Mama Said No All The Time

One day I sat in an adjoining room to where my husband and daughter were. I didn’t know particularly what they were up to, but at one point, a full few minutes of the ‘conversation’ was her Daddy saying ‘No, no, don’t touch that. No Ameli, put that down. No, no, I said no’ and so on.

I became conscious of how often we were saying no to Ameli and discussed it with my husband. At first he didn’t really think it such a big deal, but he must have become conscious of it, as he started pointing it out to me when I was doing it too.

We began to realise how difficult it really is to exclude ‘no’ from your vocabulary once Ameli started walking, unpacking things from cupboards, and generally expressing her independence.

It wasn’t until Ameli one day did something she was allowed to, then looked at me and shook her head that I realised that it did have an effect on her.

Say no all the time

So we started making a few changes to the way we ‘do’ things.

  • For a start, we moved things that shouldn’t be in her reach – glasses, plates, important papers. If they’re not in reach, there’s no need to tell her not to touch them.
  • We tried to distract her, or deflect her attention from things she wants but shouldn’t have. She wants to play with a glass, I remove the glass, but instead of saying ”No, don’t play with the glass”, I will take the glass and give her a toy and say, “Let me take that, and you can have this.”
  • We change the words that we use to attempt to be more positively reinforcing, and making her think about her actions, rather than constant negatives – “Do you think you should be playing with that?””What do you think Daddy would say if he saw you unpacking his drawer?” “Are you sure that’s where those go?”
  • If she’s done something already before we could stop her, such as unpacking the dirty laundry basket, I stand by her and we repack it together, saying something like “Okay, now we need to put everything away again… come on, in the basket… that’s right… thank you for being helpful”
  • If she asks for something – and by asks I mean she comes, takes my hand, takes me to what she wants, holds out her hand and says ‘Ta’ with a rising inflection on the ‘a’ (very cute!!) – and it’s not something she can have or do, I will state what she wants, acknowledging that I’ve heard her. For example, “I know you’d like to climb the stairs, but Mama is working now. Why don’t you play with your book and we’ll climb the stairs later?” At her age (13 months), she doesn’t understand a word of it, really, but I will then pick her up, grab her book, make a comfy spot somewhere for her to sit and hand her her book, open a page and point to something on it to help her engage with it. So far, that seems to work.

I have found that since we have embarked on phasing out ‘no’, it’s impact has become greater too. Recently, Ameli ran along a patio, full speed towards the edge yet not looking at it. I yelled ‘NO!’ and she stopped dead, looking at me. I was able to walk over to her, take her hand and show her where she was headed. I honestly believe she got it, as she put her arms around my neck, and let me lift her down.

If we see our children as people, we can understand the frustration of constantly hearing ‘no’, generally because parents are too busy, preoccupied, or tired. If I heard ‘no’ all the time, I’d be frustrated too. If all children want is to be heard, then confirming we’ve heard them before giving them our decision should make that decision easier to accept – not because they like the decision, but because they can see it’s been considered and understood, rather than just a knee-jerk response. And anyway- if you say ‘no’ all the time, they just tune you out in the end!

So, yes, I’m holding my hand up. I might be getting this totally wrong. Perhaps I’ll turn out with a child who knows no boundaries, defies every limit and is thoroughly disobedient. It is possible. But my hope is that in positive instruction, providing alternatives and causing her to think from this young age, not only will it give me time to ‘practice’ and break free from the in-built ‘no’, but it will allow her to grow up as an analytical person aware of her decisions and choices, conscious of her actions, free to explore and ready to take on the world without fear.

How about you? Have you found alternatives to ‘no’ or do you think that’s a step too far?

Further reading:

Alternatives to NO – Kelly Naturally shares fabulously good advice on alternatives to the constant No No No on the Natural Parenting Network
Parents Connect: Saying no to your kids  tips on using alternatives to ‘no’
Long Term Benefits of Positive Reinforcement vs Negative Reinforcement

Bringing Death Home

My mother and father came to England to visit us for a holiday. Her cancer was in remission, miraculously and it was time to visit the grand children she loved so much. We were all so very excited. I’d planned visits to Santa’s grotto. A Christmas Train ride, visit to a Christmas through the ages exhibit. I bought a huge Christmas tree. We had things planned for every day. Winter Wonderland. Fairytale Wander. A visit to Pooh Corner. So many plans.

