Friday, 25 October 2013

Sleep depraved shambles

Here we are at week 10 and all still alive although my nipples are a shadow of their former selves.

Chicken is still a very good baby but juggling her needs with those of the Monkey is challenging. If I don't get them to synchronize their day naps I don't get a second to myself and that's exhausting and frustrating.

Breastfeeding is still so painful sometimes that I cry at the prospect of the next feed. I could be singlehandedly bankrolling the local chemist with my custom - thanks to my 2nd bout of mastitis I've bought more antibiotics there and have been hiring a breast pump to give my poor norks a rest.

I know that I should really give up but I still can't admit defeat just yet. This may be my last child and I really want to enjoy the breast feeding experience eventually. So I persist but it's got to the point where I don't know how much pain I should tolerate, my pain threshold is completely confused.

This week I ventured out for the first time with both kiddies sans car. Firstly I had Chicken in the ergo baby carrier and convinced Monkey to get in the new stroller. We only went to the park but that was an achievement since Monkey kept asking to get out and walk. I don't trust him to hold my hand and not run off into dangerous situations so I need him to be in the stroller. It was good to get out and wear him out doing something fun, plus I chatted to some other mums there.

I don't know if I looked quite as desperately harried, sleep-deprived, and adult-company-starved as I feel, but they were both mums of more than one, so hopefully they understood what it's like to leave the house without brushing your hair or even looking in the mirror. 

I continue to mourn the loss of my personal grooming. My hair is this ridiculously long, matted mane that I probably would have pined for once upon a time. It is so long through accident not design, I have not had the time or opportunity (nor the cash) to go to a hairdresser for so long. But it seems to just hang from my head like this big dead thing that gets knotty and becomes just another chore to detangle and to me it represents a lack of personal style. I am about 8 kgs overweight and that is not baby-fat, it's icecream-and-cake fat! I have been eating pretty badly since the birth and every day I think I'll start the diet tomorrow, but my will-power is so weakened by tiredness. I need energy boosts and they don't come easier than a sugar-hit! I try to remind myself what I'd say to any one of my friends in the same situation - be kind to yourself, appreciate the amazing feats your body has achieved, don't stress etc. But it's a total double-standard, I am my own worst critic and although I know I shouldn't compare myself to other people I find myself looking at other mums of babies and wondering how they look so much thinner and more composed - some of them even wear make-up!!! 

I want to set my daughter (and son of course) the example of self-love, so I repeat my mantra - enjoy life, there will always be tomorrow to diet! 

The scariest thing about parenthood I have decided is how much more vulnerable my heart is. I feel terrified at the thought of something happening to any of my beloved family members, husby included, and life seems so much more precious now. The weight of my responsibility to not only protect them from harm, but to stay healthy so that I can, adds to the stress of the daily grind. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Motherhood - things I now know

Here I am, at the end of my first week alone as a mum of two tiny people. We all survived and I feel, as I’m sure many parents do, inordinately proud. Every little task I perform feels like a major achievement. Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom (Monkey “helped” me mop the floor), vac’d and mopped the floors and did 3 loads of laundry. I felt like a superwoman! And really, considering how little sleep I get, and that there is a small person basically trying to undo everything I do, it is pretty impressive.

I am going to say something controversial though. I hate breastfeeding. HATE it. I am so disappointed that my experience with it this time around has not been better, but I blame my children. They must be broken. They are missing some sort of mouth/boob compatibility gene or have not read the manual. Whatever, they clearly have no regard for my nipples. I think the nipple thrush has cleared up, but Chicken won’t open her little beak wide enough, and clamps down with the force of an industrial vice. It hurts. But I’m a stubborn old mule and I’m not ready to give up just yet. So I just curse and cry and suffer through the pain 5 times a day. She better appreciate it when she’s older. It’s OK, I’ll remind her often. In speeches. Like at her 21st birthday party and her wedding.

So I am by no means an expert, but here are a few things I have learnt that seem worthy of passing on:

  • The hardest lesson I have learnt was to DO NOTHING.  Babies will cry – and you don’t always have to DO SOMETHING to stop it. This revelation was such a long time coming with my first child – I ended up eventually going through the pain of “control-crying” which is the extreme version of DO NOTHING - and I still find myself resisting it. There is that mothering instinct that means I cannot stand to hear my babies cry and I feel responsible to DO SOMETHING to ease their distress. But I remind myself that it is actually important to allow them to settle themselves sometimes (as long there is nothing actually wrong with them, like being hungry or wet etc). Doing nothing when your baby is crying seems inherently wrong but by constantly cuddling, rocking or soothing the baby I think they come to depend on it. In any case, it becomes out of your control when it’s your 2nd child – there is so much to do that by the time I get free to check on my crying babe she has often settled herself – woo hoo!

  • Everything always seems better in the morning.  At 1, 2, or 3 or even 4am I have been sitting on the sofa crying while my baby fails to latch properly, or pacing the floor patting her back, shhhhhhing, trying not to trip over with tiredness, everything seems so much more dramatic. I begin to wonder if Chicken has colic, or croup, or reflux, or that she is failing to thrive, and I consider all sorts of extreme measures… like taping her dummy to her face to keep it in… But once day breaks - even though getting up then seems harder than ever – after the coffee takes hold, I realise she is fine, I am fine, and we will all be fine. And following on from that point:

  • Find time/a way to take a shower every day. This was another epiphany for me. It would sound like a basic human right, I know, but not for a mother of a newborn. I went for more than 24 hours without a shower and when you have sticky toddler fingers all over you, and you’re being drooled on and sneezed on and spewed on all day, a hot shower is HEAVEN. So I felt like a new woman after having one and I resolved to ensure I manage a shower in the first half of the day, every day. Even when I get spewed on almost instantly afterwards, I still feel better for having had that hot water rush over my face. 

