Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Raising Children With A Sex Not A Gender

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, not their gender.

To explain I’ll describe what I mean by each.  Their sex is what they are.  The girls have vaginas and XX chromosomes, the boy has a penis and XY chromosomes.  Obviously there are other physiological differences but that’s the basics.

Gender is something else.  Gender is what each sex is “supposed” to be interested in, “supposed” to like, think and feel.  It’s the boys like pirates, girls like princesses, and boys like football, girls like ballet, school of thought.

So, how do I raise them with one not the other?  And why?

They need to know their sex.  There are medical issues that could come into play for one thing; they need to know their body parts in order to describe any pain or discomfort.  They need to understand the changes that they’re going to experience on their bodies, things that will happen to them because of their sex.

Whilst I definitely believe we all need to know the physiology of the opposite sex, when it’s going to happen to your own body what you learn needs to be more intense.  I’ll be teaching the girls about periods; how to use tampons or pads, what pain relief works best.  I’ll be teaching the girls about yeast infections and what to look out for, what treatment to use.  The boy needs to learn about erections and testicular pain, about his voice dropping.  These are basic simple biological differences that will manifest as they grow and experience life.

But gender is unnecessary.  And in some cases it is harmful.

There’s a flow chart floating around social media that is spectacular at explaining why children do not need gender.

IS IT OPERATED WITH GENITALS?

/                                   \

YES                                             NO

/                                                              \

THIS ISN’T FOR CHILDREN                      YOUR CHILD CAN PLAY WITH IT

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series. Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

Nothing that children play with, watch or wear is restricted to their sex.  Absolutely nothing.  There is absolutely no reason boys can’t play with My Little Ponies, Barbies or hair dressing sets.  There is absolutely no reason girls can’t play with dinosaurs, trucks and footballs.  And when we teach them that it’s not the case problems happen.

I recently had a conversation with someone one Twitter who’s raising her little boy as female now.  I assume that doesn’t include learning about the medical reasons he needs to know about his body, I don’t suppose she’ll be teaching him about period cramps and how to get blood stains out of knickers.  She’s raising him as socially female.

She tweeted that every birthday and Christmas he asked for dolls, and every year he cried when he was bought trucks.  I asked why she couldn’t just let him play with dolls?  Why not let the kid have what he wanted?  She said because he was teased for it, made fun of, laughed at for liking girl’s toys.

She taught him that the bullies were right.  She taught him that the bullies were right and he was wrong.  That something is wrong with him.  She changed him, not the bullies.

He is now on a path.  He’s being raised as a girl now.  He’s on a path that leads children into puberty blockers, a life time of medication, hormone therapy and, if he chooses to go down that path, surgery.  Or if he’s like high profile trans child Jazz Jennings who went on puberty blockers, he’ll find that his development is so damaged that not only is he unsuitable for surgery, but he’ll also not develop fully and he’ll grow older with an infant’s penis on an adult body, with nothing anybody can do to help.

Because he wanted a Barbie.

With other parents that could be my children.  Miss Rose is not a traditionally feminine girl in a lot of ways.  She likes her hair short, she loves football.  She plays with bricks and cars and super heroes.  With different parents she could easily have been taught that they are boys toys, that there’s something wrong with her wanting those things.  The more traditionally “girly” things she enjoys could have been hyped up, she could have been forced to grow her hair long and wear frilly pink dresses.  She’d be uncomfortable, she’d feel she was wrong.  She’d be told that only girls like these, only boys like those.  But she likes those.  You can see how their little brains make that leap without any slight concept of what they’re getting into.

Gender stereotypes being imposed on children starts them on their journey to adulthood in a way that is just not healthy.  Fifty years ago that meant little girls grew up to be housewives.  They were forced to play with make up sets, ironing boards, and dolls being groomed for a life of servitude, beauty and motherhood.  Little boys were forced to play with weapons, cars and blocks, preparing them for a life of adventure, money making and dominance.

Photo credit KlimKin

We started to leave that behind.  Movements like Let Toys Be Toys highlighted that any child can play with any toy.  We’re becoming accepting of little girls who like adventure and little boys who like domesticity.  We’re moving towards embracing both facets of our personalities, little girls like Miss Rose loving toy cars and My Little Ponies without any concept that she could be wrong in doing so.

But the more tolerant we become of celebrating differences, the more intolerant we become of those who are different.

