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Changes

25 Aug

Gosh, almost another month has passed. I still feel like I’ve achieved nothing, though looking at Henry it seems plenty has been going on. The Master of the house has found his smile, his hands, a cheeky giggle and a powerful kick. He’s becoming more and more like a real little boy with each day that passes and often I catch myself sitting there with him in my arms thinking I made you. For nine months I helped you grow from a microscopic little thing to something with arms and legs and hands and a nose. Those toes that I’m holding right now, you grew those inside of me. That smile, that hair, those beautiful blue eyes; all that was once living inside of me and now, here it is, out here in the world growing up right in front of me.

Some days it feels like it’s all going to quickly. I want to catch and savour every moment, I don’t want to let a single smile pass me by. Only yesterday I was in that labour ward listening to Cinematic Orchestra as Henry made his grand entrance. I can still remember every second – what it felt like, what it smelt like – and the slightest thing can take me back to that very room where he took his first breath. I can still feel him nestled on my chest, and remember what it was like to hold him with one hand.

They say it takes about six weeks to forget the pain of labour and be ready to do it all over again. I can’t say I’ve forgotten, but I can say I’ve now reached the point where it all doesn’t seem so bad. A second, and maybe even a third is certainly a possibility. Not now, not yet. There’s still so much to do and enjoy but someday, yes.

But for now our days are slowly slipping into a predictable routine. There’s mothers group and nap times, play dates and story books. Cakes are being baked, rugs are being sewn and knitted and the odd job is being picked up here and there. There are good days and bad ones, days where everything clicks and days where nothing makes sense. But I’ve reached that point where I feel I know this tiny new little human being, so when things aren’t going to plan I know it’s not forever.

As for today? It’s a mixed bag of smiles and tears. But it’s nothing a slice of birthday cake and an afternoon nap won’t fix.

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Besties with God

7 Aug

Today Henry became BFF with God. Everything went well – the service was perfect, Henry was better behaved than an angel, and it was so lovely to spend some time with friends. We even managed a public breastfeed and the little dude was so hungry he latched himself on piranha style the second we sat down. Success!

And now we’re home, enjoying the rest of our Sunday in our PJ’s. Perfect way to spend a wintery day. All in all it feels like we’ve reached a turning point, a time when life is starting to become more normal. A time when we can actually start to do stuff and go places without everything falling to pieces. And if nothing else this Sunday that’s certainly something we can thank God for.

Breast is best

7 Aug

It’s funny, all through your pregnancy you think about the labour. What it’s going to be like, how you’ll handle the pain, what you need to learn to get through what’s supposed to be the toughest four, twelve, twenty hours of your life. Typically, I didn’t think about it that much. I figured it was going to suck, that I’d beg for pain relief within seconds, and that it was only one day out of a life of thousands. And that’s pretty much how it panned out.

What no-one really talks about, and what I certainly didn’t think about, was the weeks and months after labour. How much a third degree tear really does hurt once the epidural has worn off. What it feels like to have your nipples ripped to shreds by something that looks all innocence but really has the sucking power of an industrial strength vacuum. How much it hurts to put your all into something for hours and hours each day only to have it not work, for absolutely no reason. How guilty you’ll feel giving your baby formula. And how terrified you’ll be that you’re stuffing absolutely everything up.

I’ve never been the most confident girl in the class. But I always figured I’d be a good mum. I’d love my kid to bits, I’d give him everything he needed, and I’d breastfeed because ‘Breast is Best’. I never thought that we’d struggle with something that’s supposed to be so natural, or that I’d reach the point where I just wanted to leave, run away, because I was completely unable to do the one thing I was supposed to be able to do – feed my child – in the way I thought I had to.

Seven weeks later and it still hurts. Every time I think I’m ready to just suck it up and pack it in I feel guilty for giving up so easily. I still think that by eight weeks, ten weeks, twelve weeks something will magically change and we’ll get it – there’ll be no more tears and screaming. And then there are the days when I wonder why I’m still plugging away at something that feels like it’s ruining the bond I have with my baby.

