Some parenting lessons can only be learned by surviving them. Whether it’s giving birth to an 11 pound baby, becoming a step-parent, experiencing baby loss, or being vetted for adopting a child, every step on the parenting journey comes with its own challenges. No matter what we face, every day we add another string to our bow. When we talk about our experiences, we’re sharing the load and the learnings. Over the years, we’ve learned so much from the amazing parents who’ve come on the Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast. As we prepare to launch Series Nine, we’re taking a look back at some of the biggest lessons we’ve learned from our guests. Every episode is full of absolute gems – but here are some of our highlights.
Sometimes life doesn’t go the way you expect it to. Gi was joined by Michelle and Elle from Dear Orla and Feathering the Empty Nest to talk about navigating baby loss. These two incredible women showed us strength and in the face of huge sadness. By speaking so openly and generously about their experiences, Michelle and Elle reminded people across the community they’re not alone in dealing with baby loss and, one day, you will figure out how to keep going forward.
“I remember sitting in bed and looking out the window and seeing all the light come through the shutters. I could hear the builders shouting on the roof opposite. I could hear people walking to work. Teddy had died a few days ago and I remember thinking nobody has a clue, nobody in the outside world has a clue what’s just happened to us. Why would they? Life keeps going, the world keeps turning and and it was kinda like this lightning bolt moment where I thought you can either choose to participate in life or you can curl up in a ball in the corner and that is your choice
When you face something that you weren’t expecting, you kind of take a moment, you swallow and you go right okay how are we gonna deal with this and I think losing your child, losing a baby although it’s like the highest point of utter shit on the scale it’s no different. There comes a point where you say hey how am I gonna deal with this? How am I going to move forward from this because I cannot stay in my bedroom forever with the shutters closed crying.”
Candice Brathwaite is a gamechanger in every sense of the word. From founding the community Make Motherhood Diverse to her groundbreaking book I am Not Your Babymother and her phenomenal work on raising awareness of maternal racial health inequalities, Candice does not mess about. She spoke to Gi about changing the perceptions of Black motherhood online.
“I saw parenting and mothering in a space that I couldn’t understand. I was skint as hell, I didn’t have popular friends, I didn’t know how to network and I was just like “wow all these people like going out and stuff it looks so fun”.
It’s like an analogy of a table and I always say the white privilege table has the best food and a lot of minorities feel like they’re at a table with like overnight KFC but we stay there because we look over at that table a we don’t see any space and very few people say come over here the food’s great – take it.
As a person of colour, as a minority, you’ve got to be able to leave your table if you don’t like what’s being served. It’s having the balls to go over to that table be like I want to sit here this looks like fun I think you guys get a better spread than me, make some room. That’s how I see it in my mind. Just like getting comfy and being like “I want to be in this space”.
Chris and Rosie Ramsay found out they were having a big baby at a growth scan the week before Rosie was due to give birth. Rosie was given the choice between a ‘natural’ birth and a c-section. But she was so determined to try for a ‘natural’ birth, to “see what it’s like”. After 18 hours of labour, she wasn’t dilating properly, so ended up having an emergency c-section.
Rosie: “Robin was born and he was ten pound, eleven and a half ounces. He didn’t fit in the clothes that we bought. We had to get three to six months.”
Chris: “I’m really squeamish I would never stand at the business end right so I was sort of had me head right next to Rosie, you know just kissing her on the cheek and she was obviously numb from like the neck down because they would doing the cesarean and I heard like suction thing and he came out and you could literally just hear the nurses laughing their heads off. We didn’t know if he was a boy or a girl, and they were just laughing because he was so he was massive”.
Laura Dockrill, author of What Have I Done? was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis shortly after the birth of her son Jet. She spent two weeks on a psych ward, separated from her son and her partner, while she was looked after. Laura’s book, and her honest conversation with Gi, aims to break down the silence around postpartum psychosis – a mental health condition we don’t often hear much about. She reminds us that, even when it might not feel like it, recovery is possible.
“Depression loves to think it has you cornered and the own the only proper proper thing you can do to live alongside depression or anxiety and to not let it scare you is to be open about it and go I’m not gonna let you corner me I’m gonna let everyone know that you’re trying to get me but it’s not gonna happen.”
Raising multiracial kids means honest conversations: Nigel Clarke
George Floyd was murdered by a policeman in Minneapolis in May 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the catalyst for a huge wave of protests around the world and sparking a rise of awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. In August, during Series six of Happy Mum Happy Baby, Gi was joined by Baby Club co-host Nigel Clarke, who spoke candidly about raising multiracial kids
“Having children that are multiracial and being a Black father you talk about race a lot earlier I think with your kids than than let’s say if you were white so I have talked to them about race and race is, I wouldn’t say in their face, but they’re aware of it and they’re aware of the diverse nature of this the world we live in. They’re also aware that could mean that you get treated differently or you could uh bump into racism or prejudice or all of those different kinds of things so they were much more aware of it. But when the George Floyd thing happened they got to see a different side of it. They saw protesting, they saw police and protesters going against each other. I think it took a bit more of a scary tone for them.
I remember one evening my son came to me and he said to me daddy “I’m a little bit scared. I’m thinking about lots of things” and I asked him what he was thinking about and he said “well the Black Lives Matter thing and whether we are going to be hurt” and I had to just literally sit down on the end of his bed and and talk it through with him.”
Parents shape how we live: Tanni Grey-Thompson
OK. This one’s less of a lesson and more of a given. When Tanni Grey-Thompson spoke to Gi about a conversation she had with her father when she was a child, she recalled just how much it shaped her. Tanni was diagnosed with spina bifida and began using a wheelchair at around the age of five. Her parents never saw it as something that should stop her.
“I remember Dad had this book and it had pictures of the Taj Mahal in the Sydney Opera House and he sat me down and me told me the world was an amazing place and i needed to travel and to do that i needed a good job and to do that I needed an education and and that was amazing for me at quite a young age and so that was sort of instilled in me. Then he was in hospital he wasn’t very well and we knew he didn’t have much time left and I said to him oh “do you remember that conversation? Because that was life changing for me”
Azaylia Diamond Cain captured the hearts of the nation. This family has shown incredible amounts of strength and vulnerability in sharing their story with the world at a time of intense heartache. Azaylia died at just eight months old, but Ashley and Safiyya launched The Azaylia Foundation in their daughter’s honour to raise awareness of childhood cancer and support other parents of children with cancer. They joined Gi in the studio to celebrate Azaylia’s short but precious life.
“It gives me chills that she hasn’t gone through all of this for no reason and that we’ve still got Azaylia with us. I feel like for me I am now watching my daughter grow up and to be able to change and help so many people in our community and all the children going forward and make such amazing things happen for children – it’s something that i didn’t ever think would be something that I would be serving purpose for. For me that passion that comes with education and delivering it a full force for Azaylia’s charity is just so so so special and when we’re gone, we want to make sure that her legacy continues and it’s because of her that there’s so much change and awareness”.
Series nine of Happy Mum Happy Baby will launch on 22nd February. We’ll be sharing more incredible stories and parenting lessons from brilliant guests. We can’t wait for you to listen wherever you usually get your podcasts!