Personal

37

Self portrait at 37.

Mother, artist, wife, friend, daughter, sister. So many labels. Sometimes I forget who I am in it all. There are always voices talking and it’s rarely mine. There are hands touching, mouths drinking, my body always someone’s landscape. There are days, weeks, months I forget what I feel like when I am just me. What it feels like to just be. I am always on. Lifting, carrying, holding, soothing, teaching. So rarely still or at rest.

I have days I feel incredibly powerful. When I see the person I have become and she makes me proud. I see how I constantly strive to be better. I see how I push through no matter the obstacles and I feel stronger than ever.

I have days I feel like I am nothing outside my illness. That my darkness is all there is and that I am some sort of contagious disease. Days I fail to contain it. When the woman in the mirror is too flawed to show herself to the world. When I am all shadows and self loathing.

I have quiet days and loud days. Days I feel utterly alone and days I feel more loved than I ever have.

But through all the days I am thankful. Thankful for being me. At 37 I am better than I ever have been.


Dear Baby,

I don’t write much anymore. Not because I don’t want to but because time is never on my side. There is always something or someone demanding my attention. I must have written you a hundred letters in my mind already. That’s where I write these days while I juggle your siblings, work, house and the scraps of time that are left over for myself.

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I swore I would cherish every moment of carrying you but time has gone by so fast and now we are on the brink of locking eyes for the very first time. I’m not quite ready. I’ve still so much to prepare, to process and to memorize about you right where you are. I already know I’ll miss feeling you move inside me, the way you start up as soon as your siblings wake in the morning as if to say “hi”. You’re the last one. The very last seed I’ll grow and there is a great sadness in that. I already know the double-edged sword I’ll walk when you’re finally in my arms. The indescribable joy of every first and the gut wrenching sense of loss for every last. I’ve been there before. I thought your sister was our last but fate had other ideas. And as terrifying as that has been (and is) at times I am nothing but thankful.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I’m still finding my feet from last time and I worry that two arms will never be quite enough. I worry about the heartbreak that will follow for your siblings as they find me stretched even further. But I know we will have love abundance. I know there will be more smiles than ever before, more laughter and that my heart will positively burst with love for you all. I know that you will complete us and that there will never be any regrets. There are no regrets.

In a few weeks we will embark on a journey that will mark us for life. I trust you to know what to do. I trust myself to know what to do and this time I have placed that trust right where it needs to be. Right here, in the safety of our haven. We will be right here waiting, ready to catch you as you take your first breath of air.

Lots of love,

Mamma xx

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You are worth loving.

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I’m going to tell you a secret. As good as I am at taking care of other people (and I am damn good at it), I am absolute rubbish at taking care of myself. I will happily bend over backwards for people I love, I will go above and beyond to do nice things even for strangers to the point of stupidity, like working for free. (I mean seriously? What the hell? In what universe am I not worth paying for my professional services?) But I somehow just can’t do it for myself. It is as if I am blind to my own needs, or not even that because I see them, I’m just not capable of tending to them. Somehow it is ok for me to not be ok but it is not ok for anyone else to not be ok.

I have been running on empty for almost 2 years now. I live off the fumes from the few drops that somehow make it into my cup. I stumble, I fall on my face and I get back up again. Life has a funny way of piling on the chaos and even when I can do something about it, when I have the power to open my mouth and say “I am not ok with this. This is not good for me.” Or to voice what I need or accept an offer of help, I don’t. My space is not important. My welfare is not important. (But of course it is.) Somehow I have lost myself along the way or perhaps I was lost some time ago.

I remember when I was a little girl, or even when I was a teenager, I would come home shattered because someone I considered a good friend had done/said/or neglected to do something. My mother would ask me time and time again why I let these so-called friends walk all over me and treat me like rubbish. She would say “these people are not your friends. This is not what friends do to each other.” I would curl up and hurt for a bit and then find my feet again. I would patch myself up and open my arms back up to the very same people. Time and time again. Someone I used to know told me “You see the world through rose-tinted glasses.” I knew even then that this wasn’t true. I’ve never seen the world through rose-tinted glasses, I’m a harsh realist but I’ve somehow been able to cling onto this hope that people will do for me what I would do for them. “Do onto others” right?

I could tell you a long and heartbreaking story about how and why I became this person convinced that I am not worthy of the care I give others but I’ll let the details be and just give you the bigger picture. Just know that I know why. To that I am not blind.
Imagine that there’s a person in your life that keeps telling you, in one way or another, that you are not good enough or worth taking care of. You are not worthy of their unconditional love. To this person you are resistance. You are not folding or scraping the floor before them. You are not ‘easy’ because you have thoughts of your own, ideas and opinions. You are different. Though you still take every blow given, you somehow still get back up, limp on and won’t stay down. For years you seek approval and love, time or simply attention but… You are not worth it. You still have people telling you that you are but there is this one constant voice telling you you’re not. If you know anything about how the brain works you’ll know that your brain will latch on to the negative and interpret it as truth. These negative views become your own. You find yourself in relationships with people who treat you the same way, it’s like you seek them out but after a while even your stubborn brain has to admit that something isn’t right. So you start trying to fight it. You figure out that you don’t deserve this but you can’t make it stop. But because your brain is now in conflict you find yourself at war, a war with yourself. It’s an endless battle that will rage on and on, a battle that has many consequences and leaves many scars. And it’s more or less silent and invisible to everyone around you unless they look closely and know exactly what to look for. And all the while this person is still there to lash out under the false pretence of “caring”. And you take it. You say “oh but it might still change.” And you hurt. You cry more than anyone knows that you cry because it just won’t stop.

I bet you’re asking why I’ve held on, why I didn’t just shut the door, cut my losses and walk away and I’ll tell you. In my mind that would make me no better. And I know I am better. I am bigger and better.  I am more forgiving, I have the capacity to love above all hurt. I am nothing like them. I believe in second chances, I believe in redemption. I don’t believe in cutting people off and I don’t believe in burning bridges. And I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried so hard to protect myself as well as stay open. And it doesn’t work. It isn’t working.

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For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about taking a time out. Time for me, away from everything. I am tired, no, I am beyond exhausted and soon I will birth another baby who will need everything from me on top of what my other children do. For days I was looking at hotels and saying I was gonna book one. But I didn’t. I tormented myself because I found it more difficult than you can imagine to just do it because it was for me and only me. “It’s too much money. We can’t afford it.” I kept going in circles. “You need this. You need a break. If you don’t do it now it will never happen. But you’ll be lonely. You’ll get depressed. But you’re already depressed.” It was relentless. I sought approval and permission from my husband. Of course when he immediately said “Book it, you deserve this.” I still didn’t do it. After a horrendous half hour one afternoon that had me mopping up a couple of litres of water off the floor, changing a dripping wet toddler and trying to salvage the laundry all the while I had two hungry kids on my hands, dinner was running late, an achy pregnant body and a husband in Korea for a week I finally did it. I booked a hotel. I booked the one I really wanted, the one bedroom apartment in a hotel with a pool. Just for me. And I was immediately struck with guilt. Then a little bit excitement. And then the war began again.

I went to bed that night torn to pieces. I had to face head on why I was struggling so much to just plan a simple weekend away. The first one ever away from my kids. That there was the first hurdle. I’m an attachment parent. It doesn’t feel good or natural for me to leave my children when they are young. And Isis is still a baby in my eyes. Too young to leave. I sleep next to my children every night. It’s where I find my peace and that’s where I belong. But even I have had to admit to myself that I am not being the parent I know I am. They need me to take a time out too. My ghosts came creeping back out. Old ghosts that never stay away long enough to gather dust. Some time long after I went to bed a thought suddenly struck me. It hit me hard, clear as day amongst the raging chaos.

“You are worth loving.”

Suddenly something in me just clicked. Suddenly I realised that I have to close that door and it won’t make me anything like that person. I have to because I am worth loving. I deserve better. And if they really, truly want to know and love me, I am worth breaking down that door for. I am worth fighting for. I am worthy of unconditional love.

