The Strength In Parenthood

It’s hard to put into words how terrifying the last week has been for me.

My mind jumps when my stomach starts to turn – to avoid thinking about what could have happened.

My baby Elijah, just seven weeks old and still teeny tiny, was admitted to hospital after a terrifying episode at home where he was not responding to me, had a high temperature and looked so ill that even the thought of it now brings me to tears.

Luckily all is well and the Doctors and Nurses at the children’s hospital did an amazing job of getting him better again.

As I sat by his bedside in the hospital and thought of all the other Mother’s and Father’s here at the same time, going through similar things or worse, it occurred to me what amazing strength we are given the moment we become a parent.

The moment that precious bundle is gifted to us with no guarantee of a smooth ride, we become imbedded with this incredible desire to protect and nurture, gaining strength and confidence with each day that passes.

In fact the more you love, the harder it is to unclench your stomach and release control, in an effort to keep them safe.

So should we be walking around with an encyclopedia in our head of what could happen and worry about all the things that could go wrong?

I don’t think so.

I believe that the more you think about something, the more you attract it to yourself.

Instead of concentrating and worrying on what will happen with Elijah now, in a house containing a hotbed of germs from his two older brothers, I want to concentrate on how happy I am that he is well.

How happy I am that he is feeding.

How happy I am that he is sleeping well.

How happy I am that he can smile at me – the most beautiful thing you will ever see.

Come what may, we will get through it, because as parents we have strength in reserve, we have faith and we have love.

That’s how we can go on.

 

How To Be A Perfect Parent

With my husband in Brazil…yes you heard that correctly…I have been stepping up the parenting of late and I’m thinking I deserve some kind of medal *:

Here are my learnings:

  1. When your child yells, “I am stuck!” and you find him in the toilet…with only his head and hands visible….you pull him out.
  2. When it’s dark and you step in a puddle, you must refuse to think of what it might be…even if you are in the toilet.
  3. Children are meant to be free, if they want to be “naked dudies”, even in the death of winter who am I to get in there way?
  4. When you tell your two year old he will not be having his seventh banana of the day and he goes, finds a stool, pulls a banana out of the fruit bowl then walks around eating it whilst you feed the baby….you let it go. Even if he does cackle at you and wave the forbidden banana in your face.
  5. Why wouldn’t underwear go on their head? It should have been totally obvious that they were the well known super-hero “underwear head”.
  6. Wine, even with all it’s toxicity and dangerous ability to make you see the lighter side of life,  is a necessary evil in parenting alone and one that must be indulged.
  7. When your husband is away and your child eerily talks about his death…listen to the rest of the sentence before panicking….as it will end with, “When Daddy is  99″.
  8. Do not get annoyed that EVERY time you sit down to feed your little one, another child yells out “wipe my bum”…they obviously genuinely believe that you are always available to them for this purpose…even if they have been doing it themselves for a year.
  9. If you scream “sit down when you eat your dinner and do not get up and dance!!” on repeat …. no one will take any notice so save your voice.
  10. Time out is the place where screams and cries get louder and more annoying…it is also the place to slip out of before Mum notices and then laugh. Also it’s quite the spot for peeing. They never quite know they need to go until they get in there.
  11. The time consuming task of putting your children to bed with a story, a talk about gratitude and the promise to check on them is highly rewarded when you notice your five year old staring at you in the lounge-room below  from his bedroom window…for over half an hour.

And last but certainly not least…..

Next time your husband says, I’m going to Brazil, you send the children with him!

* My parents are staying with me and I have had a ton of help from my in-laws :)

 

The School of Life

When you step back and look at your life what do you see?

The usual?

The big picture – your career, your family, where you’ve travelled, things you’ve accumulated, love you’ve given, love you have been given?

I often think about this for a feel good burst of happiness. Wow. Amazing. Heart warming. Exciting.

But day to day…

If you step back and look at your life what do you see?

Is it full? Are you laughing? Loving? Smiling? Playing? Resting? Actually having a bit of fun?