  • Breakfast television is SO bad it’s almost good. And the hosts are invariably, female: over-coiffured airheads, male: dumb but funny. I love watching the male hosts pretend to be interested in the latest fashion trends, tummy controlling shapewear and age-defying make-up. The best ones manage to do it with a cheeky, tongue in cheek irony  - as in “How fascinating?!”

That is enough words of wisdom for this post. I’m off to take a shower.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Preggers no more!!

We made it! Both baby and I survived the birth intact and are now fit and well. The relief I felt as soon as she was out was overwhelming. And it is so nice not to be waiting anymore!

Having a c-section is quite surreal, and more than a little bit scary, but overall I rate the experience as a thousand times preferable to my vaginal birth one. The anaesthetist we had was awesome, he was chatting away with us in the prep and had a wicked sense of humour, so it really helped eased our tension. Then throughout the op he was keeping me informed but also distracting me with tales of how he was doing tequila shots with my OB the night before – ridiculous, as my OB is this lovely, quiet, Church-going soul who probably doesn’t touch alcohol. It was all over in a couple of hours and apart from being intensely itchy from the anaesthetic for 24 hours afterwards, I felt pretty good.

Upon arriving home I ensured I had the catch-up feast of soft/smelly cheeses, salamis and port. And seeing as I no longer have a night/day division in my life, only grabbing snatches of sleep where I can, I figure it’s fair game to drink wine anytime, so long as it’s post feeding the baby.

Chicken (my nickname for baby girl) is a dream baby really. She had a couple of really unsettled nights in hospital, and since I’ve been home out of 3 weeks she’s only had one bad one in terms of sleeplessness, so the odds are pretty good.

On the other hand, I’ve had mastitis and then nipple thrush as a result of the antibiotic treatment, which progressed to ductal thrush, which is as painful as it sounds. This breastfeeding malarkey is really not as easy as it looks. I’ve been mainlining the Panadol and coffee.

My mother-in-law was brilliant, looking after the Monkey while we were in hospital and keeping him happy since we’ve been home. But she left yesterday so now I face the daunting prospect of managing alone!  She was keeping on top of the cleaning, cooking and laundry so god only knows how badly things will fall apart, but most of all I am dreading when the Monkey realises she is not coming back (so far he hasn’t really noticed, but it’s only a matter of time). It will break my heart to see him pine for her.

But OMG both kidlets are actually sleeping at the moment so gonna go have a shower – more updates to come.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Twas the night before Friday and all through the house....

Not a creature was stirring - except the rats under the kitchen floor, my unborn baby who seemed to be having a "soon-to-be-leaving-let's-trash-the-place" party in my womb, and my son who decided 5.30am was a good time to get up.

Oh yeah, I had a great night.  I was almost certain at one point that I was going into labour, that must've been about 2.30am. After the pain subsided and I waited an hour for more to come - never have I wished for pain so fervently! - I realised with enormous disappointment it was a false alarm and managed to get back to sleep, only to be woken by the rats in the kitchen floor. I actually thought my son had woken and was playing in his playroom, that's how loud they were. 

Rats FREAK me out. We had them all over the kitchen once and it was my worst nightmare - I mean vermin are not like pigeons, or even cockroaches, they don't scare when you come into the room. They look you in the eye unbudgingly as if to say, "yeah, this is my loaf of bread now, whatchu gonna do about it?" It terrifies me. So I'm lying in bed freaking out about the prospect of them getting in again, with a toddler who is now unbound by baby gates and a newborn due any minute. And then said toddler decides it's time to "wake up mummy", "I don't like sleepytime" and climbs on my head. 


On another note - I have to share this blog post which resonates with me so much. 

Being Mumma Enough

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

1 week to go!!!!

The countdown is on. I was thinking last night how sad it is that I seem to have wished away so much of the last 11 months - yesterday was exactly 11 months since I gave birth to my angel baby Benjamin. I so wanted to go into labour yesterday to mark that milestone, and even thought I was after cramps and back-ache all night, but sadly it wasn't to be. I am still a hippo with a bun in the oven. But I feel sure this bun should be cooked by now!!!

If you don't count the two months between losing Benjamin and falling pregnant again, I have been on this rollercoaster of expectancy for the last 16 months - that's over a year to be sharing my body with another (or 14 mths if you want to be pedantic).

I am so looking forward to having my body back, but I know that doesn't happen straight away, in fact it can take almost a year with breastfeeding and recovery etc. But boy is that first glass of wine going to go down a treat!!!

Its the nausea and reflux that's killing me now - I get these frantic bouts of ravenous hunger where I just can't eat enough or fast enough, but then within an hour it all comes back to haunt me... I am so looking forward to enjoying food properly again (and without guilt).

Plus, I can handle the huge belly and an ass that's so big it almost reaches my knees, but this double chin is depressing.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Groomed bush and wine, these are a few of my favourite things....

On a lighter note – in preparation for D-day I just got a wax – finally, after I don’t know how many months. A lot. So I literally feel lighter! I am gorilla no more, and now the doc and his team won’t be horrified when I’m lying on the table half-naked ready to be cut open!

