My Heart, Your Home: 2014   

Friday, 12 December 2014

2014 ~ The year that was

We find inspiration in many corners of the world, wether it be from fellow Mothers, world leaders, teachers, volunteers, friends or the woman next door. Inspiration is all around us. It is humbling to be told that you inspire another human, especially by another Mother. I have been overwhelmed by being given this title recently, an inspiration. To be the source of someone's inspiration is unexpected. As I am no-one special, I am not extraordinary, I am just a regular woman, an ordinary Mother. I spend my days balancing along the same line as we all do, walking the same roads as the rest of the world. There is no great divide between you and I, I do not consider myself a Mother above any other, I do not consider myself special, superb or overtly unique. I parent my children according to my core values, I have some areas in which I excel in and then I have others in which I fail miserably in. I do the very best I can do, and I give the very most I can give.

I began writing this blog and sharing stories of my parenting adventure as I had found myself living in Sydney with a very young child and totally isolated. I had not yet created myself a group of support, friends, people I could trust and rely on. I had only been living in Sydney for such a short while when Evelyn was born, I was suffering severe social anxiety and I was terribly lonely. So I built myself an online community and although they were not here to call upon on the days I struggled to shower, or I didn't eat until 11pm at night, or the days where all I wanted to do was cry. They were here, cheering me on and supporting me from the sidelines. I began to feel connected to other women, other Mothers and I learnt that I was not the only one who was having those days.

As my life evolved and my family grew, so did my community here. I have connected with more Mothers online than I actually did not expect. We have shared stories, we have supported each other, we have offered advice. I have been thanked, continuously for sharing my stories. But my reality is, I am no more deserving of your thanks, than you are of mine. 

Over the years I have shared some of the biggest struggles that I have been faced with. Evelyn's hair pulling, her lack of sleep. Zalia's reflux. Asher's sleep. My depression and anxiety. I have shared some of the most memorable moments I have been faced with, my pregnancies and my births, the story of my love with Anthony. I have shared childhood stories, dreams and goals, my grief and fears, my happiness. This blog has been a safe dwelling, a place I know I am able to speak freely, openly and honestly. It has surprised me to know that I have people who choose to listen, choose to read and to respond and I have been forever grateful for that open communication. I have grown so much over the years, this blog is testament to that.

This past year I have been unusually quiet here. This past year has been a monumental year of my life. I have been faced with many challenges and I found myself coming here and only writing about the negative. So I decided not to share all of those stories. I decided that I needed to find a place where I could accept those negative moments but also recognise the positives in the year. Because there have been many. So while I have been told, many a time, that I am inspiring some of you, I have not been inspiring myself. This year I have been trying to survive with my head above water. It has been a balancing act. It has been a dance. Two steps forward and one step back.But, as it is the end of the year, it is time to recap on what has been, both the negative and the positive. 

Having found out that we were pregnant with our third child at 11 weeks gestation at the end of 2013 was an unexpected discovery and one that took me by huge surprise. It wasn't that a third child was not in our plans, but rather that I was battling a very young child who was suffering awful reflux and I was still reeling from that. We had planned a third child, just not so soon. But once Zalia had begun to sleep, once I began to sleep, I could see clearly that this pregnancy was a blessing. If not then, than when? 

I took Evelyn to Tresillian as her sleeping was completely out of control. They tried to help. They suggested forcing a day nap, which in turn had her awake until 2am the next morning. They suggested no day sleep (der!). They sent us on our merry way saying there wasn't a thing they could do to help.

Not long after this I had to rush Evelyn to emergency as she had swallowed a $1 coin. She was gagging and was pale as a ghost. She ceased her dancing, her singing, her happy and in her place I had a child who was too scared to move for every time she did she began to vomit. We waiting in the hospital for hours and were finally taken to ER where she was put under general and had the coin removed. Watching my baby go under was very traumatic. A month later and she had to return to hospital to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. 

We found out that we were having a baby boy! We were both excited, for many different reasons!

Evelyn started Kindy. It has been one of the best decisions I have made for her to date, She has learnt, grown and evolved completely in the time that she has been there. 

I re-enrolled in Uni, studying a bachelor of social welfare. I received two credits and a pass this year. I have felt accomplished, successful and proud. I have taken the past 5 months off to focus on getting some sort of sleep in my home and plan on returning in the new year.

Zalia had high temperatures for over a week and there was no obvious reason for them. I took her to and from the drs and they were unable to tell me anything. Once it hit the almost two week mark I decided to take her to the hospital. While we were there they need to get a urine sample from her so attempted to insert a catheter. She was highly unimpressed and I was having to pin her on to the bed while they kept trying. In the end we took her home and I managed to catch wee in a bag and we found that she had a bladder infection. 

I started to build a great foundation of friendships and support and in doing so I have been able to manage my social anxiety, limit bashing myself with doubt and angst and boost my confidence in standing my ground in this world.

I began to a lot of babysitting work, which unexpectedly boosted my self confidence and helped me to believe that I was a likeable person.

Asher was born. He was incredible and beautiful and swept us all of our feet. His birth was beautiful and his introduction to our family has been seamless.

