Thursday, 18 December 2014

I haven't used shampoo since 2012

Since two people this week have asked me about this, I figured perhaps it's time for an update post. I wrote about not using shampoo here, and even made a Youtube video 18 months ago...

My earlier post talks about what I do with my hair, so here's just a little more visual proof and again I'll say, I'll never go back. From the greasy-in-a-day, lank, flat hair I used to be unable to let grow beyond my chin, to the long-past-my-shoulders hair that I now have that has volume and stays in place, I would be stupid to return to the old.

Here again, in short, is my routine: I wash my whole body with water only. My hair I'll wash upside down with fairly hot water to get the oils out, then flip over to rinse so it's manageable after the shower. I blow dry it uncombed, and once it's dry or nearly dry, I use a wide toothed comb. No boar bristle brush faffing about (besides, boar bristles aren't vegan!)

I don't use any regular products except make-up (and when I say make-up I'm not talking about stuff slathered on my skin, but about mascara and eyeliner only). My skin stays soft without the use of soaps. After a shower I put pure jojoba oil on my still-wet face and neck, and use the Pit-Rok deodorant rock. That's it.

Baby's getting the same routine, by the way (minus the pit rok, of course!) - I'll use jojoba or coconut oil on her. She's never had nappy rash or cradle cap. The nappy rash is probably more to do with my diet, as I obviously don't have any dairy, but let's just say her skin is all over beautiful.

Right, I promised some before & after visuals of my hair...



Any questions?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

AA Slogans in my Mothering

I have spent years in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I've never been drunk in my life, but I've abused food in the way others abuse alcohol and had found a way to live sanely through GSA, a group that directly applies AA principles to food issues. When there were no GSA meetings in my area, for years I attended AA meetings, and studied their literature in depth throughout my recovery.

I'm no longer a member of GSA because I was supernaturally healed - any AA/GSA member will tell you that recovery is a life long process, you are never 'healed', and that is true in the natural; but one day, I was set free and I knew it and I have never looked back. But that's a story for another day.

What I want to share is how what I learned from AA applies directly to my mothering, and is keeping me sane. Those slogans are lifesavers. You may want to memorise some of them...

  • One Day At A Time.I had a bracelet made with this slogan on. I tend to live in the future and worry it, and I have to pull myself back. Mr. is very good at not pointlessly worrying and he helps me with that as well.
    Can I face today? I can do almost anything for just today. I can do this, today.
  • Easy Does It.Simply put: relax! Whatever the insurmountable hardship is that I'm facing right now, let's relax and perhaps I don't have to fret and tense up. As long as I plod on, do the next right thing, easy does it.
  • First Things First.What needs doing right now? What is absolutely non-negotiable? Not many things are, really. When in recovery from alcohol, the first thing is to not drink. When mothering, what are the first things? There aren't many. Relax. Breathe. Figure out what First Things are.
  • Live and Let Live.This applies both to baby and to other parents... I've found that everyone's an expert on parenting. Except for me, I'm a total novice. But the truth is, they may be experts on their children, but not on mine. And equally I have no wisdom to give on other people's kids, either. I can share what works for me and mine, but it may not work for them and theirs. And that's OK. They do things their way and I have no expectation of doing things the same way - their way isn't wrong, nor is mine. 
  • Keep It Simple.
    Success in AA is staying away from the bottle. Simple! (though not easy.) I have a tendency to overcomplicate and overthink things in my head - this slogan reminds me that it's probably not nearly as complex as I make it to be. Whatever 'it' is.
  • But For the Grace of God.
    Or, in full, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Whenever I'm tempted to feel smug about anything, this slogan is so helpful to remember... if I didn't have such an easy baby, if I didn't have the information I do have, if if if - that parent who totally does it "wrong" in my eyes, I could be them.
    Probably a very useful slogan to have in the toddler years, when meltdowns become a thing - never, ever judge the mother of a difficult toddler. It's her today, it'll be me tomorrow. Today, but for the grace of God.
  • Let Go and Let God.
    Most of the time at this stage, I can manage my child. I determine everything in her life. She feeds on demand because I allow her to - I could do things differently. But as she grows up, I will need to let go and let God. I'll need to trust. Unclench my fist.
  • Feelings aren't Facts.
    One of my favourites... how I feel at this particular moment is a valid feeling, but that does not make it fact. I may feel like everything is falling apart; two hours later, in total control again. Neither is fact. Fact is, I'm doing the best I know how to do, and we're muddling through. Never act on feelings, they aren't facts.
  • Fake It 'til you Make It.
    If I feel I can't do it, it's too much: fake it. Again I think this will become more and more useful as baby grows. She'll look to me for guidance. She'll expect me to anchor her, yet when she feels overwhelmed so might I! But I can fake it, fake the confidence and trust, until I truly acquire it.
  • Meeting Makers Make It.
    In AA, meetings are the lifeline of every member. They 'keep it green' for those who've been sober a long time, by hearing others' fresh stories of misery. I don't need to hear parenting misery stories, but I do need community. An isolated parent is a vulnerable one. I can't do this alone - I do believe in the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Meeting with others, being part of community, is how I can make it.
  • Surrender.
    My life has changed. I can't have my old life back. Trying to recreate it and 'fit baby in' to my old life will just make me miserable. I need to figure out how to live happily in this new life, not pine for the old.
Lastly, I'll leave you with the full version of the Serenity Prayer, which I pray at least daily. 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is and not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Baby at 2 months: Our new normal

