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43/52 – Whispers

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Sharing secrets with pappa and Elias, the boat, in the bath before the big (temporary) goodbye. 

***

Just a couple more days now until we get him back. Saturday we’re getting up at the crack of dawn (like we always do) and heading to the airport to pick him up. It’s hard to tell who’s more excited. 10 days isn’t a long time, but for a couple of days it has felt like forever. It almost went too well for the first half. Then exhaustion, colds, heat, little sleep, a busy schedule and no break didn’t play nice with us for a while. Add pregnancy hormones and the general bodily havoc to that and you’ve got yourself a bit of a land mine. But we bounce back, like we always do. I’ve sure longed for a big glass of wine more than once though. At least there are cookies, strawberries and ice cream. And a break within reach. Just a few more sleeps.

Spring

Spring is easily my favourite time of year. Freesias blooming, birds chirping, the works. It’s warm enough to shed some layers, but not yet hot enough to make you head for the air con (if you have it). As it crept up towards 31 today I got a small reminder of what pregnancy was like the first time around in summer. Yep, it’s gonna be one of those summers.

Here’s a bunch of snaps of what we’ve been up to so far this spring. (I’ve been camera lazy. I need to work on that.)

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Freesias- our front yard is full of them in early spring. They smell divine and look amazing.

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 Planting some strawberries.

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 Hedda loves to hang out outside.

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 Who needs a sandpit when you can make one yourself (next to your actual sandpit).

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 We heart Bundoora farm!

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 Eating parsley under the umbrella.

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 The season’s first BBQ and some delicious non-alcoholic sparkling wine.

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The BBQ chef.

 

 

42/52 – Grateful

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Sitting on a ball watching pappa fire up the first BBQ of the season on a sunny afternoon. 

***

I’m filled with gratitude these days, wishing I could hold on to every little moment. It’s been a turbulent week. My partner flew out to France for ten days and it’s been tough for our little man to cope with it all, before and after. But in all the chaos, the tears and the hurt, there has been so many moments of honest beauty, of true connection and of growth for us both. I’ve readjusted our days to make sure my focus is where it needs to be at all times. I make sure I rest when Anakin naps, that we spend lots of time outdoors, that dinners are quick and easy and that I take the time to explain what’s going on. It’s not much different from how our days usually are, but as Anakin is feeling fragile and sad his anger becomes explosive and every little thing takes more care and consideration. And a thousand kisses. And as I get easily tired from it all I need to make sure I navigate our days with more care. And so far we’re cruising. The other night he laid down in my lap and just cried after a minor meltdown, his little body shaking with every gulp of air. He was so heartbroken because he could not understand that pappa wasn’t coming home for a few days. After he calmed down a bit he looked at me and said: “I love you even though I’m sad, mamma.”  My heart broke and burst at the same time. Earlier that day I’d said what I try to say every time he loses himself in anger, “I love you even though you’re angry.” As much as he’s been full of hurt, he’s also been so full of love. And we’ve strengthened our connection in a big way. I’ve noticed that my head has been a bit off and on of late, hormones and all things wedding and baby has taken my focus away at times, but these past few days has re-grounded me and I’m so grateful.

I watched Anakin run down the street this morning on our way to the shop in the sunshine. He had dressed himself in his winter hat, his winter shoes and his mittens. It was far too warm for it, but he was laughing and absolutely carefree. His well-worn tights slightly sagging and his nappy bum wiggling. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh with him as I thought to myself “this is it. This is what I live for.” And I desperately wanted to capture the moment, but chose to stay in it instead of taking photos or filming. And I’m glad I did. I wanted him to see me and to remember me walking with him, smiling and laughing, carrying the sticks and leaves he gave me, just being there with him. That moment was pure happiness. That moment was perfect.

So as I sit here pretty tired from the day I feel so grateful. For our beautiful son, the absolute light of my life, for my best friend who I get to marry soon, for our unborn daughter and for the life we are building together.

41/52 – Connect

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: The days are getting warmer and we’re enjoying more time outside. Our days are still planned around that vital afternoon sleep which I am even more thankful for these days. You’ve been having long sleeps too, without them a massive nighttime meltdown isn’t a maybe, it’s a certain. As you’re getting closer to 3 it’s easy to get tricked into thinking you can handle more than you can. We’re learning fast that we need to hold back. You’ve been going to childcare on Fridays for about a month now and we’ve figured out that the day has just been too long for you. You’re usually quiet, but content when we pick you up and you love it there, but lately I’ve noticed you’re also dead tired and feeling disconnected. By dinner and bath time all hell breaks loose. The meltdowns are long, hard and painful, most of all for you. This Friday night was no different. But this one was particularly bad after a couple of days where we were all a bit off beat and perhaps not all winning. You desperately needed to cry it all out while feeling safe. After a long struggle I finally got you to relax, wrapped up in my arms. And you cried so hard. No anger, just so much hurt. And once it was all out we could reconnect and start over. 

