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SUMMARY- Join Carly and Em as they discuss what it feels like adding another little one to the mix, who just happens to be the polar opposite of the first, as well as tongue tie, sleep disordered breathing, tonsils, adenoids and grommets, how she got through all of that, and what it's like now on the other side of responding to their needs at night.

You can find Em on Instagram, @OfficiallyEm, Patreon and her gardening Instagram page, @TheCoastalGoodlife

Full Episode Transcript: 

Carly:
The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take.
I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded, the Kalkadoon people, I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past, present and emerging. We honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as their rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children. 

Carly:
Welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and with me today we have Emily Holdaway. She’s back for a second episode, which we’re so glad to have her back for. Thanks Em. If people haven’t listened to last week’s episode you will want to go back and hear the first part of Em’s story before you carry on listening to this part. So, welcome back Em. How are you today?

Listen to Part 1 with Emily Holdaway

Emily:
I’m good, Carly. Thank you for having me back.

Carly:
No worries. And last week when we were talking we got to the point of your story where you just discovered babywearing with your first baby, Ziggy, and discovered that you could actually have two hands and be able to walk around while also holding your baby, who was not a very sleepy, little person, woke lots of times, and really hated the pram as well as the cot. So, I’d love to hear from that point, once you had babywearing in your life, you had bed sharing in your life, how did things continue to roll on with Zig?

Emily:
Oh mate. Yeah, so at about four… four months, babywearing and bed sharing both came into… into our parenting repertoire, so to speak. And that was about the same time that I started writing about parenting Ziggy online. And I really, really quickly realised that this… these… these golden, amazing tools that I had found were something that other parents had heard of but were way to scared to go anywhere near. You know? There was a lot of… a lot of fear out there, and so I just started sharing what it was like with Ziggy. And I remember with the babywearing, so that kid, we call him… in New Zealand he’s referred to as a Paua baby. I think in Aussie it’s a koala baby. Over here it’s a power baby. Abalone. As a little kid he was just always attached to me. And so, babywearing became our… our thing. If he wasn’t… basically, he just lived on me, unless I was in the shower. Like, I wore him to the toilet. You know? And… and he’d do, so he’d do all his naps in the carrier. The only other place he would nap that wasn’t the carrier was the car. And I remember getting like lots of worried comments about that, and people saying, you know, but… but isn’t that a bad habit? And isn’t something… isn’t that something that he’s always going to need to do? And is it going to affect his mobility? And all sorts of worries like that. He’s nearly six. His mobility’s fine. He sleeps in his own bed in his own room. It hasn’t ruined him. But for the first sort of year after that he would have done every nap in the carrier because we needed him to. Well, we needed him to be in there to sleep. And for AJ and I, our options were wear him and he’ll go to sleep or fight and try and fit a prescribed ‘you will sleep in the bassinet’ or ‘you will sleep in the cot’. We had a lot of doubts and questions of what we were doing as we went through each sort of new stage with Zig. I remember the… I don’t know how old he was, but he went through this patch where he’d go to sleep and then he’d wake up at like 11 o’clock at night, and he’d be wide awake. And we tried to fight that, and we tried to, you know, make him go back to sleep – not that you can make a baby go back to sleep, but I’d shove a boob in. You will sleep! And then we realised that fighting it didn’t work. And so, I’d get up and I’d go out to the lounge, and I’d put on the TV, and I’d watch some trashy show on Netflix until 1 o’clock in the morning. And Ziggy would [5:00] play happily, and then when he was tired, we’d go back to bed. And so, there was a lot of learning to just not… I don’t want to say give in. Just accepting it. Just every new hurdle we got to with his sleeping, every time we sort of thought, sh*t, it’s not working, we’d just changed what we were doing based on what Ziggy needed to do. And that’s just something that we’ve continued to do. Like, we still do it… we still do it now. If he has a nightmare, I’ll swap beds so he can go and sleep with Aje, or he can sleep with me, because he needs us. We… we just try to meet his need in that moment. So, I don’t remember a lot about like what… what milestones did he reach at 12 months old, and what milestones did he reach at 18 months old, and when did he start sleeping through the night. I don’t remember any of that with Zig. I just remember us constantly shifting our expectations of him, and finding a new way to make it work, over and over and over.

