Welcome to 'A Montessori Home'.
With so many of our friends and family living in far-off lands, I hope that this blog might help our loved-ones get to know our gorgeous Finlay as he grows up. I also hope that these posts may provide inspiration, provoke thought and conversation about creating beautiful Montessori environments for infants and toddlers at home. I'm always happy to hear your comments, thoughts and suggestions. Feel free to pop in now and then to see what we're up to!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Small miracles

I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen.

Every book I've read on Montessori for 0-3 year olds proclaims the floor bed is an aid to the child's developing independence and promotes freedom of movement. Well, yes, I believe all that but how do you actually get them to sleep?? In our case, since Finlay was able to slither out of bed by himself (at about 6 months), he has been unable to go to sleep without breast-feeding. Why would you go to sleep when you could get out of bed and look at books, practice standing up, open and close the wardrobe, pull all of the clothes out of the wardrobe etc.? Though I questioned myself endlessly, I continued to feed him to sleep because I couldn't stand to listen to him crying when he had tired himself to exhaustion.

A few times Brent came out of Fin's room sighing, 'We're getting a cot.' Other days I considered trying a dummy. Neither of those items entered the house, purely because of my sheer determination (craziness?) to follow Montessori principles to the letter, but we definitely thought about it. Where had my faith gone?

As a Montessori teacher, I'm used to having faith in the 'child who is not yet there'. Even the most destructive child has the potential for goodness. The most timid child has the potential for bravery. But would my own little boy ever learn to go to sleep on his own, or was I destined to feed him to sleep forever?

Then yesterday, after I had left him in bed not-quite-asleep, something strange happened. I heard him moving around as usual, pulling things off his shelves, rattling his door, babbling to himself, complaining a little, then.... silence. After a little while I peeped in and he was asleep on his bed! The same thing happened this evening. We've turned the corner.

I don't expect this to be the last time he ever needs my assistance to get to sleep but at least now we know this new reality is possible. My faith is back.

Meanwhile, my days are still being spent arranging and re-arranging the furniture to come up with the best layout for our 0-3 environment. I think I'll be doing this for the next few weeks!
Happily, we now have enough space for Brent and I to practice our morning yoga, much to Fin's delight:

And a final goodbye from my new favorite spot....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Our first crop of strawberries for the season! I think they like the view because they have absolutely thrived since we moved to the new house.

I'm feeling much like those strawberries. The weeks we spent painting and moving into the house were utterly exhausting and stressful, but somehow I feel better now than I have all year. It must be true that nature revives the soul because when I wake up each morning and look out of our kitchen window at this magnificent view I feel filled up with happiness. The house itself has been another source of joy. Lovely, open spaces and tons of sunlight - what more could I ask for? It truly is the house I had dreamed of.

I've been visualising this house for a long time. Planning the layout, imagining how I would set up the space for my daycare business - every detail has been conjured up in daydreams and lists. I didn't realise how much weight all these details had accumulated on my shoulders. Now that I finally have the outlet to make it all reality I feel as light as a feather, and ridiculously happy.

I could go on and on about the new house and how incredible it has been to watch Fin explore our new space, but I'll have to save that for another day. For now, a pictorial celebration of nature, food and our nine-month-old Finlay....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Welcome to our new home

Welcome! Do come in...

With so little time to write (I've hardly packed a thing!), I'll let the pictures do the talking for this post. Painting is taking much longer than we expected and we're hoping it'll all be finished before moving the furniture on Friday... fingers crossed!

Let me take you on the tour:

Our lounge and dining areas, ready for their transformations...

Finlay, already busy exploring the deck area...

Hard at work...

And a fond farewell from Finlay in his favorite place in the world. This is our front window at the 'old' house. He spends so much time standing here, looking out at the world and watching the cars and people go by. I like to think of it as 'Fin's window'.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A little inspiration...

And it begins!

Driving to our new house on Friday to officially receive our keys, we wondered, 'Will it be as lovely as we remember from the inspection??'. I was a little bit scared that the rooms I remembered to be large and airy would in fact be tiny and ugly... Happily, it was even better than we expected. What joy!

We took this house on the condition that we could paint the living spaces since the walls are looking quite dull and patchy. I also wanted to make sure that this space will be as healthy as possible for the little people in our care (and us), so repainting with BioPaints was no.1 on my list of things to do. Yesterday we prepped the walls and today we'll go in to finish the job.

I'll post our first photos tonight.