When Asher was 3 weeks old, Evelyn and I decided to bounce on the trampoline. While we were bouncing she took a stack and didn't get up. I knew it was serious, I suspected a dislocated knee or a torn muscle. I did not expect a broken femur but that is what we were presented with. She spent 7.5 weeks in a full leg cast and she blew me away with her resilience, strength and bravery. 

My Sister was married. It was a beautiful and romantic day. I was proud to play a part in her wedding and I am blessed with a wonderful Brother In Law.

I took up some casual waitressing work with a local catering woman. I look forward to those nights of work more than I expected I would.

Zalia decided to stick a small plastic bead up her nose. Which I thought was hilarious, until it disappeared. I had to rush her over to emergency and have them show me how to blow it out of her nose. Weeks later Zalia was playing on a friends trampoline and she ran full pelt at the open gate of the net, not realising, and she fell head first out onto the ground. I watched helplessly and seriously believed that if she hadn't have snapped her neck and died that she was going to be severely paralysed. She walked away with a chipped tooth and a scratch on the head. 

On the same day I was diagnosed with pneumonia. 

Evelyn continued her battle with sleep, only very rarely falling asleep before 10pm at night. Asher began to wake every 40 minutes and only be fed back to night, always sharing the bed with me. I was severely sleep deprived, completely sick and found myself on the way to the Drs to check my lungs as they had become worse, I had only Asher in the car with me and managed to walk inside without him. 

On that day I called tresillian, I called my therapist and I told my friends just how bad things have become. I decided to become more open with where I was so that if I wasn't sound of mind, clear thinking, then everyone around me would be which is when I started sharing openly here (and on Facebook) about my depression and anxiety. 

I took Asher to tresillian. It was amazing, I walked in there and felt like the world opened up and gave me a big warm hug for an entire week. We came home and Asher slept faultlessly, until he became sick with ear infections and he is now on a downward spiral.

I was clinically diagnosed my a psychiatrist with severe anxiety and moderate PND. This scared me to have an actual diagnosis.

I had a beautiful community of woman turn up on my door step each night for two weeks delivering hot, home cooked meals. I spent most nights afterwards in the most joyous tears at just how kind the world can be to a perfect stranger. It blew my mind. (Thank you Sonja!).

Zalia has been seeing an ENT and today was booked in to her grommets in and adenoids removed mid January next year with pending removal of her tonsils after she is two.

I am stronger, braver and more courageous than ever before. I am more honest and open about my feelings, my struggles and my happiness. I have more best friends than I actually ever realised was possible. My relationship is healthy, even though we live on barely any sleep. I am happy. I am overwhelmingly happy. The year has been huge and I have struggled, I will continue to struggle. But I have leaped and cleared each and every single hurdle with my family in tact, my friendships stronger and a clear mind. I have proven to myself that I am a wonderful Mother, I care about my children more than I knew. 

I love hard, I live honestly and I am forever self evolving.
I am living a successful life, I am excelling and I am failing but I am learning.
I am pretty okay with that!

Happy 2014 and may the next year be bigger, brighter and bolder,
thank you for sharing your lives with me and allowing me to share mine with you

Monday, 8 December 2014

What is anxiety?

It is waking up without tolerance. 
It is anger without a reason.
Its being lonely, surrounded by people.
It is fear without boundaries.

Its doubting your friendships and connections.

It is questioning the unanswerable, answering the unquestionable. 
It is living without living.
It is breathing without peace.

It is sleeping away the days.

It is laying wakeful at night.
It is believing you are unworthy.
It is punishing yourself with criticisms and guilt.

It is in the middle of the night,

or random throughout the days.
It is a pain in the chest and stomach,
constricting, panicking and exhausting

It is worry and nervousness.

It is isolation.
It is misunderstood and inexplainable.
It is not your friend.

It is a lack of self belief.

It is a missing piece.
It is a constant battle.
It is always with me.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Tresillian - The sleep School

Hi, my name is Jess and I am a sleep-a-holic. Its been three and a half years since my last sleep. I haven't been able to contain my cravings or limit my desire. I spend my days waiting until I can have the next hit, but I have three little people who have made it their life mission to steal it away from me. 

I havent spoken much about Asher's sleep patterns, mainly because my biggest struggle has been watching Evelyn's nightly battle to head off to sleep. But the combination of three children and there constant fight with sleep had finally taken its toll on me and it became apparent that Asher was, in actual fact, the worst of them all. 

I had a week, about a month ago, where this sleep deprivation had wreaked havoc with my body and my mind. A throat infection that I had been fighting for months had travelled its way down and caused pneumonia and all I really needed was to sleep for a week, which was impossible. I was completely exhausted that I began to forget things. Things as simple as what day it was, my shoes, drink bottles, commitments I had made, important events in friends lives. But on this particular day, I forgot the most important of all the things. I had dropped the girls off at a girlfriends house so that I could go to the Drs and have my chest checked. I drove to the  Drs, I got out of the car, into the waiting room, sat down and sighed relief that I didn't have the children with me. It was then that I realised that I did actually have a child with me, only I didn't. I had left him behind in the car. I ran out to the car and had retrieved him in less than 5 minutes. But, I had forgotten him.

It was at that point that I realised just how broken this lack of sleep had made me. I never thought I would be the person who could forgot my child. But there I was, sitting in the Drs waiting room, in absolute shock. So while I was in the Drs I broke down and asked for a referral to tresillian and then I held my breath and waited for admission. Two and a half weeks, I only had to survive two and a half weeks.

