Our Gentle Bed Time Routine

A Gentle Bed Time Routine.pngFor most of us gentle parenting folk, the word ‘routine’ is a scary, scary word.

The word routine has such a bad rep now thanks to the likes of Gina Fraud, *vom* and Super Nanny *vom*, oh and I must not forget Tizzy Hall *vom*.

Their idea of routine is chuck your baby in their cot as soon as it his 7pm and then don’t communicate with them again until morning time. I didn’t realise parenting was only part time hours, some how I’ve ended up with full time parenting hours. Ah well.

Anyway, those of you who know me will know that we have been struggling with Freddie’s sleep for about 5 months now. It wasn’t really the sleep itself that was the issue. He would wake up literally every hour and I didn’t really have an issue with that as I know that for a lot of babies that is completely normal and healthy, it was the fact that during the day he was a complete wreck as he was so tired and grumpy. Oh, and because he was so over tired all the time he also stopped having day time naps so he was only getting around 9-10 hours of sleep in 24 hours. For some babies this is more than enough, but for Freddie this was clearly too little due to how grumpy he was.

I could not for the life of me work out what was wrong, at first I put it down to a leap or growth spurt but after 2 months I started to realise that it probably wasn’t that.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I LOVE Sarah Ockwell-Smith. She is an author, gentle parenting expert and attachment parent advocate. I absolutely love her and think she’s the bees knees. She has a very gentle, responsive and child-led approach to parenting and she inspires me A LOT.

So when I was scrolling down my dashboard on WordPress I was quite shocked when I came across her latest Vlog. I’m not gonna lie, the title made me wince but I watched the video anyway as I am always interested in what Sarah says.

‘The Importance Of Bed Time Routines For Babies & Toddlers.’

 

 

If you don’t have time to watch the video or you simply CBA; she basically highlights the importance of the lead-up to the child’s or baby’s bed time. She mentions that the time itself is not that important. A general idea is a good thing so anywhere between 7pm-9pm for example but there is no point attempting to put a baby or child to bed when they are not tired and some days will be different to others if you are going out etc.

Unlike many ‘experts’ *ahem BULLSHIT* *ahem GINA FRAUD*, she says that rocking your baby to sleep or feeding your baby to sleep etc is NOT an issue. Body contact promotes bonding and security and there is NOTHING wrong with meeting your child’s emotional needs because us adults are equally emotionally needy and many of us will cuddle our partners to sleep (if you don’t have a baby in between you both).

Sarah reccomends starting with a wind-down routine after tea. Turn off the TV and limit electronics. Play with some toys or do some painting or crafts and listen to some music. After a while of winding down you can start the bed-time routine. The thing I like about Sarah’s example of a bed time routine is that there are no strict times or schedules. It IS baby led.

Gather everything you will need into the bedroom that they will fall asleep in. So a clean nappy, pyjamas, body lotion/oil and a few bed time stories.

Take the baby into the bathroom and get them into a nice warm bath. After a few days of doing this routine they will begin to connect bath time to the beginning of their bed time and will help them wind down.

Once bathed, take them into the bedroom and make sure the lights are dim and the curtains are closed in preparation for this. Sarah recommends giving the baby or toddler a gentle massage with lotion or oil. By ‘massage’ she doesn’t mean that the baby or toddler has to stay still because from 6 months onwards your baby will probably be moving around more! This massage is more about the skin to skin contact and meeting your child’s physical needs and if your baby/child has this skin to skin contact now they will be less likely to keep waking for physical contact and reassurance (although it’s completely normal for babies to wake up for this anyway!!).

Once baby/toddler is massaged and in pyjamas you can settle down and start to read them the book in a soft and gentle voice and of course, you can breastfeed or cuddle whilst reading to them.

This is pretty much all there is to the routine and I love how gentle and baby led it is.

After watching this video, I realised what the issue was with Freddie’s sleep and well being.

We would go straight from being a hustley-bustley bright, loud front room and taken into bed and boobed to sleep all in the space of minutes. Obviously I wasn’t allowing him time to wind down so he wasn’t getting a good quality of sleep.

