Bittersweet Birthday in Brisbane. Baby James is One Today

After an appalling pregnancy and a crippling case of pre-natal depression that sent my heart and mind to places I never could have imagined, a miracle bursting with joy, laughter and Love arrived in our world very early on a crisp April morning over Easter weekend in 2014.

We are a year on now, and we’re all more in Love with him than ever, but he’s growing up pretty fast, and is absolutely the last Hobbit child to come up the ranks.  Makes me a little sad.  Also looking forward to some independence again!

I can’t begin to tell you how well this child fits into our family and among our friends.

He is bursting with life and Love and smiles ALL the time.

Just thinking about him and listening to him splashing around in the bathtub with his big brother Adam as I attempt to get this blog out for you brings happy little tears to my Hobbity eyes.

I guess, he must have been sucking the joy out of me and building up his reserves while he was growing in my tummy, as he is absolutely one of the most joyful people I have ever met.  And I don’t begrudge him it, as now that he is on the other side of the womb, I have felt nothing but Love for the little man.

So here is a quick journey through pictures of our first year with James David Leondard West.

Smiling three and a half months before he was even born.

Smiling three and a half months before he was even born.

Lynelle (we went to high school together) at my very last hospital visit before James arrived.

Lynelle (we went to high school together) at my very last hospital visit before James arrived.

Meeting another gorgeous gestating girl at the Skid Row/Ugly Kid Joe concert.

Meeting another gorgeous gestating girl at the Skid Row/Ugly Kid Joe concert.

Gearing up for a quick and drugfree birth.  So they weren't just braxton hicks, they were actual contractions and an actual baby came a few hours later....

Gearing up for a quick and drugfree birth. So they weren’t just braxton hicks, they were actual contractions and an actual baby came a few hours later….

Whew.  Hi there James!

Whew. Hi there James!

15JamesBBlog5

Meeting one of the people I adore most in the world. My Daddy Bruce

Meeting one of the people I adore most in the world. My Daddy Bruce

Adam feeding his very own baby :-)

Adam feeding his very own baby 🙂

Big Brother Daniel

Big Brother Daniel

Auntie Leigh and Steph and James

Auntie Leigh and Steph and James

Adam and Steph having a snuggle early one morning

Adam and Steph having a snuggle early one morning

Auntie Sarah

Auntie Sarah

Big smiles from James on my Birthday morning (he is six days old)

Big smiles from James on my Birthday morning (he is six days old)

In California with Aunty Cat and Mommom.

In California with Aunty Cat and Mommom.

Granny's shoulders at the big kids' parent teacher interviews

Granny’s shoulders at the big kids’ parent teacher interviews

Hanging in Pauanui with the only girl cousin Amara and Bapo (Pappa Strat)

Hanging in Pauanui with the only girl cousin Amara and Bapo (Pappa Strat)

The whole family

The whole family

Aunty Cathy

Aunty Cathy

Aunty Cathy and Uncle Bob at Granny and Poppa's house.

Aunty Cathy and Uncle Bob at Granny and Poppa’s house.

Wellington and running in to Delightful Danni!

Wellington and running in to Delightful Danni!

Up to no good with Hayley!

Up to no good with Hayley!

Visits with Kyrin

Visits with Kyrin

Looking pretty cute in an outfit Katie got for him

Looking pretty cute in an outfit Katie got for him

Happy as a bug in a rug in Matakana

Happy as a bug in a rug in Matakana

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Barcelona tiredeness

Barcelona tiredeness

Helping dad read the menu in Roma

Helping dad read the menu in Roma

Sneaking in some sleep in Italy

Sneaking in some sleep in Italy

Barcelona Tapas

Barcelona Tapas

Norway.  Airport.

Norway. Airport.

First steps at four months?  No... just a camera trick :-)

First steps at four months? No… just a camera trick 🙂

Taking a wee nap under our favourite willow tree in Central Park

Taking a wee nap under our favourite willow tree in Central Park

Auntie Lara

Auntie Lara

Uncle Derek

Uncle Derek

Meeting the cousins from Calgary

Meeting the cousins from Calgary

You!  You are AWESOME!

You! You are AWESOME!

Auntie Emma and Kiwi cuz Quinn

Auntie Emma and Kiwi cuz Quinn

more smiling

more smiling

All of us

All of us

Black and white, quiet moment

Black and white, quiet moment

Phteven's idea of parenting.