Now it’s more tolerant to believe a little boy who likes Barbie is really a girl.  It’s more tolerant to think a little girl who likes her hair short and doesn’t wear pink is really a boy.

Gender stereotyping is getting a resurgence in popularity but under a new name, and instead of those who are against gender stereotyping being the progressives, it’s those who will strictly conform to it to the point of medicating their children who are applauded.

My children will be raised to know their sex.  To know their bodies, to understand what they do and how they work, how they’ll change and what to do to be healthy.  They’ll be taught to love their bodies, respect their bodies, nurture their bodies.

My children will not be taught their gender.  They’ll never hear from us “that’s a girl’s toy” or “only boy’s wear that”, and if they hear it from others they’ll swiftly be reassured that it’s nonsense, that they’re perfect they way they are.  If they’re teased for their differences I’ll never side with their bullies.  Ever.

Femininity and masculinity are both fine.  Women and men are both fine.  Girls and boys are both fine.  It’s okay to be anywhere on the feminine to masculine scale regardless of what sex you were born.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, but not give a flying f*ck about their gender.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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Mummy’s Only Human

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

As a mother I feel I should be impenetrable.  I should be strong as a rock.  I should take anything my children throw at me and handle it without a flinch, because I am a mother.

But I’m not a rock.  I’m not impenetrable.  I flinch.

Sometimes I flinch more than I do at other times.

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by life right now.  I have enough work to do to work solidly for 27 hours a day.  I start as soon as I wake, be that midnight or 5AM.  Today it was 3AM.  I stop when I physically cannot go on anymore.  I usually work on my phone in bed before I finally pass out.

As well as my work I have children to raise, animals to care for, a house to clean, food to cook, and relationships to maintain.  I look around my house, that I know is a big joke to most on account of the sheer levels of chaos, and I know I need to sort it.  I need to do more to keep it nice.  Instead I do the bare minimum, and sometimes not even that because compared to my work and my children it just sinks on my priority list.

The problem is the result is that because nothing gets as much attention as it deserves, my children, my work, my diet (which is mainly cup-a-noodles and the occasional bag of mini eggs), all end up neglected and everything piles up in my mind until it’s a swirling ball of chaos with every voice shouting at me that I’m not doing enough, that nothing is good enough.

And I’m overwhelmed.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Counselling

When I’m overwhelmed I feel constantly on the brink of mental turmoil and my ability to handle what my children sometimes throw at me drops.

This morning I was trying to edit an article, promote a newspaper piece we appeared in, engage in social media promotion, breast feed my baby, look after my daughter, and drink a coffee.  When my big girl decided to suddenly launch at me for a hug that involved standing over the top of me on the sofa and wrapping her arms around my throat.

I panicked.

My sense of personal space being intruded upon is one of the first things to go when I start to crack.  I need physical distance.  I feel oppressed when people crowd in on me.  I feel frightened when people move suddenly.  I panic when I am grabbed.  My daughter only wanted to love me, she only wanted to hug me, but the force of the grab around the neck, the looming presence that appeared over the top of me, the pressure down.  It was too much and I snapped.

“GET OFF ME!” I screeched at her, flapping my arms to get her away from me.

She broke her heart.  She had only wanted to love me.  To hold me.

I forced myself to calm down then pulled her in for a cuddle.  I apologised and explained that I need a bit of space sometimes.  She apologised too and we had a hug.

I hated myself for reacting to her like that.  It’s not her fault I carry scars that make bodily contact occasionally traumatic.  It’s not her fault that breastfeeding my baby takes that last bit of coping with human contact ability I have.  It’s not her fault I struggle to handle pressure.  It’s not her fault I’m so busy.  None of it is her fault.

But, equally so, she needs to learn that people are human and carry bruises around with them that you can’t see.  Bruises that, even with good intentions and seemingly innocuous behaviour, can be prodded causing pain.  She needs to learn that anyone has the right to reject physical intimacy, and doing so doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  She needs to learn that people have their own needs.  And that includes Mummy.

I wish I was a rock.  I wish they could count on me to handle everything they throw at me with calm strength, to teach them lessons about respecting people’s needs without cracking.  But I’m not.  I’m only human and human’s are not perfect.  Humans are damaged.

