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SUMMARY- Join Carly and Leah De Shay-Evans as they discuss how cultural privilege, modelling and expectations influence our experience of parenting. Leah then shares her thoughts on trauma and attachment, breastfeeding/chestfeeding, and the pressure we feel when beginning our parenting journey, as well as how she's come through that to find her own balance.

You can find Leah by following her work on, the Fam Doulala on Facebook and Instagram 

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:
Okay, and welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. Today’s guest is a wonderful lady called Leah De Shay-Evans. I have come across Leah’s work online and she is an extremely knowledgeable, courageous, and intelligent commentator in the online space. She’s the mother of four and a reproductive specialist. Another part of her work is also being an IBCLC and a family doula, although that’s a much smaller portion of the work that she does these days. And Leah has a background in psychology, speech pathology, reproductive sociology, and behavioural epidemiology. Leah is deeply passionate about maternal and infant mental health, and particularly in high risk circumstances. She’s interested in public health prevention and reproductive risk reduction. Leah is from the USA but currently living with her family in Germany, I believe while you’re studying, Leah. Is that right?

Leah:
Yeah. That’s correct. I am in my… my second attempt at grad school. And ironically, it’s going much better this time, which nobody could have possibly predicted under the circumstances and we’re accepting it. We’re just going with it.

Carly:
Well done you, because yeah, it’s not… not an easy time to be trying to fit in study around all the other things you do in a global pandemic. So, well done, you.

Leah:
Right.

Carly:
Pretty impressive stuff. And before we get stuck into the episode, can you let people know where they might find you on socials if they’d like to learn more about the things that you’re up to?

Leah:
You know, I am… right now I’m doing so much background work, like content editing for brands and large advocacy pages, I do a lot of… a lot of administrative management in the background for certain spaces as well. So, I don’t know… I don’t have a space that’s associated with my name and face necessarily. But the one that it’s easiest to get a hold of with me is called Fam Doulala. And please don’t… it actually… that name was a joke. It was my husband razzing me actually. We thought it was kind of cute and pretty catchy. But it’s sort of a twist on family doula, and so I have a family doula page that I manage called Fam Doulala, and we talk about all of the intersections of every social… every major social developmental and oppressive part of systems that interact to either create progress for families – you know, in… in everything from honouring developmental respect in children, to equitable partnering – and then on the flipside of that all of the things that are still being perpetuated on all of those intersections that are enabling the presence of… of prejudice and any sort of oppression and abuse, or what have you. So, it’s an interesting page because I’ve not come across a page that really is collectively looking at those intersections on a regular basis. You know, most of them are concentrating on just one specific part of the challenge of partnering or conceiving or pregnancy or, you know, whatever stage of reproduction people are in, and of family construction that people are in. And so, this is not necessarily looking at individual nuances between families, so much as it is looking at, like, the collective influence on different parts of society on families, either for progress or as a challenge, and what we can do about it. So, that’s the best place to find me.

Carly:
That’s awesome. And so that’s like a sociological kind of lens going over the top of…

Leah:
It is. That’s exactly what it is. Yeah.

Carly:
Brilliant. That sounds absolutely amazing, and I’m already following the Family Doulala, so I’m really looking to… forward to seeing what comes of it over the next while as well.

Leah:
Well, everyone should know that there’s a warning. Any time you put up anything about racism or sexism – like, literally anything - lately all of… all of the pages I know who have done that explicitly, like talked about, you know, this is a problem with racism, or this is a problem with sexism, or this is a problem with prejudice, or this is a problem with child abuse, have gotten content warnings, which is totally a conversation for a completely different podcast.

Carly:
Mm.

Leah:
So, it’s good for people to know. And like, they disabled my ability to boost. So, like I can’t pay to promote the page right now unless I take off any content that’s like talking about racism at all.

Carly:
I tell you, like there is a whole other podcast…

Leah:
Yep.

Carly:
… talking about community standards, because it’s… the things that we…

Leah:
It’s ridiculous.

Carly:
Absolutely. And so inconsistent.

Leah:
Yes.

Carly:
Like, I’m sorry, if you’re going to have community standards you need to have people monitoring them, not bots, for a start.

