Destination: Some Place Else

…to get away for if only a moment


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42. Free Your Mind

At the bar, you told me your story and it was immediately etched into my mind.

So vivid were your words that I was taken back to that day, standing there in the room with you as it happened, imagining it. Things like this should never be witnessed by little eyes and innocent souls. But I listened and took in every word, like I too had seen death creeping at the door.

We were talking about life and death and maybe what happened before, or after. So maybe that is why you chose to tell me. As you unravelled yourself to me, I wanted that part of your memory to be erased. I wanted you to be free, to let go and be safe and sound in your mind, as this is how I want to feel, when I also sometimes cannot. I felt on that night that we both needed to release words about things that were inside. I remember telling you to write, to free your mind as this is what I would do. I realised at the time as I was saying this, how little I had been writing too.

Later I sat on the train and listened to music. Each note resonated against the city lights, breathing in ebbs and flows. I watched graffiti fences, rubbish yards and old broken buildings flash by. I kept thinking about seeing someone dead and what that would mean to a child. What it means to anyone. I remember the day my nanna died and seeing her body in the hospital. To this day, I can still feel how cold she was as I touched her hand. I take myself back to when I was little and she would look at me with such love, and stroke my face. I remember how her house smelt when she would make us a roast when we would visit. How soft her hands were, even at the end. I cherish that I was lucky enough to sit and talk to her as adult and share stories. She always made sense out of things.

So many of us hold such fear in death because it is so unknown, when it is just waiting for us all eventually. I know when it happens to someone too young, this is awful, unbearable. I’ve seen a family age ten years in a day at the loss of their child. Having my own child, I can’t even let my mind go to how I would feel if that happened. But it is all I need to help pull me out of myself when things are hard. Like a voice says, just stop, just be in this moment. When my daughter is having her own little meltdown about something that seems so simple, but is so complex to her, I say, breathe deep little girl. Because we are breathing, we are witnessing life.

There are many cultures that instead of fearing death, celebrate it and the life that was. Mongolian culture, along with Tibetans have the ‘sky burial’ where the body is taken to a high place to be exposed to the elements, taken by nature. It is pure and it is raw. In Japan, they have Obon, which has been celebrated for over 500 years. After families clean and decorate the graves of those passed, they release lanterns into the sky to help guide their spirits. Whereas, I’ve always wanted to visit Mexico during the celebration Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is where families of those who have parted, come together, paint skeleton faces, dress up in elaborate costumes and decorate the graves of their beloved. They welcome back the souls that come back to visit just for that day. When we were in New Orleans, we watched a jazz funeral procession pass by. It’s where the funeral is seen as a major celebration and the members commemorate that life with music and dance. Those wanting to follow are called the second line. We didn’t join in, but just watched with open hearts and an understanding of their loss, one we have encountered ourselves and will again.

For me, this is how I want it, when it comes. Hopefully many, many years away. Where I can too can see my children grow and have conversations with their children. But I also think it is important to think about death, because it makes you think about life and how rich and beautiful it is. The potential for everyday is captivating. If only we could all be lucky enough to wake and say, today I am grateful…… for this. For you, my friends, my family, my education, my freedom, my capacity for love and to be loved.

So as I was so taken with your story that night and I felt myself creeping to a dark place, it was all I needed, to see their faces. As soon as I got to the next bar and the boys stood there with their infectious smiles and old time hugs, my mindset switched. Old friends, so familiar, it was like coming home when I saw them. We talked of sex and good times, of wild nights and the days before we had responsibilities like now. We bar crawled and mingled with others, stories chanted through the air. I smelt the booze on our breath as we danced to old rockabilly beats. My eyes closed with the rhythm and I thought back to years before.

When the music would start, the lights would maybe dim or maybe they wouldn’t. I would feel the beat rumble through my nerves-like short synapses sparking serendipity. I was praying for some other god when I was on that dance floor. I was finding my true self, I was spirit and I was body, I was here and I was there and I fucking everywhere. Maybe that’s what happens when you pass, you erupt into a million little atoms and spread yourself out. You expand and become part of this and that, of space and time. You weave yourself with past, present and future.

As I stood outside with him as he smoked his cigarette, we laughed about how we were heading home to sleeping babies and our partners who loved us. We said goodbye and when I got home, I crept into my daughter’s room and watched the outline of her body breathing. I knew how lucky I was. I knew that when she was older and we would talk, I would like her to question the things in life like I do too, whether that is our birth, death and all that is in between-all the rich stuff. I would tell her there’s no need to be afraid, we are all in it together.

