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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Support Infant Loss with Saying Goodbye

Ok Social Media friends and family bear with me as I post this, as it is really important to me - in my spare time I am now a voluntary fundraiser for Saying Goodbye (which is part of the Mariposa Trust).
I will be annoying you all by trying to rally up support for this fantastic cause. But firstly I ask you all to do me a favour - as my blogger friends and family please just spare a minute and visit and see what Saying Goodbye is all about and then please, please, please consider them for any fundraising activities you, your family, friends or even your employers may be planning. (You may also like to watch this short film as it’s so powerful -
You would probably be shocked by how many people you know who have been affected directly or indirectly by the loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy. As some of you already know, I have had many miscarriages and it is so devastating. Having gone through these losses I know how life changing it is. I am of course very lucky to have Blossom, a baby who thrived and survived in the midst of many other babies who didn't. We do not want their lives to be forgotten and through Saying Goodbye (the Mariposa Trust) this will be my contribution to our babies’ legacy.
The families who have to endure these losses really need support and will gain so much from the work of Saying Goodbye, as I have done.
A selection of their Ambassadors includes Prof. Lord Robert Winston, Nigella Lawson, Gabby Logan and Jools Oliver to name a few. Please see the website for more details.
If you would like to speak to me about Fundraising for Saying Goodbye I would love to hear from you....if not I am afraid you will be hearing a lot more from me, about the story behind Saying Goodbye, what led me to Saying Goodbye and how you might be able to help. They really do great work and have helped me so very much.
Thanks so much for reading this you lovely, lovely people x If you would like to donate then please click on this link above this blog. Thank you in advance for any and all donations for this wonderful charity. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Dear Mummy In The Changing Rooms

Dear Mummy in the changing rooms

After your swim, you seemed to be finding motherhood and the needs of your lively toddler too much to manage. I’m sorry if you were having a bad day. Of no consolation I'm sure, but I do remember these times well. Sometimes they were tough. So mind-numbingly difficult and deeply frustrating. I remember the crazy boundary-pushing declarations and repetitive story-telling. We often recall the amazing highlights, humorous exchanges and everlasting imprints: all key moments captured in mind, body and soul, embodied forever. 

Toddlerhood can test us to the max...YES IT CAN but for better or worse these early years leave a lasting impression upon our children - creating eternal memories.  

There is no easy way to say this and I'm sorry but I need to change the tone. I need to tell you that your physical attack on your child was shockingly disturbing. We were in the cubicle getting dressed. We didn't see you or your toddler but what we heard will remain with us forever.

My daughter wept as she placed her hand on the lock to break free of the cubicle. In that moment her eyes held the deepest sadness and the darkest rage. I placed my hand on the door to stop her from leaving the cubicle. I knew she wanted to voice her opinions and share with you her distress. Unfortunately I didn't have trust or faith in you. I feared you may lash out at her too.  How would you have responded to my nine-year old daughter telling you to STOP? How would you have responded to her tears for your child and her rage for you? 

My daughter doesn't know what it's like to be hit but I have told her of my experiences. 

When you walloped your child something disturbing happened to me. My feet felt like they were glued to the floor. My mind and body was transported back in time. Internally a known fear was triggered, this was quickly followed by a need to remain silent.

I’m sorry to have to tell you but in that moment my daughter’s joy was zapped from every ounce of her being. Your actions left us feeling distressed and somewhat depressed. Instead of us having wonderful memories of our first solo outing to the pool, our time together remains forever tarnished by the sound of your hand hitting your child. 

Please consider how the physical punishment you are inflicting upon your child is being experienced by him? Your actions will leave a deep impression on him and will influence his relationship with you. If I may, I also beg you to consider the impact your physical actions have on you, and those around you.

On our journey home my daughter was silent (or silenced). In asking her what was wrong she spoke of the pain of listening to you hit your child. 

My heart goes out to you.

I wish you well on your parenting journey and I hope one day you'll find peace in your soul.

With love and a hug

A mummy who was hit as a child

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Silence IS Golden - the 'gifts' of my mother's deafness

My story today focuses upon the trans-generational gifts from my mother. They are the gifts that go beyond…

Being raised by a deaf mum and a hearing father has gifted me with so much and for this I am truly grateful.

A few years ago when asked about my mother I could only find these words to describe her. My mother is profoundly deaf and psychologically hearing. By this I mean for many years she failed to embrace and own her deafness. She was ashamed of being deaf and as a result she would imitate being hearing. She would nod her head in a timely fashion and she would respond to questions with appropriate utterances – often fooling others but never escaping the real truth of her own silent world.

