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Archive for the category “In My Life…”

On The Edge

Here I stand. My feet have shuffled up to the edge of the board, my cold white toes gripping. It’s the 10m diving board at the pool and I’ve been here before. The last four times I jumped I hit the water. Hard. And it hurt.

The very last time I wasn’t sure I’d make it out of the water. I sank to the bottom like a stone, all the air escaping out of my lungs. My vision blurred, the world slowed. Eventually I made it to the surface and struggled to the edge of the pool.

And there I lay for a long time, half in, half out. Cold. Shivering.

For a while I wasn’t sure I’d have another go, maybe it’s time to leave the pool. For how much can a soul bear? And not any soul, but my soul. But I made it up the ladder and here I am again.

I will jump, I just need a minute…

A minute to stay the icy cold fingers of fear gripping my heart, a minute to breathe and a minute to gather the light around me. Here, on the edge.

Make it, Bake it, Move it: Handy Hints for the Housebound.

Recently my daughter and I have gotten into a daily routine, which I realised made this neat little mantra: make it, bake it, move it.
As she has gotten older (she’s just turned three) I’m finding the days easier and more enjoyable as we are able to do a bigger variety of activities together. Also the imaginative play has well and truly settled in which is just wonderful.
I don’t have the difficulty of juggling a toddler and a baby, but even if you do I hope you can find some of these suggestions useful.

Make it.
We love craft! Here are a few of the simple activities we’ve done recently:
Dinosaur fossils. All you need is some air dry clay, a rolling pin, biscuit cutter and a plastic dinosaur. The fossils can be hidden in the sandpit for a fossil hunt, or give them as gifts to friends.

dinosaur fossils
Wax painting. For this picture we just used some tea-light candles and painted over the top with water colour paints.

wax painting
Papier mache animal. We had lots of balloons left over from a recent party and I got inspired to make a papier mache animal. The only items required are newspapers, craft glue (watered down), a balloon and paint. It’s a great one too because it becomes an ongoing project, that you can pick up anytime without much preparation.

balloon animal
Bake it.
My daughter loves to be involved with any kind of cooking activity, even if it’s just to watch. We have a couple of simple recipes we make each week. Her favourite ways of helping are stirring the flour, grating anything and cutting out biscuits.
The easiest thing to make would have to be popcorn, our proportions are 1tbs coconut oil to 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels over a medium heat.

Another great bake it activity is making playdough, which then covers points number one and two. We follow the recipe on the cream of tartar jar, which is:
2 cups plain flour
4 tbs cream of tartar
2tbs cooking oil
1 cup salt (I reduce this a bit)
2 cups of water
Mix the ingredients in a saucepan, stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture congeals. Add dye.

Move it.
It really helps if you can get out of the house. Talk a walk to the park, go to the library, visit friends. We are without a car during the day and sometimes the thought of public transport is very unappealing, especially in winter. So for us sometimes it’s just a scoot round the block. Other days we only get as far as the mailbox or the compost bin, but it all helps.

puddlesautumn walk

And don’t forget music! Put on some of your favourite 80s hits (showing my age here!), The Beatles or Bob Marley or whatever floats your boat, kids just love ‘em.

In an emergency…
A meltdown is coming and you’re at the end of your tether, here are 3 instant fixes.

Something noisy: Grab 3 pots and a couple of wooden spoons and voila! Instant drum kit! Yep it’s noisy, but it’s kinda good for getting all the frustration out.

Something quiet: Ask your child to choose their three favourite books and get comfy on the couch. I find by the third book, things have calmed down. It’s a bit like pushing the reset button.

Something active: Choose your child’s favourite music and have a boogie in the lounge room together. Sometimes you just gotta ‘shake your sillies out’.

Now you are exhausted and just need a break?

Whip up some popcorn, grab a dvd and curl up on the couch together. You may even get a sneaky 40 winks…

Hints and Tips…

Balloons and bubbles: Always keep these in your third drawer. A hit with kids from the under ones up to Pre schoolers.

Keep a list: On your fridge is a good spot to keep a list of activities when you just can’t think of what to do next.