I kissed her head, and got in bed. I snuggled in my husband’s back and soaked up his warmth.

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41. Pushing My Button

I had a revelation a few weeks ago…… belly buttons are fucking funny.

It’s not like I’d never thought about the function, form and oddity of this body part, but I’d also never had a small child try to force their entire hand inside it either.  That in itself, feels really weird.

You see, my daughter Bonnie is super cheeky and super wild.  When she smiles it is from ear-to-ear.  With a raised eye brow, she always anticipates your own smile back.  When she giggles, it’s contagious.  It distracts and takes away any solemn thought that may try to clamber its way in.  It’s funny how we all try so hard to meditate, do yoga, listen to calming forest sounds to combat our stress, I certainly do.  Even when I sometimes feel knee deep in sleepless nights, massive poo filled nappies, runny noses, and tantrums, she can still always manage to sweep it under the rug in a second with that look.

So the other night, when she climbed up on me and began to wiggle my post preggers pot, I realised I had to let go.  I mean I never had washboard abs to compare, but also hadn’t quite ever experienced the Homer Simpson effect.  You know that one when you wobble your tummy and it continues to wobble for a few seconds after you move your hand?  Well if you didn’t know this, if you have kids, try it, I beg you, they think it is the funniest thing ever.  Then just wait till you reveal your belly button.  For Bonnie, it’s like I’ve uncovered a plate of Hey Duggies, a bowl of berries or a park for her to run crazy in.  Even funnier, is her attempt to burrow her baby, little hand in, it’s almost like she is trying to pull herself back inside.

I do have an actual point to this, other than just belly buttons are fucking funny.  Besides, that they make kids lose it. 

See all that laughing of hers, makes me laugh. It makes me smile ear-to-ear and I see my own cheeky, childish grin, that is now mirroring me in Bonnie.  It makes me stop thinking about the ab crunches that I should do, the chocolate cake that I shouldn’t eat, the wine I often want to drink, it makes me just stop and go –this is the most important thing.  I need to be able to laugh at my body, know that I’m now rocking that one-piece bathing suit over the skimpy bikinis (who am I kidding I never wore those), say to myself I am beautiful and accept my imperfections because in fact, she thinks I am just perfect.  If only we all looked at ourselves with the proud, in awe eyes of our children –wouldn’t that be a crazy thought?

It’s a hard reality to face that there are just so many images of what we are supposed to be, supposed to look like and that healthy is more than often portrayed as young, tanned and skinny.  That for women; the beautiful, curvy sizes are often shunned and made to feel disgusted by themselves.  I’ve always tried to live my life without buying into these concepts, but it is hard when it is repeatedly shoved down your face with endless forms of media.  I can’t even believe that getting plastic surgery is now becoming the new fad, I actually gasp when I see covers of the trash mags.  As much as we think things are changing, the hard facts are, girls as young as 3 or 4 know what the word fat is and that scares the shit out of me.  Especially when Bonnie is not far off that age.

When I see kids get up and dance in the middle of a shopping centre, dress into mismatched outfits, run nude and free through sprinklers or when I pull Bonnie’s pants up way past Harry high pants status and she just grins because she has absolutely no concept of her appearance or her weight.  These are the things that I want to protect.

I saw this picture the other day with a wrinkled, older lady and the words “if only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.”  This struck me, because it so true.  It shouldn’t be about the outer layers, it should be about what you value, how you treat and respect all people and how you do the same for yourself.  I’m sick of hearing people being shamed by how they look, if they are larger it must be because they are lazy.  So those men and women who are naturally bigger boned, but run marathons, does that mean that they too are lazy?  Seriously….

I see the only way forth is to start with myself.  Since becoming a mother, I have especially found the pressure to be a super mum. One who can work, look after their home, their child and find the time to stay fit, healthy and trim.  I had this big box of pre baby clothes that I convinced myself that I would fit into.  Not only did that make me feel shit, it took up valuable space for storing baby keepsakes and crafts, and importantly, new clothes that actually fit me.

