You yawn widely, stretching your body out along the length of the bed. It feels lighter and rested. There is no alarm to wake you, no baby crying, no kids jumping on you, just the natural body clock, working in tune with an earlier dawn. You snuggle deeper under the duvet, revelling in the indulgence of no rush, knowing that when you are ready to sit up, swing your legs over the side of the bed, stand tall and take the first step into your day, it will be slowly, with ease and softness. There is anticipation simmering, an excitement for what this day might bring, a sense of knowing, an energy that good things are coming, that plans will be coming to fruition, seeds planted will be shooting and contentment growing. You open your eyes, natural light blinding you and greet this new day. This is Spring!
‘Metaphorically, this is when we’re getting out of bed and getting our day started’, says Erin Bruce, whose online Wheel Of The Year course is guiding me beautifully through the changing energies of the seasons, new moon and full moon vibes, connecting me with a deeper understanding of how these cycles of nature can nourish and nurture, with ritual suggestions, journal prompts and meditations. ‘These plans we’re making are the seeds we’re planting for the growth season ahead. What do you want to grow in your life this year?’ She asks.
Ive been dwelling on this a lot. As the last full moon of winter waxed into wholeness on the 7th March, I lay my favourite rose quartz crystal out to re charge, despite steadily freezing temperatures, and woke in the morning to see that she had surrendered to Winters last hoorah; gardens and roads covered by snow from gluttonous clouds, carpeting a large proportion of the country in a thick white blanket of ice. I wanted to grow more balance and a slightly slower pace and the universe heard!
With this deluge, came a magical respite from the customary grey and rainy landscape that have made this March rather wet and soggy. Mother Nature living her best life, donning a cloak of sparkling purity, providing a blank canvas to paint with deep footprints, sledge stripes, snowmen and snow-angels, littering gardens, fields and playgrounds for miles around. An excuse for a slower start, the safety and caution cards played to the max (at least by the kids!)
There is satisfaction in having had a snow day, a true winter fix, much to the disgust of the somewhat braver daffodils who had bloomed just before the snap and whose attempted retreat resulted in being totally overpowered, lying wearily across the edge of my driveway, like exhausted soldiers after battle. In this months edition of Breathe Magazine, Jade Beecroft writes about the magic of the daffodil, ‘The cheery trumpet shaped flowers are some of the first to emerge after a cold dark winter. They give people hope that warmer days and new beginnings are to come’. The birth flower of March has nearly seven hundred varieties, symbolising good fortune, light and growth across many cultures, and with charities using them in logos and as badges, they are suitably associated with hope and resilience.
The cold temperatures played tag with milder ones well into the month, making me realise how our seasons are becoming just as vague and inconsistent, as many have feared, owing, in part, to climate change, and with wetter winters and hotter summers, there is an apparent discombobulation with regards to the in-between seasons of Spring and Autumn, as if Mother Nature is being indecisive, taking longer to decide on whether to blow hot or cold for each one.
Similiar to some of my clients’ babies, reaching developmental stages where there is a novel perplexity in what they want. As they pass the three month mark, awareness and engagement are growing with a fine line between being over tired and stimulated. There can be furious periods of screaming as baby longs to sleep, feeding wont suffice but they still need mum to help calm and pacify with constant jiggling and tapping, a heavier baby to wear requiring a review of baby carriers, or daily walks with the pushchair, before they surrender to sleep.
There has been continuing play with different feeding positions and baby wearing, but as FOMO kicks in, baby finds their strength, in thier back, neck and legs, occasionally pushing off mums tummy. Others, experiencing sleep regression, exhausted parents hauling themselves through long relentless nights, wishing for dawn when support may arrive, like a rain soaked fairy godmother, all these spectrums of change mirroring nature yet again, as Kirsty Gallagher agrees in her new book ‘Sacred Seasons’, ‘Our ancestors would have used the spring equinox to mark the return of the sun after a long, dark winter. It was a celebration of rebirth, life and growth, holding the promise of new beginnings, as everything in nature started to come back to life.’
Day and night are briefly equal in length, playing out as an improved sense of balance in my own work life ratio. A couple of clients needing less sessions, one feeling ready to fly completely solo, fully soaking up the spring energy, embracing new starts and awakening as the amazing mother she is! A new beginning for me, opening windows to focus on new clients, creativity and my own care. I can feel the clean, fresh air on my face both metaphorically and physically!
With those clients due in April, there is a focus on postnatal planning, using spring themes to mark their own new starts, new life, taking positive energy into the postpartum phase of recovery. Resourceful connections are being made, not just with clients, new friendships and courses but with ourselves, the annual celebration of Mothers Day, directing a focus on all mothers, whether biological or maternal, young or old, alive or passed, those wishing to be and those who have lost yet will always be. The idea has drastically morphed from the middle ages when those who had moved away from home, returned to visit family and their ‘mother’ churches on the fourth Sunday of the festival of Lent. Today, thanks to marketing and advertising, it is an excuse for every ‘mother’ in the country to refute any normal household duties, demanding breakfast in bed or lunch with the whole extended family while patting herself on the back for keeping her little sweethearts alive!
Never mind the kids, keeping ourselves alive and well has very much been a theme of March, with continuing focus on self care. In contrast to February’s self love and respect, this month has been about exploring manageable, realistic forms of self nurturing. At the springtime doula cuddle (get together) I hosted for local doulas and birth workers, Louise Hoffmann Brookes from Parenting Success, spoke perceptively about how we should get curious about not only our children’s behaviour and triggers, but more importantly, our own. We need to get curious, not furious! This resonated on many levels as we discussed and explored the pressures of motherhood, work, expectations and time. It was an opportunity to validate our needs, discussing ways to show ourselves physical, emotional and cognitive self care, not just by taking baths or getting nails done, but by expressing ourselves honestly; openly crying, verbalising our needs with those we love, recognising how guilt is manifesting itself, talking to other women, trusting ourselves, as well as getting quiet, and delegating to free up precious time for processing.