It is so easy to get caught up in other’s needs…even if you know better. Even if you’ve adjusted your life to be more ….you.

I find kids…with their changing needs and amounts of attention…disruptive to my own harmony.

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Sometimes I feel righteous, throwing off my needs to give my baby the best pregnancy, running around my oldest to give him the best experiences and ensuring his friendships grow and I find that with a toddler it’s hard to write, it’s hard to get to a yoga class and it’s all too easy to stay in at night and get to bed by 9pm.

And stepping back, looking at my life with a clearer eye (now that my baby is five weeks) I can see that I’ve been missing that zest for life, the laugh till you cry opportunities and  the FUN.

Last week I went to a party…bringing Elijah…and I danced, and laughed and felt free.

Yesterday I (got off my butt) and actually organised something – reached out to a girlfriend and went for a drink on a beautiful sunshine-y afternoon.

Today I stopped thinking about getting a personal trainer to help me get back to yoga, running and exercise and started actually putting the idea into motion.

Today I wrote something.

And I sit here and remember a line from a quote that my girlfriend sent me

“Logic doesn’t produce magic.”

So I urge you to stop being cautious, sensible and over-thinking things.

Just live, laugh and have fun. 

But remember not to judge yourself for being who you need to be in the moment. 

 

How Do You Know When You Are Done?

After four pregnancies in five years, painful varicose veins, the blessing of three healthy boys and an unexpected caesarian…I’ve given a lot of thought to this question lately.

Is this it?

Have I met my family?

I’m so lucky. So blessed. So happy to have been given my three amazing boys and a gorgeous husband to help rear them with me.

But how do you know that you are done?

How did you know?

This time around, for me, the magic of pregnancy wore a little thin….

This time around I can’t wait for Elijah to finish using some of the baby things so that I can pass them on….

This time around the newborn stage is….just as magical. The nights are long and the days even longer but the precious cuddles, the snorting, snuffling sounds, that baby smell and the teeny, tiny little clothes are heart fluttering.

….and the love.

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My heart is just bursting with love for him and my other two kiddies. After you have your first child you just can’t imagine that you could feel the same for any other little person that comes along. But you do. Your heart swells and grows and accommodates.

But this doesn’t stop the fact that the days are long.

Yesterday I couldn’t seem to get on top of anything.

Yesterday Leo needed some attention, but the amount of doing that had to be done before I could give him some, seemed insurmountable.

There was:

Breakfasts and a packed lunch to be made. 

Homework (which we had neglected to do on the weekend) to be done. 

Bags to be packed. 

Five year olds to be dressed. 

Sheets to be washed (that’s what happens when you forget to put an overnight nappy on your two year old) 

Nappy’s, grobags, wraps and outfits to be removed and washed after a poo explosion

Showers to be taken

Babies to be fed

Clean up of the house to be started (a never ending job it seems) 

Washing piles to be put away

So…… temporarily, he was in the playroom watching TV.

Or so I thought.

In actual fact he was upstairs getting into my husband’s hair wax (two jars of it) and using it like a putty. Realising he could’t get it off his hands he started wiping it….onto the couch, onto the carpet, onto the glass, door handles, clean washing and anything else in his vicinity.

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Oblivious to all this I was feeding downstairs and it wasn’t until he yelled, “Mum I peed” (to which this did not refer to him doing it in the toilet) that I noticed he wasn’t where I thought he was.

Cue screaming, time-outs, a half-hearted clean up and a good friend walking in the front door to take some newborn shots of Elijah.

I truly believe that stressed Mummy = stressed kids.

My placid, dream baby spent the next hour or two winging and crying, to be fed constantly……let’s just hope that Dana Gallop Galleries got a better shot than this one I took on my iphone….

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Plus Leo was bouncing around trying to get some attention and some shots of himself.

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Getting them both down for a sleep in the afternoon was hardwork but I did it!!

As I patted myself on the back and prepared for my own sleep I realised that it was nearly 2:30pm and my five year old would be back in half an hour.