So instead of approaching my cupboard space with angst and trepidation, I threw that box out, started again and decided to educate myself.   I read blogs about positive body image, try to watch documentaries like Embrace or Miss Representation, stop myself or others talking badly about their bodies, keep myself fit and healthy not for fear of extra weight, but for fitness and wellbeing. I also don’t beat myself up if I occasionally want to have that piece of cake or wine with dinner too.  I certainly don’t shy away from nudie runs around the house as I don’t want Bonnie to feel shame or awkwardness about her body.   I wiggle my wobble just so I can crack a smile out of my daughter and I try not let society push my self-confidence button in negative ways.  On my off days- as we all have them, I just need to remind myself that this body gave birth to the most brilliant, cheeky little thing and that is far more important that anything.

Because really who wants to talk about that kind of stuff when you could get down to the deep, and layered conversation starter, that belly buttons are fucking funny.


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40. Back to the Ground

Here I stand amongst the crowd.

Unable to see, but that is ok.

Because from here up at the back,

I can feel you, the music,

sweep over me like it always used to.

 

You see for a while, I’ve been distracted.

So many things have happened to me over the last year.

Life has changed.

For the best reason, a beautiful baby girl.

 

It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening to you my other love.

God I was.  When I was pregnant and felt more connected

than I ever have to myself, you were there.

I would sway as I listened and would pat my growing belly

and hope that my baby would grow to love music as much as me.

 

I used you to calm myself as I was in labour,

As I felt like I had to go to places I had never been.

As I needed to feel something other than the pain.

To be stronger to make her come to this world safely.

 

I used you in sleepless nights.  I used you to rock

my child to sleep. I used you when I needed to cry.

I used you when I wanted to be distracted.

I used you when I was remembering a different me.

 

But to be here while it is being

performed live like it is just for me,

makes it feel more real. It takes me back

to who I was before and integrates with who I am now.

I feel reaffirmed. I feel connected.

 

You see from down here, I can close my eyes

and let it sweep over me, for all the pure sound

and movement I want it to be.

It makes my soul creep from the depths, in and out of the room

like I am the beat in the air amongst the beer stains,

the trying and the tired.

 

Your sound resonates within me and moves me like

I am in a different time and space.

And you are so young to be so talented.

I am grateful for people like you in this world.

 

You are up there on your own and so many things

are coming from you-emotion, experience, love, hurt,

laughter, sadness, transcendence and there is more I don’t need to list.

So I write this as thanks to you and to all the other

musicians and artists and creatives dead and alive

who move and inspire me.

 

Maybe you read this, maybe you won’t.

It’s not about that.

It’s about the respect that we as lovers of music feel

when we are in a crowd or at home or in a car or a space

when it all comes together.

 

When you are dancing or listening or singing along.

Or even like I often am now.

Finding myself in some strange dance or movement

with my baby and remembering when I would be so immersed somewhere.

In some club or place, lost like I was some other person.

Or no person at all.

 

Like when music was my religion and that was all I needed.

I write this as thanks for bringing me back down to the ground.

Wednesday night I went to the Corner to see Tash Sultana. I still can’t believe she is so young to be so incredibly gifted-but I’ll get back to that though.

See on this particular night, there were so many things I was thinking about.

I was thinking about the best time I went to the Corner nearly 9 years ago. That was the night I met my now husband and life went on a trajectory I had never thought about before.  I thought about how lucky I am because that night could have gone any other way.

Life is like that with the dealing of cards.  You want to think that you get the good ones but sometimes they turn out differently and you feel like you have to scrap yourself from the gutter to feel real again.  There were those times for me. Times where I did stupid things, sought solace in the wrong people and felt empty. That life seems so incredibly far away now, that it is almost like I imagined it.

But it is important for me to remember those times to be grateful for what I have now.  I think you need to have the black, rainy days so you can appreciate those beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the nights out partying with the best of friends or conversations that make you feel and inspire just as does the most amazing artwork, or architecture or movie or music does.  It’s all about those connections however they form or are articulated to you.

Maybe this is a mouthful to ingest but for me nights like Wednesday, when you are listening to music that transports you to different memories……is like the  unexpectness and beauty of life that you didn’t think you deserved but when in those moments makes you realise you do.

So back to the talent that is Tash Sultana –a one-woman performer who is only 21 I think.  She reminded me so much of my younger cousin Anna – a resilience and pure soul that gives.  A traveller perhaps.  But I can tell Tash has been places and has places to go.

Watch this space…..

On this night, I thought about friends and family, I thought about all the music that had inspired me throughout my life and how that reflected as me as a person.  I like so much.  Those who know me might call me unique or weird or a dag or many other a thing, but I think the eclectic nature of my tastes is a reflection of who I am and I’m so ok with that.