Carly:
And do you think that part of that was letting go of some of that fear that it would be forever?

Emily:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. The… I remember some really dark nights where we were tired and… and Aje would say to me, and I’d say to him, you know, were they right? Have we f*@ked him up? Like, have we… have we done this to ourselves? And then we’d… we’d remind ourselves that it’s just hard right now, but it will pass. It will pass.

Carly:
It really… it really does.

Emily:
And it… it did. And it… it always passed. And we always needed to remind ourselves in that challenging moment, whatever that challenging moment was, that it was just a phase, and that we had to work through that phase in a way that nurtured ourselves and our baby. And he, Zig would have been… I… with sleep training for us, I knew what it was. I was in groups. I’d heard about it. Zig would have been the baby that made themselves vomit from screaming so much. You know, that… that was that option for us, and we just couldn’t… we couldn’t go there. And so, our workaround was to meet that need. I got to a stage with… with babywearing where I could transfer him asleep in my carrier onto the bed and he’d stay asleep. That was such a milestone.

The role of temperament and sleep

Carly:
Yes. That’s one of the milestones. I feel like it’s that one. Like, the babywearing transfer, and also the first time you can do a successful boob to sleep ninja roll out of the bed.

Emily:
Oh my god, yes. Yes.

Carly:
I feel like you should get a medal for that. Like, if you want to have a milestone card, I feel like we should have photos of mums holding up their milestone. ‘Just successfully ninja rolled. Woo hoo!’

Emily:
Oh, and back carrying. Back carrying with babywearing was such a gamechanger, because when they’re on the front you’re a bit limited into what you can do, you know. You don’t want to be cooking and they’re in the way of your arms. But once they’re on your back, mate, the world’s your oyster. I did so much of my blogging at the kitchen table with Ziggy asleep in a carrier on me, and it just became our… our normal, I guess. It became our normal. Yeah.

Carly:
I love that. And it’s kind of those things I think people sort of sometimes have the impression that when you surrender to your baby’s needs that it’s somehow like a self-sacrificing thing. But what’s not really understood is that actually it’s a… it’s an act of self-preservation as well. There is far less of your energy in your already fatigued body going out to the unsuccessful fighting attempts to make your baby do something they’re simply not ready to do, than simply going with what they need for that day. I know I felt so much more mentally rested as well as physically rested when we surrendered to that. Were you similar in that way as well?

Emily:
It… I found for us it gave us a lot of freedom. Like, the… the bed sharing and the babywearing made our experience with Ziggy’s sleep so much more positive than it could have been, and we had so much freedom as a couple to go places, to do things. You know? Like, if AJ had a work do it didn’t clash with any routine. I would just go to the work do with him, and we’d take Ziggy, and we’d take a carrier, and when he started to get grumpy, I’d put him in the carrier, boob him to sleep, whip him around onto my back, and I’d just carry on having my good night. And so, we never… we never had to say no to [10:00] doing things, to being places, to being part of the community. I could go to Kanga all the time. I could go to La Leche all the time. I… I would see with so many of my friends who were from antenatal and, you know, those classes you do together, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. That’s nap time.’ ‘Oh, I can’t come to that. That’s bedtime.’ And we had this freedom that it didn’t matter what time it was, I had a boob and a baby carrier, and we could just go to anything. You know? I took Ziggy to funerals and… and I’d just discretely hold him and shimmy my carrier down and feed him when he got a little bit grumpy. There’s a beautiful picture of… of AJ at the pub with Ziggy fast asleep on his back, and like there’s some rugby game happening so it’s noisy because it’s a pub in New Zealand and rugby. And this kid’s just sleeping through all of it. You know? We just… we could get out from the house, and we could continue doing things as a couple that fill our cups a little bit, and go out for dinner, and go and see our friends, and go to whatever it was we needed to go to. Because he was a flexible sleeper. He…

Carly:
It’s funny.

Emily:
He… Yeah, he...