I’m doing my best but I’m only human.  And sometimes I crack.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Triggered By My Children

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

People like to joke about the word “triggered”.  It’s a big laugh about lefty liberals being mentally weak and unable to take criticism, unable to take a joke.  It’s used as a criticism.  To mock people.

It is not a joke.

It is especially not a joke when the person doing the triggering is your own child.  Your child who you love and adore, value over all others, and who even at their most angry has no comprehension of the fireworks bashing around on the inside of your brain when they’re doing something triggering.  They don’t mean to, and even if they did, the can’t comprehend what it is anyway.  And the whole time you’re being mentally broken by the fireworks of panic, you have to maintain at least some degree of composure because there are little human lives depending on you to parent them.

I have, at various points, been triggered by all three of my children in different ways.

It doesn’t happen all the time.  If I’m feeling at my most strong and my most healthy I can ride through most things they throw at me.  But if I’m feeling bogged down by the weight of life already, if I’m already struggling to process a stress or anxiety that is really pushing into me, what they add to that load can be incredibly difficult to carry.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Counselling

Miss Rose will, when fully enraged (which thankfully is rare) stamp her foot with huge force.  It shakes the floor.  The rage in her beautifully little face, the impact of the foot on the floor,  I feel it.  It hits hard at my chest and catches my breath.  So much of me feels that stamping is a great way for her to externalise her anger without harming anyone or breaking anything.  It’s also a classic child tantrum manoeuvre.  There probably isn’t a child in history who hasn’t stamped at their mother when angry about some perceived injustice.  But I beg her not to do it.  I have, at times of weakness, broken down in tears because of her stamping at me and I cannot tell you how pathetic I feel when that happens.  When I cry it immediately calms her and she comes to me, holds me, and tells me she’s sorry.  The pain of others is something she instinctively needs to fix, and then I feel like an emotional blackmailer and hate myself even more.

Her other move that I struggle with is when she’s being clingy.  I feel her pressing against me where I sit, her arms snaking around me, her fingers pulling at my clothes, her breath wafting against me.  I feel suffocated.  I can’t breathe.  Sometimes it’s fine and I cuddle her back, I know she’s feeling insecure or vulnerable, maybe poorly or sad, and all I want to do is give her the physical comfort she needs.  But sometimes I can’t handle it.  I feel intruded upon, like ownership and control of my body is being taken from me.  I need space.  I have to get away from her.  And how terrible I feel when that happens I cannot express.  Moving away slows my heart rate and usually I am able to come back and give her the cuddle she needs, but in the moment I betray that and I hate myself for it.

In a similar way Baby Boo has triggered me by being so permanently attached to me that I feel out of control of my body.  Violated.  Owned.  I hate it.  I have to put her down, or in the arms of another, and take a break.  When she’s crying and clawing at me I feel my head fog coming and I have to escape.  She’s a tiny baby who knows nothing except her need for comfort from mummy and I run away.  I run away.

My step son triggers me because, in the words of Jonathan McKinney, I cannot show him that I’m the baboon with the biggest, reddest ass.  When he gets angry he will sometimes hit out.  I have taken fists to the face, the arms, the head.  I was kicked in the belly whilst I was pregnant.  I panic.  I cannot handle it.  I’ve been broken to tears and a shaking wreck because the moment those tiny, male fists land on me I just cannot handle it.  I know he’s a little boy not a grown man.  I know I am bigger and stronger.  I know I’m the parent.  But I just break.  I panic.  I am afraid.  The swirling , exploding, fog of fear in my head won’t let me see my own power and strength and instead breaks me into a cowering, woman below the anger of a dominant male.  There are no words for how much I hate myself for that.  I have taken to backing away from him should anger flare up, avoiding the confrontation, and in so doing that I am failing him.  I am failing to parent a child who needs me.  A child I love and am responsible for.

Being triggered is not a joke.  It stops you living your life normally.  When your own child is the one doing the triggering, you take them down with you.

My children aren’t harmed or neglected through this struggle, but they are negatively impacted.  Made to feel that they’re doing something worse than they are, because if I was not being triggered I would be able to handle it so much more successfully and parent them through it.

JJ. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly PRospero Series, Rose And Mum And More,, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Greyer Baby

But hitting walls and stamping feet has been a precursor to pain.  Fists to the face have carried genuine weight and power.  Snaking hands and breath on my neck has been followed by violations of my body and self that haunt me.  I wish it were different.

