Monday, 30 April 2012

It's time we had a talk about sphincters. And clocks.

Ok, I'm warning you straight away. This post contains the words fanny and sphincter. If you are grossed out by these, better go do something else and skip this post. It's gonna be a meaty one. Yep, I'm talking about birth again.

I read a really fantastic post today by Cambridge-based Doula trainer Maddie McMahon today about clock-watching, number crunching, and how it ought to be left out of the birth space. . You know when someone just writes  down so precisely what you feel in your gut but haven't found the words to say them so succinctly yourself. Well Maddie absolutely nailed it for me with this piece.

Whilst I was away on holiday recently I wrote a little something on the topic of clocks in the birth-room. It was actually a piece on how you could make a hospital birth a gentler, less clinical experience. One of the ideas I wrote down was that maybe if there is a clock in the room, you could request it be placed flat or removed from mum's sight. Watching the clock whilst labouring, is as Maddie puts it, like trying to time yourself reaching an orgasm - kinda anathaema to just going for it, non? Birth time is a bit more like the melting clocks time of Salvador Dali

or the time as described by Doctor Who when he said it was "bendy-wendy". The other type of clock-watching can feel a bit like The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland - although her own journey of falling down the rabbit hole into a crazy dimension does have it's similarities to birth!

We have come to trust clock-watching and number crunching as a religion in their own right - we think they tell us everything we need to know and yet they don't tell us everything - and in fact they can be misleading.

Imagine you are really getting into the swing and starting to feel really safe and opening up nicely. You're surrounded by kind people who you feel an affinity with. Things are intense, and it's taking all your effort to stay in the zone.

In walks bossy, rude man/woman. He/She swirls into the room and thinks a(nother?) vaginal examination would help to establish where things are at. Before he/she walked in you were 7 cms dilated. Suddenly, faced with this person you don't feel comfortable with AT ALL, surprise surprise, you go back to 3cms. Upon being told you are now only 3cms, you feel pretty despondent!

You and others start to talk about this annoying state of affairs. Maybe you're feeling tired and starting to secretly panic. You think of the hours it took to get you to 7cm's and how it will take you ages to get back up to that number. What you don't realise is that if you feel safe enough very quickly again and your fight-or-flight adrenaline hormones are no longer needed, you can open right back up again

Think how quickly you freeze if you are caught out whilst having sex, or a poo, or some other bodily function that requires total relaxation for you to let go with it.

Its the same with birth. Your baby is born via one of your body's many..... sphincters! (collapses in a giggle fit) Yes indeedy.

According to Wiki,

 "sphincter is an anatomical structure, a circular muscle that normally maintains constriction of a natural body passage or orifice and which relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning. Sphincters are found in many animals; there are over 50 types in the human body, some microscopically small, in particular the millions of precapillary sphincters.[1]

All sphincters are shy. They don't like it if they are being watched too closely. Your fanny is no different. If some stranger puts their fingers up your fanny you sure as hell as not going to feel too relaxed about this, unless you are into some weird kinky stuff. Whatever floats your boat, baby, but here, for the purposes of talking birth stuff, let's assume we are not talking about THAT kind of finger action. No maam.

Now, if someone asked to finger your rectum whilst you had a poo, you would probably tell them where to get off right? And yet somehow, we find it hard to refuse vaginal examinations. There is an expectation, a pressure that we'll go along with them. Throughout pregnancy as well. I have refused them myself and received a rather curt, sniffy reply. Guess what? I can live with it.

I love this midwife's take on why we ought to leave well alone unless we have a genuine concern.

Can you just say "No thanks"?  Um, yep. Absolutely. If it feels unnecessary, you could write this into your birth plan. You have the right to decide if anyone can enter your body or not. In an emergency case, then yes, being able to feel baby's exact position is really useful and life-saving. In that case, your midwife ought to ask you really nicely, and tell you exactly what is going on. And of course, you'd most likely, and wisely say "Go for it".

But in non-emergency scenarios there are other ways of seeing how mother is doing besides measuring in cms and fingers and minutes and bleeps on a machine. The machines are actually there to cover the hospitals ass as much as save her own. A busy midwife, through no fault of her own, covering several rooms at once, may not have time to look for other signs.

Some of the older ways of knowing are becoming lost. They're just as reliable and are in danger of becoming extinct if we don't keep them alive and use them in our practice.

Mostly what we need for birth is to feel safe, relaxed, unobserved, free to move as we wish, freedom from ticks and tocks and bleeps and numbers. A mother herself has little need for this information. She needs to stay in her space, to moan and groan and be as mammal as possible.