Carly:
There’s positives to it. There’s positives. Absolutely. I think that’s pretty fabulous. And so, at what stage do you think sleep got, like would you say a bit more independent for Zig?

Emily:
Ooh. I’m… not at 12 months old. I remember hitting 12 months and expecting it to be this magical, like a light, a switch would flip and all of a sudden, he’d sleep for longer and all the rest of it, and if anything the reverse happened.

Read more about Sleep and Development

Carly:
I agree. I think 12 months is one of the most intense ages, with all three of my babies. I was so… I don’t know if it’s ‘cause you kind of had it in your head, and so it hits you pretty hard when it’s actually, ‘Woah, they’re still intense at this age.’ Yeah, no. Mine were definitely not 12 months either.

Emily:
It was… it was ridiculous. I don’t even remember when he got better, because when he was two, we had Jagger, and so at… at two years old you’re adding another baby to the mix. They’re only… their birthdays are three days apart. They have the same due date, our two boys.

Carly:
Far out. You guys timed that nicely.

Emily:
It’s just that we have annual loving. It’s, you know.

Carly:
Yeah, clearly. Clearly.

Emily:
When it’s required.

Carly:
You’ve got that one on the calendar well in advance.

Emily:
We actually think it was AJ’s work do.

Carly:
Nice. That makes sense.

Emily:
And so, of course, when you’re pregnant and you’re… you’re breastfeeding and you’re bed sharing, there’s a lot… there’s a whole new sort of wave of questions and doubts and worries that come with that. You know, you’ve got it all sorted with your one, and then you’re pregnant, and can you still breastfeed? And can you still babywear? And we just kept rolling with Zig the whole way through the night. I went into labour with Jagger, I fed Ziggy to sleep. Because it was just part of our… our… our life. The first night I was in labour, because Jagger was a little bit longer, Ziggy was on AJ’s back in a… in a baby carrier, and we had… we had Jag’s at home. And so, he was just part of it. He was there. He was in his happy place, which is on his dad in his carrier. I lay down. I fed him to sleep. And then transition hit and I don’t know what Ziggy did because I was busy giving birth. And then… and then Jags turned up.

Carly:
Fair enough.

Emily:
And so, we started the process all over again in a way. He was… he was magical, Jagger James. I put him down on a sheepskin rug on the lounge floor, and he went to sleep.

Carly:
Did you take a photo of that?

Emily:
I put a little Facebook post.

Carly:
And then just in case it is like the one and only time in his entire life as well, you’ve got to document the hell out of that.

Emily:
I tried to put him into a baby carrier, and he fought me.

Carly:
Oh no. And you’re like, what is this?

Emily:
I just got this sh*t sorted, kiddo. I know how to do this.

Carly:
And he came along to tell you that, no, actually mum, you might think you got it sorted. You got it sorted with Ziggy. Now you’ve got to [15:00] figure it out with me.

Emily:
Yeah. Now you’ve got a Jagger.

Carly:
Yeah.

Emily:
And… and I say no to the carrier, and I will not fall asleep on your boob. And he was just a whole… a whole new challenge. He really was. It was, everything, all the tools that we had learnt for Ziggy didn’t work for Jagger except the knowledge that it would pass.

Carly:
That applies, you know, in general. Doesn’t it?

Emily:
It was… it was going straight back to trying to figure out a child again. And being like, oh, we’ve got this. We’ve got like 30 baby carriers on the wardrobe. What are we even worried about? And then no. No, that was not working for this new baby. We actually found out with Jagger that he – and it took a while to come to this realisation – he needed his tonsils, adenoids removed, and grommets put in. So, there were some serious things that were going on that we didn’t know about and weren’t really aware of. We… went through our kids, once we got…

Carly:
Was this when he was…

Emily:
… we got the tongue-tie sorted. I was having a hell of a time breastfeeding him. I had… all through pregnancy I had breast pain in my left breast. They… they gave me an ultrasound. They… they expressed them, sent samples away. They found a lump. They sent me to a breast specialist. It was… it all amounted to nothing. It’s still to this day we don’t know what… what happened. But I had to stop feeding from one side. So, Jagger was fed exclusively from one breast for two and a half, three years. And so we… there was a lot sort of going on with him, and we thought that getting the tongue-tie snipped might help. But we didn’t realise that actually there was the breathing issues. He was a really sweaty baby, so he’d feed and feed and feed and he’d work up a hell of a sweat, and he’d soak the bed, the sheets. And we didn’t realise that that was a sort of like a… a sign that there was something wrong…

Carly:
Yeah.