Phteven’s idea of parenting.

Yoda

Yoda

Meeting one of his two god mums... The other Godmum has heaps of beautiful pictures with James but doesn't like me sharing them online.  Sigh.

Meeting one of his two god mums… The other Godmum has heaps of beautiful pictures with James but doesn’t like me sharing them online. Sigh.

So I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures of James, but this is just a small collection I wanted to share with you.  We’ve had a great first year getting to know this guy, and we thank all our friends and family who have tuned in and watched him grow up in the chaos that is our family!

XXOO

Dee

Big Boobs Blog

In the first trimester of my fourth pregnancy, something happened.

My boobs ballooned to ludicrously large and have not returned to any semblance of normalcy.

My gorgeous girl and I in Sydney when I was 24 weeks pregnant.

My gorgeous girl and I in Sydney when I was 24 weeks pregnant.

The absolute largest nursing bra I have been able to get my hands on in regular retail outlets is a 14HH and I spill out of that even.

This may help give a sense of scale, as I am 7 months pregnant in this pic, and I do believe each of the ta-ta twins are about the same size as my belly.  Sigh.

This may help give a sense of scale, as I am 7 months pregnant in this pic, and I do believe each of the ta-ta twins are about the same size as my belly. Sigh.

I’m sick of them. I’m sick of feeling like a I’d be more comfortable in a circus freak-show than at the supermarket, as even trips out of the house result in gawks and whispers, particularly if I am not carrying the baby as an explanation to my watermelon sized appendages.

This is the picture that started it all… Grumpy took a snap of James looking particularly cute, and I realised that one of my breasts was about the same size as my 7KG son. Sigh again.

This is the picture that started it all… Grumpy took a snap of James looking particularly cute, and I realised that one of my breasts was about the same size as my 7KG son. Sigh again.

Visits to friends and family who have not seen me in a few months ALWAYS result in comments of concern, surprise or astonishment. Some of my favourites include:

“Oh my word, they are even bigger in person.”

“HahahahahhahahHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHHHHHHAHHAHAHAAAA!!!!”

“I know you keep saying you’re fat, but surely carrying a couple of things that are clearly bigger than a human head in front of you can’t be helping.”

“That’s just not right.”

There’s an extensive list of comments and quips regarding my sweater huskies (I can’t say sweater puppies as a euphemism here, as puppies can be tiny) and most of the time, I find it genuinely amusing and am glad people make light of them.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel as our sweet baby James has opted to start solids, which means my days of cluster feeds and distended, engorged, gargantuan ta-tas are numbered!

So this experience often makes me ponder the puzzle of people’s pleasure pillows.

Women the world-over, spend time comparing and contemplating their own and other women’s breasts.

Breast augmentation is far and away one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries the world over.

Meanwhile, there are women like myself that are genuinely tired and in my case, even a little embarrassed by the size of their bosoms.

So, as is often the case with my meanderings, I am not entirely sure what I am trying to communicate with you today.

What I will say, is this: As women, particularly child bearing women, our bodies are in a constant state of flux. I think we should all work a bit harder to accept ourselves and our bodies. Creating, growing, and continuing to nurture a tiny human with our body is nothing short of miraculous. It comes with a whole range of strange and surprising side affects and changes to our bodies and our minds. I just think we all ought to celebrate the many different shapes and sizes of women around the world pre and post partum, because we are all beautiful, and it is the differences that make us interesting and unique.

If you are a woman reading this, know that you are gorgeous. Whether you have or have not embarked on the breeding, embrace your boobs and your bum and all the bits, because they make up you, and I can assure you that you are truly beautiful. But the most beautiful thing about you is the kindnesses and quirks that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The thoughts and experiences that make you the amazing miracle you are is alluring to those who you have chosen to be close to you as you journey through the days and this life. So say it with me ladies:

“I am beautiful, I am strong, I am amazing and I am getting better and better through all my trials and triumphs!”

And, if you are a man, take the time to genuinely compliment (tactfully, and not lasciviously please) some of the women in your life today. A kind and candid compliment can change the trajectory of our day, and we need to hear more supportive stuff from you guys.

That is all.

