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

Working Girl

I’m going back to work. Soon. Really soon. Yeesh!

The Australian/British approach of a year-long maternity leave must mean my reticence seems silly to those of you who went back after six weeks. I am so impressed by you women! At six weeks post partum I could barely feed myself, let alone run a meeting.

But I’ve had a year to wear comfortable shoes and questionable hair. Now it’s time to put on my big girl pants and march back into the workforce.

I’m talking a big game here, but the truth is I’m only returning part time. A friend / colleague (frolleague?) of mine and I are entering into the brave world of Job Sharing. Which, in my industry, is about as common as leaving the office at 5.30pm. It’s safe to say we’re flying by the seat of our (big girl) pants.

Setting the logistics of my new role aside, of course what’s weighing heaviest on mind is Little Bun and how this will affect her.

We have a hideous child care shortage around these parts. I have had my name down at three centres since November 2011 (do the math) and I am still ‘six to twelve months’ away from getting a spot. As January turned into February and my polite stalking of these centres elicited no positive response at all, I knew I needed to find an alternative solution. And that was a nanny.

I never imagined we’d be the sort of people who’d have a nanny. I’m not sure who ‘those’ sort of people are, but I figured they sailed boats and wore a lot of white. But I guess they’re normal, like us, and have certain requirements in certain situations that mean a nanny is the go.

Hopefully this is a short to mid term solution until a spot becomes available. And while not the child care route we had planned, I suspect it will make for an easier transition back into the working world.

And me – work! Meetings! Conversations with multiple adults in which babies aren’t referenced at all! Shaking hands! Email at 11pm! Wearing heels! Sitting down for more than five minutes! Lunches out!

I don’t know if I’m ready. Oh BOY my heart is shuddering at the thought of leaving this beautiful baby bubble. I’m going to miss my girl every minute.

But hey, this is life, right? Bring it on.

Aaaand, it’s mid January

How did THAT happen!?

We’re back from holidays. The flight was … OK. Little Bun was a little legend and was fabulous, under the circumstances. Bloody exhausting, though. I looked on the red-wine-drinking, movie-watching fellow passengers with envy. I’ll write a separate post for some tips and tricks. If there’s anything you want to know specifically, just shout!

Little Bun is going through some sort of growth spurt / developmental change / oh who the fuck knows … upshot is sleep is down the drain and she’s very needy when awake. If I ignore any desire for sleep myself, and keep her entertained when she’s awake, it’s not so bad*.

We have an INSANE fortnight coming up, where we need to effectively move the entire contents out of our house in one weekend. With a baby. And no babysitter. So, Mr Bun has his work cut out for him … I’ve just written a list of everything we need to do by Sunday. I feel sick. Seriously, I can’t see it happening.

In happier news, Little Bun is nearly eight months and is sitting up like a champ. Clapping hands on command and ‘talking’ like a boss. Lots of Ma-Ma and Da-Da … she’s got no idea what she’s saying, but it’s a start! She’s now throwing herself around a fair bit, so I think the tetchiness is coming from wanting to crawl and not getting there.

I’ve been giving Little Bun tastes of the yucky formula most days, and she’s been taking it pretty well. I need to be out next week during a feed, so Mr Bun is going to try her on a bottle of the stuff. So interested to see how it goes. Fingers crossed!

OK – this post has been all over the place, forgive the randomness! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful break and your bubs are giving you lots of love and happy times. Normal service to resume shortly!!

x

 

*it’s kinda bad.

Happy Halfway!

We’re at Six Months. Six Months. SIX MONTHS.

Little Bun hasn’t mucked around, she’s decided to ramp up the milestones over the past few weeks – hurling achievements at me so fast, like some sort of baby ninja.

Rolling over? Check! (Just a few days after Mr Bun and I were speculating that she’d literally never roll … as in, she’d be lying around on her back at four) she rolled! Of course, Mother of the Century here was out of the room attending to one of the 395 loads of laundry I do on a daily basis. She was chattering away on her mat and when I walked back in she was on her tummy. Woo!

So began ten days of obsessive rolling. Unfortunately she can only go from back-to-tum, so there’s been a fair bit of frustration on her part (she kicks like a reverse beetle-on-its-back, angry and stuck) and lots of help on mine. Now, she seems less interested in the rolling thing. Been there, done that, rolling’s so over man.

