) said that birth was painful so what difference were a few cushions and a cup of tea going to make? Her condescending attitude is typical of the ignorance that keeps women locked into situations that really don’t have their best interests at heart.

Regardless of your career path, when you give birth your brain cares not about your CV...instead, the brain does what it has done for women since humanity began. It seeks a way to give birth as befitting a mammal. A woman requires darkness, safety and quiet.
As someone who has birthed in home and hospital I have first hand experience of how much they differ: a peaceful, gentle waterbirth in our bedroom by candlelight, Mozart playing softly, my lover catching our baby versus the harsh florescent lights and the panic of medical staff who don’t believe in ‘birth’ and handle a baby like a piece of meat in a butcher’s shop, injecting all sorts of foreign chemicals and viruses without permission. Trust me, the conditions are light years apart and I’d take a homebirth any day.

The same hormones used when we make love are the same ones which come into play during birth. Would you make love under florescent lights with some Doctor you’ve never met standing guard, groping between your legs and a few student midwives having a peep? Would you want someone monitoring your breathing and blood pressure every little while? And what about when things are really spicing up, would you want to be told that if you don’t climax in the next little while they’ll have to operate? (Dr. has a golf game to get to, you know!!) Of course you wouldn’t make love under those conditions! Yet we expect women to do this all the time.

The sooner women take back what they ‘need’ to give birth, the sooner we’ll see an end to the overwhelming number of medically (mis)managed births. I believe it was Binnie Dansby who said, “Birth is as safe as life gets.” Very sadly, babies die in hospitals too, and people seem to forget that when they tout that hospital births are safer for babies. An incoming soul has a destiny of its own that none of us who are already Earthside can ever know. If a baby’s soul has chosen to visit this planet for a short time, no amount of medical intervention will change that.

As for birth being painful, well let’s get some truth into the equation. Yes, women can have painful births, but no, they don’t have to be painful. Sometimes a baby gets into a position that causes discomfort for the mother, but the actual process of labour does not need to hurt. We confuse intense ‘labour/work’ with pain. Women need to learn that fear is guaranteed to cause stress which leads to pain which leads to more fear and here we go round the loop again. It becomes a vicious circle.

Even if she opts for a dry birth, every woman should have access to a birthing pool for labour to provide her with warmth and comfort and also a sense of her own ‘space’. The biggest mistake women make in using birth pools is that of getting in too early and thereby slowing labour right down. It’s best to make sure labour is well under way before soaking in a tub, ideally after about 5 cm dilation. More than anything, a birthing woman needs privacy, NOT an audience. An audience is never conducive to an easy birthing.

Sleeping with parents till five years of age

Another thing mums have been doing since women first walked the planet is to sleep with their babies. Of course, those of us in this thing called ‘civilised’ culture who have slept with our kids, have always been at the butt of jokes and condemned for making our kids too dependent on us. Apparent experts have been telling us for years how dangerous it is to sleep with our babies ~ funny how suffocation didn’t kill off our species before we got all wised up!

This week, lo and behold, a professor (a leading childcare expert) has come out and said children should be allowed to sleep in the same bed as their parents till about five. Her view is based on ‘scientific’ studies. Prof. Margot Sunderland believes Health Visitors should be given ‘fact sheets’ to help educate parents about the benefits of so called co-sleeping. Can you just see it now? Surely not the same HVs who are telling women left, right and centre to put baby on a bottle and get him into a routine and to leave him with a babysitter so you can have a night out with your husband!?

How sad that parents are still not considered the experts on their children. All praise to Professor Sunderland though, who says that training babies to sleep alone is HARMFUL as separation from parents increases the production of stress hormones in the child. This same professor has previously warned that letting children cry can create problems later in life, such as depression or digestive disorders.

