In the beginning…there was a blank page and a clueless Mom.

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So here it is… a blank page, a ‘never-done-it-before’ blogger and a very new Mom – frightening stuff!! For you or for me? Well – for both of us!!!

My name is Aimee. And I recently became a Mom to a gorgeous, magical little boy – Fynn William. Fynn is 9 weeks and 4 days old today. This means that I have been his Mom for 9 weeks and 4 days. A fledgling mom at best:) Fynn and I live in Jozi, SA with the husband and dad (Graham) and our two hairy muppets (Buddy and Gabs).

So. What’s this blog about and how does it differ from all of the 1000s out there in the blogosphere? Let’s all agree that there is no shortage of mommy blogs out there people!!

Well, this is my story of being a new Mom (a VERY scary title (queue horror movie background music… OK – maybe that’s a slight exaggeration:)) as any mom, dad or adult yet or maybe even never to be mom or dad will surely agree) and grappling with being the best Mom I can be (while still learning to be a Mom in the first place!)! Hmmmm – isn’t that the topic of most mommy blogs?….

Well, earlier on today I was admiring the work of my clever Fynn who managed to fill his nappy (which every mom will tell you no-one else’s child  has ever before managed to successfully do before:)) and worrying for the umpteenth time about that same nappy lying on a landfill for generations to come. And, being a sustainability and energy consultant ie. someone who does profess to care about the sustainability of our world and our behaviour – I have not yet got my head around what these things which I do care about means for the day-to-day practicalities and happenings of being a mom. This, when your absolute focus is always giving your child the very best you can in sometimes very trying circumstances (who wants to worry about the biodegradability of a nappy rash cream at 3am in the morning, or about washing eco-friendly nappies when you’ve had to change at least 4 in the space of 10 minutes!!!?)

So – this is it. My story of trying to understand the impacts of my behaviour as a Mom on the place in which Fynn is to live his long and happy life. And from which – as a friend of mine wrote, there is no readily available exit should things go horribly wrong.  It is the story of the ups and downs of a completely besotted Mom who is also sleep deprived and slightly paranoid about Fynn and him having only the best I can give! It is the story of how a mom reconciles these concerns with her work as a sustainability and energy consultant, and a masters student in Sustainability Leadership at Cambridge. And it is a story of being such a mom in a developing country while being privileged enough to call herself middle class.

I think this story is going to be interesting!… And I hope it’s one that will resonate with you. Comments and tips are welcome!!!

Yours in being a mom,

Aimee

 

11 thoughts on “In the beginning…there was a blank page and a clueless Mom.

  1. Di Girdwood

    Well done Aims! What a novel way of tackling the combination of Momhood and Mastershood. Unfortunately I don’t have any idea on how one starts to evaluate and deal with the impact of nappies et al on the environment, other than to suggest trying to get a feel of world stats and SA stats. Good luck. Maybe you should visit the SFB dump (without Fynn) – it will give you a fright. Happy day. Di xx

    • Yikes! Thank you Di – neither do I! That’s why I’ve chosen it as my sustainability challenge. The SFB dump might not be a bad – eye opening – place to start!!!!xxx

  2. Aimee!

    What a wonderful blog! We are tackling similar sustainability challenges from different perspectives: you from the mommy perspective and me from the single twenty something perspective. Is it possible to be a modern, working, sustainable mom, and not feel like you are sacrificing your “normalcy”? I so look forward to going on this journey with you! I am interested to see what journeys you choose to go on with this blog… I could see a post about baby food and how you are choosing to feed your sweet boy. Have you thought about making your own baby food?

    I am also certain you have put some serious thought into how to raise a sustainable human. Teaching Fynn about sustainability- how will you do this? Strictly by example, or will you make it a point to actively teach him certain values and issues surrounding sustainability? Oh the things to discuss! Looking forward to it!

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment Caitlin!

      How to be ‘normal’ (or as normal as I can be:)) while effectively becoming a ‘sustainable human’ is, as you say, the key question. During my time at Cambridge and in the days after, I felt so inspired to be open to considering sustainability and the many ways in which the challenges manifest itself – both in my life, and in the world of my clients. Coming back to South Africa and becoming a Mom, it is all to easy to slip back into old habits, living moment-to-moment where sustainability becomes something theoretical – an interesting concept and challenge. This is especially so when you are in the ‘first 3 months after having a baby’ survival mode!

      But there is nothing like actually having a baby to bring home the fact that our sustainability challenges are all to real. What world do I want to help create for Fynn? And so – I am so excited that you are looking forward to coming along on this journey with me – to all your comments and ideas! We can keep each other on the straight and narrow!