I went to the airport to collect my parents, only to find that my mother had been taken directly to A&E, where she would spend the next four days getting scans and tests. Whether it was the flight, or whatever it was, a new tumour had sprung up, a malignant, vicious, angry sucker, growing 21cm in just 3 weeks. It was phenomenal, and once again, there was nothing they could do for her.

The hospital arranged a hospice for my mom in the next town up from ours, but also said she could come home while she was ‘well enough’ to do so. There would be community nurses that would come round daily and check on her, and refill her morphine driver.

Prescriptions of Morphine

The decision would be mine, my mom said – my home, my children, my choice. I felt strongly that she should be home with us and that we would send her to a hospice when she was no longer able to go to the toilet on her own, or we felt that we were no longer able to cope. But I believed that while she still had awake and lucid moments, her place was with us, in our home, surrounded by the noises and sounds of her family.

I was mainly surprised by the questions from especially people in the healthcare profession. You know your mother could pass at home? Yes. How old are your children? 4 and 1. Are you okay with having them in the house? …

Where else would I have my children?

I stood in the living room speaking to one of the community nurses and pointed to the floor to her right:My daughter was born here. It seems only fitting that life should end here too, I said, pointing to the very same spot, but upstairs.

We are so far removed from death in our culture.

Like birth, it is something that happens somewhere else. It’s something that is cleaned up and swept away. It’s something that’s dealt with by a professional, someone with experience, someone else. Yet another taboo.

A child's tears

My mother’s last moments occurred at 1:17 in the morning. If she’d been in a hospice, I would not have been there. I would not have woken up, gripped her hand, and told her I loved her as she gasped her last. None of us would have. Her grand daughter would not have been there to give her the last goodnight cuddle before going to bed.

When the nurses, who happened to turn up moments before the end to give some top up pain medication, declared that she was, in fact, dead, I sent my husband to the kitchen for the herbal poultice I had made earlier that day, hoping it would have some weeks to steep. My sister and I washed our mother’s body, cleansing it for one last time – oh, she did so love to be clean – before removing her nightie and putting a new one on her. Ritualistic body washing is normal in so many cultures, even deeper cleansing than what we did, but in ours it isn’t. We are missing out. It was beautifully therapeutic, healing, almost.

In the two weeks since, Ameli specifically (at four years old) has been through a series of emotions: she’s had separation anxiety.

She’s cried at random moments, whenever it’s been quiet. She’s role played death and dying and we’ve had to let her get on with that, knowing that she is processing, dealing. We’ve had questions upon questions too – but we’ve answered as far as we could, as much as we can.Being many hours before dawn on Boxing Day, we had a long wait before the doctor could come out, and then later the funeral directors, and my husband was adamant that the children should not see their still and lifeless grandmother.

Loss

I wasn’t as sure, really, but he’s been so supportive in everything else, I let it go. Once the room was empty again, however, my husband and I took the children into the room. Aviya pointed at the bed and said ‘Nana?’, but Ameli seemed to understand what the empty bed meant, and both girls cried, we cried. We have all allowed each other tears.

My mother’s funeral is tomorrow. A simple cremation, because she doesn’t really know people here. I’m looking forward to having a little bit of closure. It will be years yet, I’m sure, if ever, before we really move on, but at least we can have a little closure.

Do I have any regrets about choosing to bring death home? Not one. Beyond the fact that my mother should have lived much longer than her 54 years of life, the fact that she died in my home, in my arms, in the room next to my sleeping children? No, I wouldn’t change a thing.

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

… And suffice it to say, it had not gone quite to plan. 20131225-014425.jpg

20 years worth of photographs. Baby clothes. Baby equipment. My childhood memorabilia. Ruined. Of course we are grateful our house wasn’t flooded, like our neighbour’s, and by lunchtime another was still scooping water out of her car. We are grateful for the losses we haven’t incurred but that doesn’t negate the sadness over what we have. Wading through freezing water trying to salvage what we could while still tending to my mother was a new kind of challenge. I’m glad today never has to be lived again.

After visiting the local food bank to donate some food – a new annual tradition for me and the girls- we spent a couple of hours chasing down enough morphine to keep my mom going through Christmas – or local supplier is out of stock,and few pharmacies carry large supplies, it seems.

I was determined to salvage some Christmas Spirit. Don’t think me strong or brave though. If it wasn’t for the children I’d have holed myself up in the room with a large supply of mulled wine and brandy, like an old man with a brown bag problem!

