hi ho, hi ho…..

I spent the day in the office today. Not yet officially back from maternity leave, I went in to lend a hand to the very busy team and to make use of one the “keeping in touch” days I’m allowed during my maternity leave period.

It was nice….

It was nice to dress up and put on heels (unnecessary, but nice nonetheless).

It was nice to use my brain and once again connect to an industry that I love so much.

It was nice to feel needed by the team and to feel that I still have worth within my workplace.

So why do I feel guilty?

My son was at home spending the day with his Grandma who no doubt spoilt him with endless hugs and kisses. He probably had no idea I wasn’t even there. All he knows at this young age is hunger and love and both of those would have been taken care of in abundance. Yet I cant seem to shake that feeling in my stomach that being there makes me less of a mum.

Is it wrong, that only 7 weeks in, I’m ready for stimulation outside of my motherly bubble?

Society is making me feel like it is. I have found myself explaining my choices to complete strangers. Not only about today’s little workplace stint but also about my plans to return to the workforce part-time in August. “That’s not long off from work” people quip, “gosh, are you sure you’ll be ready?” numerous people ask. The truth of the matter is, financially we don’t have a choice. But even if we did, I’d be going back.

It will be with the needs of my son in the forefront of my mind and of course, things will need to adapt, but with or without the financial burden that forces my hand, I’m ready, even now, to get back into the workforce.

Intentional or not, many people have made me feel guilty. Made me question my decisions and my desire to return to work.

Too soon?

According to many, apparently so.judging copy

According to many, a new mum should be home (apparently for a year). For many, being out of the workforce is a relief and something to be relished. For many, the fact that I am going back to work sooner than most, makes me less of a mum. It’s a judgment that although I am sure is not intentional, has been felt.

Maybe it’s my interpretation, maybe it’s my over sensitivity, maybe it’s just how they feel.

I was never going to be the all-baking, crochet knitting, P&C mum. I love that other women  fill those roles; it’s just not me. I’m the mum that will juggle a meeting to make it to school assembly and a schedule a gig around his soccer game. I’m the mum who may have go to work some days but will spend others in PJ’s watching cartoons. I’m the mum who wants it all and isn’t afraid to try for it.

But he will always come first. He will always be my priority, but I can have my work too.

It doesn’t make me less of a mum.

Does it?

Xx A

stupid blood

This week I’ve had to accept the fact that there is a chance that our little guy will need to go under general anaesthetic in the next 6 months.

Petrified doesn’t really seem like a strong enough word to explain how this makes me feel.

Archer’s tongue-tie was detected at birth but the seriousness of it wasn’t truly noted until he was about 6 days old. We were referred to a pediatric surgeon with the understanding that there would be a very simple procedure done in that one appointment to fix his tongue-tie and off we would go. Apparently not.

In filling out the pre appointment medical survey, I told the doctor of the history of Von Willebrands in my family (my niece has the condition). This in itself is not an overly serious diagnosis. If the disease is present, prior to any surgery, treatment is given to ensure the blood clots correctly to avoid excessive bleeding.

Prior to this appointment I hadn’t even considered that my son my have this disease. I certainly hadn’t considered the fact that the tongue-tie snip may be a procedure that could be dangerous if he did have Von Willebrands. I’m thankful for the cautious nature and thoroughness of our doctor in detecting this as a concern!

DNALong and short of it is, they can’t test Archer for the Von Willebrands until he is 6 months old. They wont cut his tongue-tie until they eliminate Von Willebrands. Once he is older than 12 weeks, they wont do the tongue-tie procedure unless he is under a general anesthetic. Catch fucking twenty two.

So, what we decided to do was to test N and I to see if we are carriers of the disease (highly unlikely N is, the gene is in my family – but better to be safe than sorry!). Essentially, if we aren’t carriers, Archer can’t have the disease and snip snip we go. About a litre of blood taken later and as expected, N’s results are negative. Mine are inconclusive. Fuck fuck fuck.

We now have a referral to a hematologist for me to see if we can eliminate me as the carrier. Its not looking good but I will be doing everything in my power to beat the clock in getting some sort of result.

So the countdown is on. 7 weeks to go and I need to – get an appointment with the hematologist, discount me as a carrier (fingers crossed), get an appointment back at the pediatric surgeon and get my little dudes tongue fixed.

Or its general anesthetic time in October.

It terrifies me to think that Archer would have to have any sort of procedure. But the thought of him having a general anesthetic in his tiny body makes me feel ill.