BigboobsblogPolkadotdress BigBoobsBlogNAAM

Breastfeeding Around The Globe

Okay.  So in the long standing tradition of over-sharing, I have now spent 9 weeks taking selfies and random pics of feeding fourth and final child in various locations around the globe.  From Auckland to Andalucia I have demand fed this almost insatiable little Hobbit.

I will spare you further pontificating about my parenting style or my experiences feeding and share some pictures so you can come to your own conclusions about how you feel about feeding in public.  I cover up for my own modesty, and in all our travels I was only confronted once, strangely on a BC ferry.  Everyone else was pretty good.  I even fed him on the subway sitting right next to strangers, who were not fussed at all and quite relieved that I fed him and he was quiet after a good grizzle.

So, thanks in advance for scrolling through this 8-9 week cross section of our Hobbity adventures.  I personally find it much easier to feed him on the go, and was thankful to get settled on the cruise ship so I could express and leave him at the creche for a couple of hours and enjoy a guilt free glass of wine!

Also just want to take a second to admit to the fact that I found feeding an absolute nightmare the first time around.  I also found it tough to start out with with subsequent kids.  I was mere moments away from giving up because it was so painful and difficult.  But I pushed through (barely) and am glad that I did.

I’ll let these pictures tell the story for the rest of the blog.

Coming up for air after a good feed.  He went to sleep so I could eat my dinner and that is the ideal outcome!

Coming up for air after a good feed. He went to sleep so I could eat my dinner and that is the ideal outcome!

This is what a hungry baby looks like… not happy

This is what a hungry baby looks like… not happy

Breastfeeding at WestCity Mall in Henderson selfie

Breastfeeding at WestCity Mall in Henderson selfie

WestCity Selfie V. 2 :-)

WestCity Selfie V. 2 🙂

Stanley Park in Vancouver.  People were very nice and there were a couple of women in their 50's that congratulated me for feeding in public as it "just wasn't the done thing" when they were raising their kids… hmmmm.

Stanley Park in Vancouver. People were very nice and there were a couple of women in their 50’s that congratulated me for feeding in public as it “just wasn’t the done thing” when they were raising their kids… hmmmm.

Super cheesy 1970's family planning shot with rays of light and staring adoringly down at my infant… gag.

Super cheesy 1970’s family planning shot with rays of light and staring adoringly down at my infant… gag.

Fed and happy baby at a scrumptious coffee shop near Pike Place markets in Seattle

Fed and happy baby at a scrumptious coffee shop near Pike Place markets in Seattle

Pre lunch drinks for James in downtown Seattle

Pre lunch drinks for James in downtown Seattle

Breastfeeding Selfie… somwhere… Mukilteo maybe?  Somewhere in Washington state anyway.

Breastfeeding Selfie… somwhere… Mukilteo maybe? Somewhere in Washington state anyway.

On the ferry from Washington to Victoria

On the ferry from Washington to Victoria

A&W … fine dining establishment

A&W … fine dining establishment

Victoria Inner Harbour

Victoria Inner Harbour

West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton Mall

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square mid sentence probably nagging Grumpy about something...

Times Square mid sentence probably nagging Grumpy about something…

"I Love Boobies" clad baby post feed enjoying an afternoon nap with his dad in Central Park.

“I Love Boobies” clad baby post feed enjoying an afternoon nap with his dad in Central Park.

Lovely lady sat next to me on the train from Newark to Penn Station.

Lovely lady sat next to me on the train from Newark to Penn Station.

Snuggles in Central Park

Snuggles in Central Park

Feeding in a cab after a MASSIVE day in NYC.

Feeding in a cab after a MASSIVE day in NYC.

Boston Seafood restaurant with Crystal

Boston Seafood restaurant with Crystal

Harvey's makes your hamburger a beautiful thing… and gave me a chance to feed the baby on the way to Montreal from Ottawa.

Harvey’s makes your hamburger a beautiful thing… and gave me a chance to feed the baby on the way to Montreal from Ottawa.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island

Boston with my beautiful friend Michelle who is not in the picture as she is taking it :-)

Boston with my beautiful friend Michelle who is not in the picture as she is taking it 🙂

Subway NYC.  Crowded.

Subway NYC. Crowded.

Just getting baby latched on… nobody seemed to give a hoot which is great.

Just getting baby latched on… nobody seemed to give a hoot which is great.

Norway!

Norway!