On Monday the 17th I packed my packs and Asher and I left the family to spend four nights learning how to sleep. Walking into Tresillian (willoughby) was like walking into your Grand Mothers house. It felt like a big warm hug. The nurses greeted us with smiles, they were gently spoken and empathetic. We sat down and went through a welcome interview, telling them about what our patterns and habits were. I advised that he wakes every 30-40 minutes over night. I wasn't worried too much about his day sleeps. But his nights were an issue. We had been surviving the nights by pulling him into bed with me, feeding him and then co-sleeping. It was the only way I could ensure that I, and the house, would be able to get some sleep. 

So when Monday night arrived and he went to sleep without so much as a complaint, I worried that I would appear to be lying. However, within 30 minutes he started to wake. Waking four times between 7 and 8:30pm. He finally settled for a short two hours and then the party began. I was so shocked by just how bad it actually was. He was loud, he screamed, he was wide awake. At 3am the nurse removed him from my room and tried to settle him in the common room while I tried to get some sleep. I slept from 3am until 5am, when Asher was due for a feed. It was horrible, I was emotional.

Night two, we had the same experience. Asher was again removed from my room, just so I could get an hour or two sleep. The nurse, Michelle, who looked after him was so gentle and beautiful, towards both myself and to Asher. I felt safe and comfortable to return to my room and get some sleep. 

I woke the next morning and I was truly disheartened, I could not imagine that this was ever going to change. That this was to be my life, from here on in. It was so defeating. The nurse that morning readmitted me to return the following week, as Asher was just so impossible. Night three rolled around and I felt so extremely anxious and apprehensive. I didn't want to tackle ANOTHER night. 

I put him to bed at 7pm on night three and I sat on the lounge and I couldn't help but I cry. The hope and faith I had put into the magic that is Tresillian was quickly leaving me. I was surrounded by others Mothers who were just short of Angels, they were loving and supportive and encouraging. I took myself to bed in preparation for another night of torture. Asher woke as I entered the room and I gave him a bottle. It took him 1 and a half hours to settle. I drifted off into a nervous sleep and when I was woken by Asher's cry, I couldn't help but think "here we go again". Until I looked at the clock and it was 5am! Amazing! I was all smiles!

Night four came around and I found myself convinced the night before was just a fluke. But, he proved me wrong. When went to bed at 7:30pm, he woke at 2am and then slept until 7:30am! We woke up and had some play time and he rolled from back to tummy for the first ever time. I was able to cancel our re-admittance and come home positive that we will be okay!

Tresillian is the place that sleeping angels are made from! The support, the company, the sleep, the kindness, it is incredible. I left there feeling calm, confident and strong. I will be forever grateful to the women who supported me through what was such a highly emotional and physically draining week. I will remain confused about what we really did to change his habits. Other than stretching out his feed times and his wake times, I really do not know what the magic cure was! 

Last night, all three children were asleep at 10pm (the girls sharing a room for the very first time and Asher in his big man cot!). Anthony and I crawled into bed at 11pm and we weren't woken until 5:30am. 

Hi, my name is Jess and I am a sleep-a-holic and I think I may just find my hit in the next coming days!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Passing ships in the night

The thing about having a child who doesn't go to sleep until after you wish to be in bed yourself is that it means you do not get even a moment to yourself. Not a moment without a child chatting in the background or asking for something or going to the bathroom. You do not get the time to spend with your partner, or eat a meal in peace. You are forever fending off questions, nurturing their souls, losing your temper. The thing about going from waking moment, to slumber (and multiple times in between) is that you forget to nurture your own soul, feed your own heart and care for your own self. 

I knew when I started having children that my life would change dramatically, I knew that I would sacrifice my time, to have shared time. I knew that my hobbies and interests would take a back seat for a short while. Having children, a family, was so much more important to me than all of those "sacrifices". However, what I was not aware of is that I wouldn't know myself outside of my connection to my children. I wasn't aware that my body would not exist without the attachment of a child, from the moment I rolled out of bed, until I rolled back in. 

I have found myself in a situation where I am unable to decipher where I, and the things I love to do, begin. Where my children and their demands end. I spend my days living on another planet, giving my every ounce of energy to my children, yet waiting for the moment I can go to sleep. I miss being able to recharge by writing, or drawing, or being with Anthony. I miss being able to reenergise by being me.

Anthony and I built our relationship on the foundation of bottles of wine and late night talking. I was seduced by our conversations. We fell in love over a glass of red wine. We danced to common music. We would watch the sun set and the moon rise. We would connect over beautiful food. Our love thrived with each others silences and it grew with our exchange of words. Oh how I miss being able to have an uninterrupted meal, a glass of good wine and hours of conversation with the man who taught me how to be. I miss being able to sit in his company and feel the strength of our love forming, growing, developing. There is something to be said for just being with each other, to feel each other. 

Life with three extremely young children has robbed us of being with each other. We are like passing ships in the night, giving each other the occasional nod of support as we swap to settle another child. A groan of sympathy when another child wakes at the darkest hours of the night. A sigh of acknowledgement when we both collapse on the lounge in a heap to attempt to eat dinner. Conversation revolves around our plan to survive the next 24 hours and then it comes to a halt and we merely survive, side by side. There is no romance, there is limited connection, there is zero to none conversation and there is just no time. 

