Posts by hattie

The age of the internet Lorelei.

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in babble | 0 comments

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Remember that old chestnut from the playground?  Well, it seems that sticks, stones, parenting forum posts and Twitter can all hurt – and often badly – in this age of the internet, the TWEETS, the LIKE, the SHARE, the COMMENT clicks. I have been doing my job for over 20 years.  I have a huge amount of experience and many hundreds of babies filed away in my heart (many of whom are now at university, secondary school or primary school).  For the first few years of my job, the internet, thankfully, was not available to the majority.  It started as a drip and turned into a raging torrent, and now only very few areas do not have access to it in some form. Internet Forums for mothers flourish, and some of them are kind, well informed and supportive.   However, new mothers, teetering through the early weeks of parenthood, often  take to the interent for advice, for a little reassurance, wanting to be told that they are not alone in their sleep deprived state and that they are doing a great job.  Expecting a kind nurturing arena to greet them, they start by tentatively posting a comment, waiting for gentle spirits to answer their cries for help, only to be met by a modern day equivalent of The Lorelei. In 1824, Heinrich Heine seized on and adapted Brentano’s theme in one of his most famous poems, Die Lorelei. It describes the eponymous female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks. Mom’s “support” network? It is often more like being thrown to the Lorelei.  It makes me reel when I read comments posted by mothers about other mothers.  Critical, judgmental and crushing in their reponses – not one of them having a clue about what mental or physical condition the enquiring mother may be in, how close to postnatal depression or post -partum psychosis she may be, how many weeks or months she may have been without rest or how many hurdles she may already have jumped.  They pour out their hatred, their poisonous remarks and their bigoted opinions without, for a single moment, considering how this might impact on the original poster. I have little or no time for those who hide behind psydonyms on ranting parenting websites, only joining in the collective bullying when they see a juicy fight in sight.  I post on one or two forums, always using my real name and with my contact details at the end should anyone have anything they’d like to ask me in person. Playground bullies are cowards, but they are bullies with a face.  Cyber bullies are bigger cowards, as they quivver with misplaced, anonymous indignation about someone else’s beliefs, smashing out hateful comments on their keyboards day and night, showering new mothers with judgment after judgment, accusation after accusation and blinkered opinion after blinkered opinion. These people have never met; they don’t know the first thing about each other yet there they sit on their thrones, “Queen Mums” shall we say, wearing the Crown of Perfection whilst sitting at their computers, writing vile and hurtful comments about parenting choices made by others. Did these same mothers not ever have a bad day?  Did they not arrive home with their newborn feeling just a teeny bit overwhelmed at the responsibility they now bore, the epic journey on which they were about...

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T’was the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house …

Posted by on Dec 24, 2015 in Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

T’was the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.   I can recite the whole book, well almost, word for word, and the pictures still make me feel a calm and a peace I cannot describe. Over the next few days, hundreds of families will be hunkering down for the Christmas break.  For many it will be a scaled up version of Whacky Races, driving around the country with the car groaning under the weight of gifts to give or gifts received, visiting friends and relatives, spending hours sitting in traffic only to be gleefully handed yet another mince pie or sausage roll on arrival at their destination – and having to muster up the rictus smile as you not-quite-so-gleefully polish it off before being ushered in to the twinkly grotto that was once their sitting room. Love it or hate it – it’s here and it’s here to stay, and thank God for that.  I love the smell of the real tree that I insist we buy, and cover at least 30 miles to identify as MY tree.  My poor husband has to suffer this every year we spend at home for Christmas, driving me miles from pile to pile of miserable trees, wincing as I make the nice man undo the netting again, shaking it out as I prowl around it rather like a sergeant major inspecting his troops, and with an equally critical and dissatisfied face.  “Nope, that’s not my tree”,  I say and, after two or three further scrawny or deformed specimens stand shuddering in front of me, I will jump back into the car and onwards to the next unsuspecting victim until I end up with the tree that calls to me, and the tree that ultimately is just the right one for this year. Some people visit relatives, I visit trees!  I love it. But more than this, I love the memories that my parents left me of all our Christmas Pasts.  I remember hand-bell ringers coming to our home in Somerset when I was barely a toddler; I remember carollers coming to the door to sing their little socks off in the infamous snowfall of 1962-63, when we were snowed in for days and the whole of the Mendips were covered with snow so deep that you couldn’t tell field from hedge, nor hedge from road.  I remember the 12ft snowman I built with my father on the lawn.  I remember Jack Frost on the inside of my bedroom windows the smell of the long, slow smoulder coming from peat slabs in the huge fireplaces in the dining and sitting rooms. I spent my first few baby/toddler years in Somerset but I grew up in Cornwall and we were lucky enough to have hundreds of huge pine trees on our land.  We were able to organise the annual ascent to lop off a suitable candidate year on year, dragging it homewards for the laying out of the (inevitable) non-functioning tree lights and the excitement of dragging the huge metal trunk, bursting at the seams with three generations’ worth of fragile and whisper-thin baubles, bells, icicles and figurines all made of glass.  My mother would put Kings College Cambridge Choir on on the Radio in the kitchen and ban us from coming in for at least four hours, leaving my gently simmering father to keep us entertained with the dressing of the tree whilst she...