Emily:
…with all of his breathing.

Carly:
So, this is right from when he was a brand new baby? Or was this a little bit further on?

Emily:
Probably from about eight months.

Carly:
Yeah.

Emily:
The… we started really seeing… yeah, the sweating. Mainly just the sweating, and then he’d sleep. He’d fall asleep, and then he’d sort of life ‘ceugh’, gasp awake. And that would startle… that would startle him awake again.

Carly:
Did he snore or have any of those other kind of things? Or it was like he was quite a quiet sleeper, but he’d get that big gasp going on?

Emily:
Yeah. He’d have the… he’d have the big gasp and the sweating. And then…

Carly:
So, who did you see about that?

Emily:
We went and saw an ENT specialist in Hamilton. And I remember the… I remember the appointment, because I knew something wasn’t right. You know? And we’ve gone through a non-sleeper with Ziggy, and we’d come out the other side like… he’d had challenges along the way, but they were more to do with the comfort he was needing, the nourishment he was needing, the fact he needed to sleep with us. But nothing was… none of that was really working with Jagger. And so, I knew it was more than just pushing through. I had this feeling that something else was going on with him. And it can be really hard as a mum being believed when there’s something else going on. You know? Oh, he doesn’t sleep. Babies don’t sleep. But actually there was sh*t happening. And I went to the ENT specialist. AJ was at work. I had Ziggy with me as well. And we got in to see her, and she just got him to open his mouth, took one quick look down his throat, and went, ‘Ooh yeah. We need surgery. We’ll get you in next week.’ It was…

Concerned your baby's sleep might not be normal?

Carly:
Next week. Hooley dooley. They must have been so worried.

Emily:
I… I cried. I was trying to…

Carly:
Yeah, I bet you did. That would have been such a shock.

Emily:
I was trying to listen to her and listen to what she was saying, while also trying to stop my toddler from smooshing his lunch into her carpet, [20:00] and she was telling me about like…

Carly:
Toddlers and appointments. They’re so helpful. Got to say, how much easier is an appointment without a toddler. Just quietly.

Emily:
Oh my god. Everything is easier.

Carly:
That’s pretty much it

Emily:
Yep, and… and…

Carly:
So, you’re trying to listen and take it in.

Emily:
And… and I was, you know, like you’re told your… your kid’s going in for surgery. It’s pretty… it’s a lot to… to take in. And so, he went… he went and had the full… the full works. Well, it wasn’t in… it was tonsils and grommets, and she said when we’re in there we’ll know whether his adenoids need to come out or not. And apparently when they were in there they… they did. And that… that changed everything immediately.

Carly:
Wow. So, how old was he?

Emily:
He was two.

Carly:
Okay.

Emily:
Two, two and a half.

Carly:
So, you’d started…

Emily:
I don’t know.

Carly:
So, you’d started noticing symptoms at about eight months.

Emily:
Eight months, yeah.

Carly:
And you get to see the specialist at about two.

Emily:
Yeah. Yeah. And I kicked myself that we didn’t look into it any further, but it was just… it was night sweats and bad breathing, and…

Carly:
Yeah.

Emily:
It wasn’t until he got a bit older that we wondered whether there was issues with his ear and his balance. Hello, my friend. We’re talking about you. Come here. There’s Carly.

Carly:
Hello gorgeous, how are you? Hi.

Emily:
You’re just coming for my pineapple, eh?

Carly:
Oh, mum’s got food. Better raid it.

