Recent PostsThe day I nearly lost it and what saved me! How to grow old and keep creative How To Transform Your Garden With Art Breastfeeding Support Guide Going back to work IS NOT THE END of your breastfeeding journey How to get things done with a newborn in your arms Will I ever sleep again? You have enough milk! This week we can CHANGE LIVES. Join me! Memories from 2016
I thought it was going to be a simple task. Honestly.
I have designed gorgeous Gift Vouchers for Christmas and I wanted to make them available on the website to make it easy for all of you who wanted to gift an experience this season. How hard could it be? Right?
Well, it has taken me DAYS to sort it out. I probably went through a hundred cups of tea; tears, sweat, cursing, euphoria, disappointment, video tutorials...but I just could not get it to work. I was ready to pay ANYTHING for somebody to do it for me. 'This is not worth it', I kept saying. But sure, I HAD to fix it.
Suddenly a friend suggested the obvious (thanks, Teri); Ana, did you ask Customer Support? 'Well, no', I said. I had watched all the tutorials but that didn't work. But really it was my last hope. I was already convinced I was moving my site to another company at that stage; I was that annoyed with it all.
And so I dropped an email to Customer Support, and guess what? They saved the day. They replied straight away with a video made FOR ME, explaining what to do step by step. I had a couple of more queries and two more videos followed. They did not stopped until I was happy. Ok, Ana, and why exactly do you think we would be interested in this dreadful story? You may ask.
Here is the thing, I learned two very important lessons today because of this. The first one is that NOTHING beats great customer service. I have already forgotten about the last few days, screaming at my laptop in frustration. They were there for me and we got it sorted. Good customer service is something that I value immensely, as a client, and also a business owner. The experience is what we carry with us after we do the work. Nobody forgets how you made them feel!
The second thing I learned is that sometimes, you really need a bit of help. I thought that the tutorials would do, but they were not tailored for ME and what I needed at that time. I did in 2 minutes what I struggled to achieve in 5 days. I think we encounter the same scenario with photography and any other skills. The information is there; youtube, Vimeo, other websites, but it is hard to beat the one to one. What do you need and how can I help you achieve it? And this is what I designed online training sessions, that I hope will help you or somebody you know to stop screaming at your computer. Because when you know HOW everything is easier and you can grow and get better at what you do.
So, thanks Zenfolio for your AWESOME customer support. You saved me from insanity today and reminded me of the importance of focusing on your client's needs.
PS. Since I went to all this trouble, would you check my new shiny page? You may find something you like in there! Hint-hint.
Most of my work focuses on young families. New parents. Toddlers. Babies. It feels like that is ALL we see out there. In social media too. Happy families, happy parents. All so young and pretty if I may add...It is not often we see the other end of life. Our eldest. You know them. That lost generation; they are nearly invisible, inconvenient even. Where are you going with this Ana? I hear you say.
I am currently filming and photographing a very special group of people. Me being a choir enthusiast, I couldn't resist when I was asked to meet the Past Times Community Choir in Naas. This is how they describe what they do:
'The choir aims to provide a warm, stimulating and supportive environment for all and achieves this with the help of our team of dedicated volunteers, and through the greatly valued partnership of our host venue, McAuley Place.
But this choir offers something unique. Some of their members suffer from Dementia and Alzheimer. They are collected from their nursing homes, and brought to McAuley Place, where they get to spend every Tuesday morning SINGING, having a cup of tea, cake and a chat. Some are brought by their carers, or are still well enough to come in by themselves.
I got to speak directly with the people involved in this incredible activity. Some of the things they shared with me resonated so deeply. For some people Tuesday mornings mean they get to speak with another human being (think about that again!!). For the rest of the week they may live in a very quiet home, or a nursing home away from their relatives, which in most cases visit them only from time to time.
Tuesday mornings also mean they get to interact with younger people. Imagine this. When you live in a nursing home there are not many chances you will get to interact with other generations, or be in contact with children. That is a huge loss. We all know how the grandparents feel younger having little kids around! It is hard for younger people to walk into a nursing home and engage in conversation. But if we facilitate projects like this we are providing integration, understanding, stimulation. A little bit of happiness too, I'd dare to say. I have seen this myself. When they come together to sing they are happy, they walk out happy. They are transported to another time through music. Some even remember all the words of songs they love. I witnessed a couple singing to each other and their eyes became alive. That young couple they once were was present, so vivid. That was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced behind the camera.
We are all heading to old age (hopefully!). I consider myself a creative person. Independent. Always interested in learning new things. Meeting new people. I recharge when I am around like minded friends and they inspire me in different ways. I'd like to think that essence of me will still be there at the end of my life and that there will be programmes encouraging and nurturing creativity wherever it is I may end up. Is carrying the spirit of a child in old age an ambitious goal?
I would love to know what you think about the idea of bringing creativity to nursing homes, BUT better than that, what programmes can we create that will allow our eldest to get BACK in society, bringing all generations together to interact and learn from each other? This is not a rhetoric question by the way. I am picking your brains for real and I am listening.
The moment Fran arrived and started measuring the garden wall, I knew I was about to witness something incredible. And I was right.
I cannot describe the excitement of having Fran Halpin working her magic and skills on our house. I had the pleasure of photographing some of her recent work for the Beacon Hospital and when I saw it in person I just knew. There is a spot we love in our garden. Centre of many get togethers, meals, chats by the fire...and we had this long grey boring wall we had no idea what to do with. We tried a climber. Plants. Paint. Agh. It was still not right. Until Fran came along!
