A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JO LOVE – FOUNDER OF LOBELLA LOVES

DAY IN THE LIFE, motherhood

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Lobella Loves is a newly launched online shop full of beautiful treasures for your little one. Behind the digital shop front there is more! Founder Jo Love has built a business designed to make a difference and donates a percentage from every single sale to Cocoon Family Support, a charity supporting families suffering from pre and postnatal mental health issues.

Jo has also launched an amazing campaign called ‘Notes of Hope’ where she donates handpicked gifts to mothers receiving support via Cocoon, accompanied by a handwritten letter of hope from a mother who has been through a similar experience.

The response to the campaign has been overwhelming with supporters and postnatal depression survivors submitting letters sharing their personal experience with the condition and a positive message for those currently suffering. I can only imagine how comforting it must be to receive a lovely gift and a heartfelt letter of hope from someone who has been through it.

I love businesses that seek to help and support others and especially love the story and concept behind Lobella Loves, so when Jo invited me to choose a gift I jumped at the chance to be involved…

…Choosing which gift from all the options on the site was the hard part but eventually I settled on an amazing bright and fun neon cactus light! Jo kindly sent me one as well as sending one to a Mum currently receiving treatment for a perinatal mental health issue (either in hospital or on an intensive treatment programme). I only hope that when the Mum receiving it switched it on it brought a smile to her a face, as it did mine.

I think you’ll all agree the Notes of Hope campaign sounds pretty special. I certainly did! And I wanted to know more about the woman behind it all, partly because I’m nosy and partly because she sounds bloody amazing!! So what does a day in the life of a Mum running an online business and charity campaign look like?!

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This is the first post in my new ‘A Day in the Life‘ series where we get a sneak peak behind-the-scenes into the real lives of interesting and inspiring entrepreneurial women. Here Jo Love shares what life is like for her as she juggles her young family with running Lobella Loves….

I WAKE UP …very unnaturally anywhere between 5:30am and 7am depending on when my human alarm clock (otherwise known as my two-year-old daughter Bella) wakes up and starts singing the ‘Wheels on the bus’ on repeat at the top of her lungs!

MY TYPICAL DAY…starts as soon as the toddler whirlwind opens her eyes! The morning routine is a pretty chaotic dance between me and my husband trying to get everyone up, clean, fed and out of the door with minimal tears and spilled porridge. I have been known to come out of an important work meeting to find rouge Weetabix smears across my front. Luckily most of the people I’m meeting these days are parents themselves.

After childcare drop-offs I’ll usually settle into answering any emails I haven’t gotten to the previous day. I love the variety of entrepreneurial-life as no two days are the same. One day I can be in town socialising and networking with the Insta-mums or working from Google Campus’ co-working space in the City the next! This is very different to my previous, much more routine, life as a lawyer.

Until launching Lobella Loves I worked as a corporate lawyer for the best part of a decade, and although it was an incredible career, my new world feels far more suited to lifestyle and my entrepreneurial spirit.

Every day, whatever else I may be doing, I am on Instagram. I am an addict. It’s somewhere I find my beautiful products and wonderful sellers, but also an incredible support network. Many connections that started in the virtual world have now crossed the dividing line and have become my real life friends. If you’d said to me 5 years ago some of my closest gals pals would be people I’d met on the internet I would have called you crazy!

AFTER WORK…when you run your own business it’s hard to know exactly when work is done for the day. There is always something to do. However recently I’ve tried to get much better at switching off the laptop and having some time out. Self-care was for a long time a completely alien concept for me, now I actively try and switch off and have some me-time. Lately I’ve started using the Headspace meditation app which has really helped me get the most from those precious moments of chill.

THE WORST PART OF MY JOB…Is realising I only have a certain amount of time and therefore I really have to prioritise what needs to get done and when. In a similar way, I’m learning to get better at delegating and knowing when and what to give to someone else.

THE BEST PART OF MY JOB… Is being able to help other Mums struggling with mental health issues. We donate money from every single sale to Cocoon Family Support, a charity helping support Mums with perinatal mental health illnesses. I suffered badly with postnatal depression after the birth of my daughter, so when setting up the company I had a really strong urge to help others and it was a great tonic for me and helped my recovery. Giving back helping to fight the stigma and helping other mums have become part of the DNA of the company. My mantra is IT’S COOL TO BE KIND!

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And what an awesome mantra that it?? I think we could all do with a IT’S COOL TO BE KIND slogan tee!