I won’t lie. I almost cancelled the whole thing. Because we can’t afford it. But I’ve held on. I’ve had to rationalise it all to myself again and again. My kids deserve this. They deserve a mother who can come back and really be present. Perhaps limping a bit less and most likely with a new spark in her eyes. But most importantly I deserve this. Not only the weekend away, but to walk away from years of emotional abuse. It’s about so much more than sleeping in a different bed for two nights. So. Much. More.

It’s time to admit that it’s ok to start loving yourself. I’m doing it for me and I’m doing it for them. Because nothing and no one matters more than  the family I have right here, right now with my husband. I owe it to them and I owe it to me.

And it’s ok to say enough is enough.

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Made from love, born into love.

Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Sometimes a voice in your head tells you it’s coming even before it’s possible to really know that it is. Sometimes you ignore that voice because you’re not entirely sure you’re ready to hear what it’s saying. But that ball is still soaring through the air headed straight for you. And then it hits. 


I could tell you about the doubts, the weighing of options or the long talks. I could tell you about the pure exhaustion and the gut wrenching fear. I could tell you about the paranoia, the chaos or the loneliness. The physical pains, the weight of growing yet another life in an ageing body. 


But I’ll tell you about the unconditional love. The quiet excitement, the humble joy I feel for this growing baby. The pride I decide to carry this rounded body with. How i look forward to birthing, to meeting this beautiful, brand new person, to our first touch. But first to cherish these weeks and months ahead. The very last. An unexpected surprise. 


Made from love, born into love. 

Baby, you are wanted.

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Oh hello…

I’ve been a bad blogger. I dropped the ball. Not just fumbling at bit, just dropkicked it way out in the bush somewhere, out of sight. Time has kicked my ass the past 17 months. In all honesty life, the universe and everything has kicked me in the teeth the past 17 months but I’m still here trucking away. I’m like that weed you just can’t kill. Unless I self-destruct I seem to be able to survive just about any shit that comes my way. So much has happened. We built a house, we moved to a new city, my husband became a commuter, our son turned into a prepubescent thunderstorm at 4 and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oh have I got stories for you…  Anyway, I’m not here to whine, just yet… I just thought I’d check in just in case you were still there wondering what the hell happened.

So in short, I now have 2 kids at home full-time, a husband I see on the weekends and sometimes briefly at night. (Except the past 1,5 week when he was at home recovering from surgery. It may sound funny but it was a luxury for us to have so much time together.) I’m still trying to run a handmade business on my own, get some form of freelance photography going, navigate and integrate in a new city as well as take care of my little banshees. I’ve been a snot covered, bug infested wreck for the past 3 weeks but if you’re a mum you’ll know that none of that changes anything. You still get up and do the shit that needs to be done you just do it feeling like you have the plague.

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And the 52 project? I suppose it’s still going. The photos are there, unprocessed mostly, just waiting for me to sacrifice something else to get to them.

But the new house is great. There’s a huge difference between having a hard time living in a mold infested shithole (no joke) and having a hard time living in a brand new house that’s yours. Somehow the hard times don’t seem as hard. Transitions are always tough. Once it gets better, once we get the hang of this new life, it will no doubt see sunshine it hasn’t seen in a long time. I can be patient. I can hold out.

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Pass me a tissue, I’ve got work to do.

 


The Milk Wars

I wrote this post months ago, back in June to be exact. It’s been sitting here waiting. (I’ve edited it to reflect her age now.) I excused it with needing photos or a final edit. Or a better opening or ending. In the end I realised I was just making excuses because the words, the story they tell, still hits me a place where it hurts. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. But it’s still a story I need to tell so here it is.

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Art history is riddled with them, serene images of mothers breastfeeding their babies. It looks like the most natural, effortless thing ever. After all boobs and babies are meant to go together right? Right…

I breastfed my son for almost 2,5 years. It didn’t come naturally to us, we struggled to get there but we got there, sort of. In hindsight I’m not sure we ever really did it ‘right’, he was always a poor latcher but I made milk and he was fed and happy so it can’t have been all wrong. So when my daughter was born I thought surely this time things would be easier.

Yesterday my daughter turned 11 months old. And that marked 11 months of battling to breastfeed her.

She was in a hurry to be born, my little Isis. Once she was we took our time to just soak each other up. We spent a long time skin to skin feeling each other out and moving closer to that first feed. It didn’t come easy. Once she latched she kept falling off growing tired and frustrated. Every feed was like this. I asked to see a lactation consultant at the hospital before going home but it was the weekend so no one ever came and I was only staying for 12 hours.  I told my midwives about our troubles but nothing happened. My breasts were sore and painful but it was difficult to distinguish between the normal aches and pains of my milk coming in, baby learning to feed and possible other problems. For the first week I had to peel skin off my nipples (so-called blebs) to keep them from becoming blocked. It was just as bad as it sounds. One of my midwives asked how the feeds were progressing and I remember saying that they were marginally better. Marginally, when you’re in a world of pain isn’t good. I told them about leaking milk while feeding, clicking, lack of suction, the pain and how it didn’t feel as if she emptied the breast. But it somehow always got lost in the mix. Most things do with a newborn and they definitely do when you throw another kid and sleep deprivation in to the mix.

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For the first few weeks I had to get up with my daughter at night to feed her. We co-sleep so it would have been more beneficial (for me, I suppose) to stay in bed but because she was such a terrible latcher I had to see properly to try my best to minimise the discomfort and help her. I’d try flipping her lips out but she’d pull back and curl them back under. At every appointment we had I told nurses and midwives this. No bells rang. One midwife saw her feed once but with breasts bursting with milk and a tiny baby you kind of have to look properly to catch a bad latch, a passing glimpse as you’re doing something else won’t cut it.

So my daughter became a so-called nipple feeder and I put up with it. For a long time. Around 3 months it started getting really bad. The pain was getting excruciating. If you had seen some of the positions I had to be in for her to feed you would have thought I was crazy. My back was killing me but my boobs were worse. For a while I cried every night, sometimes during the day too. Our feeds had become battles. My baby would get frantic because when you aren’t latching properly it takes a long time for any letdown to happen. I had to walk, bounce and sing to keep her calm enough to feed. I became a master in walking while breastfeeding. And me? I was nearing my wit’s end. Every night I’d consider giving up and every night I’d talk myself into hanging on for just one more day.

To make up for not being able to latch properly, and therefore empty the breast, Isis would feed more often. Sometimes hourly, most times every 1,5 -2 hours, night and day.

I can’t remember exactly how old she was when we had another appointment with a maternal health nurse but it must have been around the 4 month mark. I was hanging all my hopes on this appointment, hoping that someone would be able to help me. I had growing suspicions that something was wrong, very wrong, and I suspected my baby might have an upper lip tie at the very least. But I was no expert and I needed help from someone who knew about such things before I went crazy. My mental state was deteriorating fast. I was struggling. Badly.

Before you accuse me of being a masochist or just a plain idiot consider the benefit of breast milk and breastfeeding to a baby and to the mother. And if you still want to call me a masochistic idiot just suck it up and keep it to yourself, ok? I chose to fight this battle because I believe the benefits far outweigh my troubles, and that’s saying something about my stance on breastfeeding.

Anyway, moving on.

Our appointment came and the nurse went through the normal proceedings of checking weight, height etc. We were all good. She asked if there were any troubles and I told her about our feedings to which she replied, aimed at my baby, “you’re just a little pest, aren’t you?” I was baffled. I told her about my suspicions and she continued to refer to my baby as a pest and told me she hoped I could find some help. And that was it. No help whatsoever.

I cried walking home. I had been hanging on by a thread until then and now there was nothing. Just this big pit of pain and hopelessness.

It’s not a long walk back to our house but during those few minutes I decided that if the so-called “professionals” weren’t going to help me I would give it one last go myself. And so I read and googled and started making calls. A dear friend of mine offered to help and together we set out to find people who would know where to go and what to do. She discovered a Facebook group she thought could answer a lot of my questions and I asked to join. I diagnosed my daughters upper lip tie myself but couldn’t be sure that it really was what I thought it was. Within a few hours I had booked a doctor’s appointment for a referral to see a specialist and things were moving forward. Finally.

The doctor had no idea what I was talking about. He blindly wrote a referral to see the dentist I told him I needed her to see. Most doctors, in fact a lot of health personnel, have no clue about ties whatsoever. They’ll even go as far as call it a myth or try to convince you it’s not a real problem. You need a specialist. Believe me.