What is this trend of wanting to tip the cradle over so early? Push our children out and away, say “stand on your feet, grow up, be independent” when they are still just children? I hear people say things like “It’s so good for you to be away from your mother” and I wonder how disconnected these people are with reality. Or questioning why our son isn’t in childcare full-time. It’s true, we are looking into getting him in another day or so, but seeing how hard Fridays are, I am filled with doubt. Connection and dependence isn’t a bad thing. Feeling safe and connected is what gives my son the freedom and the confidence to roam. It’s why I can leave him without him feeling abandoned, it’s why he loves people, it’s why he is so free.

Why are some people hellbent on fostering and celebrating disconnection and perhaps more importantly, why do they feel they can comment on such things to our children?

40/52- weekend treats

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: A little scruffy after a good nap. You wake up all cuddly, a bit needy and ready for your weekend treat. It’s modest and simple, sometimes no more than a few biscuits or some tangy, natural snakes and a few nuts, or if we’re extra lucky some M&M’s (or as you say; mememem’s ) and some apple cider. It’s our special weekend time. We sit down, have a chat and work out what we want to do for the rest of the day. 

The dark side… a long story.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. It’s been a tough one to write, but a necessary one. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to share it or if I just needed to write it, but here it is.

***

 Days… weeks… months. Pregnancy is all about time passing. How many days, then weeks and months. It follows you throughout the entire process from last menstrual period (LMP) through conception to estimated due date and delivery. Every check up or scan (if not done by the same person) starts with questions concerning time passed and number of pregnancies. At least in the beginning. Then follows the occasional awkward assumptions made by well wishers once you announce, if you announce.

This pregnancy those questions and comments carry a shadow with them. The dark side of pregnancy, the largely unspoken. Miscarriage.

It’s not something we talk about much, is it? I’ve been wondering why. Why is it so common to suffer in silence? At first I thought maybe it was because the people it involved would hurt too much by having it dragged out again and again, but now I’ve come to think it’s more about everyone else. It’s awkward, it’s painful and faced with someone carrying that hurt most people don’t know what to say or do and would rather be spared. But I have no intention of sparing anyone. Why should I? I need to acknowledge our loss because it’s not going to be undone, it happened and it will stay with me. And it happens to so many people that I think it’s important we start talking about it more. It shouldn’t feel as if it’s something you need to hide or keep to yourself. It hurts and keeping it a secret won’t make it hurt any less. I know people who have miscarried and I’m sure out of all the people I know there are many more. But it wasn’t until it happened to me I understood the full impact of it.   _DSC6111_web Every time I’ve found out I was pregnant I’ve been ecstatic. It’s always taken me a few days to start believing it’s true, I’ve always done at least 4 pregnancy tests, but it’s always made me happy. And it’s never been something I’ve felt that I needed to keep between myself and my partner for 12 weeks. It’s funny how it’s almost expected to be kept a secret for the first 3 months. When I told my big brother at 9 weeks this pregnancy he commented on how early it was, as if I wasn’t meant to say anything for another few weeks. But those 3 weeks wouldn’t have made me any less pregnant at the time I told him. And it’s not like whatever happens before 12 weeks doesn’t count. I’m not sure I understand this expected 12 week silence.

Without double checking a billion different stats to compare and contrast (but getting my numbers from here) as many as 70-75%  of conceptions end in miscarriage, about 30% of pregnancies, and 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage whereof 80% of those occur in the first trimester. (To make sense of these numbers have a look here.) That’s a lot.

I found out I was pregnant when I was one day overdue.  I doubt I’d miss a pregnancy once my period is due because once I’m back in my cycle it’s pretty regular and it’s not like we weren’t hoping for a baby soon anyway. We’d taken some precautions for a while because neither of us wanted to have a newborn when we got married and life would be hectic enough with overseas visitors, but our maths were a bit off when we thought “oh heck, if it happens now it’ll just miss all that.” And Bam! it did right away and Shit! it didn’t miss all that. Perhaps part of me already knew something wasn’t quite right. I remember telling my partner the day before we found out that I was pretty sure it wasn’t happening this time because I was having a lot of cramps. But lo and behold, no period came and the tests started coming back positive over a few days. We were thrilled, but I was also stressed by our horrible timing. The baby’s due date was about 1,5 weeks after the wedding meaning it could come at any time and there would be heaps of people here. I have very strong feelings about not wanting any overseas visitors here at all this time around. I want us to have what we didn’t have the first time and that is time for ourselves to adjust and enjoy the newbie for a few months without pressure and people in our space. But nevertheless, I was happy. We saw a doctor and got the whole pregnancy circus going. You gotta roll with the punches right? Sometimes great things happen that don’t necessarily fit your perfect schedule. And we really wanted this baby. So stress slowly gave way for joy and excitement.