Get organised: Spend an evening researching ideas online. I find Pinterest wonderful for this (and a tad addictive!).

Have a craft box: We have a large plastic storage box filled with all sorts of bits and pieces, from loo rolls, to wrapping paper and plastic lids. Sometimes you don’t even have to think of something to make, you can just pull out the box and let your child have a rummage through.

There are so many ideas once you start looking, here are a few more:

Cloud gazing:

cloud gazingInstant race track:

race trackCreate with cardboard boxes:

dollhouse

Start a circus!

circusGood luck and stay sane…

Sharing Stories – Longing for a Child

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
Maya Angelou

In the beginning I wasn’t going to write this story. Then I began to write it but stopped and started to move on. But I want to write it because I’m really starting to see and feel the benefit of sharing stories.

Sharing a story is firstly very therapeutic for me. Somehow releasing it into the world lightens the load and gives me perspective. Secondly I feel that sharing your story can be so beneficial to others. I’m writing this one because somewhere out there in the world there is a woman who has had a similar experience to me and who is feeling lost, alone or unheard. We can take such comfort from knowing we are not alone, that other women have travelled our path and survived.

On the 12th March this year I sat with my husband in a waiting room feeling a little excited and a little anxious. I was 12 weeks pregnant and waiting to be called in for my scan. This was my fourth pregnancy since my daughter was born almost 3 years ago. Finally we are called in, I get up on the table, the Dr gets ready and I stare at the roof. I’m too nervous to stare at the giant screen on my right. A matter of seconds after the Dr starts his examination he says “I have to let you know that things aren’t going as they should be“. I shift my gaze to look at him. “I’m sorry, but I think it’s best just to tell you straight away‘.

Oh.

Okay.

Right…

It takes a moment to click into my head that the baby has died. I finally look aver at the screen and see the perfect silhouette of a baby at 8 weeks gestation. A perfect round head, a perfect arm, a little round belly, a little leg and then that pointy little bottom.

The Doctor is empathetic, quickly takes some measurements and makes arrangements for me to see my GP immediately. My husband and I are taken into a private room while we wait. I am in shock, I really thought this time might be different. I threw up just two hours ago for goodness sake! I have been sick and tired for weeks on end, day and night. There is an awkward moment in reception while we pay for the appointment and I’m standing next to a heavily pregnant woman and I have to force myself to look away.

We go to the GP and discuss options for the future. Previously I’ve miscarried at home but I opt for a D&C this time. The baby has been dead for about 4 weeks and I’m showing no signs at all of miscarrying naturally. Added to this is that in four days we are heading off on a family holiday that has been planned for months. It will also be the first holiday we’ve had in two years.

Two days later at 8am I arrive at the local hospital. The plan is to be admitted and take some medication at around 9.30am that will basically help to get the process starting. It initiates uterine contractions and bleeding. It takes two hours to work, so the procedure is planned for midday. The day turns out to be a series of delays and I don’t get into theatre until 4pm. It’s an emotional day but thankfully there is a woman in the bed beside me waiting for a D&C as well. We strike up a conversation and pass the time telling stories about our children and grieving our lost babies.

At 4.30pm I wake from the deepest and most relaxed slumber I can ever remember. Amongst the sadness I feel some relief that it’s all over with. It has felt strange and disturbing walking around for two days knowing I’m carrying a baby inside me that is no longer alive.

Having had previous miscarriages I’ve gotten to know my emotional ‘timetable’. I know that the first day I’ll be in shock. The following 3-4 days I’ll feeling surprisingly at peace and accepting of the situation. The hard part comes later. I’ll get to the depression and the anger. I swing wildly between them. It’s hard not to compare yourself with other women and families. Hearing pregnancy and birth announcements are particularly difficult. Seeing a mother and her children at the park and imagining how old your babies would be now. And I get angry, so angry. And I don’t know what to do with that. The ‘good girl’ is so heavily ingrained in me that even admitting to myself that I’m angry and jealous is hard work, let alone admitting it to anyone else. It just feels so UNFAIR! But sometimes we travel down a path in life that we didn’t think we would. Sometimes we don’t find the man of our dreams, sometimes having children isn’t as easy as we thought it would be and sometimes relationships fail when we thought they’d last forever.