Leah:
Right.

Carly:
And then there’s the whole other conversation about what those standards actually are anyway.

Leah:
Correct.

Carly:
Holy moly. Yeah. That’s just…

Leah:
So, just so people know.

Carly:
Yep. Yeah, yeah. And it’s worthwhile knowing because it’s that kind of thing too. It’s kind of like, why aren’t we seeing more conversations in that space?

Leah:
Correct. And it’s because they’re getting hidden by the algorithms intentionally. So…

Carly:
Literally.

Leah:
I’m telling everybody that so that you can seek it out. And I know you, on your page, that you have dealt with content that has been buried as well. Like, I don’t know anybody in these spaces who has not attempted to get into like progressive advocacy on any level – breastfeeding, you know, sleep training, all of those things – all of a sudden, it’s just the post just disappears, and nobody can see it. So, letting people know…

Carly:
Yep, where it’ll start gaining a little bit of traction…

Leah:
Right.

Carly:
… and then all of a sudden, nothing.

Leah:
It evaporates. That’s right.

Carly:
How can you… it’s just like, yeah, uh. Oh, the algorithm found it. Cool. Thanks yeah.

Leah:
Mm hm.

Carly:
It’s painful.

Leah:
So, definitely look for me intentionally was the only reason I wanted to like… look for me intentionally, talk about the page intentionally. Like, send it to people intentionally, because it’s not going to… it’s not going to be found otherwise. Like, not if it’s left up to Facebook or Instagram’s devices.

Carly:
Yep. That’s… and it’s fair. I think people need to understand that too, because the organic growth and the organic spread of things can’t be relied upon when it comes to algorithms.

Leah:
No.

Carly:
They just… you just can’t. So, if you know that it’s important content then you need to do your part in actually making sure that it reaches more people…

Leah:
Right.

Carly:
… by spreading it yourself. That’s how it works.

Leah:
That’s right.

Carly:
So, no, that’s great. Thank you for letting us know that. And then I think we really should dive into the actual episode, because what our listeners are looking forward to hearing is about how you’ve approached your family and the way you’ve… sorry. The way you’ve approached sleep with your family.

Leah:
Yeah.

Carly:
And how that’s looked in a world where it’s moved beyond the sleep training norms that have come to be expected for families when they’re raising their little ones.

Leah:
You know, it’s an excellent question, and I think I’m confident that a lot of my zeal for what I do in my work will become apparent through my background. So, I would… I would say, I’m going to introduce a couple of terms here, and if people are interested in talking about, like, introduction of new terms, I’m a big fan of like naming things. I feel like when you give a description to something you have the power to… to influence it for good. So, we… I think especially as primary parents, those of us who have any sort of fem orientation, this is also really important for us. There’s a lot of dynamics that we deal with as people who birth and people who breastfeed that there is so much taboo around them that you couldn’t really talk about them, much less name them and really give them their own space to be their own dynamic that’s discussed. So, I hope it’s okay, I’ll introduce a couple of terms here. I actually, in analysing my own background, I would say that I had a level of cultural privilege. And cultural privilege for me is a term that I… I introduce a lot of terms in the Fam Doulala page, and cultural privilege is when you come from a culture whose defaults already decentralise abusive dynamics that are otherwise present in like default Western society. You know what I mean? So, a lot of people who are still in touch with more indigenous backgrounds, or who come from a counterculture sort of upbringing, frequently have cultural privilege in the sense that it has affected their mindset in a way that they are already pre-emptively, they already notice the things about the society that they’re in that are damaging to them, and they have the wherewithal and the propensity to fight against them. The other type of cultural privilege is… is a completely different… well, I call that cultural entitlement, and so I differentiate between the two. Cultural entitlement is when you’re part of a default culture, you know, that is basically bulldozing all of the cultures around it for the sake of its own indulgence, you know, and power. And so, privilege in this sense does not mean… it’s a… privilege is such a fascinating word right now because it’s like taking on a mind of its own in our culture. Like, every day I get in social media, and I see it being used in a new way where’s like, is this really intentional? You know? And that’s also for a different podcast. For me privilege is privilege. It literally just means something that you do not… something you did not innately work for that you, you know, it doesn’t come from merit, but that you have… it’s been bestowed upon you, and it gives you an advantage of some sort. And so, for me, my cultural privilege is coming from a background where breastfeeding was normalised in my culture, co-sleeping was normalised. I co-slept with my parents. You know? I was breastfed for almost two years, and that was in the eighties, which was extremely unusual in the United States, right?