I don’t know if we were just lucky or if the age of my baby helped us get in fast but within a week we were on our way to see the dentist I had been so highly recommended. I was terrified and convinced it was all in my head. She ticked all the boxes on the check list they sent us but I still couldn’t’ quite believe something was wrong if I was the only one seeing it.  If I was in fact right they would laser the ties on the spot for the price of $600, no refunds available or reclaims through Medicare at all. I know what you’re thinking, $600 is a lot of money. But formula alone would probably cost us more in the long run and tongue and lip ties can, if left untreated, cause problems with teeth, speech and eating.

Once in with the dentist he examined our daughter and diagnosed her with a class 4 upper lip tie and a posterior tongue tie. He told us she also has an incredibly high palate which makes it even more troublesome. His words were ” It’s as bad as it gets.” Her upper lip tie was so tight you couldn’t lift her lip to her nose. Finally I had all my questions and suspicions accounted for. I wasn’t crazy. By this stage Isis was 4 months old. 4 months of poor feeding is a long time. 4 months of fighting to breastfeed is a long time.

The procedure is rather quick but traumatising, for the parents at least. They don’t sedate or use any form of pain killers while lasering. I had to wrap our daughter up, arms down, and my husband had to hold her down while they did it. I waited outside afraid that if I was present it would be too hard for me to feed right after because of the stress of seeing it happen. Her screams made my skin crawl. I have never before or after heard a baby scream like that. It was the worst few minutes I can remember. She stopped quickly once they were done and we were taken to an empty dentist’s office to feed her. My poor husband broke down and we both cried. I can’t really describe it. I never want to relive any of it.

Sores in the mouth heal quite quick so we were instructed to do so-called stretches on the wounds 6 times a day to keep them from reattaching. I won’t spend time describing them to you but it was awful. I saw a lactation consultant 2 days after but poor Isis was too tired to feed properly and still so swollen that it didn’t do much good. I was told it could take up to 10 weeks for feeds to improve because she had to relearn how to use the muscles in her mouth. It’s a lot to do for a little baby and it makes them very tired. And things got far worse when she reached exhaustion. But we persevered. 2 weeks later I went back to see a lactation consultant but at the age Isis was now she was too distracted by everything to feed. She latched enough for the consultant to have a look and tell me I should feel lucky my nipples were partially desensitized. I didn’t feel lucky but I guess it was just her way of telling me it was bad but could be worse had I in fact not had some loss of sensitivity in the nipples from long-term nipple feeding already. Breastfeeding at this stage was only marginally better and we agreed I would start pumping to keep my supply up. She was still putting on weight but the concern was that if she wasn’t draining the breast my milk would dwindle.

Pumping for me is hard. I don’t get a let down and have to effectively ‘dry pump’. It’s tiresome and it takes a lot out of me. But I did it and for a while even started to get a bit of milk. But pumping is a whole other story.

So. Here we are numerous months after the procedure, way past the 10 week mark. Feeds are still not great. They can still be painful. Sometimes awful. Let downs can still take ages and I still rock, sing and whatnot to get there. My baby will always be a nipple feeder, she hates having anything touch her palate and has worked out her own way of feeding. It’s not great but we manage. I take it week by week. Every feed is a small victory. She’s happy and thriving. She sometimes still feeds up to 7 times overnight which is hard as I never get to sleep for longer than 3 hours, if I’m lucky. (And that’s a rare occasion!) My nipple (she has refused one side and will only feed from one breast) is another story. Once it retires from breastfeeding it may never let anyone touch it again, ever, and probably rightfully so.

Since finding out about Isis’ ties I have become very suspicious that Anakin is tied too. His lip isn’t as bad as hers but his tongue is visibly tied which would explain my breastfeeding troubles with him. But he’s lucky. It doesn’t seem to be effecting his speech or his teeth.

Maybe I am a masochist for still breastfeeding my baby and for enduring the pain for so long, I don’t know. But breastfeeding is important to me and to her. My milk is liquid gold and I just can’t deprive her of that when it’s still within my means to keep going. Would I feel better if I stopped? On the one hand, probably, but on the other… no.  I only wish someone had heard me sooner. I wish it was custom to check for ties at  birth and to take any complaint about breastfeeding seriously.

I am full of regrets but also full of pride for fighting for my baby’s, and for my own, right to breastfeed. My new goal is to make it to 12 months. I hope we can go for a lot longer but realistically I eventually have to take my own mental health into consideration and decide whether it will be better for me to wean. The thought of weaning her before she is ready kills me. But that decision is still a while a way.

In the mean time my nipple will keep battling on while the milk still flows.

 


The long goodbyes

I hate long goodbyes. When I say long I don’t mean goodbyes that drag out but saying goodbye to loved ones you won’t see for a long time and that live far away. Those goodbyes. I’m no good at them. I just can’t get them right. They leave me full of wants, needs and regrets. And usually in tears. Some are definitely worse than others.

So this morning I had to say goodbye to my mum. Again. The mum goodbyes are the worst. She lives in Norway and I live in Australia. It’s not as easy as a Sunday drive to say hello. I always need that last hug or that last kiss we never share. Then there’s that last wave that usually doesn’t happen because goodbyes are killers and none of us want to let the other one have to see the pain so one of us turns away at that critical moment as the car drives out of sight.

It’s marginally easier being the one who leaves. For me at least. If I’m the one leaving I’ll quickly become (or make myself) busy with what needs to happen next. Airports, check ins, kids, all that stuff. But if I’m the one staying… whoa. And this morning was such a time. My husband and son took my mum and my niece to the airport. The baby and I had to stay because there was simply no room in the car. As soon as the car drove off I just kind of tipped.

Our house feels strangely foreign and empty when someone I love leaves it. I walk around aimlessly looking at the places they occupied searching for pieces of them left behind. As if it will miraculously make them reappear. With my mum her smell usually lingers for a while but never long enough. It’s this lotion she uses. It just smells like her, safe and cozy. I make strong connections between people and their smells. Today I have a baby that smells like my mum from those last hugs. She probably won’t get a bath today so I can hold on to that smell for just a little longer.

Goodbyes are awful.  Suddenly I’m a child with children of her own desperate for my mother’s embrace. I feel lost and for a couple of days I find myself having to revisit all the choices that created the physical distance between us. But the answer is always the same. I can’t go back. I can’t sacrifice myself to be closer to my loved ones. I have to remember who I was before I left and who I am now, and the battles fought to get to this point. Going back is something I may not survive. It sounds melodramatic, I know, but severe depression is no joke. I came closer than most people know to not surviving the time I lived there and I just can’t put myself in that darkness again. My brain just can’t handle the extremes and I just can’t give up finally being on the way to doing what I want with my life. My children deserve a healthy, happy mum even if it means we have to make big sacrifices. And my mum knows that. I know that. But it’s still heartbreaking. And it still hurts like hell  every now and then.

After ten years it would only be natural to assume goodbyes would get easier. They don’t. If anything they’re harder. And I know they will only keep getting harder and in some years they will reach a peak of almost unbearable as my mother at some point will become an old lady unable to travel across the world as much as she does now. (It’s still a long time away, mamma!) Our distance means there are many realities I just can’t think about.  The what if’s and the when’s have to be kept far away. It means we have to carry a lot of hurt and longing in our hearts but the distance also shows how strong our love is.

Today was a little harder than it has been. Partly because it’s the first time she’s left me as a new mother of two, partly because this time there was no time for just us and because I’ve been ignoring the fact that the past two years have been an uphill battle and I’m completely depleted. I failed to really acknowledge the ledge I am hanging on to until my safest haven left. Because that’s what most mums are, the safest place there is, a haven between two arms to seek shelter from raging storms. So today the sound of every airplane above has left me in tears. Today has been a battle of its own.  Today was full of regrets. Things I wish I’d said, things I wish I’d done (more of).

I love you until eternity, mamma. And I miss you every day.

I’m sorry it has to be this way.

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Thank you for coming to see us. Thank you for helping out and for everything you do for us.

Thank you for letting me go, for never holding me back and for always being there when I need you the most.