 

 


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39. The push, the pull, of being a working mum.

I’m in thin air. So high up, all I can see is tiny pedestrians and roof tops below. There is no one up here to help. It is just me, alone, with my thoughts and my rapid, beating heart. I walk along a needle thread rope that could snap if I put a foot wrong. I sway and feel giddy at the thought.

Delicately, ever so carefully I move, one step, then another and hope that I don’t fall, that I don’t cave with the pressure. I look back to where I was before and hope that my heavy eyes won’t close, that my weary body can actually make it to the other side in one piece. Focus. Breathe. OR- fail, but is that an option?

No, I am not a circus performer; dare devil or actual tight rope walker, though one might argue that life as a parent can be a combination of the three. I’d even go as far as to say we are all magicians at times; I mean our powers of persuasion and misdirection are second to none. ‘Here bubba, take my phone so I can have my keys back’…..‘if you’re a good girl, we can go to the park’….you learn to compromise, you learn to sacrifice, you learn to be an entertainer, a caregiver, a negotiator, a juggler.

But in fact for me, this fine balance, this tug and pull, has become my new daily order. This is my life as a full time working mum. But can I be as bold to say that maybe it was also as a stay at home mum? Because really don’t we live in a world full of contradictions and expectations, especially as mothers- about what is expected of us and who we should be? How we should behave and react? What the idealism of good parenting is…..

I mean I have certainly felt pressure to be it all. Should I:

Be a stay at home mum who cooks, cleans, nurtures, teaches and solely focuses all her attention and time on her home and child, with no time to spare for herself. One, who also has the time to work on her post baby body, fits into her pre baby clothes and is a yummy mummy to the fullest. It is not all sipping latte’s at the local cafe with other mums, it is also that moment when you find yourself knee deep in washing and look to the still massive pile and think, or could I:

Be a working mother who earns, learns, inspires, grows, perseveres, furthers herself, leads, all whilst often on little sleep, little understanding and an even more dwindling capacity for any spare time for herself. But then who also has to come home and deal with the duties as above.

But still:

Be a loving and devoted partner who listens, who shares, who understands, a lover not a fighter, one who does not now equate jumping into the sack, with getting into bed and passing out from unrelenting tiredness.

And you ask who is putting this crazy pressure on me? Pressure that I know many other mothers feel, from our continual rants with each other……our partners or husbands??

Well for me it is far from it, he couldn’t be more amazing, though I’m sure he wishes my tiredness wasn’t an excuse for my lower than usual sex drive. He couldn’t be more supportive and willing to be the ‘be it all dad.’ He cooks, he cleans, he dotes over our daughter and is patient with me when I am not always patient with other things.

Instead, I think the two greatest foes are societal pressure to be a ‘certain type of mother-the all encompassing kind’ and in turn, our own critique of ourselves as mothers. You see it in the way celebrities bounce back post baby and then we all curse ourselves for not being able to follow suit. You see it in the debate between breast feeding or formula feed babies, co-sleepers or cot sleepers, child care or home care children, working mums or stay at home mums-it is constant and it is overwhelming. Just becoming a new parent is full on enough, let alone having to take in all the other noise.

There is often flack if you stay at home; there is flack if you go back to work. So what is right?? I’ve certainly had plenty for the latter-‘but how will you cope?’ ‘Won’t you be tired’ ‘won’t you miss your baby?’ ‘Wow, I couldn’t do it, especially not full time’.

The answer should be simple, but often it is difficult for some to grapple. It should be about what works for each individual and family. For my family, even before we were an extended family, we knew our model would be what suited us.

That sometimes daddy would work more and be the breadwinner. Then other times mummy would too (ok maybe 3-4 days a week would be unreal). Since we both freelance and work in industries that can be, well, elusive at times-things would have to be interchangeable. That as parents, aside from childcare and loving grandparents to help out, we would share the stay at home parenting. As much as it has been full on for both of us, it is actually something that has been important to us from the beginning-not just in an earning capacity, but as a family unit. I now love hearing about dads who are staying at home more to look after their children. None of this daddy day care stuff, it is knowing that fathers can do an equally amazing, if not better job, being the ones at home with the kiddies.

