Monday, 3 December 2012

Loving laundry

I have always been the laundry go to person between hubby and me. He has put washing on a few times in the last 8 years, and has hung out plenty of loads. But I am the one with the strategic planning in my mind of how many loads on which days and whether they will be delicate, regular, sheets and towels, etc. I am also the folder. There are three loads waiting to be folded in the lounge while I write this.

And I actually love laundry. I used to love the folding and putting it away. Creating order, a fresh start, a job done. Now I like putting the loads on. Watching the huge piles diminish and the machine humming away. While I was pregnant I had to buy Persil again cause I couldn't cope with the "natural" smells of eco friendly laundry liquid. So I love walking past the cupboard the machine lives in and smelling the smell of "clean". But recently my absolute favourite bit is hanging the washing out.

Hanging it out takes a long time. And it involves lots of bending up and down. But I am alone - at least with a bit of personal space. I get to move and stretch. I can smell the air and the day. I have to squint into the sun and get up on my tippy toes to reach the line. It is a rotary clothesline which is stuck a bit too high for me. There is still the satisfaction of organisation (I am definitely not a fan of the random washing arrangements hubby seems to go for). I have rules I follow to try to fit as much on the line as possible and for it to dry as fast as possible. I get to look around the garden and see the bees flying in and out of the hives, the chickens scratching around and the veges growing. At the moment the "cherry on top" is looking to see if there are any ripe raspberries or strawberries. It sounds blissful, and it really is. I look around and see how over the last few years our dreams have unfolded from our minds and into our reality.

Ella loves to play in her ride on car and make up all sorts of games while I am pegging busily away. At the moment there is lots of talking to herself and her imaginary friends. I hear her talking like she is the mummy. Sometimes what she says is a little too close for comfort "Stop that Mafi!" (her imaginary friend). "You are not using your listening ears and I am getting cross". Mmm wonder who says that?

If George is awake, he doesn't quite have the stamina for a whole load of laundry. He sits in his bouncinet squinting a little at the outside, outside world. Funny how babies are born from inside tummies, to inside rooms, and then finally out into the outside world, especially July babies in New Zealand.

Hanging out the laundry reminds me of me. That I love being outside and being at home and growing things and all this life that is around me and that I am living is what I have wanted. And sometimes I forget that. Sometimes it all gets really overwhelming and I think "Is this really me? Am I in someone else's life? Has there been some terrible mistake and I am supposed to be somewhere else?"
But with pegs in hand, creating a little order in the chaos, I remember that I love it all - the everydayness and the ordinary of it. And that we are really living it. Living our dream. I might have a lot more scars - real and invisible - than I expected, but I am still essentially me. I can trust that, even when it feels like the ground is in constant motion and I am lost.

Laundry as meditation.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

An apology

This post has been perculating for a while. It has been a painful and confusing time where i have reconsidered a lot and have had to look myself in the eye. I suspect that many around me may heave a high of relief when you finish reading this. And that is hard to face. I also suspect i have hurt and been insensitive to people i care deeply about and that is so awful to accept and take responsibility for.

So anyway, a few weeks ago i thoughtlessly pressed share on my phone after liking a cartoon on Facebook. (I am deliberately not linking to it). Suffice to say it expressed the opinion that children shouldn't be left to cry. A friend didn't like the conclusions the cartoon drew and let me know. My friend and i had a good talk about it and all was fine but it got me thinking about some tough truths for me as a mum and the impact depression has had on me and my parenting choices and opinions.

Before Ella was born and even before we lost our first child, i had been keen to read and learn all i could about parenting. I was, and still am, really sensitive. As a child I was very sensitive to those around me and wanted to be the best parent i could be and do everything right. By the time Ella born i had a mini library of parenting books and thought i knew how it was going to be. My friends from our antenatal class and coffee group will remember well how embarassingly well informed i was. Now there is nothing wrong with being well read and informed about having kids, but i do think you need to know what is behind your need to know. And my reason was fear of hurting my child and of not doing it "right". It really had not dawned on me that there is no right way. That would have scared me even more!

Anyway, after Ella's birth i was hit with severe depression. Picture me lying on the couch, unable to sleep or eat, panic attacks whenever i breastfed and seriously contemplating suicide. I felt completely overwhelmed by this tiny new baby who was so dependent on me. I felt unable to cope and truly believed she would be better off without me as her mum. It still shocks me to think back to that time and how awful it was.