Emily:
It must have got worse. It must have got worse to the point where we were like something else is going on, because he… he was actually a lot of an easier baby than Ziggy was with his naps and with his sleeps. But he used to… oh, that’s what it was. He started getting like rages. Like, real hardcore rage, and… hello, my friend. And he’d throw himself on the ground and just cry and scream and hit. And I don’t know how that ties in with ENT, but that and the sweating and the breathing was what we went to the specialist with and said this is what’s happening. And she said, yeah, something doesn’t sound right. Let’s have a look.

Carly:
When they came out you… you noticed a difference straight away?

Emily:
Yeah, straight away. Like, he… he just slept calmer. He was a calmer sleeper. He still woke up, but he wasn’t waking up and being really angry and crying and… and he could wake up and then be back to sleep and settle back down. So, it was two really different experiences with both kids, because Zig’s… Zig’s tonsils and grommets and that are fine. Because the specialist… because they were both there at the thing, and she said, ‘Well, I’m going to check his brother too, just to make sure that there’s nothing going on.’ And he’s sweet as. His tonsils are intact, his breathing passages are clear. I can’t breathe through my nose. I’m a mouth breather. And I didn’t realise how uncommon that was because I’ve had this all my life. And I didn’t realise that that could be something to watch out for among people. I’m just talking mate.

Jagger:
How can you smell?

Emily:
Not very well, baby Jay. Not very well.

Jagger:
I’m a nose breather.

Emily:
You are a nose breather now. Yes, you are.

Ziggy:
I’m both of the breathers.

Carly:
That’s so cute. He knows how he breathes. Funny baby. Don’t worry fellows, we’ll finish with mummy very soon. You’re being very patient.

Emily:
And so, yeah, now… now we are… we’re in such a good space. I mean they’re a lot older, so they are three and…

Ziggy:
Five.

Emily:
Five. Three and five. Thanks, Zig. He’s six. He’s six soon. And they have… they have their own rooms. We read them books to go to sleep at night. They wake up sometimes and come into bed with us, or they wake up and go and make themselves breakfast. And nothing… nothing we’ve done caused bad effects. Yeah. I remember Ziggy’s transition to his own room was really gradual, and he would make a nest in the hallway. So, he’d [25:00] had his own room, and he knew it was his own room, but he only used it for playing in, and then he would make these little nests in the hallway with all his blankets and pillows, and he’d curl up and go to sleep in his nest while AJ and I were out in the lounge. That was just his slow, gradual transition into his own bedroom. And we… we tried to… we tried to give them a room together, because we moved house recently. We’ve moved from Hamilton to the Far North. And when we first came up here, we gave them a shared room so I could have an office. But it didn’t work out too well, so now they have their own space. Ziggy… Ziggy, we do a book with Ziggy, and then we just leave him. We leave him to his own devices. He does… he plays with Lego, and then he gets in his own bed, goes to sleep.

Carly:
Just like that. But hang on a sec. Weren’t you meant to, like if you started feeding him to sleep and patting his bottom and rock him and pat him, weren’t you going to be doing that forever?

Emily:
Mate, we ruined him.

Carly:
I shouldn’t be so catty. But seriously.

Emily:
We ruined him. The kid puts himself to bed.

Carly:
My gosh.

Emily:
And… and Jagger, Jagger’s actually been quite… quite a breeze. With Jags you just lie there next to him, you read one book, and then you put the book down and he rolls over, gives you a cuddle, and then rolls over the other way and shuts his eyes. His… like, who are these children? Who are these children? So, right now as a… as a bloody light to aspire toward, or to let you know that there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel, they are three and five, and by 7:30 every evening my partner and I have our time back. And that was time that we didn’t get when they were younger. You know? We… we just had to say goodbye to that couple time evenings together when they were babies, and we mourned it, and we wished we had it. And… and we kind of looked at each other and said will we ever be able to sit on the couch together and watch a movie ever again? We’re there now. We’re watching Game of Thrones for the fifth time. We’re up to Season 6 for the third time. We do bedtime. They go to sleep. We have glorious hours together in the evening as a couple. And I think there’s that saying, right, that the nights are long, but the years are short. And it sounds kind of like trite and something that you say. But it’s so true, because if you were to look at like your kids lives as this ruler, that hardcore, crazy, intense bit, it’s only a centimetre on that ruler. And if you can give… if you can give them what they need, and if you can hold on through that intense time, the rest of their life is huge. And you get that… you get that freedom back. You get that couple time back. But it’s not like we didn’t have couple time. When Jagger… when I was pregnant with Jagger, his belly name was couchy. Because, you know, if you’re a bed sharing parent you just make it work.