Meanwhile, I was freshly inspired by this video this morning, and thought I'd share it. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I have sat down a number of times in the past few weeks to write this post, but never seem to get past the first few words before being distracted and putting it off for another day... I'm determined that today will be the day.

The reason for my absence? House hunting. Yes, it's finally time for us to pack up and move to that 'dream home' I have been longing for... space, sunlight, garden - this one has it all, plus chickens! We searched long and hard for this one and I'm so pleased to have finally signed the lease so we don't have to hunt any longer. We're getting the keys tomorrow and will spend a week painting and gardening before moving in next week. Exciting times!

Another exciting announcement is that along with this new home will come my new business - I'll be setting up a home-based Montessori daycare for 1-3 year olds. This is something I've been planning for a very long time and I'm so happy it is finally coming to fruition. It feels so good to have my brain working overtime, imagining, planning and determining every detail of the environment I'm about to create. I look forward to sharing the journey here at 'A Montessori Home'.

Meanwhile, Finlay powers on perfecting the art of standing, cruising, balancing and exploring every corner of the house. He's 8 months now... time is going by so fast. It seems like yesterday that we were celebrating how he could pull himself up to stand. Now he can balance by leaning against the furniture, climb onto our bed and get down safely (this took lots of practice to perfect!). One of my favorite new developments is that he is mimicking our vocal sounds now. Such a treat! Here's a video of Fin 'buzzing' with Daddy. Brent is a trumpet player, so he is thrilled that Fin has started buzzing his lips. Like daddy, like Fin :)

We're realising now that there is a reason Montessori floor-beds are recommended as single size ('twin' in the US). Finlay's cot-sized bed just isn't big enough to contain his tossing and turning and sleep-crawling. Many nights we find him like this:

Mostly though, being out of bed wakes him up which has resulted in many sleepless nights for him and us. Thank goodness he'll have his own bedroom in our new house so we can fit in a bigger bed for him.

So now we just need to get in this house and get started. I've ordered our Montessori materials from the US, collected tables, chairs and shelves from all over Auckland and now I'm ready to run with it. What fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On his own two feet

Wasn't it just the other day I was marveling at how Finlay had finally gotten himself up on hands and knees?... Well, in all his excitement at being able to move around he joyfully discovered a new trick - standing up! And now that's all he wants to do. Anywhere, any time. Everywhere, all the time. Wherever there is something to pull himself up on, he's up.

It all started in the kitchen. For months now I had been wondering whether to invest in one of these pull-up bars, but alas I never got around to it (and I'm not sure where we would have put it anyway!). Last week while I was cooking in the kitchen, Fin followed me in there by himself for the first time. Being on the floor, he noticed the handle to the drawer under the oven. He experimented with getting one hand off the floor to reach for the handle... and then the other hand pulled him up to kneeling! Very pleased with himself indeed. From now on I'll have to be very careful to keep him out of the kitchen while the oven is on.

The very next morning I woke to Fin's face grinning at me from the side of the bed - he had pulled himself up to stand!

Since then he has been unstoppable, even while he's had a bad cold and must have been feeling quite miserable. The poor thing has been all snuffly, snot running down his face, and yet he's still determined to pull himself up on anything within reach. Most recently he's experimenting with letting go of one hand or lifting one foot at a time. Cruising is on it's way!

Now, if only he could figure out how to get back down again....

What is truly thrilling to watch is the intense concentration and repetition that is going on. In my 3-6 classroom I regularly observed children absorbed in their work, repeating again and again until they had perfected a new skill, but this is different. It seems that the younger a child is, the more forcefully their inner guide drives them forward and the more intensely they experience the joy that comes with that work. I hope that by refraining to interrupt his efforts and by patiently helping him up each time he tumbles down (only to get up and try again), he might be able to carry some of this joy and energy into his adulthood to come.

"A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline."
(Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child', Clio Press Ltd, 92)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seven months

A three week trip home to Melbourne turns into five weeks.... plus a few weeks procrastination... and I now have a seven-month-old on my hands! What a different little boy to the one I last wrote about. My rolling, wriggling baby has positively turned to dynamite, crawling, exploring all over the house and loving every thrilling moment. How divine.

My Montessori sensibilities feared that such a long holiday away from home would disrupt Finlay's deep need for order and familiarity. It turns out he adapted far better than I could ever have hoped (and, possibly, better than I coped with the upheaval to our routine). He was certainly entertained by my friends and family and was showered with love and attention - what more could a baby want?!