A sunny Friday rolled around. I’d been feeling a bit off and complaining about pains for a while, but the doctor said it was normal and to just take Panadol. I saw some friends and shared the news. To my big surprise they were expecting too  and the afternoon turned into a celebration. I couldn’t have been happier. We’d been talking about how much fun it would be to be pregnant at the same time and now it was happening. The night came and our son had just fallen asleep. I remember standing at the top of the stairs in the living room talking to my partner when I felt a “pop”. And that was the start of the worst weekend I can remember having in a very, very long time.

Part of me knew what it was and I went to the bathroom immediately to discover that I was bleeding. My heart sank. I told my partner who tried to work out what to do. Knowing that nothing could be done if it was a miscarriage and that it very well could just be a small bleeding that would stop, we nervously decided to wait to the next day before doing anything. Dragging Anakin out of bed to go to the hospital wasn’t something I wanted to do unless I had to. And part of me was in denial. I can’t remember much of the evening. I kept going to the bathroom and I didn’t sleep much that night.

When I got up early next morning there was enough blood to warrant a trip to the hospital. Sitting in the emergency ward I felt like a zombie. We were called in for a blood test and an examination. As I laid there after what was a rather long and invasive examination looking at my bloodstained knees while a midwife and a doctor stood over me talking I just felt cold. I kept a straight face, a very matter of factly tone and desperately wanted them to let me get dressed and go. I do that, I put on a seemingly cool facade, I somehow manage to temporarily hide that I am about to fall to pieces. I can fool the best of them if I want to. Comes from years of practice, I guess. We were due another blood test in 48 hours to check hormone levels. The doctor assured me that it may not be a miscarriage, but deep down I think I knew that this was not to be. We went home, we cried and I went to bed. I laid there just staring at the wall hoping that I would go numb at some point. Anakin came in and demanded mummy come play. And somehow we got through the day. It’s hard to crumble when you still have to care for a child.

The next day my partner was playing football far away and scared to be alone I decided that we should go with him. I walked in circles pushing the pram around the football field for over an hour trying to get Anakin to sleep, hoping that something was going to make me feel better, but I just wanted to lie down and cry. A close friend of mine was there playing as well and asked how I was going. I didn’t answer, but managed somehow to turn the conversation to how he was instead. Later he asked how our weekend was going. I didn’t answer, but again turned the conversation around. I wasn’t going to lie, but I also knew telling him wouldn’t do either of us any good at that point. On the way back I tried to convince myself that I was starting to feel ok about it, that I was prepared. I was wrong.

The next morning we were back at the hospital for another blood test. Later that day they called me with the results. The lady on the phone started the conversation with “The results look fine.” My heart jumped. There was hope? But the next second she confirmed the miscarriage and asked “That’s what you thought, right?” It was, but how on earth can you relay such a message like that? Everything looks fine? I was far from fine. The pregnancy was far from fine. We were not fine. And I was still bleeding. The walls came tumbling down, but we still had to take care of Anakin. In some ways I think he was the one who carried us forward.

_DSC5142_web (I took this photo that weekend. Anakin found an old seesaw with a horse, so blissfully unaware of how hard we were struggling to keep it together.)

Then came a roller coaster of a time. We were hurting, but I found myself trying to be brave and saying things I didn’t believe to protect myself. “At least it happened now and not later” and so on. We didn’t tell that many people, but out of the few we did there was a few “It’s very common” responses and even one “blessing in disguise” and a “with the timing it’s kind of like a win-win”. Nothing deprives you of your hurt more than hearing that. Yes, it is common, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t feeling the pain of loss. One of my closest friends even ignored the whole thing once I opened up about it. That one hurt even more. With a few pregnant friends around I felt like a failure every time I spoke to them. I tried my best to stay positive, I tried desperately to protect myself and seem more composed than I was, but a part of my heart was broken.  At some point I realised that I needed to own it to move on. I needed to shed some light on that darkness before it swallowed me.