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Carly:
Yeah. The US context, even more so. Wow.

Leah:
Yes. So, I was delivered by a midwife who was like the midwife that delivered all the siblings in my family. So, I… I grew up with a norm that is… that people are not trying to push to become the norm, if that makes sense, and my parents were very, very counterculture, you know, 35-40 years ago. So, with that in mind, that I pretty much few up in a – and my whole family was like that – and so that’s why I say I have cultural privilege. Like when… it was very, very normal. All of my memories of seeing babies fed before the age of one involved them being fed at the breast during my childhood. And I had a huge family, so it’s not a small statement. Like, I had only two siblings, I have two brothers. But I had 22 cousins, so… and we spent a lot of time together. Like, every family had three to four kids, and yeah, I just… breastfeeding was very normal for me. Watching babies breastfeed to sleep was normal for me. You know? My first introduction to babysitting was being a 12, 13-year-old girl, and my mum and, you know, her sister wanting to go out and grab something to eat or whatever, and asking did I want to stay because it was nap time. You know, this is the nineties for people who are like ‘what?’. Listen 20, 25 years ago that was normal.

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Carly:
I can confirm. I’m also an eighties baby, so yep, with you there.

Leah:
Yeah. You know what I mean.

Carly:
I do.

Leah:
So, the latchkey kid thing, it was a thing. And you know what? I was fine at the time. And things have changed substantially, and that’s okay, and we’re okay with that. You know, I’m a big fan of taking people relative to their context that they grew up in. So, at the time, in the mid-nineties, as a teenager – mid to late nineties – that was normal. Yeah, but I… and I didn’t really ask any questions because I just repeated what had been modelled for me. We didn’t have a lot of crying. We didn’t have a lot of tantrums. When we did, unless it was really, extraordinary defiance or destruction where, you know, a child was trying to harm other children or themselves, or really trying to break everything all over the house, which almost never happened, when kids were peevish for any reason, they either got like a pat on the head or like, ‘Okay, you’re having a time right now’. Then they’re like, just like… especially like if it was like, ‘No, you cannot climb up on the stove’, and then the kid's like having a temper tantrum. And my parents or my aunts would just like remove them from the area they were in to have a temper tantrum in the living room so that they weren’t in the way. And eventually the child was like, oh. 

Carly:
Yeah.

Leah:
Well, nobody is… nobody’s attending this.

Carly:
Giving them the stage, low-key.

Leah:
Yeah, exactly.

Carly:
Yes, it was low-key.

Leah:
But also like, if they wanted somebody, if it was like a thing where they wanted attention, it was they’re like, well, the only attention you’re getting right now is to keep you safe, because I’m still cooking, and you still can’t climb on the stove. So, you let me know do you want to come back in the kitchen, and how if you want to cry I’m not going to stop you, but I’m going to keep making spaghetti. Like, it was just very nonchalant.

Carly:
Matter of fact.

Leah:
Yes.

Carly:
Yeah, matter of fact.

Leah:
It was very nonchalant, very matter of fact. There wasn’t a lot of heightened emotion on the adult side. Right? So, I really do feel like in all of those senses I had a lot of cultural privilege, and so when I started babysitting, and then nannying in high school, my defaults were based on what had been modelled for me. And at the time I… I made a lot of money as a nanny in high school in the summers. I lived in a Mormon area, so not too… there were lots of children for me to babysit, we’ll just put it that way, like, living in a Mormon town.

Carly:
No shortage of little people.

Leah:
No shortage of kids that parents wanted to get some space away from at that moment. So, I was already familiar with managing large families from my own, and then as a teenager it just wasn’t a thing. But I got a reputation even as a young lady for like being capable and not being stressed out by those circumstances. But that’s because stress had not been modelled for me, and I leave space for that to, you know what I mean? Like, people… we don’t give enough stock for our defaults coming from our experiences. And as an adult now, the amount of times I have reached out to my parents and my aunts and my grandparents in gratitude, and that’s something they don’t really understand either, because they… they’re also, they were also operating on their defaults. So, so much of this was just passed down that when I tell them thank you, they’re like, okay. For what?