What he did achieve while away from home was quite spectacular. That transition from tummy-time-push-ups to full planks occurred at Oma's house. The following week he figured out how to put his knees down for some pre-crawl rocking at Auntie Deb's. No 'prepared environment' there. Just space. And time. Oh, and cats - they're a great incentive to get mobile!

That was precisely the reminder I needed that the most important environment surrounding a child is the emotional one. Given the space and time, every baby will get up on their knees and move whenever they're ready.

However, now that we are home in our 'prepared environment' Finlay is visibly joyous to be able to explore freely all the spaces we had meticulously arranged many months ago. Most thrilling is his new ability to get out of bed all by himself. Thrilling for Finlay. Not so much for Brent and I... though I'm sure all will be easier when he figures out how to put himself back into bed all by himself. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes :)

This was one of Fin's early attempts at getting out of bed. He has now explored every possible way of getting out - head-first, backwards, sideways, diagonally - and is so fast that when I put him down in bed I barely have time to stand up before he's on the floor, squealing with delight.

Lots of adjustments have had to be made to child-proof the house in a hurry. Suddenly our magazines are being eaten and the power cords seem to have a strange power of attraction. Why oh why didn't I do this earlier?

One of the new developments I am really thrilled about is Fin's ability to move to his shelves and pull off his baskets and objects. It's as if he's been looking at those shelves his whole life, just waiting to finally get his hands on those things. My Montessori-heart sings.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Tour - Part 2

And now for Part 2 of our tour...

Last week I focused on the bedroom, and though I have big plans for the kitchen and bathroom for when Finlay gets a little older, right now the lounge is where he spends most of his waking hours so I'll now focus here.

The Lounge Room

This photo shows half of our lounge, where Fin spends most of his time (for now, anyway!). On the floor we have a sheepskin and rug which I often cover with a towel to give Fin nappy-free time. Having a designated place for him on the floor allows him to develop his movements without the restraints of a bouncer or jolly-jumper. I was really happy to read Marianne Hermsen-Van Wanrooy's recommendation in Baby Moves (I've mentioned this book before - love it!) that babies should spend as much time on the floor as possible in order to develop muscle balance. It's always nice to read modern scientific publications which back up what Maria Montessori said 100 years ago - that children need freedom of movement from birth and that we do the child a huge disservice by restraining them in contraptions for our convenience. This wasn't meant to be a rant about freedom.... I'll move on!

The wooden toy hanger was inspired by this teepee from the Michael Olaf Company. I love it's simplicity - such a lovely antidote to the fluorescent plastic baby gyms that you see everywhere. I didn't fancy spending around $150NZD (plus shipping) on one of these. Luckily, Brent's handy dad took one look at the photo and said, "I could make one of those...", disappeared into the shed and came back with this! At first we used it to hang mobiles on while Finlay was learning to focus and track objects, and later we hung items on elastic for him to bat, reach and grasp. By hanging one (beautiful) item at a time, we avoided overstimulating him, and allowed him the time and space to develop his grasping skills. Just this week we have taken the hanger away because he seems quite happy exploring objects while on his stomach, and can now roll to grasp something on the floor next to him. I was reluctant to take it away because I love it so much, but I just had to concede that it was not serving his needs anymore. We'll just have to put it in storage until the next baby comes along :)

Tucked under our daybed is a little potty and a basket with spare underpants and cloths. We've been practicing Elimination Communication (EC) with Finlay since he was a few weeks old. Here is a great video explaining the hows and whys of EC. I haven't read any Montessori texts which recommend this practice, but it seems to fit in perfectly with the philosophy. I'll go into more depth about how it has worked for us in a later post. The reason for having the potty here is simply that it's practical for us, and I'm hoping that when he starts crawling, Fin will actually move toward the potty when he needs to use it. In time, I will gradually move the potty into the bathroom where it belongs and hopefully have a smooth transition to the toilet.

Before he arrived, we cleared the bottom two shelves on our bookshelf for Finlay's things. A few baskets with his current grasping objects, a flower in a vase (when we have fresh flowers in the house) and a teddy bear are at home on the bottom shelf. We have been given some really beautiful soft toys since Finlay was born, and it has been hard to reconcile the reality-based Montessori ideology with these traditional toys. My compromise has been to have one soft toy out at a time, rotating every few weeks, and to place it in a wooden tray so it has a 'home'. On the next shelf are Fin's books and a music box. When he starts exploring these shelves I'll store the books somewhere else, just leaving two or three out at a time so he is not overwhelmed, and so it is easy to restore order to the shelf. The music box might have to find a higher home as well.