Instead we went to a Christingle service. We made a gingerbread house from scratch. We wrapped the last of the presents. The girls opened their stockings. We laid out food for reindeer. I prepared a meal for tomorrow. And I shared the mulled wine.

20131225-014439.jpg

20131225-014451.jpg

20131225-014539.jpg
Tomorrow will be Christmas. Apart from my mom and I not a creature is stirring. Santa has come and gone. We are waiting for nurses to arrive to increase her morphine as she is in to much pain to sleep. It’s 3.30am on the longest Christmas eve of my life.

Cancer Came Home

Do you ever feel like life is laughing at you? That’s me today. This week. This month. This indeterminate time in space. There’s a long story here, one that I am currently too tired to go into but suffice to say that it culminates in now, here, gone 3am sitting in my children’s bedroom next to a hospital bed on which my mother is half sleeping, half morphine-induced stupor – finally. She spent the last four hours throwing up.

As she has the last two weeks really but yes, “steady decline” is what I say when people ask how she is.

My dad, sister, brother and I all take turns sitting awake with her 24 hours of the day. Her care is now constant. When we control the pain and discomfort successfully she can’t help herself when she vomits – so we sit vigil, 24 hours a day. No one wants to die choking on their own vomit.

In November she had the all clear for travel – her incurable cancer was regressing. She was told to have a wonderful time and check back in when she returned to Perth. Three weeks later she was found to have a 21cm tumour on her liver and many more masses on her lungs and kidneys, I think. So aggressive we can see visible growth in her abdomen day to day. The treatment for the original cancer spread cancer cells around her abdomen. We didn’t see that coming. Good one, life.

She can’t even fly home. Now we just get to watch her fade and die, the most inhumane thing I’ve ever witnessed. Torture for both the sufferer and everyone who sits by them. Bizarrely legal. Even cancerous animals are spared this horror.

It’s strangely obscene that someone who spent her working life caring for sick people now lives out her days with such high need of care, gladly given and with love in our hearts and our thoughts and interactions.

It serves as such a reminder and confirmation to me to keep our lives as chemical free as I can. ‘They’ once told us asbestos was safe too.

So, I didn’t finish blogging the Advent Book Crafts series. I guess we try again next year. I didn’t brine a turkey for tomorrow. I didn’t get to putting labels on all the home made gifts. But at least I am here, listening to the wind howling outside and the rain pumelling the conservatory roof, and the gentle snore coming from my awesome dad who does not leave my mother’s side, and the shallow, rapid breaths from her tired, worn, beaten form.

20131224-033638.jpg

 

20131224-033708.jpg

 

20131224-033727.jpg

 

20131224-033737.jpg

A Thank You Note To The Mama Who "Makes Me Feel Bad"

Dear Mommy, Mummy, Mama

Yes, you, Pinterest mom with your amazing photos, your tidy house and your fabulous ideas. You who sees a craft in every story, a game in every chore and an opportunity for gratitude in every unpaid bill. You who goes to the gym, does dancercize and fits into your pre-babies jeans. You, who cooks from scratch, eats clean, and has a raw repertoire. Whose children eat cauliflower pizza base and beetroot coloured icing, and yes, you who works to support your family and still finds the time to remember your girlfriends’ fifth child’s third birthday. All of you, this is a note to say thank you!

Thank you for your wonderful ideas. Thank you for the inspiration you send my way. Thank you for being the foundation I can build ideas for my home and my family on. Thank you for turning this non-crafty mama into a story time machine. Thank you for sharing your inspirations and showing me what you are capable of and therefore what I may be capable of too!

Thank you for the smiles as your naughty elf  gets up to mischief or as your kindness elf opens up a channel for conversation. Thank you for the silly pictures of your super cute offspring doing daft things that remind me that my 4 year old needs a giggle after doing her writing ‘work’ and that my one year old isn’t likely to destroy my pots and pans if she uses them for stacking cups.

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your struggles, your joys, your every day and your once in a blue moon. Thank you for making me feel bad challenging me to be less lazy, to pick a few things up and to try a new activity. To switch off the TV and hand over the glitter pots.

Thank you for making me feel bad by doing such amazing activities highlighting those areas that I need to be more proactive and making me feel bad for not creating certain rituals for opening my eyes to things I never even knew existed. Thank you for making me feel bad by working out five days a week helping me prioritise what’s important to me.