Obviously every baby is different, some babies thrive off gentle and baby led routines whereas some don’t need it and can wind down by themselves.

Sarah also highlights in the video that even as adults we have some sort of winding down and bed time routine. And thinking about it, it’s certainly true in mine and my partners case.

It’s been over a week since introducing a gentle winding down and bed time routine and I must say we have noticed a massive difference already and it’s also reallllly helped with getting him to sleep without me there. I’ve recently started doing evening shifts and the first time I had my evening shift was a complete nightmare and ended in tears and a total breakdown from my partner! However, on day 4 of using this approach Simon got him to sleep in the Tula after following his winding down routine and he slept until I came home!

I think it’s important to know the difference between a schedule and a routine. A schedule is a very strict sequence of events at particular times. A routine is a sequence of events in a certain order at any given time and can also be switched and changed.

I’m feeling so much more positive now about leaving Freddie to go to work in the evenings and also about the fact that he is a lot happier during the day and also naps easier. It’s only been a week or so but we are starting to see a massive difference and there has been absolutely no tears or anything traumatic for either of us!

 

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‘Your Baby Is Healthy, That’s All That Matters’

top 10.pngAnyone who has suffered with post-birth trauma has probably had this phrase chucked at them along with a handful of other unhelpful and isolating phrases.

Yes-ultimately, giving birth to a healthy baby is the main goal, but mum’s feelings are incredibly important too. If a mum doesn’t get the birth experience she longed for, if things went wrong during labour, or even if the birth went to plan; she can still suffer with a post natal mental health illness and she has every bloody right to feel sad and mournful, even if you don’t see ‘what the big deal is’.

Every woman has the right to make an informed decision on her birth plan and if her wishes and desires are ignored, belittled or have to change in an emergency then this can have a great impact on her mental health.

For example some mums want a home birth, some mums want a water birth, some mums want an epidural, some mums opt for a caesarean due to previous birth trauma, some mums want to free birth and if their plan is hindered then it can cause feelings of failure, guilt, grief, anger, isolation and in some cases it can even make a mum feel like she doesn’t love her child. (It is important to note that just because someone is suffering with PND or post natal trauma then it does not mean they don’t love their baby or that they have ill feelings towards their baby.)

Most of the time these feelings can be resolved within weeks or months at most with the correct support, information, therapy and love. But recovery and bonding with their baby can actually be pro longed if they feel isolated and are being made to feel worse than they already do.

I asked some women online about phrases that really affected them and made them feel worse and also prevented some from seeking help as they felt ashamed and guilty.

  • “Oh, other people would kill to be in your position!”
  • “Just put him on a bottle, you’ll get more sleep and feel better”
  • “These things happen”
  • “Well, at least they let you do things the easy way with the c-section”.
  • “My friend had pnd she found going for a walk really helped”
  • “He shouldn’t be with you if you’re feeling like that”
  • “You had an easy birth compared to some people, you should be happy!”

 

Every single birth and birth plan is different and no one should be made to feel ashamed for their feelings if they didn’t have the birth they wanted.

When my son was a newborn I couldn’t even think about the emergency caesarean without crying and feeling huge pangs of guilt. I felt like I had failed him. I don’t know why I felt this as I look up to other mums who have had caesareans and think they are amazing as the healing and recovery is awful.

I remember waking up when Freddie was 2 days old, we were back home by this point and I woke up in so much pain, I couldn’t even describe it. I waddled to the toilet balling my eyes out, I felt like I couldn’t survive. Those feelings probably seem so dramatic to some people but that doesn’t make my experience any less valid.

The emergency caesarean stopped me from bonding with my son for a while and if it wasn’t for breastfeeding him then I’m not sure how long it would have taken to bond with him! I felt good knowing that he NEEDED my milk to stay alive and that’s what got me through. When he was a few weeks old an overwhelming sense of love just hit me in the face and I knew right then that I loved him more than anything.

Don’t let anyone brush your feelings aside as if they do not matter. Because they DO. You matter, your birth matters and most of all the relationship between you and your baby matters.

 

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Neals Yard Remedies Review: Body Lotion, Shower Gel, Mother’s Balm and Beauty Balm

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I love supporting small businesses so I was really happy when the lovely Carolyn, who is an independent NYR consultant, contacted me and asked if I would like to review some products.

