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The sparkling, bubbly Charlie Barker joins me on Episode 5 of New Leaf to talk all things identity, body image, fertility, self- judgment and work life balance this week and wow she does not disappoint.
I think this episode was in my top five of all time favourites to record, I actually didn’t want the conversation to end. What was supposed to be just an hour morphed into nearly two, so this was a challenge to edit but for all the right reasons…
Charlie is a great example of doing things her own way, and embodying the ‘my motherhood, my choice’ mantra that I keep plugging away at in this series, continuing to work and grind away after having Alfie because she is quite literally so committed to the cause of what she does - it is truly her calling - and is riding on a wonderful wave of success.
She is a picture perfect example of someone who is so utterly passionate about what they do that success greets them with open arms, of course after a tonne of graft and hard work. For someone like Charlie who has been embroiled in the maternity world for such a long time without being a mum, I found her journey from recurrent miscarriage all the way to her little rainbow baby fascinating and inspiring. Of course, Charlie had more of an introduction to the fertility and motherhood community than most women - six years worth from when she launched b&b in 2014 - yet she still grapples with the same challenges all mums do - how do I get time to myself? Gosh I’ll be so much freer when I stop breastfeeding - why won’t they take puree off a spoon - etc., It goes to show that there really is no book, as she says, because so much of early motherhood feels like poking around in the dark praying that you’re doing the right thing. The secret is that you’re always doing the right thing.
I thought Charlie’s commentary around birth experience was deeply refreshing. Charlie had an extremely positive birth experience, but because of her mode of delivery, people were quick to jump in with a label or an assumption that it was ‘traumatic’. It reminded me to not presume people have had a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ experience based on what we are made to believe is positive or negative, according to what society is pushing at the time.
We have a fantastic ‘positive birth movement’ wave at the moment, centred around empowering women in their own birth experiences. But for what it’s worth, I interpreted this, and the course I did in this vein during my own pregnancy, that if I had intervention, it would be ‘bad’, and would make it somehow a negative experience - and because of something I had done, or hadn’t tried hard enough with, whatever that means. And I wonder how many other women feel this way - that they had a good experinece, even though other people were saying or implying that it should be ’bad’.
So when I had my (pretty much) maximum intervention experience, I judged it, and it took me a while to accept that actually it had been very positive! Charlie is an excellent reminder to do things our own way, which feels particularly poignant in my second pregnancy.
I am extremely intrigued to see where Charlie goes, because as you’ll hear in the interview she is a force of nature. Absolutely watch this space because this girl is onto some very big things.
Introducing, Charlie Barker.