Little Italy in San Diego.  Delicious Argentinean restaurant. Bad selfie… ah well.  I was tired and missing my Grumpy.

Little Italy in San Diego. Delicious Argentinean restaurant. Bad selfie… ah well. I was tired and missing my Grumpy.

Cafe across from the leaning tower of Pisa

Cafe across from the leaning tower of Pisa

Train in Italy

Train in Italy

Hamming it up for the camera in Pisa

Hamming it up for the camera in Pisa

Rome Bus tour top deck.  Dozens of tourists from several countries and nobody seemed phased or offended.

Rome Bus tour top deck. Dozens of tourists from several countries and nobody seemed phased or offended.

Looking thoughtful, but kinda old on the bus in Rome.

Looking thoughtful, but kinda old on the bus in Rome.

The museum

The museum

And another...

And another…

Careful what you wish for

I’m bossy.  You can sugar coat that and say I’m assertive.  Sheryl Sandberg would have us “Ban Bossy” but as many of you know, I am a die hard fan of the simple, unfettered, stone cold and occasionally uncomfortable truth.  And the truth is, I often think I know what is best for everyone and too often force my agendas and opinions on the people I care about the most.  I am pushy, occasionally self serving, and very bossy.  If people don’t ascribe to my ideas, schedules or plans, I can turn into a right royal P.I.T.A, and I’ve been known to pack a sad of epic proportions when things don’t pan out the way I desire.

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I’ve been encouraging (nagging) my long-suffering husband Grumpy to get back into the office for quite some time now.  Why?  He is amazing and has so much useful code rattling around in that brain of his. And he often complains about suffering from a recurring case of a big gaping empty, and when he’s busy and engaged, the empty is kept at bay.

So after four years of nagging, he’s back.  He is making huge and positive breakthroughs in his code, and I sincerely hope with his team as well.

The kicker in all of this being, I have been quite miserable and unsupportive, as he started back with regular (and full) days when our son was two weeks old.  So after several years of begging and pleading with him to march that brain of his back to his desk, he picked this point in our lives to comply with my ardent demand to do so.  Just days after I’d had our fourth child.  Awesome.  Fan-freaking-tastic even.

*Very loud and insistent interjection from Grumpy:

“YOU (expletive) MADE ME!  How can you keep complaining when the only reason I am back is because you INSISTED. (Many colourful expletives)”

I keep complaining anyway.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

When he’s not working there, he’s in the garage or his home office putting the finishing touches on a project involving a component for Electric Vehicles that he has invented and is now testing successfully.

I am genuinely proud of him and all that he’s doing.  Although we’ve had a heaped helping of stresses and trials, both in and out of our control, I haven’t seen him this happy in quite a while.  And all this contentedness is despite the fact neither of us has had more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a row since welcoming James into the family.

Still, I find the timing of all of this stuff quite exasperating.  And boy oh boy do I make Grumpy suffer in the wake of that exasperation.  Guess I should rein (I am always tempted to spell that reign…) that in for fear of scaring him off.  Nah, I’m a hot mess, and he knew that when he married me, so he’ll just have to handle the occasional spattering of venom while I struggle to maintain some semblance of sanity.

Meanwhile, back on planet Dee, I am bound and determined to change the face of reputation management and Public Relations by successfully unleashing a socially, environmentally and generally conscientious Social Media/PR firm that offers sound and empowering advice and support to people and organisations.

With the help of my business partner, a very dear friend (and kind of business partner) and a spectacular network of like-minded individuals, I aim to change the communications landscape of NZ and eventually the world, by sticking to a simple plan:

Encourage people to be honest and authentic – because the truth will set you free and take you exactly where you need to be.  I want people to start, engage in, and nurture conversations for good.

So, with a five-week-old baby asleep in his hammock next to me, I am furthering this epic vision and moving forward.  Thanks to the ongoing efforts and friendship of my patient and passionate partner Pauline, the momentum is fantastic, and we’re well on our way after a series of hard earned professional wins.

With all of these things coming to fruition, I ought to be seriously satisfied?

Well, I’m genuinely grateful.

I am also, undeniably exhausted and in a fairly constant state of feeling frazzled and fantastically overwhelmed.  For the most part, that’s okay, provided it feels like we’re moving forward and making a notable difference or inroads into our lofty goals of a cleaner, greener, kinder, fairer and more interesting world.