On a personal level, I admit I have needed to emotionally lean on my doula friends recently, as I had my own confidence wobble. Chatting through concerns and frustrations with those who work in the same field is vital. Often working independently, it is important to consciously carve out time, seek those doulas we connect with and have like minded colleagues to reassure, encourage and support us, helping make sense of things and gain clarity. It has been invaluable and really productive, enabling me to recognise the positives, identify ways to grow, tweak my services and assert boundaries. Realising the importance of debriefing as we finish with clients, reflecting on our experiences supporting couples, families and being a sounding board for each other is doula’ing the doula and this is just as important as doula’ing new parents!
Spring vibes are whispering for us to step back into our power, listen to our intuition as we become more active and maintain a balance between the feminine energy of turning inwards, as nature moves into a more masculine energy of do-ing. I have been sharing affirmation cards with my mums, offering important reassurance through any confidence struggles and changes in pace, such as;
‘I am moving forward with ease and purpose’
‘I am the best Mother for my baby’
‘I am welcoming new beginnings into my life’
‘I am receiving all good things’
My work this month has felt in tune with clients’ changing needs and expectations, recognising any fluctuations in the equilibrium, keeping the dialogue open, asking questions and getting curious, as they notice more developmental changes in their babies, as well as themselves. These little humans are getting stronger, becoming more active as they grow, more awake and engaged. Scars are healing, hormones settling, feeding is more established and new patterns might be emerging in babies day, behaviours changing; like separation anxiety, amounts of daily and nightly feeds, all affecting different rhythms and how the day flows. Menu plans have phased into lighter meals, as the freezer groans with previously made hearty stews and casseroles, a never ending supply of nourishment. Giant couscous and roasted mediterranean veg, fresh courgette and pea soup, chicken broth with lemon and apple cider vinegar, stored in the wonder that is ‘pour and store’ bags from Lakeland! Just as the seasons are in constant flux, so is motherhood and its nutritional menu!
This has applied to my health too, with another routine PET scan this week, just as Doula UK released a podcast I was involved with. A while ago Leila Baker, Head of membership and one of the directors of Doula UK, got in touch to ask if I would like to chat to her about my experience with motherhood and cancer. Opening up this conversation is something I am passionate about and raising awareness of families going through cancer diagnosis’s while pregnant or in the postpartum period, is becoming more relevant as the age of a diagnosis gets younger and the age of first time mothers gets older. The type of support needed for this unique group of parents is growing, but its still not enough. World Doula Week this month, used the theme of Then and Now, encouraging all doulas to talk about their journeys to this work. Both the podcast and this, gave me another opportunity to reflect on how much I struggled in my own postnatal period, with breast feeding, fatigue, fear of recurrence, body image and anxiety and how this brought me to doula’ing and drives me to support women processing any adversity.
Listening back to it (which I hate, who likes listening to their own voice?!) I was reminded how far I have come, tuning me into the seasonal theme of ‘starting over’. This is as much, if not more, of a new year than January, as nature reflects new starts as life blossoms around us. I feel proud of my story, who it has made me and all it has taught me. I took the plunge and got my first (and only!) tattoo this month too, joining #teamlighteningbolt, for anyone to remind themselves of their bravery facing something that has tested their strength and determination. At my forty something years, I decided if I was going to do something that might resemble a very mild mid life crisis, this would be it! I do surprise myself sometimes!!
Next month I will be supporting a client through hypnobirthing course with the wonderful Sarah Doman. Due to a second pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum, this antenatal space to process how far they have come, while navigating the emotional roller coaster and all it brings, is an opportunity to fully embrace the third trimester, considering the birth and optimum postnatal periods. We have started mindful relaxation exercises, using brilliant scripts from Anna Le Grange’s Mindful Breastfeeding course, that I did during lockdown, as well as using my Doula Deck by Lori Bregman, with brilliant prompts for calm and connecting practices, affirmations and visualisations during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I am excited to watch as the seeds she plants, during this time of pregnancy, will reach for the sun and bask in its warmth in a few months time, flanked by her steadfast bespoke ‘mummy tribe’.
Rebecca Robinson, an author and meditation teacher sent her new and updated newsletter this month, suitably quoting the old proverb ‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’. Let this be a reminder to us all, to strive for a balance of courage and gentility, spirit and modesty as we grow into April and all its abundance. As William Wordsworth conveys as he finishes his lament to the daffodil;
‘For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.'
Good things are coming and there is lots to look forward to!
March Recipes I have been cooking;
Giant couscous with mixed roasted mediterranean veg (my own made up. Keep an eye on the recipe on my Instagram stories!)
Salmon and pesto parcels (as above!)
Pea, courgette and chilli soup (The Happy Kitchen)
Earl Grey bundt cake
Marmalade and carrot cake (from Sainsburys magazine)
Vegan chocolate cookies (The Modern Baker)
March Playlists & meditations I have been listening to;
Wheel of The Year meditations: Ostara/Spring Equinox by Sarah Robinson on Insight Timer app
New Moon Zodiac minis-Virgo by Sarah Robinson on Insight Timer app
Spring Equinox / New Moon” Rebirth and Transformation by Violet Flame on Insight Timer app
Full Moon Magic playlist on Spotify
Go Your Own Way album by Fleetwood Mac
Gracelands by Paul Simon
Enchantment by Katherine May (on audible)
Sacred Seasons by Kirtsy Gallagher
Simple Things Magazine ‘Stir’ April edition
Wheel Of The Year by Erin Bruce, online course
‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ poem by William Wordsworth