This body

I stand in front of the mirror, trying to figure out who I’m looking at. It’s not me. She has some of my facial features and what sort of look like my hands, and that birth mark is mine…but that’s not the me I know. That’s not the me I recognize. It’s a body that I think was mine once upon a time.

The face is rounder, softer – in fact everything is. The body is marked and stretched and scarred and battered, not a hint of muscle anywhere. It’s hiding in a sack of vomit covered clothing, ashamed and scared to be exposed.

Despite being told it couldn’t and wouldn’t, this body grew a baby, this body didn’t die of morning sickness, this body went through 3 days of excruciating labour, this body was cut open on a table and sewn back up again, just to be walking and caring for another human a few hours later, this body feeds another human being, and survives on minimal sleep and no caffeine. This body of mine has done me so proud, and all I can do is hate it and shame it and tear it down.

That needs to stop.

Mourning

Today I had a meltdown. A meltdown of massive proportions. The realization that these precious precious days of maternity leave are almost over hit me like a ton of bricks. I will never ever again have this beautiful time with my daughter again. Somewhere in the midst of ugly crying and trying to keep the baby entertained, I realized that with all the joy of motherhood, there are moments of mourning too.

To start at the very beginning – you have this amazing bundle of new pink gorgeous baby, but nobody told me how much I would miss having her part of me. I’m in mourning for the little stretches and kicks and flutters- she’ll never be so much “mine” ever again. From that moment of birth she became her own little person and the “us” of it all died as my husband cut her cord.

I had to have an emergency c section, after 3 days of labour Hannah went into major distress, and we were rushed to theatre. Although it was a procedure that saved both our lives and gave me my precious daughter, I mourn the fact that I didn’t have the birth I wanted, I didn’t get to birth my child and deliver her into this world, she was pulled from me by a skilled surgeon and somehow I feel that she was the one to give her life, not me.

I mourn the tiny tiny baby that she was. Those beautiful little pouty lips and clenched fists resting against my chest, curled up like a little tree frog, asleep, oblivious to the world around her. I celebrate her growth every day, but oh if I could just hold my tiny tiny baby once more.

I mourn her total reliance on me for nourishment. I love watching her taste new things and start to build a love for food, but inside my heart has broken a little that she doesn’t need just me anymore.

The worst of it all is that I’m already mourning the loss of our time together. I’ve been blessed to have almost 7 months of uninterrupted time with her, but it’s really starting to sink in that in a few short days that will be over. Never ever again will I have the luxury of just us two with no outside interruptions or responsibilities. And I know life must go on, but I want to stay in this happy limbo, this time with just us and time to play and nap and just sit and watch the dogs and clouds.

Nobody prepared me for the love I feel for this little being, nobody could have. Nobody prepared me for the utter heartbreak I’m feeling at the prospect of us being apart.

Marry someone who…

I didn’t get much boy and dating advice from my Mum, but something she did tell me once was “Marry someone you can have children with”. It seemed a bit cryptic at the time, and I always thought it had something to do with making sure their genetics were good, that they’d make beautiful healthy babies, but I know now what she meant.

She meant to marry someone who will basically keep you alive through over 4 months of debilitating sickness, who will feed you pineapple, crackers and orange juice and rub your back as you throw them up again. Someone who will feed the dogs every day because you can’t bear the smell of the dog food, someone who will hunt for the faintest of smells and get rid of them. Someone who will tell you with the utmost confidence that it will all be ok when you’ve lost all hope and have been crying uncontrollably all day. Someone who will give you endless backrubs and help wash your feet when you can’t reach them anymore.

She meant marry someone who will hold your hand through the pain of delivering that child, and do everything he can to make it more bearable. Someone who will fall instantly in love with that baby, and do anything to make them happy. Someone who will work tirelessly and without complaint to provide for you both, and find such joy in spoiling the child.

She meant marry someone who makes you jungle juice every morning before he leaves for work to help you feed your baby. Someone who passes you the burpcloth, because you forgot it, again. Someone who sits up with you while you’re feeding and changing and feeding again during those long newborn nights. Someone who cleans up the mess you’ve made looking after the baby after a long days work, someone who jumps into the kitchen and cooks for the both of you while you feed and rock and rock and feed that baby to sleep. Someone who calmly, quietly takes the baby from you when you’re about ready to scream in frustration.