While there is magnanimous momentum in many corners of our lives, something always has to give.  It has been a rare occasion indeed that I am able to get into the kitchen and create, which has always been one of my absolute joys.  The older kids are feeling edgy and we’re having trouble staying abreast of the many spectacular dramas of childhood and pre-pubescence.

Today, for example, our eldest son had a pencil flung at him by a classmate, which left a nasty gouge on the surface of his iris and now he requires drops.  I must confess, the only reason we made it to an optometrist to get it looked at was because I brought the children to the mall in lieu of having to cook for the family because it has been such a busy day.  He’d hardly complained about it, but when I asked him how it was it became painful again, so off to the optometrist we went, “just to be on the safe side”.  You know how it goes.  It did make me stop and wonder how much regarding our bourgeoning brood we are oblivious to because of our commitments and schedules.

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And don’t even get me started on our social life.  We’ve missed so many parties and catch-ups and seen less and less of all of our favourite people.

I’m not complaining though.  Probably sounds like that, a step up from a white whine to a fully-fledged champagne complain, and that’s not what I am trying to get across at all.  I think I just want to share with you the benefit of my experience.  We all ought to be careful what we wish for.  Because we just might get it.  And when dreams start coming true and stuff you thought you wanted finally starts happening, well, that is when the real work begins.

So here we stand only a few unsteady steps into the journey to the top of the next mountain we’ve decided to climb.  And let me tell you, we’re already absolutely knackered.  Happy, but so very tired.

Writing this blog made me stop and think.  Most of us are guilty of the when syndrome.  “I’ll be happy when…”  or “I can stop worrying about this and that when…”  or “I’ll do that thing I’ve always wanted to do when…”  And you know what, I think we’d all be better off and considerably happier if we made an effort to be happy now. To do things now.  To try things, even though we could very well fail, now.  So that’s what I’ll be working on this week.  Changing my own when syndrome into a now superpower.

I Have Absolutely No Idea What I’m Doing… And am Totally Cool With That.

Four is a lot of kids.

And when you introduce the level of change that a new baby will bring to a household, the flaws in everyone’s personalities are given a chance to put their best foot forward.

Darling daughter is extra needy and bossy and being extra miserable to her three year old brother.  This compounds because she’s smart enough and kind enough to know that she’s being a little horror, and feels bad about it, so her behaviour gets even worse and she becomes not only bossy and miserable but becomes quite a soppy sook as well.  Super fun stuff.

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My family on the night of my Birthday… The kids made me a cake. Very sweet.

Adam is very enamoured with the baby most of the time, and we let him help with the baby and hold him (supervised) a lot.  He’s on an emotional roller coaster ride most of the time, so enter newborn baby and changes in arrangements including the fact he’s no longer allowed to sneak down and make himself at home in mom and dad’s bed at 3:00am, and you’ve got a recipe for a fairly angst ridden toddler on your hands.

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Daniel, James and Adam

Daniel has probably risen to the challenges of the newest family member with the most style.  He’s been great at encouraging Adam and telling him what a good job he’s been doing.  He’s been patient with his parents, and kind to his siblings.  The only real problem is the already limited amount of supervision our oldest child tends to get has decreased even further.  It is school holidays, so we’ve relied on him to keep his personal hygiene regime in check, and every morning tell him to hop in the shower and brush his teeth, assuming it was happening.  It wasn’t.  And We sent him off to a playdate smelling like a homeless man last week.  Sigh.  I’m not going to feel too bad though, as you only get to be a 9 year old boy once, and I am sure that being able to wallow in your own filth probably plays some useful part in the successful navigation of this stage in a man’s life.  Or at least that is what I am telling myself.

And then.  There’s the baby.

He wears the same onsie ALL DAY, and on the days that we’re home he might even just stay in his nappy and a blanket.  I breast feed.  Not because I feel I have to, or the breast-feeding brigade has changed my opinion about it in any way, but because I’ve done this enough times to know that it can be really hard to start out with, but a much easier option in the long run for me.  It also means I can double up on the calories I take in.  So the fact it is good for baby is a lovely bonus, but I breastfeed because I am lazy, plain and simple.  And I have to take a moment to vehemently defend any woman’s right to make that decision for herself.  Formula or boob, it is simply none of my business.  I do what I do and what works for me, and there are some wonderful mother’s out there doing their thing their way, and probably quite differently.  Power to them.