I was very lucky, in a way, to become so ill so soon after Ella's birth as i was prescribed antidepressants and felt better relatively quickly. But the foundation was already laid for how i would mother. I think the worst fear of any mother with mental illness is that your illness will badly impact on your child. And the research shows that children of mothers with depression are vulnerable to the impact of the often disrupted attachment with their mum and are at much greater risk of mental illness themselves, not just due to genetic factors. I was so afraid of Ella suffering because of me that i did everything i could to promote attachment. I wore her in a carrier, breastfed on demand, bed shared and refused to follow the advice of leaving her to cry, even when she was waking 5 or more times a night for months on end.

Ella was and still is a delightful, outgoing and intense person. I like to say her off button is missing. She struggled to get to sleep and if left would just become hysterical. She had the disturbing habit of coming out in a rash whenever she cried and then crying in her sleep for the entire time she was asleep if she got upset while settling. She was also impressive in her spilling to the point that it felt like i was carrying an over-full mug around which would tip copious amounts of milk on me and everywhere else at any time. Our floor resembled a Jackson Pollock painting and the amount of laundry was insane. Excuse the pun. So add in my perfectionist tendencies and then a good dose of depression and being highly sensitive and it is pretty clear why we chose to parent Ella the way we did.

Now i don't regret how we have done things. It has suited Ella and certainly hasn't hurt her. But there were times where the effort to meet her needs left me completely exhausted and vulnerable to the depression I was working so hard to protect her from. George's birth and him being so settled, the choice to formula feed, the shared parenting hubby and i are doing and being well this time around are all meaning i am recognising how unhealthy some of my choices and thinking have been and in turn i have needed to believe i was right and things were black and white. And i surrounded myself with books, people and Facebook pages which would support my choices. (i am getting to my point). Hence why i was getting cartoons such as the one i posted, on my news feed. So back to posting opinionated parenting links.

For a long time i have needed parenting to be a black and white affair while there was so much grey around. My apparent confidence and certainty was as much about my own fears and insecurities as the research i had done. I do wish i hadn't been so quick to give advice or opinions, even just in my head. Nothing is certain or simple and in the end, what i think is pretty irrelevant. The mother i am now is shifting.

I am still committed to being a responsive parent but now good enough will have to do. In the past i have not been good at recognising my own needs and limits. But another tough pregnancy, this time with a preschooler, trying to avoid depression and not being able to breastfeed have all led me to climb down from my high horse and face my reality rather than a fantasy i thought i had to live up to. I don't regret my choices but i regret my attitude and assumptions. My life, my family and myself are a hodge podge of so many beliefs, experiences and circumstances and are unique. So now i see myself as a mum who is working it out as i go along and hopefully someone who is quick to empathise with other parents as we all make the best choices we can for or families.

So if you have ever felt judged by me or that I seemed to have it all together and know what I was doing...I apologise. And I hope you realised at the time and now, that I really don't know much and am just dealing with life as best I can at the time. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many mothers and families of all types and persuasions, who inspire me and share life with me. thank you

Friday, 31 August 2012


This week we had a review appointment with the laser dentist to check George's mouth following his tongue tie proceedure. It was good news and they confirmed that his mouth is totally fine now. Though this is really good, I was thrown into a steep slide down the rabbit hole as I sat in the "relaxation room". My thinking went something like "If there is nothing physically wrong to stop him breastfeeding and it is poor co-ordination that has been the challenge then if I kept trying then he could get better and he could breastfeed. And then the killer - so it is my fault cause I haven't persevered and gave up too soon for selfish reasons and cause I am weak".

The awful knife twisting and dark feelings that accompanied this were awful and I think for the first time I felt the full weight of the grief of losing that special part of my relationship with George, which has been so important to me in mothering Ella.

I started thinking that I should try again and even contacted the lactation consultant again the next day to get her advice. And I did try again, even just for that day. But it was awful, physically and emotionally. And by the end of the day I knew it wasn't going to work. Both for him and for me.

And so I remade the decision to feed him with formula and though I am sad, it felt right. And today was a much better day because of it.

I am realising that I am going to have to learn to mother George in new ways. My old stand by of offering the breast isn't a possibility. And I have very mixed feelings about that. Because if I am honest, part of me, and not just a small part, is relieved.