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A letter from a Father – at Christmas.

Posted by on Dec 14, 2015 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

Hello Babble Readers: This lovely review was sent to me prior to a father wanting to post it on various mummy websites.  I asked if I could share it on my own website.  He said he’d be delighted if I did: “Let me start by saying this – I don’t regularly write posts (this is my first) and I’ve not been asked or paid to write this post. It will seem that way…but it’s not. Hattie isn’t a family member, and nor is she a friend. She is however, someone who I’m now very fond of – you get that way when lovely people make miraculous things happen. We first met Hattie nearly two years ago. We were recommended her by Kathryn Mewes (the three day nanny) as we were looking for someone to help get our 10 week old son to sleep. We couldn’t put him down without him crying. We’d not had a problem with our daughter when she was a baby, but it was a different story for our 2nd and we admitted we needed the help. Having him sleep in our arms was nice – but tiring and limiting. So Hattie arrived. We were dubious about whether she could make a difference in the 5 hours we had booked her for. I mean – how could she? We’d tried everything. Magic dust. That’s the answer. I’m convinced. I mean, Hattie did talk to us about our son’s daily routine, and she did give my wife some top tips to bear in mind when breastfeeding him. She also helped us to spot signs when he was getting tired so we knew when he should be put in his cot. She gave us a huge jolt of confidence too – that we were doing the right things and that our experience was quite common etc. Then, at some stage, without us seeing, she must have sprinkled a load of magic dust on our son’s head and for the first time he slept on his own, in his cot. That night, after she had left, we gingerly followed the same routine. The result? He slept….so long we had to wake him for his next feed. We had the whole evening to ourselves to cook, chat and eat. From that day, he has been a brilliant sleeper. No trouble. No fuss. No tears. Just an absolute delight. For the last two years. Genuinely, an incredible result. So it was an obvious decision to ask Hattie to come back when our 3rd child was 10 weeks old. The result? The same. Well – nearly. Baby number 3 is a bit more fussy and less chilled than our second. So he needed a couple more days to get used to the routine but he quickly picked it up and now sleeps well during the day and at night. Why did I bother writing this post? Well I know how much I debated whether we could afford to pay for Hattie and whether she would really make a difference. So I know what other parents will be thinking. My experience of using her twice? Do it. Book her up. You will not regret it. She is very experienced and knowledgeable, and she gets results. Not only that, she is a genuinely lovely person. (She also does as amazing impression of crying babies!). The benefit we have from three children sleeping from 7pm far far far outweighs Hattie’s costs. It is the best decision a tired parent can make! I would happily chat to anyone should they wish to get in touch.”  ...

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A sneeze became a sniffle, and the sniffle became a snuffle!