No rest for the wicked.

And so I soldiered on.

I tried to online grocery shop but couldn’t focus.

I tried to fill out some paperwork….couldn’t do it.

I tried to think of some good afternoon tea for the kids…nope.

So I gave up.

I snuggled up on the couch with the kids and went to bed as early as I could.

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And so….am I done?

One day doesn’t change things. You get up the next day and the sky seems bluer, the laughter more vivid and your focus sharper….

but I think once I get to properly mourn the end of this beautiful, life-changing era….

I will be done.

How about you? When did you know? What helped you come to that decision?

 

 

 

An Alternate Birth Plan

My baby has been born.

Not quite brought into the world as planned but that shouldn’t matter.

It’s not like I had a birth plan.

In fact, I was asked that very question on Wednesday, at my pre-admission appointment.

“Birth plan?”

“Sorry?”

“Do you have any requests for birth?”

“Like what?”

“We’ll just leave that part blank then.”

I wasn’t playing dumb, I just didn’t know what she specifically wanted from me.

We had a plan. My obstetrician and I…and anyway I am a go with the flow kind of person. I didn’t have an epidural in the past but I’m open and I didn’t want a water bath/time in the shower etc…whatever happens happens.

This is after all, my fourth time doing all this.

It was a planned induction.

After the stillbirth of my second baby, both my husband and I and my obstetrician were very aware of what losing a baby felt like.

We lost Sophia at 33 weeks but reasoned that as soon as the baby was developmentally ready, at 37 weeks or so, we should induce to get him out. It’s safer that way. Its easier on us psychologically and we were able to schedule in help for our boys while we were in hospital.

It worked a charm with my third baby. They induced me at 7am and after two hours (established) labour he was was born at 2pm, safe and well. Much to our immense relief.

Even if it did hurt.

Delighted to be in that delicious world of love and all things newborn I bounced back, and left the hospital happy and well three days later.

So the plan was there I guess, this time with baby number four,  no reason to doubt a deviation of the plan. I had considered letting myself go into natural labour but it was a scary thought and an abnormal trace on foetal heart monitoring during the week blew any thoughts like that straight out of my head.

My birth plan, if I had one, was to have a live baby in my hands at the end of all this. My amazing little boy.

So once again, on a Friday morning my husband and I found ourselves arguing about time management and the fact he never gets anywhere on time. I distinctly felt a sense of dejavu as I yelled, “I’ll just drive myself there and you keep doing your hair!”

15 minutes late we turn up at the delivery suite, nervous and excited.

And then we waited.

The team at St John of God are so amazing. We had the same mid-wife that we had with Leo, coincidentally our neighbour. I’d asked if she was working but she wasn’t. Luckily she got called in that day and assigned to me.

We chatted and laughed our way through most of the day, despite the fact that there seemed to be very little happening and slight concern over the baby’s heartbeat when we cranked up the syntocin (used to get me into labour).

At 3;30 with no sign of a baby she left for the day and we got our lovely new mid-wife who had high hopes of seeing a baby born during her shift. My obstetrician asked me if I would get an epidural. He felt it would help my pelvic floor muscles relax more and maybe get things going. I agreed to go with this advice and felt quite relieved as I wriggled around pain free, realising this meant that the birth was going to be so much less painful than my past ones.

Much, much later, as my second midwife handed over the third shift at 9:30pm we started to get worried. Worried that the baby wasn’t liking any amount of syntocin. Worried that the baby didn’t like it when I lay down (there goes any chance of sleep) and worried that my obstetrician, who kept popping in, looked worried.

We agreed to stop it all overnight and try and get some rest. Starting again in the morning when we were fresh.

Fresh was going to be a problem.

Every time I lay down and closed my eyes the mid-wife would come in and shake her head. Baby not happy.

So I sorted out a sitting upright sleep and the next time I opened my eyes it was 1am. My obstetrician was standing in front of me in his trackies. They can actually log in from home and get updated on the stats so he had been checking and was not happy with how the baby was going.