I know it isn't the done thing, but breastfeeding is intense. Your body and your breasts are not your own. You walk a line between mother and lover which is often hard to negotiate. I fed Ella to sleep and helping her learn to sleep in other ways has been a long process. I fed her in the night until she was over 18 months and she fed intensely during the day until she was over 2. I wasn't able to go out and leave her in the evenings until she was over a year. At the time I did it because she needed it and I believed in it. But it was exhausting and some of my choices were because I didn't know how to draw a line between my needs and Ella's. I totally support using breastfeeding as more than just nutrition and breastfeeding beyond babyhood. But it comes with sacrifices. And given that I am now in the situation of not breastfeeding, I am trying to focus on the positives while also being a responsive and present parent to George.

Some of the positives are that I have had my first glass of wine in over a year. Today I was able to leave George with his Nana while I went to Ella's first dance class with her. Hubby is helping with some of the night feeds, which is definitely making life much easier. I am learning to help George get to sleep without feeding, which hopefully will mean we have a bit more flexibility with sleep in the future. I won't be the only parent who can get him to sleep. There is a predictability and a pattern to the day that I like.

But it is hard to accept that things are also so different from the way I have done things in the past. No rolling over in the night to feed and staying in bed. Feeds in the night take a long time and I am often up for and hour and a half at a time by the time I feed him, burp him and get him back to sleep. It is a horrible feeling to know that if you don't have enough bottles or formula, that you cannot feed your child. It is also harder to get organised and ready to go out and there is more paraphernalia to carry. And I am continually washing and steralising bottles. It is definitely not easier than breastfeeding. Just different.

So it is bittersweet. I am not going to pretend about it. And I am hoping that acceptance will come as I grieve the loss of what I had hoped for but also embrace the reality of life as it actually is. I wish it were different as much as I like but it is not going to bring me peace or be the best for George.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The onion of identity

Cheesy title i know. It seems that one of my continual 'issues' is that of identity. Who am i? Do i like who i am? Am i being honest with myself or am i trying to be someone else who i think is more acceptable or loveable? Who do the people around me think i am? What do i want them to think?

Before i became a mum my identity was really wrapped up in my job as a high school teacher. I knew the kind of teacher i wanted to be. But i also wanted my colleagues and students to see me a certain way. I wanted to be the hardworking, creative and forward thinking teacher who was up with the latest ideas and had great relationships with her students. In other words, i wanted to be my version of the perfect educator. I did a great job, but also needed to take stress leave and ended up burning out.

As my identity in my work disintegrated, my focus shifted to my biological clock. I had always wanted children and impatiently waited till our situation allowed us to start our family. If you have read my blog for a while you will know that we lost our first child when i was 17 weeks pregnant.

The loss of our baby left me lost. I didn't feel like i was a mother because the grief of the death of a child no-one had ever met seemed as if it had no real acknowledgment. It felt so awful that i just wanted to move on. So i pretended i was fine. But i wasn't. I tried changing jobs but my heart wasn't in it. I had moved on to motherhood in my identity but my nest was empty.

When u got pregnant again a year later i was over joyed and felt all my struggles were over. I could be a mum and know who i was. Well i was very wrong.

Being a mum is the hardest thing i have ever done. It has challenged me in all my most sensitive areas, if you know what i mean. Got an insecurity, an unresolved issue, unrealistic expectation? Parenting will make sure you know about it. And for me, the depression and anxiety i had wrestled with for years, threatened to overwhelm me.

But it hasn't and through the last 3 years i have grown and changed and been the most happy i have been since i was little.

My identity as s mother has grown and i have felt sure of my values as a mum and how i do things. When we finally got the courage to have another child, i said to myself and others that i was looking forward to just getting on with it when the baby arrived and bot having to think it all through from scratch. You know, all the parenting choices such as how you feed your baby, where will they sleep, starting solids, discipline and the list goes on.

I planned the pregnancy and birth carefully to avoid a relapse of depression and have had awesome support from my hubby and family, midwife, therapist and doula. The pregnancy was really difficult but i got through it without depression taking hold. But plans don't mean you have control.

The birth went well and even though i had hoped to deliver at home, i was very grateful and happy when George was born with help of a ventouse in hospital. I then thought we could just get on with it and enjoy our new addition. I would do all the things i believed in; breastfeed to at least 2, co-sleep, discipline gently, babyled weaning etc.

George had other ideas. He couldn't breastfeed. We decided, after trying lots of options, to bottle feed and use formula. It was the right decision for us. But i wasn't prepared for how much just changing how i feed George had formed my identity as a mum.