Thank you for helping me realise that you doing what you do to the very best of your abilities isn’t an indictment on me. It’s just you celebrating your strengths as I compare, identify and then celebrate mine! And also for showing me that you can’t make me feel anything, and I own my feelings and should take responsibility for them rather than blaming you for being great.

I hope to never steal your achievements from you by calling what you do for your self and your family “showing off”, or a competition. No, dear mama, I celebrate your victories, and hope you celebrate mine because heaven knows we have enough failures without having to break each other down.

You are perfect in your way, in your latest post, that Facebook update, the photo you tweeted, you have showcased the best of you. Thank you for sharing it with me and thank you for providing the inspiration and motivation to showcase the best of me too.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Aftermath

When you’ve survived Hyperemesis Gravidarum, you hold your baby and thank God that you made it, and that your baby made it, and that you’re both  alive. You survived. Then you kind of forget about it, or try to, at least, while you get on with feeding your baby, changing her and learning to be a mother. You kind of assume that Hyperemesis Gravidarum is gone, and you hope that that’s the end of it.

I did, both times.

And for Ameli it was. She’s suffered no ill fate from this ghastly condition. I assumed the same would be true for her sister, born two and a half years later. But things were different. During my pregnancy with her I was already running on depleted supplies, and the sickness was worse, and when I started throwing up blood at 10 weeks, I went on medication because by 12 I couldn’t get out of bed without fainting. That’s not an ideal way to look after an almost two year old.

The medication I was on – Ondansetron, also known as Zofran – wasn’t specifically tested in pregnancy and my doctor wasn’t happy about giving it to me, but I showed him information about it being used for Hyperemesis Gravidarum in the US, and he agreed. He prescribed three tablets a day, but I took one in the morning so that I could eat something at least, which would carry me through the day. Anecdotal evidence mentioned incidence of deformities and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Aviya was born at home in water at 42+5, a perfect baby girl.

At 10 months and 8 days she rolled off a bed, but seemed okay. She was a bit cranky for a few days and cried whenever we tried to pick her up, but on investigation she seemed totally fine. (My mother is a remote areas nurse practitioner, and my brother is a medical student, so they should know.)  At 10 months and 10 days she took her first step on Christmas day, but even so… something wan’t right.

I finally took her to Perth’s Children’s Hospital where they said that she had broken something – her clavicle or scapula, I can never remember. We treated it, and went about our business. After all, we were in Perth for my mother, who was dying of cancer.  I never thought much of it again, only fearing for Aviya’s health whenever my mother commented on a blue ring around her mouth, saying that I had to get her heart checked out when I got back to England.

Months passed, we found ourselves back in England, trying to find a normal life again. Ameli started back at  nursery, Aviya was running around, engaging in the world, doing the things that one year’s olds do. Her first tooth appeared, and then her second tooth appeared and as happens with these things, so did her third and fourth. Our girl was doing great.  Until one day I had a piercing pain in my nipple as she tried to nurse!

Her tooth had chipped! No, not chipped broken! It looked like a vampire fang! I felt awful! How could I not have noticed a fall that did that to her tooth! We went to the dentist and had it filed down, a traumatic experience for her, for sure.  Not a week later, guess what? Her second tooth did the same. Broken! I was glad her arm had broken in Australia and not England. At least there’s no medical record of it here. I mean, a broken bone and two broken teeth? I know what I’d be thinking.

Well, we took her to the dentist again, and again with the third tooth and again for the fourth. And again, and again. It was only when we discovered two abscesses in her mouth that the dental staff started to take it very seriously. They were going to put her on a waiting list for our area’s special care unit, but an hour later I got a call to say they were going to  transfer her to a hospital in London to be seen sooner.

Then the guilt sets in. The dentist said I should stop breastfeeding because that’s what’s causing the tooth decay (but not for the other teeth in her mouth?) Clearly, I’ll not be taking the advice to wean.

We brush her teeth, but probably not long enough.

Maybe I feed her the wrong things.

But no.

A bit of reading, and it turn out that – anecdotally of course – HG babies often have weaker enamel on their first four teeth due to malnutrition in the mother (or something like that).  She loses these teeth now, but her adult teeth should be fine. With removing them, however, there may be problems with her teeth descending as the ‘tunnel’ for them isn’t there. So she won’t lose her front teeth either. There’ll be nothing for the memory box.

