Thursday 25 June 2015

Ten years ago today I made a choice.

Ten years ago today I made a choice. 

No big deal, right? Everyone makes hundreds of decisions every day. And what makes one choice more important, or more memorable than another, anyway? Are they the choices that give you butterflies? The ones that everyone talks about? The ones that mean forever?

Ten years ago I said forever to a man I'd known for just a few years. People told me how love was supposed to be, with all it's glittery promises and somersaults. I walked down the isle, in a white dress, and I didn't feel any butterflies or giddiness, I simply saw the man in front of me that I had decided I would journey with forever. People told me how my wedding day was important, with all it's confetti and love hearts and cake. But they never said a word about forever.

People were late and saw my dress before I'd even walked into the church. They weren't supposed to see it then. A slight timing mishap meant that I didn't walk down the isle at the correct line in the song I had chosen, as though I was performing some sort of west-end musical dance routine. I walked down the isle too fast, I was nervous. I saw that my husband-to-be hadn't done his hair quite right. This was not how it was supposed to be...

In the weeks before our big day we had two houses fall through; one of which happened the very day before we got married. My father-in-law had to sign us up to any flat he could find and so we had no idea where we would be living when we returned from our honeymoon. This was not how it was supposed to be...

As the years went by we had our ups and downs, the incredible highs and the dark silent lows. There were still the times when I noticed that we hadn't timed life just so, or that he hadn't done his hair quite right. There were times when I wondered why he didn't do things the way I did, why he was so incredibly different. We hardly had anything in common. This was not how it was supposed to be...

They told me that you will know when you meet the one, that you will get those butterflies in your stomach. People queried our decision not to move in together first - how will you know if you're compatible, they would say. And I can tell you with hindsight, that we are not and never wereNot in the way that we were supposed to be.

We struggled with our differences, but we laughed, a lot; Laughter like medicine that washed away any care of false expectations or ideals. He was not my prince charming; my perfect man, nor was I his leading lady; more of a neurotic side-kick. We were not what the world told us to choose; our marriage was not what the world said it should be. But whose really is?

You see, the thing with choices is that the important ones do not simply exist for just one hour or one day. They do not end with "I do". When I walked down the isle, along with all the excitement and happiness, was the sobering knowledge that forever is sometimes difficult. I knew that his skin would wrinkle and his stomach likely enlarge. I knew that as the years went by, his conversation would no longer hold my gaze for hours on end, or that the feel of his arms around me would lose their novelty. But with that comes the feeling that there is a me-shaped space that is carved out for me there, like time has made us fit better than we ever have. Being different means that we have a different voice to speak into each others confusion. Being not as we are supposed to be means that we can find our own path where others would tell us there is a dead end.

Choices, like marriage, or having children, or choosing a job, are not always the fireworks we expect. When I had my firstborn I wondered why I found it so hard – why, when the world told me it should be wonderful, did I cry more than I laughed? Was it a bad choice? When I married my husband I wondered why I didn't feel the somersaults as I walked up the isle. Was it a bad choice? When I dread getting up in the night to feed my second born, do I conclude that I should have stuck at one?

Just because something is hard, doesn't mean it isn't totally and utterly worthwhile. Just because something is very normal does not mean it doesn't have uniqueness. Just because something is different, different to what you thought it should be, whether better or worse, doesn't meant it's not just as it was supposed to be.

Thank you Neil, for being my supporter, my encourager, my help, my laughter. Thank you for being you.*

*But could you please learn to change the toilet roll correctly. Love you.

Monday 22 June 2015

I do not have the capacity for buying socks (parenting).

parenting, parenting capacity, I do not have the capacity for parenting, parenthood, motherhood, parenting blog, mother diaries, the mother diaries, socks, odd socks, I do not have the capacity for buying socks, exhausting parenting, can't cope with parenting, tough parenting

I do not have the capacity for buying socks parenting.

No one said that parenting was supposed to be easy. Rewarding? Yes. Fun? Sometimes. 

On difficult days I remind myself that it won’t last forever. That I will look back on the photographic memories and the painted hand prints with fondness, and I will long for just one more day – or hour  – of their chubby little fingers and funny sayings. 

But today? Today it is hard.