In another’s eyes…

I was hanging out in our local market on Tuesday having bought my organic fruit and vegetables and was just waiting for Paul to meet up with us. Bethany and Eliza had gone off to another stall to examine a wooden DIY kit for doll house furniture.
A man and woman, who weren’t anyone I recognised, came strolling by. He was telling her that you can tell so much about a person by the way they look. Ever the eavesdropper, and completely intrigued, I stayed tuned in to their conversation. He went on to tell her about two beautiful girls he’d just seen. “They were really lovely and you should have seen the excitement when they were looking at these things they wanted to buy.”

How sweet, I thought, and then I realised it was my girls he was talking about as there aren’t any other kids about during the day (apart from babies). He had no idea that I was connected to them and it really made my day. Made me realise how easy it is to take for granted the things beneath our noses. I mean, how often do we think about the colour of our children’s eyes? Or wonder what they’re daydreaming about?

My girls love to sew and knit and do cross stitch. I really dislike it. However, I always support them in their enthusiasm. Yesterday they popped into the sewing shop to get some fabric. The man who works there is always struck by how excited they get by all the fabrics, cottons, buttons, etc. After they’d bought a picture-panel of a cat to make a cushion, he gave them another two panels of geese flying. I was so touched by his generosity but also that he always takes the time to treat them with care and as much respect as his adult customers (who probably spend more than £2!)

It was rather special to see my children through another’s eyes this week.

Job Vacant: Full-time Mother

What do you reckon they pay for that job? Here’s my job description:

Morning Cuddle Monster ~ can last from 5 seconds if we’ve slept in and have to get out the door to 50 minutes!! It is an obligatory start to the day.

Chief meal preparer ~ (nutritious, wholesome, organic, plant-based food with high raw content which means lots of chopping, slicing and grating and popping out to the herb garden for bits and pieces)..This job requires approximately 1-2 hours a day in the kitchen not counting time to make smoothies. And you need a good memory to make sure everyone’s drinking their two litres of water a day!

Storyteller and book reader ~ must be prepared to risk getting a hoarse throat when a book can’t be put down.

Friend ~ involves sitting on the bed laughing at silly jokes or playing mud pies or spending a lazy Saturday afternoon in a café.

Umpire ~ takes special skill to know when to break up an argument or to let the sibs negotiate without disturbing the whole village. Unfortunately this requires even further skill if you only have your eyes to give instructions with, for example, during a business call!

Gardener ~ at the bare minimum, herbs and leafy greens plus pumpkins have to be grown to supply the family with home made soup for Autumn and Winter.

Chaffeur ~ escorting to music lessons, library, friends, market day, bookshop and chiropractor regardless of mood or weather.

Exercise manager ~ walking around the ‘block’ (3 miles)

Education ‘facilitator’


It takes 12 000 bee hours to make a jar of honey. If bees charged an hourly rate of £5.30 that would mean one jar should cost around £63 600. This is a perfect illustration of how wrong our society has it…of how detached we really are to everything!

Motherhood is rather like honey-making. We work countless hours and because we don’t get a ‘salary’ for it, somehow our society doesn’t give it value. Women who stay home with their children still insist on saying ‘I’m just a mother’. JUST a mother?!! For goodness sake girls, take pride in this job. There’s one reason and one reason only that we don’t get a wage ~ because the government couldn’t afford us! It is cheaper to send us out to work.

It is fair to say I put in a 13 – 14 hour day with my children,.some days more, some days less. At £5 an hour, 7 days a week, I could comfortably live off this income! Imagine what I’d have earnt in the early attachment parenting days when sleep was non-existent! Don’t suppose I could have claimed ‘double’ time for all those years of tandem nursing?

Seriously though, if, as stay at home mums, we earnt say, £50 000, imagine the respect we’d be shown. We’d be on lecture circuits for goodness sake! But you know what? We don’t need to earn anything to have self respect for a job that is vital to the well being of society. Society’s ills almost always come back down to two things:
1.) violent birth (see the Californian Crime Commission’s report)
2.) inattentiveness by the main caregivers in the formative years.