We’ve had help and lots of it. Our community health nurse has been fantastic, we’ve been to Tresillian to learn how to settle Henry and recognise the difference between hungry and tired. I’ve seen lactation consultants, I’ve been medicated, I’ve pumped till my nipples were purple. The supply has improved, slightly, but it’s still not where it should be. In a word, it’s heartbreaking.

But it’s time to move on. Henry will be two months old on Thursday and the time is simply flying by. He’s smiling now, holding his head up and pouting, becoming his own little person. Each day it’s something new, some little thing that becomes absurdly exciting when you’re a new parent – and I don’t want to miss a second of it.

The sperm that just won’t die

6 Jun

A few years ago, The Boy got himself a needle-stick from an HIV positive patient. After the initial freak out he decided to do what any caring and considerate guy would do when faced with the prospect of becoming a potential HIV carrier – he froze his sperm. You see, The Boy knew he wanted to be a Dad some day but obviously didn’t want to expose his wife or kid to his hypothetical HIV. Kudos to him for his exemplary foresight.

Luckily The Boy didn’t get HIV. He met me, we got married, then pregnant, and The Sperm continued to live its quiet life frozen in some upmarket Sydney lab. Until The Boy decided that he no longer needed said sperm and stopped paying the storage bill.

A few months went by. A reminder letter was sent and The Boy informed The Keepers of The Sperm that he no longer wanted his cup of half-made offspring. He told them to dispose of it. A new letter was sent with very detailed instructions for The Boy to follow in regards to requesting the termination of his sperm. He didn’t follow them. This then resulted in another letter being sent requesting he provide a copy of suitable photo ID, which necessitated the use of our piece of crap printer/scanner. Of course it was at this precise moment that our piece of crap printer/scanner decided to give up the ghost completely. So after spending $100 on replacement ink that didn’t work we decided to mail off a copy of The Boy’s old hospital ID in the hope that this would be enough to get rid of The Sperm.

It wasn’t.

The Sperm did not want to die. And I have to say, both of us were fast becoming quite impressed with The Sperm’s robustness.

The Boy was sent another letter that detailed, again, what he needed to do if he wanted to allow his sperm to ‘succumb’. By this point, despite The Sperm being ‘in excess of our current reproductive needs’, we kind of wanted to see the little dudes fight on. They’d come this far. It was only fair. And after a number of ridiculous letters and phone calls, jerking The Keepers of The Sperm around had become a pretty fun way to spend our downtime. Who knew sperm would be this hard to get rid of?

Anyway, last week we got another letter alongside a call from a debt collector, indicating that we should probably take this situation a bit more seriously. The last letter came with a post-paid envelope and it looked like game over until The Boy came up with the perfect reply.

A tissue.

Now, I want to be the person who actually mails that envelope with a tissue in it SO BAD, but unfortunately the rational side of my brain is putting up a pretty fierce argument against spending what would be approximately $300 on five minutes of entertainment. With a baby on the way, I’m not entirely convinced it’d be worth it. Pretty damn close though.

The point of no return

29 May

Today was a pretty good day. I got up early, stared down the almighty cold sore that is threatening to take over my face (that’s one for every trimester! YAY.), bought the last things I needed for my hospital bag (breast pads, maternity pads, overnight pads… I’m more than slightly concerned about the number of pads I’ve been told I’ll need), made a lasagna that only required three trips to the supermarket, had a nap, and finished off another late assignment. I even went to the newsagent in the pouring rain and got paper and ink for The Boy because that’s the kind of loving wife I am. You know, the one that occasionally does that thing that her husband has asked her to do three times already, then expects praise for finally getting around to it.

Anyway, cold sore aside, I was feeling pretty superhuman. That was until I got to the supermarket for the second time and the check-out chic started to look at me like I’d just grown a second head. I figured the cold sore had finally decided to stake its claim on my upper lip by lighting a neon flare or something. Then, as I was crossing the road to go home a lady stopped in her car and asked if I needed a lift. I explained that I was less than 10 metres from my driveway but she didn’t look at all convinced and actually waited in her car to watch me totter down the path. The final straw came when I was at the newsagent picking up The Boy’s supplies. The husband and wife team that run the place were horrified that I wasn’t driving home. The paper was too heavy, they said, was I sure I was going to be alright? Umm… yes?