Those have been my biggest lessons. Learning first of all to acknowledge my thoughts and emotions and secondly to accept them without judgment. This is how it is and this is how I feel and that’s ok. My instincts have been to either avoid and ignore those feelings or to grip them tightly and hold them so close that I feel like I’m drowning. That I just want to curl up into a big deep dark hole and never see the outside world.

If this is you, just know that it’s ok. The best thing a friend ever said to me was “Go gently and with love“. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time and space and do whatever you need to do to make this time easier. I found I needed to back away from some lovely friends who are pregnant because it was so hard for me to see them. I wrote to them and explained why and they’ve been very understanding. It’s not forever, but for now it helps me get through the tough bit. You may have a few days where you start to feel like your old self and then the depression comes down again. It’s just a rollercoaster of a ride.

I highly recommend reading this post about infertility. And also this one about losing a child. They helped me to feel that what I’m feeling is ok, that I’m not the only one.

Go gently and with love…

A Mother’s Grief

If you’ve read my previous posts (about miscarriage and grieving) you’ll know that my journey to have a second child has been a rocky one. It’s certainly not the journey I expected to have.

However up until this point I’d been able to explain and see possible reasons for my miscarriages and was feeling very positive that the third time would be successful. But unfortunately that has not been the case.

I had a miscarriage again last night…it was early, I’d only known I was pregnant for a week. But a week can be a long time. The due date was calculated, my mind had been wandering, hoping and imagining for the future. And I met up with a group of close friends yesterday only to discover 3 out of 4 of us were pregnant – all 4 weeks apart – how incredible! How exciting it was going to be!

And now what? Really? This had to happen to me, again? Me, who eats well and looks after myself and desperately, desperately longs for a child.

Why? That’s all I can think. Why?

And now I’ve just got to remember to breathe again…

Grease Is No Longer The Word – Going Shampoo Free!

In my mid-20s I was trying out various ‘alternative’ lifestyle choices – I stopped shaving, used crystal deodorant, made my own clothes etc., but I never got around to going shampoo free. I tried using baby shampoo figuring it wasn’t loaded with as many chemicals. Or buying eco-friendly brands for the same reason – but that was way too expensive on a student budget. I have fine hair that tends to get greasy quickly and I end up having to wash my hair every second day and I just had this mental picture of me looking like John Travolta in Grease or like a grunge chick stuck in the 90s.

Now in my mid-30s I find I’m travelling back down that road again. It feels long over due but I decided today was the day – no more shampoo! The usual shampoo and conditioner can be replaced with bi-carb soda and apple cider vinegar.

So here’s the recipes:

Bi-carb Soda ‘Shampoo’ 1 tablespoon of bi-carb mixed into 1 cup of water.

Apple Cider Vinegar ‘Conditioner’ 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed into 1 cup of water.

You just pour through your hair, massage in and then rinse well. Easy.

I’ll admit that with my hair type I was a bit skeptical that it would work for me, I really thought it would take several weeks of greasy hair before I saw results, but you know what? My hair looks and feels just like it normally does, all day I keep running my fingers through it and checking in the mirror because I just can’t believe how well it has worked.

There is a great website for general info and troubleshooting and plenty of other info on the web.

Next step? Homemade deodorant!

The World Keeps on Turning…

I’m not sure if learning to let go is really the most accurate thing to say, neither is learning to move on. I think it’s acceptance that I’m really trying to learn.

It’s been two months now since I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks and it’s really been harder than I expected. Initially I was very accepting and philosophical – yes I’m sad, but these things just happen sometimes and my body did what it needed to do. And I didn’t really have any doubts that at some point I would have another baby.

I have days where I’m okay, days when I just pretend to be okay and days where I’m really not okay at all. Just when I feel like I’m coping a massive wave of emotion comes along and just bowls me over. I have no control. It’s like being a tiny little duck in a big stormy sea.

I felt like I needed the world to just stop for a while until I got my breath back, just give me a chance to find my feet. But the world just keeps on turning.