So if at all possible, hide the clocks. Leave her internals well alone if you can and watch her with your eyes, and heart. Listen to her deeply.

She'll love you forever for it.


I was deeply honoured to be awarded a Versatile Blogger award from Home Ed writer Ross Mountney - look out for my next blogpost, in which I will be nominating my own 15 favourite versatile bloggers....

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Craggy cliffs, 3am writings, a little bit of Eden, marbles, smugglers and Cornish Pixies!

Hey everyone!

What you been up to?

Today we got back from a fab holiday to Cornwall via Granny and Grandpa's which was much needed time away from home and work.

We rented a cottage just north of a wee seaside village called Looe, and spent four nights and five days there. I am head-over-heels with Cornwall. We managed to fit in quite a bit...

A visit on the way down there to the wonderful House Of Marbles, where we saw the glassworks and museum, and had great fun (ahem, I mean - mayhem) in the gift-shop....

A day wandering around possibly the prettiest seaside village ever ever ever! - Polperro - where we visited the Smuggler's Museum, Model Village and weaved in and out of the little winding streets that used to be home to a clever tribe of folks who knew how to outfox the customs men - of which I highly approve!

We visited the Eden Project which was a great place to be on a rainy day, and filled our cup with a good dose of lush green tropical heaven. We drove back cross country up and down ziggy zaggy hilly roads and saw some standing stones from behind the screen of our van - too too rainy to get out!

Mucked about in a pretty cove where we felt truly lucky to have the beach almost to ourselves....

And played many a game of fat ladies ( a new card-game we learnt while we were away), and of course, marbles!!!

Just in case it's all sounding just a bit nauseatingly Famous Five, well there was of course a fair dose of sulking, tantrums, and 'I'm Booooored's'. How can you kids be motherf*cking bored when we are out every day doing awesome, supercool stuff???? yeeeesh, there's no pleasing some people!

Nah, but joking aside, it was truly lovely.

One rainy evening, I started to write, and write and write! And about 30 pages later, at 3 am I went to bed one satisfied and happy mama. I can't decide if what I wrote will go towards my book or make up some of my Birth prep Doula pack to give to clients, either way i'm super chuffed. creativity is such a crazy beast - nothing for ages then BAM-BAM-BAM! Suddenly its all flowing out of me like a river of stuff, pen unable to keep up with the speed of my thoughts. Yay!

Some of my fave moments of the holiday were the simplest ones.....singing songs and playing rock-paper- random word! for hours at a time with Alfie, walking along the stream into Polperro and stopping to watch a grey wagtail darting about in the water for a good ten minutes, eating a fishy family meal in an old smuggling inn, driving in our van up and down and round and down - a treat for us fenlanders where the land lies flat for miles and miles in every direction.

Whilst I was away, Feet on The Ground.... celebrated it's official first anniversary without any fanfare but a sudden realisation of what the date was and a curious look back to my first post. So happy birthday blog, I'm off to have a glass of wine to celebrate you properly, 10,500 page-views since that first post, 53 official followers and a few unofficial, here's to another year of me talking random boolacks which is hopefully of some interest and use in your life!

Signing out my lovers as they say in Cornwall. Take it easy :-)

xX MF xX

Friday, 20 April 2012

And the winner is....da da da da da da daaaaa....

Ok lovelies, well as promised, I have asked my darling sis to independently judge your comments on the blog, which I cut 'n' pasted into an email with no names attached and no comment from me. A hard job since each was sweet and I was genuinely moved by each one.

I just want to thank you and am honoured to have you reading, thanks for your time and love. I know that my readers don't always feel brave enough to comment, and that of late my readership per post has trebled so thanks truly for reading!

Well anyway my dears the verdict is that the winner of the mug and tin is.......... Henrietta! And the winner of the book is....... Dawn!

Much love to you others who commented and also to those of you don't comment here but chat/email me away from the blog sometimes to give your support and bloggy appreciation that way.

Big kiss to all you silent and vocal readers. You make it worth writing!


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Moving' on up!

