DAY 2 -Mum Guilt

Mum Stuff, Pregnancy

In the throws of labour all I wanted was to go home to Isaac and give him a cuddle, I missed him so and wanted to feel him snuggled up in my arms. I had also hoped for a four hour discharge with Maverick so that our little family could be together in “our” space. Maverick didn’t get that memo and so him and I have spent the night together in hospital which was also the most amazing time with just him and I. Possibly the calm before the impending storm???

It was also fairly lucky for Mylo as Mav was on mission to bring my milk in and so we have sat up from about eleven last night until six thirty this morning feeding. What a wonderful way to usher in his second day on earth; watching the sunrise whilst feeling like your nipples might fall off because they’ve been attacked by a Pirana overnight.

Sleep is not on the cards for me yet though as if I want to get discharged today we need to get up and cracking so that the doctors can all give us the green light to go home. If we are asleep they’ll skip ahead to someone else and next minute it’s five pm and we are still here. So here I am awake thinking about the logistics of our new norm.

I thrive when I’m making other people happy, I am an extrovert through and through, my cup is full when I am with others and if I am helping them then we are dealing in my currency. Having children seriously hinders my ability to do that. I cannot be on the phone long because Isaac gets upset that my attention is elsewhere, I cannot drop everything I am doing to rush to the aid of a friend (naturally extreme exceptions would apply, but in the general sense) and I do not have unlimited time, energy or resources to give to people. Let alone the juggle to be a good wife and somewhere in there be good to myself.

This has been one of my greatest challenges over the last eighteen months since becoming a Mother.

Knowing this about myself I am aware that I am a prime candidate for “mum guilt” which I have expanded to family guilt because from any angle there is the ability to feel like you’ve fallen short. Look I know that every mum regardless of their personality type is a candidate for guilt but I’d be lying if I said that meeting every need of my two children equally was not of greater concern for me leading up to this birth than the birth itself. All I want to do in life is be everything to my kids and I know that this is physically impossible with one of them let alone once I have two; as is now the case.

Isaac loves Mav so much, he is beyond excited every time he sees him but he is a little like a big beautiful Labrador. He bounds round knocking things over with his big tail and paws not understanding the power he is wielding by his size alone in comparison to his baby brother. I know I’m going to have to be very diligent with their interactions as he is still such a baby himself and things could easily go sideways.

How on earth do I tag team with Mylo so we spend equal amounts of time with each child when Mylo unfortunately can’t breastfeed? Oh and he’s our bread winner as well so realistically I’ll be spending much more time alone with the kids than we will be as a family, as is the way our society has deemed it be with the cost of living and all. How do I make sure Isaac doesn’t get jealous of the hours and hours I will spend feeding and burping over the next twelve months. How do I make sure that Mav isn’t neglected unless he needs feeding?

How do I manage this guilt coupled with the sleep deprivation, hormone surges, physical recovery and everything else that comes with the birth of a new baby?

I’ll let you know I guess because whether I figure it out or not, it’s going to happen and I will one way or another make it through.

I guess the best thing I can do right now is try to remember that “Mum Guilt” is a joke and doesn’t deserve the thought space as it is impossible to achieve the standards we set ourselves as parents. I still believe we should set them high and try our darndest, but when we fall short we should take it as a lesson learnt and move forward without beating ourselves up over it.

36 Weeks – Prepared to Birth

Mum Stuff, Pregnancy

This weekend marks 36 weeks of sheer bliss and pregnancy (haha or absolute exhaustion and torture). To say that I am excited to birth this little rascal is an understatement and I mean that in all seriousness. You see, birthing Isaac was a wonderful experience and I look back at the day fondly. This time around though, having experienced labour and birth once already, I feel less anxious about the things that consumed my mind last time which has made room for my feelings of excitement and anticipation of what my body is about to do to fill the space.