This morning my son asked me why none of his socks fit him. I told him that it was because I haven’t had time to buy him any new ones. The fact is, I do have time, but I do not have the capacity. To other people this could sound quite strange – after all, how hard is it to buy a pair of socks? For those of you with young children, you will know that simply buying a pair of socks involves things like getting the equivalent of two little wriggly-squids in a fit state to leave the house beforehand, negotiating putting on shoes and undersized socks, catching the bus with a buggy and a four year old who wants to sit on the top deck and attempt the stairs on a moving bus on his own, stopping for snack breaks in busy shops, not to mention wee breaks and tantrums. 

I do not have the capacity to buy socks.

After my son asked me why I didn’t have any socks that fit him he asked me why his brother smelt funny. Although I have the excuse of a clothes' change after a projectile vomit and a nappy explosion today, there will be no sign of this defence when my four year old relays these facts to the staff at his nursery or his grandparents. If I bathed them every time they both spilt something; or fell over; or got pen on them; or did a poo, I would never get anything else done.

I do not have the capacity to run another bath today.

My mum came to help out the other day. She seemed surprised to find the games she left for them last time were still unopened, left in their cellophane wrappings as though unappreciated. I felt bad that I had no real excuse, other than: “I’m so sorry, we’ve just not had time - IN TWO WEEKS - to attempt to do a dinosaur sticker book that involves any sort of direction from myself. Instead all I have the capacity for is sitting them in front of the television with breadsticks.”

She then asked me if the clothes she bought them fitted and I smiled and said “yes, they’re perfect.” The truth is that I have no idea. The truth is that I have bags and bags of unopened baby grows that people lovingly bestowed on my second-born and the thought of sifting through them all – taking off labels and sorting into drawers that are already full, let alone going to charity shops with old ones, is beyond me

I do not have the capacity for dinosaur sticker books and sorting clothes.

I met with a friend the other day and she reminded me of something she told me the last time she saw me. I had no recollection of it. I bumbled my way through the conversation because I didn't want to seem like a terrible friend. The fact is, that after having approximately four hours of sleep each night for the past seven months, my brain does not have the capacity for remembering bargains at H&M or what her work colleague said to her one random Thursday morning. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a bad friend, it’s just that all I want to do is sleep.

I do not have the capacity to remember trivia. Only things like my children’s names (most of the time) and when they last had food.

And then there are every-day curve-balls: like that the boiler just broke and the plumber cancelled on me just before the weekend and now I have to boil the kettle every time my children need a wash.

Or that I ran out of washing up liquid and I’m using liquid soap till the shops open (I’m writing this at 6:30am on a sunday morning).

Or that the washing machine has just finished the ‘delicate cycle’ (AKA incredibly annoying non-tumble dry option) and I have no available clothes-drying space left in my house. And it’s raining. 

Or that there are still photos on the wall of the ‘three of us’ before we became a ‘four’ and I haven’t had time got the capacity to find sift through the hundreds of photos on my phone to update them.

Or that some kind person bought me an exotic plant to cheer me up and I have already killed it off because I couldn't understand the exact care instructions didn’t have the capacity to look after it.

And then it’s fathers day today and although I only have one father I needed to get three presents and cards, and when I went to do so the cards were really rubbish and cost £4.50 and I refused to pay such ridiculous prices just for the convenience of being at a supermarket checkout (having forgotten to buy fathers day cards at the official card section as I was too busy trying to occupy a whining baby and a four year old who had run riot down the cheese isle). 

“I’ll call in at the shop on the way home,” I said to myself.

Except that I got distracted by my four year old wiping his chocolate bar all over himself and the car window and I had to rush home for the baby wipes that I forgot to put in my bag. Now I’m thinking that £4.50 sounds like a reasonably priced convenience. And it’s not like I do not appreciate these amazing men in my life, I just do not have the capacity to show it with considerable effort (sorry, Dads). 

And then there’s work: Like, paid work. And I have no idea how to handle doing it again; or the idea of not doing it again. My working friends tell me they wish they had a Tuesday morning off at home - “sounds like bliss,” they say. They tell me how lucky I am to be in the ‘maternity bubble’ and I smile and nod and tell myself I must appreciate my life more.

I must appreciate this: This little sock-forgetting, kettle-boiling, clothes-sorting bubble of a blissful world that I live in. 

But I do not have the capacity.

Monday 8 June 2015

So you want to breastfeed? 10 tips & expectations for those that struggle...

So you want to breastfeed? Ten tips and expectations for those that struggle...