      Happy happy 2014 to you!!!
      A

  3. Great idea for a blog Aimee. I don’t have any children but have often wondered what I would do about the nappy situation and its easy to say “oh yeah I would definitely use cloth nappies” as my mother did and her mother did etc etc and how hard can i be – ha (yeah right!).. However – there is no way of knowing and everyone tells me that there is no way I will end up actually doing that when it comes down to it as its just way too time consuming and disgusting!

    So I am still hoping that by the time I have any babies (not any time soon!!) someone will have invented a plant based, biodegradable, eco friendly, hemp, or some other such miracle product which will do the trick, and not stay in landfill for years to come!

    You have inspired me to do some googling (it must be true if its on google right???) and found some stats:

    Every child wearing disposable nappies will contribute 1-2 tonnes of waste to landfill over their lifetime(1). Each year 800 million disposable nappies are dumped in landfill in Australia, comprising an estimated 5% of landfill content. Disposable nappies are thought to take around 500 years to break down. Even using so-called “biodegradable” nappies, landfill does not currently provide the right composting conditions for them to break down properly. Rotting disposable nappies in landfill pollute the groundwater with human waste and product high quanitites of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming. Washing cloth nappies at home sends all the human waste into the sewage system where it can be properly processed. – http://www.greennappy.com.au/webcontent9.htm

    It is also argued though that reusable cloth nappies also have an impact on the environment through the increased water and electricity used in washing them etc: http://www.kimberly-clark.com.au/en/sustainability/products/waste-management/nappies/

    Having a look at some sites, it seems there are a few options which might be interesting for you. This one talks about a reusable diaper cleaning service where you can get them cleaned by someone else! It also has some options of biodegradable nappies too but they look expensive!

    http://www.treehugger.com/culture/eco-tip-nappies-and-diapers.html

    Great topic and I will be interested in hearing how you get on so I can learn from you for the future! 🙂

    • Lorna! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment! I am so excited to have you taking this journey with me and so appreciate the links!

      One thing I now know for sure is that nappy changing forms a (very) large part of a moms daily duties! And so, the use of disposable nappies and burgeoning landfills have been top of mind when first considering what sustainability challenges a regular, modern-day mom faces. Having just changed a very colourful nappy, I can also attest to why moms are so fond of nappies of the disposable variety!

      Fynn has just hit the 3 month mark, and needs, on average, about 10 nappy changes a day (much fewer changes than he needed as a newborn!). I use a well-known brand of disposable nappies (Pampers Premium) available internationally and recommended to me by friends and Fynn’s nurse.

      To tell you the truth, I have done no more than think about sustainability when selecting Pampers as my nappy of choice. Convenience aside (and I don’t say that lightly – convenience is a MASSIVE consideration, especially in the first 3 crazy months of a baby’s life!), the protection and comfort that I believe the nappy provides are, together with cost, my biggest concern. Knowing that Fynn is happy and comfortable, that he remains so while sleeping, and that he is not at risk of a red bum are what’s most important. The fact that this particular brand of nappies was recommended to me has also been a major determining factor in my choice. In fact it has been so strong that I have chosen to use Pampers over another brand of well-known nappies for which I can get quite a substantial discount.

      So, what does Pampers say about environmental sustainability? Nothing is mentioned on the nappy packaging. The South African Pampers website (www.pampers.co.za) provides information on its products and discussion forums on issues relevant to pregnant and new moms (feeding and nutrition, development, health, safety, hygiene etc) but nothing on environmental sustainability as far as I can see.

      The Pampers brand is owned by Procter & Gamble, an international, New York stock exchange listed company (http://www.pg.com/en_ZA/brands/products/pampers.shtml). P&G’s long-term environmental sustainability vision includes powering plants with “100% renewable energy”, working towards “using 100% renewable or recycled material for all products and packaging” and “having zero consumer and manufacturing waste go to landfills” (http://www.pg.com/en_ZA/sustainability/overview.shtml). P&G list as specific goals that they aim to achieve by 2020 – the replacement of 25% of petroleum based products with sustainably sourced renewable materials and 20% packaging reduction (each against a 2010 baseline). Insofar as consumer waste is concerned, the goals speak of launching pilot projects in both the developed and developing world aimed at understanding how to eliminate dumped consumer waste.