Lastly, we have Finlay's infant-sized chair and table. It took many months of searching to find a company in New Zealand who would make furniture at this size. Naturally Wood made this beautiful set and I couldn't be happier with the quality. When Finlay is sitting up comfortably he will eat his meals at this table, unless we are sitting down to a whole-family meal, in which case he will join us in his highchair at the dining table. I have a little white stool tucked under the table for me to sit on. Again, the purpose of the little table is to encourage independence and allow freedom of movement. As a bonus, it's absolutely adorable and a great talking point!

Needless to say, Finlay's things do take up a large percentage of this living space, but I do feel that it is important to include him in our family life from the very beginning. The fact that all the items are carefully chosen and beautiful (not plastic or ugly like many baby toys these days), means that rather than being an imposition on our space, Fin's objects blend in and actually add to the beauty of the room. Of course, I take great pleasure in arranging things 'just so'... the next challenge will be to maintain this beauty when Fin really gets moving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tour - Part 1

I thought it might be nice to give a bit of a tour of our home and explain the many ways we've been able to incorporate Montessori principles within a tiny space. I had quite a hard time finding inspiration from real homes while I was pregnant and setting up our house, so hopefully this will add to what little resources are available online to inspire new (and seasoned) parents in better preparing their homes for little people.

Before beginning, I think it's worth mentioning that we have purchased very few things new. Most of the furniture and objects which you'll see here were bought second-hand and it really is possible to set all these things up on a limited budget. Of course, if you do want to spend a bit more money there are some wonderful online sources for Montessori furniture and materials which I'll mention as well.

The bedroom

This is our cosy little bedroom in our 2-brm flat. If we had a spare room (the other room is basically storage right now!) we probably would have made up a separate bedroom for Finlay, but since space is tight, it just made sense to have him sleep with us. This has worked out really well because as all mothers know, getting up in the middle of the night is exhausting and it's much easier if baby is right there. Also, for the first few weeks, Finlay actually slept with us in our bed. This is a big Montessori no-no (because the aim is to help babies sleep independently), but we all loved it, bonding was enhanced and I truly believe that this time in our bed helped build his sense of safety so that after three weeks he was happy to sleep in his own bed (and has done ever since, except our afternoon naps which we still often share together. Bliss!). When we did move him to his own bed, the ambience of the room remained the same and he seemed to sense that he was in a safe, familiar place.

Here's a better view of Fin's corner (he's just woken up from a nap!). Maria Montessori recommended letting the child sleep on a floor-bed so that when he or she is able to crawl they can get in and out of their bed independently. This might seem like a huge nightmare to many parents (there's a reason why cots have bars, right?!) and when Fin starts crawling I may indeed regret the whole thing, but I do love the fact that he will feel trusted to follow his natural sleep rhythms. If he wants to, he can get out and play with his toys on the shelf, then return to bed on his own when he's tired. We'll keep the door closed during nap times so he can't come out into the rest of the house and he knows it's quiet, resting time.

Ideally, the floor-bed would be single-sized futon to allow plenty of space for when the child starts rolling and crawling. It is recommended that the mattress be placed directly on the floor so it is easy to crawl out of, but since we are living in Auckland (famous for it's dampness and mildew issues) I wanted ours to have some sort of base lifting it a few centimeters off the floor. Also, I tried every configuration possible but simply could not fit a single-sized mattress in our room along with our queen bed, so we decided upon a cot-sized bed. I found a second-hand cot which could be transformed into a toddler bed by taking the sides off and adding a smaller bed-end. When Brent's parents were over visiting his dad cut off the legs for us and we were left with a perfect little floor-bed. Beautiful floor-bed frames can also be bought at Michael Olaf or the Lord Company. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a single manufacturer in Australia or NZ. (If you know of one, please do let me know!)

Another reason for the floor-bed is that it affords the child a much better view of the room than a cot would allow. I have already noticed the benefit of this - from very early on, Finlay would explore the room visually and you could almost see him creating his 'mind-map' of the room. Hopefully this will act as an incentive for him to develop his moving abilities so that he can finally get to the things he has been looking at for all this time. At the moment we have a folded-up yoga mat next to the bed just in case he rolls out (which he has, twice!) but we might need to get a nice thick rug for when he really gets moving.