Money is always at the forefront of most family’s minds and the cold hard reality is, that to survive in this world, you need at least some of it. Things change, as do jobs, people go back to study, people buy houses, cars, go on holidays, get sick, unexpected bills comes up and people have babies-so life needs to have a certain flexibility to it. But that is also what makes it exciting. Especially when something as beautiful as having a baby does happen.

I wouldn’t change anything, as it gave us Bonnie who is the cutest thing ever and I can’t even explain in words how much I love her. She is the cheekiest monkey, a little adventurer and giggle machine with already I can tell a big, loving heart. But of course, along with being the most incredibly journey, babies can come with pressures.

Before I was working, I have to admit that there were moments when I thought, gosh my hubby has it easy, going to work, getting some time away –especially on the days that were filled with snotty noses, constant clinging and crying, the unknowing of what it was and what to do, the food being thrown back in my face, the being covered in vomit or poo, the helplessness, the aches, the pains.

The first few weeks back to work, I did think, wow I actually do know how to talk like an adult and not refer to pooey nappies, sleepless nights and anything baby related (although now since there are other new mothers- I often revert back-especially over our morning coffee run **an essential for working parents**). I liked that even though I was working and was often really busy, I had time to be myself outside of being a mother. That I could still do my job and do it well.

But then the mummy guilt kicked in. The- I should be with her and not at work, but then the- we need to earn money, but then the- I actually really love my job and the industry I work in and if I stay out of it for too long I might not have any career to go back to. Or the hearing about my friends who were new mothers and spending time with their babies and I wasn’t or we weren’t doing it all together.

And then the bit that I find the hardest-the missing her part.

She got sick on nearly the first day I started back at full time work and of course it fell on my husband to look after her. Like most babies who also go to childcare, she would get better, then get knocked back with another virus. My husband has had to be the one to take her to the doctors, and I even had to take a day off in my first two weeks (I am lucky to have a very understanding boss-who is also a mum of a young bub). I feel awful as being her mother, I feel this inane sense that I need to be there to hold her, nurture her and comfort her. Leaving the house if I can hear her crying, or if she is clinging onto me has been so hard and every day I miss her like crazy. There have certainly been tears on my end and request for videos and photos of her when possible. But, it has also come with a trust in both my husband and family and know that they care for her with the same capacity and would do anything for her. It’s a learning game for all of us. But I know she is happy and healthy (well most of the time-bloody childcare illness) and that is the most important thing.

I won’t lie, the missing part hasn’t gotten any easier, but I have learnt to adjust. You learn to make it all about quality time than quantity time with lots of laughter, cuddles and kisses. You realise that all those times your partner left for work, he felt it too. That after a massive day at work, he would be exhausted and come home to a probably half crazed wife who would immediately hand him our baby and that maybe he just needed a second to get changed, maybe go to the toilet, before settling in to start the night time routine of dinner, bath, bottle, bed and cleaning up for the next day. But, with all of that you also begin to appreciate each other and know that you are in it together-you’re a team and that’s why you got together in the first place. Many people do it on their own and I am amazed by you all out there.

It’s only 5 weeks till I finish on this gig and have a month off and know that there will be more time for myself and for my family. But I also know that when I return for the next one-that before work and after work, on the weekends and spare time I want to take in as much of Bonnie as possible (and remember it is important to have time for myself and my husband). It’s taking in her beautiful smiles, the way she nuzzles into my neck when she is tired, or how she now kisses me back, or how she has just learnt to walk and wants desperately to practice and is so proud of herself when she nails it, how she bops up and down when there is even a chance of a beat (whether that is our hand tapping or us playing her some old school records), how if we distract her she will eat really well, her constant chatter (even though its more dada that mama at the moment), her desire to crawl into every nook of the house even if it means she gets stuck, her love of climbing up couches and trying (with us running towards her madly) to climb down, her giggles when I tickle her or her giggles at nothing at all, her intrigue at the new and the way I see it all new too, her love of other babies and children, her awe in the simple, her snuggles first thing in the morning when we bring her into bed with us, her love of her daddy, the list goes on. Any angst I have all melts away when I walk in the door after work and she puts her hands in the air and with a smile waits for me to pick her up.

So yes, there are days when I feel like I’m on that tightrope all alone, so tired after a big day at work. But then I look to the other mothers around me (and dads) and know we are doing it for all the right reasons. For providing a good life for our children and ourselves, furthering our minds (even though restless and sleepless at times) and our industries, learning from and teaching others. And you know what, on the other side, on other days, there is no rope at all. I look around to my husband, my family and friends, my support at work and know they are all helping carry me, because they care about me and my family and that is worth its weight in gold.