Carly:
Thank you for what? Like just for…

Leah:
Yeah, exactly. For what?

Carly:
… just for doing what we do? Yeah.

Leah:
Exactly. I mean, you know, they’re humbled. They’re humbled by it, but they’re also like confused. Like, I can always hear them being like moderately confounded. But that’s because we… my family, up until this generation, until my generation with my cousins and everything else, we lived like in the same areas and we socialised, you know, mainly with each other and with close family friends. And so, there was a significant amount of like cultural isolation. So, I think my parents and my grandparents and, like, the older generations who are now 60 and above, they don’t know what it’s like for a lot of… they don’t know the amount of stress that is involved in matrescence, in becoming a mother, for so many women and people who identify that way. They don’t know… they don’t understand the statistics about how the dynamics change in really negative ways for a lot of partnerships and a lot of marriages after they have children because people are unprepared. And I don’t say that in a way that – it’s not their fault they’re unprepared, but our society does not do a good job of like giving people accurate expectations, helping people understand children’s behaviour, and for a lot of adults there are so many things that they’ve never been given the opportunity or the support to unpack in their own childhood, you know, the concupiscence of all of that bearing down on them once they have kids is just incredibly overwhelming. So, as I came into my field, it was a lot of me lining up, like why is my experience with my mental health and everything, why is my default, why are my assumptions so different than what’s going on in society right now? And that was… that happened in my early twenties, so 15-ish years ago. I’m dating myself now.

Carly:
I’m with you. Don’t worry about that. I’m pretty sure we’re about the same age. So, yeah, right there with you.

Leah:
Yes. So, and that’s where I… I just became fascinated with all of this because I started getting really, really into the effects of trauma. You know? The effects of attachment, or lack thereof, which are things that, as a child, you do not have control over. Right? And so, you’re always… you’re always on the receiving end of whatever the outcome of attachment is going to be. Not to blame parents. You know, everybody’s got their own issues. But the fact of the matter is the… those who are the most vulnerable in family circumstances are children at the time that they are children. Right? They have the least amount of control over what happens in their lives as kids, and also over how it’s going to affect them when they’re older. The only control they have as they age is coping. So, yeah, that’s… that pretty much, even from a teenager I was fascinated in this. I wanted to be an OBGYN initially in high school, and then I got into pre-med in early college and I did not like medicine culture. I love medicine, the practice, but the culture in the Unites States is so toxic, which has, you know, come forth in the news recently. I think most people understand that globally. It’s really abusive. Like, residents will go two, three days without sleeping or eating a proper amount of meals, and it’s just like once you look at how doctors are treated when they come into the field you can understand all of the terrible statistics about our healthcare and our healthcare systems, because if you’re hazing the providers to get into the field, like, I don’t know what sort of outcome you expect once they start treating patients. I’m not laughing because it’s funny, but like…

Carly:
No.

Leah:
… it’s just absurd. It’s absurd.

Carly:
But that’s… it is absurd. Like, it’s kind of like what outcome do they think they’re going to get from that?

Leah:
Correct.

Carly:
Like wow.

Leah:
What are you expecting? Yeah. What effect would you like after treating your doctors like this for five to ten years, because that’s how long a lot of them are in residency, especially if they’re specialists.

Carly:
And it’s a mighty fine example too. Like, you see how then the senior doctors start treating the juniors…

Leah:
Correct.

Carly:
… because that’s how it’s always been done. And it’s that real, ugh, toxic cycle.

Leah:
Yeah.

Carly:
You can see it.