Not only am I a huge fan of supporting small businesses, I love organic and natural products and I am always looking for new products to try that are ethical and environmentally friendly!

It’s safe to say that I was overwhelmed when the package of goodies arrived. I was only expecting a couple of products to review but she sent me loads of different samples along with some catalogues, her business card and some notes she had written out herself about how to use certain products.

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As cheesy as it sounds, for this point alone, I highly recommend shopping through Carolyn’s website. Receiving lovely products is always nice, but when they are well presented, personal and you can see how much time she spent on preparing the products it’s really lovely to see.

The day I received them I decided to try out some of the products.

I used the shower gel sample and it also says on the front that it can be used as a shampoo too so I decided to test that out!

I was really impressed with it as a shower gel but I probably wouldn’t use it as a shampoo again, simply because I’m fussy with shampoos and I didn’t feel it did the trick! But I highly recommend it as a normal shower gel, the smell was lovely. I have to admit, I used all of the sample sachet in one go, but I am a bit generous when it comes to using shower gel!

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You can buy a 200ml bottle here for £14.00, that means on average you will get about 28 washes from it, and probably even more if you use it wisely, unlike me!

After my shower I used the body lotion, this was also a 7ml sample packet, yet I only had to use half of it which covered my legs, body and arms! I’m really fussy about creams as I have eczema and I can react quite badly to creams, but this one was lovely and left my skin feeling really smooth.

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You can also buy a 200ml bottle of this here for £21.50. I must admit, it sounds a little pricey for a bottle of body lotion BUT in theory this could hold at least 60 applications! So this is around 2 months worth of body lotion (assuming you will use it once a day!) So in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it’s a bad price at all considering how smooth it left my skin feeling, not forgetting that NYR are a company based on natural, organic and ethical ingredients.

Next, I decided to try out the Mother’s Balm. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t holding out much hope for this one as it says it prevents stretch marks and I already have loads from when I was pregnant! I don’t feel like I can really give an honest or accurate review of this product because of this, but if and when we have another baby I think I will definitely invest in some of this Mothers Balm purely because of how lovely it felt on my skin! I hate the feel of my stretch marks and this made them feel lovely and smooth, so I think I would definitely invest in some with any future sproglets.

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You can buy a 120g pot here for £20. Carolyn is actually out of stock of this at the moment due to how popular it is but if you message her she can order some in for you when she has more stock! A 2g pouch lasted me two generous helpings all over my belly, so this pot would have around 120 uses on average! Absolutely bargain if you ask me.

 

Lastly, I used this beauty balm which again was a 2g sample packet. This actually had enough for 4 uses on my face! It was lovely to use and made my face really soft, I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of beauty balm is but I would definitely purchase some simply because of how soft it made my skin and for the first time in a long time I felt comfortable leaving the house without any make up on, and no one screamed either! Lol.

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For a 50g pot, it is quite pricey at £38 BUT considering 2g lasted me 4 times, a 50g tub would last about 100 times on average, give or take. And considering a pot of something like Clarin’s face cream is £33.80 for 50ml which would last around a month, I think this is a really fair price if you’re into moisturisers and creams. You can purchase this here.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed reviewing these samples from Carolyn and I’m looking forward to reviewing the rest of the samples she sent me. I will be making another blog post reviewing these in the next week or so!

Please be sure to go and like her Facebook page and visit her shop!

You can also email her at carolyn.nyr@btinternet.com

 

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Things That REALLY Matter Post-Birth

People so often go on about the things that aren’t really essential post-birth, they may be helpful and make things slightly easier like bouncers and swings but no one talks about what really matters. They may not be essential to some people but they’re all things that have been proved to improve the health and recovery for mum and baby.

Things That REALLY Matter Post-Birth

Delayed cord clamping

Fortunately, this is now becoming common practise in the UK, however mums can decline it if they wish and sometimes in emergencies delayed cord clamping is not an option. I had an emergency caesarean and the cord was cut straight away. With future babies I will definitely be delaying cord clamping.