“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” - Maria Montessori

This view is enhanced by the mirror attached to the wall by his bed. The mirror is one of the few things that we bought new, from Every Educaid. To be honest, the reflection isn't perfect, but I guess that's what to expect from a shatter-proof acrylic mirror. Finlay absolutely loves to look at himself in this mirror. He smiles and 'talks' to his reflection endlessly. It's pretty amazing to see him look at his mobile, then at it's reflection, and back again - you can almost see the cogs turning in his brain! The mirror helps encourage the child's development of movement. At nine weeks, I first noticed Fin watching his arm movements in the mirror:

Above the bed hangs a mobile. I have so much to say about the Montessori mobiles that I think I'll save that for a post all of it's own!

Next to his bed is a little frame (from an op-shop) with a beautiful print inside (cut from an old calendar). I had intended to rotate this with others I have in storage, but I love this one so much that I haven't changed it yet. Maria Montessori believed we should create an environment filled with beauty for the young child and that artwork should be hung at their level.

On the shelf (again, second-hand) we have placed a few little baskets with objects for Finlay to explore when he ventures out into the room. The idea here is that the physical space is as orderly as possible in order to help the child create an inner sense of order. When everything has a place, it is easy to restore order, resulting in independence and a sense of satisfaction in the child. We have a box full of objects in storage from which we can rotate onto the shelf when Finlay loses interest in these ones, re-introducing them later on for further exploration. A few books are placed on the next shelf (again, more are in storage waiting for rotation). To top it all off we have a beautiful maidenhair fern which reminds us of my mum (Oma) and a salt lamp which gives of a lovely glow for nighttime feeding.

We also have a change table tucked into the corner at the end of our bed. As soon as he is walking comfortably we'll aim to change him standing up and have his clothes available within his reach. I'll be sure to revisit this topic when the time comes.

On a side note, the painting of Buddha hanging above our bed has become an unexpected favorite of Finlay's. From his very first weeks, he would look for that painting and smile at Buddha like he was an old friend. When I think of Montessori's descriptions of the Absorbent Mind (the unique mind-state of the child which absorbs everything in his/her environment in the process of self-creation) I can't help but marvel at Fin's obsession with Buddha and celebrate the fact that he's imprinting such a beautiful, smiling face into his personality!

“The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.” - Maria Montessori

Well, I think I've rambled on enough for today so I'll have to break this up into bite-sized pieces. Don't want to overwhelm! I'm so grateful for the support I've received since starting this blog. I have so much more to write about and hope you'll all bear with me while I empty my brain out here :)

Ciao for now x

Monday, July 26, 2010

Real Life

I always dreamed that when the time came for me to have children of my own, I would be living in a house with lovely large spaces in which to create the 'perfect' infant environment. I would follow Montessori practices to the letter, never be overtired or stressed and never let other people's opinions cloud my beliefs. I would keep the house beautifully clean, tidy and minimalist for the sake of nurturing my child's inner sense of order...

The trouble is, when you're living life, real life, it's very difficult to keep all these ideals alive. Lack of space and lack of sleep have changed my perspective somewhat. I constantly have to remind myself that the home environment is quite different from that of the classroom, and rightly so. Rigidity and over-zealous orderliness probably won't do any of us any favours in the long run.

Fin watching Daddy serve up breakfast

So how do we strike a balance? It's something I'm still working on and probably will be for the rest of my child-rearing days. Our kitchen, for example, leaves absolutely no room for me to place Fin on the floor on a mat - and in any case, he can't see what we're doing from down there. I tried cooking with him in a sling but I was paranoid about bumping/burning/cutting him so I compromised and put him in a bumbo seat on the counter. Now, I know this goes against Montessori ideals for a few reasons. Firstly, by propping him up artificially in the bumbo I am restricting his freedom of movement and taking away the incentive for him to sit up on his own power. To add to my guilt, Marianne Hermsen-Van Wanrooy in her book Baby Moves, compels parents never to sit their babies up until they do so themselves, to avoid interfering with the development of muscle balance. I've weighed up these factors and I actually believe that the benefits outweigh the potential negatives. For very short periods of time (10 mins or so), Fin is able to experience us cook, clean, sing and chat. He watches with deep concentration every move we make, checks out the fruit on the bench, looks out the window or sings along with me. I love it when I look over and see his little hand resting on an apple or banana.