I wasn’t really bothered about it until I was at a friend’s baby shower and the other ladies (all childless and/or single) were laughing about the bush that you tend to see in birthing videos and I realised that that would be me. I used to be so conscious of good grooming and I really miss having the time to care! But seeing as I haven’t been able to see my V-JJ for months now, caring about it’s appearance has been easy to forget. But I do miss being able to see it. And my feet.

So because these things are heavily dominating my imagination at the moment, here is a list of things I have been missing being pregnant for more than a year (ignoring the 2 months between pregnancies – I was in grieving so they don’t really count anyway).

In no particular order (well except for Wine, that is definitely number 1):

  • Wine – no explanation needed. I need it. Soon.
  • Food – not any food in particular - although of course blue cheese, brie and salamis will be first on the post-baby menu – but just to enjoy eating food without feeling sick and bloated afterwards. To eat without the fear of reflux and nausea, and to enjoy the taste – pregnancy does weird things to my taste buds.
  • Flexibility – to sleep on my back, to bend down easily, to feel strong and mobile again! I hate this feeling that everything is weak and broken.
  • Sex – yep, it’s been more than a year really since the sex has been any good, that is, without a huge belly in the way of things. Plus TTC sex is the worst kind of sex, there is just way too much pressure when you’re wondering if each time is going to be the jackpot!
  • Wine – did I mention this one?
  • Energy – to be able to chase my toddler around again. I feel so guilty but I am the worst playmate at the moment, I dread getting down on the floor with him cos I know it’ll be so hard to get up again.
  • Nice skin, nails and hair – I know I’ll have to wait ages for this one, as the worst is yet to come. My hair will practically all fall out post-birth and I’ll get that horrible baby fuzz regrowth. When I was pregnant with H I had great nails, they seemed to grow faster and stronger, but this pregnancy my nails have been TERRIBLE, they split and crack and the cuticles are non-existent.
  • Kissing my husby – we’ve been sick tag-team for weeks now so it’s been like a permanent quarantine.  And germs aside, we’re just so busy with work and toddler-wrangling plus the belly gets in the way, romance is so very dead. I am aware this will not change with the arrival of a new baby, just lamenting it anyway!!
  • Wine. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

2 weeks 2 go!

Just over 2 weeks til D-day (or B day I spose)!

I’m so excited, nervous and scared – I feel almost bi-polar, my emotions flux from high to low so much.  I go from dreading it to wishing it was happening tomorrow.

I’ve got so many reasons to be scared. I know so many beautiful, smart, healthy women who have lost their babies at this same stage of pregnancy I’m at now or even during childbirth. None of them deserved that tragedy – nobody does. But, like me, I’m sure none of them ever expected to suffer such unusually cruel and unfair loss.

I have been lucky enough to have one beautiful and healthy child, albeit through a birth that left me quite damaged physically and a little traumatised. But I also lost a baby - he may have only been 19 weeks old, but he was mine and growing in my body and I feel responsible for his fate. So now I am living in this weird limbo, so close to the end of a long, arduous pregnancy, the light at the end of the tunnel almost within reach, but with still so many risks and hurdles yet to overcome.

And I feel like I learn a new terrifying possibility every day. I had a PAL support meeting last week and in keeping with my split-personality at the moment, it was both unsettling and therapeutic. I went already in a fragile state, having had a couple of bad weeks with H waking twice a night and husby being away one week and then sick the next, I was just physically and mentally exhausted. So it was no surprise that I cried during the relaxation exercise. But when the organisers started reading out birth stories I was too taken aback to escape before the floods of tears began again.

Ever since the birth of my first son I have been unable to read birth stories, good or bad, and I avoid watching people give birth in TV shows or movies too. I feel so cheated by my birth experiences, like I did everything in my power to have the best experience and to give my baby the best entry to the world, and that I was let down in so many ways by things that were not in my control but that were influenced by my health care providers.

I considered making an official complaint in the months after H was born, but ultimately I decided it would not help in my healing process.  I saw a counsellor once but it really didn’t make any difference to my feelings. The PTS was not helped by the sleep deprivation, my son was a poor sleeper for the first seven months until we tried Tresillian methods, and I am acutely aware now that if this baby is the same the sleepless nights will not be over once she is born.

This PAL group has been a much better outlet and salve for my grief, both for the bungled birth experience I had with my first son and the tragic loss of my second son. I have felt supported, understood and maybe most importantly, cared about. But of course, the flipside is the fear I have for the other ladies and the concern that what has happened to them could now happen to me too.
I try to suppress the doubts and fears and be positive, but then I worry that if I don’t worry enough I might be tempting fate. I really just need to get this baby safely into my arms so I can relax!! I’m torn between wishing it would happen early and wanting to get through my son’s 2nd birthday this week and make that as special as he deserves.

My darling toddler was testing my patience to the absolute max when thankfully my mother-in-law arrived like a guardian angel to fulfil his boisterous appetite for attention. She honestly couldn’t have come a moment too soon. And with husby finally back in good health we are almost ready to welcome our new baby to this family. I even started packing a hospital bag tonight!

So baby girl hang in there, stay well and know that in just a few more days we will be eagerly introducing you to our world and whatever the outcome, you will enrich it.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Politics and hypocrisy of the mothering type

Only 8 weeks to go til I have my baby girl and my burgeoning belly now feels like a time bomb ticking. I am both thrilled and terrified at the prospect of having a daughter. On the one hand, it’s what I always wanted, being a proper girly-girl myself - [def. girly-girl: noun A person of female gender who enjoys feminine pursuits i.e. make-up, nail varnish, clothes shopping and gossip] – I always imagined having a daughter who I would be really close to, who would share her secrets with me and seek advice from me. When I found out I was having a boy I was a little reticent about having to find enthusiasm for cars, trucks and brutish sports.