Delaying cord clamping promotes better blood volume in the baby and it keeps the mother and baby together as 1.

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Skin to Skin

Skin to skin is sooo important for mum and baby, and also for daddy too.

If you’re breastfeeding it helps trigger your oxytocin levels which triggers your milk to let-down. Even if you’re not breastfeeding it’s still very important, if not more so important. It promotes bonding and research has shown that mums who have frequent skin to skin with baby are less likely to get PND. (Click here to see the study)

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Breastfeeding

I think most people know how important breast milk is for a baby, however the support and correct information is still lacking for many mums and they give up sooner than intended or don’t even try at all.

Obviously, infant feeding is always a mothers choice but it should be an informed choice and unfortunately many mums don’t get to make an informed choice. They make the choice based on what their friends and family do or based on myths perpetrated. For example, not breastfeeding because family members have been unable to so mum assumes that she can’t either. Only 2% of mums can’t physically breastfeed but a whole lot more of mums ‘can’t’ breastfeed simply due to lack of support.

If you are on medication, check with Wendy Jones who is a pharmacist and specialises in breastmilk and medication to see if your medication is compatible with breastfeeding. Unfortunately Dr’s and Nurses aren’t trained in breastmilk and medication so they often say you can’t breastfeed on certain medications to be ‘on the safe side’.

If you are struggling then please please seek help! Here is a list of Lactation Consultants in the UK (just enter your post code and it will find your local ones for you!), and here is a list of Breastfeeding Support Groups in the UK. You can also search here for local NCT Latch on groups near you and they can also organise for a breastfeeding specialist or peer supporter to see you.

If you cannot breastfeed or you need more milk whilst building up supply or whathaveyou then Human Milk For Human Babies is a brilliant source to find donor milk near you!

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Bonding

You would have thought this was a fairly obvious one. Every mum knows that bonding with baby is important, right? Well, yes they may do BUT they don’t realise what bonding entails. Skin to skin is a massive factor, but also just spending time with one another without having people interrupting and having you play host whilst they sit on the sofa passing baby around like a bloody parcel. If you must have visitors then tell them to bloody well bring round some shopping or a takeaway, oh and do the dishes whilst they’re at it too! You should not have to run around after anyone at such a precious time. Which leads me on to my next point…

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Relax

I wrote about this before, why the bloody hell do women rush to get back to normality and routine after having a baby?! Just chill!! I know it’s probably easier said than done when you have other kids to tend to but get your partner to take over for a while. Or if you don’t have a partner then get a close friend or relative to come round whenever possible to give you time to relax.

If you don’t have other kids to tend to then you have no excuse! *bossy voice!* It’s not to say that you’re chained to the house, but just take your time and go with the flow. Even after the most simple and natural birth it’s important to give your body time to heal and every woman deserves to be treated like a Goddess post-birth.

I usually HATE the phrase Happy Mummy Happy Baby (read about that here!)as it’s so overused now but I think in cases like these, when the mum is taking time to relax and care for her well being it makes it easier to bond with the baby and give 100% of your attention and care to your baby which in turn means that your baby is happy and is having all their needs met on demand.

 

 

Can you think of anything else that REALLY matters post-birth?

 

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In The Grand Scheme Of Things, Does It Really Matter?

'The word discipline comes from the word disciple. Disciples lead by example. What example do you teach a child by hitting them-.pngYou know what pisses me off? How so-called gentle parents who preach about the importance of being gentle to your children seem to be the ones always jumping on posts throwing insults and chucking in their 2 pence whenever possible.
I know no one can MAKE you feel anything but sometimes it doesn’t matter how positive and at peace you are with your parenting, people can still make you feel like absolute bollocks if you are clearly berating their parenting and I think most of the time that is their aim.

I’m not on about people giving you factual information and still feeling guilty or defensive over it.
I’m on about mums who think that just because THEY do things a certain way means that every other mum who don’t do those stupid things that don’t even really matter are wrong.

Like in the grand scheme of things does it really matter if you occasionally par your child off to their grandparents for a couple of hours so you can have some down time by yourself or with your partner? To me, it doesn’t matter. As long as your baby or child is HAPPY with this arrangement then who gives a shit? If it’s the difference between your mental health and flying off the handle because you’re so stressed and tired and THIS close to punching someone then I know what arrangement I’d be happier with!