I have been big supporter of breastfeeding and fed Ella till she was 27 months. I realised i had worn this as a badge of pride. When i was in the depths of depression and Ella was only a few weeks old, being able to breastfeed her was the only thing which made me feel like a good mother. This was at a time when i believed she would be better off without me.

And here i am now. Feeling good and loving life, but not breastfeeding. So who am i as a mother? Well obviously my identity as a mum is something deeper. It  isn't my practices as a parent. As i look at both my children i know, probably for the first time, that i am a mother because i love my kids with all of me and even that seems to small.

I love the child i never met and was a mother the moment she or he was concieved. Ella is a joy to know and a delight and George is my beautiful wee man.

None of us are what we do. Putting energy into doing i the hope you can create a sense of self is at best pointless. Instead our love for our family and friends and those who love us are what define who we are.

I hope i can teach this to my kids and hold onto it myself.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Celebrating George

In the midst of the struggle I love my son. He is gorgeous, observant, settled. He crosses his hands and his feet when he sits on my knee, like a patient old man. He loves to stretch his arms up as high as they will go and has strong legs. When his sister talks he moves his head to find her. He loves to watch and clouds and trees outside. He would much rather go to sleep in my arms than anywhere else. His legs are getting roly poly and his has a beautiful double chin. When he has his nappy changed he tried to have a conversation with me with his eyes. Sometimes when he sneezes the sneeze seems to disappear and all that comes out is a sigh.

That is what I am celebrating and marvelling at right now. I love you George. Welcome.

To catch you up...

If you are a friend on FB then this post will be relatively redundant but since I haven't posted for a couple of rather eventful months I will give you a quick synopsis. Then I plan to write a lot about what we have been through and continue to deal with. Writing is feeling extremely important to me right now and one of the best ways to keep my head straight.

So the rest of the pregnancy passed with continuued exhaustion but positive anticipation of our little boy's arrival. I had a few hits of absolute terror at how I would possibly manage with two children but as the due date approached the desperation for the pregnancy to be over, outweighed it.

I got pretty impatient at the end and tried to get things going before he was due. No luck. Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. However, George Charles Paul W. was born on 20th July at 8:25am. It was so wonderful to finally meet him, and to look forward to being a family of four. (Will write in more detail about this)

Unfortunately since his birth we have discovered he has a posterior tongue tie. He was hospitalised and on a feeding tube for a few days as he couldn't get enough food through breastfeeding. Once we got home he still couldn't breastfeed so I pumped and we supplemented with formula. He struggled to even manage to feed from a bottle and needed constant breaks to burp and avoid choking. This was very frustrating for him and stressful for us. After lots of research and asking for advice we saw a laser dentist and had his posterior tongue tie and lip tie lasered. This seemed to make breastfeeding work and removed the pain for me. But after a week it became clear that he still wasn't getting enough food and he wasn't latching properly or using his tongue properly. We tried another couple of options but came to the conclusion that bottle feeding was going to have to be the way we fed him until we could see the dentist again and see what else could be done.

In the mean time I have come to the end of my reserves and after a very hard pregnancy I decided I couldn't keep pumping and so we are now mainly using formula and I am just pumping for comfort and to prevent a return of mastitis.

I am feeling quite lost and confused about everything. So many decisions and also wanting our family to be able to live a more normal life after me being out of action for so long. No matter which way I turn there are sacrifices which need to be made and it is very tough deciding which are acceptable and which are not. What I am learning is there is no right decision. There is just the best one for now.

I planned this child so carefully to avoid having a relapse of depression. When I take my two little pills each morning I know that without them, the last few weeks would have tipped me over the edge. So I need to make my wellness a priority. It feels incredibly selfish. But is also essential because George and Ella need their Mum and hubby needs his wife. And I need to be okay.

I feel like this journey is getting to heart of a lot of the things I have held so dear as a mother and have formed my identity and having them stripped away is very painful. But I also see glimmers that it is important to let go and know that my identity is not in any of the things I do or believe in as a Mum. Who I am is deeper than that. But that is hard to hold onto as I grieve what I wanted to give and share with George. The way through this does not seem clear at all right now and I think the realisation of what it means for me is just beginning.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Maybe I might be normal?