I am not a snowflake.  I am dealing as best as I can with something I can only assume those who joke about triggers have no comprehension of.  And I’m pleased for them.  I wouldn’t wish these triggers on a soul.  I wouldn’t wish panic attacks on anyone.  I wouldn’t wish anyone’s child to be carrying the burden of seeing their mother in that state.

But if you aren’t triggered don’t mock those who are.  Respect what they’re going through.  Because it’s not an easy weight to bare.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

 

A Year Ago I Nearly Died

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

People talk about “near death” experiences.  How they see a bright light and get amazing amounts of clarity, maybe think of the people they love.  They talk about how life changing it is, how it focuses them on what they want and need in their lives.  At least that’s the clichéd version seen in film and TV.

My near death experience started a year ago today.  There was no bright light or clarity, there wasn’t even much fear, at least not for me.  For everyone else there was a lot of fear.  A lot.

A year ago today I was eighteen weeks pregnant and I had contracted swine flu, though at the time nobody knew that.  I was ill.  Very ill.  My mother in law came round and found me lying on the sofa in agony, throwing up, and feeling faint.  She was frightened for me and phoned my dad.

When my dad came he was worried enough to phone my mother, which isn’t something that has been known to happen often as he’s not the worrying type.  My mother got me seen immediately at the doctors, the doctor phoned the hospital.  This is where memory starts to get hazy for me.  It’s patchy, I remember bits, but mostly what I’m retelling is things that I’ve been told by those who were there.

My mother phoned Jonathan at work and he came out early, then together me, my mum, Jonathan and Miss Rose headed to the hospital.

I was blacking out.  I remember very clearly begging Jonathan to look after Rose for me.  To love her, to cuddle her.  Whether those words actually made it out or were just in my head I honestly don’t know, but I know I thought I was going to die, and I know I needed him to promise he’d love her.

My mum was driving and shaking me to try and stop me passing out, behind me Jonathan was holding my head trying to stop it going down.  I remember my mum smacking me to wake me up.  Both of them intently trying to stop me disappearing.  But mostly it’s a blur of blackness.  My mum drove up the hard shoulder of the motorway, whizzing past the traffic at the side, and saying “fuck this.”  Rose was in the back wondering what was going on, frightened.

Once we got there and I had been wheel chaired in I was hooked up to tubes and machines, my blood pressure was super low, my temperature was super high.  Blood tests were done, machines were beeping.  I remember my mother in law arriving and gently stroking my hand.  I remember her promising she’d look after the children.  I remember a nurse trying to take a blood test and going wrong twice, blood spraying over her and the floor, and me watching it in slow motion.

I remember begging Jonathan to take me home.  I remember his face set rigid.  I remember my mum telling me no, I had to stay.

I was moved into high dependency and held there being tested for things, IV bags pumping into both hands.  Jonathan was allowed to stay with me.  I needed him with me and they made allowances.  I later realised it was because they weren’t sure I’d make it.

Repeatedly I begged them to check the baby and each time they refused.  They had to stabilise me or there was no point checking the baby.  I had to be okay for the baby to be okay.  I later found out they had assumed the baby wouldn’t have survived anyway.

The next day I crashed hard.  I was unconscious and Jonathan was watching doctors and nurses circling me, trying to revive me, my blood pressure dangerously low, my heart rate plummeting, machines blasting warnings.  Jonathan was watching me die.  He was trying to work out how to tell my mum, how to tell Miss Rose.  How to raise her without me there, how to help her cope with my death.  He’d accepted the baby wasn’t going to survive and now was having to come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t survive either.  He was working out how to say goodbye.

This was one year ago.  I’m typing this at home with Baby Boo in my arms, a healthy and perfect seven month old who not only survived but wasn’t damaged by it.  Jonathan was at my side every step of the way and he still is.  Every subsequent hospital stay he was with me.  He was holding my hair back, he was helping me drag equipment to the toilet and helping me on and off.  He was cleaning me up, helping me eat, watching me sleep.

Everything is okay now.  Better than okay.  My family is gorgeous, my relationship is wonderful, my career is starting to go places.  My dedication I saw in my partner, my mother, my mother in law, these wonderful people who put their all into caring for me and my children in my time of desperate need, have given me a sense of such security and safety.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

And yet I’m not over it.

I feel like I should be.  I feel like I should have moved on.  It’s been a whole year now.  I’m here, my baby’s here, my family is together.  But I’m not over it.