Whenever issues surrounding how you feed your baby are raised people automatically assume you are strongly in one camp or another, and after my last post a small minor it concluded that I sought to put mothers off breastfeeding simply because I support all mothers feeding choices. The aim of my blog is encouragement, and yes, I want to encourage those who have felt marginalised because they chose (or had to) bottle feed, but this does not mean I do not want to encourage breastfeeding. It got me thinking about how breastfeeding could be encouraged more to those who find it difficult, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. So, I guess I'm aiming this post at the people who haven't yet had children or to those who may be struggling as a guide to what you can expect and how you can get help to overcome hurdles. Basically, I wished someone else had written a post like this for me when I breastfed my first baby, so here are ten tips that you may find helpful if you find the prospect or the reality of breastfeeding difficult.

1. Take ownership
I think there is a vital difference between breastfeeding out of duty and breastfeeding out of choice. When I breastfed my first baby I felt pressured to do so and when I had setbacks I begrudged feeding my baby, which affected our bond. The second time I CHOSE to breastfeed, and because I owned the decision, I was more accepting of the setbacks and the experience was a lot more positive. 

2. Make note of your learning style
Breastfeeding is like learning a new language; it can be both challenging and rewarding. Are you someone who thrives off a challenge or is easily dismayed? Do you need encouragement or goals? Are you all or nothing or a laid back learner? Knowing these things about yourself is important. For example, for some people going to a breastfeeding support group can be an invaluable way of getting encouragement, for others they find feeding in groups daunting and prefer one on one help from a support worker or friend. Learning breastfeeding is more of a marathon than a sprint, it is a steady learning curve, so be prepared to continually learn new things and develop the skill of breastfeeding.

3. Pain is likely (sorry)
Unless you're incredibly lucky, it is likely that you will have some pain when you start breastfeeding. This is not to put you off but it is important to be realistic so you can be prepared. A few health professionals told me that if I was breastfeeding correctly I shouldn't have any pain and I, along with several other mums I have confided in, can vouch that this is not true. Breastfeeding pain is on a par with the pain you get when you learn to play guitar - in time it should get easier with practice. If it doesn't there may be underlying issues such as a tongue tie, thrush, mastitis or just a fussy feeder and it is vital that you get help early on to make life easier for you. Being a first time mum, you may find you get fobbed off as lacking in experience - that is absolute nonsense, if you are in pain or having difficulty you have absolutely every right to get to the bottom of it. Please don't battle on for months in pain, you will only end up resentful or negative about your feeding experience. That said, there are mums who find breastfeeding pleasant from day one, so you may get lucky.

4. Find Support
The fight kind of support is essential. Your midwife should be able to offer advice and give you details of local breastfeeding support advisors and groups. I would personally avoid any online open discussions on breastfeeding as people can be quite aggressive and not understand your personal struggles, however many find mums networking sites helpful so just be aware if you are sensitive. I had an amazing breastfeeding support worker who discovered I had thrush (which 3 other health professionals missed) and saved me a lot of continued pain. She also encouraged me and didn't judge me when I told her I had given my baby a bottle of formula; instead she applauded me for getting help and how well I'd done (which really encouraged me, rather than giving me an attitude of 'oh well, I'll just give up now.' which I can be prone to). My best source of help was through talking to other friends who had similar issues who were free from judgement and supported me, not only with practical help, but on the days I just needed someone to cry with, or laugh with. Make sure you get medical help, though, if you are concerned that your baby may not be thriving.

5. Remember that it's YOUR body
One of the reasons many women struggle with breastfeeding is adapting from a previously sexual being to a now maternal one (though really you are very much both, even if you don't feel like the former!). Our society gives all sorts of messages to women that are unhelpful and can cause many women to have body issues. If you struggle in this area it is important to remember that although a large part of your role is now to provide for your baby, it is still your body and you have a right to feel comfortable. Many health professionals don't think twice about asking women to breastfeed in front of them and you have a right to say no if this is difficult for you. There are many psychological issues surrounding breastfeeding that get overlooked, if you can confide in a friend or get counselling this may help. 

6. Be prepared
That said, It may help you to decide in advance on how to handle things such as unexpected visitors at feeding times, or unexpected feeding times in public - are there things you can say or ways to make you feel more at ease? Explain to close friends how you're feeling and they will no doubt find ways to support you, or at least can understand if you don't answer the door. Most people are very understanding and will be happy to pop back at a more convenient time. There are also many facilities for helping you to feed your baby when out in public, so you may find it helpful to find out where the baby feeding facilities are in your area, or cafes with secluded corners. There are also plenty of great feeding covers available online if you prefer to cover up.