A few weeks ago I hit the wall. Not literally. But I had to go down that well trodden path which starts with feeling unable to do the things I want to do, feeling like a crappy Mum and wife, just so tired and so frustrated that I start thinking that I am the problem. So I lost it one night. And poor hubby just said he really didn't have it in him to go through having a depressed wife again. And that was terrifying, but also good.

So I went to my GP and asked for a referral to the maternal mental health service again. Because when I am on that horrible slippery slope I feel like I need someone to rescue me. BUT, and this is BIG, my GP looked at my blood tests and said that with B12 that low and anemia, everything I was feeling could all be because of that. So maybe I wasn't going nuts again? Maybe I was normal? Maybe I had a physical problem with a physical solution and it wasn't my silly mind again? Revolutionary! Extraordinary!

So the next day as I waited for my B12 bloods to come back I prayed that it would be low, really low, and I would be able to have an injection and it wouldn't be about me being a loon, or weak or faulty. It would be a physical problem. And with prayer answered, I was so happy to have that needle in my arm.

Then that weekend I saw my midwife who listened so empathetically and told me another wonderful thing... Every women she sees at this stage of pregnancy feels like they can't cope and are exhausted and cries. It is normal to reach this point. She encouraged me to ask for help and to be kind to myself. So that evening I phoned my parents and told them how tough we were finding things. I think the fear of your child falling apart is pretty powerful and so my parents knew that the practical support they could offer now might be the difference between being ok and or me sinking into depression again just before the baby is born.

So the last few weeks my parents have helped me to do housework and look after Ella so I can nap. And I have been accepting the season I am in and that I need to "nest and rest". I have experienced the most wonderful peace because I am not beating myself up and I know I have help to get things done. And it isn't personal, it is just the way it is when you are me and this pregnant.

I don't think you have to have experienced depression to know the awfulness of blaming yourself when you can't keep up with your own expectations. For me lowering my expectations of myself but asking for help has allowed me to be okay. I really feel for all those who don't have people they can call on for help. But I am so grateful that I do. And I don't care what anybody thinks about my lack of independence or what mothers "should" be able to manage. I am just me and taking care of myself is the best thing I can do right now as I continue to enjoy that I have a physical condition (normal pregnancy) and am not going nuts!

Monday, 30 April 2012

The terror of exhaustion

I haven't been posting regularly. I have been and still am, exhausted. This is a normal side effect of pregnancy, plus toddler, plus working a couple of days a week. But I really struggle with exhaustion.

Firstly, I am a get things done kinda girl. I like to get up in the morning, have brekkie, check fb and emails and then get the housework done. Nothing major. Washing hung out, kitchen tidy, general tidy up and work out what we are having for dinner. But exhaustion makes that seem like an impossible task. I think about having a shower and know that I will need to lie down afterwards. I look at my daughter and seriously panic about how I am going to look after her all day. The washing and the kitchen are just insurmountable. And dinner? Who knows? So it really gets me down to feel unable to manage my home and my life. Just the little things but the things that make me feel like things are okay.

Secondly, exhaustion feels like depression. For anyone who knows the debilitating lethargy and lack of motivation of depression, then maybe you will understand the terror of exhaustion. It feels depressing. It looks like depression, well at least me and the house look depressed. But I'm not. I am just physically unable to do stuff. And hubby has to pick up the slack. And for him that looks and feels like I am depressed. I am no longer throwing up all day, so what is up with me? Why am I a lump in the corner of the lounge looking desperately in his direction when he walks in the door at the end of the day? Its exhaustion.

Exhaustion can be depressing, but for me it is terrifying because it reminds me constantly of the fragility of mental well being and it challenges me to accept my limitations. I don't want to have limitations. Not when it comes to the basics that I just expect to be able to do and that I actually generally enjoy being able to get done. But thankfully I have some wonderful people around me who remind me that it is what it is. I can get frustrated and stressed about feeling tired, but I will still be tired. So instead it is much wiser to got to bed early every night, do the bare minimum each day and just accept the season. Fear and terror certainly doesn't help and if anything it is good to know that I am actually tired. It is not all in my head, so to speak.

And today I had the energy to write. I have done no housework but there is not much to do. And I choose to write with the energy I have. Because I love doing it and life is to be enjoyed right now, not when I have energy again. I am going to have another baby in less than 3 months so waiting to have energy to burn would be a pretty silly strategy. Anyway, that is another post entirely.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Planting my feet

Today I had one of those days where I felt buffeted around and like I was scrambling to get a foot hold. It wasn't one major thing but the combination that seemed to have me feeling so at sea, as it were.