I’m still afraid.  And I know Jonathan’s still afraid.

My immune system never recovered fully.  My body never got back to full strength.  Fighting off the bug whilst sustaining a pregnancy was too much in some ways and I’m left weakened.  I catch every bug going and I catch them hard.  I’ve been collapsed on the ground vomiting whilst Jon’s cleaned me up and cared for the children.  I’ve been violently shaking before passing out whilst Jon’s held my hand and tried to keep me safe.  I’ve been so dizzy that I’ve fallen down the stairs.  I get ill.  I get really, really ill.  Whilst it was a year ago and life has moved on, I keep getting hard reminders of how close I came.  How close I could still get.

I’m not over it.

I’m frightened.

There are practical things I can do to manage that fear.  I’m taking steps to legally protect my family; making sure Jonathan retains control of the children and the business.  I’m trying to keep myself healthy as possible, I eat a healthy diet (chocolate aside) and drink lots of water.

But if I get ill again?  What if next time it’s the real thing?  What if when Jonathan thinks he’s watching me die he really is?

What then?

My children will grow up in this cruel world without the woman who loves them more than anything else on this planet.  Without the woman who would give her life for theirs.  They’ll grow up without me and I have so much to give them.  So much to do for them.

I don’t want to leave my babies.

Last year I almost died.  I almost left my babies behind.  In some ways the year since then has been the best of my life.  In some ways I am the happiest I’ve ever been.  In so many ways now is a wonderful, wonderful time to be alive.

But in some ways I am so afraid that when I lie awake at night it’s all I can think of.  I can’t get it out of my head.  Last year I almost died and there’s nothing stopping me from being there again except chance and luck.

I’m not over it yet.  I don’t know if I ever will be.  I don’t want to leave my babies.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

When Will I Stop Breast Feeding?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’ve been breastfeeding baby B since birth and she’s now seven and a half months.  For the first five and a half months she only had milk from me, and then I started introducing solids and now she’s a huge food fan as well as being a true devotee of the boob.

So the question starts coming up a lot now, when will I stop breastfeeding?

I fed Rose until nearly 11 months.  I had hoped to go for a year but actually was happy to stop when I did.  I was feeling trapped and frustrated by the process, I was hoping to get her onto a bottle for at least part of the time but she wouldn’t go near one, and finally my body made the choice for me.  She couldn’t get enough milk out and was getting upset and angry, biting me and crying, and I finally said it was time.  I had missed my goal of a year but it was time.

With Boo, who knows?

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum 2 years of breastfeeding.  Whilst I have no negative feelings about the idea of breastfeeding for 2 years, I’m also not wedded to the idea.  I understand why it is best for her, and part of me thinks I should be more dedicated to achieving 2 years, but I’m not.  I might do it, it would be nice to, but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up over it.

I know I’m not keen to stop now regardless of what the health recommendations are, but equally so I’d like her to start taking a bottle as well.

I don’t want to stop because I love it.

I love that it’s something special for she and I that nobody else has with her.  She’s such a social creature, loves going to others, has no anxiety when she can’t see me.  Selfishly, I am aware, the fact that she depends on me for breast feeding gives me a feeling of being special in her life.  I know that I’m her mummy and I’ll always be special, I’ve not breastfed Rose for more than 3 years but I’m still very definitely special in her life.  But still, this babyhood dependency on breasts is incredibly short lived.  I’m not ready to lose it.

I love that it calms her and soothes her.  When she had her vaccinations she cried, but as soon as I stuck a nipple in her mouth she calmed down immediately and started suckling happily.  When she’s rolled off her play mat and hit her head on a chair she’s cried, but breastfeeding instantly calmed her again.  When she’s been poorly being able to snuggle into my chest and feed has calmed her when she’s been at her worst.  I am not keen to give that up.  When Rose is distressed it takes so much more than just popping a boob out and latching her on.  She needs so much more.  The simplicity of breastfeeding to end her pain, reassure her she’s safe, make her illnesses less distressing, it’s something incredible and I don’t want to lose that.