I am aware that there are benefits to the mother-son and mother-daughter relationships and I am SO lucky to be able to experience both. But here’s the kicker – for some reason I am more afraid of f*cking it up with a girl. I may have touched upon this in previous posts. I hope I’m not denigrating the importance of boys’ self esteem, but I just think that in our society, girls’ self esteem is more delicate. Perhaps because my son seems to have the innate confidence of his father I don’t worry about his sense of self. He regularly demonstrates his strength of character and it’s a big relief to me.

But a daughter, who stands the chance of bearing as strong a resemblance to me as my son does, faces the challenges I had to face growing up. And they weren’t pretty. Because I wasn’t pretty. Now, don’t jump to your feet to protest, that wasn’t me fishing for compliments (it would be futile if I was, since this blogging business is like shouting into the wind – I get no response or feedback and never know who, if anyone, is reading it or if they are scoffing, laughing or yawning). Let me qualify that, there are people out there who are conventionally attractive, who can get jobs as models and actors etc. and there are those who aren’t. I am in the latter category. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no pile of dog-poo to look at. But I inherited the hefty sized proboscis of my ancestry – yep I had a big shnozz. I say “had” because, at the age of 30 I had a nose-job. It was ostensibly to fix some sinus problems, but let’s face it, I just hated my nose and had wanted to change it my whole life.

I have always been painfully conscious of all of my shortcomings, but I believe in doing what I can to improve myself.  So this seemed logical to me, as my nose had long-dominated my very negative view of myself. And it was simple, I had the operation and I didn’t all of sudden become a supermodel, but the burden of that glaring physical “fault” was lifted. Now it’s important to note that I did this for myself. Although sadly my negativity towards my nose was very much influenced by society and personal experience – yep you guessed it, kids can be cruel and there were taunts at school – I didn’t have unrealistic expectations about other people’s reactions towards me post-op. I had already found love, and married him, and he had said nothing to prompt my decision. I had no expectations of career changes or advancement from it. In fact I wanted nothing in my life to change really, other than my own happiness when I looked in the mirror. And that did.

BUT… how does this reconcile with the fact that my heart will break if my own daughter goes through this? I feel such a hypocrite saying I want my children to love themselves, inside and out, when I was so unable to do so. I keep wondering what sort of example have I set them?

I can only hope they see it this way. I was not seeking a “quick-fix” in life. I was not unhappy in love, nor in my life in general. I did not expect the change in my appearance to herald a barrage of suitors, to launch a new career, to attract a new class of friends. I just wanted the inner peace of liking what I saw in the mirror. And being someone who is driven and motivated, who believes in shaping her own destiny and making her own path in life, I took action. I do not regret the action. What I do regret is that the world did not say to me “everyone is beautiful: fat is beautiful, thin is beautiful, your big nose is as beautiful as you are unique” right from birth. And although I intend to say this to my daughter repeatedly I know it may not be enough.

Now for the politics part of this post. Because almost one month after this baby girl enters the world we will have a federal election. And so my daughter may begin life in a country that has a female PM, or under the government of a man who has said things like:

I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.

While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it's inevitable and I don't think it's a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.

Now I know that the current PM, female or not, is not doing the best job of it, and she certainly didn’t come to power in the way I would’ve liked. But the fact remains she is a strong woman in the ultimate position of power and she is setting a very visible example for Australian women. It may be true that she isn’t well-liked. But she is a politician, and how many of them do we, the public, actually like? Sadly the less likeable, the more successful they seem to be in politics (see Rudd/Howard). She certainly isn’t the first pollie to demonstrate underhandedness in gaining power or to be unpopular amongst her caucus. But the mere fact that she is there, doing what the rest of them do, gives me, and all women of Australia hope.

So despite the atrocious odds the opinion polls give her, I hope she can hang on til after the election (and then be deposed by Rudd). I’d like my daughter to start life with as many examples of the many wonderful opportunities she will have as possible.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My little monkey is actually a human!

I’m astounded at what a proper little person my boy is turning into. I know that sounds ridiculous, like what did I expect him to turn into, an orang-utan? But it’s just you get so used to them being these mute, helpless creatures, that you almost expect they are going to be 100% reliant on you forever, in an unquestioning way like an animal would be.

But H is definitely not unquestioning, nor is he all that helpless. He is strong enough to open drawers and lids that he shouldn’t be getting into, agile enough to climb onto beds and up and down stairs, crafty enough to open doors (and slam them shut as loudly as possible). He can now count to ten, completely on his own and unassisted. He can almost recite the alphabet, and will sing along if the song is playing.  He recognises many tunes without lyrics and will start singing. And he is making rudimentary sentences. They are usually things like: “Hamish do it” or “Mummy cuddle duck” or “no nappy change” but they are words strung together that communicate his meaning so I am impressed!

His favourite is “What dat?” which is the precursor to “Why?” I guess, and although it’s cute, it’s a little on the maddening side when he points to EVERYTHING and wants to know what it is. Perhaps this is mostly annoying because when I am frequently stumped for answers it makes me realise how little I know…

And he doesn’t miss a trick, so I can’t do anything in front of him that I wouldn’t want him trying out himself. (This means I am sneaking lots of snacks while hiding in the cupboard.) If I have a cup of coffee or tea, he does too – imaginary ones. He has little tea parties and picnics with his toys where he gives them all sips from tea cups and makes the slurpy noises. 

