Posts tagged #times

Labour

Labour Mama Pyjama

Pregnancy… all things considered I wore it well.  I was one of the lucky ones.  My hair was glorious, my skin clear, and I actually lost weight (not through some crazy mission to not gain a kilo during the gestation period, but rather through giving up my beloved beer and accompanying meat/cheese platters). 

Sure, I had some weird pregnancy side effects that drove me a little crazy…like blocked ears that wouldn’t pop no matter how hard I tried, and a nose that grew at twice the normal rate (I swear it was never this big)!  And facial hair.  Yep, I grew sideburns.  Lucky I’m fair-haired, otherwise I’m sure I would have heard the circus calling.  I had wicked reflux and one time I almost dropped my toddler when low blood pressure caused me to nearly black out…but all in all it was a pretty sweet ride.  I possibly felt the best I’ve ever felt about my body. I had a real sense of purpose.  My liver had a chance to recuperate after years of abuse, and I finally had a taste of what it is like to have a full head of thick hair (though still not enough hair to blend in with the glorious manes of my Italian friends and family!). 

I carried both boys to term, the first to almost his due date, the second to five days over.  I experienced my water breaking with both kids (a beautiful moment where you feel like a water balloon has just popped inside of you and you’ve wet your pants in the excitement).  It was all pretty textbook…until I got to the actual labour part.

Labour… now here’s something I do really badly. 

Both times my contractions started shortly after my water broke only to stop completely several hours in.  I was put on synthetic hormones to restart and/or speed up the process, but it had little effect, other than to cause my firstborn extreme distress (we later found that the cord was wrapped around his neck).  I laboured for what felt like forever (about 17hrs each time), my contractions had all the intensity of two semi-trailers going head to head with my uterus stuck in between, but they remained at 2 mins apart for practically the entire time.   In short: my contractions were ineffective; I didn’t dilate quickly enough; and put simply, my body just sucked at labour.

I had an epidural about half way in with both boys.  The second time around was a waste of time.  The anaesthetist inserting it looked a whole of about 14 years old, and despite my insistence that it wasn’t working he assured me it was.  It wasn’t.  We found out later that it wasn’t inserted properly, it was half hanging out, leaking god knows what into god knows where. It may help explain my back spasms and strange reactions to the anaesthesia, if nothing else. 

Towards the end of my labour with my second child my body went into shock.  Whether it was a reaction to the misplaced anaesthetic, or just the complete overwhelm and fear of labour after 16 hours, or whether it was just plain and simply the pain...I’m unsure.  But I shook, uncontrollably, like I had hyperthermia.  I couldn’t stop it, I couldn’t calm myself and I felt utterly ridiculous.  Women have been doing this since forever – what the hell was wrong with me?! 

 

When it came time to push with my first child I think I’d completely let go of any fight to maintain my dignity.  There I was, feet in stirrups, four people peering down at my knicker-less bottom half, and the doctor wearing gumboots using the bottom of the bed as an anchor-point getting ready to pull my baby out of me.  After the doctor attempted to attach two different suction caps to my baby’s head, I pushed hard with the help of the doctor’s vacuum machine thing.  Out came my baby’s head, then bang…my contractions stopped completely.  It was like standing in an elevator with four strangers all staring down at the floor waiting - except they were staring at my baby’s head sticking out of my hoo hah and there wasn’t any pleasant elevator music to distract from the awkwardness.  In the end I had to push without the assistance of a contraction.  He came out…but he was blue.  They all but threw him onto my chest for a matter of seconds and then rushed him off to get him breathing.  It was all a blur and I still don’t remember much about it, but looking back I know that the shock of his birth experience would take about three months post-birth to actually hit me. 

The birth of my second child goes a little like this… I’m about 160cms short and medium framed – he was 4.40kgs (nearly 10 pounds) with a 38cm head.  As you all now know: I don’t labour well; my epidural didn’t work; and I was about 16 or so hours in (having missed a night’s sleep already) by the time I was ready to push.  I birthed him without intervention/assistance.  Let’s just say - it wasn’t pretty.

It was almost 48hrs between my water breaking and being given the all clear by the doctor.  The placenta was so big that it tore the lining of my uterus when it came out, causing internal bleeding.  Shortly following the birth one of the midwife’s detected clotting and called in the obstetrician.  The long and short of it is that it involved intense lower abdominal ‘massage’ to assist me in expelling the clots.  It was essentially like giving birth to the baby’s head five more times.  The clots were the size of mangos, so big in fact that the midwives took them away to weigh them and show them off to the interns.  I was hooked up to drips on either side, a catheter bag hanging off the side of the bed and given two blood transfusions.    