(Sorry for posting your photo without permission. You’re beautiful.)

All my love, always. xx

 


Mama, forgive yourself

I think some part of me thought number two would be easier. I’d done it all before, right?

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She was born into expectations of how certain things would be. Her birth would be calm and serene. She would sleep better and longer, she would be easier to settle, she would like to be worn, she would… But she is her own person. She’s not a shadow of who came before.

He would go through the motions for a few weeks and then settle and we would all be one big, happy family. His anger and his hurt would vanish and he would always know that my love for him remained the same.

I would manage to keep the house tidier and cleaner and tend to every need for both of my children. I would make sure I had plenty of time for my son, I would play with him every day. I would always keep my daughter close and we would remain as one. I would excel at juggling, I would let go and ask for help when I needed it. I would stay level and take care of myself. I would bounce back to my pre-pregancy shape (despite never doing so the first time), my stomach would be flat within a week like I’d seen other people’s do and I would feel magnificent about my post-baby body right away. Breastfeeding would be a breeze, after all I’d spent 2,5 years doing it already. I wouldn’t stress about anything, I would go with the flow at all times and I would get work done. I would always keep my cool and I would be even more patient than before. I would understand and empathise at all times.

But I am constantly failing to meet the ridiculous standards I’ve set myself.

It’s not the same, it’s not easier.

And some days I am not the mama I want to be for my children.

But what I am slowly learning this time around is;

Mama, forgive yourself.

Forgive yourself for expecting too much, forgive yourself for putting too much pressure on your body. Your body is beautiful because it is uniquely yours.  It was their first home. It grew, carried and birthed two of the most beautiful little people. It is softer, rounder and fuller. Forgive yourself for sometimes forgetting the look they both get when they see you naked, their eyes lighting up at the sight of you because to them you are perfection.

Forgive yourself for momentarily buying into ridiculous nonsense about baby sleep. Your children are healthy and need nothing but your love. You are following your instincts and you are doing everything right. Forgive yourself for not always having as much time as you want for both of them. One is still so little and her needs so big. You will get better at dividing your time. Forgive yourself for not being an expert, a mothering perfectionist. No one expects or wants you to be perfect. Forgive yourself for still struggling with breastfeeding your little one. It takes time and she is not her older brother, you both need to find your own way. Commend yourself for not giving up despite your raw nipples and your aching back.

Forgive yourself for the times you raise your voice, for the wrong battles you pick and the tears that follow. You are tired and it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you apologise and keep trying. Forgive yourself for your doubts and your darkness. For neglecting the needs of your husband, for feeling ‘touched out’ at the end of the day and needing to keep your body to yourself. Forgive your mood swings and your occasional sadness. You give your children everything, it’s ok to feel empty as the day nears its end. You have yet to find your village and sometimes you will feel lost in the dark. But you are exactly where you need to be.

Anakin and mum

Mama, just remember to forgive yourself a little every day. It takes practise. What you’re doing is nothing short of amazing.

 

 


An extreme wedding

It’s taken ages to write the story of our wedding, but here it is. Better late than never.

***

Saturday December 13th, 2014, I married the love of my life. The story of the wedding however begins the Wednesday before. (Ok, sort of on Tuesday when i got my wedding dress and it wasn’t exactly the dress I had custom ordered, but that’s a minor detail in the whole matter.)

As some of you know 2014 wasn’t exactly the year for us. It was the year the kept kicking. But we kept getting back up. I tend to joke that we do things to the extreme, I guess the wedding was yet another example of that. Sort of. It’s a long story.

Wednesday before the wedding our son spent the day with two of his grandparents at the aquarium celebrating his birthday as they wouldn’t be here by the time his birthday rolled around. I can’t remember exactly what the rest of us were doing, but it probably had something to do with wedding preparations. We had takeaway Thai food for dinner.  That evening I remember commenting on how I thought Anakin seemed a bit hot. Not feverish hot, just a tad off. The evening rolled on, Anakin was asleep and I went to bed. I must have had about half an hour to an hour sleep before waking back up. My mummy radar sensed something was off. Anakin was restless and kept swallowing. He felt a bit hot still, but it was the constant swallowing that worried me. Unable to go back to sleep I stayed awake to monitor him. Then at 12.30 am all gastro hell broke loose. (We had no idea that was what we were dealing with at the time.)

Anakin woke up with a scream and started vomiting all over the bed. I woke my partner (yes, partner, not husband yet) up and told him to go get a towel.  He jumped up still half asleep and ran out of the room. We keep the towels in a closet in the hallway right outside our bedroom but for some reason it was taking him a while to come back with anything. In the meantime I was trying to calm Anakin down and keep the vomit from going absolutely everywhere. Poor Anakin was frantic and panicking. My partner finally came back wearing plastic gloves and handed me two wet wipes. Yep, two wet wipes. He scampered back out of the room and finally got a towel. Sleepy brains don’t make sense. 🙂

We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and reassured him that everything was ok and went back to bed. I still couldn’t go back to sleep so I kept monitoring Anakin. About half an hour must have passed before he woke with another scream and started vomiting again. We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and went back to bed again. Another half hour or hour passed before the same thing happened again. Anakin freaked out and I held him while my partner ran around frantically trying to find more towels and sheets. When he came back to the room both Anakin and I were covered in vomit as I had Anakin on my lap and he has just vomited in my hair and down my back as well as pretty much everywhere else. I had vomit in places I have never had vomit before. The same thing happened two more times and by that stage we had run out of sheets and our bed was covered in towels. Around 4.30 in the morning everyone fell back asleep.

Thursday Anakin was still sick and upon having an icy pole, which was the only thing we could get him to eat, vomited on me again. By this stage it had started coming out his other end as well.

Friday was the day we were supposed to get the venue ready. I was directing everything from home. Being 8 months pregnant and having a bad case of pubic symphysis dysfunction and pelvic girdle pain, I decided it was better for me to organise things from there. I got up, had breakfast and a shower and as soon as I got out I vomited. Uh-oh. I thought it was probably just pregnancy and stress related and got ready. The house was buzzing with people coming and going. Our friend and wedding cake maker was putting the final touches on the cake. I was drawing out a floor plan showing where the various decorations would go and feeling increasingly crap. I tried to eat some dry crackers and found it hard to focus on everything going on. Anakin was at home with me, he’d stopped vomiting but still had it coming out the other end and the day was getting closer to nap time. While going through what was going to happen the next day with our toastmaster I started getting worse. It was becoming clear that whatever Anakin had I had too. At this stage I was feeling fairly horrid. Everyone eventually left and I got ready to put Anakin to bed with me. I could no longer drink or eat anything without vomiting. For every sip I had three times that would come back up. Anakin fell asleep and I laid in bed trying to have small sips of water only to have to run to the bathroom a few minutes later. I messaged my partner and told him what was up. Around 3pm I was feeling so bad I decided it might be a good idea to call my midwife. She told me that it was important that I kept fluids down as dehydration could be dangerous to both me and the baby and could induce labour. Unless I could hold fluids down by 5pm I would need to go to hospital. My partner came home with hydralyte for me to drink which made me vomit even more. I could barely stand up. Our cake baker came down with gastro too as soon as he delivered the cake to the venue and was flat out in bed between trips to the bathroom. 5pm rolled around and it was clear that I needed to go to the hospital.

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At the hospital they checked my blood pressure and pulse. My pulse was racing, I was dizzy and I felt like drinking the entire content of a pool. I was quickly put in isolation and given fluids through an IV. I was also hooked up to monitors and told to keep trying to drink and to buzz every time I had to go to the bathroom. (Let me just say it’s not ideal to have to wait for someone to unhook you when you’ve got gastro and time is of the essence, but I somehow managed.) One bag of fluids later and I thought I was getting better. I was thirsty as hell and couldn’t have enough to drink. “You’ll be home in no time after these fluids.” Everyone knew we were getting married in the morning and that getting well was of utmost importance. Then I started vomiting again. A lot. Two more bags of fluids later and I was still there. We got a message that my father in law had also fallen to gastro. Then my mother in law.

