Saturday 18 August 2012

CBN Interview - Lisa Poole, Seamstress, Crafter and Mama to Dylan

This week's interview is with the lovely Lisa Poole, mama, seamstress and crafter. Lisa talks to us about her experiences of being a first time Mama, of being diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis after her son was born, and about her new business, Stitcheroo, which sells handmade imaginative play toys and clothes for children.

Tell us about yourself..

Lisa: I'm 24, first time mummy to my beautiful baby boy Dylan and fiance to Craig. I live in Thirsk, North Yorkshire and until my maternity leave finished I was a cobbler and seamstress for a well know high street shoe repairer's.

Tell us about Dylan
LisaDylan is almost 11 months old now, and a little monkey. People always comment on how happy he is. Sitting in the supermarket trolley he will call out to people to get their attention so that he can smile at them. Most people love it and so we end up with a trail of followers around the shop. 80 year old women follow us down the baby food isle looking at formula, just so they can keep chatting to Dylan - which is ok until you have to go down the condom isle! Whilst so happy and playful he is also a little rebel, always testing his boundaries. He recently started walking which means I am constantly on his heels keeping him from stairs, roads and he is particularly interested in dog poo. I love that he is so inquisitive but it's difficult to allow him the amount of freedom I want him to have and try to keep him safe at the same time.

What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a first time mother?
Lisa: I remember the first three months of his life thinking I will never be able to do anything ever again. I will be confined to the sofa with my breastfeeding pillow attached to my torso for the rest of my life. Those first three months were the hardest three months of my life but also the happiest. Dylan had really bad Colic that seemed to never end. We would find ourselves with a screaming baby from early evening until 1 or 2 in the morning. The usual result was a late night car drive just to settle him off. Thankfully Craig took three weeks off as paternity leave so we were able to tackle the late nights together as a team. We also co-slept from the beginning which helped massively. Co-sleeping is something I was adamant I would never do but I guess like everything else with parenting, you can change your stance on things pretty quickly if it means getting a bit of sleep. Now we are trying to get Dylan to sleep all night in his room, but he still ends up in our bed at some point in the early hours. Neither of us really mind though, infact we now miss him when we go to bed and he isn't there.
Colic and sleep problems weren't the only issues we faced during that time. When Dylan was 2 months old I suffered a postnatal Deep Vein Thrombosis. I was taken into hospital without Dylan and admitted. That was the hardest night of my life, and I would have traded anything to be back at home with him. Instead I was sitting on the geriatric ward with a commode and a medical alert button. For the next two weeks I was unable to walk, and to get to the bathroom I had to either be carried or crawl. Unable to even pick Dylan up I had to get my mum to come stay and help as Craig had to go back to work. I remember the guilt I felt not being able to care for Dylan properly and having to rely on other people to fetch and carry for me. Being confined to bed while I should have been out pushing a pram, showing off my new baby. Good thing it was December and freezing. I often think, what if I had been a single mum, what if I didn't have craig? I honestly don’t know how I would have coped.
Tell us about Craig
Lisa: Craig and I met nearly 7 years ago. I was placed in University Halls with his sister and the more I got to know her, the more time I spent at their house and the more I got speaking to her shy, nervous little brother (not that little -18!). We started going out and moved in together when I finished Uni.
I knew from day one that Craig would be an amazing father. He is so caring and considerate that there was no question in my mind that he was the one I wanted to have my children with. We both have similar ideas when it comes to our parenting style. We allow Dylan to express himself however he wants to. We try not to restrict his activities just to those that are quiet or tidy. If he wants to bang on something like a drum, we let him as we feel he is simply expressing himself. We take quite a lot of our principles from the Montessori school of thought, and try our hardest to remember that Dylan isn't just a baby, he is a human being with likes, dislikes and a personality that has to be nurtured.
How has parenting changed your relationship with your partner?
Lisa: In terms of our relationship, I think it has brought us closer together. We sometimes lie in bed with Dylan in between us and just stare and smile at what we have created. Before having Dylan we would spend our days off together at the cinema, shopping or going out for dinner. Don't get me wrong, I would love to do those things now, but with Dylan we have more fun doing outdoor activities together. We take him for woodland walks, feed the ducks or take him to wide open spaces and just let him run. We come home, exhausted, ecstatic and full of love for our little boy and each other.