7. No one is watching (mostly)
Although you may feel uncomfortable about feeding your baby in public, it's important to know that the vast majority of people aren't bothered what you're doing and are incredibly supportive. You will always get some ignorant idiot who may say something, but be encouraged by the number of people who simply let you get on with it. When I breasted my first baby I was convinced that everyone was looking at me, and looking back it was probably all in my head because when I breastfed my second baby I felt like all anyone did was smile at me (and no, not because I left a boob out by accident!).

8. Take yourself less seriously 
When I became a parent I learnt a whole new level of humility. No matter how swimmingly childbirth goes it is likely that you will end up behaving like a drunk lady, staggering around like a wild animal and revealing your naked body to several strangers. Motherhood is both beautiful and bewildering, empowering and degrading, insightful and raw. The fact is, that if you want to breastfeed, you will find it easier the more willing you are to embrace your humanity; to make mistakes or to ask 'silly' questions. Try to take yourself a little less seriously - who cares if you flash your boob to the postman, at worst it makes for a good story! Try to be open to advice and not to think that everyone is judging you - most of the time they genuinely want to help. 

9. Be kind
Be kind to yourself - you are doing a tough job and it takes TIME. Don't beat yourself up if you or your baby can't get the hang of it straight away. You may feel like you're the only one awake at three in the morning with a screaming baby, struggling to get them to feed - you're not! You may feel like it will go on forever and you'll never see the day when you'll be out of nursing bras, but although it may feel like an endless task, for most people it does get easier. Make sure people are in place to give you a break when you need it: I value mental health as much as physical and sometimes a good rest can be what you need in order to start again the next day. If things don't work out how you planned, please don't be hard on yourself, it will only fill you with resentment and may affect the bond you have with your baby.  If you are confident in your decisions and you are kind to yourself your baby will grow in a secure and loving environment which is more important than anything!

10. Don't have any expectations 
Now I've just told you what to expect, I'm telling you not to expect anything! The truth is that everyone has a different experience - some babies will latch on straight away, others take time. Some mothers have excessive amounts of milk supply, others don't. Throughout my whole time of breastfeeding I didn't need one breast pad - That didn't necessarily mean I wasn't producing enough milk, it was just the way my body worked (though this is probably unusual!). All I'm saying is, every mother and every baby is different, so don't compare yourself with others. 

I hope you find this post helpful. If you have physical difficulties it is always best to seek a health professional, these are just my thoughts on how to encourage you on a psychological level. Remember, you are doing a great job! 

Thursday 4 June 2015

Newsflash: No one really cares if you breast or bottle feed

breast vs bottle, difficulty breastfeeding, brelfie, brelfies, bressure, #bolfie, #bressure, #brelfie, parenting blog, mother diaries, parenting, parenthood, breastfeeding in public,

Have you ever had an argument about something you were passionate about with someone who has completely opposing views to you? How did it go? My guess is that at the end of it both of you were left even more passionate about your beliefs than ever before. See, the problem with debating about things with people who are highly opinionated is that it is quite futile. People will always have their opinions and along with them their criticisms of others' behaviour. But does that mean we stop debating? Or that we stop fighting for what we believe in? 

Recently my newsfeed has been full of #brelfies, raising the debate about women having the right to feed their babies in public. If you're unaware of what a #brelfie is, here is an example of one that went viral after this lady was told to 'cover up' when she breastfed in public:
With all things internet related, there has been a backlash of opposition. With each #brelfie that pops up, is another bottle-feeding mum who feels judged for her feeding choices and a whole new social media campaign started: #bressure (aka. the pressure to breastfeed). 

The problem is that every new mother probably feels like they are the first one to be judged for their feeding choices; every new mother feels like they're the only one that's up at four in the morning with a screaming baby who won't feed from their boob; every new mother looks at the #brelfies and has some sort of emotion towards them, from defiance and pride, to jealousy and victimisation. And that's why I've had enough of the #brelfies and #bressure; because women will probably always be criticised for their feeding choices, not least by one another. Will social media make people who are uneasy with mothers breastfeeding in public change their mind? Will posting a response about how judgemental it feels for bottle-feeding mums ever really stop them feeling judged? People think what they want to think, and no amount of social media is ever going to change someone's confirmation bias. My guess is that only an experience or relationship can do that.