Carly:
Of course you do. It’s a…

Emily:
We have a new couch now, so if you want to visit me it’s okay.

Carly:
Just in case… just in case anyone listening along is one of Em’s mates, you can sit on the couch these days. Too funny. No, I think that’s really important for our listeners to hear, especially if you’re in the thick of it all, because it does, it feels like this never-ending time warp of what on earth have we done? But it really is, in the grand scheme of it all, such a short period of time in the end. And as intense, and as rough as it really is when you’re in it – because it can be brutal – it, yeah, it really does help to have that knowledge that whatever you’re doing right now really is just for now. It’s not always going to be like it. And we can guarantee that. It’s just not going to be. So, I’m doing… looking at our time and we’re nearly done. I was just wondering, do you have one more tip you’d like to give our listeners, Em? Just to finish off this fabulous episode of yours?

Emily:
Ah, the one… the episode where the kids busted in.

Carly:
I love it. We love the crash.

Emily:
I… I want to just say to any parents out there who are feeling guilty or feeling worried that they’re so tired that they’re not enjoying the moment, you know? You’re told to be in the moment, be present, be whatever. [30:00] Just take the photos. Take the photos, my friends. Because now I look back at those years that were hard, and I look at the photos of baby Ziggy and baby Jagger, and I have nothing in my heart but overwhelming love for these little people. And so, I… and I felt a bit of the guilt that at that time I wasn’t like soaking them in and enjoying every moment because it was hard, and it was intense. But it’s okay. It’s okay if you’re in survival mode, or if you’re not even liking them very much some days. That’s okay. Take the photos, and then when they come up on your Facebook memories in two or three years’ time you’re going to look back at that time and all you’re going to have in your heart are the good, happy, lovey, oxytocin vibes.

Carly:
I would 100% agree with that. I love looking back on photos of my babies. And even some of them, they will take me back to the time, and I will remember that that was some of the most intense, rough patches. But I get that really strong feeling of I am so glad I could be there for that little person, that it’s also a source of pride for me now. Like, I feel good knowing that through those tough times we made it out together. It’s actually…

Emily:
Yeah, look at the amazing mum who didn’t know what she was doing, but did what she needed to do. Like, wow.

Carly:
Yep. It gives you a different view of yourself and  your little family unit. It’s quite something to make it out the other side together. So, thank you so much for coming along, Em. I’ve absolutely loved hearing your story and your journey. And it’s been a massive one to go from somebody who knew pretty much nothing about babies and kids through to someone who found her feet. And I love that you always had the courage to stand up for you and your babe and call bullsh*t when needed. When… straight up too. I love that. And yeah, I’m hoping our listeners really take a lot from hearing your story. So, thanks for coming along, Em. I will be dropping all of Em’s links, if you’d like to find her on socials, into our show notes. Be sure to check her out. And thank you so much again, Em, for coming along.

Emily:
Oh, you’re so welcome. You’re so welcome. Thank you for having me.

Carly:
Thanks Em. Bye.

Carly:
I really hope you enjoyed the podcast today the information we discussed was just that information only it is not specific advice if you take any action following something you've heard from our show today it is important to make sure you get professional advice about your unique situation before you proceed whether that advice is legal, financial, accounting, medical or any other advice. Please reach out to me if you do have any questions or if there's a topic you'd really like us to be covering and if you know somebody who'd really benefit from listening to our podcast please be sure to pass our name along also check out our free peer support group the beyond sleep training project and our wonderful website www.littlesparklers.org. If you'd like even more from the show you can join us as a patron on Patreon and you can find a link for that in our show notes if listening is not really your jam we also make sure we put full episode transcripts on our little sparklers website for you to also enjoy and fully captioned YouTube videos as well on our Little Sparklers channel so thanks again for listening today we really enjoy bringing this podcast to you.

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