I am constantly impressed by his learning and marvel at all of these skills – it’s just not what I expected of him before he is even 2 years old! Especially considering I am not driven and ambitious about teaching him things. I am a warm, loving, attentive mother but I have always been fairly relaxed about his development. I am not in any rush for him to reach development milestones. He started crawling so early, then walking at just 10 months, so I knew he wasn't going to lag behind (and, if anything, those skills just made him more work than the slower, more sedentary babies!). There are no flashcards in our house and I do not drag him to dozens of “activities”. In fact I often feel quite guilty that I don’t take him to the gymbaroo, swimming lessons, dance classes etc that other kids attend. But clearly, he is doing OK without it.  He makes me feel like I’m doing a good job at parenting, even if there is no-one else to tell me I am.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Time to slow down

I’m 23 weeks now and up until now I have been willing the time to pass as quickly as possible, if I had a fast-forward button I would have been leaning on it heavily. But now, just now, I have finally thought I should probably stop to smell the roses, so to speak. Realising that this is my last few months of me-time and time to just focus on H as my only child, and there will be no turning back once Little Miss is here.

I have been feeling really positive about the pregnancy now and doing everything I can to relish it and celebrate it. I am even doing a spot of pregnancy modelling this week, just as a “normal” looking pregnant lady! But it will be so nice to have my hair and make-up done and feel pretty for a night. Plus I get paid in maternity clothes, which I am more and more in need of.

I have had a wonderful long weekend of enjoyable family time, with husby taking an extra day off between the public holiday and the weekend. And now, only one week til we take our “babymoon” down the coast with munchkin. I can’t wait.

Tomorrow I shall attempt to cook said husby a special birthday dinner, including birthday cake. This will be special if it is even edible, as my worth in the kitchen is limited to doing the dishes. Yep, I’m the type who can’t even make toast without burning it, I’m so domestically challenged I could probably burn water. Even the planning of this meal has taken me hours already as I had to familiarise myself with a bunch of herbs/spices I wouldn’t be able to find in the supermarket unless they had neon signs on them, and then go through the cupboards to check our stocks, since I don’t even know what we have.

Luckily it’s a slow work week for me (meaning no freelance work sadly), so the daycare day will be free for my kitchen f*ck-ups, I mean, gourmet experimentation.

If only I had buckets of cash, none of this DIY shit would be necessary!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


I have been crying a lot recently. You could say I am an expert at it. And although my own pain is often the reason, I feel like I have become a sponge for others’ suffering too. It’s going to sound ridiculous, but I think perhaps the pregnancy hormones, combined with the grief of a mother have made me some sort of empathy super hero. Call me Sympathatron. Or Mega-Wail. Or something.

Today my tears are not for me. They are for the families and victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. I have no words for the devastation it causes me to know that again, AGAIN, some f*cked-up people have felt that the best way of effecting change in the world is to hurt others - innocent, unsuspecting, unconnected individuals, whom represent nothing more than symbols of whatever misguided cause is behind this heartless attack.

My tears are also for this wonderful woman, Lori, whose blog I just found and can’t tear my eyes from: Her story is a true tragedy and yet she has risen from it with the courage and positivity that others can only dream of. She has been hurt, abandoned and traumatised by the one she loved and who loved her most, and instead of forsaking love, she has rallied and used her love to rise again, damaged but somehow cheerful. THAT is humanity.

And my reserves of tears seem to be boundless for Rachel, of whose eloquent expressions of grief are like a strange oscillating magnet to me, I am drawn to them, I have to read them but then I have to turn away because they churn me up inside.

I had a visit yesterday from the Baby Nurse I used to visit before I moved house. She was an angel, a beacon of light in the dark, treacherous, confusing world of new motherhood. Her advice, support and encouragement were my lifeline when I was unwittingly suffering post-traumatic stress after the birth of my son H, and she continued to keep me sane whilst I struggled with a baby who wouldn’t sleep more than 3 hours at a time for the first 7 months of his life.

Her approach to helping new mums has the personal, emotional, human feeling that the medical support services are gravely bereft of. She asks mums questions about themselves and their babies to really get to know them and then assesses them individually, suggesting things to try, but never prescribing a right or wrong way. She is always embracing new ideas and seemed open to learning as much from the mums she saw as she was interested in imparting her knowledge. But, most importantly she was always reinforcing what a great job I was doing, which, when you’re floundering in a foreign world and feeling lost and afraid and so goddamn TIRED you could accidentally wander out in traffic, is all you need to hear sometimes.

Her positive feedback and genuine interest in mine, and my son’s wellbeing were invaluable to me. Eventually, as I found my feet as a mum, I found I was visiting her clinic just for a chat, more than to seek out her professional advice.

But I had not seen her since we moved house 8 months ago when I was about 12 weeks pregnant with Benjamin, and after she heard of my loss just recently she tracked me down again. I am so glad she did. She came around for morning tea and we chatted for 4 and a half hours about life, babies, motherhood, politics and love.

If I am Sympathatron, she is the Compassionater. This woman oozes love and empathy. And to use a cliché, she is an Earth Mother, offering the nurturing care of a mother to all. This is not stretching the truth, as she not only raised her own 3 kids but looked after her friend’s 2 boys when they were orphaned and is now acting as a surrogate mum to a teen daughter of a friend who has gone wayward. She is the sort of woman who wants to give the world a hug and whose hugs are regenerative.