Little did I know at the time that two weeks after that Friday we conceived again. Without going into any details, let me just say we didn’t try to make it happen, it was just one of those moments when all the stars align and all that. When they say you are super fertile after losing a pregnancy they are right. In our case anyway.

I didn’t believe the test when I first saw it.  None of us did. But four tests over a few days later there was no denying that we were indeed pregnant again. It was confusing. It was a downright mind fuck. The doctors and midwives all ask “what number pregnancy is this?” Number three. “And how many babies do you have?” One. “When was your LMP?” It was this date, but it was a miscarriage. And so the ball started rolling without any of us being ready for the ride.

For the first 12 weeks I was terrified. An early dating scan confirmed that everything was so far so good, but I was still shaken. I went to the bathroom all the time to check for blood. I was sick, much sicker than I had been before and throwing up several times a day. Around 11 weeks that suddenly stopped. Everything just stopped and I freaked out. Blood tests showed my hormone levels dropping a bit over 24 hours and a day before I was handing in my Masters, probably during the most stressful week work wise in a long time, we were told we needed an emergency scan done. I was hanging on by a thread. I was certain that we’d lost this one too. My partner tried his best to be brave, but I could tell he thought the same thing as I did. I barely held it together as I struggled to get as much work done as possible before the scan. Once there I could hardly believe my eyes when we saw a little dancing baby on the screen. The lady told us we could do the 12 week scan right away and we somehow managed to say yes. I think I held my breath for most of it. Baby was measuring older than the first scan had shown which explained the drop in hormone levels. Everything was fine. And we were in shock. _DSC4164_web Both before and after this I was struggling with various scenarios of how to deal with comments and responses to our new pregnancy. The miscarriage wasn’t something most people knew about and it was still so raw and the two were so inextricably linked. I avoided as many social gatherings as possible where I may be confronted with any comment on my growing bump, which decided to pop out more or less right away, or I made sure to dress in layers and be quick and quiet. I was paranoid. I was so scared someone would mention how if we had fallen pregnant a bit sooner I would have been so close to my friend (with whom I first celebrated) or comment on any other thing in that regard to which I wouldn’t know what to say or how to react. And of course it did eventually happen. Someone made just that comment, but by then I was as ready as I could be for it.

It still stings. Someone unknowingly said “congratulations on your second pregnancy” a couple of weeks ago and it slapped me in the face. Whenever I go see my midwife I pass the emergency clinic and I see people with the same look on their face as I imagined we had, women discretely holding their still flat bellies waiting for answers, men staring into space while holding their hand.

It’s not unique occurrence, but it happened to us as it happens to so many people. And in some bizarre and terrible way we were lucky to have it happen in the first trimester. Every day pregnant is a day of attachment. Every day counts. And I acknowledge the more convenient timing of our new baby and how lucky we are to have fallen pregnant again so fast. Some people say it was meant to be. I don’t know about that, but I do know that owning what happened and not hiding it in a dark corner is making this pregnancy a little less scary every day. I still wait for kicks and signs of life to feel sure. Part of me still can’t quite believe that it’s true, there’s new life in my belly and it’s doing very well. I know people who have suffered a far greater loss of their pregnancies later on and of their children after they were born and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking and absolutely life altering that must be. And in comparison our loss was small, but no loss is insignificant. It changes you somehow.

_DSC7698_web   But do me a favour. Next time you meet someone who’s pregnant don’t assume which number of pregnancy or baby it is, and if you meet someone who’s lost one, please don’t tell them how common it is. They know. And don’t ignore it as if it doesn’t matter.  Acknowledge the loss, don’t inadvertently belittle it or deny its significance. And as someone who had just suffered the most unimaginable loss once told me, if that’s too hard or you don’t know what to do just give them a hug.

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – V. Nabokov

Balloon Friday

Oh sweet Friday… It’s getting dark and I can hear the usual winding down noises from the bathroom. My partner is patiently trying to coax a tired toddler into the tub and to bed. I’m thankful I get to just sit here and feel like a swollen lead balloon with far too little space on the inside. I know that in a while they’ll call my name and I’ll go sing some lullabies, get a few cuddles and sit outside the bedroom for 10 minutes in the dark listening to Anakin play with his diggers in bed before I can assume my horizontal on the sofa with a glass of Maggie Beer’s non alcoholic sparking wine. (The only non alcoholic wine worth drinking. It’s delicious and I dare say better than most alcoholic sparkling wines.) I’m exhausted. Baby has been surprisingly quiet so far today, perhaps it is just waiting for me to lie down. I feel heavy and stretched. But I also feel pretty darn great. Life is in a good place. We’re not where we want to be with it all, but I am happy, very happy. This year, as hard as it has been and as much as it has kicked us in the face, has also been good. I’ve let go of a lot of hurt, I’m letting go of more every day, I’m facing fears and learning to manage them. And as heavily pregnant as I feel tonight I feel lighter than ever, and stronger than I’ve ever been.

