CANADA: Breastfeeding

I love research.

I think it comes as part of the “I-have-an-anxiety-disorder” package that I research things obsessively. Getting a dog? Buy ALL the dog books. Having a baby? Spend hundreds of hours trawling through research study abstracts.

So when I saw a notice at the Reproductive Mental Health Centre looking for participants in a study on infant feeding in mothers with depression and anxiety, I volunteered. Why not give back?

Infant feeding and maternal mental health are slightly controversial topic. Research has shown that mothers with post partum depression are more likely to be formula feeders than breast feeders.

What no one really knows is which causes the other.

Does breastfeeding make you happier? Does formula feeding make you miserable? Or does post partum depression just wreck your chances of breastfeeding success? (more…)

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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KENYA: Interview with MamaMzungu

KENYA: Interview with MamaMzungu

Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

We currently live in Kisumu, located in Western Kenya, Barak Obama’s ancestral homeland. (See here for more on the city). I’m originally from the Chicago-area but have lived in Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C. My husband grew up in Southern Africa, as his parents moved around doing development work.

In an eerie coincidence we moved to Kenya when our son was 2, the same age my husband was when his family moved to Kenya. His father had landed a job as a Country Director, same title my husband now has.

What language(s) do you speak?
English, bad French and Swahili that my 3-year-old son sometimes has to correct.

When did you first become a mother?
I first became a mother relatively later in life but quite early in my marriage (2009 if you’re looking for specifics). Because I was a little older we thought we’d get a jump-start on trying, and were a bit surprised (more…)

Mama Mzungu (Kenya)

Originally from Chicago, Kim has dabbled in world travel through her 20s and is finally realizing her dream of living and working in Western Kenya with her husband and two small boys, Caleb and Emmet. She writes about tension of looking at what the family left in the US and feeling like they live a relatively simple life, and then looking at their neighbors and feeling embarrassed by their riches. She writes about clumsily navigating the inevitable cultural differences and learning every day that we share more than we don’t. Come visit her at Mama Mzungu.

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UNITED KINGDOM: A Weekend in Norfolk

We arrived in the dark, our headlights sweeping around the corners of the single-track lane as we drove and illuminating fringes of fields and hedgerows that suggested vast open spaces further beyond.

Snow and ice crackled beneath the tyres. In front, suddenly: a white-faced owl, which rotated its neck magisterially at our approach then slowly flapped up and over us. A little further along a muntjac deer high-stepped cautiously across the road, its retina reflecting night-vision green in the beams of our car.

We had left London three hours ago. In the back seat baby Betty was entertaining herself by playing hide and seek. “One, two, three, comingreadyornot!” she shouted, snugly strapped in to her child seat. “Boo MummyDaddy!” She bubbled with laughter then gently subsided, turning her face up to her window to gaze at the thousands of stars above. No sodium street-lights here. My baby daughter, more used to pointing at the trains that pass along the bottom of our garden, was entranced by the massive constellations over her head.

Tired, broke and frazzled by the constant juggling of work and family, my husband and I had called time on our responsibilities. With our eldest children weekending elsewhere we had thrown two small bags of food and clothes into the car, hoisted Betty aloft and run from our terraced house to a tiny countryside bolthole.

Which we had just found, tucked away in the dark where we might never have seen it but for a friendly (more…)

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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SOUTH CAROLINA, USA: Giving the Whole Bathroom a Bath

My son is 7 1/2 and has been taking showers on his own for a while now.  Recently, he has been taking baths. The last 3 times, he has completely soaked the bathroom.  The floor was flooded, the counters were wet, and I just couldn’t imagine what he was doing in there.

He’s really into weather and the ocean, so I always say, “No tsunamis in there.” He knows I mean that he can’t make big waves in the tub that cause the water to spill out.

He’s an honest kid, so I believed him when he said he hadn’t been making tsunamis in the tub after the first time I found the bathroom soaked.

After his next bath, it was the same thing.  Water was everywhere.  I started thinking he was just walking around the bathroom when he got out and not drying off.  I thought of this soft ball that he throws in the tub. I figured that maybe he was throwing it out and getting everything wet.  I meant to ask him about it, but I was busy so I dried up the floor and forgot to talk to him. (more…)

Maggie Ellison

Maggie is so grateful to be raising her 2 children with her husband in the low country of South Carolina. Life at the beach is what she’s always known, although living in SC is new to this NJ native! The beauty of the live oaks and the palmettos takes her breath away on a daily basis and being able to go to the beach all year is a dream for her. Art and music have also always been a part of Maggie’s life, and she is happy that her family has the same love and appreciation for it that she does.
Maggie and her family are also very active. Her husband coaches both kids in soccer, and they like to spend their time outdoors kayaking, biking, swimming, camping, etc. They try to seize every moment they can together, and they feel that it’s not just the family time that is important. They want their kids to know a life of activity and respect for the outdoors, expose them to new things and teach them about the world! Maggie and her family are no strangers to overcoming life's challenges. They've had to uproot their family several times when jobs have been lost in the economic crisis.
They also lovingly face the challenges of having a child diagnosed with special needs. Through all this, Maggie has learned to celebrate the good times and never take them for granted. Her family is everything to her, and she is incredibly grateful for every day she has with them and for every moment she has shared with them. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t tell them she loves them and how lucky she is to be her kids’ mommy. How sweet!

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SAUDI ARABIA: The Choice I Made

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote a short while ago titled ,”The Choices We Make (For Them)“. To summarize, in January we moved back to Riyadh, the city we used to live in. My kids want to go back to the schools they were in before.

I want them to go to a small school with a higher standard of education. The old schools are big and chock full of students (My son S had 28 classmates, My daughter J had 18). This school is small and has relatively few students. In S’s case there’s only one other student in 3rd grade!

Well, I made the choice! I chose the small school for both my kids. Needless to say, neither child was thrilled. But I am the adult in charge of making these decisions for them. The decisions that will make them sad and angry at me and say things like “it’s so unfair” and “I want to be with my friends.”

When I told them the decision they instantly crumpled. (more…)

Mama B (Saudi Arabia)

Mama B’s a young mother of four beautiful children who leave her speechless in both, good ways and bad. She has been married for 9 years and has lived in London twice in her life. The first time was before marriage (for 4 years) and then again after marriage and kid number 2 (for almost 2 years). She is settled now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (or as settled as one can be while renovating a house). Mama B loves writing and has been doing it since she could pick up a crayon. Then, for reasons beyond her comprehension, she did not study to become a writer, but instead took graphic design courses. Mama B writes about the challenges of raising children in this world, as it is, who are happy, confident, self reliant and productive without driving them (or herself) insane in the process. Mama B also sheds some light on the life of Saudi, Muslim children but does not claim to be the voice of all mothers or children in Saudi. Just her little "tribe." She has a huge, beautiful, loving family of brothers and sisters that make her feel like she wants to give her kids a huge, loving family of brothers and sisters, but then is snapped out of it by one of her three monkeys screaming “Ya Maamaa” (Ya being the arabic word for ‘hey’). You can find Mama B writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa . She's also on Twitter @YaMaamaa.

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