Big thanks to Jo for being the first Mama to take part in my new A DAY IN THE LIFE series! I hoped you liked reading about Jo’s day as much as I did! I’m sure many of you will relate to the juggle/struggle and the difficulty with taking time out when you run your own biz. I certainly struggle with allowing myself time for self-care and knowing when to delegate to others.

If you want to find out more about the amazing work Jo does through Lobella Loves and how you can get involved and support (or just to browse and shop) make sure you visit Lobella Loves.

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Dear Jamie…

motherhood

breastfeeding baby

Let’s talk about my breasts, because I know you want to. You recently announced that breastfeeding was “the next big thing” when asked by LBC what was next after your successful and admirable campaigns with school dinners and sugar tax etc. The only problem is breastfeeding, and the inevitable breast vs bottle debate that follows, is not the ‘next big thing’ but the ‘are we seriously still discussing this thing’. It’s been done. Overdone even. After 10 years of having babies and parenting, I’m bored of hearing about it and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

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Now before you start thinking I’m anti-breasts or ‘oversensitive’ as The Independent claims, I want you to know that I think breasts are awesome. I breastfed both my boys and plan on breastfeeding the third, who is due imminently. I have no issue with getting them out in public either and totally agree that women who choose to breastfeed should be supported and allowed to breastfeed wherever the hell they want to. I guess you could say I’m pro-breastfeeding, and that would be half true. You see I’m also pro-bottle feeding, because above all, I’m pro-choice.

My breastfeeding journey with my first was rocky to start with, which I think is pretty typical. When I say rocky, I mean pretty fucking painful. My left nipple, just so you know, actually split so bad I could lift the top of it up and off. I continued to feed my baby through gritted teeth because I had been told ‘breast is best’ so many times that I was left believing there was no good alternative option. But anyway that was a long time ago, my nipples healed, breastfeeding got easier and I moved on to the other parenting hurdles.

Many years later I had my second son and this time it was easy to feed him from the start. What I had not anticipated however was that when I got pregnant with my third, whilst still breastfeeding, that my milk supply would dry up. I had exclusively breastfed for 6 months without any trouble and I had fed my first son for a full 12 months, I had not considered that my breasts would ‘fail’ me now. I assumed I had breastfeeding nailed. But little by little my breasts stopped filling with milk and I lost that let down sensation. Hours would pass between feeds and whereas before my breasts would feel full, they stopped ever feeling full and worst of all, my baby’s nappies got drier and drier. Politics aside, breastfeeding is above all else intended to provide hydration and nutrition, right? So what happens when your baby is becoming dehydrated and malnourished because the milk just isn’t there? Clearly breast is most definitely NOT best in a situation like this.

In the end it was a Doctor who told me to stop and give my baby a bottle. She told me that my body couldn’t grow another baby and produce enough milk at the same time. Now some Mums can do this; they can breastfeed all the way through their pregnancy and then tandem feed afterwards, but like everything in life, we are not all the same. My body was struggling to do both so I gave my baby a bottle and immediately his nappies started feeling really heavy with wee again. I felt terribly guilty. Not because I had stopped breastfeeding but because I hadn’t noticed how dry his nappies had become. They had got slowly less heavy over time and it was only after giving him a few big bottles of milk and feeling the weight of the nappy afterwards that I realised how dehydrated he must have been. I felt guilty that I had not noticed and had needed a Doctor to tell me.

Of course I was disappointed that our breastfeeding journey was cut short and that he got less time at the breast than his brother. Whenever a decision is taken out of your hands, it’s frustrating. I like to be in control and had expected to be able to choose when I wanted to stop feeding, so that was a little upsetting but in the scheme of things really insignificant.

Now I’m sorry if I’ve bored you with these nostalgic tales but my point is that breast is not always best, even if, as you say, it halves the chances of you getting breast cancer! My experience is just one reason why it’s not but there are millions of reasons and situations where breastfeeding is more damaging than it is beneficial. Sometimes it’s not best for the baby and sometimes it’s not best for the mother. It’s not just physical reasons either but psychological ones too. A mother’s psychological wellbeing is paramount to her being able to mother well and if breastfeeding threatens that, then it’s simply not worth it. Especially when we have a perfectly good alternative in formula (and thank goodness that we do).