Since having my first child, as is the way with a lot of things in life, I have heard many stories, and learnt about the many different paths that birth can take. Like when you buy a red car and then all you see on the road are other red cars. I almost feel like there becomes this invisible attraction to all things baby and birth. Some stories were incredibly sad and devastating although, most were overwhelmingly empowering and ended with mother, baby and father safe and sound. Either way the one resounding feeling they all left me with was the desire to understand what my body was going to go through and to be better equipped to handle the different stages so I could have another positive, yet different, experience with this birth; different being the only guarantee I had.

In order to achieve this I decided that Mylo and I would attend a Hypnobirthing course. I had been listening to the Australian Birth Stories podcast for quite some time and a resounding commonality across a lot of the positive stories that involved couples who had completed this course and as a result had a wonderful experience, not all the same, some in hospital, some at home, some ending in caesarean, some ending on the front lawn . Now of course there were others and they were phenomenal too and there are many other courses out there but I just felt this was the one for us. Upon looking at the Hypnobirthing Australia website and searching a practitioner near us I actually gravitated heavily towards one woman Natalie Andrew on the Northern Beaches. For whatever reason I just felt that Natalie was the woman we would respond to well and that Prepared to Birth would be the place where we would learn more about how to remain calm and positive during birth no matter what turns it may take.

Before we go further it would be of value to note that Mylo was mildly sceptical about this course to begin with but once I explained to him the importance it held to me he was all in and ready to roll. Natalie was more than prepared for this and assured me that by the end he would be an advocate and she wasn’t wrong. You see, this birth I had chosen to leave the Private System (as wonderful as it was) and go to the local Public Hospital which is literally two hundred metres from our house. With only four rooms in the birthing suite it is similar to that of a country hospital. Given that Isaac was a pretty straight forward birth without complications (more or less) I was keen to be under the midwifery driven care and felt really good about where we would birth our next child. I did however, feel there to be a need for Mylo and I to be a stronger team, for him to be better equipped to “coach” me through things and for him to be able to advocate for me throughout the process. I also felt I needed to know what the hell was really going on during the whole thing so I could be less fearful of the experience.

We ended up with a private course, by absolute chance on our part, and some changes to client needs on Natalie’s part. Mylo and I appreciated this greatly, being small business owners ourselves we can sympathise with the possible financial implications of this situation. We felt so special and the genuine sense of care and passion for education and us from Natalie was further cemented. We talked at length about what a “positive birth experience” was to us, what our fears were around birth and everything in between. Mylo and I had the opportunity to work through some things that neither of us knew we each had concern for under the gentle guidance of Natalie and by the end of day two we felt both equipped, resolved and most importantly an incredible sense of excitement to birth our babe.

This course wasn’t about having a drug free, natural birth in the bush whilst wearing a flower crown despite even my own first misconceptions, but rather about knowing what it is that we wanted out of our birth, knowing the different options available to us and  understanding what it was that the female body goes through when it births. Most importantly we left the course having the same confidence in my body to birth this babe as we did in it to grow the little tacker. As was pointed out by Natalie, we don’t question our body’s ability to grow a whole human in forty weeks and yet we feel so nervous that we would be able to evict the little life we’ve created when the time comes (she said it much more eloquently than that but you get the point). We doubt our body’s ability to  know the right time to bring the babe out of the oven, we doubt our body’s ability to get the babe out safely.

Now, please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying as a stab at modern medicine, I fully understand that every day thousands of mothers and babies and saved from very dire situations originating from either the gestation period or birth of a baby and I am so thankful for the minds that study and explore these areas and are so able to do that wonderful work. I do however, believe that as a society we’ve begun wearing the births we experience as a sort of war story and possibly, that’s fair enough. Have we talked down the wonder of birth so much over the years as something that is just expected we should do and handle as women and lessened the both wondrous and arduous experience that is birth that. So much so that now we feel we need to remember and retell of the experience as one of pain, fear, suffering and trauma in order to gain the recognition we deserve for doing something that yes, we are perfectly designed to do, yet also the hardest thing we will likely ever do. That is unless you’re also climbing to the summit of Everest or running an ultra marathon in your life time, two things I know personally I probably won’t be doing. Even if you did, I still maintain that birthing your babe is in a league of it’s own. It is something that you can mentally prepare for yes, but essentially you have to trust in your body, have the right support around you who also know your body, can read you, know you as a person and believe in you and your said body. There are so many variables at play in a birth and it takes you really trusting that your body knows what it’s doing, trust it knows the baby it is bringing forth and working with it as well as giving it the time that it needs to achieve the end goal.