She meant marry someone who will love your child possibly more than you do, someone who will delight in their every smile and giggle and squeak, someone who’s face lights up with joy when they hold your baby and radiates with pride whenever someone else admires her. Someone who will have breakfast picnics in the nursery and eat dinner one handed just to spend more time with you both. Someone who will check the cot and the pram and the car seat and the blankets a thousand times over and then just once more for luck.

She meant marry someone who looks at you, all squishy, stripey, scarred and stretched out of shape and says you’re beautiful when when you feel the furthest from it you ever have. Someone who will cuddle and kiss you despite the three day old mascara caked under your eyes and the baby vomit holding your hair in its bun.

I’ve been lucky enough to marry someone I can have children with, and I love you so much more because I now know what that means.

Betrayal…..

Something happened on the weekend that is still irritating me, still making me seethe every time I think of it. In the grander scheme of things, it’s seriously not that big or significant….but it’s really got under my skin.

My husband, baby and I were out for a brunch at a lovely little restaurant, when the little one started the hungry niggles. Now any Mama will tell you the hungry niggles can soon turn into the hungry wails, so it had to be attended to quickly! The restaurant was informal, and there were plenty of young families around with children and toddlers – a family friendly establishment. I whipped on my feeding cover, popped Hannah underneath, and voila – silence…apart from of course her happy glugging. I was completely covered, and to be fair the only thing that gave away the fact that I wasn’t a morbidly obese woman in a poncho and rather a breastfeeding mother were Hannah’s two little feet sticking out.

A few minutes later, a middle aged woman with her daughter (Id say early 30’s) came walking in to a table nearby. They both glared at me, gave me the up and down look and the mother shook her head in disgust, passed a comment to the daughter who looked equally disgusted – and sat down at their table where they continued to glare at me in between berating the poor waitress.

Now I’ve been breastfeeding my baby in all sorts of public situations in her 5 months earthside, and I have always been incredibly modest about it, and completely covered up. Not once have I received a dirty look, a comment, even a second glance from anyone, which has been fantastic!

I’ve always been particularly nervous of feeding around men, babies eating seems to make them look incredibly uncomfortable, but not once has any man ever said anything or even looked awkward. Never ever did I consider that my first run-in (even though it wasn’t really a run-in) with someone over my feeding would be with a woman, and honestly, I feel betrayed.

There’s supposed to be an unspoken support system between women, a circle of trust, a safe haven, a sisterhood, especially when it comes to babies and children. From my experience and that of others, regardless of whether you have five kids, or don’t have any or don’t want them, women bandy together to form a protective huddle against the outside world, but not this time.

This woman and her daughter broke that trust, they looked at me as if I was doing something dirty rather than something essential and beautiful and it cracked my confidence to its core.

I’ve been quite proud of the fact that I am still feeding my baby myself, especially when at 6 weeks both the paed and the nurses told me she was underweight and probably would need formula. Because it was important to me* that my child have breastmilk for as long as possible, I persisted, read a lot of articles, took a lot of supplements, made a lot of lactation cookies, and 4 months later my breastfed baby is happy and healthy and chubby. Breastfeeding to me is both my favourite, and most frustrating time of my day, I love the way my baby needs me, but because of her weight issues early on in life, combined with a bad case of reflux and a highly distractable baby, it’s also incredibly stressful.

It’s amazing how one dirty look can strip away all the joy, all the bonding feelings, and make me feel inadequate and dirty all in an instant. It boggles my mind that this came from a fellow mother, even if her daughter is twenty something years older than mine. The feeling of betrayal might be an overreaction, maybe something to do with the mushy hormone filled mom brain, but it’s still there. Maybe next time I’ll whip the cover off and really give her something to glare at.

*I am a firm believer that Fed is best, and am NOT bashing formula feeding in any way. It was just so important to me that I feed my child as a way to bond and give her as many nutrients and antibodies as possible that I was going to do anything in my power to make that happen.

New year

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2019 is a great year for you all and that at this time next year you can look back with fondness on a year filled with happy memories.

This New Year’s Eve certainly was different to all those we’ve celebrated in the past! New Year’s Eve usually finds us partying until the wee hours of the morning and staggering to bed as the birds are waking. This year, our night ended at 10pm, and we were asleep by 10:30. That doesn’t mean I woke up feeling bright and breezy….two post midnight feeds are enough to make anyone feel hungover!