As a child I only heard her declare her deafness on one occasion. This was a heart-breaking event to witness. Upon declaring her deafness she was met with a patronising “Oh! I D-I-D-N-T K-N-O-W you were deaf. In that moment I saw in my mother’s eyes, her pain and anguish. Her shame and anger too, an image that has stayed with me to this day.

Her tenacity to pretend to be hearing for so long is impressive though, isn’t it? Hold onto to this tenacity thread. You’ll see it repeats itself in this story! Nonetheless regardless of her lack of acceptance she was still deaf. On the plus side her deafness made her highly attuned to the world of the non-verbal. Her observation skills in relation to body language are second to none. A skill I really didn’t like when I was trying to hide things from her in my teenage years!! Her lip-reading skills are incredible but beneath this her lack of felt sense of belonging, the burden of shame, a lack of acceptance of herself and her inability to embrace all that she was are cumbersome concerns that she carried for many years.

Let’s just stay for a minute with the obvious positive gifts relating to communication: my mum’s deafness supported me to become highly attuned to body language and interpreting facial expressions with a high degree of accuracy. These are forms of communication that tell us so much about how others are feeling and what they experiencing. How we, and those around us use our bodies to convey so much in terms of communication. How even the tiniest of movements can expand our knowledge to identify any incongruence between spoken and non-spoken language: a skill that assists me in my communication on a daily basis. 

The gift of shame, and an inability to accept etc. featured dominantly for me in my teenage years. They were burdensome to me back then: really tough and in some ways, soul-destroying, but that’s a story for another post.

Fortunately I still had the gift of tenacity to rely upon! We already know my mother has oodles of this but fortunately for me so did my father. A double-whammy dose of tenacity for me then!

When I was in my early twenties and with the driving force of tenacity behind me I decided to embrace all that was ME! I began to connect with my deaf history. I embraced all that is DEAF and began my journey into Deafhood. My first undergraduate degree – Deaf Studies and Sign Language Interpreting was taught in Sign Language. Every lecture, every tutorial and every moment of the 35 hours per week study was presented in British Sign Language. And every moment we were told to use Sign language and not our voices. I was totally immersed in a deaf world and couldn’t wait to share this learning with my mum. I signed with her, as I knew she would gather more information with sign language and lip reading. Through my acceptance and compassion for all matters DEAF she began slowly but surely to embrace her own deafness. Deafness was not an issue for me. I creatively adjusted my psychological perspective and this appeared to support my mum to make her own creative fine-tuning.

With a tenacious wind in my sails I decided to go further on in my search to embrace shame, belonging and acceptance. There was only one way forward for me here and this was to attend psychotherapy! Which I did on and off for an eight year period! I was fed-up with carrying the oppressive ‘gifts’ and allowing them to get in my way. My psychotherapeutic journey gave me the courage and strength to undertake training in the field. I shared with my mother not only matters discovered in my own search but psychological concepts to aid her further on her journey.  My mother is now more fully able to embrace herself and her deafness. What began with my mother’s shame, lack of acceptance, her deafness etc. ends (for now at least) with the capacity to embrace fully who we are and what we bring.

The biggest gift of all came in the form of my daughter – Blossom, a special delivery – a precious gift to us. She survived in the midst of many infant losses: a tenacious baby who fought to thrive and survive: the trans-generational gift of tenacity continues on with Blossom too.

My mother’s capacity to attune to all that is non-verbal was inherently gifted to me and, when Blossom was born I was able to attune to her in the same way I believe my mother attuned herself to me, but perhaps this attunement carried less shame, more acceptance, more confidence, more unwavering self belief, and bucket loads of tenacity!

When Blossom was born I instinctively noticed patterns in her communication, a series of non-verbal clues and cues, which held meaning. I am certain my (deaf) mum had attuned herself to me in this way. I utilised Blossom’s non-verbal language and her baby-led communication to ‘talk’ with her and to understand more of the language of infants. The irony here is I believed all parents used this form of communication, with their infants, just as my mum had with me and I was instinctively with Blossom. I only realised this was not the case when I shared my story with other mums in a mother and toddler group. I enthusiastically (and tenaciously) approached many mums and dads and asked them how they were getting on with their baby’s tongue-talking, facial expressions and their observations of the non-verbal language of infants – I was puzzled by both their non-verbal and verbal responses – not one of them seemingly knew what I was talking about. I was bewildered but never once uncertain. Remember my mum’s (and dad’s) tenacity was firmly fixed in every ounce of my being. My studies and life experience had helped me to understand the nature of communication and psychology. My drive to share eventually led to the ‘birth’ of The Blossom Method – a simple three-step communication system based of observation, mirroring back and responding to our babies’ non-verbal cues and clues connecting with them in their communication.