We are surviving these early years of parenthood, the very best we know how. We are stronger than ever before, even if we are not connected like before, because we know that at the end, one random night, our children will all sleep. They will sleep and then we will sleep and we will have our very own family. A family that we created, we raised, we nurtured and we grew, all on our very own.

On that day, we will high five each and we will know that those nods of encouragement, the sighs, the nights of passing ships, were all worth while

as we will have the rest of our lives to be, to converse and connect, to fall in love over the sounds of our children laughing, and sleeping.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sleep... Please!

I am by no means leading a life any different to the next person. My situation is no harder, or easier, than yours. My struggles are not comparable to yours and my triumphs are no bigger than yours. We are all living a life that is full of its very own, individual hurdles, bumps and valleys. On some days we cruise through on autopilot without a single hiccup and on other days we have to accelerate and hit the brakes constantly.

Lately I feel like I have been taking a back seat in living my life. When I wake up in the morning I feel like I am scraping myself up off the ground, I drag myself out to the living room with my knuckles dragging along behind me. I manage to prop myself up on the lounge and feel like I have to hold my eyes open for the rest of the day. My company is poor, my speech is slurred, my brain is mush and my tolerance is low.

There is very minimal sleep in this household. For those of you who have followed me and my blog for quite some time you would know that I have struggled with Evelyn getting to sleep for two years now. She gave up her day naps two years ago. She pulled all her hair out of her head two years ago and we had to shave her head and remove her dummy at the same time. For two very long, very arduous, very straining years I have battled with her to go to sleep. We have tried each and every approach. I took her to tresillian a year ago where they sent me on my way with a wish of good luck. But the problem still remains. She will not go to sleep before 10pm at the very earliest. Some times she is awake until midnight. She is up multiple times throughout the night and she wakes early. 

Evelyn is a beautiful, calm and timid child but her lack of sleep is beginning to strangle that girl. She has become clumsy, grumpy and very intolerant. She is suffering and we are suffering. In a months time I will be taking her to a paediatrician, finally, to have her prescribed melatonin and in the mean time I will hold my breath and clutch at every single ounce of hope I have left that the melatonin will be the answer to my very desperate prayers.

I have three children now and this of course means that there is more chances of being woken throughout the night. I don't think that I am awake any more than anyone else, but with my children, the chances obviously become much higher. Zalia tends to sleep quite well. I give her a bottle to go to sleep, this is not ideal at all, but for the meantime it is working. She mostly will drift off to sleep and she tends to be the one that will remain asleep. But if she is teething, which she unfortunately is quite badly at the moment, she does manage to wake up several times.

At this point in time, however, my biggest battle is my little man Asher. He and I managed to see every single hour of the night from 11pm onwards. He wakes every 40 minutes. He feeds back to sleep and then he wakes again. He doesn't scream as long as he is with me, not like Zalia used to as a bub, so I have always felt like I should be grateful. He is chilled out and easy and quiet. But he is awake and if I return him to his bed awake, he does scream. I don't feel so grateful anymore, I feel a wreck. However, in one weeks time I will be taking him for a week long stay at Tresillian (the NSW sleep and behavioural clinic) and I could just about back flip with excitement!

For two very solid years I have not been able to have a moment to myself within my own home. For two very solid years I have a child up with me until I go to sleep, sometimes she will even be awake after I fall asleep. I wake with the children. And now I have a child with me, awake, every single 40 minutes of the night. There isn't a moments break. Not a second to catch my breath. Or to sort my thoughts. 

It is exhausting and challenging. I love all three of my children, to no end, but I would really like to have just an hour to myself before passing out in bed. I have been dealing with this situation on my own (with Anthony of course) and I believe that I manage to do it quite well. I have moments where the stress of it piles up on top of me and I can find myself so mad. But I ensure that Anthony and I get a night away to try and recharge every now and then. Without that, I think we would both snap.

We carry this family basically on our own, with no help from the outside. Within the last 12 months I have managed to surround myself with some beautiful friends who do step in and they take the girls for me when they see me beginning to drown (and I am ever so grateful). I am okay with carrying the responsibility of my children, but sometimes I do wish that I had that family to fall back on. Someone to turn up on my door and send me to bed. Sometimes I do find myself envious of the people I know who have that support that I so badly crave.

I am okay, I am resilient, I am capable of raising my children and my family solely on my own. But sometimes, as crazy as it sounds, I wish that I wasn't okay. Sometimes I wish that I could scream that I am not okay and know that I had that family to step in and take over, to help and support. To clean my house, or wash my clothes, or even make me a meal. Sometimes I crave that attention. 

My situation is no worse, no harder, no easier or no better than the next Mummy, we all have our battles and it is always relevant to the lives we lead at the time. I am not competing with anyone, or trying to overshadow anyones situations. I am just a great big mess of no sleep and I really needed to scream from the rooftops that right now, this blows!

Good Night World!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Its a wild world

There is a chaos in my home which is both beautiful and wild. There is a noise, musical yet piercing. A feeling, one of extraordinary love and of extreme desperation. There is a mess, one I look at and see that happiness was created yet I look at and feel defeat. This is a home of contradictions, I am carrying many twisted emotions, multiple confusions.