Anyways, enough of my musings… the point being that I don’t know how my birth will go but what I do know is I am eagerly awaiting the experience. I am pumped to feel more of what my body can do and even though I know it’s not going to tickle and it will be super intense I am looking forward to it. I don’t have a plan to avoid pain relief and I’m not opposed to whatever medical intervention I may need. I am going into this with an open yet strong mindset that my body will do what it needs to do and I will listen to what it is telling me and respond accordingly. I am beyond confident in Mylo and I as a team and cannot wait to tell you all the story of how it unfolds.

 

PS – If you’re keen to do a Hypnobirthing course I highly recommend Natalie, she’s a gun.

There’s a sweet pea in my belly…

Pregnancy

And so here we are… filled with joy, butterflies and a touch of fear of the unknown.

 

We somehow managed to conceive a baby whilst I was still weaning Isaac and yet to gain my cycle back. Mylo and I were just two kids rediscovering life and each other once their little boy had finally decided to sleep through the night and then next minute BOOM we’re “knocked up”. It took us a considerable amount of time to work this out given that we

  1. Weren’t trying so it wasn’t on our radar…..and
  2. I didn’t have a cycle so we had nothing to tip us off that this might be the case.

One Monday morning I took a trip to the doctor to ask some questions around why I had recently been vomiting, feeling rather faint and my vagina was on fire!!! I had taken a pregnancy test the night before (so kindly gifted to me at Bambi’s baby shower) and it was negative so I assured her I wasn’t pregnant. Firstly, she informed me I had thrush which having only ever had it once before (when on antibiotics) I was confused because this was like I’d sprinkled chilli flakes down there not all weird white discharge. Anyhoo, she assured me that this was easily fixed with a tablet and that we should run some blood work to ensure I was in good nick for when the time did come for us to try and conceive again. She told me that until six months had passed we wouldn’t be going down the “infertility path”. These words horrified me because thus far on this parenthood journey we have been incredibly blessed, albeit one miscarriage, but still so incredibly blessed with our ability to conceive with ease. Having had so many friends that for one reason or another had struggled to conceive and to have their bodies hold onto the baby I knew it was much more common than people often thought and not off the cards. Perhaps watching so closely and being involved in some cases as dear friends lived out their days of infertility had left me with an absolute sense of knowing for what may lie ahead and it was not a path I wanted to go down.  I left the doctor that day hurriedly as Isaac “linked it” in the surgery I had no referral for blood work, a flaming “hoo-ha” and a deflated heart at the notion of potentially facing an uphill climb to bring Isaac a sibling.

All those emotions are to be unpacked at another time but for now on with the story.

I took the tablet and my bits did not recover, they were still on fire and I was not happy. Sunday night rolled around and I couldn’t even tell you why but I did another pregnancy test. The fainest, pink line you’ve ever seen showed up on that stick. So faint I kept thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me. I looked, looked away, looked again, squinted, held it close, held it far, moved to better light, used a spotlight, went to less light. It seemed to still be there…

The morning came and I woke to my usual alarm clock of Isaac at around 6am. I didn’t wee. We got ready and went out for our morning coffee and on the way stopped at woollies waiting not so patiently for them to open, I was busting and I was anxious. I bought a pregnancy test and went straight to the public toilets and peed on that stick. An incredibly strong pink line appeared almost instantly.