You've been crafting for a long time. Tell us about your new business, Stitcheroo, what you sell, and how you manage to incorporate making into your busy days.
Lisa: When my maternity leave was coming to an end, we started to look at the possibility of me going back to work. With no family around and each nursery prospectus being solely about monetary gain and not the interests of the child, we decided it was not conducive to our parenting to have someone else look after Dylan. I therefore decided to set up a business from home and become a self employed seamstress. I now run Stiticheroo. I repair and alter colthes, make children's imaginative play toys like capes, play silks, hand kites, play mats and more. Slowly but surely I am adding to my Etsy page - Stitcherooonline - and business is already going really well. I am constantly thinking of new ideas and love getting requests from people for custom made items as it sends my creativity into overdrive.
I find the best way of incorporating my work into my busy days, is by using the times of day wisely. For instance, when Dylan wakes up, he likes to play with his toys in the living room. This gives me time to work a little on the computer before he gets restless or we need to go out. From then on I usually don't do much during the day, preferring to spend the time with Dylan. However when Craig gets home, he takes over getting Dylan bathed and ready for bed. Once Dylan is asleep I set up my workshop. We have very little room in our house so at night our front room is transformed into a sewing room, much to Craig's annoyance as he has to watch the TV over the racket of my machines.
What are your aspirations in terms of how you'd like your business to grow - where you would ideally like to be in two years time?
Lisa: For now although business is going well, it's still not totally off the cards that I may have to return to work. We get married in February and without a guaranteed second income it is going to be tight. But hopefully if business keeps going this way I would be able to stay at home with Dylan (and hopefully more babies) indefinitely. Although I enjoy the seamstress work (it's what I'm trained to do) I am enjoying making imaginative toys so much. I love creating something bright and colourful that kids just get so much enjoyment out of. I hope to develop my range of toys further and sell them at craft fairs and events later this year.
In the future I hope to sell to independent toyshops. I am currently in talks at the moment with one that is interested in stocking some of my products in their next season stock. It just shows that if you want something hard enough there will be a way to make it happen. For me I want desperately to stay at home and raise my son myself, so one way or another I will make it happen.

As a Mama who breastfeeds, what has been the best and most challenging thing about breasfeeding?
Lisa: The most challenging thing I found with breastfeeding is knowing what's right. I spent the first few weeks thinking that Dylan was getting more than enough milk and that breastfeeding him for longer would be wrong as he would get too much. In reality, I now know that it is perfectly normal for some babies to feed for hours and hours at a time. I had many problems breastfeeding especially while I was ill so we combination fed for a while. I think the worst thing about that for me was the guilt. I felt immensely guilty that I couldn't feed my child the way I wanted to. I think that's because I was so anti-bottle from the beginning. If I had my time again I would have been easier on myself about using bottles because at the end of the day Dylan was being fed and that's what was important.

What is the worst parenting moment you’ve experienced? 
Lisa: The worst parenting moment I've experienced was one night when I was waiting to see if Dylan would settle back into sleepy mode in his cot. He had woken up late evening. I looked at our video monitor and he was standing up in his cot babbling away. He seemed happy so I left him for a minute, hoping he would sit back down and settle back off to sleep (yeah right!) however when I glanced back 10 seconds later he was trying to reach over his cot side and I just saw his legs flip over his head. I screamed and raced up the stairs so fast that I was almost in his room when we heard the thud. I stupidly picked him up to cuddle him. I was in a complete state, shaking and crying my eyes out, whereas Dylan was relatively calm and completely unhurt. He had a cry for a few minutes and then just seemed to find it interesting that I was crying. Needless to say we moved the cot level down immediately.
What springs to mind when you think of one of your favourite moments since becoming a parent? 
Lisa: I think my favourite moment since becoming a parent was when I recieved my first kiss from Dylan. Obviously he was used to me kissing him till the cows came home but when he turned around and pulled himself up to plant a huge slobbery kiss on my lips I got a bit teary. It felt a bit like conformation that he loves me just as much as I love him. Now I get loads of kisses and cuddles and there is no better feeling.

What are the best and worst pieces of parenting advice you’ve been told by others?
Lisa: Best advice - Just go with what baby wants.  Worst advice - Your baby won't sleep on his own unless he learns to self soothe through controlled crying. 
What piece of advice would you give to a new parent?
Lisa: I would say stay in bed and lounge about as long as you can. Don't feel guilty about not doing anything. Just veg in bed with you newborn. Because now I don't get to sleep in past 7.30 and when I get to bed I'm too knackered to just relax and watch a movie. So make the most of it when your baby is tiny.

What have found most surprising on your parenting journey?
Lisa: I think the thing I have found most surprising is how much I love Dylan. I knew I would love him. From the moment the line showed up on the test. But I didn't quite realise the strength of that connection and how amazing it feels to have someone that you love unconditionally, no matter what.
 Please come and say hi to Lisa at her Etsy shop, Stitcherooonline or Facebook page.

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