And friends just keep getting pregnant. This is something that is particularly difficult for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the most obvious is that it’s because I’m not anymore and I can’t say it. Secondly, I’m happy for them, honestly I am, but it’s covered in layers of ‘It’s not fair’ and ‘It’s my turn now’ and I feel so incredibly GUILTY about feeling that.

So I figured I just need to start changing my perspective, that I’d really come to a fork in the road and I had to decide which way to go…hence this little picture I drew:

I really try to be a ‘glass half full’ person, so firstly I thought about taking a step back and looking at the big picture. As a woman in Australia I’m already so much more fortunate than most of the women in this world. I don’t have to worry about violence or poverty. I have a roof over my head and food in the cupboard. I have a wonderful husband and the most delightful, precious daughter I could ever hope for.

There are also so many women out there who have such a difficult path to travel to even have children and I’ve heard some particularly heartbreaking stories in the last couple of months. Multiple miscarriages, IVF journeys and the hardest to hear (let alone go through) was of a woman who has had a late termination due to severe abnormalities of the foetus. This really puts my world into perspective.

The problem with both these thought processes is that I’ve realised I was kind of telling myself I don’t have the right to be sad when so many others have much harder issues to deal with, which really isn’t helpful either.

I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful group of women in my Mothers Group who have given me a voucher for a meditation course. I really think this is going to be the key to grounding myself, facing my emotions (however scary they are) and healing. I had the first session yesterday and spent most of the 1.5hrs crying, which just shows how raw I’m still feeling.

I hope I can continue to share this story with those of you that read it, it feels rather self-indulgent but it really helps to clear my head and face what I’m feeling.

Thankyou 🙂

The Mystery of Miscarriage

I don’t really do personal blog posts but this has been a big week in my life and I felt there were things I wanted to say and information I wanted to share with anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation.

The subject of miscarriage is one often skimmed across in pregnancy books and mentioned in hushed tones amongst women. The reality is that approximately one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage and if you’re a woman in your childbearing years you can probably name more than one friend or relative who has experienced a miscarriage.

I wanted to write about my experiences because I feel there is a place for these stories in mainstream media. There are plenty of stories if you want to google miscarriage, but I really feel that it is a subject that many people are reluctant to talk about. From my experience I would have found it helpful to read about it in more depth in a pregnancy book. Sure they mention the symptoms and what might happen afterwards – but there’s no indication of what the actual experience might be like.

When I realised that my pregnancy was ending I just had no idea what to expect. Would it be painful? How long would it take? Would I be able to recognise a tiny baby? So here is my story:

*Note – if you’re not up for reading about the physical details about miscarriage it’s probably best not to read any further!

To begin with some background information: I have a 2yr old daughter who was conceived on the first try. When she turned one we decided to start trying for number two and I fell pregnant on her first birthday but miscarried a few weeks later – I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I basically just had a normal period but also passed some large clots. It took 8 weeks for me to get my period back and I continued to have some pregnancy symptoms during that time (namely nausea). We continued trying for another baby for the next 5 months but no luck. Having conceived my daughter so easily this really came as a surprise to me. At this point my husband and I decided to stop trying for a while as I was getting very emotional and distraught about it all. It seemed like every week there would be a new pregnancy or birth announcement and it was getting harder and harder for me to cope with.

Looking back now I really feel that my body just wasn’t ready for another pregnancy at that time and I don’t feel there was any other reason why it wasn’t happening. After a 3 month break we got back to business and hey presto! Pregnant first try again. Happy days!

The pregnancy progressed as it should. I get nausea about 1 week after ovulation so by the time I can take a pregnancy test I already know I am. It was similar to my first pregnancy, but the nausea wasn’t quite as intense, I didn’t vomit as I had the first time. At about 10-11 weeks the nausea really eased off and I thought this is great! Way easier than last time. Last Friday night, at 11 weeks and 1 day I began to have mild period pain. I wasn’t too concerned as in my first pregnancy I’d had period type pain almost constantly for weeks along with spotting everyday between week 6 and week 8. The following day I had some light brown spotting, but no different to what I’d had before. That night I think I had a little more pain and the next day the spotting became heavy and darker –  a dark brown/reddish colour. This caused me to make an appointment with my GP as I am a negative blood type and it’s recommended that I have Anti-D injections to prevent my body to forming antibodies (which can cause complications for the baby) in the case that some of the baby’s blood mixes with mine (I think that’s a reasonably accurate description?). The GP advised rest and really all I could do was wait and see. That afternoon the cramping returned and then I began to really worry.