I think that changes are a 'comin that are going to ease so much of the pressure it feels like the family has been under for so long. My dear friends have seen the strains and stresses coming out in so many ways. They have so patiently and lovingly born witness to our unfolding unhappiness and been kind and supportive and offered so much love it has been such a massive blessing to us. You know who you are, you know how much you have helped by talking things over and over with me, talking in circles, listening, holding the space of uncertainty with love and compassion. I am truly grateful to you. Truly, thank you. I've been feeling uncertain, indecisive, angry, frustrated, and overstretched mentally and emotionally for too long. Just lately my stomach has been knotted more days than not. I've had aches and pains and back problems - poor circulation, sciatica, lethargy, and feeling low. Did a pretty good job of hiding it from you on the blog, eh dear reader? Who wants to bang on and on about feeling a little miserable with their lives? Feeling unfulfilled? Unbalanced? Blah, boring! Who wants to read that stuff? The blog has been a wonderful escape for me, a place to reinvent some of my days, making them sound cheerier than they really were in real life. It's nicer to focus on the sweeter stuff that happens and push the crappy stuff below the surface. There have been lots of wonderful days and moments don't get me wrong! But too many sad or anxious ones than I would really wish for in the long term. I am becoming so aware that life is short and precious, that others suffer genuine tragedies and misfortunes, whereas our stresses have been self-induced and a result of our own choices along the way till now. But we live and learn so so much from all the different phases and parts of our life journey, so I have no regrets. Je ne regrette rien. I feel that things are going to change in such a dramatic way that we will drastically get our soul mojo back as a family to be a more loving, healthy, happy unit, vibrating and thriving more joyfully rather than just surviving, where following our dreams becomes more important than following orders, where listening to our hearts and having quality time with friends and ourselves will be more possible than at present, where our happiness outstrips our bank account not vice versa, and where our creativity and light can shine more truly. How can we expect our children to follow their passions, their dreams, their calling, their hearts if we cannot lead by example? If we sit around bitchin' about our lives rather than living a life we feel proud of then how are they going to learn to live with purpose and love? Changes are a comin' and there'll be no looking back. Bring it on, baby!!!!! I'm so ready.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

An untypical unschooling freestylee day

What does an unschooling day really look like?

No two days are ever the same.  Sometimes we have a plan for the day, sometimes we freestyle it. Today was a freestyle day. Woke up with no clue how the day would unfold. All we knew was - today we'll learn stuff for sure, cos we always do!

These last few days we've been hanging out with my cousin who stopped by for a few days on his easter break from uni. We've had loads of late night philosophical chats, ponderings,  and musicality :-) In between chats and games and the odd roll-up, we played music and video clips of interesting stuff, sharing what we know, sharing what's new. We've played games with the kids, went on an awesome  day trip yesterday to Castle Acre village (Norman Motte and Bailey Castle ruin, and large Priory ruins to run around sword-fighting in with newly-made friends), pondered the nature of language and meaning and success. Today, like many of our days, was pretty unplanned and unfolded quite spontaneously and naturally.

Today we did all kinds of random stuff.

* Learnt about POP art - looked at and discussed images of works by Andy Warhol like the Campbells Soup stuff and briefly looked at Roy Lichtenstein, and did some still life drawings - Herb did a traffic cone in rad colours, Finn did a road crossing street scene in pencils, I drew a mug with a picture of the Guiness toucan, and our pestle and mortar, and I drew a Pokemon for Alf on request

* Took a musical trip through David Bowie to the Dandy Warhols to Screamadelica and were treated to some guitar playing and some rag-time and classical and radiohead piano pieces, and Finn practised the SuperMarioBrothers theme-tune

* Discussed educational philosophy and exchanged thoughts on educational books

* Watched this and four subsequent parts of the same series, and had discussions with herb about the origins of language, the roots of different languages, Romans, Gauls and finally, Asterix!

* Watched videos from Shoo Rayner's website, including

* Listened to Jarvis Cocker's Wireless nights

* Indie watched Numbertime vids on youtube, with El Nombre

* We all did a bunch of chores, Herb loaded/unloaded the dishwasher, vaccuumed the cupboard under the stairs and Finn folded up laundry and I cooked a wholesome lunch - veggie and lentil bake.

* Pete felt rough so he had a lie down for a couple of hours :-( after which he felt a bit better :-)

* Herbie read books for a couple of hours

* We had a bit of bouncing on space-hoppers fun

* I taught my cousin how to make sponge cake using the rule of equal weights. Alf and Indie were the chief stirrers and spoon-lickers and egg-smashers and gigglers and squabblers

* Finnbar did some computer programming, working on his platform game

*Finn read a bunch of Where's Wally stuff to me, and we looked for the different characters together

* I set up a jigsaw puzzle for Indie which he completed all by himself

* Discussed raw food, looked at Kirlian photography images , and energy stored in foods

* I sorted through our organic seeds and did some mental planning for planting our seeds very very soon - eeek we've left it pretty late this year!