I know its not a definite yet and there is no point getting anxious over something that may not happen but I am allowing myself to mentally prepare for the just in case. In the meantime, a warning to the hematologist and pediatric surgeon – I will be stalking you for appointments daily until I can get this resolved – the clock is ticking!

Have any of you lovely readers had to face surgery for your little ones?

Xx A

Ps… you can learn more about Von Willebrands here

dear lactation consultant…

One of the most common questions I was asked throughout my pregnancy was “are you going to breastfeed?”. My response remained the same throughout – I’ll do my best.

I wasn’t born yesterday, I am fully aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, especially in those first crucial few days. I am also fully aware of the issues that many of my girlfriends have had on their journeys through motherhood and that breastfeeding is not always as easy as hoped.

I knew that I definitely wanted to try to breastfeed for at least the first couple of months. I was prepared for the late nights feeding my son when my boob was his only option. I was prepared and excited about the bonding that comes with feeding. I was prepared for the benefits of a massive cleavage and the inevitable weight loss that goes along with exclusive breastfeeding.

I was not prepared for the issues that I encountered.

I was less prepared for the emotional turmoil that comes along with feeling like I failed my son.

I was totally unprepared for the abuse I received when after just 6 days, I had to start giving my son formula.

The long and short of my story is that due to a tongue tie that my son was born with and an inability to latch on correctly, my nipples were so badly damaged in the initial few days that my body went into shut down, my milk dried up and formula became a staple in our home. That makes it sound so simple and matter of fact.

It wasn’t. It was traumatic, both physically and mentally. The physical part I could handle. The emotional impact was tougher. Breastfeeding was impacting my ability to bond with my son and nothing is worth that.

Thankfully N saw what was happening and held my hand through the tears as I realized that my boobs were betraying my baby and I. We have an amazing Child Health Nurse who also recognized that the best thing for Archer and I was finding an alternative.

So my family, partner and direct career all agree that breastfeeding, although a fabulous option for most new mums and bubs, was not working for my son and I.

this is what i neededWhy is it then that certain lactation consultants within the community have found it suitable and necessary to inform me of the error of my ways? Telling me that “breast really is best”, “you should push through” “just hold your baby differently” “here, let me show you”.

NO!

It’s not working for us. My baby isn’t happy! I’m not happy! You are not in my home at half past three in the morning to see our struggle. Don’t tell me what is best for my son when you don’t know either of us.

The lack of support and self-righteousness of these women has been something I was totally unprepared for. I’ve had phone calls from a lactation consultant telling me that she knows better than our pediatrician how to treat my sons tongue-tie – stopping short of telling me I was a bad mother for listening to the doctors. I’ve had another practically wrestle my poor son by the neck to try to get him to latch on differently. I could go on for hours about the ways in which I have been insulted and offended by this certain breed of lactation ladies who lack empathy, manners and decency.

this is what i gotI know that not all lactation consultants are the same. There are some who are warm, kind and supportive – regardless of whether you breastfeed or not. Unfortunately, the ones like those I encountered, damage the industry as a whole and leave a bad taste in the mouths of new mums that take a long time to fade.

Speaking with other women about their breastfeeding journeys, I find that my story is not unique. Many have had encounters with lactation consultants that have left them traumatized, teary and questioning their decisions and ability as a new mum. How is this helpful?  An occupation which is designed to encourage breastfeeding and provide support to women at an emotionally and physically fragile time is doing the opposite – instilling negative emotions, fear and feelings of failure.

So to the lactation consultant community – I beg you…. Calm the fuck down. Stop for a moment and listen to your patients. Open your eyes to each individual mothers situation and help to guide her to a solution for her and her baby. I know it will pain you to hear it but breast is NOT always best.

Some of us are betrayed by our boobies. It doesn’t make us failures. It doesn’t make us bad mums. Please don’t make us feel like it does.

Xx A

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that wasn’t in the brochure….

Before I got pregnant, I thought I knew a thing or two about the joys of being up the duff. I was by no means an expert but I had witnessed numerous friends and family go through the process, so I thought I was pretty up to speed on what to expect when expecting. And I was. Except for a few little things that people had magically left off of the list….

Here are some of the gems that I have learnt along the way.