Of course, no one should be told they cannot feed their baby a certain way, no one should be made to feel bad about feeding in public, whatever method that may be. Interestingly, I got a lot of encouragement from strangers when I breastfed in public, but I had my fair share of criticism for bottle feeding in public. Do I have a right to complain about that? Of course I do, but ranting on Facebook is not going to get the message across to the eighty year old woman who tutted at me and told me what a shame it was that I didn't carry on breastfeeding. Besides which, most judgement we feel over our feeding choices is probably in our heads. I felt very judged when I first became a mother but the second time around I couldn't give a damn what people think; my family and I are happy and healthy, and that's all that matters. I refuse to feel negatively over something just because someone may think differently to me. 

If I was still the first time mother I was nearly five years ago, I would no doubt have bitten at the first display of a #brelfie. Why? Because associated with every breastfeeding image were feelings of failure, disappointment and months of pain and discomfort. I was bitter because I tried so hard, Lord knows I tried, for four months, and I just couldn't carry on. No one patted me on the back, and it felt like everyone was more disappointed that I didn't carry on, rather than applaud the fact that I had breastfed for four months with bleeding nipples (owweeeee). Becoming a parent for the second time has been very different; I even had moments of enjoying breastfeeding, so much so that my plan of solely bottle feeding my baby from day one was postponed. When I eventually switched to the bottle I didn't beat myself up over it, I made a choice and I was happy with it, and so were my family. The whole feeding experience has been a lot more positive.

Now instead of feeling hard done by when I see a mother breastfeeding, as I did the first time around, I think it is lovely and natural; I have warm feelings associated with it because I was lucky enough to have moments of enjoyment when I breastfed my second baby. Had I not had that, I would not have been able to look at a #brelfie without wincing. It's no wonder, then, that #brelfies provoke such a reaction, because breasts have many different connotations for a lot of people, not solely if you found breastfeeding difficult. If you were brought up in a prudish family, or an overly sexualised environment, seeing breasts on your Facebook feed may make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. That's not the responsibility of the people posting #brelfies though, is it? But what is their responsibility is to respect that other people have different attitudes to seeing bosoms publicly, and to accept that posting photos of breastfeeding may make some people more adverse to it. In my opinion, seeing someone breastfeeding out in public has a very different feel about it to someone posting a #brelfie on Facebook. Will posting them make a difference to those who oppose it? Or is it simply about rallying other breastfeeders to feel more confident?

And the question remains, is it good to fight for what we believe in, even if no one's opinion is ever really changed? Or is that not the point? Women should be able to breastfeed their child wherever the hell they like, but is that really what we're fighting for when we post #brelfies? Is the issue really about breastfeeding or just judgemental people? How many people have experienced criticism for breastfeeding in public compared to the number of bottle feeders? That we will never know, but I'd guess it is about the same. 

This debate will go on forever, and guess what? You're no more criticised than the mother that went before you and you're no more of a victim, however you choose to feed your baby. Someone, somewhere, will always have a negative opinion of you, so do whatever the hell is right for your own family and ignore the others. Let's stop this endless debate about breast or bottle, and let's start supporting one another. Instead of posting #brelfies, or ranting on about #bressure, why not just stop debating and get on with feeding your own baby. And if someone criticises you in public, kick up a fuss, start a petition to breastfeed in the cafe that turned you away, or to change the 'breastfeeders welcome here' posters to 'breast AND bottle feeders welcome here.' Better still, stick up for the friend who feeds her baby differently to you. The truth is, that most of the criticisms you feel may well be in your head, because most people don't actually care about how you feed your baby, as long as it's not arsenic. We are our own worst enemies. So please let's not make this into more of a debate than it really needs to be.

Have #brelfies changed your opinion about breastfeeding? Is there a better way to promote breastfeeding in public? How can we support breast and bottle feeders without making the other feel marginalised?

update 5/6/15: There have been a few people on my Facebook page that have taken offence to this post and to the heading 'no one cares if you breast or bottle feed.' The title is a tongue in cheek response to the comments I have heard people say when they see 'brelfies' on Facebook. I do not want to raise another debate of breast vs bottle, I want to raise a debate on whether these images are helpful in terms of encouraging others to breastfeed. I think breastfeeding is a wonderful thing and needs to be endorsed, but I also want to support and encourage all mothers through this blog, whatever their feeding choices. Of course all mothers care how they feed their children! The title is there to provoke a reaction, which it clearly has. Thanks for reading!

