A birthday, and a goodbye.

My baby is one year old and my heart is full. A balloon of joy swells up in my chest and bursts. Not every so often, but constantly, always. When I am with her, when I thinking of her, when I am talking about her, when I am watching her sleeping …

My life is full, too. Mr Bun and I are racing, racing – juggling and tap dancing through a weekly circus of two very demanding jobs, the insanity of this property market, our marriage, our families, ourselves. It is all going by so, so fast. We are breathless. But we are happy.

Today is my daughter’s first birthday. It’s my 100th blog post. It is time to say goodbye.

I have squeezed so much pleasure out of this blog, which is wondrous considering it was borne from a place of pain. Infertility hollowed me out. It was a physical battle, but the scars are emotional. While driving last week I happened to looked right instead of left – and out popped a memory. A curve of road, a traffic light: there I had been, wailing at the steering wheel as I left behind another negative beta. Oh, that pain. The pain of wanting something so very badly. I remember every aching minute.

I am not a closed person, and have been open about what we went through … but no-one knew, no-one knew like you did. I have relished the luxury of not having to explain anything. But equally, you listened to the detail I sometimes felt compelled to go into. This place allowed me to open up all of that.

Thank you. For your support, and your curiosity, your advice … your humour! This age that we live in is truly miraculous, allowing us to build these extraordinary communities from all around the world.

When I first discovered the world of infertility blogs, I fell upon page after page, seeking out stories that mirrored mine. Some sites I found were years old, many had stopped writing altogether. Most, though, had stuck around long enough to reveal that they had finally become mothers. This gave me hope like nothing else. I like to think that maybe I’ve done that for someone out there.

I will miss this space, particularly as a kick-up-the-bum to write – because I don’t get to do that so much any more. I dunno, I may drop back and regale you with more minutiae … or maybe create somewhere new? But for now I think it’s a good time to sign off.

Life is a matter of contrast, and I’m sure there will be dark days ahead … but there will be light ones as well.

Right now?

Now – my baby is one year old and my heart is full.

Sending you all love, and luck, and happiness so pure that it makes you float.

x

Sleeping Beauty, Sleeping Beautifully

Yup.

Right now, as of this minute, my daughter is sleeping through the night.

By Christmas (at seven months old) I was getting really over waking up anywhere between 1 – 6am to feed and settle. This was on top of the Dream Feed I was still doing around 11pm. It was like I’d run out of juice. Where I’d previously been bouncing through the day on five hours of (broken) sleep, suddenly I was mainlining sugar just to get through the day.

I started by trying to drop the Dream Feed a few times, but failed dismally. She wouldn’t have a bar of it. We ended up losing it with the unorthodox approach of flying 12,000 miles. I know, not that easily done – but I’d recommend it! The jetlag from a long-haul flight knocked LB’s Dream Feed out the window.

Right, one down.

On arriving home in January we embarked on a month of upheaval, house-moving and portacots. I just didn’t feel right cutting out her overnight feed while there was so much else going on – especially considering we’d also just been overseas for a month. I wanted to allow LB plenty of time to settle back into her own cot and her own routine.

February became The Month. And randomly, as she woke up ‘early’ for her overnight feed at midnight one Friday, that became The Night.

Being a beautifully stubborn little thing, I was fully prepared for my daughter to give me hell for weeks, once I turned off the overnight tap. The first night she grizzled and cried for an hour, with Mr Bun going in every 10 – 20 minutes to settle her. She then slept through until 5am, stirred, and slept again until 7. I, of course, woke at 4am and stared at the monitor, wondering when she’d wake.

The next night I went to bed almost hoping she’d wake up, so we could continue bedding down the ‘new approach’. But, she slept. From 7pm until 7am, waking at 5am and putting. herself. back. to. sleep. This kid NEVER resettles herself, not when she wakes up after midnight.

I was so confused.

There was one night, about a week later, when she woke at 3am. I spent almost two hours going in and out of her room, settling and soothing as she grizzled, until she fell asleep again. And that was almost two months ago. Since then, I pop her down into bed and she smiles and laughs as I tuck her in. She’ll chat away to herself for a while before falling asleep. She’ll then stir a few times throughout the night and early hours, but settles again until waking up around 7am.

