Friday, May 1, 2009

Babies just grow

So, I've mentioned before that we're trying a container garden this year, in addition to our allotment for growing in the ground.

I've been reading about all the things that can go wrong, and have observed through trial and error many ways NOT to do things. So far most of my seedlings are doing ok and a bunch of them are in their new homes, in larger containers. I've also had a few sad losses along the way.

It is labor intensive. I have the grow light running, I'm checking for moisture and hand picking bugs ever day, I'm picking out grass growing where we don't want it to grow (D'oh, I put hay in the composter. It obviously had grass seeds. Ugh.), I'm training plants to grow certain ways, rotating containers when they lean towards the sun, so their roots will strengthen. It's a lot of work.

A couple weeks back I walked into Kaya's room. She rarely opens her blinds, and her room is rather dark. She had this pot in her room, which had sat outside all winter after a tomato plant died in it and we hadn't cleaned it out or sterilized the soil. The soil was compacted inside, and very dry. It hadn't been watered. But Kaya had stuck an avacado seed inside. From a fruit we had bought at the grocery store, she kept it, I think soaked it for a day or so, then stuck it in this pot. It sat, dry. In the dark. And it grew.

It's looking beautiful now. And I must admit I've been quite amazed that out of such a dire looking environment, something beautiful can grow.

And it got me thinking about how somehow food has always grown, with or without the farmer. God designed nature such that it will reproduce, it will grow. We may have found ways to dabble with it and stick our hands in and make it produce more than it would naturally, or with a more desirable product (but sometimes with consequence or high cost), but it will grow without us.

And it reminded me of something I was told back in 2001, when I was a brand new, full of pride and joy and nerves and fear, mother of my first newborn daughter. I so wanted to be the best for her, but I really didn't know what I was doing. or I assumed I didn't. I took her faithfully to the mother and baby clinic, every single week, to be weighed. Because that's what you're supposed to do, right? To be a good mum....right?

One week my health visitor smiled at me and said, "You are absolutely welcome to come here every week, but you know you don't have to. Your baby is thriving. The weigh ins are more for bottle fed infants, but Heather knows how to get exactly what she needs from you when she breastfeeds. The weigh ins are not necessary. Babies just grow."

After my Dr bashing Dr Knows Breast post last week, I want to readdress the balance a little by telling you a little about Ruth Astbury.

I don't have a photo of her so I made this from the way I remember her looking

Back in the UK, instead of going to a pediatrician for unwanted advice health related parenting issues, we had a Health Visitor. In the early newborn weeks she visits you at home. I had many friends who complained much about their Health Visitor. But I got a gem. My HV, Ruth Astbury, was the best I could dream of. In fact, we nominated her for a Health Visitor of the Year award once and she got runner up (but for some reason she won a train set and I was given money! I felt bad about that..), but she deserved first place.

She claims she was "just doing [her] job" but I believe she went over and above the call of duty. When I came to her, an insecure, new parent, she taught me to trust my instincts. That is THE single most valuable lesson anyone can teach a new mother. I'd ask her a question, expecting to be hand held and institutionalized, and thinking that was right, and she'd answer me by asking, "what does your gut tell you?"

Honestly, I can't express how on-top-of-the-world that made me feel. That this professional was going to trust me; a naive, inexperienced 20 year old new mum, to make my own decisions regarding the care of my child. Because she believed I had it in me. Because she believes in mothers.

And it changed my path entirely. To me, attachment parenting is all about going with your gut. It's not about wearing a sling, or feeding your kids granola, or wearing a t-shirt that says "got milk?" across the boob area. It's about going with your gut. Trusting that God gave you maternal instincts which are sufficient to raise your children successfully. No matter what the books say. No matter what your peers say, or even the well meaning pediatrician. Mommy knows best.

Ruth was introduced to me, by my Dr, as a "breastfeeding expert". And she gave me invaluable advice. Things which are now considered up and coming techniques, she has been preaching since forever ago. She first told me about squirting breastmilk in an eye to clear up an infection. She encouraged maternal nutrition in the most compassionate, non-condescending way.

When Heather died, she came to our home, for MONTHS, to listen to us talk and cry and work through issues. She happened to be a Christian, and was an incredible source of spiritual support also.

She's the most humble, sweet lady. And she does an incredible work, on a one by one basis, encouraging mothers that they are able to be everything their child needs. That's a message so many need to be reminded of.

She gave me a gift of confidence. I don't believe I'd be who I am today without her influence and encouragement. I'd have gone down a much more mainstream path, and would probably have continued to feel insecure and inadequate, as I sort of default to that.

What I'm trying to say is (besides THANK YOU to Ruth), mothers out there, kudos and more power to you. You're playing a very important roll. Try not to sweat the small stuff...babies just grow. Look deep inside and you'll see you have everything your child needs, already built in. God is very clever that way.


Sarahlcc♥ said...

This is a great post ~ it is wonderful to hear your story of encouragement during the early days of mommyhood.

Herb of Grace said...

Thank God that there are indeed still health professionals out there like this. Beautiful post, brought tears to my eyes....

Rene said...

I can also vouch for how good she was. She really practiced what she preached....such encouragement, such compassion and such insight. She really made a difference in our lives.

Snobound said...

I enjoyed the photo of the avocado seedling. Hope it grows well for you. That's loads better luck than I've ever had with planting one! Mine always rotted out before they had a chance to take root. Great job K!

Momma Miller said...

I love the avocado plant. My mom always tried to grow these. I remember her meticulously putting toothpicks in the seed and suspending it in a glass of water so that the top was exposed to air while the bottom was in water. I don't know that we ever got anything as large as this plant. How amazing!

I also loved your message of babies will just grow. Since Brighton's home birth we haven't done any of the regular checks. Well, I take that back, we took him in 6 weeks after his birth for the first mandatory check-up. One other time I took him in for running a mild fever because I think my older two were sick and I was just concerned that he might have something serious. Nope. They did a full check up and he was amazingly healthy. They were surprised since they hadn't seen him before at our local clinic (and he was a homebirth--shock--those just don't happen around here). He's my healthiest child, yet. He was also our biggest. And after two c-section babies, I've been surprised at how little he's needed other than breastmilk and love. God's plan is truly amazing!

DJ said...

Lovely post - when I read this sort of story it reminds me how we should never underestimate what an impact our actions can have on others.