      How is P&G fairing in respect of these goals insofar as Pampers in concerned? That will be the subject of my next blog…

      Thanks so much for reading!
      A

  4. Aimee,

    A wonderful blog, which brings back wonderful memories for me. My first experience with parenthood was with two little boys at once (unless you count my little West Highland Terrier Jimi born 2 years earlier with whom I slept on the kitchen floor for the first two weeks). Aidan and Anthony were born six minutes apart, having taken my wife Reena to term (37 weeks to the day for twins). Aidan was 4 lbs 5.5 oz. and Anthony was 6 lbs 1.5 oz, and the first five days of their lives were spent in the hospital waiting for Aidan to start on a growing trend (I didn’t know that newborns first lose weight when they are born before starting to grow). He was too small to suckle properly so I finger-fed him (had him suck on my pinkie and syringed milk into his mouth) in the nursery, while Reena had Anthony with her in the room. We would then do the switch so that Aidan would have Mommy time as well.

    If you can imagine, the first three months were characterized by 45-minute revolving nappy changes and feeds, 24-7, and I can completely relate to the need for convenience when one is sleep deprived (and in my case, when you’ve forgotten which of your bundles of joy you fed and which one you changed). As it was, they wouldn’t sleep, except when lying beside each other in the same crib. We considered cloth diapers as well, then abandoned the idea before ever trying, because our experience in the hospital made us think it would be impossible. We ended up buying diapers in bulk – literally cartons of them – and had three “diaper stations” in the house. Reading the facts Lorna lays out above, believe me, if there is indeed a reckoning for contributions to landfill, the sustainability gods are likely to come for me first.

    The irony is that it is as a result of having children that I look at the world in a different light. Indeed, it is a huge part of the reason I chose to re-enter formal learning in a programme to learn about leading efforts toward sustainability. I admire that you are already consulting to organisations on sustainability. I suspect that being a parent will make you an even better consultant. I commend you in both.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for all your kind words Pravin!

      I can’t imagine those 45 minute revolving feeds – I had 2 hourly and thought that was hard work!
      Given all your experience as a Dad and our shared vision on sustainability I would so appreciate your comments and feedback as we go on this journey together!

      A

  5. Tanja Maric

    Dear Aimee

    Congratulations to you and Graham firstly on your lovely Finn.
    Truly a most gorgeous miracle. This nappy thing really is quite a challenge. If only one could put all the “poep” in a container and bottle the methane for re-use as gas, to maybe operate some or other equipment in ones house, like a fridge or something, And similarly with the actual Nappy- Wouldn’t it be great to dispose it in a “worm Farm” concept where it could convert in to some usable mulch. Maybe one could pose it as a challenge to the engineering honors students to develop something like this? Who knows, maybe this topic becomes a worthy masters project, as it’s most certainly quite a project to master? Just love the fact that you are actually even thinking about this and your concern as it affects all of us, even if we don’t have children. We all co-exist on this Planet of which there is only the one and if everyone was as considerate as you, our one planet living would most probably run a whole lot smoother. Thank you for starting this blog. Only if someone puts it out there, can a shared awareness grow and hopefully flourish in to finding new great solutions.
    All the very best and look forward to hearing more.

    • Thank you so much Tanja for reading and for commenting!!I will get better at responding faster!

      Fynn is indeed the most beautiful child!! And – as you say, it would be great if we could separate all of the waste and make something useful of it! What would be even better is I had a number of ‘magical’ shoots (like the rubbish shoots you see sometimes in the movies in old-fashioned apartments). Magical in the sense that you could just drop the “poep”, nappy etc into the right shoot (which would all be conveniently located at your changing station). Then – at the bottom of the shoot would be some sort of container that would contain exactly the right ingredients (bacteria_ – like a worm farm (as you say) – to decompose or turn the waste into something useful!

      What I’ve started doing is using wipes that claim to be biodegradable (I still need to look properly into the efficacy of this claim) – and so at least separating these and the cotton wool from the dirty nappies! I’m still using Pampers which, by virtue of it being owned by Procter & Gamble, have committed to achieving by 2020 – the replacement of 25% of petroleum based products with sustainably sourced renewable materials and 20% packaging reduction (each against a 2010 baseline). Procter & Gamble have also committed to launching pilot projects in both the developed and developing world aimed at understanding how to eliminate dumped consumer waste. And dirty nappies must surely form a large part of these!!! Not a solution yet I know – but this did make me feel slightly better when I picked up some more nappies from Baby City this week!

  6. Vanessa Steyn

    Hi Aims
    I have no idea how Blogs work and this is the first one that I am adding some thought to, so hope I am doing it in the right spot!!!
    With Brody being exactly a month older than Fynn, I am right with you in the amount of waste that these little people generate in the form of dirty nappies as well as formula containers. When breastfeeding, I realised how much money I had saved in those first few months. Maybe something else to look into could be re-using/recycling bottles, toys, formula tins, purity jars, dummies etc, as well as the practices being used by the farmers making all the baby cereals. I have already decided to also only use organic food for Brody, which was not as readily available when I had Connor 11 years ago!
    Keep the words flowing and I will continue to read and add.

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