But there’s maybe more.

While reading about all this, I found something else, slightly more alarming: again anecdotally, of course, but there are a number of babies who had  Ondansetron/Zofran who also developed heart problems – thinking about my mother’s comments about the blue ring.

Well. Nothing’s proven. But it’s a worry.

So my little girl has her first ever course of antibiotics for the abscesses. 

And we wait.

We wait for the GP appointment for the referral for the scan or whatever they do for her heart. Then we wait for the referral for her dental surgery. Then we wait and see what else life throws our way.

And whatever else Hyperemesis Gravidarum takes.

Did you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum? How has it affected your child or your life since having a child?

Mamatography Week 42: Food, Home And Muddy Puddles

Could it be another week all about food and home life? Oh, and muddy puddles too.

Day 292 – Cooking Class

I feel bad sometimes, because Ameli had so many classes and activities that we did together from when she was four weeks old. Is it because of all the rhyme time stuff we used to do left leg over right leg, crossing the midline and so on that Ameli was crawling by four months? Is that why she was walking at 8 and Aviya only at 10?  Was it the sing alongs and rhyme time that made Ameli speak in full sentences by 18 months, but Aviya only has some words?  I don’t know, but whatever it was, I had fun at this impromptu drop in cookery session, and Avi seemed to love it too.

Day 293 – Dinner

My hubby made us one of my favourite styles of dinner – a build your own sandwich with a variety of different fillings, toppings and options.  Isn’t he sweet!

Day 294 – Mushroom Foraging

A local friend of ours is a bit of a mushroom foraging fundi. We went together one day and she showed us some of the local varieties we can eat. Truth be told I’m not at all confident enough to go on my own, but I’d love to, for sure.

Day 295 – Bliss Balls For Beginners

Remember last week I told you about my new book?  Well, I finally finished it! I’m rubbish with self-promotion though, so feel free to share it for me. I’d be most grateful!

Day 296 – When It Rains, Jump In Puddles

We had such plans for today, but sickness, the weather, who knows what else meant and our plans didn’t go to plan. Instead we hid out at Mamaventurer Yasmin’s house, and then went to a local stretch of forest for a walk. The kids found a few puddles and that took care of a good hour at least!

Day 297 – Cupcakes

How come in the books things look so perfect, huh?  But when it comes down to it, with two children trying to lick the bowl and simultaneously needing the toilet or wanting to read a story, the picture on the right is a much closer version of my reality.

mtbadge2
 
 This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

The Danger And Ineffectiveness Of Antibacterial Laundry Detergents And A List of Eco-Friendly Non-Toxic Alternatives

There’s an advert on television in the UK at the moment for a laundry sanitiser that actually makes me angry every time I see it.

Did you know that germs lurk on your clothes? Your CLOTHES my friend! Like, RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR BODY! Or worse, RIGHT NEXT TO THE BODY OF THE CHILD YOU SAY YOU LOVE!!!! Oh me oh my. Please, use this chemically created product with a long list of ingredients that are unpronounceable and probably have effects on the environment and quite possibly on the skin too*. After all, you do love your family and want the best for them, don’t you?

*Read on.

Apologies for the sarcasm. It’s how I deal with things that make me angry enough to shout at no one in particular.

So if you’re a real believer in business, you’re thinking ‘they wouldn’t sell it if it was bad for you’. Yip. You’re right. Just like nicotine and saturated fats. Oh wait.

So here’s the thing: This particular brand of unnamed Laundry Sanitiser (I’m just a mama. I don’t need no trouble. You can find out who they are on your own.) lists as its ingredients:

5% Non-Ionic Surfactants, Disinfectant, Parfum,Contains Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol and Hexyl Cinnamal ,Per 100g Liquid contains 2.40 g Dialkyl (C8-10) Dimethylammonium Chloride / Benzyl-C 12-18-Alkyldimethyl Chloride

I’m no scientist or chemist, so let’s break it down with a little help from our friend Doctor Google.

5% Non-Ionic Surfactants: To my untrained eye, at least, they don’t specify which chemical group of non-ionic surfactants are used, so here’s a general summary of the environmental effects of non-ionic surfactants from the European Textile Service Association Eco Forum Website: 

Formerly this group was widely used for cleaning and laundering. Now it has been replaced to a great extent due to the negative environmental effects.