We went to coffee that morning with our usual dates Mara and Isla and life seemed normal. I went to the doctor to finish the appointment from the week previous which as we know had ended in mass evacuation due to the ticking time bomb known as Bam detonating. I walked in the door and said, “I’m pregnant” to which she swiftly responded, “I told you so”. What I heard next wasn’t my greatest moment. “Sit tight for a bit because the tablet you took last week can cause miscarriage and so we want to make sure it’s out of your system before we get too far ahead of ourselves”. This pregnancy was by no means unwanted, unexpected? Yes, but not unwanted. I instantly felt so disappointed and guilty that I might cause myself to go through what I had already endured previously. I felt for my heart, how heavy it would feel, how painfully it would ache and for my body, to have to experience something that yes is only natural yet still taxing, and for it to be not of natural causes but of my own interference.

I had a blood test to try and work out how pregnant I was and so that we could take a referral to the hospital. That afternoon the doctor called and said “you’re somewhere between two and five weeks pregnant but I am erring on the side of two. Get through the next seven days and assuming all is well then come in and we will organise ultrasounds and get this ball rolling”. This confused the hell out of me as given my recent fire crotch episode, which as it turns out is caused by being pregnant, Mylo and I hadn’t had sex for two weeks.

I told Mylo that afternoon by dressing Bam in a onesie which said “BIG BROTHER BAM” on it. He said “where did you get that from? What does it say? What does that mean? WHAT? HOW? Well this is sooner than expected!” His reaction was about on point for how left field this was for us and yet I burst into tears anyways (pregnancy hormones???) Not sure what I expected his reaction to be honestly, I feel like in that moment there wouldn’t have been a right one. I had been desperate to tell him all day and there was so much build up for me that the come down was rough haha and this poor guy was on the receiving end of that.

Sport training was on for the other kids and dinner needed to be made so “on with the show” and we would talk about it later. One of the many differences between first and second babies that I was yet to discover.

Mylo called me from the car at AFL training and said, “babe obviously I’m excited that we are having another baby, I just didn’t expect it to be this soon, the odds were not in our favour but I should have known this would happen based on how easily it’s happened before. Don’t be upset, I love you, I just need to process it all, we will talk tonight in bed”.

#husbandoftheyear

We talked and it was wonderful and we would sit tight until we knew the external factors for miscarriage had passed.

The week went by and I was still with child, relief flooded my body and I started to accept that this was real. I feel like I wasn’t investing in it until we survived that week for the obvious reason of protecting my heart.

We booked an ultrasound to find out how far along we were and I booked it for later rather than earlier given that if we went too early the little tacker would be too small to detect and get a heart beat on. So off we went some time later (what I thought was seven weeks) and low and behold there the little rascal was, just hanging out at the dayspa, staying all warm and snuggly. “Nine and a half weeks” they said, “you’re due Australia Day”.

Ok, so further along than we expected but that was excellent news because I felt like I’d been keeping this secret far too long already. A few people knew because I was already well and truly vomiting and off food but for the most part it was on the down low.

This did make more sense as to when we quarantined my hoo-ha though so all seemed well in the world.

So there you have it, I’m having a baby which will make our babies roughly nineteen months apart. We had planned on about a two year gap, although I would have been happy to try once I got the all clear at six weeks postpartum (crazy I know). I don’t know when would have been a good time to try again if it was a conscious decision because once you have a child, forever more life is more difficult to coordinate and quite literally the thought of fitting more in is thoroughly overwhelming. In saying that we are absolutely wrapped at the idea and reality that Bam will have a sibling and are beyond stoked with our latest little creation busily growing away inside of me.

 

So here’s to the next chapter in the “Fun Field Days” ahead of us and to the adventures they will bring. I can’t wait to share it with you all along the way. The ups, the downs, the good the bad, the happy, the sad. I’ll share it all because that’s what I do, and to be honest I can’t wait!!!