And after seeing her I feel a little bit more healed. Baby steps, as they say.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Be afraid, be very afraid

I am afraid of my son. I am not kidding. I wish I was.  He rules the roost and he rules with an iron fist. This is partly because I am a pushover who melts every time he smiles, cries or says/does something cute. But it is also from a lack of confidence.  I am afraid of most children in a way.

It is because I never really had that much exposure to kids beyond my peers. Sure, I babysat when I was a teenager but that involved sitting on someone else’s sofa, eating and watching TV while the kids slept most of the time. I never had to provide much supervision during waking hours and I had never changed a nappy before my son was born. I wasn’t all that interested in kids either (probably for the same reason). Because of my lack of experience I didn’t know what their age meant - how much independence they required or deserved, or what they understood - so I never knew what level of communication to strike with them. Use a “baby voice” and assume they know nothing and risk their scorn and derision – “well der, of course I know milk comes from cows!” Or talk to them like adults and hope they don’t find me as terrifying as I find them? There is a reason children make some of the scariest baddies in horror films – for your reference see Children of the Corn, The Exorcist, The Shining, the list goes on.

To the uninitiated, children have the incredible power of the unknown quantity. They represent walking time-bombs, we never know what to expect and fear the worst. If I tell them off for jumping on the glass coffee table or playing footy with mum’s fine china ornaments will they cry? Or worse, will they defy me and then tell their mum I abused them? Hate me and tell everyone they think I smell? They may be innocent but to me they always seemed so cunning…

I guess I am not what you’d call a “natural” at this motherhood gig. I was never a “chuck the baby on my back and off I go” kinda chick. I was the one struggling with the nappy bag the size of a suitcase and freaking out the minute the baby cried in public. I was the woman who was so flustered she forgot to put her boob away properly after breastfeeding in a park (only once, and thankfully I noticed before I got ALL the way home…)

In my experience, every day is about delicately balancing everything you do to keep them happy. Don’t, whatever you do, skip a feed, be late with a nap, deny them some toy or dangerous/expensive/fragile object. The whole day can fall into disarray. Take today for example. Thanks to the wonderful invention of daylight savings, which I am now petitioning be abolished, my monkey has been waking at 5am all week. This would be OK if he also napped early or extra long, which he did yesterday. But today, exhausted after a string of resist- and-cave tantrums over his lunch, I eventually had to try some tough love and left him crying in the cot. For 25 minutes. It was worth it though because now he is asleep. However the many plans I had for my day (see my To Do List post below) and the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes cannot tempt me and all I can think of doing is going for a little nanna-nap myself.

Of course once you get your head around the nuances of your own spawn, the daily grind becomes much easier.  You develop the confidence to exert the ‘power of the big people’ and utter those arrogant words “because I said so”. But I still fear the wrath of a toddler and prefer the path to an easy life.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Milestones and setbacks

Here is the post I wrote yesterday BEFORE seeing my OB:

Halfway. I have officially passed the point where we lost Benjamin. This should encourage more confidence but I still panic at the slightest pain and worry when I think I haven’t feel the little bean move in a while. Lucky for me she is a pretty active little bean and there are plenty of kicks to comfort me.

I attended a Pregnancy After Loss meeting two weeks ago. It opened the floodgates to my grief and a room full of people got to witness the debacle that is me crying. I’m one of the ugliest criers in the world – it’s all gulping and sobbing and streaming, red blotchiness. It must be hard to feel sympathy for a blubbering, snot volcano!

Overall though, it was good to get it out amongst people who understood, were there specifically to hear it and had useful feedback. My major revelation was that I felt like I had less legitimate reason to be grieving than the others, that my grief was less valid because my baby did not go full-term. Technically my loss is called a “miscarriage” on the medical records at least. That is because babies that die before they are 20 weeks are not considered still-born – even though I had to give birth to him, the same way all babies are born.

I will never forget when I asked about claiming the body from the hospital the nurse simply saying I was not “obliged” to give the baby a funeral. She seemed not to understand that I wasn’t even thinking about a funeral, I wanted to take my baby home and it didn’t occur to me that they would not release the body. After some ridiculous bureaucracy was dealt with we were granted permission to receive the body after an autopsy (which we agreed to and still anxiously await the result of).

I never held a funeral or any type of service and I never really considered it, but I have his ashes and I may choose to scatter them privately. Or I might just keep them. That is my right, the very least I am entitled to.

The other thing I learnt was that if I want to get a positive reaction about my pregnancy from friends it’s up to me to convey it as a positive message. It seems so obvious now, but I realise I was “breaking the news” in such doom-filled way that people didn’t know how to react and so followed my lead with a sombre response. This made me feel miserable. So now if I tell someone new, I say it with excitement and omit the disclaimers of “hopefully” and “all going well”.

In short I am actively trying to embrace this pregnancy and “Operation Normalise” is on. I have taken my first bump photo. After we survived the milestone 19 week scan, or to be literal, my baby survived it, I celebrated by buying something for the baby. The fact we know it’s a girl helps. It gives me added incentive to shop as I always used to look longingly at all the lovely girls’ clothes in shops and it seems as though there is always twice as much available for girls as there is for boys.

I have even resigned myself to the fact that my clothes are not fitting anymore and dug out the maternity clothes bag. It is such a relief to wear comfy bras and jeans again! I have now resolved to tell anyone I see or speak to, and am ruminating over a Facebook announcement. The bump is getting too obvious to ignore now anyway.
So that was before seeing my OB. Unexpectedly he had the results from Benjamin’s autopsy – we had been told it could take up to a year so I was not expecting to know anything before this baby was born. The only indication they can find of a cause for death was that the umbilical cord was too long and hyper-coiled, so may have compromised the blood flow. 