First, daylight savings. Gosh that extra hour which just means up an hour earlier with a little girl full of energy, has completely undone me. Add that even going to bed by 7pm wasn't quite cutting it for my busy, baby-growing body and I am a wreck. When I woke this morning I was reminded again that daylight savings takes a week to recover from. So first add tiredness.

Then some lovely news about a friend that triggered a surprising sadness which had me all in a tizzy about why I felt that way and what it meant.  I don't like not understanding why I feel the way I do and also know the importance of not letting feelings freak me out. So was busy attending to some "issues" that were being raised.

Then I had a little run in with the corner of the osteopath building and our car. Not nice to hear the screech down the side of the car or to see the look of terror on my daughter's face. Thankfully only mildly cosmetic and definitely not something we will need to spend money on. But as I sat in the car and caught my breath I thought "Having a good cry would actually really help right now". But since Mummy losing it in the front seat was not going to reassure daughter, I took a deep breath and off we went to the osteopath.

By the end of the appointment I was feeling better physically but a bit of a wreck mentally. Apparently my hip was very twisted, and though it has been corrected it looks like something which I will need to keep on top of. I suspect part of the reason I had a difficult labour and c-section with Ella is due to this. I really don't want that again and just felt my confidence drop as I faced what is a big fear for me. Instead of hearing the fact that it can be managed, all I could feel was the sinking feeling that history was repeating. I have been really trying to promote this baby to be a in a good position and the hip issue is something which may get in the way of this. Since I am planning a homebirth (this is an informed decision that hubby and I have made which I may discuss in an upcoming post but is not the point of this one), I want to make sure I do all I can to take responsibility for that decision. But some things are not in my control.

I then met up with a Homebirth Support group I go to rather infrequently. You would think this would have been a great idea since I was feeling a bit discouraged. But though I loved being there and visiting the cohousing development it was held at, I came away still feeling very lost and at sea.

As I lay in bed while Ella fell asleep beside me and I pondered all of this, trying to find some firm footing, I remembered something my midwife said to me last time I saw her. We were discussing the fact that birth is more about the mental than just the physical. She shared that during the birth of one of her children she reached a point where she thought "Sh@#$, I am actually the only one who can do this". She had been looking around the people who were there to support her and none of them could offer a rescue package which would save her from actually having to birth her child. She was going to have to do it herself and despite everyone's empathy and sympathy, she was on her own.

This "truth" really resonates with me today. I often wish and hope for someone to save me from the things I find hard and challenging in life. I am not a self reliant and independent person naturally. When I need to make a decision my instinct is to ask everyone I know what they think. If I am struggling I desperately look around for an escape route rather than accepting the situation and dealing with it. And so today as outside influences seemed about to blow me over I kept looking outside myself for strength and reassurance. But it didn't come. And it wasn't ever going to - at least not definitely.

Now you may think this is heading for the moral of self-reliance and hardening up. But actually I am not one for that either. I think my faith in God leads me to a third option. I am actually not alone. I am designed and meant to be the way I am. I have failings and weaknesses and I also have strengths. And I don't have to face life or each day or moment alone. But my feet need to be planted on something more steadfast and reliable than the daily ups and downs that inevitably come. Then I can have the courage to be vulnerable and real about my struggles and confusion but also to know that I don't carry it alone and that the solutions are not just up to me, or the wonderful people around me.

Just like the miracle of the little boy growing inside me, so much is beyond my control and happening despite myself. And there is goodness and hope. And I am small in the big scheme of things. So when I have a day like today I find that comforting and my feet come down to earth and I feel planted again. No big answers, no total clarity, but not lost and not alone. And I do need to embrace a bit more of "Sh@#$, I am actually the only one who can do this", but also in the knowledge that I have what I need to face my fears and the feelings and events that are bound to blindside us in life. I used to be terrified of the hard stuff cause I was so dependent on everything around me to get me through. I am slowly learning that I have the resources to deal with life and even though it will be painful, I can face the pain and be okay, with feet planted.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Quality women and quality talk

One of the things I was determined to do before number two arrived was to go away on a girly weekend with some of my close friends. This is something I got into the habit of organising in the years BC (before children) but due to the changing seasons of life, it has been something I thought was in the past. But while I am pregnant, not breastfeeding or needed every hour or so, there is this window of opportunity. I always loved the fun of hanging out with a group of girlfriends where we could talk, and talk, and eat, and talk some more, without a deadline to stop in an hour or so. And now that we all have kids, it is amazing to even be able to have a conversation that isn't just a series of comments interrupted by nappies to change, arguments to referee and all the other normal kid supervision tasks.