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38. Moving to Acceptance

 

Right now, I think I’m bordering on reflection and slight denial in my grieving process.

I have been slipping in and out of the so called ‘stages’ for days now, probably even weeks. It’s a funny thing really, as I desperately cling onto the last shreds of what was. So many moments I just wanted to give up and find a better answer, but I persevered. Sleepless nights worrying was I putting enough effort in, was there something more I could do, when it literally felt like I was giving my blood, sweat and tears. You took so much from me, but I wanted it to keep going for at least a little while longer. It has been the most challenging, gruelling, yet rewarding relationships I ever encountered and today I wanted to publicly wish you adieu.

For today is the day, I farewell the battle, the bond and the beauty  that is breastfeeding.

It’s 6.15AM. I’ve brought you into bed for our morning feeding ritual. As you fumble your way in the dark and latch, I think come on, we can both do this. You start to suckle and I know it’s not going to be long before…..fark me!!!!!!! THE BITE. Oh the shear pain of having three little teeth bite down hard on your nipple. My little baby is finally saying mumma, you ain’t got no milk to bring no boys to the yard. Best you close up shop and bring in the professionals. Cue the formula brigade thanks.

Some of you may think I am using the stages of grief analogy is the wrong context or maybe I am being a little overdramatic. Some of you will think I have nailed it on the head. Because like every part of being a mother, there is no experience exactly the same. Most of the time, there is no right or wrong, it is simply what works for you. Will you bottle or breastfeed, will you decide to co-sleep from the start or reluctantly down the track. Every mother and every baby is different no matter want the nature vs nurture debate says.

I have days when I look in the mirror with blackened bags under my eyes, trying to remember ever being so tired. When I have been covered in vomit or poo or had baby food thrown in my face after trying to be the new gourmet baby chef. I have cried so hard because I just couldn’t find the solution or provide in the way I wanted. Or as my girlfriend’s and I were joking the other day, that as new mothers we all spoke the new language of stupid. Cause let’s face it, even I’ve been surprised at the crap that I’ve said on a sleep deprived day.

But along with the hardship that is parenthood, there is thankfully way, way more of the good. I still can’t believe how this tiny creature has also become the love of my life. Ok I better say my hubby is still on equal par. As much as I couldn’t even imagine my life without her, I do look back to those baby free sleep ins and late night partying with fondness. But as I’ve said before, it is all worth it, as this girl has officially broken me.

Every day they rock your world with something that could be so simple but it opens you and leaves your vulnerable, hormonal heart for the taking. Forget about watching the news, films about kids or hell even a nappy commercial without welling up. So, when it comes to the monolithic journey that has been breastfeeding, for me, it comes as a very mixed bag of emotions that it has to end.

You see for some women, breastfeeding is a walk in the park. Baby pops out (ok we know they don’t just pop out, but this is a blog about breastfeeding, not having your vagina rip in half), is placed on breast, then away they go for up to x amount of years. Friends had even said to me, oh gosh, you’re so going to be one of those mums who are still breastfeeding their 7 year old. I might not have gone quite that far, but I really wanted it to be longer than 8 months.

I should really stop myself right now though and give myself a major pat on the back. As I have been the other variety of breastfeeding mums. One who has struggled with it from the start. There was luckily no mastitis or cracked nipples like some poor mums, but there was bad latching, tongue tie, vasospasm, lactation consults one after another. I even found out the other day I have post partum hypothyroidism which also effects milk supply, which at least explains why it was such a struggle. But for me, the killer was expressing nearly every day since I had this little lady. My former breasts that I had become quite fond up, have literally had the life sucked out of them. All I can say is hallelua for the day push up bras were invented. But I did all this for Bonnie as that is what I wanted for her.

I need to state, this is not a breast is best rant in any form. I completely get why parents choose to go formula. Some out of necessity, some out of preference and as I said there is no right or wrong-you do what works for you. The main reason I kept going was then it did work, I loved breastfeeding. I loved the closeness and the bond I felt. But since giving her the bottle more and more, I know that still exists as it is foremost about feeding a hungry little baby and that is far greater than the battle of boob vs bottle.