I love that it settles her to sleep.  When she’s tired, rubbing her eyes and getting grouchy, she will fall asleep with cuddles sometimes, or just where she is.  But most of the time she gets crankier and crankier as she gets more and more tired.  A sure fire way to settle a tired and irritable baby is by cuddling her up with a breastfeed.  She sucks away until she falls asleep with an arm around my boob and snuggles in, completely contented.  When Rose is tired and irritable it takes more.  She needs stories and darkness and calm, she needs wind down and settling.  Sometimes she’s so tired that she won’t go to sleep, as bizarre as that seems to me.  Giving up that easy settle of breast feeding isn’t something I’m keen to race to.

In a similar vane I love that breast feeding keeps the nights quiet.  Other than occasions when she has a cranky night, the baby at night is the easiest one in the house to deal with.  She falls asleep in her co-sleeper crib then, at some point in the night, shuffles her way into our bed and latches on to my boob.  If she wakes up she just reattaches herself and goes back to sleep.  If she’s sad she reattaches herself and feels better.  There’s no walking around in circles trying to settle her.  There’s no crying baby disturbing the whole house.  I don’t even have to sit up.  She just attaches herself and we all sleep soundly.  Of course, the downside is I have to sleep in the same optimal breastfeeding position every night which gives me a bit of cramp, and I have to sleep with my boobs out which drips milk onto our sheets, but that is far preferable to any alternative.  I don’t worry about night time.  The big kids, on the other hand, with Rose’s separation anxiety and Z’s night terrors, can be quite a challenge.  Indeed, the night time is the time I’m most keen to keep feeding through!

So, with all these positives, why would I want to stop?

Well, I don’t fully want to stop yet but equally so I’d value her being able to take a bottle occasionally for a number of reasons.

I want some alone time with my man.  I miss him.  We’ve only ever been parents in our relationship, we had none of those heady child free days even when we were first dating, but we did occasionally have nights off where we’d send the children to grand parents and we’d go out for dinner, have a few too many drinks, then come home and (mum, look away for a moment) get down to some seriously excellent sex.  Our love life and dating life is now done on the hurry.  It’s quick whilst the baby is asleep.  It’s let’s go out for dinner but somewhere that’s pram accessible, and never with too many drinks.  I’d love a night to just be with him.  I miss him.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

With two bigger children I am sometimes a little unable to parent them properly because I’m attached to a baby.  If a fight breaks out or a toilet crisis occurs I either need to leave the bigs unattended in a time of need, or pull a feeding baby off my nipple and let her scream in despair whilst I sort them out.  If she took a bottle I could sort out both.

As work gets more and more busy, meetings occurring and events that I need to attend, I’m either taking the baby with me or I’m leaving her.  Currently leaving her can only happen for an hour or two at a time before she needs another feed, or I can take her and breastfeed at the time.  I’ve been perfectly happily getting on with breastfeeding her in various locations and have no embarrassment about doing it, but there are times it’s tricky.  I have to find somewhere to sit, sometimes not easy, I can’t walk around, meaning sometimes things have to be delayed to accommodate it.  It’s possible but it poses a challenge, and one which I could avoid if she took a bottle enough for her to go to her grandmothers for the duration of a work event.

What I definitely don’t want again is the all-or-nothing I had with Rose.  She absolutely wouldn’t take a bottle and when I physically couldn’t feed her anymore she was forced to scream and scream whilst her father tried to force her onto a bottle and I sat downstairs crying.  I hated it.  I hated myself.  I felt like a failure and a cruel and horrible mother.  My ideal situation would be that she will take a bottle happily, and continue to breast feed until she naturally comes to a stop because she and I are both ready.  Perhaps before 2 years, perhaps after, I’m not committed to either, but at a time that feels right for the two of us.

Until then?  Until then I’ll just keep making bottles available for her and I’ll keep feeding for as long as I physically can.  My relationship is stable and not suffering for our lack of alone time and I’m managing to balance working and parenting a baby in a way that is definitely hard but somehow I’m muddling through, and the bigs are remarkably accommodating and accepting of the new situation.  We are not at a point where I’m even considering forcing her off completely, but we are at a point where I can see the definite benefit of her taking both a boob and a bottle.

How long we’ll go for I honestly don’t know, but for the time being I’m definitely not looking to stop.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Not The Banana!

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Before my first daughter arrived I had very little experience of children.  Even less of babies.  Not through a particular desire to avoid them, if one was handed to me I’d fuss over it, but more through a lack of desire to seek them out.  Other people’s children make me anxious.