I write this with my baby resting on my chest, skin-to-skin, towards the end of an evening filled with pained crying - she's got colic, although it's been improving very much and crying has become a fairly rare event. It strikes me that this is my new normal... life has truly changed.

Sofa time
I'm convinced I've spent more time on the sofa in the past two months than in the entire time we've owned it before baby. The first few weeks I literally fed her all day, all the time, with breaks of up to (!) 15 minutes. She was hungry! and I was sore.  At night she'd sleep fairly well, three wakings to feed, which is still her pattern. But as the initial dust settles, we seem to have found a rhythm together, and days are beginning to be somewhat predictable.

Not that I expect that to be in any way permanent! But right now, it's lovely.

This is how a typical, new-normal day looks now.

At night, babe wakes around 2, 4, and 6am so I have a good chunk of sleep from going to bed until 2. She rarely gets to the point of crying for a feed, usually her fussing wakes me, and we're getting good at feeding in the dark - minimising the impact on Mr. although I'm quite sure he does notice most of the time.

Night being over, Mr. wakes up at about 6.30 and changes babe's nappy, then brings her back to me and I'll try to get her to settle down for a bit more sleep - with usually a 50/50 success rate. So we might be up by 8, or perhaps not until after 9. After I've fed her before getting up, I'll get dressed and start microwaving my porridge for breakfast, which my wonderful Mr. has prepared ready to eat. I feed her as I eat breakfast. [there's a feeding theme here - she very rarely goes more than 2 hours without a feed, and normally no more than 30 minutes to one hour] Then I change her nappy and dress her for the day.

In one of our favourite
dog walking locations.
This takes us to 10.30 at the latest, which is as far as I can possibly stretch our lovely dog's bladder. We get out for a walk, either on our own or sometimes with other mums with dogs from the area [Facebook is an amazing resource for finding likeminded people - I remember my worries about having to leave the hound behind, well there are others in the same boat and we're doing our own thing!]

Back home for lunch, both babe and myself. My lunch is usually very simple, something like baked potatoes with sauce or leftovers. Quite possibly a nap for us both. After that, another feed or two, a short dog walk to allow the hound to use the toilet, and then chores: the boat feels a lot less tidy than it used to, despite my best efforts, which I think is partly due to more stuff being around - babies have stuff! - and partly because I just can't do certain things [read: clean the toilet] with a baby strapped to my front. Which is how I do the chores. There are very, very few moments in the day that I am not in physical contact with babe, and we're both loving it! I really believe that the reason she is pretty relaxed about being put down when needs be is because she knows she'll be picked up again soon.

Babe & hound on a
typical evening
That takes us to the evening, various feeds throughout the afternoon interrupting chores and whatever I'm doing at the time, and we'll start cooking dinner and expecting Mr. home. He texts to say when he leaves work and we try to go out for a dog walk towards him. In the evening, babe spends quite a bit of time with dad and I get things done I can't do with her - shower time! And evenings are usually quite sedate, we'll read, go online, watch catch-up TV [QI or Mock The Week are favourites] with a snoozing or cooing babe on either of us - when she's not feeding, of course.

Bedtime routine, so far as we have one, starts at about 10: Mr. takes the hound for his last walk, meanwhile I will change babe into her night nappy and dress her for bed, get myself ready for bed and start her last feed/s before sleepytime. And then, by 11, lights off - and about 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep ahead for me!

That's our new normal.

What did I do before baby? What did I fill my days with? She takes up so much time - well, all of it really - that I struggle to think what kept me busy before. I don't remember sitting around twiddling my thumbs and I was always busy, but what with? Dog walks are one thing I know I'm doing less of now... but that can't be it, can it?

I cannot imagine my life without her. Only two months in. It's amazing.