So weeks ago when I was in shock that this was happening, I did of course try to deny it by continually offering the boob even as the bites became more frequent. I got angry and guilty with myself that after all this hard work, these former shells of themselves couldn’t produce some measly milk. So I tried to bargain with her-I’ll still offer the boob first and then you can have the bottle. I felt alone and sad as the realisation it was coming to an end. Even though, since I’m starting work soon, it was inevitable.

As I sit here typing away, I realise that out of function I of course put on a maternity bra this morning. You know those giant, sexy ones with the clips that allow you to expose your breast to the world if you so desired. I’m not sure about other mothers, but I have certainly never felt sexy wearing them. So as I have this realisation that I do not now need to wear these anymore, that I can start to wear tops that don’t make it easier to whip out my titties in public places, that I can actually have more than a few wines…..maybe that is another step towards acceptance as my baby happily chugs another bottle of formula down.


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37. It’s all in the details

As if discovering something foreign, these tiny hands move over each nearby surface. At night during her last feed, is where I notice it the most. Perhaps it is because I am purely focused on her in the half lit room, that I am so engaged by this developing sense. With eyes closed, barely awake, as she feeds from me, her fingers caress and feel their way around. Over my skin, they slowly move over the different textures of fabric or searching for my own hand to touch. Her entire hand barely wraps around a small section of my finger, but that is all she needs to feel comfort. She places my fingers across her face, making me stroke her delicate features. It is here, where I realise, it is like I am rediscovering my own sense of touch and the beauty of the new.

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How often now as adults, do you stop and enjoy the texture of your food on your fingers, the stunning colours of a flower bed in a park or the way an hundred year old tree casts shadows through its leaves. Or maybe it is the bright, shiny lights on a Christmas tree or the smell of the pine that can transport you back to each year you were little and rushed to see if Santa had left you some presents. Or what about that amazement at hearing some rock or classical or dance music for the first time-can you remember how it made you feel? As your body wanted to move and sway with the rhythms. Can you remember not caring where or when you could dance without someone watching you, judging you? When you unaware of the outside world, only taking in what was right in front of you.

We all become so consumed by the chaos of our daily lives, that it is not hard to forget to take in the beautiful details that surround us. The frost that covers the grass on an early morning rise, the smell of freshly poured coffee, a sunset on the beach with the salty air caressing your face, the softest touch on your skin, the history of a book that was written years ago, the grass between your toes, the sound of an acoustic guitar in a large, open space. So many things that happen every single moment of every single day that we sometimes miss because we are too busy just to stop and be present. All the different perspectives happening all at the same time, all experiencing it differently or not at all.

Now I have my daughter Bonnie, it’s like by seeing the bewilderment in her eyes at every new thing she sees, smells, feels, hears, tastes, I too, get to live that with her too. Today, I showed her a snow globe and it was like I was remembering seeing one for the first time-wondering just how it could snow in such a tiny space. How did Santa or his elf capture the snow and bottle it just for me. Having her, is making me more excited about Christmas than I have been in years. Because there is something about the magic of the season that kids live for. Now I get to have that too.

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I am grateful for the simplicity of just being in these little moments with her, with my husband, with my family and friends. Like breathing air for the first time, I feel new and alive with all the possibilities of rediscovery. I get to see the ocean for the first time again, I get to see art in a gallery with new eyes, I get to watch a puppy jump about and think it is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, I get to smile a million smiles that are true and sincere and I get to give cuddles and kisses all day long…well until she doesn’t want me to-but I reckon i’ll give it my best shot.

So as we move towards another year, take stock of all the things around you and be grateful to have so many luxuries as many do not, like presents under the tree. Love all of those people who are important to you and tell them that every day, and be human to those strangers on the street as after all, that is what we are-human with faults and stories and baggage, but love (even when it has been pushed to the darkest corners). Search yourself deep down as if you too were a baby and learning about the world, forgetting that there can be war and hate and all sorts of stuff that makes some people so much worse than just being on Santa’s naughty list. Pretend you were starting at day 1 and give yourself a break, putting all the stress and hurt and anger aside, and just be.

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36. Presence is a present

You are a cocoon,

An extension of my skin-

As if you were still growing inside me.

Head upon chest,

Your tummy on mine.

Each tiny breath gently caressing

the space between us.

No one has ever needed me like you do.

I am overwhelmed at times,

But I am also humbled.

Though I now realize,

I have needed you too-

I just didn’t know it.

I could lay you down to sleep.

But I choose to stay and be in this moment,

Just a while longer.