Fear washed over me as I realised that he was here to do a caesarean.

I said to him, “Your not here for me right? Are you checking on other patients?” As he shook his head my husband woke up and I looked at him, trying to hold back my tears.

I guess it was a casesarian then.

Trying to learn from the stories I had been told of my girlfriends who had emergency caesars, I tried not to panic, just letting everything that needed to be done, be done.

I was asleep on the table.

They woke me to show me my baby being born and my husband, who was holding my hand the entire time, and I just looked on in amazement.

He was here and he was perfect.

I closed my eyes again and minutes later I was handed my beautiful bundle. Daniel and I took turns holding him and then they wheeled me out, letting me feed him for the first time.

We named him Elijah.

The next day as the full impact of the pain hit me I admit I was thrown.

My attitude had changed and I resented the painkillers, the fact I could hardly move and my poor little organic baby being fed my breastmilk, which would contain the drug cocktail.

When the pain got too much I realised I was being stupid to try and manage without anything.

I topped myself up too quickly and the world turned upside down.

I’m not good with painkillers. Most don’t sit well with me.

I hate being out of it and that feeling of not being in control. My family and close friends were talking to me, handing me gifts to open and it all felt very surreal.

The next day I found the balance of pain relief my body needed so that my head was clear and I could start to move around.

I was still feeling sorry for myself but I have enough tools in my arsenal now to turn that around.

….and when I finally did (day 3) the sun shone again.

How blessed am I to have a perfect baby? There are so many worse things than some painkillers and a caesarian – I’ve known them first hand.

And that’s how we pick ourselves up.

That’s when we acknowledge our strength to go on in this world and recieve all the blessings that we are entitled to.

That’s how we allow ourselves to be happy after tragedy and enjoy each moment as it comes to us.

We deal with our present.

Not our what if’s.

And we choose happiness.

Photo by Dana Gallop Galleries

Photo by Dana Gallop Galleries

Celebrating Now

I’m coming to the end of my pregnancy.

I’m nervous about the birth.

I’m excited to meet my gorgeous little boy.

My head is filled with to do’s and what if’s and I should’s.

I am unimpressed with my lack of posts and time spent writing.

I am tired. The kind of tired where you get bored but you are tired so you don’t do anything at all.

At other times I am filled with energy that sees me cooking meals for eight people, cleaning pantries, organising cupboards, putting on six loads of washing in a day and tearing round the shops doing errands.

But I am happy.

I stop to take notice of where I am and how I am feeling.

Now.

Yes the future is scary and exciting.

The past has been filled with tragedy and endless joy in relation to my children but now is where I am at.

Filled with life.

Heavy on my feet but light in my heart.

Excited about what is to come but content to be here now.

Spending the last weeks as a family of four enjoying our time together. Not wishing it away and not wishing time to stand still.

So I haven’t written much but I wanted to celebrate what I have written ….. This was in Women’s Fitness Magazine’s Pregnancy Special this month:

 

……and I am so glad that my gorgeous talented photographer girlfriend, Dana Gallop Galleries convinced me to take the time to shoot these special shots.

I hope you, even in times where you think that your drive and ambition have failed you, even in times where you think you aren’t accomplishing…. can stop, look around you and celebrate the joy that radiates throughout your life.

In every moment of every day.

xx

Being A Mother

As Mother’s Day approaches it’s always a good opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and look towards the future.

But how do we feel right now?

Sitting here in my living room, with my sick (ish) first born beside me and my littlest asleep, my belly burgeoning with the promise of another….I feel content.

Happiness.

Love.

Unjudged.

When we reflect it is only ourselves judging ourselves because I have a feeling our children think we are perfect.

For now, at this age, where they live totally in the moment, they accept who and what we are right now.

And that is a beauitful thing.

The past year, for me, has been one filled with changes, excitement, fulfillment and creativity.

Contentment has played a big part in how I parent and it is funny to think that I was a completely different parent with Julian than I am to Leo and that I will be to my third.

But that is how life goes.