I was then told I couldn’t leave until I could hold my fluids and that baby had tachycardia and they needed her heart rate to stabilise. My partner and I were both thinking the same thing, but none of us said anything. We both knew that unless I got better and unless baby settled we wouldnt’ just have to get married in the hospital but we’d most likely have a premature baby by the morning. Somehow through all this we managed to keep our cool. We talked about what to do if I wasn’t released and made back up plans. I was still vomiting and things were still coming out the other end.

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Later I was transferred to the birth ward. You can’t stay more than 4 hours in emergency apparently. I was put in isolation in a room that was rarely used and that had the most uncomfortable bed you can imagine. I decided to send my partner home so that he could get some sleep and so that our son would wake up with him there. We had to leave abruptly and I didn’t tell him what was going on. This way at least one of us would have a semi clear head the next day. Our plan at this stage was for me to be released at 7am, go home to sleep, get ready and get married. (We somehow thought a 7am release was possible. Of course it’s not because you have to see a doctor first.) But I was still sick and baby was still not doing well. I was no longer allowed to drink anything but could have ice cubes and I kept having crazy, intense Braxton hicks contractions at regular intervals.

Some time after my partner left I was taken off the IV. I was given a brief of what needed to happen before they would release me. I realised that it wasn’t looking very good. Around 1.30am I managed to stop vomiting. The rest of the night was a battle between mind and body, and I was swallowing like you’ve never seen anyone swallow before. Baby’s heart rate started to settle and I somehow managed to get an hour sleep in the worst bed of all time.

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Morning rolled around and I was waiting to see a doctor. When you don’t eat or drink your body starts eating your reserves and the doctor explained that this needed to stop before I could go and I also needed to be able to keep food and drink down. I was more nauseous than you can imagine butI tried to eat something. I was also dead tired from not having slept and looked like hell on wobbly legs. After that it was a waiting game. My partner and son came to see me. They told me my mom had started vomiting too.

And so we waited. I called on the midwives explaining that I needed to leave, I was getting married in 4 hours… then 3 hours… Stress was adding to it all. I needed to shower and get ready! Eventually we were seen by the same midwife who received us and who then arranged for my release after more medication to help with the nausea.

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The only reason they were letting me go was because I was about the get married. It was 11.30 and the ceremony started at 2pm. I left with an army of prescriptions to stop anything from coming out either end and with promises that if I got worse I would have to come back. We got home, I showered and got ready. I felt like death. Our friend, and baker, was still in bed. We couldn’t serve the cake, but had thankfully ordered cupcakes to supplement the cake anyway. My in-laws were still battling gastro on their end, but my mom was somehow holding it together.

We somehow managed to get to the venue by 2pm and by 3 we were husband and wife.

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We got married under a big tree showered in spots of sunshine surrounded by people we love from near and far. The ceremony was everything we wanted it to be, light-hearted, full of  laughter and most of all, a reflection of our love. It was important for us to include Anakin in it all so Anakin got his own ring and got “married” too.

Besides the fact that we had the worst lead up we had an amazing day. How I managed to stay on my feet is beyond me. We sectioned off bathrooms for those of us who were sick and tried not to shake too many hands and in the end had a magnificent day. Looking at the photos there is no way you can tell the mayhem that went on before, the lack of sleep or the hospital stay. My husband gave the most romantic speech which culminated in him telling me how beautiful I am even when I am naked and covered vomit. You can’t beat love like that. I never got to give a speech because I was too busy trying not to vomit (which would have sent me back to hospital), but I will one day. One day I will give him the speech he deserves.

By 8.30pm I was dead on my feet and went home.

In the end I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life. I wish I wasn’t so tired or so sick, but none of that mattered. The smiles you see say it all.

And I somehow managed to still get up with Anakin the next day after yet another night of broken sleep. (This time due to kicking baby and a celebratory husband and houseguest, but in the scheme of things, I’d rather be woken up by baby kicks and song than by vomit any day.)

I’ll leave you with the gallery 🙂 (click on an image to enter the gallery.)


SHE

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Thursday January 22, 38 weeks +6 days. She was still swimming on the inside.

***

Sunday January 25, 39 weeks+2 days. She came rushing out at 00.45 am and we fell head over heels in love again.

Meet our baby girl, Isis Indigo.

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1 day old, having her first sleep in the hammock.

***

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4 days old. She’s a peach. She’s absolutely perfect in every way.

***

We’re still finding our feet as a foursome and I’ve still got some healing to do, but life is good. I’m still processing the events that brought our baby girl into the world but once I do I will write her birth story and share some photos. In the mean time we’ll be busy enjoying our new family and easing our way into this new life. Posting will still be erratic for a little while as we’re still navigating our way through the early days. My heart is still expanding, my head is still trying to catch up. All I know is that right now I couldn’t possibly be happier. Unless I had a really long sleep.


On being ‘just right’

There is a strange shift in respect and boundaries as soon as a woman becomes pregnant or at least as soon as she looks pregnant. I would go as far as saying there’s an outright disrespect of the pregnant woman and her body happening and it seems to just be the norm. Personal space vanishes and you become fair game because there’s another human growing inside you. Comments, groping, nothing is sacred. Sound like it doesn’t make sense? It doesn’t.

“Oh my, you’re huge!” “You’re so big!” “You look about ready to pop! Any day now?” “Twins?” “Must be a big baby!”

Everyone’s a bloody expert on your size and the general consensus is that you’re either way too big or way too small for wherever you are in the land of gestation. You’re rarely ‘just right’. And women seem to be the ones leading this field of so-called “expertise”, probably because they’ve either been pregnant themselves or simply because they’re women. If it sounds like I’m irritated it’s because I am. In fact, I’m pissed off.

During my first pregnancy I had just gotten to a place with my body image where I was comfortable in my own skin. Years of being told that I was too skinny, had too small boobs, had this or that wrong with me was finally starting to wear off largely because I was with a man who never, not once, made me feel as if I looked anything other than just right, he even made me feel beautiful and comfortable naked. That is no small feat after years of being told the opposite.

When we excitedly expected our first baby and morning sickness came to visit I was worried about my weight, but we didn’t own scales so it wasn’t until 12 weeks that I was weighed and found out I was 47 kgs. I freaked out. No one told me there was a problem, but in my head all those “too skinny”, “anorexic” ghosts came back in a big way. So I started eating. A lot. It didn’t help that the first 20 weeks were filled with fortnightly check ups to make sure my cervix was holding (it was very short) and I felt alone, shit scared and depressed. I was studying and so my days were largely spent at home, shuffling between the kitchen and the computer. We still didn’t own scales so there was no way for me to track my weight except through my Wii fit who promptly told me I was becoming overweight because there is no pregnancy setting on the damn thing. Needless to say I stopped using that. Being of a very tiny frame in the first place I quickly gained a bump which I adored more than anything.  Except when people groped it uninvited. Around 6 months I started hearing how big I was, that it had to be twins and all that. By that stage I looked like this:

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This is me at 24+3 with Anakin. Too big? I wouldn’t say so. I kept eating. I grew out of my size 8 pants, but then again they were size 8, right? But I kept eating. Before that I also heard a lot of “you’ll be back to your normal size by the time you leave the hospital” “You’re so skinny in the first place it will all just vanish once the baby’s born” from people who knew me.  No pressure at all to lose all the pregnancy weight as soon as the placenta was born…  But then it got to a point where the comments went in another direction. And they were far from subtle or nice.

Yes, i did gain a massive amount of weight and in the process I started getting new issues about it all. No one wants to hear how huge they are. Would you go up to a plus size person and say “oh my, you’re so fat?” Why is it so different because you’re pregnant? And it was more or less constant, from strangers, from family… I mostly played along and even said it myself, but it was doing a number on me big time.

Once Anakin was born it took me ages to look anything like my regular self. The tummy didn’t go down fast and despite losing weight at what was probably a normal pace I had a long way to go. When Anakin was around 16 weeks I was just over 63 kgs, but still not looking anything like my old self. I had lost a huge amount, but my brain was so messed up from hearing how big I had been that all I saw was those extra kilos and my new mummy pouch.