The Blossom Method is a communication tool now used by parents across the globe, and one being taught in relation to attachment theory - as exciting as this is what fills me full of joy is how the ‘gifts’ of my mother’s deafness and shame have been transformed to encourage infants and their parents to communicate even more effectively and as a result go some way toward breaking negative parenting cycles.

Thank you mum for all of your gifts…

From our shame came self-worth and self-respect
From our lack of acceptance came acceptance of ourselves
From our lack of felt sense of belonging came a real true sense of belonging
From our deafness (I was diagnosed with hearing loss in 2012!) came significant understanding of the world of the non-verbal
And from YOUR tenacity came even more steely determination!!

Being mindful of all of the gifts bestowed upon us by our parents, and the gifts you are imparting to your children brings many possibilities – I urge you to look at your gifts and their possibilities. Thank you for connected with this post.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The 'Womba' Effect

Tonight, whilst engaged in a wonderful twitter debate, I was inspired to write this blog. The twitter debate is normally facilitated by the inspirational @JaneParenting but tonight at the helm was the insightful author of War And Peas @JoCormack - a book about being more aware of emotions and eating. If you'd like to join Jane she holds an interesting twitter debate every Thursday at 8pm under the hashtag rchchat. Tonights hot topic led me to consider resilience in children. 

We often hear the term resilience and to me amongst others, it is key. Even the UK TV School-based Drama, Waterloo Road are including this as a key feature in their latest series.

So what is resilience? Is it the ability to bounce back? Why do our children need to be resilient? Is it because it will support them in the ‘now’ and in their future? I think so. Do you?

As a mum, I have encouraged my daughter to develop resilience. I am a Blossom Method and Attachment parent and through our attachment she has gained a wonderful inner strength and outer strength.

In her early years as she reached out to grab I encouraged her to explore for herself. I never passed to her what she was reaching for I simply supported her in her exploration and moved the object to a place she could reach it for herself.

At age two Blossom insisted upon entering into the world of Bollywood Dancing. So following her intuition and desires, my husband found a class and she began her journey into Bollywood at age three. He drove her every Sunday morning, the 60 mile round trip, where she continued on with this until she was 5 years old and she won the local Bollywood Championships! Sadly, the class was then closed. 

When she began to reach out even further we have been there. We have watched her insist upon climbing very tall trees (age 4), and however frightening this was for me (yes, me rather than my husband) I still allowed her to explore. We, of course, supported her and made ourselves available as a ‘safety net’ if she needed us. I’m sure many of you do these things as well. I am certain there are other parents who simply cannot get over their own anxieties and as a result they hover, like helicopters with their propellers of anxiety whizzing in fear!

During all of these events something incredible happens to my body, and in particular my womb. As I watch, encourage and secretly manage my own anxiety, my womb goes into overdrive and flips sometimes to the point of nausea. It tells me something. Something I always attune to. This is a powerful bodily expression that I listen to even in the absence of my daughter, Blossom. A feeling I have experienced often even if I cannot see her.

Recently I was in the same building as my daughter and I was seated in a place I could not see her. I felt a strong body sense and then my womb started flipping. I immediately said to my husband and other people, there’s something wrong with Blossom. She is crying. When I eventually reached her she was very upset and distressed. How did my body know? Why did I follow my ‘womb’? I followed it because I know it to be a reliable source. I followed it because Blossom and I are so very attuned, emotionally and bodily. Why is this so? I really don’t know but I do put some of this down to ‘The Blossom Method’ and as a result our incredible attunement. 

Somehow (once I know she is safe), my womb settles its self back to a more comfortable position and we all move on. In our house we call this a ‘womba’. You’ll often hear Blossom saying, “Did I give you a ‘womba’ mummy? I’m curious do other mum’s (and Dads) experience this in their bodies?

Do you experience the ‘womba’ effect? If so, I’d love to hear your stories. Please comment below and let’s encourage others to tune into their bodies and gather more information about our children using the power of the ‘womba’ effect and the rest of our bodies.

Vivien Sabel  
Pg. Dip. Psych. Couns., Pg. Dip. Integ. Psych., Pg. Cert. Clinical Supervision, Pg. Cert. Management., Dip. Deaf Studies.

Author of the award-winning The Blossom Method™- The Revolutionary Way To Communicate With Your Baby From Birth 
Baby Observer and Parenting Advisor 
UKCP Relational Psychotherapist