I have been a Mother for three and a half years and within that time I have succeeded and I have failed as triumphantly as any given Mother. I am no one special, just a young girl who carried a child and birthed her into this world. I have raised her with a nurturing heart and I have loved her with passion and intensity. I have fought darkness, I have survived it. I became a young woman who grew her family by two more; who have joined my home and bought with them love, fun, chaos, challenges and beauty. Over the past three and a half years I have grown, blossomed, changed. I have risen and yet I have fallen only to rise again.

Motherhood has shown me corners of the world that I wasn't aware existed. It has shown me a true and beautiful happy. It has given me unconditional and incomprehensible love. It opened my eyes to a dark and twisted depression and it has given me a strength that can overcome it all. 

While I carry my three precious babies within my heart, along with the incredible love I have for each of them, today I carry a heaviness. I have come so far over the past 18 months and yet I feel as though I am at the beginning again. I look at the chaos within my home, the noise, the mess and I feel as though I have fallen short. My time is spread so thin, can they all know how I love them so? Our lives are so busy, full of demands, needs, spills and falls, kisses and cuddles, how can I be there for them all equally? 

This weekend I watched my kind and gentle heart, Evelyn lean down and cuddle her baby brother. A beautiful moment. Until he shrieked with fear and pain, her cuddle was merely a mask for the set of teeth she sunk into his hand. Once I realised what had happened I had to practise so much constraint not to smack her and scream. Rather sending her to her room and hoping to find my cool. I was in absolute shock and terror of what she had just done. 

Zalia, my wild and spirited girl, has been learning how to stand her ground. Shadowing her elder sister and projecting her treatment down onto younger children. She is loving, of course she is, but she is experimenting with asserting her independence. She requires me to hover above her, showing her what is acceptable and what is not and her reactions are huge, they are heightened. 

With my beautiful Son Asher, comes the common demands of a breast feeding baby. The cries to be held close to my beating heart, the fight for sleep, the angst in not enough sleep, not enough milk, too much wind. He is a beautiful baby, a wonderful child. However mixed with the demands of two older children, I find I can quickly become overwhelmed by how I can tend to all of their needs. 

I adore all of my children and my life brings me great happiness. I am proud of my family and incredibly proud of myself. There is love, great love. But today there is this heaviness that I have been unable to lift for some time.

I find myself at the very ledge, disappointed in how I have been managing my time with my children. Disgusted in the state of my home. Saddened by how my children are behaving to earn my attention. Motherhood is hard, it is challenging. When you think you have control, the reigns slip and you are taken on a wild ride. 

I am riding out this wildness, trying to cling to hope, trying to keep on top but I fear my head is about to slip under these pounding hooves. I fear I am about to be flattened by the incredible weight and pressure. 

Won't someone pass me the reigns, please let me get my foot back in the stirrup and get back up...

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Welcome Earth Side, Asher Brian

On Friday night, the 20th of June, I could feel in the depths of my body that it was time for you to arrive safely in my arms. As far as I was concerned, Daddy would not be returning to work on the Monday and our family was going to grow by one. We were going to grow by one more beating heart, another smiling face, ten little fingers and ten little toes. My very own son.

As the weekend drew to a close on Sunday night I still found myself holding you in the safety of my womb but there was still a determination within me that this night was going to be our last night as a family of four. I had been feeling tightenings across my stomach for days now and on this night, something felt different. I did not want to say the words out loud, I did not want to interrupt your concentration, your journey into the world. Before wrapping myself up in the depths of my doona for a night of sleep, I found myself readying the house for labour, packing my bags for hospital. I found myself waiting. Waiting for life to begin. I crawled into bed just after midnight and drifted off into an impatient sleep.

45 minutes later and I awoke to an intensity that would not leave me. I was sure that this was the beginning, however this intense tightening was not slowing down, five minutes had passed and the pain was becoming more intense. I made my way to the bathroom in shock and confusion. Then took to bed again telling Daddy I must just have an upset stomach. Laid my head down to rest again when another tightening began. No, this was it. You were just making sure I was awake and ready. You were coming. I had a job to do today. 

I moved out to the lounge room and I began to find my positions that would help be to be more comfortable with each tightening. As each sensation hit my body, I knew that you were peeling back another layer of my cervix to work your way closer to me. We were very calm, quiet and peaceful. The house was dark, lit only by fairy lights. I found my position on the ground in front of the lounge and I timed our sensations. They were already 5 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds and rapidly becoming longer and closer together. 

After two hours I began to feel pressure within my pelvis and decided it was best to call on Bev to watch your sisters and Emma to document your journey. Within half an hour they were both at our door. I remained calm, breathing and groaning my way through your movements. Chatting and drinking teas in your breaks. Bev took herself to bed and I focused. Still extremely calm and a little deterred by the calmness, questioning wether this was really our moment. I put 'House Husbands' on the television as a distraction and a comfort. But before I could invest any interest into it I decided it was time to take ourselves to the hospital.