Fast forward to this pregnancy. I had just started to come to terms with my new body shape and my slightly bigger size when we got pregnant again. I was 60 kgs and thought I looked ok, even normal. Long gone was the size 8 wardrobe, but I was ok with that. The bump got pretty bumpy pretty fast. Subsequent pregnancies will do that as your muscles aren’t what they used to be. My ghosts came back along with all the other drama that went down in those first weeks. Morning sickness was back with a vengeance, worse than the first time around. And as we got further along I heard myself saying things about my body that wasn’t nice at all and growing concerned about gaining weight again. And the closer we got to 20 weeks the more I started hearing how big I was.

Last weekend I got it all in one go. 25 weeks pregnant and “any day now?” “Twins?’ “Must be a big baby!” I’ve gained 7kgs so far and this was me last friday, at 25 weeks, no Photoshop, just me.

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I met the lady who runs my prenatal gym classes after that assault of unwanted opinions, a slender, super fit mid twenties lady 30 weeks pregnant and who looks amazing. She’d just been told the same thing. There is nothing remotely huge about her. Nor is there about me. We’re just right. Different pregnancies, different bodies, different babies, different everything. No woman is the same, no pregnant body is the same. And I am so tired of fighting this war with my brain about gaining weight again because I am constantly told how big I am that I can’t help but repeat it myself. We’re supposed to get bigger, we’re growing humans! Our bodies are supposed to change! There is nothing wrong with a bigger bump!

Let us feel beautiful because frankly when I look at the above image I don’t see huge or big, I see beautiful. I see life, I see happiness. But I need images like these to feel that way because as soon as I have to get dressed in the morning I find myself concerned about wearing maternity dresses because they make me look bigger and it is fucked up! I dress in things that hug the bump rather than fall off it because I just don’t know how I’ll react to the next “big” comment I hear. It’s tiresome. And it’s maintaining this messed up body image that’s etched in my brain.

I take these photos so my daughter can see what I looked like carrying her. So that she can see what we looked like when we were two bodies in one, and I take them to give evidence to myself that I am just right. And to remind myself that my pregnancies are beautiful, that they look beautiful. A body in blossom, not a body gaining weight.

Luckily I still have that man who without fail makes me feel just right. I just wish the rest of the world would stop playing the experts and instead of calling a pregnant woman big, call her beautiful.

 

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(Image taken from Hip to be Round – A Maternity Boutique)

Alternatively just shut the hell up.

 


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


Breaking silence

It’s been a bit quiet around here hasn’t it? With the exception of the 52 project there hasn’t been much going on here of late. Believe me, there’s been plenty going on, just not here.

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At first it was a matter of just not having time to write and process images as I was getting down to crunch time for my Masters degree. (Now how that all wrapped up is another story.) As you can imagine juggling being a stay at home mum with writing a thesis and creating a large body of work is a huge workload. On top of that I was slowly trying to get a micro business going of handmade kids clothes. (Still working on that one.) What little time there was left I needed to just catch my breath and to spend with my family.

But as the year went on and winter hit my silence was also grounded in other reasons. Every year, around the same time, I seem to retreat and have a bit of a stock take of my life and the people in it. And this year I finally decided it was time to let go, of old hurt and the people who had caused it for so long. I started a process of pulling some people closer while letting others go. I was growing tired of feeding certain relationships that only went one way.

And the blog became part of that process. Through sharing intimate looks into our lives I was enabling some people to feel connected and informed without having to give anything back. For the most part I’m ok with that, but for a time I needed it to stop. I needed to just let some bridges burn and stop fighting an uphill battle. So I started to hold back. A lot. Some weeks it was easy, others were hard.

But recently I’ve come to realise that I am losing more than I am winning. This blog isn’t mainly about sharing thoughts and images with you or with everybody else, it’s about us. Its main function has always been to document our journey as a family, for better and for worse. It’s to make sure there is a story for Anakin to discover and hopefully cherish as he grows older, it’s for me to remember the little things, the big things and to reflect and look back on. This is our story. This is our document.

Everything else, everyone else who reads it, enjoys it or cares about it is just a bonus. A good bonus, but not why it exists in the first place. And so as major events were unfolding I was losing by not documenting it. As was Anakin and my partner.

So I guess you could say this is me telling myself to get on with it, to get back to winning and not sit by watching burnt bridges turn to ash. There are many chapters I need to get to, things I need to process, things I feel a need to share and have wanted to share for a while, but I guess one thing stands out as needing to be said first. Of all the secrets we’ve kept, and we’ve kept it from most people, this is by far the biggest one.

 

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Our little (or not so little) baby bump is 20 weeks and kicking up a storm. We are over the moon about this little person joining our family, due late January.

 

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We weren’t planning a big announcement of any sort and it’s been nice to have such a gem of a secret, only shared with a few close friends and loved ones. And I’ve really enjoyed sharing the news with people as we see them or talk to them as opposed to shouting it from a rooftop for all the world to hear. We kept it close and personal.

But as this most likely is my last pregnancy and this blog also is this little persons’ document there are too many things to say and to photograph to keep quiet. Neither could I hide from the camera forever.

 

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So here it is. Our little big secret, not so secret anymore. And we’re loving it!!


887 days – Goodbye and thanks for all the milk

887 days. 2 years, 5 months and 5 days.

Feed time

It’s the end of an era.

For 887 days I breastfed you. And for most of that time it was a beautiful thing we shared, my body nourishing and protecting yours. One of the best choices I ever made was to keep going for as long as I thought was best, to give you what you needed until I could give it no more. We’ve had some resistance you and I, opinionated people who for some reason think it’s gone on too long. Who think it’s their business to comment on and who have no knowledge of the benefits of it all, for us both. Some have thought it was selfish, others have thought it was too selfless, but we stuck with what we wanted and believed in.

I always wondered when it would come to an end. I guess I somehow thought it would happen on its own, that you would somehow lose interest and that would be it. But you didn’t.

And lately it became uncomfortable and even painful. Those moments we shared became less and less enjoyable for me. And as much as I’ve hated to do it I’ve had to say enough with a gentle nudge so we could move closer to ending that last one we shared every day. It pains me to hear you cry and see the grief and sorrow on your face.  Even offering a million hugs won’t take away that loss, I know that, but believe me when I say I can do it no more. If I could I would.

You always were a boobies boy.  We had a good run, baby.

It’s time to say goodbye and thanks for all the milk.

 

Boobies


Norwegian pork feast and the jedi birthday

The yearly Norwegian pork feast aka Norwegian christmas happens December 24th, one day after Anakin’s birthday. So this year we spread our celebrations and our gifts over a few days so to not utterly snow the poor little man down in new things, concluding with Anakin’s 2nd birthday party a few days before New Year’s. In-between the various parties we had very quiet days, just enjoying each other, fine wine and relaxing times.  Here’s a whole lot of photos of what went down and how we rolled.  (click images to enter the gallery)

Next christmas will be a special one with hopefully a fair few Norwegians around. We’ve finally set a date for our wedding, December 13th, so for us it will be a couple of weeks of festivities of all sorts.


Captain Happy Pants

Little Captain Happy Pants,

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my little joker,

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I can hardly believe we are two days away from your second birthday.

The king of our castle

_DSC2169_webabout to turn 2.

You are a true beauty, my love.

_DSC2188_webThe most amazing person I know.

Let me pretend you’re my baby for a little while longer.

xx Mamma


Can we take back the shades of grey?

Let me start off with a nerd analogy. In an 8-bit grayscale image there can be 256 shades of grey. A 16-bit grayscale image can have as many as 65,536 shades of grey.  Then there’s 18-bit, 24-bit and… you get the picture. Point is, there’s a hell of a lot of shades of grey that you probably aren’t seeing. And even what we do see stretch a lot further than black, white and middle grey.

So how come when people talk or write about parenting and parenting styles we’re mostly presented with the typical black, white and the occasional failed attempt of 50% grey? The “mainstream” parent thinks the “attachment” parent never lets their kid cry ever, for anything, and the “attachment” parent thinks the “mainstream” parent leaves their kid to cry all the time. One claims the other is a masochistic hippy, the other a sadistic bully.

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Let me just say… Bullshit.

Can we please take back the shades of grey?