Leah:
Yep. And then it gets passed down to the patients and it’s just been perpetuated that way. There is… there is change happening, but it’s been like this… and that’s definitely for a different conversation. But the vestiges of the current medical system are… are an outpouring of… of how medicine was practiced during slavery. And really, most of the ghosts of the United States that are really afflicting the population right now are basically from the genocide of the native population and slavery, and like just the refusal of the people in power to confront that and try to amend it. And so, it’s just haunting the country collectively on levels that I don’t think anybody in our generation would have ever imagined. But it’s good that people know now, because like that gives you the ability to change it. But yeah, when I was pre-med, I started like interning in the hospital. I wanted to be… I wanted to be an obstetrician, I wanted to be a higher specialist, and I didn’t. After like one summer of interning. I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ And it wasn’t because I didn’t love the patients, but I was just like, well, I can’t do this if this is what’s expected of me in this field. You know? And so, between those two experiences, like my own very isolated, nurtured default of basically what was attachment parenting, right? Like, before it had a name. I experienced that on a familial level. And then trying to get into medicine and being like, ‘Oh my goodness. This is terrible.’ Like, the field itself. That really put me in a place of wanting to directly be able to impact patients, and like started to do case management and doing high-risk research. I started all of that in my early twenties in obstetrics. Fell in love with breastfeeding because breastfeeding to me is a bridge. It’s a bridge between neurology, immunology, you know, physiology, and… and it’s a direct connection to like the things that you cannot quantify necessarily. So, I find… I find breasts to be this fascinating portal between some of the most complex medical things about the body, and also the most intangible forces in relationships among human beings. You know? So, it’s just like two things, one that’s really statistical and really technical and really medical in the sense of like how breasts work. It’s fascinating on a physical level and we… the more we study it is the more we realise we have no, we don’t understand. It’s so complex and it’s a process that no one on the planet can replicate. The idea that you eat food and then the nutrients go into your blood system, and then this is all happening simultaneously also. Like, it’s not like a 1, 2, 3-step process. It’s… it’s a multi-level process that’s happening every second. And then you have this organ on your body that when you look at a child and feel like, ‘Oh!’ Like, connected feelings, which are how are we supposed to describe feelings? We try. We know what, like what hormones are associated. But still, when you feel a feeling… That’s like, feelings aren’t medical at all. A huge, amazing biophysical process happens where your body pulls the nutrients back out of your bloodstream, makes them into milk, and then like shoots them out of your organ into a kid. It’s truly… there’s never been a point in time that I try to explain how mammary glands work that I don’t get fascinated with the body all over again, because it’s truly the bridge, you know? It’s just miraculous. It really is.

Carly:
It really is, and you can also see then why when breastfeeding doesn’t work out, why it has such a profound impact on people and their experiences.

Leah:
Absolutely. It’s extraordinarily traumatic, and the trauma lasts a lifetime. You know, if you… if you look at any sort of documentaries where you have women who are, you know, well on in their winter years and, you know, have grandkids that are independent, you ask them about their breastfeeding experiences, even more than birth - you can ask them about their birth, and they might be at a place where they laugh and everything else, but you ask them about their breastfeeding, and if it was bad they will go to a place of sorrow all over again. And I think it’s… it really is a testimony to what a profoundly complex process it is. So, once I got introduced to that, and I got introduce to that doing an HIV research study in South Africa on breastfeeding, truly just… I love complex things, obviously.

Carly:
Yes. Literally.

Leah:
So, I fell in love with…

Carly:
Amazing.

Leah:
I fell in love with breastfeeding, like with everything about it, with the process, with the effect. And then the more I researched it, I was like, wow, you can actually like start to project the mental health of populations based on like the rate of breastfeeding? And like, you can collectively look at a population and… and possibly be able to guess how healthy the attachments are across the families, like based on their breastfeeding and sleep and birth experiences. This is amazing. Right? And sometimes it’s terrible. Like, amazing can be many things. Amazing can be good. Amazing can be really bad. So, I use that word on purpose.

Carly:
Yeah. It’s just the fact you can actually see the patterns.

Leah:
Absolutely. So, from that point on, for the last 15 years, I’ve just been totally enthralled with everything about the topic. And this happened right before I got pregnant with my first child.

Carly:
Wow.

Leah:
So, she’ll be ten. And that brings me to the next part of the journey.

Carly:
And I was just about to say, and we’re coming up to our half hour shortly, so I feel like it might be a good spot, if you’re happy to stick around…

Leah:
Yeah.