So Daddy and I made our way across the road, stopping on several occasions to be allow my body to feel you. When we made it to the hospital the tightenings became much stronger and I begged to get into the bath. From the moment I immersed my body into that all encompassing warm water my mind and body calmed. Before long, the torturous feelings I was feeling grew less and less. I was back to just moaning through the feelings, rather than the primitive noises I was beginning to make. Something wasn't quite right. The bath was slowing us down, the bath relaxed me too much and my body became closed down to the idea of labour. I was working against you, or you were working with me? We were too relaxed. For several hours I waited in the bath, hoping that things would change. I really wanted to deliver you in the calmness of the water. But as with most things planned, this was not meant to be. 

As the sun rose, so did I. I removed myself from the water and I laid on the bed to check my progress. We had not moved from when we first arrived, still at 5 centimetres. The midwives offered to break our waters, to which I agreed. Before I was even able to stand up from the bed after the procedure I was hit with wave after wave of sensations, tightenings, intensity. I could not find a 10 second break between contraction to catch my breath. I lost my calm. I was rolling off the bed onto a mattress on to the ground, trying to stand to gather myself only to collapse to ground again. I could not find my centre and I began to beg for relief, screaming at Daddy that I cannot do this, please get me help. As I started to vomit, I lost every inch of faith I had in myself and I requested an epidural. I couldn't catch my breath in order to breath through these moments.

The midwives attempted to give me a cannula to prepare me for the epidural but I was unable to stay still, rolling and vomiting. After what felt like a lifetime, but was in actual fact mere moments, they checked my progress and advised there would not be time. Within an hour of breaking my waters, you were ready to make your way through the birth canal. In that moment, I finally found my breath, my centre. I propped myself up on the bed and with sheer will and determination I knew that I could do this. That we could do this. I took a moment to connect with you, a moment to build up my strength and then you and I worked together and we pushed.

Our pushing was magical. It was primal. It was animalistic. It was raw. I had fight and you had strength. I had determination and you had love. It was time, after 9 months of growing, building, creating, loving and bonding, it was our time to see each other. You, tiny and naked, wailing and searching for me, your Mumma. Me, exhausted and exhilarated, with arms wide open to embrace you. We pushed, we fought hard, we connected and within less than 5 minutes, within 4 huge, powerful and inspiring movements you were in the hands of the midwives, in the air before me. You were tiny, you were man, you were mine.

I saw you and my body beamed with an energy full of love, pride and adoration. We did it little man. You and I, we were incredible. You were the most beautiful sights of a boy I have ever laid my eyes on. You were fair of hair, you were small of build, you were loving of soul. You looked at me and you looked at your Daddy and there was no doubt that you knew us and you loved us completely and intensely. You were placed, your bare skin, on to my bare skin and in that moment you imprinted on my soul. In that moment my life became yours, my heart begun to beat with yours. In that moment you made me the Mother to a Son. To my son.

To my darling Son, I love you with the utmost strength. A love that is indescribable. It will not falter, it will not sway, it only grows with each look, smile and kiss. 

Asher Brian 
Born at 9:30am, June 23rd
8 pounds - 3.6kgs
50 centimetres

*All photos were kindly taken and provided by the very beautiful Emma from ten little toes photography*

Friday, 12 September 2014

Is three children ridiculously hard?

Asher is 12 weeks old next Monday and I don't feel like I have time to even breathe. So much has happened, so much I would love to share with you, that I plan on sharing with you. But sadly, the reality of actually being able to sit down and string words together to form a sentence, a story, just does not exist. 

I know there are many of you who are waiting for me to share our birth story. I do intend to. It is coming. I promise. But for now, I am just waiting for the day that I can actually think straight as our birth story is precious and beautiful and it deserves more than just a mumbled, incohesive ramble of words. Which, I apologise, the following may very well be!

Life has become extremely busy, in a way that I was completely unprepared for. I finally understand how people rarely watch tv, or don't get the chance to sit down, or say they are on the go from dawn until dusk. Because I honestly do not stop, from the minute I roll out of bed, to the minute I roll back in.  I am trying to raise three beautiful, but extremely young and completely dependent children, while maintaining a home (kind of), ensuring healthy (enough) eating, completing a university degree, building and maintaining friendships and helping my relationship remain steady (if not, grow). It is intense, it is full, it is completely and totally exhausting but it is amazing! In amongst all of that I seem to have lost my passion for words. Wether it is because my head is so full and jumbled, or if I am no longer wired to enjoy writing my stories, I am not sure yet. So please excuse any of the above, or the following, words that just do not flow like they used to!

I have been asked by people, both through social media and "in real life", if having three children is 'ridiculously hard'. So that is my reason for coming here and writing today. I wanted to share my thoughts on that question and show you my reality. 

Is life ridiculously hard having three children?

Let me start first about how I feel about my three children. My eldest Daughter, Evelyn, is funny! So truly funny, she is honestly a laugh a minute. She is quirky and unusual. Not like many other young girls I know. She is quiet and reserved. The kind of girl who stands back and watches her surroundings before she inserts herself. She is unconfidently, confident. Always needs her Mumma close by, but always willing to give life a go. She is beautifully kind and she is a genuine and loyal friend. She always asks about her friends, after seeing them she tells me how much she loves them, she worries for them if they run too far from their mums, she is concerned if they hurt themselves. She is a lover. She is my kind, gentle, loving and soft heart.