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Steve’s idea of parenting win… James is two days old here, and Steve managed to get him to “feed himself” There’s a video as well, but I couldn’t upload it…

We also co-sleep.  That would be to the horror of many people, but it’s easier, and that’s how we roll.  He has a naturesway hammock and I try desperately to settle him in it, but he’s happier between his father and I and it means he’s right there, and not even at arms length for night feeds which his father tends to sleep through.  If we are extra tired or have had a drink (even one with dinner) he sleeps in his own bed, otherwise, he’s in with us.  Easier.

So today, my mother has taken the older children to clip and climb for the morning, so I have some time to sit down and reflect on how things are going and share it in my blog.

I’m still in my towel with James snuggled in hand-me-down blankets beside me and Food Television playing in the background.

I have no idea what I am doing or how I will manage to do any of the many things I have committed to doing in the next days, weeks and months.  I still freak out a bit every time we go out as I feel so much safer cocooned in the comfort of my own familiar room.

But venture out I do.  I embrace the fear and keep on moving.

The biggest differences between the first time I did this and the fourth are as follows:

1) First time we read all the books and thought we were fairly well prepared and had this parenting thing in the bag… After four very different pregnancies and exceedingly unique babies, we have no idea what to expect or how we’re going to deal with anything until it happens, and that’s actually perfectly fine.

2) First time, I gave a toss what people thought.  I wanted to hear that I was doing a good job as a mum.  This time, I’d have to put in a great deal of effort to care any less what other people think about how I am managing.  I’m too busy switching from survival mode to extreme exhaustion or hormone soaked confusion and daydreams…  But we’re good.  We’re a family, we’re all being pushed to our limits, but we’re good.  And we Love each other.

So I’ll leave it there.

I need to get out of the house soon or I may never leave and I’ve arranged to meet some friends tonight and go to the MTV Veejay party in town for an hour or two, and then swing by a friend’s birthday on the way home, which means I get to slap on a dress and some heels and feel human for a brief space in time.  I’ll take that opportunity! I’ll take it with both hands thank you very much!  So Grumpy gets a bundle of sweet baby James and I get to feel like an actual grown up human for a little while.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

XXOO

 

Wanting to Run Away

We’re about a week out from becoming parents again.

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Pre-knocked up self had pictured this point in the pregnancy as seeing a glowing and maternal me crocheting blankets and staring blissfully off into the distance imagining the hours of baby bonding that lay ahead once the fourth and final heir to the Happy Hobbit throne had arrived.

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Reality:

House is almost completely baron of newborn gear.  It is cleaner than usual.  And the kids and Grumpy are all chipping in to keep it that way. That’s something worthy of note.

I have a pack of newborn diapers, some muslins and a breastpump and hand-me-down onesies in a drawer somewhere. This is the sum total of proof there will be a new baby arriving here soon.  That is, aside from my large belly that got at least half a dozen complete stranger rubs today. I admit I will miss that. There is something so cool about breaking down barriers between people.  I have found, when it comes to strangers, it is mostly Polynesian and Indian women who reach out for a feel.  I’ve never had an Asian lady lay a hand on my belly to feel the kick.  Someone could do a sociology thesis.  Not me.  I’m too busy denying the inevitable to embark on a thesis at present.

So yes.  Mum of the year all up in here.

While I should be fantasising about the fleeting joys of meeting and greeting a new member of the family, I am actually just dreaming about pulling a full on Dian Fossey and running away to the Rwandan jungle where no children or husband will find me.  Hanging quietly in the mist with some chilled out band of gorillas. Oh wait.  I suppose now they’d be looking in the Rwandan jungle.  Scratch that.  I’d have to hatch another plan entirely after mentioning that I suppose.

Anyway.

I have no idea if I should be sharing any of this.  And I am in full on white knuckle praying mode wishing that when he arrives something changes and my maternal instincts kick in.  I know they are there… Somewhere.

So now, I will attempt to embark on some sleep which will of course be completely denied me for a minimum of 6 weeks starting in the very near future.  

Maximum of 8 more nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep… I shall enjoy every single one thoroughly.

 

I Feel Him Rolling – I Ain’t Hating!

