Category Archives: children, birth and pregnancy

Bodily autonomy: from birth

It interests me how much right people feel to cuddle a newborn.

The desire to is understandable – they’re cute. They have smooshy, squished up, grunty little faces and they do baby farts and their tiny fingers are delicate and amazing.

But when this desire to hold a newborn tips over into a feeling of entitlement to hold them, I think we see something very different.

When you get huffy or upset or pressure new parents about not “getting a hold” you’re really saying that this baby is an object that exists for your gratification, instead of a person with needs and rights that you holding them may not meet in that moment.

It seems radical to some people to say that babies are people with rights. They are, though. Their bodies aren’t consumables and they don’t exist for our entertainment and pleasure. In fact, babies have no duties to us. Nor do the parents of newborns. Their role is instead to keep their babies safe, and sometimes “safe” means comforted, calm, close to their parents, and not in the arms of strangers (and yes, close family are strangers to a tiny human who has been in the world not long at all).

At 31 weeks pregnant I know I will never feel guilty for denying people cuddles with my baby once they are born if I feel it isn’t right for them to be held by someone else at that time. As their guardian, it’ll be my job to work out when being held by someone other than me is appropriate or not.

As they age, it’s going to be part of a larger patchwork of teaching them that their bodies are their own; and nobody has a right to touch them if they don’t want to be touched. There’ll be no forced cuddles in our house.

Bodily autonomy from birth means that we are our own; and touch should always be invited, appropriate and optional. Until babies can show us – and they do, quickly – who they want to be held by, and who they don’t, it’s our job to watch them closely for cues, and make decisions based on them.


Snarling #12wbt: and here comes emotional eating

It’s no secret I’m having a truly crap time personally. I can’t imagine how much more crap it would be if I wasn’t eating balanced meals full of fruit, veg and enough protein. (Thanks, 12wbt!)

Having been given two days off work because I’m literally cracking up under the pressure of grief/stress, and having cried in front of colleagues yesterday (best ever), emotional eating is back in force. Yesterday it was cheesecake, chips and pide.

Emotional eating is HARD. The thinking for me that is hard to circumvent is when I’m already doing all the stuff to defuse it – talking about my feelings, being supported. But yesterday, I frogmarched myself into the staffroom and ate a bigass plate of cake, because I was like “you know what, FUCK not having cake right now.”

But in the end, that sugar didn’t make me feel better. It didn’t do anything towards my wellness. It didn’t heal anything. I didn’t get anything from it, except a petulant satisfaction that I CAN DO WHAT I WANT and LOOK I DESERVE CAKE RIGHT NOW.

One thing I’d like to move towards with slowly processing emotional eating is continuing to find new coping strategies (and I’m already doing that, hence continuing). I’m thinking of getting a snap band and a boxing bag for home to replace my more destructive angry feelings. I’ve started crocheting and hooking my way through feelings is good. It keeps my head calm and my hands busy.


Crochet keeps me calm. I'm new to it, but already am finding it a useful tool for debugging my brain.

But I’m yet to find something that consistently and effectively scratches the itch that emotional eating does.
I guess I just want to find ways to cope that I don’t regret 10 minutes later, you know?

Snarling #12wbt: fertility and self image

I’ve been struggling so much to love my body on a fundamental, deeply emotional level in the last six months.

As many folks know, my husband and I are trying to have a baby. And we got pregnant easily last October; ridiculously easily. Within a few weeks of trying. We were both excited/terrified to be parents and spent a solid two months prepping and planning for our little jellybean to arrive (who from the start we named Elliot.)

And then, as easily as they came to us, bub was gone. We lost our little Jelliot bean in early December. It was my second loss, and my husband’s first – I lost my first baby, August, in February 2009.

Since then I’ve been incredibly angry at my body. Deep down, undeniably, bone achingly angry. I feel broken, and terribly incapable.

And now, undergoing fertility testing, my body has just become a site of emotional and physical trauma. It feels like all it gives me is pain, and heartbreak. I have felt, more than once, that I’d replace it with a new one if I could.

So doing the 12 week body transformation is about way more than just eating and moving for me. It’s about starting to get to know my body again, to try and get pleasure and health back. To forgive it, to enjoy it, and to start quarrying these massive stones of anger out, so that something beautiful can flow in.

Wish me luck! 

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