And that’s when I realised that I have clearly reached that point where I look ridiculously pregnant. Too pregnant to be roaming the streets. Way too pregnant to be shopping and carrying things on my own. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I was wearing The Boy’s rain jacket which makes me look somewhat like a barrel on garden stake legs, nor the fact that my hair was, by this point, well on its way to afro thanks to a full on day of rain.

Needless to say I’ve decided I’m not going anywhere for the rest of the week. Which is perfectly fine because I have nowhere to go, and it’s raining so hard I’m expecting Noah to turn up any second with his Ark. Lucky my bags are packed.

Just relax…

28 May

There’s a girl at our church who is currently trying to get pregnant. She’s got a husband so there’s half the battle won, but other than that she’s not having much luck just yet.

Anyway, today this girl starts asking me about early pregnancy symptoms. And how long it took The Boy and I to get pregnant. And what worked. Because I wasn’t all that keen on explaining the mechanics of exactly how The Boy and I made Henry while standing in God’s house, I, in all seriousness, told her to just relax and that it’ll happen soon. The Boy then sticks his head into our conversation, I tell him what I’ve recommended, and his head very nearly explodes as he remembers just how relaxed I was when we were trying to conceive. Then he got this twitch in his eye as his brain waged war with his body to try to prevent the snort that it knew could very likely be his last. Lucky for him I do realise I wasn’t exactly the most easy-going person pre-pregnancy, and even luckier his brain won.

Of course now I can look back and see how ridiculously stressed I was about getting pregnant. I have a flock of friends who like to remind me  just how insane I got. And even if they didn’t, I sure remember it. I remember waking up at 6am EVERY DAY to take my temperature to watch for the slightest sign that I was ovulating. I was popping more pills than your average geriatric. I stopped eating pineapple, drinking tea, and taking hot baths. I was on the verge of crushing Manivit vitamins into The Boy’s morning coffee. I was a complete and utter bore to everyone who had to patiently listen to every little whine I had about how unfair it was that I was NEVER EVER going to get pregnant, and I’m pretty sure I turned sex into a chore faster than Usain Bolt ran the 100 metres in Beijing.

Thankfully – for both my husband and my friends – this crap only lasted a couple of months. And that couple of months flashed before my eyes when I told this girl to take a chill pill and wait it out. So much easier said than done but thankfully for the majority of people these things have a way of working out. Thankfully, for us, they did. Because I would not make a pleasant infertile. Those two months – one, really – felt like the longest in my life. And there are people out there who have been trying for YEARS to get pregnant. I don’t think I could do it. I truly don’t. I have trouble waiting for my toast to pop up – I’m one of those people who will compulsively watch it every second until it shoots out right in my face (somehow, despite this being a morning routine for over a decade now, the fact that the toast DOES pop out still surprises me). Why do I do this? Because one day that toast won’t pop out, and it will burn, and then catch fire, and then we’ll all die because we’ve been really slack with replacing the batteries in our smoke alarm. Just saying.

Anyway, I guess the moral of this story is that patience is a virtue (one I don’t happen to have, though I can definitely see its appeal). And that I’m a total hypocrite. And that these last few weeks of pregnancy are exactly like those first few when you’re all crazy with excitement and impatience and waiting for something to happen already. And when it does, boy am I going to be excited.

Stages of pregnancy

28 May

Since I’m getting pretty close to the end now, this is what I remember. Those three trimesters they give you don’t mean squat when your iPhone pregnancy tracker counts everything by week.

Week 4 – two pink lines appear on a stick. You’re pregnant! OMG you’re PREGNANT. Mentally revise your activities over the last four weeks and chow down on a handful of pre-natal vitamins to cancel out the effects of last Saturday’s late night bender.

Week 6 – start exercise regime. Exercise is good for the baby, right? And surely a good walk will counter the effects of those four cheeseburgers you just ate.

Week 8 – nausea? Heartburn? Get used to it. Feeling bad is good anyway. Embrace it. Eat more cheeseburgers to settle your stomach.