Yesterday, I was not merely pleased; but ecstatic, surprised, delighted, comforted, jubilant and more than a little bit relieved to be feeling my first real, sustained and absolute peace and acceptance for the wee soul that I’ve been growing for the past few months.

I had a regular checkup conducted by a locum, as my lead midwife is shoveling her own personal piles of poo at the moment the poor lady.  The locum (who has been a practicing midwife since the 80’s) confirmed that the baby had rolled and is no longer breech, but facing the direction he ought to be.  He is not currently engaged, and I’m measuring and feeling on track, contrary to the scan results, which told us that I am growing a 95th percentile monster baby which will need to come out early.  A completely different take on things came from this appointment.  Clearly I need to take extra care and be extra vigilant counting movements and so forth, but if he is happy and wiggling, I am very hopeful he will stay put until his due date on my 36th birthday, and perhaps, I can even experience my first (and only) natural labour without being induced.  All very heartening news, particularly after a less-than-positive visit to the high-risk maternity clinic last week.

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Here I am with our eldest son Daniel at 27 weeks. The kids are all quite excited to meet their new little brother.  It is nice to be joining in on their enthusiasm finally

If you haven’t already figured it out, this is going to be an unabashed pregnancy post.  So if you can’t handle the jandal, best to tune out now.

For those of you wishing to join me on the journey through this narrative, settle in, as there’s going to be some raw nerves exposed as we wend our way through today’s blog.

This pregnancy has been on the cards since our third child (who will be 4 in June) was born.  A much discussed and wanted addition to the family, it took us 18 months of TTC (Trying To Conceive) to get anything more than a chemical positive test.

So why wasn’t I over the moon when the bloods came back confirming we’d managed to plant one that stuck?  My reaction was sorrowful, and shameful and a far cry from the picture perfect joy I’d planned to be feeling.

We have three amazing, healthy, happy and very demanding children already.  We Love them with all and we are and like them very much as well.  They bring joy, laughter, chaos, and even sometimes a sleepy veil of calm into our world that you can only get from children.

I also have an absolutely solid support network, and we are blessed to be able to afford help around the house.  We have every intention of getting a full time nanny once the fourth baby arrives.

Happily ever after is my everyday existence, and I should feel blessed to the point of being genuinely giddy just to wake up in the morning surrounded by the safety and security of picket fence perfection.  The cherry on top ought to be the fact that we are lucky enough to have a fourth child brewing in my belly and know that we will be able to give them all the love and security they need to be happy and healthy in their journey through infancy, childhood and then life.

Nope.

I hated, yes hated the idea of another mouth to feed and starting all over again.  I was sick, I was tired, I was so resentful it made my skin crawl and my teeth clench.  Cognitively, all of this pointed me in a dark direction indeed.

Here’s the thing.

Despite the fact it is still, for the most part, taboo to talk about these less than maternal feelings, it is estimated that one in eight women suffer from some level of pre-natal depression.  The symptoms can be mild to completely debilitating.  Some women scarcely get out of bed for the duration of their gestation, others have much more severe issues including psychotic episodes or engage in self-harm.   Relationships suffer, and there is evidence that there may be a correlation between Pre-natal depression and an increased chance of anxious or depressive tendencies or episodes in the child.  Tearfulness, paranoia, self-loathing, hopelessness, despair, even grave thoughts of self harm or, the most unspeakable thoughts about the innocent life you are carrying, and, maybe, just a little bit… wishing it away.

These feelings are real.  They are terrifying.  They made me hate myself and feel shame and anger because I had every intention of relishing this final experience.

And goodness gracious, what a prat I am to be complaining when I know dozens of couples who have had their hearts broken trying to conceive or losing a child.  What the hell is wrong with me?  The only reasonable explanation is that I am a terrible person.

Try as I might, I couldn’t feel anything but despair and resentment when cognitively I wanted to feel joy and appreciation.

With support and/or medication (I am not medicated and have never had success with synthetic anti-depressants, but they are a necessity to many people I know and Love) and coping strategy, there is absolutely light at the end of the very dark tunnel.

When the sixth month loomed on the horizon and I realized that the only moments of peace or happiness I felt were when I was too busy to remember that I was pregnant, I accepted that it was time to face the fact something was wrong and out of my control.