Because of this, I really wasn’t sure what to do most of the time and tended to make it up as I went along.  Through trial and error I’d come to conclusions about how to do things in a way I felt most comfortable with and seemed to be most successful.  This was true of bedtimes, routines, co-sleeping, and weaning.

The arrival of Baby B has given me a more solid base to know what I’m doing.  I’m more confident and when it was time to start weaning I felt like I knew what I was doing.  But I wasn’t sure it would work this time.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

Miss Rose is a foodie and loves to eat, always has done.  I loved weaning Rose; it was so much fun and it was something she loved so it was easy, and her enjoyment in food has continued.  My step son Z is really the only other child I’ve experienced eating and it’s a completely different matter.  He doesn’t like food, and often seems distressed by the idea of eating.  Whilst my methods worked brilliantly for Rose, perhaps they wouldn’t work at all for Baby B, and then it’d be like learning from scratch all over again.  What would I do if she hated it?!

After all, the way I weaned Rose was completely different to how children used to be weaned.  Indeed, my mother finds my methods very, very stressful.

When weaning my brother and I the process was clean and simple.  She pureed foods, carefully spooned them into our mouths, and wiped up any mess as it happened.  As we got bigger she started introducing lumps and textures until we were eventually eating solids.

I have a more… artistic approach.

I just give them food.  I remember the look of horror on my mother’s face when I handed the seven month old Rose a banana.  How that little girl loved it, she smushed it in her hands, she crushed it in her gums, she smeared it in her hair and over her face, she licked the banana slime off her fingers and burbled with glee,

“But it’s such a mess!” howled my poor mother.  “She’s not even eating it!”

“No, but she’s EXPERIENCING it,” I explained.

Because that’s what food is.  It’s an experience.  It’s not just about survival and getting the right calories, vitamins and proteins into yourself to get through the day.  It’s about the flavours, the textures, the smells.  It’s about socialising and enjoying one another’s enjoyment.  Food is fun and interesting, and I want them to learn that.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Avita Lchn

So I hand them the banana and let them experience it in whatever way gives them that pleasure and excitement.  The actual real eating they will learn over time.

Baby B is going the same way.  Watching her with spaghetti O’s is a thing of glory.  Her love of naan bread is spectacular.  Her desire to shovel yogurt into her face as she merrily misses and coats her eyebrows in it is fantastic.  When she smushes cucumber into a watery pulb she’s thrilled.  I’ll be giving her a banana soon, but not until my mum is there… because her horror is part of the experience too.

It’s messy but my goodness this child is having fun.  She loves it.  She gets excited by food.  She experiences it.

Poor Z finds this completely bizarre and I feel so sad for him because he’s missing out.  Because food is such a fantastic experience if you enjoy it.

If you’re considering baby led weaning I would highly recommend it.  You just have to prepare for the mess.  Sure it’s easier in some ways to do the purees, and you’re almost certain they’ll get a belly full of food more effectively, and that’s likely they’ll sleep better because they’re full.  There are many advantages to puree feeding that can’t be knocked.  But if you have the stomach for it, and a good steam cleaner, baby led is absolutely brilliant fun.

I’m planning on taking her to an Indian restaurant soon.  Miss Rose’s devotion to chick pea curry comes from an early exposure to authentic Indian cuisine, and sure makes our own curry addiction easier.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Public Breastfeeding, Still A Debate?!

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

It absolutely blows my mind that in 2016, it’s still a matter of debate whether women should be allowed to breastfeed their babies in public.  People genuinely have an issue with babies being fed in the way the human body is designed to feed them.

I’m going to have a look at a few of the comments on Twitter and discuss them.

If you can breast feed in public, I should be able to pee on a tree.

Genuinely.  This is what someone thinks.

Okay so, let’s look at this logically.  We will start from the basics and move on.

If this guy pees on a tree, he’s getting his penis out in public.  The penis is genitalia.  If a woman breastfeeds in public she’s taking a breast out in public.  Breasts are not genitalia.  Therefore, even just the implement itself is different in classification.

Urine and breastmilk, there’s a difference there also.  Urine is waste matter, breastmilk is life giving sustenance.  Urine is dirty, breastmilk is perfect.

Peeing on a tree exposes everything.  Breastfeeding does not.

Peeing on a tree is a selfish act.  Breastfeeding is completely not selfish as it’s using your body to sustain another.

Peeing in public isn’t legal.  Breastfeeding in public is.