My second Daughter, Zalia, is wild. She is going to bring great adventure to my life. She is completely cheeky, follows anything naughty with a big, toothy smile, that makes you instantly forget about the incident. She is stubborn. Throws the worlds biggest tantrums if she does not get her way. She is insanely protective. If anyone so much as comes near her Brother or looks like they may hurt her Sister or Mum, she will attack them. She is affectionate, gives cuddle after cuddle, kiss after to kiss, to her loved ones and to strangers.

My Son, Asher, is happy. He spends his days smiling and cooing. He follows me, his sisters and his Daddy, around the room at all times. Never taking his eyes off us. He is loving, in a different way to his sisters. He is easy. Only ever cries over hunger. He is relaxed, allowing his sisters and all their friends to climb all over him with kisses and cuddles, he never has a complaint.

To spend my days in the company of these three children, who are so completely different and yet so the same, is an absolute honour. I love my time in their company. They teach me so much, about them, about me, about life and what is important. I get to spend my days filled with gummy smiles, tooth smiles, and big beautiful smiles. I am able to watch them grow and learn. I am the centre of their universe and as a result I feel the full of effect of their love. It is the most wondrous thing. 

So is it ridiculously hard? Spending my days with them is fun and wild, challenging and rewarding. Our days are full, from the very first wakening eyes to the last sleepy ones, of demands, tantrums, screaming, whinging, smiles, laughs. It is completely intense. But my days with THEM, no, I do not think it is ridiculously hard and I would have another in a heartbeat if we could. 

BUT... trying to be on top of the rest of life? Yes! It is insanely hard and I have not yet mastered any other aspect of our lives. I am ashamed to admit a lot of what goes on here, but I have always had a strong belief in being honest here. So I am going to admit the ugly truths. The washing? It piles up for two weeks and I get down to our last pairs of underwear before I remember I need to be washing. The after dinner clean up? Once I have removed them all from the table, into their baths or showers, dried and dressed them, put them into bed with a story and then started on our own dinner I actually forget about the discarded dinner underneath the dining table. It often isn't until the next day where I scan the room and all of its mess and I see the crumbs (sometimes meals) laying on the carpet. 

The bathrooms? That should be cleaned every week? Forget about it! Our bedroom? That place that should be our sanctuary? It is our place of hoarding! All the clothes that the kids have outgrown have been thrown in there to be stored away and I just havent had the time to tackle it! Our backyard which we intend on growing our own vegetables in? It is a pig sty! Covered in weeds and dead plants.


Finding the time and the motivation to attack all of these things that need dealing with, while raising our children, studying, trying to get some time to ourselves, giving our children a life outside of the house, it has been impossible. I have spent the last 12 weeks (and then some) humiliated at the state of our home. Every time a friend visits I feel the need to apologise and explain. It is unbearable! I spend a lot of my time feeling like I just don't add up, I don't meet the requirements of a stay at home Mum. 

But what I am learning to accept is that something has to give and I would prefer to spend my time rolling around the ground in fits of laughter with my three wonderful, happy and fed children. I would prefer to have my house suffer than my children suffer. 

Having three children, is challenging and busy, but it is wonderful. The hardest part that I find myself struggling with the children themselves, is trying to get them all into the car for a quick stop somewhere. It has become a bit of an unwritten rule that I will not put them in and out of the car if the occasion does not match the effort. We do not go for a quick shop, we go for a month shop. We do not go for a coffee, we go for multiple teas. I will not take them for a swing, I take them to the park, with a bike track and walking track. I will not leave this house for a 5 minute chat, it will be hours. 

All in all, it is a wonderful, beautiful ride that requires my utmost attention and energy. It is embarrassing, yes, to have people see the state of my home, or my appearance. But it is worth it when I see Asher's eyes never leaving mine, or Zalia's arms reached out to embrace me in one of her intense cuddles, or hear Evelyn tell me "I love you so much Mummy, you're my best friend".

How can that be hard?

Monday, 19 May 2014

The power of me

When Zalia was born 13 months ago my entire life was thrown in to a spin. There I was with one beautiful two year old and a lovely, bountiful newborn baby girl who was healthy. We were all healthy and alive and well. Except, I wasn't really ever well, not mentally. Once Zalia began to steal my sleep and scream at me for hours, upon days, upon weeks, I soon woke up to realise this fact.

I wasn't coping. I had a child whom I loved so deeply and so strongly, yet I held a sense of resentment toward her. I just needed her to be okay, needed her to sleep, needed her to no longer scream at me. I spent months curled in a ball in hysterical tears, I hid in the dark, I walked the streets for hours upon hours. I avoided people yet when I saw them, I didn't let them see how dark my eyes had become. I wished away the days so that Zalia could be better and I would magically be better too. It would all be better once she was better.

But it wasn't. I soon learnt that everything hadn't been "better" for a very long time. I hadn't felt any true emotions, nothing outside of anger and anxiety. I'd fallen from a happy, excitable and strong person to becoming a closed, shy and timid person. I was scared of crowds, scared of people, terrified of judgement, lonely within myself and I never felt like I could escape this cloud that was slowly strangling me. When I couldn't feel true happiness, or true sadness, irregardless of the sadness and happiness that surrounded my life, I decided that it was time to make a change. 