During the biological degradation, alkyl phenol ethoxylates bare transformed to alkyl phenols, e.g. nonyl phenol ethoxylate (NPEO) degrades to nonyl phenol (NP), which is known to be toxic and have hormone like effects.

P.S. “The impacts of nonylphenol in the environment include feminization of aquatic organisms, decrease in male fertility and the survival of juveniles at concentrations as low as 8.2 microg/l. Due to the harmful effects of the degradation products of nonylphenol ethoxylates in the environment, the use and production of such compounds have been banned in EU countries and strictly monitored in many other countries such as Canada and Japan”.[1. Nonylphenol in the environment: a critical review on occurrence, fate, toxicity and treatment in wastewaters Environ Int. 2008 Oct;34(7):1033-49. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2008.01.004. Epub 2008 Feb 20.]

Great stuff.

Disinfectant: not sure what they’re using here. The fact that they don’t tell us what it is worries me. The main one used in the US has been Triclosan for many years, but many studies are showing areas of concern.

Parfum: This is a tricky one. There doesn’t seem to be a specific description of what this is. Parfum is, apparently, industry code for as many as 3,000 chemicals used to make products smell “nice”.[2. David Suzuki Foundation A very interesting blog post on the topic]

Butylphenyl Methylpropional:

The safety of Butylphenyl Methylpropional has been evaluated by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials Expert Panel (REXPAN). Based on this evaluation, an International Fragrance Association (IFRA) Standard has been established. The IFRA Standard restricts the use of Butylphenyl Methylpropional in fragrances because of potential sensitization.[3. http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/butylphenyl-methylpropional  Cosmetics Info – The Science And Safety Behind Your Favourite Products]

What does sensitization mean?

Sensitization to chemicals can be defined as changes in the organism, usually the immunochemical system, by exposure to a chemical such that further chemical exposure leads to recognition by the organism. Such recognition will lead to a response that is marked by a greater reaction at lower doses than what would be observed in non-sensitized individuals. This is usually called hypersensitivity (Turner-Warwick, 1978).

Inhulation of the antigen/allergen in an individual previously sensitized leads to an allergic reaction, such as rhinitis or conjunctivitis. If the skin is sensitized, as in allergic contact dermatitis, then contact will cause an oedematous response and/or a rash. Pulmonary (airway) sensitization manifests itself through bronchial constriction or obstruction (Davies and Blainey, 1983; Hetzel and Clark, 1983; Ramsdale et al., 1985). Some chemicals can produce different types of “allergy’. There are various known and hypothesized mechanism for sensitization. There are also host susceptibility factors, including genetic predisposition, which will play a role in sensitization and in disease manifestation (Turner-Warwick, 1978; Gregg, 1983).[4. Key Concepts: Chemical Sensitization Michael D. Lebowitz]

Citronellol: naturally occuring scent ingredient derived from plants such as rose, used to mask other scents. Not considered to be toxic, bioaccumulative or toxic or harmful. Often used in beauty products. Interestingly, it still has a score of 5/10 on the EWG hazard chart.[5.  <a href=”http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701389/CITRONELLOL/“>Citronellol</a> – Environmental Working Group]

Hexyl Cinnamal: naturally occurring and synthetic ingredient, it is associated with allergic reactions. While not believed to be toxic, bioaccululative or harmful, it is a possible human immune system toxicant or allergen and is banned or restricted in the EU.[6. <a href=”http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702841/HEXYL_CINNAMAL/“>Hexyl Cinnamal</a> – Environmental Working Group]

2.40 g Dialkyl (C8-10) Dimethylammonium Chloride:

Didecyldimethylammonium chloride is an antiseptic/disinfectant, which is used in many biocidal applications. They cause disruption of intermolecular interactions and dissociation of lipid bilayers. They are Broad spectrum Bactericidal and Fungicidal. They can be used as Disinfectant Cleaner for Linen recommended for use in hospitals, hotels and industries . It is also used in Gynaecology, Surgery, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, OT, for the sterilization of surgical instruments, endoscopes and surface disinfection. [7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didecyldimethylammonium_chloride>Dimethylommonium Chloride – Wikipedia]


Benzyl-C 12-18-Alkyldimethyl Chloride:

ADBAC is highly toxic to fish , very highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates , moderately toxic to birds and slightly toxic to mammals. Concentrated solutions (10% or more) are toxic to humans, causing corrosivity/irritation to the skin and mucosa under prolonged contact times, and death if taken internally in sufficient volumes