Peeing is peeing.  Breastfeeding is feeding a baby!

This honestly screams “women’s bodies are disgusting and shameful and should be hidden when being used for anything other than male gratification” which is just misogyny at it’s finest.

Photo credit 102 MessManos

Photo credit 102 MessManos

Baby’s gotta eat! But let’s not wag ’em in everyone else’s face.

Wag.  Wag?  I breastfeed in public routinely because I’m a mother who goes out in public with a breastfeeding baby.  My boobs don’t wag.  They’re heavy and full of milk.  I hold my daughter, pop a boob straight from my top into her mouth, and then it just sits there whilst she feeds.  There’s no wagging.  There’s barely any movement. Out, feed, in.  This is an objection based on nothing that actually happens.

Attention ladies stop breast feeding in public it’s so awkward

Awkward?  For whom?  I bet this guy doesn’t object to a woman displaying her boobs in a slinky haltertop.  Or wearing a bikini.  I feed my baby anywhere and I never feel awkward because there’s nothing wrong with my body.

When I was a size 8 wearing sexy little outfits to go out dancing I showed more boob than I do when I’m feeding my baby and nobody felt awkward then so I assume it’s because when they’re on display to be sexy it’s for men, when they’re being used for their natural purpose of feeding a baby it’s not for men and that makes it “awkward.”  We’re taking away their wank material.  Awkward.

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

So I’m in the office & a corporate lady with a newborn needed our network to download software & she pops out a boob to breast feed :O

Firstly, good for her.  Being a working mother is exhausting.  Being a working mother to a newborn is even more exhausting.  Being a breastfeeding, working mother is even more exhausting still.

Secondly, so?  So she’s feeding her baby whilst working and you’re there.  Why is this an issue?  It should be a matter of respect.  It’s multitasking in the extreme.  The only shock face over this should be how she’s managing to balance two demanding parts of her life.  As someone doing it in a much less pressured setting than an office environment and often struggling, it’s truly remarkable.

Why do people expect to be allowed to breastfeed in shops etc?If I walked in with a I’d be told to fuck off too!

People eat in shops all the time.  Not a roast dinner, obviously, but food.  Snacks, drinks all sorts.  And people object in the same way to babies being breastfed in restaurants where food is literally being eaten everywhere!

Also, I’m fairly certain if a baby is screaming in hunger then that is far less pleasant for everyone, including the baby in question.  If the mum feeds the baby then the baby is happy and quiet and everyone can just enjoy their experience more comfortably.

Photo Credit Valeria Rodrigues

Photo Credit Valeria Rodrigues

idc what anyone say.. i’m ALL for breastfeeding. but people really act like they can’t pump that shit for when they’re in public!

Firstly you’re not “all for breastfeeding” if you’re against public breastfeeding.  That’s not all for breastfeeding.  That’s still believing there’s something shameful about it.

Secondly pumping doesn’t always work.  I’ve tried it and I cannot get enough out to feed my daughter.  It’s exhausting and doesn’t yield enough, whereas direct breast to mouth and she’s getting exactly what she needs.

Thirdly breast milk isn’t shit.

Fourthly, why should they?  If you want to pump do it, but pumping enough even when you’re physically able is practically a full time job.  It takes time away from feeding your baby, bonding with your baby, living your life, going out in public in the first place.  If you don’t have to pump, if you don’t want to pump, why not just use your breast, seeing as there is absolutely nothing wrong with a breast… and as you think you’re “all for breastfeeding” you should be all for breastfeeding.

Before formula, there was breast milk.  Before bottles there was breasts.  The human race has lasted this long because we are physically able to nurture our young using our bodies.  That’s incredible.  Women’s bodies are genuinely incredible.  We can grow these humans and feed them with nothing except what our bodies naturally do and that is truly remarkable.

If you object to breastfeeding in public but not to breasts being shown off in sexy tops, you’re a misogynist.  If you object to breastfeeding in public but don’t blink at adverts for push up bras in shop windows, you’re a misogynist.

A woman’s body is not disgusting or shameful and breastfeeding is what breasts are actually meant for.  We have breasts that make milk for this very reason.  Sure they’re pretty and fun and sexy, that’s a great second use for these amazing things, but first and foremost breasts and the milk they make is for the nourishment of our children.

If you don’t like it, don’t look.  Because our babies are more important than  your ridiculous opinions.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!