Forgive me if I’m sound boastful here, but it is bloody amazing.

I believe in sleep training, and I was fully prepared to commit to it as long as it took. But it didn’t really take long … no, it didn’t really take at all. You see, she was ready. She was probably as desperate as I was to get more sleep, but just didn’t know how to go about it. All she needed was a little bit of encouragement.

The amazing thing is, she’s sleeping more deeply at night. I can now pop my head in and check on her when I go to bed, whereas before that would definitely wake her up, and she’d be hollering until I fed her. AND – wait for it – she’s napping better during the day.

Since she was eight weeks old my baby hasn’t napped for longer than 40 minutes. It has absolutely been the hardest thing I’ve had to manage, hands down. To have her roll out a few one or even 1.5 hour sleeps in a week is amazing for me.

I am aware this will change. There will be teeth, colds, developmental leaps, slumber parties and bad breakups with boyfriends. BUT. This Mama is getting some sleep for the first time since les bump was small enough to let me sleep through. And that is a BLOODY GREAT THING.

20 Bunless Questions

So, life’s gotten in the way of blogging in a BIG way lately. I’m not going to go into it, but it’s been a crackingly busy, boring, delightful, frustrating, wondrous, tedious, brilliant, crazy Summer here in the Bunless household.

When I saw the 20 Questions post over at Pail I was so pleased: a nice way to get my blogging brain back into action, and indulge my rampant narcissism at the same time.

OK. Let’s do this thing.

1. What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling?

Cardboard ‘stuffing’ from a newly-purchased vaporiser. Little Bun came down with a belter of a cold on Saturday morning. Fever, streaming nose, red eyes, barking cough – the works. My little trooper managed to continue to sleep through, albeit very noisily – which broke my heart! The worst of it seems to be gone, but we’re left with a nasty cough – hence, the vaporiser.

2. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

Well, ignoring the lullaby tracks that I played religiously during LB’s months 5 – 8 (Brahms will forever remind me of long, napless days), number one is Lippy Kids, by Elbow. A stunningly beautiful, hauntingly nostalgic track that makes me feel happy and sad all at the same time. Seriously, have a listen.

Sigh – I love that song.

3. What is your favorite quote?

I’m not sure I can pick a favourite, but one that’s close to my heart – ‘Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember’ (Seneca) … pretty much sums up my response to a lot of things. I am a terrible nostalgist.

4. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Ah. Hands down this would be cleaning the high chair. This has easily surpassed every other tedious chore in my life. As LB feeds herself now, the mess ranges from mild to HOW DID TUNA GET INTO MY SHOES? Avocado and mango are the worst. Crevices YOU DESTROY ME.

5. What is your favorite form of exercise?

OK. Um. I am a bad exerciser. LB’s dairy and soy allergy meant that from three months post-partum I had to alter my diet pretty drastically. This, combined with breastfeeding, meant that I dropped under my pre-IVF weight really quickly. While great, it’s also been an excuse to ignore exercise in a big way. So I’m properly wobbly and unfit and gross. Having said that, we walk walk walk all day every day. So right now, walking with my girl is top of my list.

6. What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?

I’ve always been a sucker for balmy summer nights. So I’m loving evenings at the moment, out in our little courtyard. The smell of cooling, wet soil – freshly watered after a long, hot day. Mr Bun barbequing our dinner, the two of us catching up over a glass of something very cold, as the sky turns pink and purple overhead.

7. What is on your bedside table?

I’m embarrassed to say, no books. This is unusual, but since having LB my bookwormy ways have fallen by the wayside. Now she’s sleeping through, I’m going to pick this up again. But, I’m afraid that currently my bedside table holds my phone, a glass of water, the baby monitor and sometimes a bit of the weekend paper that I’m still catching up on come Thursday.

8. What is your favorite body part?

Probably my mouth – because of my enormous head (!) I managed to avoid braces as a kid. I think a big, happy smile can be the most attractive thing about a person. Unless you’re Daniel Craig as James Bond, and then it’s your sweet, sweet body.