Several studies claim to have identified allergic reactions to benzalkonium chloride, although a clear distinction has not been drawn between irritation and a genuine allergic response involving immune system. Studies have been based on individuals rather than statistically significant groups. It is still widely used in eyewashesnasal sprays, hand and face washes, mouthwashesspermicidal creams, and in various other cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants.[8. <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzalkonium_chloride“> Benzalkonium_chloride </a> Wikipedia lists a host of reference articles related to the above. ]

Unless we’re talking about a child with a terrible immune related disease, where there may be justification for over-sanitising, you do not need to fill the waterways and environment with toxins. And even if you do, do some research before hand to be sure that the ingredients in this product aren’t going to make matters worse.

But let’s say none of the ingredients in this product put you off, because, let’s say that they’re all in ‘suspected safe’ quantities and concentrations. Let’s say you really like the idea of a product that can help kill germs and protect against flu or feaces on your child’s clothing.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT REALLY?

One study concluded that washing at 60°C (140°F) for 10 minutes is sufficient to decontaminate hospital uniforms and reduce the bacterial load and that items left in the pockets are decontaminated to the same extent and that uniforms become recontaminated with low numbers of principally gram-negative bacteria after laundry but that these are effectively removed by ironing. (MRSA is only removed with added antibacterial liquid though).[9. Effectiveness of Low-Temperature Domestic Laundry on the Decontamination of Healthcare Workers’ Uniforms, N. Lakdawala, MSc; J. Pham, MRes; M. Shah, MSc; J. Holton, PhD, FRCPath Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Vol. 32, No. 11 (November 2011), pp. 1103-1108]

Another study came out with some really interesting information, I’m paraphrasing, but you can read it all for yourself [10. Beyond Semmelweis: Moving Infection Control into the Community J. Todd Weber, MD; and James M. Hughes, MD]

Two groups of families with at least 1 pre-school aged child were given identical cleaning materials, one with antibacterial properties, and one without. They were followed for 48 weeks and checked for a variety of conditions. No significant differences between the 2 groups were found in reports of symptoms, which included rhinorrhea (26.8%), cough (23.2%), fever (11%), sore throat (10.2%), vomiting (2.6%), and diarrhea (2.5%). Fewer than 1% of the households reported any skin symptoms. Within most subgroups, such as young children, children attending day care, and persons working outside the home, no differences were found between the 2 groups. Interestingly, persons with chronic disease or poor health in the antibacterial product group were more likely to have fever, rhinorrhea, and cough. 

I’m sorry… can I just repeat that last sentence again?

Persons with chronic disease or poor health given antibacterial cleaners were more likely to have fever, rhinorrhea and cough.

Maybe their lowered immunity wasn’t able to protect them against all the chemicals and toxins in the products?

Still not convinced?

Here’s an excerpt from the CDC Website – That’s the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

“An essential part of preventing the spread of infection in the community and at home is proper hygiene. This includes hand-washing and cleaning shared items and surfaces. Antibacterial-containing products have not been proven to prevent the spread of infection better than products that do not contain antibacterial chemicals. Although a link between antibacterial chemicals used in personal cleaning products and bacterial resistance has been shown in vitro studies (in a controlled environment), no human health consequence has been demonstrated. More studies examining resistance issues related to these products are needed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously on October 20, 2005 that there was a lack of evidence supporting the benefit of consumer products including handwashes, bodywashes, etc., containing antibacterial additives over similar products not containing antibacterial additives.”

Which leads nicely to another concern that has been raised with excessive use of antibacterial cleaners: the creation of superbugs.

The UK Cleaning Products Industry Association unsurprisingly says no, antibacterial products aren’t to blame – antibiotics are.

“No.  Although this possibility is often discussed, the scientific evidence does not suggest this is actually happening, despite many decades of use, nor that’s it’s likely to happen.”[11. Do anti-bacterial and disinfectant products promote the spread of superbugs?  ukcpi.org]

A variety of different studies have been done on the link between antibacterial cleaners and the creation of super bugs, most of them by Dr. Stuart Levy, a microbiologist at Tufts University, but in reality it is inconclusive. What we do know for sure though, is that antibacterial cleaners clean the good bacteria along with the bad, causing weakness in the immune system.  More research is required to find out for sure – but you can imagine no one’s rushing to fund that research.