The Great Tooth Fairy Fraud

Egg on my face this week. Couldn’t have been a blog or two ago when I waxed about lying and here I am caught out by my ten year old. OUCH!! OK, I’ll come clean.Bethany lost another milk tooth this week…a few hours later she looked me in the eye and said,
“I don’t need any money for this.”

GULP “What do you mean?” I asked, knowing full well that she’d figured the whole sham out.“Well, Eliza and I have been a bit suspicious. Don’t get me wrong Mum, I still believe in fairies, but I think you and Dad have been leaving us money.” “Oh.” Shame written all over my face….

“Tell me the truth Mum,” her eyes raking through every cell of my body looking for shreds of deceit and betrayal.

Heavy sigh. And so I ‘fessed up. Thank God I didn’t lie because she then told me how she’d found a little container full of teeth that I’d kept up high! “How can I ever trust you again Mum?” she demanded to know.

Despite the guilt I knew exactly how she felt and it’s the very reason I never went down the bloomin’ ho ho ho Santa Claus trip. At five, I had caught my dad putting out presents under the Christmas tree and I was devastated beyond belief. I’m sure that sense of distrust has stayed with me for life. When Bethany was three she already thought people must be silly believing in Santa Claus because there was no way he could fit down the chimney.

Not sure how I’ll ever make it up to Bethany. As for Eliza, she’s dead keen to keep earning a pound for each lost tooth…tooth fairy or no tooth fairy! Bloody Tooth Fairies ~ rob you blind and then when the sh** hits the fan you don’t see ‘em for sneaker smoke.

Being a green parent

This week one of my girls asked me what it means to be a green parent. To me it means limiting my eco-footprint and the best way to do this is resisting consumerism. I’m noticing more and more though, how even ‘green’ parents are encouraged to buy the latest of everything…and to do the keeping up with the Jones’s thing by doing everything organically. It really is missing the point.

In raising my children to be conscious about their choices, we’re finding that all around us is a culture that was and is created on taking advantage of others and it reeks of a frantic desperation for more, more, more.

Tempting and lush as it is to buy organic cotton and hemp everything, true ethics includes recycling and re-using as much as possible. When was the last time you saw an advert suggesting you can save the Earth and be a green parent by purchasing second-hand clothes from charity?

Just say NO to consumerism and live simply so that others may simply live.

Definitely some very un-eco parents around here...the latest trend for taking the dog for a walk is to drive your SUV and let your pooch race along beside you! Lazy dog owners!


Sometimes in my desperation to move to a location where more like-minded people exist, I have a temporary amnesia about how darn lucky I am. I live in the beautifully lush and fertile Eden Valley and from my cottage I have views that stretch up to the Pennines.

From my back garden I look over into green fields rather than houses. If I sit in my back garden all I can hear is the sound of birdsong. When I lie in bed at night, I don’t hear anything but the sound of silence...ok, that is till about 2 am when the cockerels over the road think dawn is approaching (the little rotters!). Our cat then takes that as her cue to start yowling for company outside the bedroom door. And she’s learnt that if she does it loud enough, for long enough, Paul will get out of bed and let her in. A few months back I spent a night in the centre of London in an apparently ‘quiet’ hotel. I didn’t get a wink of sleep with the constant noise of, well, everything!. Funny how conditioned we get to things.

The Last Supper!

Hotmail has been chomping up my emails like it is the last supper!. If you’ve not heard from me it is either because I didn’t get your email or you didn’t get mine. Sorry! The downside of modern technology….

My new mantra

And finally, this week I heard what were probably the wisest words I’ve ever heard. They were from the vibrant Rev. Rhonda Gola, who was our celebrant when we were married in New Zealand. She said that “the only thing we ever owe anyone is Divine Love.”

With this as our mantra, how can our world ever be anything but a place of wonder, joy, peace and beauty?
Have a wonderful week!

Namaste ~ Veronika

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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