This past month I have found myself tangled in so many emotions. Absolute happiness. Complete gratitude. Deep sadness. Debilitating guilt. Heart wrenching disappointment. Total amazement. My days have been filled with the most amazing moments I have experienced in a long while, yet tainted with some of the most confusing and saddening. I have been overwhelmed by all these very contradicting emotions. Tonight as I sat in the back yard with my bare feet planted firmly in the grass, trying to ground myself, I thought back over the past 12 months. 

With the patience and support of Anthony, and my girls, I have walked a journey that has turned my life around. I have stepped back from everything that was pulling me down and I spent a lot of time, solo, re-evaluating myself and my life. I made goals. I dreamt. I made decisions. I internalised and I found my reasons for wanting my life to change so I did... I changed.

I released the ties to what was making me feel like I didn't deserve to be happy. I stepped away from the expectations that other's had on me, so that I could live up to my own expectations. I turned my back on the guilt, as much as I could. I limited my exposure to all negative energy and I drew on the well of life that I had found within myself.

I focused all my energy on my family, because they are the ones who love me every day, unconditionally and unrelentingly. So I blocked out the rest of the world and I spent months just being with Anthony and my children. In that time I decided that I wanted to give them someone to be proud of, someone that would fill their chests with butterflies, someone who would inspire them. 

So I enrolled myself in University to study a Bachelor of Social Welfare, an industry that I have always been passionate about. A degree that will give me the ability to support, care and nurture young children and women who don't have any support, care of nurture in their lives. My application was accepted and I dove right into my studies. I read, summarised and researched every week. I submitted three assignments and I have just completed my very first unit. Now I wait for the study materials to arrive for my next unit. I am full to the brim of self pride, confidence and utter amazement. In myself, yes. I could not be any more amazed in myself for actually pulling that off while pregnant with children. I did it, for me and my family, and I am determined to continue until I can call myself a social worker. I am proud.

I packed my girls up and I walked them out the front door and into the world. On my own. Without someone standing by me for support, without someone standing by me to hide behind when it all became too confronting. I took them to playgroups where I knew not a soul and we made friends. It was intimidating and horrifying. The first day I sat on the lounge and I felt terrified. But the next week, I talked... to real people, with real conversations, to women who I now consider my very dear friends. To women who I wouldn't ever want to live without. 

I accepted invites from perfect strangers to meet with them, and their friends. I was stricken with fear, but I placed one foot in front of the other and reached the end of her driveway, where she was with another friend and a flock of children. I stripped down to swimmers and I got in that pool and I began to shred away the layers and the barriers that I had always hidden behind. Sometimes I am still shocked, but mostly I just love that these women chose to like me on that day, really like me. I have an unbreakable friendship with them and they would roll over twice for me.

I committed myself to fortnightly sessions with a psychologist. One who is abrupt, up front and completely honest with me. She calls me on any silly behaviour, but she also praises me for my achievements. She sends me home with homework and she has near cured my social anxiety. She has reminded my that with a past like mine, I am awesome. I have survived. I have succeeded. I have blossomed. She has taught me to see myself in the eyes of others. I may not be succeeding in the way that I used to define success, but I lived out of home at 14, I dropped out of school, I experimented with drugs, I fell pregnant. All before 16. She has shown me that where I am now, coming from where I have been, my life is full of success and beauty and awe inspiring moments. She has taught me to appreciate my strength.

I have spent months, MONTHS, focusing on making life better, happier and fuller for myself so that I can give more to my children and to Anthony. I have a long way to go but, my word, I have travelled so far. I no longer hide in the bathroom behind closed doors, I no longer collapse on the kitchen floor in tears, I no longer disappear from my family when it all gets too much. I don't vomit at the thought of attending a party, or meeting a new person. I am no longer awake until early hours of the morning in tears and unable to breathe. I no longer give my all to the people in my life who just take it all. I no longer allow myself to be punished by guilt placed on me by others, mostly.

I am living my life, I am fulfilling my dreams, I am reaching my goals and I am making myself incredibly proud. I am the kind of woman that I used to always want to be. I inspire myself and I am make myself happy. I don't rely on others to do it for me. I have found that I am often punished for these changes by people who expect me to remain as I was. I have found that people don't support change if it may be seen as being at the cost of them. But I am trying to hold my head high and stride through that punishment. As I am surviving. Hey, I am more than surviving, I am succeeding with a huge smile on my face and I deserve to be rewarded. 

My life is full of so much love, so much support, such great friendships.
It is full of moments that I will never forget. The beginnings of new and ever lasting friendships, smiling and welcoming faces. Hand holding and loving hugs that say you are loved. Moments where I have achieved what was the unachievable and been completely rewarded by the faces looking back at me. I am completely blessed and overwhelmed by all the beauty in my world

At the end of each and every day I get to sit back and look at this life I have created for myself in the past 13 months. At how far I have travelled and the journey ahead and I get to feel happiness. Sometimes I feel sadness. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed I just have to close my eyes. But the point is, I get to FEEL. Real emotions! Not just anger and anxiety, but true, deep and butterflies creating emotions.

All thanks to that very moment that Zalia was born and she turned my life into a spin, that very moment that I decided she, and Evelyn, and Anthony deserve better than the empty shell I was giving them. 

I am succeeding.