* Had cuddles and sung and danced

* Had a relaxing bath

* The children taught me how to play Lego Pirates of the Carribean game on the wii - I don't usually join in and play wii games with them so it was fun

Tommorow the boys will have the whole day with Pete as I am off on a Doula training day in Essex with my lovely friend Nicole, and they will have to entertain, educate and feed themselves without me.

How will they cope?!

I wonder what random things tommorow will bring... hopefully better weather for some outdoorsy fun and maybe a bit of seed planting:-)

How was your day?

Xx MF xX

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Give it away, give it away, give it away now!

So said the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and so say I!

Feet on the Ground will soon be 1 year old *WOOOHOOOOO!!!!* so to celebrate I thought I'd have a wee giveaway! The winners will be announced on Friday 20th April.


Booky Prize - Moon Time Book

This wonderful book will get you back in tune with the moon, your womanly body and its monthly rhythms. Written by the lovely, wise, Lucy Pearce over at Dreaming Aloud. In this modern age, we are often really thrown by the patterns and natural phenomena that our bodies experience, and this book will help you to become more aware of your own moods, natural phases and life-stages, to help make friends with them all and dance with natures rhythms rather than against them. I can't say how much I love this book! Lucy has kindly gifted me a signed copy for a lucky winner ;-)


Tea-time Prize

Oooh, what's hiding inside this tin?

.....a super dooper pretty mug!



Ok, so how you you win either of these gorgeous prizes?

Well now is the time to come out of the closet, or openly declare how much you love Feetonthegroundandheadintheclouds!

In the comments box, tell me what the blog has meant to you over the last year, why you love it, what makes you come back for more.... your comments will then be cut out onto bits of paper without your names on,  and an independent peep (my sis, she doesn't know it yet! ha) will tell me which ones tug at her heartstrings the most. She'll pick the winners based on your comments.

Good luck!!!

Thanks so much for your support and readership this last year, it's been a lot of fun!!!

Peace and Love

Xx MF xX

Monday, 9 April 2012

Technicolour Easter

Chocolate, boardgames, music-making 
Singing, dancing, booty-shaking
Photo-taking, mug-breaking,
Hugging, painting, birthday caking.

Banjo, guitar, 
Strummy strum
Sing out loudy
Hummy hum

Lazy lazing
All-day grazing
Making art that looks amazing!

Easter came and Easter went
What a wonderful event!

How was your easter?


Xx MF xX

P.S. Happy 100th blogpost to me!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Moomins! Bookshops! Stripy Bunting!

 * A wee lil' Springtime poem *

Springy days and wetty showers
Comic-making, pretty flowers
Crafting- sewing- painting-fun
Eggy crafts and hot cross buns

Funny fun
When the sun is not sunny
Hot choccy drinks and
Easter bunnies

Moomins! Bookshops! Stripy bunting!
Birdy bird walks and insect hunting
Friends and hugs and chocolate treats
Glitter, eggs and yummy eats

Easter's coming - woohoo - wahay!
Special family time - hurray! :-)


pretty flowers in our garden

eostre pics n cards 

a happy delivery

bunting made for gorgeous abi from this is the tale of an abiSnail

easter chick-chick

colouring moomins

hot choccy

yummy scrummy baby boy bouncing

hanging out

How's your Springtime dear readers?

Xx MF xX

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A Poem for Imperfect Mothers

Imperfect. (My first attempt at poetry, ever!)

If you saw me at my worst
When I said bad things or cursed
When I wasn't quite the soul I wish to be.

Would you always hold it near
In your thoughts when I'm not there
Would it be what you forever think of me?

Will you whisper, will you gossip
Tittle tattle bitch n gossip
She did this n she did that

Will you please cut me some slack?
Will you pat me on the back?
When I pick myself from being on the floor?

It's so easy picking on
Something bad someone has done
Something sad or bad that happened
years ago.

But don't a mama get a break?
Don't we all deserve to shake
Off old crap and really, really let things go?

We are learning things each day
Trying to find a brighter way
Always doing what we think will be the best.

So lets be a little nicer
To each other in this life
Cos it's much too short to hate or waste in strife.

Let's love one another
All us brave and gorgeous mothers
Cos we need to stick together not be split

Into cliquey little groups
feeling smug down to our boots
Putting down the other mamas we don't like

Could be us that does or says,
something she one day regrets,
could be us who needs a hand to lift us back

Time to put our faults aside
Stand together side by side
imperfect mothers all we are

And proud of it!!!