I did a bit of research, and after a total melt down at a midwife appointment I was referred to maternal mental health.  I did not follow up, however, as I am not keen to take resources away from women who need assistance through the public system.  We are covering the costs of our own therapy.  Also, quite frankly, I have heard horror stories about intervention backfiring and women being labeled as unfit mothers, or worse, having children taken off them as a result of this illness.  That’s a whole other massive kettle of fish I don’t have time to get into today though.  Suffice to say, nobody has accused me of being unfit.  It has been pointed out to me that I am currently quite a genuine pain in the ass and need a great deal of extra support (which I am absolutely getting) from family and friends to get by.  The mental illness is magnified by gestational diabetes (despite doing everything possible to control my sugars and not putting on virtually any weight this pregnancy) and severe anemia.  But such is the life of a thirty something year old woman creating a human.  Again.  Apparently.

I’m lucky enough to be going through this pregnancy at the same time as at least a couple of exceptional women who are struggling with their own mountains of stress.  These women are my family.  One of them is coping with a toddler, juggling work, and making it through a rough first trimester, exhaustion and stress, pretty much as a single mum as her husband is called away for work for months at a time, and is currently offshore.  The other is working 12+ hour days, planning her wedding, suffering with terrible morning sickness, and also just moved house into a more suitable location for welcoming a new baby.

They are coping.  I am not at liberty to say whether they are also battling with chemical depression, what I can say though, is that it is nothing short of a miracle that we’re all pregnant at the same time and our children will be given a chance to grow up together and so close in age!  The statistical probability of all of this falling into place is actually quite mind-boggling, especially when one takes into consideration the amount of time spent trying to conceive for all of us.

So at 4:30am I sit here with a million other things to do.  Attempting to get this blog out and move on with the mountain of things that ought to be done before my husband and I welcome around 200 guests to celebrate Love, laughter, friendship and sustainability (social, marital, environmental, and general) at a big Valentines day vow renewal party to mark more than ten years together.

Which is happening tomorrow.  Bugger.

I just wanted to share with you the turning point (ha!  It happened when he turned… funny) in how I am viewing the undeniable blessing of welcoming another life into our family.

Yesterday, I found meaning in a bunch of stuff and I found comfort in that meaning.  Unlike my husband, I am a fairly spiritual person.  I believe that the cycle of life and Love is infinite.  I believe the echoes of people we have loved and lost come through genetically, in personality and in spirit in the new lives we welcome.  I also believe in astrology (temper your judgments, I think it is cool and that’s my prerogative) This child is due on my birthday, in the year of my Chinese astrological year (year of the horse in case you were wondering).  Not sure what the likelihood of that is, but I wouldn’t think it is huge.

This baby has been accommodating beyond imagination since the get go.  We had booked a Christmas cruise as a family vacation several months before conceiving this child, and you are not permitted to cruise past 24 weeks gestation.  The ship docked at 23 weeks and 4 days gestation, leaving us a whopping three-day window, so we didn’t have to cancel the family vacation.

Image

Here is Grumpy with the children at Luna Park in Sydney Australia

A few days before returning from California where Grumpy was attending a trade-show and Daniel (our oldest son) and I were sightseeing, I called back to Auckland and booked a 4D scan to see his face in the hopes I’d bond with him (didn’t work) and because of the way he was sitting and where all the stuff like the placenta is placed, the stenographer was quite certain we wouldn’t be able to get a clear image.  So I rolled onto my side, and viola, he turned around and smiled a peaceful little smile for us that I was able to share with friends and family on social media.

He was still breech the next day at the growth scan at the high risk maternity unit, so I’ve been asking him gently to roll over and face the right direction, and as is customary for this accommodating little man, he turned the night before my fortnightly appointment.

All of this got me to thinking:

He chose us.  He chose me.  And he’s coming to join us whether it is convenient or not.

And despite cognitively knowing this stuff before, I just couldn’t feel anything positive at the prospect of this until yesterday.

So I will go now and try and get my head around everything and prepare for tomorrow’s party where there will be much belly rubs and pictures with family and friends.

Thanks for tuning in.  And if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, reach out.  It is more common than you think, and opening up a dialogue with someone who understands will help you both.  Not everyone will understand and some will make you feel like a royal asshole, but you aren’t.  And with help, you are going to be okay.  Even the big bag of crazy sharing this with you managed to pull through.

Much Love to everyone out there today.

XXOO

Dee