(yes, I’ve recently seen Skyfall)

9. Would you use the power of invisibility for good or evil? Elaborate.

Oh, evil. I am a snoop – definitely. I used to love riding on the top of the double decker buses around London, only so I could peer into the window of first floor flats.

10. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

My twenties were a really fun decade, particularly years living overseas and working as hard as I played. Or was it the other way around? But how can you pick a year from the past, when you have a baby who is growing into the future? I’d love to be lucky enough to answer that question when I’m very, very old.

11. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Oh wow, I could write a NOVEL about this stuff. Seriously, when I’m having my most anxious 4am moments, very detailed lottery-based fantasies can calm me down like nothing else. So, first thing? Open a seriously amazing bottle of Champagne and start looking for a beautiful home.

12. What is your biggest pet peeve?

I am an anally retentive, obsessive perfectionist. EVERYTHING is my pet peeve. No seriously. What you’re doing right now – stop it – it’s annoying me.

13. If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?

That’s easy – what are those winning lottery numbers? Because money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure help along the way!

There are other questions – ones about life, and death, and all that’s in between. But I’m too superstitious to muck with that stuff. Even if I could find out, I don’t know if I’d want to.

14. At what age did you become an adult?

When I left home, and moved overseas to a foreign city with no friends, no job, and no clue. I was 21. It was the best thing I ever did.

15. Recommend a book, movie, or television show in three sentences or less.

Oh goddamn you. This is my favourite thing to do, and there’s no WAY I can stick to just one medium, let alone three sentences.

OK – a book – one of my favourites with my non-Aussie friends in mind. Dirt Music. A rolling, languid, sensual dip into my country. A truly magical read, with a corker of a love story holding it together. Let me know if you like it.

16. What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?

I’m not sure about trouble as such, but gee could I talk. Probably quite obnoxiously. Definitely precociously. All home movies have the unfortunate feature of having my face thrust into almost every frame. Not a shy little flower!

17. What was the first album you bought with your own money?

It was this. On cassette. I was entranced by her hat.

18. If someone wrote a book about you, what would be the title?

I think this is the hardest question here. I’ve come back to it a few times, but I’ve got nuthin’. How about ‘Anxious and Paranoid’ … ? I’m only half kidding. Those who love me, love my neuroses as well.

19. What story do you wish your family would stop telling about you?

Thankfully, I don’t get many stories told about me at family get togethers. We’re not big on reminiscing in my family – more about anecdotes of the day … But generally a joke or two about my large head makes its way into the patter.

20. True or false: The unicorn is the greatest mythical creature. State your case.

Oh, false false false. A unicorn’s got nothing against The Woman Who Can Be It All – Fantastic wife! Perfect mother! Stellar friend! Exemplary career woman! Spiritually aligned! Physically fit! Now THAT’S a creature worthy of myth and legend.

(can you tell I’m due back to work soon?)

– – –

Well, I hope that fit the bill – I can’t wait to read everyone else’s answers. And hopefully this has been the kickstart I need to pump a few more posts out into the ether. Thank you Pail for the great inspiration!

x

She knows.

I don’t know how, but she just does.

A week or so of less and less sleep … Long days, longer nights. Teething? Immunisations? Growth spurt? All I knew was I was getting more and more exhausted and more and more desperate. Last night I broke down, told Mr Bun just how very tired I was … ‘It’s like those first few weeks*’
But then, last night, she slept through. Ohh, when she woke at 6am, I rolled over – saw the time – bliss.

And this morning? She’s been napping for 1.5 hours. Again, amazing.

 

So, yes. She knows. Her Mumma was at breaking point and she decided to give her a little rest.

 

Thank you darling.

 

 

*It’s not. Nothing could every be that exhausting. See? I’ve forgotten already.

Blessed

A year ago today, I stood in a quiet, dark boardroom looking down on the first day of Spring. I twiddled the silver chain that hung off the blinds. I waited, phone pressed to my ear, my mind blank.

This.

It would be some time before I believed what had happened. And time more to feel excited about the possibility of a baby (A BABY!) … but this day was the beginning.