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

Sneezes! Once a Wish, Twice a Kiss, Three you’ll never grow old, Four for a letter, Five something better and Six you’ll never grow old!   It’s definitely winter now.  I brushed my teeth last night and the rinse water from the tap made me wince it was so cold; at the weekend my husband, smitten with the same bug I had last week but (natch) 10x worse than mine, weakly requested a Green & Blacks Hot Chocolate, as clearly that was the only thing that would save him, as he huddled on the sofa in front of a roaring fire; I had a strange urge to start making jams, chutneys and temptingly dark, gravy laden casseroles.  Yes, it’s definitely November and double definitely the onset of winter! Now, much as I love kicking my way through the last piles of autumn leaves, smelling the vestiges of cordite from the November fireworks drifting away on the damp air, I do dread the arrival of the latest feast of bugs, viruses and infections with my little charges. As we snuggle down into that lull between Halloween/Guy Fawkes Night & the first ghastly rendition of Noddy Holder shouting Merry CHRISTMAAAAAAS from the doorway of every high street shop, our tube trains, buses and shop door handles are generously transporting a veritable smorgasbord of nasties to pass backwards and forwards within the populus of London over the coming weeks. In my experience, a baby with a cold can be one of two things: completely “unbovvered” yet streaming steadily, rather like a chocolate fountain at a wedding reception, or completely without external drainage symptoms yet hot, miserable, inconsolable and very, very “bovvered” indeed. It is distressing for a new mother to watch her little, unsullied new arrival rallying against their first invasion of the dreaded winter cold virus, but it is worth remembering that each cold, each interloper to their systems, will help to strengthen their immunity for next time round. Very young babies, of course, cannot be treated with the vast array of cold remedies that the drugs companies relentlessly peddle to gullible adults, but they will have an army of anti-bodies in place both from their time in the womb and possibly further enhanced if you were able to breast feed for any amount of time.  Remember, our bodies are amazing and have taken millions and millions of years to evolve into the fascinating and complex beings that we have become, but babies under 3 months of age need to be checked when they are poorly, so a quick visit to the GP is a good idea and will help to reassure you that, apart from being snotty and grizzly, all is well. Babies cannot blow their noses or sniff, so they resort to frequent (and usually very generously shared) sneezing bouts.  As messy as this becomes, it is their only way of getting shot of the gunk.  If their are particularly bunged up and you can visibly see a bit of a dried up blockage (just as well I’ve eaten before going into this much detail!), you can use a nasal aspirator to suck out any obstruction which may help your baby breathe more easily. A properly supervised and safe steamer in the baby’s bedroom, a nice warm bath in a steamy bathroom at bedtime and keeping them away from drafts will all help to keep the worst of the symptoms at bay. Saline drops can help to clear the way if bunged up and a dab of Vaseline under their noses if they are streaming will help to avoid...

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Eyes without Sparkle & Another Twinkle in the Eye

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in babble | 0 comments

Now, I am not an expert in PND but I have helped many cleints who have experienced it.  Luckily, a combination of my knowing enough about the signs and having an amazing support network of incredible women in my life, these mums were able to get the help and treatment they needed.  Many mothers out there have not, and they have struggled or are indeed still struggling with postnatal depression in some form; some of these are new mums, some will have been wading through treacle for many months, unaware that they are ill, feeling too ashamed to admit that they are drowning in misery, that they don’t feel over the moon at being a mother, that they cannot bond or feel any love towards their new baby. Having a baby is a tremendous change, followed by  months/years filled with challenges, testing times and huge responsibilities.  In my role as a postnatal coach,  I offer all new mothers a service which offers mothers and their partners the time and space to adapt to those changes by offering as much guidance, encouragement and help at home as their budget allows. Over the past few years, I have been gently gathering a lovely network of ladies around a lunch table every few weeks.  We are all self-employed, we are all passionate about what we do and we are all connected in one way or another to the world of babies. This Babble is to introduce you to Elaine Hanzak, one of my Ladies Wot Lunch gang. On 26th November 2013, I arranged to meet up with Elaine on one of her many visits to London where she was due to meet with the Royal College of Midwives about pushing for better support for those suffering with Perinatal Illness. With the same punchy sparkle that is sprinkled upon pocket rockets such as Kylie Minogue, Elaine arrived at a little cafe north of Oxford Street to have lunch with me.  Petite, pretty and beaming from ear to ear she bounded over and gave me a welcoming hug.  We sat down and chatted for well over an hour about her life, her challenges and her humbling experience of recoveries from both puerperal psychosis (Postnatal depression at its most terrifying) and the sudden death of her partner not long before.  Sadly, her appointment came around all too quickly and she was gone before I had had time to draw breath.  Like all good speakers, she left me wanting more, so I quickly got in touch again and invited her to join my burgeoning little lunch group.  I am honoured and delighted that she now puts in a regular appearance when she is in London at one of her many demanding events, getting to know the rest of the group and bewitching us with her stories. Elaine Hanzak talking babies to new mum Kathryn Mewes Elaine is now an inspirational speaker on overcoming loss and it has been wonderful getting to know her, hearing her tales which swing me from tears to side splitting laughter in the course of one lunch time.  She still leave me wanting more, more, more! Elaine advises and speaks to audiences who are looking for ways to improve their lives; to health professionals, mothers and family support groups plus at corporate events. Elaine delivers keynote presentations on overcoming loss, postnatal illness and mental health issues drawing from a raft of informative case studies, personal experiences and anecdotal information passed on to her via this website and her public speaking engagements. She is the author of two books. The first: Eyes without...

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