I also fret about our lack of space in this apartment. This has been our first Auckland winter and let me tell you, it's not only the cold that gets to you here - it's the dampness. And since we don't have a clothes dryer, our living room seems always to be filled to the brim with nappies hanging to dry. Everywhere I look - nappies. Every chair, table and door frame is covered. What happened to my minimalist, orderly infant environment? But does it really matter? It might drive me crazy, but he seems quite content and takes it all in his stride, watching me constantly hanging them out and folding them when they are (finally) dry. My only hope is that somewhere he is storing away the process of getting the laundry done, and when the time comes for him to help me folding he will have a deep interest in this part of Practical Life :)

So perhaps it's not the end of the world that things aren't 'perfect' and in fact, maybe it's better that they aren't. I hope that Fin will grow up able to make a beautiful home wherever he goes, no matter how big or small. One day, hopefully in the near future, we'll move into a bigger place where we can grow our own veggies and stretch out a little. But for now, we'll be grateful for the wonderful things we do have and make the very best of them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Beginning

'The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth' - Maria Montessori

I suppose any discussion about Montessori and how we've applied the philosophy in our home should begin with Finlay's birth. Of course, it is a huge mystery to us how much impact the birth experience has on our future personalities and attitudes to life, but I do believe that by creating an ideal birthing environment we can help ease the transition of our babies into the world, and therefore start them off on a positive note.

Most of my attitudes to child birth were formed long before I discovered Montessori. When my sister had a drug-free home water birth 12 years ago I, a teenager at the time, decided then and there that that's how I'd like to do it too. It just seemed to make sense. Happily, when we touched on child birth in my Montessori training, all of those ideas aligned with my own. Dim lighting, gentle handling, soft voices, few visitors, drug-free, early nursing... what a lovely way to start life.

I went into real labour at around 4pm on Friday 26th Feb. By 4pm the next day I was still only 2cm dilated and feeling utterly devastated. I had so convinced myself that mine would be a short and (relatively) easy labour that at no point had I considered that I might 'fail to progress'. Despite our best efforts to turn him during the final months, Finlay was posterior and this was causing terrible back pain. I remember thinking a few times, "Maybe an epidural wouldn't be so bad after all..."

Though of course it seemed like the worst thing I'd ever experienced in my life (and it was!), now when I look back I can see how beneficial this struggle was for my relationship with Brent. While I sang through each contraction, Brent was there singing along in harmony, giving me something to focus on and a place to direct my breath. He squeezed my back muscles together to interrupt the pain-messages flowing to my brain, offered me sips of water and spoonfuls of peanut butter, filled the birth pool, cleaned up my vomit, ensured my favorite songs were playing on the stereo, and countless other things that told me (consciously and sub-consciously) that he would be there to protect and nurture me (and this baby) for the rest of our lives. I think this aspect of birthing can often be overlooked. Not only is this the birth of a new baby into the world, but it is also the transformation of a relationship that had been alive before, but would from now on be something entirely different. A Mummy and a Daddy.

A dose of homeopathics, some acupuncture and a long-anticipated soak in the birth pool finally got things moving and within 1 and 1/2 hours I was feeling ready to push. With this song by Kurt Elling playing in the background and the early evening light filtering through the blinds, Finlay was born into the water at 7:27pm, Feb 27th 2010.

Our midwife stood back and allowed me to lift him to the surface and bring him straight to my chest. There were no cries or screams - he just calmly opened his eyes and drank us in. Candles were lit and we enjoyed our first half-hour together in the pool. Just before we got out I took the opportunity to float him in the water and watch his arms and legs unfold for the first time.

For the following days and weeks we kept the house as quiet as possible (difficult with a trumpet-playing daddy!), dressed him in simple clothes and avoided items such as mittens and dummies which inhibit the development of movement and language. I fed him on demand and put him to sleep when he seemed tired. We spoke and sang to him as much as possible, and when he wasn't being held we lay him on his back, un-swaddled and free to move. Admittedly, after a few weeks I discovered that he actually quite liked to be swaddled so I compromised by wrapping his lower body and leaving his hands free.

When I think of Fin's personality now, so happy, calm and alert, I can't help but wonder whether this birth experience had anything to do with it. Maybe those traits are just who he is and would have been like this no matter how he came into the world? Either way, I'm incredibly grateful that we were able to stay at home as planned and that I wasn't in an environment where drug relief would have been an option. I'm not sure I would have been able to refuse! Whether or not it has impacted him positively I'll never know, but I do know for sure that experiencing the pain and thrill of childbirth at it's fullest has made me feel more powerful than ever before, and has awakened in me fierce mothering instincts that have carried me through these past months.

'All our handling of the child will bear fruit, not only at the moment, but in the adult they are destined to become' - Maria Montessori