Week 9 – panic hits. Despite the fact you’ve had an ultrasound and have seen your little bean’s beating heart, you convince yourself something is wrong. Something must be wrong. Something always goes wrong. Surely the stress alone is enough to make something go wrong.

Week 12 – you made it! You always knew 12 weeks would be the miracle turning point and now you’re there. Everything looks great. Except now you’ve seen what looks a lot like an actual baby growing in side of you and all of a sudden you’re a parent and a lot more things can go wrong. You’re pretty sure you should be feeling movement now and you’re not, what’s up with that?

Week 13 – is that a bump? My god you look huge. Are you sure you’re not having twins?

Week 16 – the nausea has stopped, finally. You’ve got a cute bump. Your boobs are getting bigger. Your husband is stoked. You’re getting impatient. And there’s something moving around in there that you’re pretty sure is not gas. Or at least not all gas. No-one believes you.

Week 20 – now you’re definitely feeling something. Even if it is just wet pants. You quickly realise pregnancy is actually pretty gross. Your obstetrician quickly realises you’re a total hypochondriac. Your husband realises that this is probably a good time to just suck up whatever it was he was going to say, and replace it with a ‘you’re right. And I think you’re gorgeous and I love you, honey’.

Week 24 – you realise your fetus is viable! You’ve come this far with no problems, except an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. You always knew you’d be able to relax once you hit this point. Except you can’t, because the thought of your little baby hooked up to all those machines for months on end has you curled into a protective fetal position.

Week 26 – is it time for prenatal classes yet? Probably. Because god only knows when you’re going to go into labour. You book yourself in and flaunt your bump because surely it can’t get any bigger now.

Week 30 – you ask your obstetrician whether your uterus stops growing now since you can barely breathe or fit into a regular sized bra thanks to your expanding ribs. She looks at you like you’re the dumbest patient she’s ever had and tells you that yes, funnily enough as the baby keeps growing, so do you.

Week 32 – this week, you ask your obstetrician what that big lump in your middle is when you lean backwards. She makes a note in your file to check your child for any sign of mental retardation because seriously, with genes like these, he’s got to be kind of slow. She informs you that what you are seeing is, in fact, your baby. Duh.

Week 34 – you’re over it. You’re Googling labour signs and symptoms every day now, and you’ve kick started that exercise regime you’ve let slip through your fingers over the past four months because you figure that walking now will help move things down a bit. You find out pretty quickly that yes, things do move, and cause excruciating pain in your lady parts as your pelvis makes room for that grapefruit sized head that’s pushing against your bladder.

Week 35 – you waddle. You’ve been waddling for months, but now you’ve got this side sway thing going as well that makes people stop, stare, and ask if you need to sit down. People are surprised when you tell them you’ve got five weeks to go and aren’t having twins. So you start telling them that you’re due any day now, are disappointed that your uterus only managed to support two eggs and that Octomum is your hero. Everyone is happy.

Week 36 – you’re over it. Really. This time you’re really done. The braxton hicks, the stabbing pain in your vagina, the cramps, the heartburn, the back pain and the foot in your ribs has you drinking raspberry leaf tea and eating chicken masala to get things moving. Every time you pee you wonder if that was really your water breaking or just wishful thinking. You ask your obstetrician how you’re going to know when you actually go into labour. By this point she is used to your ridiculous questions and does her best to reassure that you’ll ‘just know’. You swear she looks at your husband and rolls her eyes. You cry uncontrollably at every image or thought of a baby and all of a sudden it’s just not OK that the house is dusty. Your husband realises that at this point if he doesn’t help clean you may actually stab him in his sleep and really pulls out all the stops. Well done husband.

The big easy…

27 May

… or not.

So I’ve been on maternity leave for a week now and I can honestly say I’ve been much busier than when I was at work. Mostly because I’m actually doing stuff now, as opposed to sitting at my desk making lists of baby stuff and Googling ‘pre-term labour’.

In fact, The Boy and I have been living it up. We had a friends 30th last Saturday which saw me out until 3am (3am people! This from the girl who turns into a pumpkin after 10pm and vomits when the clock strikes 12), drove to the coast on Monday to visit The Boy’s grandma, finally got the car seat fitted, cleaned the house and caught up on a bunch of study. It was a productive week.