So this last weekend it happened. I organised to stay at a bach with a gorgeous view, bought some yummy food and we all congregated at times during the weekend that worked for our families. I was very happy for babies to come along, as long as I had no responsibility for my own.

And it was so lovely. I think we all had years of unfinished conversations pent up within us and hours of adult conversation to be had to make up for the hours of preschool conversation we all have each week. Topics were wide ranging, honest and intimate. If it was on someone's mind, we talked about it. I am sure some of the hubbies would have loved to be a fly on the wall, but others may have needed therapy to recover.

During the weekend I was so grateful for the honesty and reality of my friends. Sharing the struggles, vulnerabilites and journeys we are all on is so refreshing and helpful. It reminds me that none of us have it sorted and that we are all wrestling. Life on earth is not perfect but there are also some many things to laugh about and celebrate. Most of all the fact that friendships and can grow and thrive through the changing seasons of life.

I am thinking about when to have the next one. Maybe when squirt is about 4 months old...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Why so long?

I have thought about writing this post. I have had a lot of things to write. But there has been so much going on that sleeping and breathing has been further up the list of possibilities in my day. But I have really missed writing.

So where have I been? And why the silence?

Well here is the short version...

September 2011 - move house and consequent chaos. Begin studying Childbirth Education Diploma which is supposed to require 20 hours a week. I was never good at Maths. Hence not really realistic and even though I loved it and totally recommend the course it meant no family time and all evenings studying. Not really sustainable.

November 2011 - find out we are pregnant with number two. I am very happy and have grand plans of continuing studying and finishing the first year before sprog arrives. Hubby has other ideas and after much talk I am thinking about quitting the course. By 6 weeks pregnant I become basically bedridden with the worst nausea and vomitting (hyperemesis). Family take over looking after Ella. By 9 weeks I am on anti-nausea meds and spend a couple of nights in hospital. Life is hell and I sincerely wonder what the heck I was thinking getting pregnant again. It took lots of courage to even consider having another child, with my continuing issues with depression, and feeling awful and unable to do anything or even look after Ella really took its toll on my mental health.

February 2012 - Work starts back and I am just starting to feel a bit better. Still on medication and have withdrawn from the course.

Now - I have been off the anti-nausea meds for 2 weeks and feeling much better. Even starting to have some energy and not just surviving each day. Enjoying our new home and feeling like I am actually settling in and celebrating being here. Feeling mentally well and strong and able to also give thanks for the fact that I am here. I don't regret this pregnancy and am so excited to meet our little one when he arrives (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

I credit my wellness and confidence with the fact that I am still seeing a therapist once a fortnight, am still on antidepressants after much research and thought, have a supportive and understanding midwife who understands my situation and preferences and a doula (birth support person) who totally supports me and give amazing massages.

When I think back to my pregnancy with Ella, I was full of grief, fear, and not able to listen to myself and take care of my own needs. This time around I have the skills to get through stress, and the confidence and love for myself and self acceptance to ask for what I need and not feel bad about it. I am able to live with trust in God, something which was absent when I was in so much pain after the loss of our first child.

The credit for all this first goes to God. His faithfulness and continual support, even when I have been so lost and confused has seen miracles happen in my life and each day and especially in the last couple of weeks I am celebrating that I can see how I have changed. I also give myself credit for not accepting a life of survival and pain, for wanting and expecting more and being willing to lay myself pretty bare to get there. The fact that I am pretty honest about me and don't pretend that I am okay. That has helped me stay with my situation and not deny it, even if I have felt embarassed or labelled by it at times. I also credit my hubby, who takes my mental health seriously, who accepts that I am me and that taking care of me requires both of us. For his strength and generosity beyond what I think I would be able to give. For always saying yes to the things I need to do for me and saying no to the pain and twistedness that can come with the baggage and scars we all have. And of course to all my friends and family who have supported me and I am sure have wondered at times about what I would "snap out of it" or cope better but have loved and helped me anyway.

So here I am. Here. And writing again. I hope I am able able to write more often because it really is such a joy and I hope you find something here to bless you where you are at.