A new year inevitably brings new resolutions, and I could have a million, lose the baby weight, read more, spend less, eat better and on and on. Rather, this year I’m going to resolve to slow down and enjoy the “firsts”. (Obviously if I manage to lose weight, read more and spend less then that’s a bonus, but one thing I’ve learnt is that with a baby you can only focus on one thing at a time, and that thing is usually baby related)

There are bound to be so many this year with Hannah growing, developing and changing every single day, I’m sure that if I’m focused on doing more and being different I’m going to miss them, and I couldn’t forgive myself for that!

In the spirit of “firsts”, Hannah started her first new year with her first swim in her first swimming costume!

Pictured below, Miss Mackenzie is sporting a multicoloured shimmering mermaid style one piece, from the house of Woolworth, providing her with an SPF of 30 and all the help she needs to show off her svelte figure. The ensemble is completed with an adorable sun bonnet !

The water was a little chilly, she niggled a bit and curled up her adorable little toes when I dipped them in, but after a while she was quite comfortable in the water. I wouldn’t say entirely happy, but I did time her swim just before her nap -rookie error! Someone who did enjoy her swim was Luna, who can be seen in the background swimming in circles like only a crazy border collie can!

So our new year started off with a fun “first” on the first and I am so excited to experience a million more this year! It would probably bore the socks off of everyone if I shared them all, but I’ll try to write about the big ones!

One year in…..

A year ago today I woke up incredibly early, and sat in our bathroom. I unwrapped a tightly wrapped box, cursing the manufacturers for sealing it so well. I did what needed to be done and sat staring at the little digital screen holding my breath. The little hourglass flashed once, twice, three times, and then the magic word appeared….pregnant.

Since that day, time has seemed to both fly by and drag so slowly! The first 16 weeks after that passed agonizingly slowly. It may have had something to do with the fact that food and smells and life in general became completely nauseating and repulsive. Time dragged between each doctors appointment, and I counted down the days to when I could see my little baby and hear that little heartbeat. Time dragged when we waited with baited breath and sickeningly nervous hearts for 4 weeks for blood results to come back. Time dragged as I counted down the months and weeks until I could hold my precious bundle, the last days of work felt like an eternity and the last month of pregnancy felt even longer. The longest hours of all were those I spent in labour, close to 72 of them filled with the most intense pain mixed with utter exhaustion, excitement that made me giddy and complete fear.

And then all of a sudden someone removed the slow-mo setting. From that first beautiful moment I saw you lifted towards my face, everything has been on fast forward. I can’t believe how quickly these weeks have flown, how rapidly you change in front of our eyes. Today you started making noises we’ve never heard before, but by dinner time, you’re so good at them, it’s like you’ve been making them forever. You’ve changed from a completely helpless floppy bundle into a (still fairly helpless) giggly, bright, alert little pixie- with her own personality and attitude almost overnight.

If someone had told me how much would change in a year, I would have laughed at them. My body has been through astronomical changes and still feels like it’s changing every day. The physical changes alone are enough to boggle my little mind. Growing and birthing a tiny human really is miraculous, and one of the most intense, but amazing experiences I think one can ever have. Our lives have been turned on their heads, in a completely good way!

One year of knowing you’ve existed has been the best year of my life so far. One of the most challenging, but definitely the most rewarding. The almost 4 months of being your Mummy have been the best months of my life so far, despite the sleepless nights, the body that feels alien and hideous to me and the constant fear that I’m not doing things the right way. I’ve loved every minute of this year that’s passed my little Hannah bear, and I know that every year that passes from now on will just keep getting better.

If only you knew

I sit here on the couch, candles burning on the mantelpiece. Your bright little eyes staring at the flickering flames trying to figure out what this magical lights are. You stop and catch me staring at you, and your perfect tiny face lights up with a gummy smile that starts in your eyes and moves to your perfect little mouth.

If only you knew how much I love you, how much it warms my heart to see you smile, and breaks it at the same time because I know you will never be this small and innocent and perfect ever again. If only you knew that you’ve filled a hole in my heart I didn’t know existed, completed a life I thought already perfect. If only you knew that every time I look at you something tugs deep inside, something that makes me want to hold you forever and ever and never let go.

If only you knew how desperately hard I’m trying to memorize every minuscule detail of the perfection that is you, trying to burn them into my brain so that I never forget the curl of every finger as they tangle into my hair.

This moment seems perfect, thunder rumbling in the distance, rain falling on the grass outside and mist rolling in. You, tucked up on my lap, a yawn – so grown up but still so sweet – takes over your little being. It’s time to put you to bed, but if only you knew I never want this moment to end.