Adventures in Neurofeedback

It has taken me a while to blog about our experiences of undertaking Neurofeedback for our boy. The whole thing has been huge, from all the research and deliberating it took to get there, the fundraising and immense support from our community. I got actual hate mail. People looked at me like I’m crazy (nothing new there then). My mother and I have fallen out over it. But most importantly… We have our Zephyr back! The REAL Zeph we knew was in there and got glimpses of sometimes. Which is basically miraculous and unbelievable. I think pictures say it better than words really. Here’s Zeph BEFORE Neurofeedback. Often stressed, high anxiety, extreme aggression:   The Neurofeedback We took Zephyr each day for 12 days over the Easter holidays to the Brainworks clinic in Bristol. It was phenomenal to see how it worked. He was hooked up to a computer via electrodes on his head and he could control a video game by his brainwaves. When he kept the targeted areas of his brain regulated, he won the game. You could see that when he got too stressed or excited the game would grind to a halt. He would get it going again by breathing deeply and relaxing. We saw our son transform over 12 days. Every day he totally zonked out on the drive home and then slept good long nights, so it was clearly hard work. This is him just after Neurofeedback for 12 days: Life after Neuro Literally from the first day back at school Zephyr has been able to just get ready in the morning like...
10 Things That Might Start Happening When You Become A Single Parent

10 Things That Might Start Happening When You Become A Single Parent

1. Your kids just have to suck it up and help more around the house… And amazingly they do! 2. Your patience and concentration is reduced exponentially. It becomes hard to glean the relevant data from your emails… or your 7 year old’s incessant jabbering. 3. You get to bed each night later and are awoken by a prodding, kissing demon of sweetness. You take up drinking caffeine for the first time in a decade. 4. You cry on your Nursery Manager’s shoulder when you forget your daughter’s lunchbox for the third time that week (the one you left by the front door, for which you lovingly prepared sushi at midnight). 5. Your rate of burning pans goes up tenfold. 6. You miss your babies terribly when they are with their other parent but feel totally overwhelmed when you are actually with them. 7. You start buying jarred pasta sauce. 8. It suddenly hits you as you stir in the night, that if there was a fire it would be down to you alone to get these kids out. 9. You keep running out of loo paper and bin bags, because those aren’t things you’ve been used to buying for the past 13 years. And strangely you feel absolutely LIBERATED to be doing new things like refilling the oil in your car. 10. You learn who your real friends are. The amazing folk in your life who listen to your garbled tear and snot stained outpourings, who turn up as a tornado of woman power and straighten up your house or ply you with hugs, paracetamol, Arnica and caffeine...
Imperfect is good enough

Imperfect is good enough

My co-parent walks through the door at dinner time, ready to take over on Daddy-duty. “Uh can you listen to me for 5? I can’t get through to any of my Listening Partners.” The kids are occupied so he takes me to the back garden and before I can get any words out, I just sob and sob about not keeping it together and not being good enough. “I’m not good, I’m not good” I wail over and over again. It had been one of those days… where your kid wakes you multiple times in the night because he’s freaking out with anxiety and can’t sleep. You forget to wee your little one and she wets the bed. She spends the morning shrieking about getting dressed and throwing cereal at you because she knows you are not right there with her. Somehow you feed them, clothe them, drive them, offload one at nursery, bring the other home, do just enough Special Time that he feels adequately connected to abstain from trashing the house, then you pass out for half an hour (guiltily abandoning him in Lego isolation). You scrape yourself outta bed in time to feed the big one and fetch the little one, but the nap hasn’t touched the sides. You know those days? In the midst of separating with the kids’ father, I’ve been in shock and hit by grief, so this additional blow of interrupted sleep tips me over the edge. After nursery pick up, I stagger disheveled into the park, letting the kids loose and (knowing how off track they are), pray they won’t get into scraps. I see a woman approaching who looks as though she...
Why I charge a reasonable rate for my services to parents

Why I charge a reasonable rate for my services to parents

I just watched the Suffragette film and was re-inspired by the extreme measures women took, risking and even giving their lives for equality. And yet a hundred years later, inequality is so deeply ingrained that we women still collude in holding it in place. The other morning I was challenged by a woman over the price of our Sleep workshop (£30). She said “I believe if you truly wanted to help families, you wouldn’t be charging…especially as much as you are…disgusting!” This set me reflecting on this issue as I have many times. There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you provide services for women and families, particularly around birth, breastfeeding and parenting, you should do it as a voluntary service. I have heard Doulas discussing others who ‘overcharge’ in a somewhat scathing tone. In a breastfeeding group on Facebook when I shared a breastfeeding workshop I was offering, it was met with snarky comments about how women could access breastfeeding groups for free. I vehemently oppose this attitude as it completely devalues the great necessity of this invaluable work. In actual fact, this field should be prized more highly than anything. We are contributing towards societal well being, towards reduced rates of crime, mental health, illness. We are literally buying PEACE and sustainability. When we devalue services for women, we devalue a mother’s work and elevate patriarchy. And as Midwives, Doulas, Breastfeeding Counsellors, Antenatal Teachers, Parenting Instructors, generally WE are women. Why do we settle for being paid less in a society where monetary value reflects worth? Are feminine skills of empathy and body wisdom less...
Could connection improve your baby/young child’s sleep?

Could connection improve your baby/young child’s sleep?

I see you mama. You waking multiple times in the night to lie contorted, feeding your babe. You dragged from a puddle of dribble each morning when your child wakes much earlier than you are ready for. You watching the minutes tick over painfully slowly, while you await naptime and a chance to lie down again. You spending hours each evening lying with your children as they go to sleep. I see you. And I know how hard it is. I’ve been there. So overwhelmed by exhaustion that it was all I could talk about. I can remember feeling like I was wishing away the time with my baby while simultaneously grieving for the lost moments. Lethargic, reaching for sugar and caffeine to fuel my day, I felt resentful of my partner, who did not have to breastfeed throughout the night. I don’t remember how often he fed, as we were cosleeping and it all blurred into one, but I know it was too much for me to feel rested by the morning. When I had my second baby, I had an instinct to withdraw the nipple when I knew she’d had enough milk, so she didn’t fall asleep with it in her mouth. She would squirm, eyes closed and cry for a few seconds, then roll over and go to sleep next to me. I always felt slightly guilty about that little cry, interpreting that she was protesting against me taking away something she wanted. What I now understand is that she was releasing emotion with those cries. Perhaps fears about me withdrawing from her and the pending...

When you see a parent losing their rag try this…

Following on from my experience last week, where my son losing it in public drew attention from the law enforcement, I decided I better walk my talk about being a support to struggling parents while others look on. The opportunity arose when I saw, late one sunset flooded evening, a mum dragging her screaming kid across the field at Buddhafields in a wheelbarrow. I didn’t see what happened to flip the mama’s lid, but when she threw down the barrow and the (biggish) kid rolled out, I ran over just as she was tossing her daughter back in and scolding her to stay there. “Hey, tell me how hard it is, I’m with you” I said. She surveyed me apprehensively, not quite able to make eye contact in her rage. I couldn’t tell if coming over had been helpful or was just making her more furious, but I was happy for her to channel her feelings towards me. “It’s Ok I got you, tell me, or just take a minute for yourself, I can stay with her” She turned to her kid “I just can’t take you screaming any more. I am SO beyond my limit and you are too, you are making this so hard and I just need you to get to bed now” I tried to encourage her to tell me instead of the kid but she said she just had. Her little girl was screaming hysterically “You’re not being a kind mummy.” “I just CAN’T anymore… I’m so tired, I don’t want to do this.” I colluded that parenting was so hard and relentless and that...