You live and you learn and you try to be the best Mother you can be.

That’s the gift of life – an opening to the amazing opportunity to change and grow and become the people we are destined to be.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mother’s this Sunday, I’m incredibly lucky to have the best Mother a girl could have and also the best Mother-in-law and can’t wait to spend some time with them and of course enjoy being spoiled by my boys. 

xx

Playing hide and seek with my bump…..

Now you see him……

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Now you don’t (well kind of…)

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Losing The Responsibilities

Sometimes we make life harder than its meant to be.

Sometimes our life is committed to more than we need it to be.

Especially if we are Mamas.

We see others doing it all – ferrying the kids to various amounts of extracurricular activities, going to work, volunteering for committees, attending social events and we try and stretch ourselves.

Do that little bit more.

Because we get confused about what we want in life.

We let others lead us down the path and end up frazzled, over-scheduled and unhappy.

I’ve let so much go this year.

From little things like getting to school on time some days to major book projects I am dying to get to.

Because this time in my life is important.

I am already hands-full with the book we have out, How To Become One Healthy Mama, the blogging, the social media, my family, friends, social life, two precious munchkins and my pregnancy.

But I am still scheduling in time for me.

Because it makes a difference.

Meditating, yoga, spa treatments, holidays –  time out is all necessary to me.

Because it is making an incredible difference to the way I parent.  

The other night, Leo started calling out to me about an hour after we had put him down.

Usually frustrated by this I go in, tell him to go to sleep and close the door. Screaming ensues. I wait a little while and then go in, bring him downstairs then try to put him down again in ten minutes or so, telling him the whole time how inconvenient this is and how he is meant to be sleeping.

This time I popped my head in, asked him what was wrong and he told me he needed water. One out of his two water bottles were empty but I didn’t push the point. I filled it and gave it to him. He asked to get out.

I complied and sat down with him in his room and just cuddled him. Stared into his eyes and told him I loved him.

His sleepy eyes closed and we sat like that, with me staring lovingly at him for about ten minutes. Instead of feeling frustrated, my feelings were pure love. I was relaxed. I wasn’t itching for me time and I had all the time in the world for him.

When he opened his eyes and stared and me, whispering back I love you’s I told him I was going to put him down and he nodded contentedly, filled with love and security.

The rest of the evening was mine and I still feel the specialness of that moment between us. That we wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t taken care of myself.

Sooo Mamas…..

What can you take out?

What can you skip this term?

What can you add in to make time for you?

What needs to change for you to have more down time?

IMG_5901 IMG_5900Do these things so that you can live in the moment. This is a reminder that time is precious and we never get these moments back with our children. 

Live and love. 

Your way.

Diary Of A Toilet Trainer

My blog has been a barren wasteland. My fingers two vessels filled with seemingly nothing to say .

But I’ve been busy.

An amazing girls holiday, a revival and re-acquaintance with all that is healthy after 28 long weeks of pregnancy, obviously growing a human inside my body (shucks, it’s nothing) and oh yeah, toilet training.

The kid was ready.

I’d done it before with the first child so I knew what I was in for…it was going to be a piece of…hell.

It was going to be hell.

I put it off another week.

Then another week.

Then another.

The kid took his own nappy off. The kid sat himself on toilet. The kid pooed and peed as we clapped on the occasions he did so.

Still Mummy did not take those nappies away.

But six months later Mummy felt…nowhere near ready but with a firm commitment and armed with five days worth of rest and restoration from afore mentioned girls trip away, I commenced.

Day 3 – Stuck in the Trenches 

4am:  Awake – its a beautiful day, I’m excited about life. Why the f”k can’t I get back to sleep.

6am:  He awakes, “Mummy I need undies.”

Smiling (as I am obvious a toileting genius) I whip the nappy off and put on some undies (old – ready to throw away at a moments Number 2 notice).

6:10: Put child on toilet. Clap as he pees.

7am: Throw first pair of undies in wash. Clean up puddle in playroom.