She was extremely helpful researching designs, ideas. Always adapting, creating new concepts, making it personal and getting us involved. The whole process was easy, painless, and within a few days our lovely outdoor space was transformed into something we couldn't have imagined. I was personally so impressed with her professionalism; the joy she brings to everything she creates. There is no question Fran loves what she does. The attention she puts into detail is extraordinary.
I can go on and on, but I think it is better if I showed you:
This is a compilation of resources that can help you find the SUPPORT you need in order to succeed at breastfeeding.
I have included books, websites, blogs, links to local groups where you can find yours, etc.
From my experience, all the people involved in these groups are extremely helpful and they want you to succeed. I encourage you to follow up and find support if you are struggling in any way. In most cases there is a simple solution that can change dramatically your breastfeeding journey.
Remember that you don't have to wait until your baby arrives to engage. It is encouraged that pregnant women attend some of the groups, so they create realistic expectations and can learn from experienced mothers too.
There are a lot of myths and unnecessary struggles when it comes to breastfeeding and I am delighted I may be able to help you by sharing this document. You can do the same by passing it on and spreading the word.
I wish you every success with it.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League
Going back to work is hard enough as it is for most mums without having to add another classic MYTH which is, "I have to stop breastfeeding now because I am going back to work'. I hear that all the time. The truth is, if you are happy breastfeeding your baby, you don't have to stop. I remember how traumatic it was for me to go back to my old job after having my first baby. I took a year off, and I cried for about two months at the thought of having to leave my baby somewhere during the day. It was nearly unbearable. For us, and for most mums and babies, breastfeeding is not just about milk. It is bonding. Time together. Comfort. It goes deeper than feeding. Neither of us were ready to end the breastfeeding journey there.
Our expert on the subject, Lisa, tells us that it is important to stress that it is in no way a reason to stop. In Ireland most women get 6 months minimum off work. Milk is the most important part of the baby's diet until they reach at least one year of age. So what mums can do is pump in the lead up to returning to work to build up a little stash of milk, which can be frozen in small batches. Babies can take this milk while the mother is absent from a bottle (or a sippy cup /spoon /oral syringe). The amount of pumping/ expressing required during work hours will vary from mum to mum and depends on a few factors such as number of hours away from baby, the age of baby at time of returning to work and how much solid food baby is taking in. The law in Ireland stipulates that women are entitled to express milk in work until the baby is 6 months of age, after that it is at the employer's discretion. Sometimes mums will pump milk and store it for future use and others just express off enough milk for comfort during her working day. The beauty of breastfeeding is that the body adapts to the demand so that if a mum works a 5 day week and continues to nurse in the evenings and during the night, her milk supply will adjust accordingly.
If you are about to go back to work and have some questions or doubts, we recommend this article for some great information.
I personally shiver at the mention of pumping. I tried every single device at one point (following the advice that my baby needed top ups, which wasn't the case, and only added unnecessary stress, but we will leave that aside for now). I couldn't get a single drop using pumps. I will buy a different one and see. Nothing. It felt horrible, humiliating, and I found it really painful (remember I had mentioned cracks!?). As I told you in my first article too, I suffered mastitis, twice. For all of you who have experienced that, yes. OUCH. But, little did I know that thanks to that I would acquire an incredible skill. I remember trying to ease the pain with hot water. Trying to unblock the conducts and working through lumps. Again, your body really knows what to do. I realised I could express manually. I did some research, even found tutorials. It was a REVELATION. Using your hands to express milk is so much easier, natural, less painful and most effective. All the gadgets ended un in the bin.
Going back to work is different for everybody. A 6 months old baby has very different needs to a 1 year old. If this can be of any help, I will share with you what we did. I used to hand express one bottle in work (I was very lucky we had a room for breastfeeding in our offices, with a little fridge so I could keep the bottle there safely during the day). My one year old would have that bottle for the next day at the creche. He would take it on and off. And he would eat anything else that was going too. After work I'd collect him and the first thing he would want to do was to feed. He kept feeding on demand whenever I was around, and when I wasn't around he would happily have something else. He decided to stop feeding when he was 2 and I had my second baby. I experienced the same dynamic the second time around. I did not return to the same job, so things were easier on that front, and I successfully continued my breastfeeding journey for over 4 more years.
I did go through challenges at times of course. My secret weapon for success (apart from great support) was this book: Breastfeeding Made Easy: a gift for life for you and your baby. I read everything that was out there to read and THIS BOOK is what you need. It is a reference book that covers everything you need to know. It answers ALL the questions you may have (I still referred to it years into breastfeeding). It is written by Carlos Gonzalez, a renowned paediatrician and father-of-three, author of Kiss Me! How to raise your children with love and My Child Won't Eat! He brings his warmth and positivity to a subject close to his heart and his clinical practice: breastfeeding. He has a characteristic friendly style, and tackles real-life questions mothers have about breastfeeding head-on:
Trust me on this one.
Wow, this week has gone fast. I feel we are only getting started. So much work needs to be done in relation to education on this subject, don't you think.
I am wrapping up the week tomorrow by sharing a document packed with useful links and information I would love for you to save it, share it and explore it. I want you to know where the support is if you need it. I want us to be the village.
Remember that as a way of helping spreading the word (check my first article, where we talk about changing lives) , I am doing an amazing GIVE AWAY in collaboration with Frank&Nora on Instagram and the winner will be announced on the 26th of March, for Mother’s Day. Tomorrow is the last day, so don't miss your chance to win!
Frank&Nora is an independent growing brand run by Stephanie. A creative, a designer, a wife & a mother. Using 100% organic cotton, they provide affordable quality with a unique customer engagement ethos.
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