Now the final thing I wanted to say is also probably the most important so please stick with me. I want you to understand that promoting the ‘breast is best’ message (with all good intentions I don’t doubt) is not only inaccurate because breast is not always best (as explained above) or ‘easy’ as you claim, but this message can also be really dangerous. I don’t mean dangerous because a load of angry oversensitive formula-feeding women will want you hung, drawn and quartered (although this is probably true) but dangerous because I’m not sure you fully understand the risks of promoting breastfeeding. In publicly promoting the ‘breast is best’ message you are reinforcing the dynamic whereby bottle feeding is pitched against breastfeeding and seen as, at best, inferior and, at worst, an inadequate way of nourishing and caring for one’s baby. This makes any mother who has wanted to breastfeed but has found they cannot, for whatever reason, feel like they have failed to do the best for their baby before they have even had a chance to get started.

The results of a large scale study published in 2014 looking at the relationship between breastfeeding and post-natal depression, found the group most at risk of developing depression were those that planned to breastfeed but then were not able to. The good news was that those who planned to breastfeed and were able to, were least likely to experience post-natal depression. The group who did not breastfeed but did not plan to, were in the middle. Now why do you think this might be?

It can’t simply be that bottle feeding increases the risk of depression because the results showed it was more complex than that. The group that planned to breastfeed but could not were over twice as likely to experience depression than the group that bottle fed but had planned to. It seems plausible and highly likely that those who planned to breastfeed but could not struggled because they had bought into the ‘breast is best’ message, they had committed to it physically and emotionally, probably bought their overpriced feeding bras in preparation etc etc. But then they found it wasn’t as straightforward as all the breastfeeding advocates had made out. That’s got to come as a bit of a shock, right? And when you whole-heartedly believe that breast is best and breastmilk has all these great benefits, what the hell do you do when it doesn’t work out? Nobody has spoken to you about the benefits of formula so you can only assume that it offers none of the benefits of breastfeeding and by feeding your child with a bottle, they are going to be obese, stupid and sickly, all of the things breastmilk supposedly protects against. So now how do you feel when you have no option but to bottle feed them? Pretty shitty.

Now I know depression is far more complicated in every way than just feeling shitty but this feeling of not being able to deliver has got to be a major contributing factor. Which means it’s so important that women understand they have options. And good ones at that! Breast may be best in many situations; where mother wants to breastfeed and baby can be breastfed and they are supported in this decision and her milk comes in and its not causing any physical or emotional harm or pain. But equally it’s important than women understand breast is not always best. Sometimes bottle feeding is best. And when bottle feeding is best, be that for whatever reason, then isn’t it brilliant that we have the option to provide hydration and nourishment to our babies in this way. And no woman should ever feel guilty about this or worry they are not doing a good job.

The bottom line is, if you’re feeding your baby (whether with your breast or a bottle), you are doing a mighty fine job and nobody should ever dispute this.

I’m all for empowering and supporting women in their choices and strongly believe women should be informed, but let’s not focus solely on singing the benefits of breastfeeding. They have been sung many times before. We can debate the benefits of breast (of course nobody should be silenced) but let’s not forget also the benefits of bottle feeding. We need to support all women and be sensitive to those who wished to feed but could not, because not everybody is as lucky as you and Jools have obviously been; not everybody will find breastfeeding easy.

Best wishes,

Siobhan

ROBYN’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

This week we have first-time Mama Robyn Wilder sharing her experience of motherhood so far. She juggles pen-wielding with baby-rearing on a daily basis writing for Buzzfeed, The Pool and her own blog The Parent Crap. She’s married to the man behind the hugely popular Man with a pram column. You NEED to read it ALL, but for now, here’s what Robyn has to say on pregnancy, birth and baby loving…

Name: Robyn Wilder

Location: Ashford, Kent

Number of Kids: One

Names and ages: Herbie Heritage, 8 months old

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Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

A planned surprise. Got engaged, came off contraception because I’m a little bit elderly in babymaking terms, so thought I needed to air out my uterus or whatever. But I fell pregnant immediately! Luckily Tiffany Rose make some gorgeous maternity wedding dresses.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Just a rush of adrenaline. I ran around the flat like a deranged spaniel for about half an hour, shouting “oh my god, oh my god”.

How did you tell your partner?

My husband was out, and I was all set to play it cool and surprise him when he got back with a coy smile and a cake. Then I snapped and barked the news down the phone to him while he was getting fitted for his morning suit. Which was interesting for him.

His reaction?