Labels are thrown around like piles of shit, some of it sticks, but mostly it just stinks. I’m not particularly into label parenting. You know, attachment, peaceful, mainstream. I call what we do Parenting Anakin. It pretty much involves doing whatever we think is best, whatever works for us and whatever we’re comfortable with. Which to me seems like the most sensible way of going about it. And I’m fairly sure that pretty much every parent is doing just that, or at least I hope they are. Sure, I admit, we probably fall into some mix camp of attachment, peaceful, gentle, la-di-da with a few toes in mainstream. But I’m so bloody tired of the wars. The “My way is better than your way. Your way is F***ed” war. Or perhaps the even worse “I’m so cool that I’ll pretend I’m not really saying anything about it only to throw out some degrading misinformed label with my next breath.”

Am I innocent in all this? Probably not. But I don’t pretend to know how people should best parent their kids. I’m passionate about parenting my own and figuring out how to best to do that. And yes, it involves things like no-cry methods, positive discipline, co-sleeping, “extended breastfeeding”, modelling behaviour and so on. Because that’s the way we like it and that’s what works for us. I read parenting books if I feel like it, I research if I want to know more about a subject and I try my best to inform myself of my options, but most importantly, I go with my instincts. But does it have to have a label? Does it have to be called natural parenting? What does unnatural parenting involve? Are there any unnatural parenting people out there? If natural parenting are all “these” things, isn’t it just terribly offensive to all those who don’t parent “that” way?

When I started researching positive discipline because I don’t believe in yelling and punishments, I was surprised to find it under the label natural parenting. I don’t think yelling is unnatural. I don’t think it’s good, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it’s natural. If we are to believe what all the names with PhD after them claim, we parent much like we were parented ourselves. I don’t know if I parent like my mother. In some ways I probably do, but in others I think our preferred methods differ a great deal.

So fine, we (as in the larger world of parents) don’t agree on a lot of things, and I applaud and welcome different opinions. But let’s not throw dirt. Sure, when someone calls people like me masochistic hippies I feel somewhat offended, not for being called a name, but for the major misconception that lies behind it and the attitude that brings it forth. These people don’t know me or how I do things. There are so many shades and degrees of this or that way of parenting. And the ball keeps rolling.

So this person thinks co-sleeping is ridiculous and that person doesn’t. There’s no reason we can’t be friends as long as we keep our parenting to our own playpen and leave the dirt throwing to the toddlers. Opinions can be shared without name calling. I don’t agree with people on a whole number of things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not friends or that we have to be uncivil to each other.

A few days ago I was reading comments on a debate around extended breastfeeding. And let me tell you it was similar to mud wrestling, just a lot less bikinis and not even remotely friendly. I have a major issue with the label “extended breastfeeding”. Who came up with that? Extended from what? Because it seems that from a year onwards that’s what people call it. Despite WHO recommending breastfeeding until the age of 2 and onwards. Isn’t it still just breastfeeding? Comments like “It’s gross and disgusting” seems so unnecessary. What do you care if I still breastfeed my son? I don’t care that this or that person formula feeds or breastfed for however many months. As long as you feed and love your kids, we can be friends.

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I’ve been wondering what it is about the western world’s need to distance ourselves from our kids. Why has it become the norm and what is it with this “if you stray from this path you will feel our pointy fingers” attitude? Seriously? But back to breastfeeding. The common answer to the question when should one stop breastfeeding is “When the child is old enough to ask for it”. Uhm, ok. This makes me wonder if the people saying that actually have kids because mine figured out how to ask for it as soon he figured out how to say anything. And the people who say a toddler nursing is gross? Just look away. What I don’t understand is why it’s anyone’s business?

I’ll give points for creativity though. The new way to express badly disguised opinions about our choice to continue breastfeeding is to ask my son “So when are you going to stop hanging off your mother’s breast?” As if he’s going to turn around and say ‘Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think that considering my age, physical and emotional needs as well as the recommendations from the WHO I’ll stop sometime after my second birthday.” Seriously? We’ll stop when we’re good and ready, thanks. Don’t worry,  you probably won’t ever see him feed.

Eeek.. my toddler loves boob!

Eeek.. my toddler loves boob!

Can we please just take back the shades of grey? Can the name calling stop? Can we step out of the labels? Parenting is all about love, there’s no room for war, not in the home and not in the bigger community.

Thanks.

Love, Always. xx Dida


Think tank – planning a future

_DSC9150_webIt’s been a strange Saturday. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air at the moment, professionally and personally. Reality has the past couple of days come back to us in a big way after our trip, both for better and for worse.

We’re in the think tank. We’re planning a future.

We’ve started house hunting, the clock on my degree has seriously started ticking and there are many plans to be made, about some very big things and some very small ones. We’ll let you in on a few of those as things become clearer.

As for tonight, our dessert experiment is waiting to be tasted, homemade strawberry ice cream made with brown sugar and popping candy. Anakin is sleeping peacefully and we’ve got a date with the late, great Peter Lehmann and one of his bottles of big, bold Shiraz.

943692_10153081308960713_1752670194_nEnjoy your weekend! xx

(Got a favourite red wine? Any new, big plans for the future? Please tell me about it!)

 

 


When there are no words

I’m supposed to be doing a million things right now, but I just can’t get something out of my head… or my heart.

What do you do when you’re faced with unimaginable grief?

The past few months things have happened that have made me cherish what I have just that much more and really cemented a perspective on things. While we complained about tantrums and broken sleep, bickered about house chores and shopping, someone was watching their little one fight for his life, and he lost.  After only just arriving, he was gone.

I can’t imagine how devastating that is. I only know that as a peripheral bystander I was shaken to my core. And just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes and my heart bleeds.

So what do you say when you’re faced with someone filled with unimaginable grief? When you don’t want to stir the waters, don’t want to cause any additional pain, but you still want to scream

I’M SO TERRIBLY SORRY!!

But sorry doesn’t even begin to cover such a tragedy, it fails on all levels, and you can find no words

of your own.

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Too Soon

This was a life that had hardly begun
No time to find your place in the Sun
No time to do all you could have done
But we loved you enough for a lifetime

No time to enjoy the world and it’s wealth
No time to take life down off the shelf
No time to sing the songs of yourself
Though you had enough love for a lifetime

Those who live long endure sadness and tears
But you’ll never suffer the sorrowing years
No betrayal, no anger, no hatred, no fears
Just love – Only love – In your lifetime.

-Mary Yarnall


The worst feeling

It’s the worst feeling. The aftermath of the angry mummy. The mummy who just had enough, who for a few moments couldn’t hold on, just couldn’t hold back. The tired mummy, the hungry mummy, the mummy who has done everything under the sun to make him happy, to get him to sleep, to fulfil his every need.

The mummy who used a loud voice, wore a scary face and made him cry. The mummy who fills with remorse and sadness, fills with self loathing. The mummy who is supposed to be the safest haven, the mummy who collapses and hates herself.

“How could you make him cry? Why couldn’t you just hold it in? Why did you do that? WHY?! YOU TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE MUMMY!!”

There is not much I dislike more than the aftermath of anger and frustration, other than the anger and frustration itself. Particularly when it’s aimed at my son.

We’ve just had one of those days. He’s had one of those days. The kind that started at 5am, the kind where he’s just unhappy and I can’t figure out why. The kind where he cries and cries a lot, no matter what I do.

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I’m sorry, my love…

I knew there was something up and that it probably wasn’t the best idea ever to take him to the shopping mall and hope to combine grocery shopping with afternoon nap with the day we were having. We’d already been through the mill a few times. Deep down I knew bad would only become worse. Yep. Stupid mummy. He cried and squirmed in the pram once there for what seemed like forever, we gave up and gave in, got him up and thought “this is bad news”. He was obviously not looking fresh or like someone who could go without his nap. While Anakin clung to me for bare life I sent my partner to do the shopping while I took him to buy a new pop up book (because he really deserved a new book today of all days…) and sat down on a bench to read it. I hadn’t had any lunch, I was hungry and thirsty, but as long as Anakin was happy it was ok. And he was for about ten minutes.

There was some big sale on at the mall and people were swarming like ants to a juicy garbage can. I tried to let Anakin walk around, but all he wanted to do was to run away, and dragging a pram after me while dodging people and watching him just didn’t work. I picked him up and all hell broke loose. Again.