In the grand scheme of things does it really matter that your child had chips and beans for tea for the 3rd night running? No it really doesn’t matter. If they usually have a balanced and varied diet then having beans and chips isn’t going to hurt them. Maybe you’re waiting to get paid so you can buy some moderately healthy food and in the mean time you’re trying to use whatever you can find in the freezer and cupboards. I know I’ve had plenty of those moments.
In the grand scheme of things does it really matter that you only use cloth nappies occasionally? To be honest, it probably does matter yes as disposable nappies aren’t ideal at all. But you know what? We tried cloth nappies and Freddie pissed through every single one of them and they made his bum go red. We were in no financial position to spend a big chunk of money outright to get a different brand of cloth nappies that may not even mix well with him so we’ve been using Aldi nappies ever since and I LOVE them.

Information is great, and informing other mums is brilliant too. But there is a way to inform mums without sounding like a massive dick head. No one is going to listen to you or take you seriously if you jump on someone who is giving their 4 week old breastfed baby a dummy and telling them that they’re going to ruin their breastfeeding relationship and that in a few months it will get easier and because you coped perfectly fine without giving your baby a dummy it means that every other fucker should too. To a new mum, a few months is a bloody long time and a mum should NOT have to struggle on for months at a time keeping her fingers crossed that things will get better just because Fanny Anne from the internet coped perfectly fine. She should be helped and supported and for some mums a dummy is the thing that stops her quitting breastfeeding.

This isn’t about justifying shitty parenting styles. Because lets be honest; some people make awful, selfish and ridiculous parenting choices. But for the most part, if mums are trying their best, if they are responsive to their babies and children’s physical and emotional needs, if they are mostly trying to do better than the day before, then isn’t THAT what matters? Not who feeds their baby tofu and grated carrots for tea every night.

I think everyone just needs to relax a little and CALM THE F*CK DOWN.

In order to educate about the importance of being gentle towards our children, We must be gentle towards other parents

 

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Thanks *Insert Family Member/Friend* But Your Advice Is Crap

Ever been given awful advice on how to care for your baby by a family member or friend?

Of course you have.

Bad advice from family and friends is sort of like a rite of passage into motherhood.

I can guarantee than you WILL get told that your breasts are not good enough to feed your child simply because darling little baby Peter has fed for the 3rd time in one hour. (AKA growth spurt)

Or you WILL get told that your little bundle of love is manipulating you because she dared to cry out for her mama as soon as you put her down.

And I can guarantee that you WILL want to punch this family member/friend in the face for being incredibly unhelpful. But I can also guarantee that actually punching them probably isn’t a good idea.

People always want to put their 2 pence in and they probably think that their advice is exactly what you need to hear or that because it worked well for them and their children seemingly ‘turned out fine’ that it WILL work for you.

( I don’t know about you but I want my child to turn out more than fine)

So thanks to the family member or friend who thinks they are trying to be helpful but are failing miserably. Instead of handing out unsolicited advice just offer a sympathetic smile and ask what you can do to help.

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Attachment Parenting My Way

Attachment Parenting My Way

I’ve always had strong parenting views. Before I was pregnant I used to think smacking and leaving your child to cry was essential and I looked down at those ‘gentle parents’ and labelled them all as pushovers.

Now I am a mum myself, I am one of those ‘gentle parents’. I can’t imagine ever leaving my baby to cry or hurting him.

I think all parents have something that they hate. Whether that’s cry-it-out, smoking in front of children, leaving children of a young age to go out and party. Every parent ‘judges’ in one way or another, it’s how we make the choices we do to parent our own children. But there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and being a dick.

There are loads of labels these days for different parenting methods and I am guilty of using these labels. I label myself as an attachment parent and I try to be as gentle as I can, although some days I find it hard to not lose my shit.