Monday 1 June 2015

Stop the press! Why mothers need to worry less, not more.

worry, anxious parents, anxious parenting, worried parents, scaremongering, scaremongering parents, infant tragedies, tragedy, parenting, parenting blog, mother diaries, motherhood, warning mothers, why parents need to worry less

Along with the endless selfies and news stories about Prosecco shortages, is another more sinister kind of update on my facebook feed each week. I would like to tell you that such information is rare, but alas, no. If you're a parent you may be impacted by the sheer volume of well intentioned 'warnings' to parents, no doubt sincerely posted in order to help other parents to take caution. Last week I read three separate stories of someone on this planet who has suffered a tragedy - the unthinkable - their baby died. 

Now I do not want to make light about any sort of tragedy, for me the pain would be too much to bear. I have no doubt that if I suffered such a tragedy I would want to do everything in my power to stop others going through the same thing. But as much as I cannot fully understand the grief, I can imagine what it's like. I imagined it three times last week already, and if the mere imagining of it seems utterly crushing, God knows what the reality is like.

The problem, though, is that each story, with all its promises of advice and precaution, only change my parenting method in one way: I worry more. I can't speak for every other parent on the planet, but every time I make any seemingly trivial decision, I am already haunted by thoughts of what could happen to my baby because of it; if I lie him in this position will it harm him, if I feed him this will it cause a reaction, if I don't do this will he catch such and such an illness... And the list goes on, day after day. 

And then someone posts something about a baby who, didn't die out of a matter of carelessness, but died in utterly tragic conditions, under the complete care of their loved ones. They died in everyday, routine circumstances - ones we do on repeat day after day. We relate because it could happen to us, not just once a day, but every time we repeat our baby's sleeping/eating/playing routine, several times a day. I read a story of a baby that happened to die whilst sleeping in his car seat, and all its done to me is make me stop and check my baby every few minutes when I'm in the car. The ridiculous thing is that I am probably more obsessed with checking on him than I am at paying attention to the road. The very thing I'm doing to try and avoid tragedy could end up causing it.

As well intentioned as these news stories may be, here's what message I think they give to parents: you need to worry more. You need to feel guilty every sodding time you put your baby down for a nap, you cannot enjoy a welcome extra half hour for a cup of tea if your baby over sleeps, instead you have to check on him to see if he is still breathing (gets me every time). 

The list of things that parents are told to worry about is endless. I worry that I'm not worrying enough, as though a life consumed with it somehow makes me a better parent. And then I'm faced with the news stories confirming that I am indeed not worrying enough. But do you not think I would take my son to the doctors if he started out with a persistent strange rash that caused his leg to swell? Or that I wouldn't follow safety advice on how to strap my baby in a car seat? If there are parents who wouldn't do these things, they are unlikely to be changed by a news story on facebook. These stories target the mothers who are already burdened with worry and guilt. 

And what message do these stories give to parents who have experienced such tragedies? That they could have done something to prevent it? That they didn't try enough? That they didn't care enough? None sense.

Here's what message I would like to give to parents: you are doing the best you can. You are doing your best to make sure that your family has a healthy and happy life, so that if, IF, God forbid, a tragedy were to happen, it would not be your fault. And to any mothers reading this who have experienced something utterly devastating, it is not your fault. I do not pass judgement on your parenting skills, I stand with you. I salut you. I cry with you. 

And for the rest of us, please let's not tell such brilliant parents what they should have done, as though we can find a way out of all of life's brutal blows. Please let's find ways of supporting and loving that do not try to give answers, but that give a brief moment of shelter from the torrential pain. 

So when you are confronted with another tragic news story on facebook, here's what I would like you to do before you repost: think: is this helpful or cultivating fear? Is this encouraging parents or scaremongering? Is there a charity or help guide connected with the story that I could post about instead? Raising children with worry can be utterly debilitating, not only for you but for them, believe me. I do not want my children to live in fear every time they try something new. I do not want their progress to be thwarted by a fear of making mistakes.

Tragedies happen. It is unlikely that you could prevent most tragedies, else they wouldn't be named as such. But they are tragedies because they are also rare. The majority of parents reading this will have perfectly healthy children. Along with every tragic death are the billions of children who have been in the exact same conditions and are still alive. Yes, we are the lucky ones, let's celebrate it and not feel guilty. Let's support those who aren't so fortunate without casting blame or assumption. And, please, do not supervise your child so much that you forget to give them the freedom to grow and make their own mistakes. Please don't be so obsessed with checking their car seat that you forget to enjoy the ride.