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.


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35. The thing about friendship is….

I just had a friend over who I hadn’t seen in a long time, as she’s been overseas. It got me thinking about the last few months especially, but also of a lifetime of friendships. They say friends come and go for different reasons in your life and at different times. Some are fleeting and some are forever. Some scar you, hurt you, anger you and those friendships burn out like a match. Then there are others that are just for big groups, partying and giggles. But if you are lucky, some are magical. Like a beautiful storybook of memories that expands each time you meet, never knowing which way it will go. Some don’t need lots of time spent together (though of course you would always like more time), as every time you see each other, it is like it was just yesterday. Like just then.

Since I’ve had my daughter (still sounds weird saying that), it has been so amazing to see all my friends and families love for my husband and I, but more importantly for her. Even though they had never met her before, there has been this heart-warming connection they all feel, because they already have that love for us. Funny how love works. We are so lucky to have such a large, yet close group of friends surrounding us and we are so grateful for. They have come from all walks of life and are all beautifully unique. Some I have bonded with on a new level since joining the parent brigade too.

I heard a quote that goes something like ‘friends are the family you chose for yourself.’ Man, I have a great family then. But you know what? My family have also become my friends. You know you are getting older when you consider your parents your friends and your siblings, your closest of friends (when you were little you probably fought like cats and dogs). With time that has passed, I’ve had friends who have been the strongest of supports when I have needed it. Since Bonnie I can’t even believe how incredible my friends and family have been-whether it has been from cooking meals, buying beautiful gifts, lending an ear or a shoulder when I’ve needed it, giving advice, making me laugh, giving great hugs, all of it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

A friend who I met through work came round the other day and I haven’t got to see her much over the last few years as she spends a lot of her time in France and we live busy lives….but I said I knew I missed you but it wasn’t until I just saw you again that I realised how much. I get that feeling every time I see friends who have been away or when they are near but time has just flown past and we haven’t got to catch up in a while. Like today, when another beautiful friend came round and we gasbagged for hours but it felt like only minutes. It is so nice to have her back.

So I just wanted to take the time to say how much I love you all my beautiful, amazing, intelligent, funny, exciting, spontaneous, loving, sexy, fun, deep friends. Some of you are so close and I am so grateful, some of your are around the globe and I am excited for you, but miss you incredibly, some are just returning and I cant wait to see you, some of you are my oldest and closest, some of you are my newest and I can’t wait for that friendship to grow and memories made.

To my family-near or far, immediate or now by marriage-you have each done so much for me in your individual ways. Even just two days ago, I got a beautiful letter and package just because from my Aunty Lee ( I will call you tomorrow to say thanks!!) Thank you from the bottom of my heart, as you all shape me to be a better person.

My parents- I can’t thank you enough for everything you have given me. The best start at life, solid morals, advice and support. Now I am a parent I understand all the sacrifices you gave so much more. I couldn’t ask for better parents.

To my sister- you are my rock and my compass and the funniest/weirdest person I know. Without you, life wouldn’t make sense. You’re an incredible mum too. I love your children to bits too.

To my husband- I shouldn’t have to say how much you mean to me cause you should know, but you are my everything. I tell you my secrets, my desires, my weird stories and you still love me. I do strange things and can be trying at times but you love me more. You are the best lover, father and the best of friends and I am so incredibly lucky to have met you. Thank you for making Bonnie with me too. My love for you grows mountains each day.

To Bonnie- though we have just met, I feel like I have known you for a lifetime. All we have to do is look in to each other’s eyes and it is like nothing exists but just us in that moment. You are by far the best thing I have done and I know you will be an incredible little thing when you are grown. But for now, let’s just enjoy each little moment day by day. I love you forever.


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34. The times they are indeed a changing…..

In the darkness,
you are part of me and I of you.
This is a different, but familiar love,
it’s like looking at myself as a child.
Like my heart is beating outside of me,
as you, so small, lie upon my chest.
Time means nothing,
except now watching you grow.
So many things I had thought were important –
has now compounded into you.
The responsibility I feel to keep you safe
is both overwhelming, but enlightening.
My beautiful little girl,
it’s like I was missing something that I never even knew.
You are everything that is good, wrapped up in perfection,
and then some.