Even though I class myself as an attachment parent I am fully aware that other attachment parents may have differing views to me; they may formula feed out of choice, they may have never used a pram in their life (we exclusively baby wore for the first 5 months, we still babywear now but I also LOVE my pram), they may never let their baby out of their site but they’re still attachment parents like me because they tend to their babies needs and they answer their babies cries every time they can, the same way I do.

Just be a real parent quote

 

No two parents are the same. That is a fact, no matter what type of parent you are, there will be someone else who does lots of things the same way you do but they also do lots of things differently.

I am an attachment parent, but I still look forward to Freddie’s bed time sometimes. After a long day of cluster feeding, full on melt downs, food being chucked all over the place, I look forward to having a couple of hours to sit down without being leapt on for booby.

I look forward to dates with my partner. Admittedly, our dates usually aren’t the typical 3 course dinner and cinema dates. They are a nice walk just the two of us, or a drive around the city, or a trip to the amusements to spend all of our lose change we have been collecting for the past month or so.

Just because I look forward to spending quality 1 on 1 time with my partner does not mean I am not an attachment parent. Our baby loves spending quality time with Granny and Pops and he hardly notices when we are away. If he had a full on melt down every time we left him and he was miserable whilst we were away then I wouldn’t leave him. But because he’s fine with being away from us for a couple of hours we make the most of it.

I have strong views in regards to breastfeeding and I feel that every baby deserves breast milk; that is what they are designed for after all. Saying that, I have plenty of friends who don’t breastfeed for various reasons. And you know what? We get on really well.

Recent research has shown that 80% of mothers in the UK start out breastfeeding but then stop relatively soon. Most of these women stop due to lack of support and they are failed by our system. They are given shocking advice from health care professionals and family members. I have learnt to throw my frustration towards them, not the mothers who were failed.

It’s okay to have differing views to someone. It’s okay to do things differently. I am strongly against cry it out and the next mother I pass down the street may feel strongly against leaving your child to go on a date with your partner. And that’s fine. But I have been told that I am ABANDONING my baby by leaving him with my parents every so often to have quality time with my partner.

Abandoning is a strong word. Abandoning refers to ceasing to support or look after someone; deserting. If you feel that I am deserting my child by having a date with my partner, who may I add LOVES spending time with his Granny and Pops, then so be it. But that is not only an insult to me and my child, but it’s also an insult and undermines all those babies and children who actually HAVE been abandoned.

It’s fine to have strong parenting views, just don’t be an arsehole about it. Be gentle, be kind and be patient. We are role models to our future generation. I don’t want my children to grow up and think that bullying another person because they do things differently is okay. Of course you can disagree with someone, but disagreeing is different to bullying and looking down on someone.

Haim Ginott Say Nice Things Quote

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I’m not on about those parents who don’t even deserve the title of being a parent. I’m on about the parents who try their damn hardest every day, who respond to their babies for the millionth time after taking a deep breathe and muttering ‘fucking hell’ under their breathe.

Lets just all take a seat back and think about what really matters, lets forget about the criteria you have to meet in order to be a specific type of parent. If in 20 years time my baby is suffering severe attachment issues as an adult because I dare to leave him every so often to go to work or to have a date with my partner then I will rethink my parenting choices and I’ll come and shake hands with you.

We’re all too busy thinking that we are right and every one else is wrong. Sometimes we are the ones making the right choices, sometimes we are the ones making stupid choices, sometimes we are the ones making mediocre choices and doing the bare minimum. But just because I may do things differently doesn’t make me less of an attachment parent. My baby’s needs are met, he is loved, he feels safe and secure and firmly attached to me- enough so that he knows he can be left without me for a while and have fun.

Every relationship is different; some couples don’t need to have dates to stay strong and nurture their relationship. But me and my partner do. We spent 6 months without spending any sort of decent quality time together and it broke us and ruined our relationship. We had to start from scratch and even had to seek relationship counselling because of it, so yes I do find it offensive if you tell me I am abandoning my child by spending time with my partner. I don’t find it offensive if you have different views to this, if you disagree with it then that’s fine. We can still be friends, we can still agree with lots of other things.

I am an attachment parent doing things my way, doing what I can to get by and sometimes that includes taking time to myself to recharge my batteries. And sometimes that means taking time to focus on my relationship with my partner.

 

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