When I look at Little Bun, with her feet waving in the air, stretching out the ever-deepening creases on her fat little legs, big eyes watching me – I remember that day and all the days that came before.

We are blessed.

 

 

Dairy Queen

Well, two weeks, three separate poo samples and a lot of advice later – I think we have a solution.

First off, Little Bun doesn’t seem to be sick. Woot! They can’t find any sign of a bug or virus that could have been causing her explosive bum. That, and she’s gaining good amounts of weight and is generally happy and well.

So, I went off wheat and dairy for a week. Just for shits and giggles. And it was hard, people. Because, of course, I did it with no prep or notice – so had nothing sensible in the house to eat. I basically survived on bananas and rice for a few days, before getting my act together. I was HUNGRY. My jeans loosened a little. More importantly, Little Bun’s nappies improved OVER. NIGHT. Yay! Mother-in-doing-something-right-SHOCK!

I had a feeling it was dairy and not wheat, and so slowly reintroduced the latter back into my diet. No effect on the nappies. And then with dairy, carefully trialled some low-dairy foods. I am continuing to steer clear of milk, cheese and yoghurt etc, and so far so good.

Look, I don’t know if it’s a complete coincidence. I haven’t exactly gone about this scientifically, and I’m by no means following a strict no dairy-diet (ahem-chocolate cake-ahem). It may be that she was sick, and now she’s better. Or her gut is maturing. Or it’s a totally separate food intolerance that I haven’t discovered. Who knows. All I do know is that there’s been no blood and very little mucus for nearly a fortnight. She’s gone from 4-6 pooey nappies a day to 1 or 2. Her tummy is more settled, and she’s feeding a lot more calmly.

These are all good things.

Now if we can just work on the napping …

The First Six Weeks (part two)

As I said earlier, I have a bunch of random thoughts rattling around my brainbox on the first six weeks of being a parent. Here are some more:

Your Body Is Cool

My particular body played ball, give or take. The give bits? After nine months of being smugly stretch mark free, by boobs are now streaked like a maroon tiger. And they’re pointing south much more than I’d like (ALSO: I don’t know what the fuss is around big boobs? I’m not a fan – they get in the way and make all of my tops sit funny). The linea nigra is still there, a bold line across a much flatter (but still very soft – ahem) tum.  And, I still can’t get my wedding ring on … makes me wonder if my hands have permanently grown in size!? Knuckles like a boxer. Sheesh.

But hey – your body grows a person (I mean, yes – wow). Then it gets it out into the world safely. Then – THEN –  IT. KEEPS. GOING. Even though you’re knackered beyond belief and so hopped up on hormones you don’t know whether to cackle maniacally or sob hysterically, your body keeps doing what it needs to do to keep you and your little human alive. That’s rad.

(New)Newborns Don’t Do Much

This might seem a little wrong for what is still (sorta) an infertility blog, but honesty’s the name of the game here.

I really struggled with bonding with Little Bun. For the first couple of weeks – I didn’t feel … much. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her: but in a very primal, protective, I’m-here-to-keep-you-alive way. I didn’t feel much joyous, happy, soaring emotion.

I was completely overwhelmed physically and emotionally, so I did sorta feel I was going through the motions. And I believe this had something to do with the fact that very new babies are pretty inactive. When they’re so young, they are very passive. No eye contact, no noises beyond crying, no smiling … they sleep and feed and fill their nappy and that’s it.

As they get a tiny bit older, and start responding, smiling, laughing, cooing and generally being a little more human (all things Little Bun started to do at or after four weeks) it’s suddenly a lot easier to connect with them. At least, that’s how I found it anyway. It’s probably no coincidence that around four weeks is also when you start to get used to the sleep deprivation, begin to heal physically, and also level out hormones-wise.

When It Hits You, It Really Hits You

For some mothers, it’s in the hospital bed when the babe is a few hours old.

For me, it was sitting on my couch with Little Bun in my arms. It was mid-morning, the house was quiet, and we’d just finished a feed. She was looking at me, and I was telling her who I was, how I was always going to be there for her, and how very much I loved her. I cried a little.

True love has a habit of creeping up on you.