27/8/15 3.13am

Bob Dylan of course wasn’t singing about the trials and tribulations of parenthood, but I thought his song title seemed fitting for this blog, as the times they are definitely a changing. My ‘previous’ life had been a non stop juggle of social and work commitments, fancy dinners, partying hard, travels interstate and overseas, family gatherings, times with my partner, appointments and exercise and somewhere in there…. some time for me. I have always lived with the mantra that you should live life to the fullest. I always knew that if I was to become a parent that would of course change, but I guess didn’t quite grasp just how much time is affected when a baby comes into the picture. For instance, I started this blog about 5 weeks ago (generally I write & post one that day).

Time goes so slowly, yet so fast when you have a new baby. You can spend hours just staring into each other’s eyes, pulling funny faces, watching them sleep. Or your days can certainly be filled with washing baby clothes, cleaning the house and attending various baby appointments. For so long, I had been able to leave the house with just a handbag full of things in a few minutes. Now it takes me at least ten mins to get myself organised before I can leave. I now have to remember that if I don’t pack a dummy and my baby loses it, I am kicking myself. Or if I forget a change of clothing for her, would our car seat be potentially graced with lots of poo.

Even though we are still incredibly busy, our way of life has certainly changed. It is now about living day to day. Things change with a newborn and you have learn to be ok to change your plans, cancel and stay at home or take a lot longer to do things. You have to learn to be ok with things being just ok. I don’t think there are any awards given out to the parents with the cleanest house, or how much they achieved in a day with a baby. I’m actually finding this change really refreshing, as I have to be completely present. You forget about all that crazy stuff like stresses at work when your baby smiles at you, you aren’t thinking about how you need to rush off to somewhere as it’s about connecting with this beautiful, little being in that amazing moment. When they look so intensely at you, nothing matters and time is not important. Time is just a thing.

It is also funny how time changes everything. If I had put this blog out 5 weeks ago, I was in a haze of positivity as my beautiful little Bonnie and Lewy and I were on cloud nine and that everything was peachy. Sure there were plenty of moments of ‘are we doing the right thing,’ or ‘why is she crying, let’s work through this list (dirty nappy, hungry, tired, over stimulated etc),’ but then we figured it out and we trusted our instincts. She is of course is the best thing we have ever done and I can’t believe just how much I love her, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been really hard at times. Though we have had much more smiles than frowns, and at the moment she is pretty good sleeper- but two weeks ago, we had our first bad week.

We worked through the list; we just couldn’t work out why she was so upset. I was full of tears, and self doubt and my confidence dwindled-reading baby books and looking up the old Dr Google didn’t help the situation either. Having just seen a lactation consultant, we think it was a growth spurt along with my supply not matching her hunger (gosh that makes you feel good when you can’t feed your baby properly). But moving along another week, and feeding her more- she has been awesome again. I’ve gotten out of the house a lot more, walked till my feet felt like they were going to fall off, so I could clear my head. There will most definitely be more of these days to come, but I need to remember it’s all about perspective.

A friend told me this about newborns…..every day you’ll have a bad hour, every week you’ll have a bad day, and every month you’ll have a bad week. So hey, to all those parents out there feeling a little unsure, just remember this and give yourself a break. I know I’m still learning to do that and it does make you feel better when you can be stuck in a cloud of doubt. Learning to trust your instincts is also key.

So in the last 10 weeks of being a mum, here are 10 things I thought I knew about being a parent -but until I became one, did I realise I was wrong…..

1. Babies poo a lot
WE SAID: OH HOW CUTE, SHE JUST SMILED AT ME
SHE SAID: …….*the loudest pooing sound*
We have been lucky to be graced with an expert projectile pooer. This girl has skill, nearly being able to hit something a metre away including both of us. There have been several occasions where Lewy or I have had to strip down to our underwear as we’ve been hit by her missile. We have now learnt to wait till she is most definitely finished before taking away her nappy. I don’t want to think about how many nappies and wipes have we used so far.