Another thing we know for sure is that these products are showing up in waterways, in food and in the umbilical cords of newborn babies, absorbed through the mother.  And then we wonder why asthma and allergies among other things are on the rise?

So to sum up:

1) Antibacterial products have not been shown to have any positive effect on consumer health

2) Antibacterial products contain a host of chemicals, many of which have detrimental side effects to health, and more specifically, can cause extra illness in people with an already low immune system.

3) The antibacterial products you wash down the drain end up in the waterways, in our food, and in our environment, killing good bacteria along with the bad, and potentially causing a rise in bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Those you rub on your skin pass through into your unborn baby – you know, the one you’re staying away from cheese, coffee and sushi for.

SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?

Considering that there’s no difference in the health benefit of using antibacterial products over just washing with water and non-antibacterial soap, you may as well use something that’s not detrimental to you or the environment – like tea tree oil. EEK! You say. THAT HIPPY STUFF DOESN’T WORK?!

Well, actually:

“Tea tree oil in a topical formulation might eliminate organisms from carriage sites such as the hairline, axilla, nares, groin and perineum, and incorporation of tea tree oil in hand-washing formulations may reduce the transmission of many multi-resistant organisms associated with nosocomial infections.”[12.<http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/5/639.full> Time–kill studies of tea tree oils on clinical isolates</a> ukcpi.org ]

You can find similar information for Lavender too.

If you’d like to swap to more natural, chemical free cleaners, see these posts below for wonderful products you can use at home:

Of course, many of these recipes still include chemicals, but these are no where near as toxic to us, our children or our environment as the anti-bacterial options we’re being led to believe we really need, for the sole purpose of someone else’s financial gain.

——————————————————————————————————-

Letter To A Four Year Old ~ All The Things I Didn't Know

Right now, four years ago, I was in the throes of labour. I had been since 4am the day before, but had managed a little sleep, and was ready to do this. I thought at the time, that I was having a baby, and then life would go back to normal. I was so happy, but I really didn’t know what it meant.

The moment our eyes locked, I fell in love with you. I changed forever. That may sound clichéd, but it’s true. Not much about my life, those two seconds apart, has ever really been the same since.

I knew the practicalities: babies grow into toddlers, who grow into children, but I had no real idea of how mothers grew from mothers of babies, to mothers of toddler to mothers of children. I didn’t see that coming.

I didn’t know that those first weeks and months would be all consuming. I didn’t know that I would learn a mountain of new skills, and master them too. I didn’t have the faintest inkling that I would become passionate about birth, or breastfeeding, or baby wearing, or any of the things you led me to, by refusing a pushchair, and flaring up when we used normal baby bath products, or having a bad reaction to Calpol.

I had seen babies smile before, but what I had not seen was how their mothers melted on the inside. I had not known how the curling of lips could wipe away days and nights of tiredness, and the complete upside down-ness of those early months. If someone had told me, I would not have believed it, and if I had believed it, I would not have grasped it. How could I conceive of something I’d never even imagined?

Under the Sea Birthday Party (3)

You were always in a hurry. Always trying to get to the next thing. At four months, you were crawling around with the seven and eight month olds in our baby group. At 8 months you were running rings around them. You were always in a hurry. You were speaking in full sentences by 20 months. Always on the go, always chattering, always showing me the world through eyes I never anticipated would captivate me. I see the same world you see, but you show me colours, and stories, and imaginations I would never have seen.

You have taught me the limits of my patience. You have shown me how I can go on, even when I thought I had nothing left in me. You’ve shown me that I do know how to play, that I can actually draw, and that anything can be fixed with a kiss and a cuddle.

You’ve taken me to the limits of the worst of me, then stretched out your arms to bring me back to a place of love. Our place, as mother and daughter. You’ve shown me the best of me. The things I now treasure most about me.

If four years ago you’d told me that all of these things were going to happen, that I was going to change fundamentally and wholly, and that my life was going to become wrapped up in you, I would not have believed it. I would have denied it. Oh, how I laugh at my own foolishness now.

I thought I knew what it was going to be. I had drawn the boundaries, made the plans, laid down the laws.

Then you came.

And you changed everything.

And I will never be able to thank you enough.

I love you baby girl, to the end of all things.

For all time.

Happy fourth birthday.

Mama.

 

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On Pinterest