 

(part 1 here)

The Bunless Birth Story

OK. Two things:

1 – This newborn baby thing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

2 – Here is my Birth Story. I am typing this with an overtired Little Bun sleeping on my chest. It’s been a bad day. She’s been crying nonstop, and I’ve been … well, trying (failing) to calm her. So, the chest it is. But anyway – the In Laws have left and I have some ‘time’ to get this down.

It’ll be a long ‘un, so the abridged version is here: I gave birth. It hurt. But we got a beautiful baby girl. The end.

OK – here goes!

– – – –

Cast your mind, dear reader, to four weeks ago.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT – 40w6d

Mr Bun and I headed into hospital for my first dose of P.rostin gel. As you may remember, this was with the aim of getting things started, ahead of Dr Spock breaking my waters and commencing the induction proper on Thursday morning.

My cervix was still so high and closed that the insertion of the gel hurt LIKE A MOTHER. We were sent home and told to come in if anything happened. I woke up the next morning with nary a niggle down below … little did I know that would be my last solid(ish) night’s sleep in – well – ever.

THURSDAY MORNING – 41w

We had been told to come in again Thursday morning, regardless of anything happening or not, so off we went, bags in tow – expecting this to be it. On examining me, Dr Spock said there’d been so little movement that she wasn’t that comfortable progressing into a fully fledged induction. I was relieved to hear this, as I was beginning to worry about forcing things too fast. So, we agreed that she’d give me a second, slightly larger dose of the P.rostin. We’d wait a full 24 hours and if there was still no change, she’d progress with the induction on Friday morning.

This second dose of P.rostin was administered with the help of N.itrous Oxide (Gas, or Gas and Air). I lay there at nine in the morning laughing my arse off while Mr Bun, Dr Spock and a midwife looked on in amusement. It was not my most sophisticated moment …

Mr Bun had already taken Thursday off work in expectation of that being our ‘induction day’, so we headed home together to wait. We even discussed going to see a film, but by the time we arrived home the P.rostin Pains had really kicked in. These were just like bad period cramps, and I had to take some heavy-duty painkillers to dull them. It was so weird having ‘cramps’ again after nine months. I swear I got a touch of PTSD-like flashbacks, in feeling like my period was about to arrive … I kept having to remind myself I was 41 weeks pregnant. A few times, Mr Bun asked if I was having contractions – but these were constant cramps that responded to painkillers. So, in a word, no.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Resigning ourselves to a full induction the next morning, and toasting our last night as a family of two, we sat down to takeaway and a DVD. As the opening credits rolled, I felt a swift and firm ‘kick’ down low in my nether regions. Almost immediately, there was a POP and my waters broke bigtime! Being the practical lass I am (ahem) I swiftly moved off the couch/rug/any stain-able soft furnshings and onto the wooden floorboards.

Me – ‘Woah! WOAH!’

Mr Bun – ‘What! What!’

Me – ‘My waters JUST BROKE!!!’

Mr Bun – … !!!

Me – ‘GET A TOWEL!’ (See? Practical)

We called the Maternity Ward and even though I was having zero contractions, they told us to come in. We piled the car up with bags and made the third trip in two days to the hospital. They examined me, confirmed my waters had broken (duh) and asked us what we wanted to do. We could hang out in the labour ward, use up one of our four allocated nights (it was 10.30pm, so counted as a first night) and wait for contractions to begin – or head home, try and get some sleep, and come in when contractions had started. It seemed a no-brainer. We got back in the car, and made the now very familiar drive home.

And – you guessed it – my contractions began. They were crampy-like, down deep (I believe they call it perineal pain!?) and within half an hour were coming every 2-3 minutes, lasting 45 seconds. It was intense, and it wasn’t long before I was doubled over the kitchen table having a good old holler. It was time to go back to the hospital. For the fourth time.

THURSDAY NIGHT/FRIDAY MORNING

The drive to the hospital was one of those surreal, out-of-body experiences where you’re living something you’ve imagined so. many. times. I was bellowing over speed bumps and bracing myself on the roof of the car. I couldn’t make it across the footpath until a contraction had passed, and had to stop again – doubled over and moaning – outside the lift. We arrived in the delivery suite and Mr Bun asked where we should set up our TENS machine. The midwife looked at me, and gently said, ‘It’s a little late for that, love’.