I am feeling pretty conflicted about knowing this. In some ways it's good to know it wasn't a genetic problem or something likely to occur again. But also to know such random things can happen makes me feel so nervous that not just that could happen again but any one of a million other things could go wrong. I have gone from being like the majority of the population, thinking “it won’t happen to me” to being a big scaredy hypochondriac-style neurotic, who thinks that every complication is not only possible but likely to happen to me. This extends to my little man too, my mama-bear protective instinct is in hyper-drive and I foresee every possible accident or mishap befalling him. Husby thinks I’m insane I’m sure.

The next PAL meeting isn’t for another month and I don’t know how I’ll feel then. Will I need it, will it make things better or worse? I’ll just see. For now it’s back to embracing the positive and cherishing the kicks my little girl gives me on the inside.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The To Do List

I have never been a devotee of the To Do List. I just hate the fact that nothing ever gets crossed off it. But I am a big fan of the cheat’s version - the Already Done List, where you add things you just did and tick them off.

It is very hard to make the transition from busy career woman (although I feel like a total fraud calling myself that, not sure why) to a “stay-at-home-mum”. Ugh, I hate that expression. There is something so slothful sounding about it. You just imagine some woman sitting around, daytime TV blaring, ironing board up, kids running riot around her feet as she does something like update her Twitter status or write a blog entry…

Or there’s the alternate reality where you might imagine some 1950s super-domestic mum who bakes cookies and healthy dinners and organises educational craft acitivities for her kids, which she then sits down and does WITH them.

Well, it’s really nothing like that. Either version. Except maybe the blogging bit.

I honestly don’t know where the time goes. When H is home (which is most of the time – he is only in daycare two days a week) it’s a constant cycle of feeding/cleaning. I don’t know where mums find the time to “prepare” delicious healthy meals, because somehow when its time to have lunch or dinner all of a sudden there is this urgency about it, like if I don’t serve up his meal in the next ten seconds I will miss my window and all hell will break loose. So all the food prep I do is reheating or making sandwiches, it’s really not that hard. But there is truly nothing messier in the entire world than a toddler eating. Especially mine.

So then there is the clean-up, and since my toddler likes to run around while he eats the cleaning stretches across multiple rooms. If I try to get too involved in the cleaning though, this is abruptly put to stop by H. He will even get in between the sink and me and push me away from it with impressive force. If he didn’t do it to my husband too, I know he’d think that I was making that up to get out of washing up.

Anyhoo the To Do list begins to form in my head on the night before a daycare day, when I start dreaming about how productive I’ll be while H is away. It usually looks a bit like this:

  • Drop H at daycare
  • Shower   - this seems odd since I love my showers and would love nothing more than to start every day with one like a normal person, but since I can’t do it while H is awake - I’m not sacrificing sleep for it! - they have been relegated to nighttimes. And often by the time I’ve gotten him into bed and sat down to eat my dinner I become a prisoner of the sofa until I realise it’s time to drag myself to bed and then it’s just too late.  So even on daycare days, by the time I’ve dressed and gone out and come home, it’s easy to forget that part of the routine that usually happens pre-dressing.
  • Do the dishes – see passage above about trying to do them with H around.
  • Vac and mop the floor – this it the one that often gets passed over in favour of:
  • Do a couple of hours work – this is fine and usually happens first, as I can sit on my ass with a cuppa and a piece of toast and get right into it, checking Facebook periodically.  But once the actual work part is finished, the sitting on my ass part seems to continue indefinitely…
  • Eat lunch – never fail to complete this task.
  • Do some laundry – I often leave this to last as I think I can manage it with H around.
  • Clean up before picking H up – seems to be optional.

Today’s list has the added activity of waxing my legs and underarms. The boredom plus pain factor of doing this makes it fairly unappealing. As you will see from a previous post, this is something that occurs quite rarely and I am currently writing this to avoid doing it.

Stay tuned faithful readers to see if by next time I am able to wear short-sleeves without shame!

NB here's an update. You will be pleased to note that I vacuumed, mopped AND waxed today. To reward myself I am now eating an entire packet of BBQ flavoured sakatas. The baby wanted them. It told me. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Happiness is...

I decided I wanted to write a completely positive entry. Because it feels like everything I've written so far is a bit whingey, and granted things haven't been that great recently but life is what you make of it, and I believe in doing everything I can to take control of my happiness.

And what's the one thing that I can find good in no matter what? It's no thing, it's my boy! So this is going to be an ode to his sheer awesomeness. Avert your eyes now if doting motherly pride sickens you.

My boy is many, many levels of awesome. Let me count the ways he makes me happy.  I love watching him on the video monitor sleeping with Quackers, the big, soft, yellow duck who is his beloved bed companion. Generally Quackers starts the night reclining across my boy's face, but since H moves around more than a rabbit in a blender they inevitably get separated at some point. It looks like there's been a lovers tiff when they are positioned at the furthest ends of the cot to each other. Then somehow H will end up lying on top of Quackers with his bottom in the air, their quarrel resolved.

In the mornings – if he’s in a good mood - when I enter his room he squeals and insists we play dancing and singing games with Quackers, who is a fan of show tunes and Barry Manilow. He chants “more, more” before we even finish the ducky dance.

When we read his favourite book, Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, he sings the Pirate Dinosaur song throughout, although he only knows his favourite bit of it, the rest is a jumbled rush to get to the “Go Go Go!”  When we tickle him, he lifts his shirt and gives his own belly a tickle. Sometimes he’ll take a wipe and “help me” when I’m changing his nappy.