2. You do become one of those parents…..
I always said that if I were to become a parent then I wouldn’t spend my days talking about poo, vomit, feeding and how much we love our baby. But the reality is, that part of your baby’s life tends to consume your days, so there isn’t a huge amount else to talk about (at least in the early days). But on the other side, I’m not going to apologise for it either, as I love my baby to bits and want to talk about her non-stop. For other parents, they are often the same-which is probably the battle when you catch up with your childless friends-not boring them to death. I do have this voice in my head when catching up with people saying ‘I think you’re talking about Bonnie a little much’ but then I can’t stop. On the other side, it is nice to get out and do non baby related things from time to time for your sanity.

3. If you breastfeed you are insanely hungry, thirsty, stuck in a time warp…and it can be freakin hard work
I have been eating like a horse. I mean I already did, but this is insane. I also seem to be guzzling down litres of water, which is not a bad thing. Don’t get me started on the initial set up you want when at home so you don’t go mad-toilet stop check, washed hands check, phone, water bottle, snack, pillow, spew rag, lanolin…check. In the first few weeks when it took much longer to feed her, I sped my way through a few TV series in the middle of the night, but thankfully now they are much shorter and I can do without. But sitting in the near dark can be very tiring-I can see why so many mums are on facebook in the wee hours. There is something to be said though about that time of the night, when it is just us, her tiny hands feeling their way around as she gulps down her milk.

As beautiful as breastfeeding can be, it can certainly come with challenges which has been a big reason I had such a bad week and still continue to have my days. I wish I found it a lot easier, but it’s hard when your supply is low. I had the most amazing lactation consultant come to visit and we are on a plan. I’m on vitamins and herbs, sipping whole cumin seeds, drinking beer and eating lactation cookies (ok a beer and cookie diet doesn’t sound that bad). For the next few weeks I also have to try express after every feed, which is damn tiring and often emotionally exhausting..not to mention feeling like a cow. So let’s see how this all goes as seriously if my boobs aren’t exploding with milk soon at least I know I tried everything. I don’t think it will be until Bonnie is a mother herself (if that’s what she wants) that she will truly understand what parents go through for their baby, I most certainly didn’t. So thank you to my own beautiful parents for a lifetime of putting me first. There is a long list of things that can go wrong, bad latching, cracked nipples, thrush, vasospasm, mastitis -it is hard for a lot of women. So I can definitely see why women choose formula.

4. You need to become a master of coordination
Being able to do two things at once is a skill most women have, but being able to do that while holding a baby is a whole other skill set. I can see why baby Bjorns and ergo babies, baby swings, baby gyms all have such a roaring trade.

5. Washing clothes, baby bottles and your hands is really annoying and time wasting
My hands are feeling so dry that I swear I will have sand paper hands by the time Bonnie hits kindergarten. Seeing babies don’t like bacteria just yet, you are constantly washing your hands, their clothes and if using a bottle (which when I’m expressing after every feed, I certainly am) you are also washing these things. Driving mad, mad I tell you. If your baby is on formula, you have to be even more careful keeping this sterilised. ahhhh

6. How difficult it is to the leave the house without a shit load of stuff
I touched on this above, but my god babies need a lot of stuff when going out. Nappies, change mat, wipes, bags, toys, bottle, spare clothes, spew rat…the list goes on. I never appreciated having a neat, little clutch with a hand full on things when going out –but now I certainly do. I’m going away with her in a few weeks, so the list will be pages long I’m sure.

7. You need to be ok with everything not being ok
Some babies don’t sleep, others have colic, or breastfeeding is hard…there are so many things, but learn to be ok with getting help-as people want to help. Talk about your issues, see a specialist, go for a walk to clear your head, change your perspective. It all helps and is so important.

Also….the problem about being stuck at home when you are feeding is that you notice all the jobs that need doing. Dust everywhere, dirty clothes, the endless dishes….how do I get this done and try to also sleep when the baby sleeps. Listen, we all just need to get a grip and let the mound pile up occasionally so we can put our feet up, have a cup of tea….maybe write a blog.