I became the mother with the screaming kid. The one that just stands there holding her child, seemingly cool while the kid kicks, squirms and screams and carries on…and on…and on…and on. The whole day was peaking at that very moment.

I called my partner. “Are you done yet?! The captain is having a major meltdown. I’m dying here!”

People were staring. About a quarter of them with that look that says “I feel your pain, honey. Been there, done that. You’re doing great.” The rest with eyes of blame and annoyance. “What a terrible mother are you just standing there holding your child while he screams?” “Would you shut him up already? I’m trying to be a consumer over here!”

I wanted to scream. I could feel myself slipping. I murmured under my breath “please stop, please, just stop it.” My partner was at the register. I headed over, Anakin finally stopped. There was a statue of a dog there, i put him down so he could play with it. My partner needed to go to the vegetable shop. We followed and hopped into a plane ride for kids. He was content. My partner returned. I said “you grab him, I’ll take the groceries.” Cue more screaming.

We finally made it to the car and got out of there. It was way past nap time. I closed my eyes and my heart started sinking. I felt terrible. My eyes were stinging. I kept them closed. “Don’t cry, just please don’t cry.” I did anyway. Just a little, very quietly without anyone noticing.

A quiet moment shared today

A quiet moment shared today. You are such a beauty, my love

It was the worst feeling.

I’m only human. I’m not this superior, I can take anything, all day and I’ll never ever get angry or lose my temper mummy. But my humanity hurts, it hurts when it makes the person I love the most cry. He’s so little, he doesn’t understand what he’s really doing or why I get mad. And afterwards all I want to do is to hold him, tell him I’m terribly sorry and that mummy will never ever get angry again.

But she will.

And it will be the worst feeling.


In his arms

He held me in his arms today

Small arms, big embrace

Kissed my face time and time again

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For a few moments our roles reversed

As if he had seen something he is still too young to know

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He held me in his arms today

Held me tight and kept me safe

***

(Is there a better feeling in the whole wide world than knowing you are worthy of such love from the most precious person there is?)


My naked truth

A little while ago I posted the new Dove campaign video, Real Beauty Sketches, on my Facebook.  I was immediately infatuated by the idea behind this so-called social experiment. To be honest I found it downright moving. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you’d rather not watch it, the basic gist of it is this:

Dove got seven women of different ages and backgrounds to describe their faces and had FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora create composite sketches based on the descriptions they gave. The women were also asked to spend time in a room with strangers who were asked to get to know them, though neither knew why. These strangers were later asked to describe the women to Zamora who made another sketch based on their descriptions. The two drawings of each woman were then hung side-by-side. The difference between them were significant. The tagline of the campaign is: “You are more beautiful than you think.”

The idea, if you set aside the fact that it’s an ad for someone who in the end wants to sell you something, is brilliant. If an artist had done a similar experiment I’m sure we would all be having a whole other discussion.

Before I continue let me just say something about the images below. This is me, without any make up or photoshop, in the morning before I shower. This is my naked truth. I’m showing you this because at my most vulnerable and raw, I am still me, and I am more than my appearance and I don’t need anyone to remind me of that.

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Shortly after I posted the video some people raised some eyebrows towards the whole thing, and perhaps rightly so. Dove is apparently owned by a company that also owns Axe which a lot of people feel make ads that are terribly degrading towards women. Like for instance this one, which makes a woman out to be headless boobs. I just watched it and you know what, I wasn’t offended. Not one bit. Sure, I see where the critics are coming from and I’m not siding with Axe, but I just wasn’t offended. I actually found it kind of funny. Am I outrageous? Perhaps. Of course if you want to be offended, then this is the ad for you. Anyway, I digress.

The day after I posted the video a friend posted a link to this blog which is very critical of the campaign, and I’ll admit it does make some good points. If that’s the way you want to see it. It lingered a bit in my mind for a couple of days and here’s the thing; Do we really need an ad to tell us beauty is more than skin deep? And isn’t the message itself still speaking a fundamental truth when it says “You are more beautiful than you think”?  Now, you’re probably thinking something like “but the media is distorting the way we view ourselves and what we think beauty should be”. Yes, I agree, but you know what?

Each and every thing I feel unhappy with about myself stems from what people I know have told me about me. Not the media, but friends and relatives — and occasionally also strangers.

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When I was little I was so often accused of being both anorexic or bulimic because I was skinny it’s sickening. I was constantly trying to prove that I did indeed eat, and eat a lot, and was terrified of going to the bathroom after eating at someone’s house in case they thought I was vomiting. I was just a skinny girl. It took me years before I dared to wear skirts because I was always told my legs looked like toothpicks. I was teased for not having any boobs long before you could expect them to even be there. I never really grew big breasts, but I was forever looking down hoping that one day they would sprout and put an end to the name calling. I was teased for wearing glasses, to the point where I was cornered at school one day and bombarded with snowballs by a gang of older boys because having glasses apparently makes you an easy target. Then when I got contact lenses I was told I looked like a fish out of water. That wasn’t good enough either. I still remember sitting outside in the school yard in the sun in year 7 when someone told me I had an ugly moustache. When feeling bad about having my skin breaking out and desperately needing some comfort  I was told “yes, it’s ugly”. After I had a baby I was mistaken for being pregnant again several times because of my new mummy pouch.

I’m sure I could go on, but you get the point.

So if you asked me to describe myself to you I’m sure all of these insecurities would come out in a word here and a word there. But not everything I said would mean that I think I’m ugly. For instance, I’d say I have many grey and white hairs. That’s just a fact.  I have unruly curls by my temples.  I would say I have a broad chin. I’d say my skin is prone to break outs. I have freckles. I have a red dot on the left side of my nose. I’d say I have beginning crows feet. I’d say I have darker hair on my upper lip, that I have blue, grey eyes. A slim nose with a round tip. Thin lips, a thin face etc etc.

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I love my greys, I think they are dignified. The curls at my temples sometimes drive me crazy.  I love my crows feet because to me they say something about how often I smile. My skin sometimes makes me want to hide. I like my freckles, but if you asked me to describe myself in a matter of factly way I wouldn’t say any of these things. I’d stick to what I said above.

Because I use the words slim, thin and blue does not mean that I am “enforcing our very narrow cultural perception of “beauty”, it’s just me trying to describe myself with ordinary words while trying to be as objective as I can when talking about my own looks. Something which is not easy, I might add.

Despite my description being without any positive adjectives doesn’t mean I don’t know that beauty is more than skin deep. Of course it is. I don’t need media to tell me that. I know I am beautiful in many ways. And I am not afraid to share with you what I look like before I have a shower. I’m not afraid of my naked truth however unhappy I may be with pieces of it. And this is the message I want to pass on to my son. I want him to be able to watch an ad like the Dove ad and think, yes, I probably am more beautiful than I think because he will be. I want him to understand the difference between what we think of ourselves and what others think of us. My son thinks I’m beautiful no matter how shit I may feel about myself. My partner thinks I’m beautiful on even my worst of days, my friends think I’m beautiful because they know me and love me. Sometimes even I think I’m beautiful both within and without.

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I’m losing my trail here, but my point is this. We should be able to take the positives for their positives and not always pick them apart until they become ugly shadows of themselves. We should stop assuming we’re so stupid we need to be spoon fed, and we should stop expecting advertising of all things to be 100% politically correct. It is of greater significance how we treat each other, of what words we choose to describe each other than what the media tells us. The media is made up of people. It needs to change, this is true, but the biggest and greatest change lies with us, with you and me, and how we interact with each other. What I say about myself will shape my son’s view of beauty more than what the media says about it. If I am mindful of my words about myself and always mindful of my words about him, what the media says might not have such a big grip.

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And lastly, this is me, after I have a shower. The difference in my eyes is not so big, but hey, it’s still me.

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Monday blues

It’s been one of those Mondays. I’ve boycotted pilates, I’m about to break the “no sweets during the week” pledge and possibly also consider if my headache deserves a mix of panadol and red wine. Why not break the no wine during weekdays pledge too.

Despite waking up at the crack of dawn, missing a nap, sprouting two new teeth and waking every hour since he went to bed, this guy makes Mondays better.

_DSC5444_webHe makes every day better.