With the help of gas and a shot of p.ethadine, Mr Bun and I worked through the contractions together. While things were progressing really quickly, and the pain was intense – I felt in control of my labour. Mr Bun was AMAZEBALLS, and really helped me work through each peak and trough of pain.

Around 3am Dr Spock came in and announced I’d gone from 3cm to 10cm in a few hours (woah). And that, being fully dilated, I’d be soon be getting the urge to push and the baby would be not far away. The contractions had peaked, she said. While I had been gently suggesting (ie. starting to shout) for an e.pidural, this news changed things. I felt calm. In control. I could do one more hour – sure I could!  We agreed to a top-up of p.ethadine and got ready for Baby Time. Labour is easy, people. I am a birthing legend. Bring on the champagne and streamers!

This did not happen.

This did: bad things. Painful, sobbing, begging-my-husband-to-help-me-please things. I did not get an urge to push. The baby was not moving anywhere. The contractions were getting worse. And the ANAESTHETIST AND DR SPOCK HAD BOTH BEEN CALLED AWAY TO ANOTHER LABOUR. Endless minutes passed. Time slowed. Mr Bun looked stricken. It was a shit way to spend the early hours of a Friday.

Dr Spock eventually reappeared and immediately approved the goddamn epidural, and then broke the news that the anaesthetist was still an hour away. The ensuing 60 minutes were the toughest of the labour.

When the epidural finally did arrive it was incredible – obviously. It’s amazing that you can go from 100km/h to 0 in just 15 minutes. Drugs are GREAT.

I had a little sleep, and then we got down to business. The actual birth of Little Bun was the most peaceful, beautiful thing. Our favourite music played. Mr Bun and Dr Spock chatted and joked quietly. When our baby emerged, calm and peaceful and very, very beautiful – there was an explosive pink and purple sunrise out the window. I reached down and pulled her onto my belly, and then my chest. I was the first to see that she was a she. A few tears were shed. She latched onto my boob. Our daughter was here. We had become three.

There’s so much more to tell. The blissful post-baby days in hospital, surrounded by bustling midwives and the heady scent of endless flowers. The Baby Blues and how they muck with your mind. The sleep deprivation and how it mucks with your EVERYTHING. The, frankly, horrible breastfeeding trials of clinics and classes and consultants (and how, four weeks later, I’m nearly there). What it feels like to have a baby, after so long of wanting one.

But you’ll have to bear with me. This post is being completed three days after it was begun. Time at home with a newborn is liquid. Your day, your life is not your own. You exist to serve another, so things like blogging – and eating, and brushing your hair – become luxuries.

Let me just say one thing: to those of you, waiting and hoping and trying your goddamndest to get what you want. Whatever you end up choosing, whatever ends up being your story – know that there are people out there who hurt as much as you did, who begged and hoped and prayed as hard as you did, and they are here. On the other side. With what they wished for.

x

I’m here (just).

We have completed our first week at home. And it’s FULL. ON.

Every cliche is true. ‘Nothing can prepare you’. ‘The sleep deprivation is inhuman’. ‘Your baby is a miracle.’

After nearly two weeks I’m still unable to breast feed,which is literally one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with. I am pumping up to eight times a day, expressing all of her feeds, and then bottle feeding on top of that.

It doesn’t leave much time for crosswords … (ha ha).

She’s gorgeous, sleeps all day and cries a lot of the night. Her lips and fingers kill me on a daily basis. She has her Daddy’s nose. Her baby smell is of toffee and optimism.

I’ll keep saying it ’til it’s true: Birth Story post coming soon.

x

She’s Here.

Our daughter arrived early Friday morning after a pretty intense 11 hour labour.

She is, of course, the most beautiful thing we have ever seen.

I’m still in hospital. There have been some feeding issues that, coupled with hormones and a lack of sleep, have made for a really challenging time.

But none of it matters. She’s here. She’s healthy. We’re so, so lucky. And so, so happy.

I’ll write more when I’m home.

x