Who Are You?
Hi, my name is Julia. I am the mother to 3 wonderful children. I am married to the father of all 3 children. We have an older daughter and twin son and daughter, 20 months younger than the eldest.
Why Are You So Passionate (Borderline Obsessed) About Gentle Parenting?
Both my husband and I have histories of trauma. My husband’s childhood traumas were the result of being raised neglectfully and abusively by an alcoholic mother. My own childhood traumas involved excessive control from my mum / being shouted at / smacked and feeling like I generally couldn’t ‘be myself’ with her. This contributed to me entering unhealthy relationships as a young adult.
How Was Your Journey to Becoming First Time Parents?
I met my husband, Jason, and I felt very fond of him quickly. He showed a gentleness and consideration of others that I hadn’t seen in many men before. He was shy and passionate about many things including music and hanging out with his close friends. He, and his best friend in particular, made me feel comfortable and we laughed a lot.
I personally came to the point of wanting to try for children quite quickly, say, a year into the relationship. He wanted to wait to be in a strong position financially first, as we were both studying at the time. I respected his choice and we decided to get married before trying for children.
We had been trying for around 2 years when it became clear that perhaps this was not a natural length of time for people to fall pregnant. Jason’s sister for example had many miscarriages in this time – and friends who were not even bothered about trying for kids were falling pregnant left, right and centre. Pressures began to mount from people suggesting I needed to ‘stop trying’ or ‘relax’ or ‘have sex more’. All of these well-meant comments were making me feel like it was my ‘fault’ that I wasn’t falling pregnant.
I had tests done, which showed I had a hormone imbalance and polycystic ovary syndrome. This devastated me as it meant that actually it was not something I could control and that I would need treatment to help me fall pregnant. The first month or two on treatment, I was convinced I would fall pregnant. Alas it still did not happen.
Period after period came and 6 months later I decided to try Chinese herbal medicine from a local doctor. He was wonderful. He gave me the time of day to listen to my distress about not being able to fall pregnant and told me he was very confident I would be pregnant within 3 months. Wow. It took a huge weight off my shoulders to have someone so confident that I wasn’t a lost cause.
I had success with falling pregnant around 3 or 4 months after starting Chinese herbal medicine. I was thrilled and my husband was shocked. He had come to the conclusion that we would be childless and he could pursue a luxurious lifestyle instead…
It was more of a challenge trying to control my diabetic blood sugars, with hormones driving them all over the place. With my first pregnancy I didn’t have any morning sickness, and it was a relatively simple pregnancy except that my diabetes caused me to have several major low blood sugars.
And What About Handling a Twin Pregnancy?
With the twin pregnancy, however, I suffered so badly with sickness. By half way through the pregnancy I was at my lowest ever adult weight, inspite of having two growing babies inside me.
Did You Try Breastfeeding and Tandem or Triandem Feeding?
Yes, which will be a whole other post as my breastfeeding journey can hopefully help any of you struggling out there. I even continued breastfeeding my toddler throughout pregnancy and beyond. I did get nursing aversion following the birth of the twins towards my first born.
I have felt very alone with my choice to breastfeed. Many people are unable or unwilling to breastfeed their babies in the UK, no matter continuing with a toddler sized child. Plus you can imagine the shock when we decided to try and triandem feed!!
Did You Suffer Any Postnatal Depression?
When I gave birth to the twins I could no longer get out of the house at all. My driving licence was not approved by my medical team due to low blood sugars. Living in the countryside with my husband having to work in the town centre, I couldn’t even get a lift to places with him. He was working 6 days a week self-employed, and on the 7th day he needed to rest from work. He was only able to assist for a few hours here and there. Nights were left for me to deal with alone generally and most of the daytime too.
With a very limited support network locally to us, I did struggle emotionally. I began my much needed path towards emotional healing. I did not use drugs to assist with my depression. Also because I could not drive I could not go to any support offered by the GP service.
How Did you Discover Gentle Parenting?
I knew for certain from a young age that if I had kids I would not want to raise them the same way that I was raised. I wanted them to feel loved but I had no idea how to go about that. I used to watch Supernanny on TV and I thought her techniques looked so gentle. Plonk the screaming child on a naughty spot until they stop crying and obey you. Well… it sounded wonderful compared to being smacked and screamed at. Only by accident did I discover that technique poses the same issues on kids as the more controlling parenting techniques.
I guess breastfeeding to 2 years is what led me to discovering gentle parenting. A health visitor mentioned that you just respond to the child’s needs to succeed with breastfeeding, and even with Super Nanny she said that you shouldn’t discipline any child before the age of 2 as their brains are not developed enough for it to work yet. That gave me time to discover that gentle parenting did not mean ‘loving parenting’ as so many wrongly believe. You can love and adore your children but, without realising it, not be raising them gently.
When I discovered I was pregnant with twins and my daughter was only a year old, I knew I had to work out ways to cope with three children under the age of 2. I discovered gentle parenting accidentally through an online forum. I did not realise it was actually a type of parenting.
So What Is Gentle Parenting?
The wonderful thing about gentle parenting is that it can be different to every single family. The main themes tend to overlap though, responding to your child’s needs, trying to guide your children rather than command they do things, and treating them as you would want to be treated. To me, it means holding boundaries but through connection rather than through control. The only thing you may wish to control through gentle parenting is your own actions, words and behaviours.
Why did you decide to post Personal Techniques, Thoughts, Traumas and Parenting Suggestions Publicly?
I realised how much debate there is out there on parenting styles. Most of which convinces you the solution offered is ‘the best for your child’. Actually, upon researching the techniques, it may give you the result you want in the present, but not raise the child emotionally healthy and happy. I have longer term goals for my kids to grow into happy adults.
The aim of gentle parenting, combined with elements of attachment parenting, and self healing, create a wonderful family experience. Through the parenting recommendations I have created or extracted from various sources, I feel genuinely connected to my children.
Our home life and going out and about is more humane than when I felt overwhelming pressure from external parties or just a lack of awareness of what to do for the best. I feel so strongly and passionate about my style of parenting, I just wish everyone could see and feel what I do about their own parenting and their own children. It’s beautiful. It’s incredible. It’s challenging. But, boy, motherhood is totally worth is when you’re doing it well.
My blog posts will discuss many of the techniques that I have found helped me succeed to raising my kids attached to me, and also to their father. My posts will cover subjects such as how to help your partner come on-board with your parenting choices, how to stop your child hurting others or yourself without using physical aggression or raised tones, how to split your time among 3 adorable young children, how to master breastfeeding even without much support, how to cope emotionally with ‘3 so young’, and which books and materials I’d really recommend to set you on the right path. Sign up to my blog to see new posts as and when I write them.