8. You need to learn to function on broken sleep
I have always really liked my sleep but wasn’t always the best at it. But now, I generally hit the pillow and wake up in a puddle of drool on my pillow. Hot I know, but something about short spurts of sleep does that to me. I’ve also had these weird dreams that I’ve gone to sleep holding her, waking up in a panic that I have suffocated her only to find it is my own arm that I’ve some how managed to put to sleep. Sleep deprivation is something that I am just learning to deal with and trying now to prioritise resting so I don’t go mad.

9. Your body is not the same for a while
Aches and pains, jelly tummy and legs, sagging boobs. Painting an awesome picture? Look I know some women bounce back straight away and I’ve been pretty lucky, but it will certainly take some time if ever to get back to how I was…that’s totally ok too. I know my boobs will never be the same again (I’m just waiting for what other mothers have referred to as the footy socks with sand bag boobs). My neck and back are feeling officially f’d from constantly looking down while breastfeeding. I know I shouldn’t look down so much but I can’t help gazing at the little babushka. Massage on Monday here I come!!

10. A baby’s love changes everything
The crippling worry, the responsibility, the way they melt you hearty when they nuzzle into your chest, how you forget any worry you had when they smile, that even though you are covered in their poo and vomit you don’t care because they are so cute-this all comes with being a parent. There are going to be times when you are much more short with your partner because you are so tired, there are going to be times when you are so tired that all you can do is cry, there are going to be times when their crying makes you feel mad…but all of that doesn’t matter as you love your baby and that day when they can say it back to you will the best thing ever. But I don’t need words just now as when she looks at me or at Lewy –we know. Watching your partner gaze at them lovingly, when they look around for you, when they coo and giggle-that makes it all worth it.

Because you are with someone that is both so familiar, yet at times so uncertain that you spend your minutes just figuring each other out. That is my ‘new’ life now and I am so incredibly grateful for it. This is just the start of my love story and I have to remember that every day is a new page in a chapter of their life, so just taking it day by day is the best approach and I’m getting better at that. It is also the most beautiful gift too.


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33. A Not Bad Birth Story

In many of the books and apps for pregnancy, they compare each new week that your baby grows, to a piece of fruit or vegetable…perhaps to slowly prepare you. To be honest, the idea of pushing a small sized watermelon through my Cha Cha scared the shit out of me. Having spent 33 years with my lady part, I’ve become quite fond of it. To have that potentially compromised for some screaming unknown thing had always been a little difficult for me to grasp.

As far back as I can remember when I heard stories of labour, more often than not they sounded downright horrific. Of course the end result was a beautiful baby, but the underlying message was that it was an experience they almost wish they could forget. Until I was actually pregnant myself, I had imagined the worst case scenario- with me being torn open to high heaven, only having to be stitched back to virginity. Ok, I know that’s not possible- but you get the picture. Or scrap that, try not to visualise, as that’s where the problem begins.

There seems to be such fear instilled in women around the birth experience. In many cultures, young girls witness their family members giving birth, breastfeeding (some women have their babes almost permanently attached for the first few months) and help their mothers as the babies grow. They are not scared by it. They embrace it. Amish women give birth to an average of 7 children and having such a close knit family setting, their children grow up being much more exposed to the birthing process. Especially since they often give birth at home. Ina May Gaskin who is described as the ‘mother of authentic midwifery’ stated ‘we are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth. It’s profitable to scare women about birth. But let’s stop it. I tell women: Your body is not a lemon.’ She did a lot of her midwifery training with Amish communities, saying they tended to grow up without the same fear of the birth process as many women have today.

So I tried to push all these scary stories away. I actively decided to be positive and excited about that fact that though there would be pain, it was where I would finally meet my baby. After all, women go back time and time again- even with those not so nice experiences, so there must be something about motherhood that is pretty rad. So after the fun part of deciding to have a baby was successful- we were pregnant. I know there are so many variables to every labour, so I will just reiterate that this is my story only. I am extremely grateful for such a positive experience, as I know things can go wrong. For me, the thing that helped me so much was going in with an open mind. I just had to trust the professionals to get my baby out safely and keep me safe too. That was my number one priority.