Carly:
… so we can actually hear about you and your babes, because that was a fascinating intro into how you actually came to be before you’d even had your babes.

Leah:
Yeah.

Carly:
That… are you okay if we finish up this episode and then we can carry on with another one?

Leah:
Absolutely.

Carly:
Would that be okay? Awesome.

Leah:
Yeah, we can do that.

Carly:
Well, usually at the end of the episodes I ask a guest if they’ve got a tip that they’d like to share with people listening along. Did you have one you’d like to share today?

Leah:
Yeah. I mean I… I would say – and I’m going to be really specific, so I hope that’s okay here – as I consider myself a feminist, and I’m sure you know that about me, most people who know me do, as someone with a fem identity, and I am… I am in a place that I am like coming to terms with my own gender fluidity, also a different conversation, but I still… because… it is because of my birthing and breastfeeding experiences that I still identify with being fem. I really only identify with the biological side of my femininity. I do not have… socially I do not consider myself, I consider myself extremely androgynous from a social standpoint of gender. But for those who, you know, biological, birthing and breastfeeding and all of that as part of our identity, I really emphasise allowing yourself to… allowing yourself to be completed by following your dreams and your passions. And that might seem like a really weird suggestion on a podcast like this, but it’s relevant because…

Carly:
Yep.

Leah:
… the more we suppress our own needs, and our own interests is the less capable we are of maintaining health in our relationships, because… because we are struggling with our relationship with ourselves. Right? So, a guiding post for me, and we’ll get to this in the next episode, I am divorced and remarried, and being able to come to terms with not being ashamed of my own desires and my own passions – and I am not necessarily talking about sex – I mean sex is important and, you know, it’s something to talk about, but just in general, on an identity level, the things that drive me, the things that I want to do, like don’t limit yourself because… because the world limits you. I was in a place before I had kids that I thought that I had to choose between being a researcher, being a provider and being a mother, because unfortunately one of the not so empowering sides of my upbringing – and I think for a lot of us who do have like quote-unquote healthy family defaults, you know, where you don’t shame baby sleeping patterns and all of this – it is often bridled with the assumption of like, that is quote-unquote the biological purpose of being female. So, I struggled significantly with that, between the ages of 20 and 30. So, really just in the last five to seven years have I come to terms with separating my self-worth and really liberating my own capacity to affect the world outside of my family by allowing myself to… to validate my own dreams.

Carly:
Do you feel like that was part of your matrescence?

Leah:
Absolutely. I was just about to say that.

Carly:
That was definitely one of the things for me too. It’s like, I had to go through this like… like, actually my psychologist like referred to it like going through a winter season while I was really in the thick of my matrescence. And everything did seem to fall away, but literally everything fell away. And it took me like, you know, there was… there was a period of time where I did lots of questioning. Who am I? What do I want? What do I, you know, where do I fit in?

Leah:
And you know it happens to almost everyone. It’s just…

Carly:
Yeah.

Leah:
What… what the outcome is is what is the concern, right? And that’s what affects our maternal health and our capacity to… to stay connected to our own identity and feel some sort of self-worth, and it is a huge struggle for so many women. It really is.

Carly:
And I think… I don’t know about you too, but I needed time.

Leah:
Yes.

Carly:
Because I think there’s a lot of pressure. You know, if you’ve just, you know, you’re… you’re like in the early stages of your matrescence, it can feel like, why haven’t I got this figured out yet? Like, why haven’t I got… you know. But sometimes it really is time. Like, you…

Leah:
Yeah.

Carly:
You do feel lost for a while. It takes time. So, yeah, was that your experience also?

Leah:
Absolutely. Yeah. That was… that was why I was saying I struggled with it for an entire ten years. And like…

Carly:
Yeah.

Leah:
I’ve just come to the point… I’ve just found a pathway towards peace and fulfilment that is invigorating and that has any sort of hope of balance being involved in the last five to seven years. And honestly, I don’t know if that’s encouraging. Like, that’s a long time to look at a mother and tell her, ‘Well, it took me 15 years.’ Like, there’s a lot of 21-year-old women that are like, excuse me?

