Our Guest Blogger is Carly from Bud and Bloom baby. She shares her story; a journey of growth as a Mama and a role model to her family to be strong and find a way to be guided by your talents and passions. Through Bud and Bloom Baby, Carly combines baby massage, baby yoga, and her knowledge as a Paediatric occupational therapist to show the power of connection, support and love. Her growth as a Mama is now impacting other parents and their beautiful children too.
I couldn’t wait to meet my baby, I’d read so much, learned so much, been to workshops and felt like I was “prepared” as far as I could be for our bundle of joy to arrive in the world. We welcomed a beautiful baby girl through an amazing pool birth using hypnobirthing and only the warm water as pain relief, and quickly went home just a few hours after she was born. I felt on top of the world, feeling so empowered and truly in awe of just how amazing the female body really is.
The first couple of weeks were a dreamy blur of snuggles and visitors and I felt like my husband and I were settling in well to this huge life changing miracle. As time went on though, my first born’s sleep patterns got progressively worse, and by the time she was around 4 weeks old we barely slept at night with her waking every 40 minutes like clockwork. She had awful reflux (which she was diagnosed with at around 16weeks) and would groan and grunt all night and struggled to settle. She was then and still is the most smiley, confident ray of sunshine and this was partly why people couldn’t understand that she struggled so much at night when I explained to them, and why it was often put down to wind rather than the reflux. I was sure that others thought I was exaggerating when I would literally get about 30 minutes sleep some nights, and never more than a couple of hours. I was exhausted, and before her diagnosis, terrified that it was something I was doing “wrong” as nobody else’s baby seemed to be so unsettled at night, and most friends’ babies were “sleeping through” or at least getting much longer stretches of sleep (or so they told me). I was also told by a lot of health professionals that it was all just normal, which made me think even more that it was just me and my inability to cope as a new mother with a new baby.
I dreaded that question – “is she a good baby? – does she sleep well for you?” – I felt like it was a constant reminder of how little sleep we were all getting and compounded my feeling of not doing things ‘right’. It felt like I was disappointing people when I told them that actually no she wasn’t sleeping well at all. This of course did not make her a “bad baby”, but that’s what it felt like it implied.
The nights felt long and lonely. I was breastfeeding and despite wanting to express and give a bottle, she refused to take one, only wanting the comfort from me. My anxiety rocketed. I struggled to get out of the house through shear exhaustion and dreaded any form of baby group. I also had this overwhelming need to do everything by myself, not accepting or asking for help despite a great family network around me. It was almost as if to me, that by accepting this offered help, I was somehow failing my baby in another way. That it was confirmation that I couldn’t do this very well and so needed help. It was because of this, as well as looking at social media posts from other new mothers seeming to have it all together, that I kept the attitude of “I can do it by myself- everyone else can”.
When my gorgeous girl was about 8 weeks old, I hit my low and had a full blown panic attack. It occurred after I had managed to get out of the house to a baby group with a couple of new friends I’d met. My baby girl projectile vomited everywhere several times and when I wasn’t wiping up the sick with my never-ending supply of muslins, I was then sat on my own with her on the boob in order to comfort her and refill her tiny tummy with the milk she had lost from the reflux. Nobody said anything to suggest this, but I felt like everyone was judging me. My baby then had a huge meltdown as we were all leaving, and I left the group in tears.
It was after this incident that I realised that for the sake of my little family, I needed to take action. It was then that I found the amazing @Sarah Ockwell-Smith who is a well-known author and parenting expert, and who promotes gentle and natural parenting for our children. I am a Paediatric Occupational Therapist by background, as well as a Baby Massage and Baby Yoga Instructor. Her advice and her take on parenting were a reminder for me to go back to all my roots and knowledge of child development, health and wellbeing. I realised I was in fact doing everything “right”! Because I had previously trained in baby massage and yoga, I was already using lots of the lovely strokes and movements at home with my little one, finding it such an amazing way to connect, bond and feel I was doing something for her. Helping her to relax, and enjoy quality time with each other. Baby massage empowered me as a mother and I think it also saved me. It helped me to remember that I always responded to my baby. That I always comforted her, and that I was always there for her, even in the darkest parts of the night and no matter how hard I found it – I always showed up to be her Mummy. It was still hard, but knowing that I was doing enough just by being there gave me such a relief. I was still sleep deprived, and anxious, but the anxiety eased dramatically when I took more help from my family. When I saw that for me to be this available during the night, that I actually I needed help in the day. That this was how generations of women before me, had made it through these precious but overwhelming and exhausting first few months with a new baby. Still now, she and my youngest child know that their mummy is there for them no matter what. I’m not a perfect parent, but I do take time to pause and reflect on what I’m doing every single day. Like all parents I have overwhelming days, and I have amazing days. I want both my children to know that it’s ok to make mistakes and to find things hard. I want to share this with parents too and will always try to look at even the most difficult days with a bit of positive sparkle, as I truly believe it’s all part of my own journey as a mother and helps me develop and grow with my kids.
All of this growth and experience has enabled me to go for it with my dream of Bud and Bloom Baby. In April of this year it took off with me combining baby massage, baby yoga, and my expertise as a Paediatric OT to promote love and development. The reason I’m so passionate about supporting parents and babies comes not just from my background working in paediatrics, but from this first-hand experience of the power of connection, support and love. And how permission to surrender to now and not compare to others has a huge impact on our own health and wellbeing, which in turn helps to support that of our children.
I am a huge advocate for the importance of self care- for mothering the mother and going back to more traditional ways of viewing motherhood – having a tribe around you for physical and emotional support for you and your baby. This is why I want to connect with as many mothers as possible to let them know that it’s OK to find it hard, that the nights can be long, but always do what feels right for you and your baby and listen to your gut. Bud and Bloom Baby has responsive, gentle parenting at its core and I hope to spread this message far and wide. I have also recently founded @Mum Tribe Love Vibe – a group of like-minded mums in health and wellbeing businesses, who now run a monthly support group in our local area for mums-to-be, Mums and Dads. We are trying to build that tribe, that village of support that so many parents in this day and age are lacking. So that if there are any new parents out there feeling the way I once did, that we can offer them a judgment free space to share it should they wish. We believe that by offering love and kindness to the mothers and fathers of today, we support the growth of love, compassion and kindness felt by our babies, who will go on to be parents themselves and pass on the love for generations to come.
Love is the future.
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