7:20: Throw second pair of undies in wash. Clean up puddle in playroom.

7:35: Put child on toilet. Nada.

7:40: Throw third pair of undies in wash. Clean up puddle in playroom.

Make lunches, cook breakfast, get first kid dressed, bring down five more pairs of undies, get showered, get dressed.

8:00: Put child on toilet.

8:05: Change fourth pair of undies and clean up puddle in playroom.

8:20: Throw out some undies with smelly contents. Clean up puddle in playroom.

School run.

9:20: Put kid on toilet.

9:30: Put kid on toilet.

9:40: Change undies. Clean up puddle in playroom.

10:30: Clap for seemingly non-existent pee in toilet.

10:40:  Change undies. Clean up puddle in playroom.

All is quiet.

12:00:  Step in puddle in playroom.

12:30: Put pull-up on him and take him out to an appointment.

3:20: Take dry pull up off after school pick up. Clap for a pee in the toilet. Put on undies.

4:00:  Clean up puddle in playroom. Kid wants to put on undies himself.

Lie down on couch.

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4:20: “Mummy I pooed.” Prepare for more undie throwing out except kid has put undies on by putting both legs in one hole. Clean up mess.

4-7pm: Kid takes himself out to grass four times to pee and refuses to go on toilet. Obviously has mastered self-control and timing of pee.

I am obviously a toilet-training genius. Pat self on back. Happily whip the nappy on for bedtime and put kid down.

9pm: Put self down.

10:30: Awaken to child number one peeing on the floor of our bathroom. Step in pee. Clean up bathroom. Get kid new pyjamas.

11pm: Finish writing down day and repeat mantra: “Daddy is toilet-training the third kid. Daddy is toilet training the third kid.”, so I am able to get back to sleep.

 

 

How Do You Get Your Kids To Be Themselves When They Just Want To Belong?

It’s taken me 33 years to become who I am.

Someone that I am proud of. 

Someone that can stand up for herself. 

Someone that is authentic and true to herself. 

To get here I had to unlearn a lot of things.

That is okay to not follow the crowd

That popular opinion is not always mine

That conventional ways of doing things may not be the right way for me

So it is confronting for me when Julian, now in full-time school, just wants to be like everyone else.

He wants to belong.

He wants to behave and please and fit-in.

It started with the uniform, something that is optional this year at school.

After it was clear that nearly a third of the class had chosen uniform and as he was not in one,  I asked him what he would like to wear.

“Uniform. I want to be like everyone else.”

A trip to the uniform shop entailed and when I got him the jacket and trackpants (he hadn’t expected them) he said, “I’m one lucky kid.”

Bless.

Next his beautiful hair.

“I don’t want to be like a girl. It’s too long. I want spiky, like lines.”

We tried to talk him out of it.

“Who has hair like this? You have gorgeous hair. You need to be you, not follow others.”

But it didn’t work.

I didn’t want our opinion of his hair to cause him to be teased or become something we wanted for him but he hated.

So we went to the hairdressers and he was happy with less cut off than we expected.

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Next came friendship issues. Or so we thought. But we are not sure…we could have caused it.

One of the first questions I ask him when he gets in the car is:

Who did you play with today?

So then he is telling me who he did or did not play with. Who did or did not play with him.

Then I’d say why didn’t you play with so and so? Were you upset so and so wasn’t playing with you?

I ended up chatting with the teacher who said he had lots of friends but sometimes seemed to like to play alone too.

Hmmm….was I causing him undue stress but placing extreme importance on friendships and playing with everyone?

I stopped asking and he stopped getting upset.

So…the truth is I don’t know the answer to the question – how to get children to be themselves because maybe there isn’t one. 

Maybe belonging and being part of the community teaches them to become who they are.

An essential part of their security to allow them to reach out with tentative steps to voice their own opinions and take their own actions.

There is certainly happiness is belonging and we all need a sense of community to anchor who we are and our position in the world.

What are your thoughts on this subject – have you gone through the same angst about it as me? 

 

 

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