  1. medium_6832566733You’ll miss your vagina. Seriously, I haven’t seen it in weeks, maybe months. I miss it. I’m pretty convinced it needs some “tending to” (mental note to book waxing appointment asap)
  2. You might want to consider buying a dog. Much easier to blame those stinky farts that will haunt you for 8 months on a dog than a partner who knows it wasn’t him.
  3. You’ll share things with people like never before. Something about having a pregnant belly makes you community property. Not only will everyone want to share their story with you, but also towards the end, you find yourself having no concerns at all sharing your bits with whoever will listen. In the last couple of weeks I’ve had in depth conversations with other women about the state of my vagina and what is/isn’t normal this far along in my pregnancy – conversations I never thought I’d have.
  4. The boobs you always wanted might just piss you off. This was a real disappointment for me. I had always looked forward to the perks of perky boobs during pregnancy. But when I found myself carrying around a set of double D’s, they were no where near as fun as I had imagined. Disappointing for N too… am sure he’s been dying to play with them the whole time. Poor bastard.
  5. medium_2685851866Heels WILL become the devil. As much as I thought I was going to be “different”, I’m not. I don’t care who you are, being 8 months pregnant and wearing heels to anything other than a super special occasion is insane. I look forward to welcoming stilettos back into my life in a few months time but for now, they are the devil.
  6. People will touch you. A lot. Not only doctors, family and friends (all of which are fine), total strangers will have a good old feel around too. Stranger Danger has been a pretty constant issue for me.
  7. You’ll miss the simple things. Putting on shoes with ease, bending over in general, eating ham. Oh how I miss thee.
  8. It is possible to want to vomit AND eat, at precisely the same time. I was very lucky in the early days of my pregnancy and didn’t suffer a lot from morning sickness. But, who knew that at precisely the same moment, you could have the strongest desire to scoff a bowl of carbs AND throw up. Lucky for me, the carbs usually won.
  9. You will learn the meaning of true patience…. From your partner. Those poor boys. Seriously, I have a newfound respect for the patience of my man. Putting up with me for the last 9 months is something I wouldn’t want to do. Must remember to thank him for that with afore mentioned waxed vagina in about 6 months time. 😉
  10. You’ll pretty much be petrified the entire time. From day dot, I’ve been scared about something. The first few days were pure terror from the realization Fearfulthat there was no way in the whole world that I was ready to be a mother. The next 12 weeks were full of fear about being able to hold onto the embryo that I didn’t realize I wanted so badly. The next 6 months have been a constant balance of irrational fears about eating the wrong food, my baby not moving enough or in the right way, an upcoming scan and basically everything and anything to do with the health of this little person I am carrying. Then there’s the birth bit – you can read about the fear associated with that here.

The most valuable thing people dont tell you is that you are stronger than you think. Through all of the panic and sometimes uber uncomfortable parts of pregnancy, you’ll be fine. You’re tougher and more resilient than you ever gave yourself credit for. Mentally AND physically. That’s why women get to do this bit. Men would crumble.

What surprised you about your pregnancy journey? I’d love to hear from you.

Xx A

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questions for my son….

What will you look like? What will you smell like? Will you have your daddy’s hair and my skin? I picture you with a mop of dark locks and big brown eyes. Handsome like your daddy and pale skinned like me. I think you will smell like pure joy and the occasional bit of vomit but that’s ok, we’ll take the good with the bad.

Will you be as big as you feel inside my belly right now? You feel strong and long limbed. You’ve been trying to break my ribs for weeks now I’m sure of it. The doctors think you’ll be a very healthy sized baby but looking at your daddy’s build, that’s no surprise. Long legged like me and broad-shouldered like dad.

What will you be like? Calm like your daddy, slightly eccentric like me? A night owl with him or an early riser with me? My sister insists you will be a night owl, based on the series of kicks you give me from 7pm every night. A sign of things to come she says – an active baby belly at nighttime means trouble for your sleeping pattern. I think I’m ready either way. You haven’t let me sleep properly in weeks now, so my body feels prepared for late nights, early mornings and catching a nap wherever I can.

What will we do? My days will be so different to those I have now. I’ll have you to look after and I’m not sure exactly how that’s supposed to go. I see us taking some time to figure each other out but slowing falling into a routine that’s just for us. I think we’ll take walks to the beach and I’ll watch you sleep and when daddy comes home you’ll make him smile like no one else can. I know I won’t do all of it right every day. I’ll mess up along the way. There will be tears from the both of us but I promise I’ll do my best. I’m new at this too, but we’ll figure it out.

Where will you go? I bought a picture for your bedroom the other day. It’s a quote by Dr Seuss. “Oh, the places you’ll go” Dr Seuss proclaims. I know you’ll go far. You’ll have the drive of your mummy and the travel bug like your daddy, I’m sure of it. I don’t see you being a wallflower. Not with our genes. You’ll be bold and brave and want to challenge yourself and the world. Go everywhere. Do everything. Just make sure I know where you are.