There is no time.

There is nothing else.

Just you and me.

Like we were always like this.

6.43pm 22/10/15

A few Thursdays ago, I was just about to walk out the door to go to yoga (let me state, it was the second attempt to go since the birth of my daughter, so I wanted…no I needed to go *insert whining new mum sound here*). It was like you subconsciously knew I was about to leave and said ‘wishful thinking mum,’ because you stirred and woke up and didn’t want to go back to sleep. When I put on my gym clothes half an hour earlier than I needed to, I did have a moment of trepidation. But carelessly I threw that to the wind, as I am a crazy, sleep-deprived mother after all and we tend to do silly things- like imagine we can go out without our babies.

As I heard the increasing sound of shhh shhh shhh coming from Bonnie’s room, there was a moment of ‘she’ll be fine, later dudes.’ My body was literally gravitating towards the door; I could feel the downward dogs burning to be practiced. But, I just couldn’t do it. As much as my lovely husband begged me to go and said he was ok, and I knew he would be, I felt bad. There has been more than one occasion where I have stopped him going out because of a similar situation, so I didn’t think me going to yoga really cut the mustard in terms of things I just had to do.

*Let me say, it’s not about getting away from my baby, as I love her to bits. But, I think I can speak on behalf of all mothers, that sometimes –you just really need a moment to yourself and doing things like yoga is really important for our wellbeing and sanity*

My former independence was something I can now look back on as a distant memory and a new goal to achieve at a date tbc. I mean of course I knew all of this would happen when I had a baby; well I convinced myself I did. It’s funny as I feel like the first three months is a whirlwind of ups and downs and tiredness and happiness (and I’d be silly to think that time was the hardest part). I like to call it the adjustment period. You are doing something for the first time in your life where another person’s life literally depends on you. Call me crazy, but that’s damn scary and takes some getting used to. You start discovering things about yourself that you probably didn’t know. Like how to act under pressure. This could be when you are stuck in peak hour and you are continually reaching behind you to stop your screaming baby’s dummy from falling out. It could also be when you discover you baby has done an explosion poo and you forgot a spare change of clothes.

I think yoda was speaking to all new parents when saying ‘patience you must have.’ See as much as I had a moment of disappointment at not being able to go out, I have ‘adjusted myself’ and learnt to have much more patience. I now embrace the fact that this tiny girl who is mine and who is beautiful, needed me to stay and that makes any change of plans worth it.  It’s been a really new thing for me, to feel this completely and utterly needed by someone else. Yes I’m sure my family and friends do need (or maybe like) having me in their lives, but it is a whole other thing when a person’s life depends on you. As she’s getting older, it absolutely melts me, when she is feeding –she sometimes stops and smiles at me…. almost to say ‘hey thanks for feeding me mum.’ Or at least that is what my sagging boobs are hoping she is saying for payment of their demise.

So back to that Thursday –we tried the shh shh shh until we could shh shh shh no more. The gentle tap tapping next her just wasn’t cutting it either as she got more and more unsettled. So after my hubby and I tag teamed, I picked her up and just snuggled her in the rocking chair until she slowly drifted off to sleep.  Instead of putting her straight down, I chose to stay with her for a while, enjoying the peacefulness of her on me, gently breathing in and out. There is this beautiful innocence and serenity when a baby sleeps on you. Although it can be overwhelming at times, in that moment, I felt a complete gratitude that she does need me so much.

I can be scatter brained at times, but having Bonnie has given me an amazing gift. When I am playing with her, I am completely present, living in that moment. I don’t think of how I have been hurt in the past, angry at times, I don’t worry about what I look like or things I haven’t done- I am right there, living for now. That is the most powerful feeling that I don’t want to ever take for granted and that makes missing out on some things completely worth it.  We have been able to leave the house (with many lovely and willing baby sitters) without her and it does get easier.  Most of the time, it’s more me not wanting to be without her as I miss her too much. Catch 22 really.

It’s like she has always been a piece of me that has only just come into fruition. She is such a happy, calm baby and I often think that hopefully all the parts of Lewy and I that are good will grow in her too.  With her, as much as you need order and routines a lot of the time, I also never know what I am going to get with each day and that is also the most refreshing way to live. I love that I am looking at the world with new eyes. I love that her giggle makes everything better. I love how much I love her.  I love how much more I appreciate the small stuff. Cause that is often the most important stuff too.