Carly:
Yeah, well, they could. But the thing is too, is I guess it’s reassuring in a way too that you don’t have to have it all figured out in a short period of time.

Leah:
That’s true. Yeah.

Carly:
Because it’s that growth. It’s the… it’s the… you’re… you’re constantly evolving. So, just because you haven’t got it figured out yet, it’s not like that forever. You will, and you are important in that process. So, it’s that recognition.

Leah:
Absolutely.

Carly:
You can take time. It’s okay. I think that’s a really important message really.

Leah:
I… I agree with you. And so, hopefully it’s not depressing for folks who were like… and I… you know, it depends. Personalities are all different. And also, if you’re uncomfortable the… the pressure and the urgency to escape the discomfort in the change process can be very high. So, I know especially with a lot of young mothers that are like very young, early twenties or what have you, hearing that it might take a long time is perhaps not exactly the message that they want to hear.

Carly:
Yeah.

Leah:
But the good news is it wasn’t… none of it was static, like you were saying. It was, all of that time, was movement. All of that time was… was progress of some sort. It was reconciling. So, there were things happening that were moving me towards peace and fulfilment. It wasn’t as if I stayed in the place of like, you know, despair or fog for ten years. That is not necessarily what happened. And so, I think that that is a wonderful way to describe it. But yeah, that would be my takeaway point. Like, I hear a lot of people that are like, ‘Wow, you’re so passionate about what you want to do, you make me want to do it.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I appreciate that, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.’ Like, you… you need to find your thing that when you describe it to other people that they get inspired by listening to how much you love it. And so, that’s my tip. Like, as… just dive into your complexity - as a woman, as a mother, anybody who finds themselves in a feminine orientation - and give yourself space to grow. Right? Like you, before you have kids, just like being pregnant. And it’s uncomfortable, like the growth process, emotionally, after the fact, it’s uncomfortable. Like, when you start out you’ve never had kids. Even though you have a uterus you haven’t like done anything specific with it, which is fine. And then all of the sudden it’s this rapid growth and it’s all of these demands on your body and all of these other things. And then even when the baby’s out nothing is the same. We have to give our self space mentally to also expand and to not be completely alarmed by the discomfort that comes with that growth. Right? And this is not… don’t ignore if you have mental health symptoms.

Carly:
Oh no.

Leah:
That’s not what I’m suggesting. But, you know, like being frustrated is okay. Right?

Carly:
Absolutely.

Leah:
Like, don’t suppress that. Being…

Carly:
Absolutely.

Leah:
Right. Being dissatisfied is okay. And I feel like me saying those things are really important. There are so many women who I have sat in personal sessions in counselling that have just cried tears of relief when I look at them and it’s like, ‘It’s okay for you to be frustrated.’ Like…

Carly:
Absolutely. You are human, you know?

Leah:
Because they’ve never had permission. Right.

Carly:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Leah:
But also, you’re… you’re never, you’re not going to be able to show your children the compassion and the growth and the acceptance that you desire to for their emotions until you practice that with…  with yourself. Right? And so, we can have other conversations about this concept of re-parenting yourself or whatever. But even if you’ve come from a fairly low trauma background, it’s still going to be an enormous stretch to… to grow into… to grow this additional part of your mind where you are mothering people and still allow space for you to continue to grow as an individual. And so, my tip is to just, to let yourself, give yourself room. Like, it’s okay.

Carly:
I love that.

Leah:
And allow yourself to feel all of your emotions, and make sure that whatever decisions you make about sleep and about parenting, you know, parenting styles and your career versus staying home, make sure that you are always getting in touch with yourself. Right? Because it’s when you… when you can become confident about your… what you do want and what you don’t want and your needs or your own questions, it becomes so much easier to navigate the relationships outside of yourself when you’re making peace inside of yourself. So, that is my… that’s my tip.

Carly:
I love that. And that is a really wise way to finish this episode. So, thank you so much for coming on today, Leah.

Leah:
Definitely.

Carly:
It has been an absolute pleasure hearing your background, and I can’t wait for our next episode where we get to hear what happened when you welcomed your babes into the world. So, thanks again for coming along today, Leah.

Leah:
Thank you.

Carly Grubb:

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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