At 9.30pm on the Sunday night I went to bed and straightaway the pain began to get really intense, like quite strong period pain and also very strong lower back pain. I guess deep down I knew this could only go one way, but I still wouldn’t take nurofen just incase things were going to be okay. And I guess I also didn’t want to be numb to what was happening. The pain kept increasing and I found it difficult to get comfortable. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I was a bit scared really. I had no idea what to expect or how long it would take. As the pain got really strong (not as bad as a contraction but more than the worst period pain I’d ever had) I placed my hands on my abdomen with my fingertips touching in the middle. Suddenly I felt a tiny little ‘pop’ right under my fingers, seconds later I felt a rush of fluid coming and had to race to the toilet. The pop had reminded me of my waters breaking and essentially I think that’s what had happened.

Now I had this determined idea in my head that I didn’t want my little baby going down the toilet – so the turtle potty came in very handy that night! My daughter has refused to use it, but I’m glad I left it in there. I passed fresh blood and a large jelly-like clot. I also saw a very tiny mucus plug which the scientific part of my brain found very interesting. Basically the whole experience was like a mini birth – which is exactly what natural miscarriage is. I went back to bed, my husband scooped me up in his arms and I just sobbed my little heart out. Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, this little feeling of guilt crept into me. I started to tell my husband I was sorry. I just felt like I’d let him down, that it was my job to carry this baby and I’d failed. The physical pain then subsided and after about 20min I would feel the ‘contraction’ returning, it would peak and then I would feel the rush again.

The first bleed happened at 10.30pm and the last at 1.30am and I think I was up 4 times altogether. I found myself shaking a bit too, which may have been my body in shock I think. After the birth of my daughter I remember shaking uncontrollably. During the last bleed I passed what I believe was the baby sac. It was about 5cm in length, skin coloured and a bit shrivelled – meaning it had been deteriorating for a little while. There was no baby inside, just some pinkish ’tissue’ (I’m not sure what to call it?). It is amazing too how much of the jelly-like dark red clots I was passing, it must have been a very healthy uterus!

The next few days I felt very wobbly – physically and emotionally. It just so happened that the day before I miscarried we’d borrowed a cradle and life-like baby doll from the toy library. I thought it was a good chance for my daughter to get used to the idea of a baby in the house. In those first few days I felt such a strong urge to just cuddle that little doll. If I saw he was uncovered, I would wrap him up. Secretly I just wanted to cuddle up in bed with that little doll. It made me feel a bit crazy, but I guess it was pretty ‘normal’ considering I had just lost a little baby.

Sometimes I get frustrated about the expectation that you should not announce your pregnancy until after 12 weeks. It reminds me of the saying “Children should be seen and not heard” except it’s more like “Pregnant women should not be seen or heard until the risk of miscarriage is deemed acceptably low enough as to not offend anyone”.

I can certainly understand why women choose not to make their pregnancy public as it’s certainly not pleasant having to make numerous phone calls if you do have a miscarriage. But really, is it any better having to hide your nausea, tiredness and desire to eat 2 meat pies for lunch? And then if you do miscarry you then have to hide your pain, grief & loss as well. I’m not suggesting every woman should shout their pregnancy from the roof tops and it’s a personal decision that every woman needs to make. But I do feel it would be helpful if there was less secrecy around the subject.

I feel very blessed to have a wonderful husband, daughter, family and friends who have given me a soft place to fall, many shoulders to cry on and lasagne to eat – thankyou!!

Well that’s about it from me for now – here’s hoping 3rd time lucky 🙂

 

Afterword: A follow-up story can be found here.

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