First cold? Check! This one was less fun. She had a blocked nose and scratchy throat and a bit of a temp. The hardest bit was I was sick too. Never are you more acutely aware of your new role as Mother as when you are sick. There’s no rest, no stopping, no days on the couch under a blanket mainlining S.trepsils and watching junk teeve. She was on the mend within a few days and back to normal after 10.

First food? Check! We’ve gone from pulling faces of abject disgust to opening wide and leaning forward to meet the spoon. It’s so cute. I started her on purees about a month ago, and we’re just beginning (as in, this morning) some finger foods too. It’s more work than whipping out the boob, but it’s a lot of fun.

First teeth? Check! She has TWO bottom teeth. This one was super exciting for me. Her body is changing and growing and doing what it’s meant to do. I really find it quite miraculous!

One’s completely through and the other is just peeking out. I’ve decided to use this as an excuse for a very unsettled time over the past week or so. Even though everyone swears blue that teething doesn’t cause half of the symptoms we attribute to it … work with me here. I need something to get me through the night(s).

Life with a baby is a life surrounded by cliches. She’s growing so fast, I’m starting to lose sight of the newborn she was, and glimpse the girl she will become.

I’m drinking it in, every minute.

Happy Half Birthday my darling girl.

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

Overdue (40w4d)

If I hadn’t received a due date – if I was living in a wooden shack somewhere in the 17th century – then last night is when my body would have told me, ‘OK. You’re late.’ Up until then I was feeling alright. I was embarrassed to receive looks and texts of concern, feeling a little like an imposter.

But now, now I’m feeling it. The pressure of the baby is immense. The discomfort in my groin, hips and pelvis is ever-increasing. It’s now almost impossible to get off the couch or out of the car without help (Mr Bun is being called on more and more often … I crouched down to unload groceries this weekend and he had to help me up … gawd knows what I’d have done if I was alone).

I had a second fetal monitoring session this AM, and all is looking normal – bub, heartrate, fluid levels – all good. Then Dr Spock examined me, and stripped my membranes. I BELLOWED. It was fah-reaking painful. Seriously, as she rummaged around down there I almost levitated off the table. Any longer and she would have been stripping me off the ceiling.

I laughed nervously afterwards, ‘Um, s’pose I need to work on my pain management skills, hey?’ She gave me side-eye which didn’t make me feel any better.

She said I’m not dilated at all, but my cervix has softened. The little membrane ‘sweep’ (such a bullshit term) she did may, but is unlikely to, get labour started. If not, we stick with the more likely plan which has me getting a dose of Prost.aglandin gel on Wednesday night, heading home, then back on the Oxy.tocin drop on Thursday morning.

Sheeeeeeeze.

In the meantime, I sit tight, nervously witter my way towards Wednesday night, and wonder if I may actually go into labour ahead of then. Not very motherly of me, but – faaark!

x

No going back now … (35w2d)

I’m officially on maternity leave.

To go ‘early’ was a decision I made in the second trimester, after consulting some wise women (Dr Spock and other preggy colleagues). They all said that, if you can, definitely finish up earlier than 36 weeks. You see, I don’t work a 9-5 job … I’ve been taking it easy these past few weeks by doing 8.30-6; but any busy days have had me working ’til 7 at the office, or ’til 9 at home.

I also figured, this may be the only time I ever have maternity leave. That and the fact first-time-mummas are dropping early all around me (seriously, four women I know have gone 2-4 weeks pre-due-date, just in the past month!!) have me feeling happy with my decision to head off a little sooner than most.

It’s very odd not to be working. I feel like I’ve shelved an enormous part of my identity, and haven’t replaced it with anything. It’s a good exercise for me – I think – as someone who probably puts too much emphasis on work and the life it has me lead. I suppose I will get into the rhythm of not working over the next few weeks. But, yes … it’s a strange feeling indeed.

There’s SO MUCH to do (hence the lists). Our small renovations have been dragging on, and we only really have the baby room 70% finished. So, the next few weeks will be about buying, borrowing, cleaning, painting, prepping and … yes, I guess, nesting.

We have the cot built and I’ve now bought or been given the majority of the ‘first wardrobe’. As we don’t know the sex, the baby’s colour scheme is a little Addams Family … all greys and creams … it’s also showing up my unhealthy obsession with stripes.