So now, after busting my guts sweeping the floor and trying to break my waters on a long walk, I’m having a well deserved sleep-in. Just without the shut-eye because between the braxton hicks and the heartburn that’s been moved to the too hard basket.

Anyway… we’re in week 36 now. Only one week to go til term, three and a bit weeks all up. Four weeks max and this little guy will be all snuggled up in the cot beside me, squealing his little lungs out and pooping all over everything. As for being ready, I guess we’re as ready as can be! There’s still a dozen things I’d like to do – sew curtains and cushion covers, paint the house, make up a freezer full of food, pack a hospital bag – but for now what’s done is done and anything that miraculously gets done over the next few weeks is just gravy.

Still cookin’

13 May

Friday 13th! The perfect day to have a baby. Or so my body is trying to tell me.

Personally, I’m doing my best to ignore it. But, you know, it’s getting kind of hard when the best I can do is chew my lips as my back and belly radiate PURE UNADULTERATED FIRE every 20 minutes or so. All I can say is that this better not last the next five weeks, and that I’m seriously re-considering my previous declaration of a drug free pregnancy. I no longer want to be a hero. Survival has now moved to the top of my list.

Anyway, to sum up the last 10 days:

1. The Boy made it home. We had a beautiful weekend together, including a much anticipated picnic in Leura. I very ungraciously demolished a tasty meat pie. But me being ungraceful is hardly news these days. You should hear me trying to put on socks. I’m pretty sure our neighbours think we’re keeping a hippo over here. Photos to come.

2. I’m still at work but I’m over it. So over it. I can’t sit in my chair. Nor do I particularly want to be sitting in my chair. Henry, clearly, doesn’t want me to be sitting in my chair either the way he’s kicking the crap out of my bladder and kidneys. I’m in agony and I’m totally over pretending I’m happy to be here. But I’m holding onto the fact I only have four more days to go.

3. I have my baby shower this weekend! I’m super excited to be seeing my lady friends again – it’s been way too long – and I’m even more excited about the fact that I’m making southern style pulled BBQ pork for us all to demolish. Mmmm. Meat. The Boy, of course, could have partaken in our pork-fest had he consented to a mixed party but, sadly, he misses out. He’s probably banking on leftovers, but I’d like to remind him here that he’s got Buckley’s chance of getting between me and the meat the way I am now. I’m the girl that polished off our ENTIRE Easter stash while he was away, and still managed to demolish half a packet of leftover melted chocolate. In one day.

4. I’ve been unable to blog because I’ve been busy. Shocking, I know. But I’ve been catching up on study, trying to get the new Kenya Aid website built (almost done), and getting the new girl here at work up to speed on all she needs to do while I’m away while keeping her away from the worst of Dumb and Dumber until I’ve escaped and it’s too late for her to change her mind. Sadly, she’s already noticed Dicks proclivity towards perving down our tops. I’d like to tell her he’s just as blind as he is deaf, but I don’t think she’d buy it.

5. Pork Chop has assumed a VERY uncomfortable position that had me on the phone to the doctor today, thinking I was in labour. I’m still not convinced I’m not about to see an arm poke it’s way out between my legs because something astonishingly painful is going on right now. And, though I never thought I’d say it, I’m hoping this is a normal part of pregnancy. Because I still haven’t got the car seat fitted yet (nor my name changed, nor my taxes done) and so NEED these next few weeks of maternity leave to get my shit sorted. Be a good boy, buddy, and stay put for a while longer, OK?

That’s it! One long weekend, four days of work, then I’m free as a bird until the little one arrives. Time to get my domestic goddess on.

H is for hair, and hormones

3 May

To the hormones that have caused the hair on my legs to stop growing: perfect timing! Since I can no longer see my feet shaving my legs was becoming a real pain in the arse.

PS – if you guys want to move in permanently, I’d totally be cool with that. I’ll even bake you a housewarming carrot cake. With walnuts. And lemon cream cheese icing.

To the pregnancy hormones that are causing my stomach to fuzz up: WTH dudes! Totally not cool. You need to take yourselves and your sprouting follicles back to wherever you came from. And put the toilet seat down before you go, ok?