I love his incomprehensible gibberish, uttered with such conviction. I love that he pronounces yoghurt "yuck-ett". I love the funny straining face he makes when he's pooing. I love his cheeky giggle whenever "someone" guffs (farts) - not me of course, as I am a lady and never do things like that.

I just LOVE his feisty, cheeky, indomitable spirit. Just look at him with these bubbles!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Gorillas are sexy

This is almost irrelevant to me as I am a waxer anyway, which means waiting 5 weeks for the hair to grow long enough to wax, then being a gorilla for another few weeks til I actually get around to it. Since I can't afford to get it done professionally any more, I have to DIY and that takes an age, so time is the real reason I look like a hippy lesbian most of the time.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Women - we rock. Right?

It's International Women's Day, so I feel I should post something. Problem is, I'm not feeling that great about being a woman at the moment. In fact, it sucks, quite a bit. I am usually one for extolling the virtues of womanhood, how wonderful it is that we are the more emotionally mature and aware sex, that we form such strong friendships and that we are the lynchpin holding our families together. 

But friendship has been a big let-down for me lately. And although I love motherhood, the pregnancy bit sucks big hairy balls. Here it is probably relevant that I am pregnant again. 16 weeks. I have not told many people, just a few select friends and family. 

It's been a very tense few months and this pregnancy has felt quite different from my other two. Firstly, I had morning sickness, which I never really experienced before. That was fun. But I didn't actually vomit so I guess I shouldn't grumble. I was also extreeeeemely grumpy. Like PMS on a royal scale. My poor husby copped the worst of it I'm afraid. At one point he commented on my mood and I said, sorry the baby doesn't like you. Harsh, I know. 

And now the hormones are playing havoc with my skin. I have always had dry skin, but this is beyond a joke. In the last few weeks every last drop of moisture evacuated my face. It looks and feels like the Sahara desert. My wrinkles are not only emphasised, they are multiplied. I have wrinkles on my wrinkles. I also think I have the beginnings of SPD, a pleasant condition where the ligaments in your groin separate to the point of agony when you walk or move your legs at all. Not to mention the hemorrhoids. I won't even go into what giving birth to my son did to me - he doesn't need to read about it one day in the archives of the intermawebs. Of course, I'd do it all again to get my son. Just like I'll got through all this "fun" to have another.

I just feel like a bit of a failure as a woman. As a stay at home mum, I don’t cook, bake, garden, sew, or even clean that much. I know that women shouldn’t be expected to do all that, but since I don’t work anymore I feel like I should be good at at least one traditional feminine characteristic.

And, on that note, I had an OB appointment yesterday and my Doc took a look between the legs. The baby's, not mine. He thinks I’m having a girl. This leaves me conflicted. I was thrilled at first. Because I have a crazy, Energiser Bunny boy already and, having lost a baby boy, I thought the fact that it was a girl would help me not to draw comparisons as much. Plus I want a baby that will return all my affection, as my son has only just started doling out kisses and cuddles and he’s pretty stingy with them. And of course I dream of having a daughter to shop with, chat with and maybe one day understand what being her mum was like.

All of that aside, knowing how shit being a woman can be, I wouldn’t really wish it on my child. Growing up with body issues; teasing or bullying over her looks; monthly periods; pressure to be sexy and have sex, but be smart and have a career; and then go through all this crap to have her own family. Ugh. I am sure I am overthinking it all.

Especially since the Doc said he was only 60% sure it was a girl, which considering the odds are 50/50 means he’s only 10% sure. 

Gah. I'm off to eat a Cornetto.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Single parenting sucks

My husband is away on business. For a week. God help me. This means I have to play Bad Cop AND Good Cop. It's just that this is extremely difficult for a soft-cock like me. After one staunch refusal to succumb to my toddler's demand for Peppa Pig/Play School/yoghurt/whatever is on my plate, I melt like a snowman in hell. Either it's that adorable face that I could just eat up, or it's the threat of a tantrum to challenge Hurricane Katrina. I just want peace. 

Tonight he refused to eat his dinner, preferring to stealthily raise the spoon to his mouth, look at me and then fling it across the room. He also refused to sit in his high chair or toddler chair, preferring to push the chair around the room like a shopping trolley. I am proud to say that Bad Cop stepped up and he did not get toast, or cheese or yoghurt as an alternative (she guiltily admits to past sins).

He also did not want to take a bath. We've recently had 'issues' with bathtime that have only just been resolved - for some reason for weeks he hated it and had to just be sponged down on the bathroom floor. Then, for no reason, the worm turned. Bathtime was fun again, hooray! So much fun that tantrums ensue on their conclusion. But not tonight. After dinner dramas he refused a bath.  He was still chanting “nom nom nom” indicating he was STARVING and I was a neglectful parent. I momentarily considered weakening and cracking out the cheese. Instead I bribed him in with the dummy – Bad Cop fail. I’d have skipped it but he was all gritty from the sandpit at daycare and a sandy crack does not make for a peaceful night (for either of us).

He’s asleep now and after mopping the floor I feel like I have earned the rest of night firmly planted on my ass cruising the net and comfort eating with some brain-draining reality TV for background noise.

He pulled everything out of my wallet a couple of days ago (and I have a MAMMOTH wallet, the size of a small suitcase into which every receipt, ticket, card and miscellaneous small object go). I shoved it all back into one compartment and have not tried to sort it back into order yet. I almost forgot about that.

Oh and I had a Cornetto for dinner the other night. Come back husby. Or I might end up with scurvy.