Passionately P’d Off
Hello and welcome to Cariad Babi. Before you ask, nope, I’m not Welsh – I just would love to live in Wales! Cariad Babi translates to ‘baby love’. It also sounds a little like ‘carried baby’ – well it does in our Derby accent anyway!
I officially started Cariad Babi at the end of 2018, although the concept had been growing for around 3 years on the back of almost 10 years of experience. Assuming you’ve seen my website or social media, you may already have some idea of what Cariad Babi is aiming to achieve. So let’s start with the 10 years experience building! I warn you, this post will mostly comprise of a few rants that sparked my passion to run Cariad Babi.
Finding out I was pregnant aged 18 years old was rather unexpected. I know, I was 18, and yes, was well aware of how pregnancy happened. But still, I wasn’t prepared for my preventative measures to fail. Not only that, but I was NOT in a good place – although I didn’t yet know that. From finding out I was pregnant to being in labour, I’d somehow managed to find myself homeless and alone. Clueless and naive. I continued on my naive journey whilst becoming a little less clueless as I went. I participated in a ‘parenting program’ that was being pilot tested at the time, which offered support with the first baby of a teenager from pregnancy until the child turned two. It was an interesting program with some work to do, and that’s when I switched sides – from service user, to business developer. By this point, I’d survived raising two children to their toddler years and felt as though I was grasping the concept of parenting. I’d grown in confidence, gained a little more knowledge and made some positive steps towards changing my life – much of which I suspect will join the blogs later.
I helped to support teenage parents for many years later, in many aspects of their lives, until I paused to study at University. By this time I had two children in school, had had both my hips replaced and was preparing for the next part of my life – to run my own business. You see, I’d gotten a bit pissed about a few things along the way. Firstly, equality only exists on paper. I’ve had many jobs, and many more promises of career options, that were worth as much as the paper they were not written on. Too many times it boiled down to ‘we can hire someone to take less breaks’ or ‘we need someone who can work longer shifts’. Any BS that basically translated to ‘your disability is a problem’. Except for the government – they had the opposite stance: ‘your disability is not our problem, in fact, poof! We’ve cured you, on you go’ (that’s probably another story since I’m still pretty pissed about that 18 month episode too).
So, I got sick of being used, and working myself into the ground for others who did not appreciate the efforts I went to at the sacrifice of my own health and children. This is where the desire to be self-employed grew stronger over the years. I also go sick of the ethics – or lack of – within some of the areas I worked. As a parent, I grew tired of the bitchiness, the constant comparisons and judgement and the exhaustion to fight for the right support. This brings me to the second part of my ‘I’m pissed about a lot of things’ list. It astounds me how difficult it is to find, and access support. Not only are there cuts everywhere, but generally knowing where the hell to find the support you’re not even sure how to explain you need, is also quite difficult. And when you do find, say, a group to attend, then you’ve got to be able to get there – because it’s on the other side of the city, or in a room in a building, on a street, in a place that you have never heard of and your anxiety is already sky high just thinking about getting there.
Then, then, there’s the ‘postcode lottery’. If you weren’t here for a rant, you may wish to leave…because I realise at this moment, my piss-i-ness is still raw. So, I’ve found the support, I’ve fought my anxiety to consider asking for help and now you tell me I have the wrong frickin’ postcode for the breastfeeding team to come out? Right. The little funding that is left, gets thrown at postcodes (well, there is *some* thought behind it, but that’s no good to us is it?) and it’s pot luck as to whether you can get help. The other thing to note is, we don’t all need the same kind of support, at the same time. Some need mental health, breastfeeding, socialising, friendship, etc and some need it in the early days, some need it months in, and some get a year or two down the line and think – shit – I feel completely alone. But you don’t have a newborn, nor live in a postcode that won the shitty lottery – so..umm…jog on!?
Anyway, reigning it back…whilst I don’t beat myself up for the journey I took at that time, I did spend a long time looking back with frustration that I didn’t have access to tools that could’ve made my journey a more educated one, and maybe even an easier one. I am so cross that nobody told me my car seat was incorrectly fitted before I saw my son roll across the back seat in my car. I am really cross that nobody told me formula increased the risk of SIDS and the health problems two of my children have. I am really cross that nobody offered my information on rear facing, early weaning onto solids, and the alternate ways of parenting children without reward charts and naughty steps. It took until I had my third and fourth children, for me to realise there was a different way. I changed my mind on all the things I’d done before – I took a different path. And I felt guilty for not giving this ‘preferred’ path (for me) to my other children.
Now, I can’t say that all of my decisions would’ve been different, but dammit, I had a right to that information to make my decisions with. I would’ve thanked the mum that offered information about puffy coats in car seats, I’d have thanked the health professional that sign posted me to post-natal mental health support. One thing I’ve never understood – and maybe it’s my bipolar – is why we can’t offer information, or receive it, without assuming it means we’re being judged. Why can’t we say ‘has anyone offered you information about paced bottle feeding, be it breastmilk or formula?’ without it turning into a massive fight about breastmilk vs formula milk? Why can’t we say ‘thank you for that information’ and leave. Go home, and either put that information in your pile of ‘useless shit’, or sit and ponder ‘hmm I think I’ll read some more’. It might still end up on the useless shit pile, or it might just open a different door you’re thankful for. Whichever way you go, doesn’t it only matter that you were able to make an INFORMED choice?
So, to draw to a point without leading onto another lengthy rant, all the above meant that I wanted to run a business that supports parents with evidence based research to offer in a way that empowers you to make an informed choice, without feeling judged on what that choice is. I learned that the choice of words has great baring on how we deliver information to others, and so I work hard to ensure parents know that my support comes from a wealth of cock-ups, massive learning curves, and lots and lots of training and experience. Most of all, it DOES NOT come with judgement. I’m passionate about more things than I’m pissed about – and you may have guessed that list alone has some length to it! I intend to share these passions with you, and help you on your life-changing journey as parents too. A little giggle on the way won’t hurt either!