Post birth was a whole new ball game.  My once gloriously pregnant body was now beaten, squeezed, stretched and sorry.  There’s nothing quite like having your obstetrician ‘try’ to insert a suppository and hearing him say “geez, I need a compass and a roadmap just to find it”.  Yep, labour – it gave me hemorrhoids too.  (I feel really pretty right now). Three months down the track I lost all my glorious pregnancy hair, and whilst I was happy to say goodbye to my Elvis phase, I wasn’t quite ready for the bald patches just above my temples.  My boobs, once so full and joyously disproportionate to my frame are now like little beanbags…without the beans.  If you lean forward and grab my stomach skin and squish it all up together with the belly button in the middle, it looks how I would imagine an 80 year old tiger’s butt would look.  Yep, that’s the reality.  Pregnancy and labour, no matter how smooth, are really tough on your body (and your mind!), but you know what?  I’d go back there and I’d do it all over again.  That statement is one part love, two parts insanity…but hey, they’re kind of the same thing, right?

Isolation

"Eyes of the hurricane"

"Eyes of the hurricane"

I remember how the walls closed in on me, yet staying within them felt so much safer than venturing out with my first born.  He was what you might call a ‘challenging’ infant.  Aside from the colic and reflux causing him to be extremely unsettled, from day one he was fiercely independent, extremely strong and very, very determined.  Strangely it was these very traits that made me feel both insanely proud, yet like an outcast in every social environment that I entered.

My husband has great pride in retelling the story of how our son lifted and turned his head at one day old to follow my voice and movement as a walked across the other side of the room.  He has always had a strength that defies his age – I lost count of the amount of times his daycare providers (at 9 months of age) would exclaim how he’d “give the world’s strongest toddler a run for his money”, or how they’d “never seen a child so fearless”.  Our son was the type of child that literally scaled the bars of his cot at 18 months old to venture down a flight of stairs, over two safety gates and into the kitchen to set about making himself eggs for breakfast.

The flipside to all this ‘impressiveness’ was that at only 10 months old he was running through playgrounds, attempting obstacles way too advanced for his age or size, and engaging with other children assuming that they were as strong, as fearless and as ‘rough and tumble’ as he was.   So often I found myself leaving playgrounds under the judgemental stares of new mothers, trying to explain to them that my child wasn’t trying to rugby tackle their darling, he was simply trying to hug them.  Unfortunately my boy’s ‘hugs’ could knock over a grown man.

I’d take him to friends’ houses and as an infant and up to the age of about 10 months, he’d be like a snow storm of spew and tears.  If he wasn’t throwing up on their brand new rug, he was crying hysterically ("0-100" we used to call him - there was no in between.  He didn’t just whinge, he’d go from quiet to full blown hysterics in a matter of seconds).  Once the spewing subsided, I had a 10 month old ‘runner’.  He’d go into houses like a hurricane in fast forward, climbing shelves, pulling out everything in sight…just grabbing, grabbing, grabbing.

So here’s the thing.  By 10 months old he was completely mobile, yet unaware of his own strength .  He was fiercely independent so wasn’t scared of new environments or even remotely phased whether I was within arm’s reach or not.  He was less than a year old and therefore had no real cognitive understanding of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  Yet everywhere I went, I felt judgement.  Self-imposed or not, the feeling was still very real to me.  It was like I was somehow failing as a parent because I hadn’t ‘disciplined’ my child appropriately.  I felt like I had lost control of my life.  I got so overwhelmed that it started being easier just to stay at home and battle through it alone.  Even having friends over became too much as I was worried that the kids wouldn’t get along or that one of them would accidentally get  hurt.

I think I can honestly say that there was not a single time in that first 2-2.5 years where I was able to enjoy a cup of tea with a friend as my child sat quietly on the floor and played with toys, or chatted casually with other mothers in the park as my child explored.  I was in a constant state of high alert, always chasing, always poised ready to catch, chanting ‘be gentle, be gentle’, ‘slow down, slow down’.  Ready to diffuse situations - anticipating the next disaster zone.

I became like a prisoner in my own home feeling that nobody else understood what I was going through.  Being told to “just get out of the house for a while” I wanted to scream at them, “don’t you understand what it’s like??  I CAN’T take him out.  There’s NOWHERE I can take him.”