Now I won’t lie – I was so incredibly tired by the time I was in active labour. I now have a real understanding why many women use pain relief –often it is from shear exhaustion. I had been to the hospital once with contractions and sent home being told it was just pre labour (I had three days of contractions that would be strong then peter off). We tried the usual things to bring on labour: long walks, bouncing on the fit ball, raspberry leaf tea, eating curry and yes strongly advised by our midwife -even sex (which at that stage since I was so huge, was almost laughable). I was told not to worry so much about the timing, but to call the hospital when the contractions were so intense I couldn’t talk through them.

So on the Friday, as my mum took me down the street to get some jobs done, they finally began to be consistent and get much stronger. Once I got home, I strapped on my TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine which sends small electrical pulses to the body (I swear by this as didn’t end up needing any other pain relief). I called Lewy to come home and then again my sister; husband and I went into the hospital.

Again, they nearly sent me home as by the time I got there the contractions had lessened. I swear they thought I was making it up. But on discovering my waters had broken, they decided to keep me in (yes I was expecting the huge embarrassing gush too). We had an amazing midwife during the night that said the best thing to me. ‘Just welcome every contraction and know they are leading to something really beautiful.’ So as they got stronger and stronger I said to myself, love, compassion, peace, beauty, strength, humour, intelligence….all these qualities that I imagined and knew our baby would have. Sounds a bit hippy I know, but it made them that much easier to endure.

The midwife drew little acupressure points on me and told Lewy to start pressing them to activate the labour. Literally 30 mins after he did, it was on. I told my sister to rush back in and by 8am when she arrived, I was 5cm dilated and told I would probably have my baby that afternoon. I need to state how absolutely fabulous they both were. It must be so hard watching someone you love in such pain and not being able to help alleviate that. But they did their best. They cracked jokes when I needed it, rubbed my back when I wanted it or stayed away when i didn’t want it, made a calm setting, told me how proud they were of me and did not laugh when I was letting out these deep animalistic grunts (we can laugh about it now). It was so special ito have them both there. I am forever grateful to my A-team!

Thinking I wouldn’t be having my baby till much later, there were definitely instances of wholly shit, I am definitely going to need pain relief. I remember letting out this loud whimper and my sister said, ‘don’t you break’ and I held strong. Now when I talked about bad experiences, I don’t want to say that the pain for me was not bad. It was the most out of my mind pain I have ever experienced. But I knew it was leading to something so amazing that it would be worth it. I had imagined walking through the maternity ward listening to music, with Lewy holding my hand as I calmly worked through each contraction. But it literally all happened so fast. All of a sudden, they were one on top of each other, with no subsiding in between. I dilated 5cm in 1.5hrs (perhaps that really long pre labour was not such a bad thing). I had to go to a place I never knew existed within me so I could stand the overwhelming pain. Before I knew it the midwife was asking me if I needed to push.

If I can take away anything out of some of the books that I read-the image of the coffee plunger helped me in this moment. Sounds weird right? But a book called Birth Skills said to imagine you were pushing down a coffee plunger for that big moment, so that’s why I did. But also imagine it is mixed with drying cement and that’s how hard you have to push. You push till the vessels in your neck are bludging, till you’re straining every iota of yourself, till you think you cannot possibly push anymore and then some. But then they showed me a mirror and I could see a little head (yes I gave a look) and I knew the end was in sight. I think that’s why for me, the pain didn’t seem as bad as the contractions (and hey a small baby really helps too). The moment when the head finally pops out is the most amazing feeling of relief, and before I knew it she just slid out and was placed in my hands and then on my chest. I will never forget the love I felt for Lewy in that moment too. We didn’t need to say anything, it was a mutual, ‘look what we made’ moment.

I can easily say it was the most transformative, powerful and enlightening experience I have ever had. The overwhelming range of emotions I felt was incredible. I felt maternal and spiritual and beautiful and empowered and so incredibly strong. As soon as our little baby Bonnie was placed on my chest, everything I had just endured melted away. So that is why women go back for more. I now get it, as they get the most amazing gift at the end. I guess why I’m writing this is to encourage women not to be afraid. Yes of course it was bloody painful, but the female body is a remarkable thing and is made for giving birth. Ina May was right, my body wasn’t a lemon, it was pretty freaking amazing actually and that is something to own and be incredibly proud of it.