What will you be? Whatever you want is the answer! If poppy gets his way, you’ll be the captain of the Tottenham Hotspur’s. If daddy teaches you well enough, you may be a famous guitarist. I think you’ll be creative and smart. I think you’ll leave your mark on the world as well as our hearts. I think you’ll be amazing at whatever you choose. I think you’ll always be yourself and that is perfection to me.

medium_1077946

What will I be like? Being your mum is a pretty big deal. I still can’t quite believe that I get to meet you soon and that you chose us to be your family. I feel full of something I can’t quite describe. It’s a fear of the unknown mixed with an almighty sense of joy and excitement about what our future holds. I never knew that I wanted you so badly, but now you are on your way, I have never been so sure of anything in my life.

I don’t know what I’ll be like as your mum. I know that I’ll work harder at this than I have ever worked on anything in my life. I know I wont be perfect but that I will give you the best I possibly can. I know that I will make sure you never go without and that you know you are loved every single day. I know that I’ll kiss you too often and probably embarrass you along the way. I know one day you’ll be taller than me but that I’ll still call you my baby. I know that I’ll be proud of you no matter what and that whoever you become I will support you. I know that from now until forever, you will be my son and I will be your mum. I know that I love you to the moon and back and you’re not even here yet.

I can’t wait to meet you.

Love your mummy. x

xx A

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taking away the fear

Yesterday was antenatal class day. A day that I had predicted was going to be painfully tedious and awkward and that was a little frightening, as it signifies how close to the end of this journey we are getting (ie: holy crap, we’re actually having a baby – soon!)

Up until this point in my pregnancy, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted my birth to play out.

Healthy baby. Save my vagina. Don’t shit the bed.

I had no grand birth plan or divine script of how I wanted labour to be, except for one thing. Epidural – GET. IN. ME.

medium_3289103242My thoughts on the matter hadn’t come from any research or reading on childbirth. It hadn’t come from any drawn out thought on pros and cons. I think they had come purely from FEAR. The fear of the unknown and the fear of the pain that is obviously going to come with pushing a watermelon out of your body.

Couple that with my allergy to a quite a lot of pain relief and anti nausea drugs, the thought of going epidural from the get go was quite appealing.

Then I did the class.

Now I have a plan. A real plan. One that makes me feel strong and ready and most importantly, prepared for what is going to happen at some point over the coming weeks.

The class was not what I had expected at all. I had gone there thinking it was going to be a huff and puff class. You know the ones, sitting in a circle with your partner learning how to breathe through the process, huffing and puffing as if it was the real thing.

It wasn’t. It was a day full of empowering information about choices and about truly explaining the process my body is about to embark on. It was extremely liberating and calming and to be honest, is probably the most valuable thing I’ve done since being pregnant.

The midwife running the class was neither for nor against drugs or no drugs during labour. She provided equal information about both options and remained extremely vigilant in making sure we knew what our options were and that either way, we would be supported. She made sure that we understood the stages of labour and what our body was going to do.

Most importantly, she reminded me that our bodies are meant to do this. I can do this. I am designed to do this. This is not as scary as I thought.6081060-plan-a-and-plan-b-on-a-blackboard

Now I’m not saying that I’m going all “earth mother” and taking a no drug stance during labour. Not at all. It’s just that my friend the epidural is now a last resort as opposed to a first resort. An “if I need it” rather than an “I’m definitely going to need it”.

Thanks to the education of the lovely midwife Gaye, I now have the right information to make an informed choice. I now know, with some degree of certainty, how I want this labour to play out… it’s simple and short and it goes a little like this…..

  • Stay at home as long as possible (within reason!) by using a Tens machine to distract some of the pain.
  • Once in hospital, pop myself in a nice warm bath in our room and add some gas and air into the mix.
  • If needed, jump on board the pain killer wagon and see how I go. Add in a new anti nausea drug that I have discovered I’m not allergic to (miracle!) and hopefully I am almost ready to meet my little guy.
  • As a LAST resort, an epidural is there as an option.

All sounds a bit more mature and thought about than “don’t shit the bed” right?

The biggest take away from the class for me was options. How empowering it feels to have options presented and to feel informed about something that was previously so unknown. Take away the unknown, take away the fear.

I know it’s going to hurt like a bitch. I know its probably going to be one of the hardest things my body ever has to do. But I know now I can do it. I know I have choices and I know what I can do to help my body do its job.

I have a plan.

A birth plan.

And it feels better.

xx A

(Disclaimer: I’d still like to save my vagina and not shit the bed…. Any tips welcome)

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turning into a secret softie?