With the luxury of hindsight, and the benefit of having had a second (very different) child, I now realise that I shouldn’t have questioned my ability as a parent as much as I did.  I shouldn’t have assumed that I was ‘failing’.  I should have asked for more help.  I should have tried to connect with people that were dealing with similar situations.  It wasn’t anything I had done ‘wrong’…every child is born with their own unique personality, health issues and needs.  Sometimes they share these with the majority, other times they don’t.

I often wish that I had been able to meet and interact with people who felt the same isolation as me.  Whether the cause of it was real or imagined isn’t relevant - the feelings I felt were debilitating.  If any of this is ringing true to you, please feel free to                               .

If I can help, I will.  Sometimes just talking to someone who’s been there can help set you free. xo

Two's Company

"Saddle up! We're in for a ride!"

"Saddle up! We're in for a ride!"

I miss my husband.

I miss: spending the whole day just messing around in the kitchen cooking up a storm with him; drinking a bottle of wine each and staying up all night just because we could; fooling around, popping coke bottles with a BB gun; aimless drives in our panel van, Elvis singing effortlessly in the background. 

I miss: the laughter and the banter; watching a movie together, with popcorn, and beer and no interruptions; dinner at strange restaurants watching him order the weirdest thing on the menu as I search for the chicken parmy. 

I miss: watching him laugh with friends; spending the whole day in bed with him; sundowners and the goofy ballroom dancing we’d inevitably end up displaying at the night’s end. 

I miss the holidays: discovering new worlds together; learning together; relaxing together… 

I miss my husband.

A few weeks ago I asked you guys to tell me something you took for granted before having kids.  I took for granted by time with my husband.

I wish we’d gone out more, travelled more, “lived” more.  I wish we’d spent less time in front of the TV and more time out in the world.  I wish we’d realised how much freedom and opportunity we had.  I wish we’d fully appreciated the ability to do just about anything we wanted to do at the drop of a hat. 

And now that we know all this and we are so grateful for even the smallest opportunity to be alone together – I wish we weren’t so damn tired!!

I know that these days don’t last forever and that with each day that passes the kids get more independent and the window of opportunity to hang out in another room and chat gets bigger.  But right now, it’s hard.  Really hard.

I also know that in those moments when the kids aren’t wrestling or head butting each other, when they’re not trying to stick cheese up their nose or tip yoghurt on their brother’s head… those moments when they’re just sitting together hugging like angels or giggling at how funny the word “butt” is... you look across the room at each other and know that together you made them, you gave them life.  In those moments there’s a feeling that you share that you couldn’t manufacture and you wouldn’t trade for anything.  But in between those moments, in between the sleepless nights, in between all the disciplining, food preparation, laundry and work…there’s little time to just be a couple.  Not Mum and Dad.  Just Kellie and Dino. 

So, for those of us lucky enough to be sharing this journey with a partner, if you’ve not yet had your baby I urge you to go out and make the most of your time together.  Even if you’re pregnant and tired and feeling like Shamu the Whale…get out there and watch a movie, eat at a fancy restaurant, take 15 trips to the shops together in one day just because you can.  Sleep in together, laugh together, cook together.  Go for a walk as the sun’s going down, talk, play a boardgame, go see a play.  Stay up all night and sleep all day, ring each other on the phone and just chat for no reason at all – because telephone calls without the sound of cats dying in the background will soon be a thing of the past. 

The times you have ahead will be the best but also some of the hardest years.  The tiredness, the lack of time alone and the constant pressures of parenting will test your relationships tremendously.  So do what you can to make sure the foundations are strong now. 

For those of you already in the thick of it, I wish you all the best in working through it, finding time for each other and coming out the other side of the toddler years with your relationship still intact.  I am so blessed to be sharing this journey with my husband.  It’s so important to remind each other of that.  To try and make the time to reconnect as a couple on a regular basis.  To support each other’s needs and to be as understanding and as patient with each other as possible. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and these times don’t last forever.  In fact, in a couple of years I’m sure we’ll be looking back on these times and missing all the baby first moments and the way they used to say “Dah-dee and MaMaaa”.  We’ll miss the times we nursed them at 2 in the morning, and the way they fought for our attention (one on each leg both screaming our name, refusing to be shook off).  We’ll forget all the hard stuff, and we’ll look back together and think what a great job we did together bringing them up ;). 

But in the meantime…try to keep perspective, nurture your patience and do your best to put each other first sometimes.