I’ve added a few entries now so I thought it was about time I said a little bit about how I got to where I am today. This is a bit of a long one, so hang on in there!
When I was 18 I went to Brazil for three months in my GAP year. I went with a project that worked with the street children of Belo Horizonte. At the same time, we completed a course teaching us why children ended up on the streets, their difficulties, and ways in which support was provided. The project accommodated three houses for street children; a 24-hour shelter, a farm (where between 10-15 boys lived) and a girls house. The farm and the girls house were both run by two different couples and so they each had the feel of one big family. At the end of the three months a graduation was scheduled for us to receive our certificates for completing the project.
From a young age, I have loved dancing. I used to do ballet, tap and jazz but was never good enough to get anywhere. Amazingly, this didn’t stop my love for it. Whilst in Brazil I decided I wanted to teach the girls at the girls house a dance to perform at the graduation ceremony. I chose the song ‘Joyful Joyful’ (from Sister Act 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaEH1e_DLm0 ) and over the weeks, through broken Portuguese, taught the girls a slightly simplified version of the dance. I remember to this day the faces of those girls, rescued from the streets, as they stood up and performed in front of a crowd of a few hundred. It was magical and still brings me goosebumps. Movement is powerful and requires little else than a willing body.
After my degree in English and Drama, I decided I was going to become a teacher (why?!) and ended up teaching for only four years. I pretty much hated it! My heart went out to the children on ‘the red table’ (i.e. the lowest ability) but being in Year 2 I was driven by targets and SATS results and so had to focus on the average and above average and leave the red table to learn to add single digits and write their names basically by themselves. For my final two years of teaching I had the great privilege of teaching a nurture group which consisted of 6-8 boys in Year 2 but with the academic ability of pre-school children. The head teacher at this school allowed me the freedom to forget SATS results and get these children interested in learning. This was one of the most rewarding things I have done. To hear one of the little boys say ‘Are we doing writing today?’ and following my affirmative reply, his response of ‘yessssssss’ was a joy to witness. Allowing them to learn creatively, and again with plenty of movement (as these boys couldn’t sit still for long) brought them the ability to access learning and find pleasure in their achievements. Whilst in this school, the head teacher asked me if I’d ever heard of Play Therapy. I had not. So, I took it upon myself to read Dibs by Virginia Axline, which introduced me to the amazing concept of Play Therapy. Following this I completed my Certificate level with PTUK.
Unfortunately, the funding to support a nurture class did not last more than two years and it was at this point that my husband, Dafydd, and I decided to move to Cardiff. I continued with my studies and completed the Diploma in Play Therapy the following year. I then worked for a charity called Place2Be for almost six years. Place2Be is a school based counselling charity based in deprived areas across the UK. I learnt a huge amount and was in a wonderful school and it was during this time that I had my beautiful daughter, Poppi.
This was one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences ever. The build up to her birth was mixed and I had days thinking I can’t wait to meet this little baby, but days when I thought, how am I ever going to do x, y, and z, when I have a tiny baby? Staying fit has always been extremely important to me and I find it a huge de-stresser too. I managed to keep running until I was 32 weeks pregnant but then got quite severe SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction). This meant I could barely walk, let alone run. I managed to keep swimming (arms only) and I was still able to cycle to work but the pain caused by walking, lifting and sleeping was pretty intense. Therefore, although totally unexpected, I was quite glad that Poppi arrived a month early.
In the last few weeks running up to her due date I was having multiple hospital appointments. Due to a heart murmur that I have had since a baby I was closely monitored and had to have an extra ECG and echo. After my ECG I had an appointment with the consultant who was concerned that I might need to opt for a planned epidural. This shook me as my heart murmur has never been an issue and I was worried that maybe it was getting worse or that child birth was absolutely horrendous. I felt that I was quite fit (I had done several triathlons) so my heart was used to being worked hard. However, I thought I’d better follow the doctor’s advice so agreed to the epidural. The following week I had an echo and this doctor couldn’t understand what the problem was. It turned out that there had been a misreading in my ECG and actually, I was fine to go ahead with a natural birth. I was so relieved.
So, there it was, 3am on June 23rd and my waters broke. No bag was packed (that had been my plan for Wednesday night that week (and it was only Monday)). Dafydd and I hurriedly chucked some things together and headed to the hospital. We had called ahead and due to being consultant lead they said I ought to come in and be checked over. As Daf parked up I felt my first pain – not really a contraction, just a bit of a tummy ache. The midwives wanted to give me antibiotics and send me home, but Poppi had other ideas. I went for the first examination and they were unable to actually examine me as Poppi was on her way. I was already 1.5cm dilated (this was at about 5am). The contractions were beginning to pick up by now and I was moved to delivery suite. I was given some paracetamol and offered gas and air, which I tried but it made me sick. The midwives were about to look at the next offer of pain relief but saw that I was now 9cm and it was almost time to start pushing. The consultant told the midwives that I ought to only push for an hour but after an hour and 10 Poppi was so close I just kept going. So, by 10.30am and an episiotomy later little 5lb Poppi was in my arms. Flip.
Life as I knew it was about to take a drastic change. People often talk about waiting for the ‘right time’ to have a baby and I agree with that to a certain extent but nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming sense of love that a mother feels to this little bundle but also the crazy and demanding time sleep deprivation brings with it. I have never been so tired in my life! Due to Poppi being four weeks early we were in hospital for 10 days. This had its ups and downs but actually coming home after getting used to having midwives on call 24/7 was perhaps even more daunting than it could have been. However, from day 1 at home I was determined to get out of the house with Poppi every day. Even if it was just for an aimless 20 minute stroll to get absolutely nothing from Lidl.
I was lucky in that Poppi was born just before the school summer holidays so Daf was around quite a bit. However, I’ll never forget the first day he went back to work. She didn’t stop crying for most of the day. It’s incredible how sensitive they are.
Anyhoo, I’ve gotten a bit side tracked but of course all of this is part of the person I am today and the beliefs I have formed in the challenge of being a mummy. Although getting out of the house can be a hassle, especially in the winter or rain, I would 100% say it’s worth every stress. Not only does my mood improve, but Poppi’s does too. In the 9 months I was off on maternity leave I reckon I must have walked over 1000km. I’d take her out every day and walk around one of the local parks. Whatever the weather. It was my sanity.
When Poppi was 12 weeks old I found Tough Motherz. What an amazing way to get out, exercise, meet other mummies similarly minded and have no pressure to perform or have your baby perform. Everybody was in the same boat and the exercise was just an added (but very valued) bonus.
On returning to work I found I wasn’t enjoying my job anymore. My perspective in life had changed and I felt I wanted to be more available to help mothers as well as their children. Don’t get me wrong, Play Therapy is great and I love it and I now work as a play therapist two days a week, but having experienced having a child and understanding how challenging it is I really wanted to find a way of reaching mummies that struggle and particularly struggle with getting out of the house. So, I decided to train as a Personal Trainer and focus on ante and post-natal exercise. I hope to be able to get alongside other mummies that share my love for the outdoors and keeping fit, but also those that would appreciate a helping hand to find that joy. And from that, bumpino was born.