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Speaking of strong… babywearing a big, heavy toddler to sleep when pregnant makes you feel pretty strong too. Desperate times and all that. I seriously could not live without the Tula. (Picture taken at 18 weeks.)

 

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It also doesn’t hurt that spring has sprung in all it’s glory and temperatures are hitting the 20+. Life is good. I feel damn lucky.

Happy Friday from all of us!

xx

39/52 – Night-time

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Bath time, bed time… these rituals we’ve had since you were born that have slowly evolved, slowly (yet way too fast) seen you grow up and more independent. I know,  I say this a lot, but you’re growing up so fast. But it is also at night-time I most often see how little you still are and how much you are still my baby. Too tired, too overwhelmed, you sometimes fall to pieces and the only thing in the whole wide world that will soothe you is being wrapped up in my arms while we ride it out together. I think we both need those moments just as much as we need the laughs, the hugs and all the good times. Perhaps it is in those fragile moments I grow the most as a mother. 

***

I started writing a bit this week, but I’ve been too tired to finish anything. By nap time in the afternoon all my good intentions vanish and I’ve just needed to relax and catch up on rest. I’m not very good at resting or taking it easy, but the past  few weeks have been brutal and made me realise I can’t keep this up. It means things slow down and take time, but I just can’t keep pushing myself. I’ve tried to keep activities local and to half days. I try not to do too much housework, which is hard when everything desperately needs a good clean. I’ll vacuum two rooms and have to lie down because I’m just out of breath. It so different this time around. The baby is much more active than I can remember Anakin being. Perhaps it is just that I feel it better this time around, but it’s always on the move. It’s so far down that I can pull my shirt up and see the pokes from the outside already. Driving back and forth to Bendigo today to take down my show was hard. The baby was pushing down and making it so uncomfortable to sit that I started wondering how on earth it will feel by the end. Please, little baby, use the space that’s there while you have it. You can’t stay doubled up at the bottom all the time!

38/52- Urban traveller

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Any excuse to catch the train is a good one for you. You absolutely love it. As I still don’t have a license we’re mostly urban travellers when we’re just the two of us. Last weekend we spent an afternoon in the sunshine with some friends and their new baby. You were ecstatic running around their backyard playing with the dog, a wheelbarrow and some pieces of wood. Having to catch the train there and back was just an added bonus. 

***

I’m still without a computer which makes things trickier these days. But in some ways I’ve loved it. I like to unplug. It helps me refocus and spend more time doing things I love and that frankly are far more important. But I’ve been itching to get some time to write so hopefully this coming week I’ll get to scratch that itch.

We did our weekly shop today. After getting what we could at the market we went to the supermarket. As I was walking around gathering things and talking to Anakin it struck me how incredibly happy I was and how lovely it was to realise that in the middle of such a mundane task as shopping. Anakin was bubbling with happiness over a new digger we’d just picked up for him. He woke up earlier this week and told me how much he wanted a big, new yellow digger. He didn’t need one, but when we happened to stumble upon a really good, cheap one today I couldn’t help myself. His joy pays for whatever he gets over and over again. He’s not the kind that gives a new toy an hour of play and then forgets about it. He adores it, he takes it to bed and it is his prize possession for months on end. Believe me when I say that there’s usually a lot of construction vehicles taking up space in our bed before I move them to make room for myself at night. I can only imagine how happy he’ll be if I can find the book Goodnight, goodnight Construction site. 

37/52 – Getting ready for the show

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Helping out while we hang my assessment show, Tales of Transformation, in Bendigo. You never stop amazing me with how incredibly easy you are to take places. It was a long day and a late night, but you were a true champion all the way through. You rarely complain, you’re rarely in a bad mood and you always delight whoever has the pleasure of spending time with you. I couldn’t be prouder, my love. (Photo by my partner.) 

***

Thank you for your well wishes and kind words after our last post. I really appreciate it. It’s so nice to hear voices from “the other side” of the screen. I’m largely without a computer these days so my replies are slow and so is my posting. There is so much I’m still waiting to share once I have a laptop and a few free afternoons. I’ll get around to sharing my work soon as well, both artworks and from the sewing machine.

Don’t be a stranger.

xx Dida

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