“WELL THAT’S NICE WE WILL DISCUSS THIS LATER.” Later, obviously, we just stroked my belly while occasionally emitting high-pitched laughs at each other, until the news sank in.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I glowed for precisely 2.5 weeks after finding out, then I was hit with hyperemesis gravidarum and a “highly likely” result for a serious genetic disorder (Herbie is fine, as far as we can tell). Next I developed gestational diabetes and anaemia, and later even broke a rib. Pregnancy wasn’t fun at all – I was constantly nauseated, in pain, or dizzy, and had to take a lot of time off work. Although I did enjoy the feeling of this little life growing inside of me, I definitely didn’t enjoy suddenly not liking coffee, or not being able to rely on my body anymore.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 38 weeks due to gestational diabetes, and whereas inductions normally take a few days to get labour going, I was fully dilated within 20 minutes of starting the procedure. However, then the epidural slowed things down again, and 14 hours later I still hadn’t progressed, and ended up going into sepsis with the baby in distress. Eventually I was wheeled away for a C-section. That was actually the least stressful part – three minutes from incision to delivery. When they placed the baby on me, though, I passed out through blood loss. Labour was nothing like I had hoped for – I have quite a severe anxiety disorder and found it difficult to cope with the pain, anticipation, and how medical and impersonal everything was – like a really long, really intense dental operation. I think my mental health could have been accommodated better, and will be talking to my hospital about it. I have PTSD from the birth, and I think Herbie is affected, too. C-sections all the way from hereon in.

Incidentally, my husband wrote a fuller account of the birth for The Guardian.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Joy and poo. And fatigue. And forgetfulness. Hey, did I mention joy and poo?

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Can you share any highlights?

We got really excited when Herbie seemed to say his own name. He was babbling on the changing mat and shouted “Her!” Then he shouted, ”BEE!” and we were overjoyed. THEN he said what sounded very much like the N word, so all bets are off, basically.

Can you share any low points?

The other day a wasp flew at me and I found myself running away from it – and my pram, which continued to roll down the road. The baby was fine, and more recently I ran away from another wasp with my pram, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Herbie’s not very good at sleeping alone, so I try to put him down away from me as much as possible, and get on with writing. He is very cuddly, though, so often I sack off and either curl around him and doze off myself, or let him sleep sprawled on top of me while I sink into a box set and just let the oxytocin flow.

Have you got a blog?

I’m in awe of those Pinteresty parent blogs where willowy first-time mothers float around their airy upcycled homes with perfect skin and messy side-braids and show you five steps to making your own organic hemp soy almond fair trade chia seed babycinos. Mine’s not one of those blogs. It’s about how I really don’t know what I’m doing, but am muddling through parenting anyway (mostly?) successfully.

What’s the link?

theparentcrap.com

Do you have another job (besides being a Mama)?

I work at BuzzFeed as a staff writer, but I’m freelancing during my year’s maternity leave. Experience has taught me to change how I work because I don’t have the luxury of spending hours at the computer anymore. Now I try to make notes and edits on my phone while the baby sleeps on me, then do the actual writing while he naps, or his father has him. So far it’s doable…ish. I don’t know how it’ll all work when I return to the office – I’m basically ignoring the prospect for now.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Just that I have the requisite biology to CONJURE NEW HUMAN FRIENDS INTO EXISTENCE. Isn’t that amazing? I could go mad with power. Also, I know it’s a cliché, but I have never felt love like this. It’s almost painful.

What are the worst bits?

Being trapped under a breastfeeding baby during a growth spurt when you’re recovering from a C section and you have postnatal depression is a special sort of misery. But then you’ll wake up to a tiny perfect hand stroking your face, and it all seems worth it somehow.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

I’m still breastfeeding and I’m dairy-free because Herbie has a milk protein intolerance, so probably eat loads of cheese, leak breastmilk everywhere, and cry myself to sleep because I’d miss him so much.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Okay, you know when you see really lazy products in the supermarket, like pre-diced onions and pre-grated cheese, and you wonder who that’s from? IT’S FOR YOU. For at least the first three months after your baby’s born you’ll be doing stuff onehanded, so maybe go onehanded for a day while you’re pregnant so you can figure out what you’ll need.

Is there anything you wish you had known?

I wish I’d known that birth trauma was a) a possibility, b) something I could get help with, c) something that passed, because when no one tells you that it’s a thing and suddenly you find yourself hallucinating and terrified when you should be happy and picture-perfect, it’s very hard to process. Birthtraumaassociation.org.uk can help.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share….

I write about parenting for The Pool and my husband writes a parenting column in The Guardian.

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Huge thank you to Robyn for finding the time to share her refreshingly honest experience of motherhood. Be sure to check out her brilliant blog and her husband’s column in The Guardian.

If you would like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please email thedoublemama@gmail.com.