Those who read my blog often, know that I’m not the type of pregnant woman who gushes over her bump and finds the process of growing a baby to be some sort of divine experience. I’m more from the school of “can’t wait for the end product but could do without the being pregnant bit”.

I’m absolutely thrilled to be having a baby and cant wait to meet our little guy, but the whole being pregnant bit isn’t something I have really loved.

But I may have found one little part of it that I love.

It usually happens around 8.30pm each night.

I’ve usually had a busy day, running around for work and renovations and probably pushing myself harder than I should. I’ve usually just finished a quick dinner and finally sat down for the night to relax.

Within about 10 minutes or so, I feel it. It starts as a little nudge, usually on my right 5769573400_a7bdbf4f9f_zside. Then turns into an evening of rumble and tumble. My little dude trying to get comfy or find a way out through my belly button. Throughout the night he shifts and turns, occasionally kicking but mainly gently nudging, responding to the jingle of my harmony ball or the voice of his daddy through my belly.

Before I was pregnant, if another mother had spoken of being kicked in the belly by her unborn baby, I was a little grossed out. Even as my belly started to grow and I felt those first few kicks, I was a little freaked out by the soft flutters I would feel.  But soon, they became a part of my day; a lovely reassurance that my baby was doing well and getting strong. Going longer than a few hours without feeling a little nudge suddenly felt quite frightening.

Now, those moments at night when he rolls and rumbles inside my belly are some of my favourite moments of the day.

There’s something immensely connective about feeling your baby move, something that I didn’t quite understand before. It’s selfish, but also very warming to know that its something only you will ever feel. In a way, it’s the first real conversations you have with your child; a private moment that no one else can interrupt and take away.

So the hard woman in me may be softening. I wouldn’t say I’m going all “earth mother” on anyone anytime soon but I have definitely found one little aspect of pregnancy which turns me into a bit of a softie.

Sshhh… don’t tell anyone….

xx A

 

stranger danger

I feel like this post needs a disclaimer before I begin. So, if I know you, if we are friends, if we are family, I am not referring to you in this post. Don’t go getting all weird on me and taking offense. You are not the reason I write this.

So, now that is out of the way, lets talk about my belly.

Yes, I’m pregnant. Yes, I now LOOK pregnant. Yes, my “is it a food baby?” bump now looks like a dead set “up the duff” bump.

Its lovely, it makes people smile. I get it. The miracle of life and the glow and all of that, But seriously, stop with the uninvited touching!

cant touch this

Numerous times a day I come into contact with new people. Most of them are polite and charming and have all sorts of lovely questions about how I feel and when I’m due and all that jazz. Most of them keep their paws to themselves. Most of them are self-respecting normal human beings who know a thing or two about boundaries and personal space.

Then there are the gropers. The people who after a matter of seconds in my presence feel it necessary and reasonable to put their hands straight onto my bump and have a big old feel around. No “can I have a feel?” no “would you mind?” no preemptive questions at all. Without any warning – in they come, all grabby and intimate. Rubbing my belly as if I’m some sort of good luck Buddha.

I wont bring you good luck.

I wont bring you good luck.

Now look, I’m not a total cow. I understand that a pregnant belly has a certain force field attached to it. A force that apparently makes people suddenly loose their shit and think that my belly is a new toy. But is it too much to ask for permission before going in for the kill?

Some people even take it that one step further. Not just going in for a simple pat around the belly button area (a pretty safe zone for those playing at home) but taking it to the extreme and mapping out the entire width and girth of my belly with their hands, inspecting me in a way I’m only comfortable experiencing with my obstetrician or my babies daddy.

I wouldn’t dream of walking up to a non-pregnant woman and having a nice little feel around her belly. I wouldn’t really touch anyone I don’t know without asking first (Unless you’re John Stamos. In which case, watch out, I will probably feel you up in a totally uninvited and inappropriate manner).

I guess for me, a simple “would you mind if I touched your belly?” is not too much to ask? I’ll always say “sure, go ahead”. It’s not the touching I take issue with (remember to stick to the belly button zone though thanks). It’s the lack of permission sought by strangers that irks me.

It’s a type of stranger danger I didn’t know existed. People don’t warn you about this when you first get pregnant. There’s no memo sent out saying that “oh, by the way, total strangers are going to feel you up in supermarket cues and at the bus stop”. It just happens. And it’s annoying.

So, to all of you strangers out there. I know my belly makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Its lovely, I get it. But do me a favour – if you want to have a little rub, just do me the courtesy of asking me first. I promise I’ll say yes.

NB: unless you are weird and a bit dirty. In which case, this is awkward but no. Please go away.  

xx A

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