Today I’ve been sanding and painting an old chest of drawers that was once my grandfather’s. That, the cot and a lounge chair are looking to be the only furniture we’ll have in the room. I’d like a change table but think it may look a little cluttered. Are / have any of you used the change-mat-on-top-of-the-drawers set-up? I think that’s what we’re going to have to do.

To do next is wash all of the clothes (can you believe almost all of the them say ‘Do not tumble dry’!? I mean, don’t mums of newborns have enough on their plate!!); buy the baby toiletries and some other things like a baby monitor, mattress protector etc; borrow a bassinet from my girlfriend; and tizz the room with a rug, blanket, paintings etc.

I read this week that I’m now at ’35/35′ … 35 weeks down, 35 days to go.

… Eeeeek!

Lists and Superstitions (34w3d)

I’ve just finished writing four lists:

  1. Things to buy for the baby (8 million babygros, singlets, wraps etc etc)
  2. Things to buy for me (padded-housebrick maternity pads, 20 supersize black knickers etc etc)
  3. Things to pack for labour (‘glucose treats’ – lollies? – ginormous nighties etc)
  4. Things to pack for the hospital stay (dressing gown, ‘non-slip bed socks’ … seriously!? etc)

I’ve tried to be brutal in making these, only including what my girlfriends, the eminently sensible prenatal class maternity nurse, and Kaz Cooke say is absolutely necessary. Yet I still have a selection that would make any practical person squirm. How do people keep this megaload to two bags!? Are any of you following a ‘master list’ online? Would you pre-purchase everything, or leave until after the baby is born?

Which brings me to the second half of my post’s title. The Huggies* update was once again right on the money with this week’s update:

“At 34 weeks pregnant, you could worry that there may be something wrong with your baby which hasn’t been detected yet. You may wonder how you and your partner will cope if there is a problem and how this will impact on your life. Many women become very superstitious at this stage of their pregnancy and see “signs” which they interpret as being proof there is something wrong. Dreams, seeing someone with a physical or intellectual impairment, hearing of other new parents who’ve had a baby with problems can all cause great concern.”

This is me to a tee.

As we get closer to the due date, I can’t put off doing some pretty significant baby things any longer. Mr Bun put the cot up today (WOW). I’ve got these aforementioned lists that are going to require some pretty heavy-duty time in the baby shopping department. And I just can’t help but think, ‘what if?’ Is this all tempting fate?

Basically, my superstition radar is going BERKO.

I had a good chat to Dr Spock a few weeks ago about my anxiety around this sort of thing, and her answer was perfectly balanced between the rational (giving me the facts and trying to appease me with odds and stats), and the emotional (gently explaining that this sort of anxiety is normal, and I just have to remove triggers like nasty/depressing/tragic mag articles, news stories etc etc from my life).

Of course, the ongoing movement of the little one is really the only thing that makes me feel calm. But all it takes is one shred of doubt, or one whisper of  story, or one quiet day from the baby, and I find myself panicking that something awful will happen.

In black and white this looks extreme. But I guess that’s one of the roles of this blog. To express how I feel, and in doing so, to lighten the load a little?

It’s also not the full story. The majority of the time I am excited, scared, in awe, uncomfortable and your all-round pretty average first-time-preggy-lady in her last few weeks. It’s just these black spots. I try not to dwell on them. I try to combat them with happy, shiny thoughts.

Here’s to a week ahead filled with those happy, shiny things – for all of us.

 

*While I’ve been subscribed to Baby Center throughout this pregnancy, consistently I’ve found the Huggies updates to be the best: detailed, accurate, helpful and interesting. I was skeptical initially because it was branded, but well done the Huggies marketing team for creating such good content!

Having a Swell Ol’ Time (33w0d)

Holy SHITBALLS my feet are swollen. And my ankles. And my calves. And my knees.

Seriously. I’d post a pic, but then you’d vomit.

By the end of the day, there is no definition between my toes and my knees. It’s just one, swollen, stretched, shiny limb thing. The mornings aren’t much better. I can’t wear shoes. I can’t walk properly. It sucks.

Because I’m vain, the puffy flesh that pours out over the top of my slip-ons and under the seam of my 3/4 leggings is what gets me the most. It’s ugly, people.

Right – whiney whinge over.

Onto the (actual) important things. I saw Dr Spock for my fortnightly catchup early in the week, and the bub is looking well. It’s head down, bum up – which is good! My blood pressure is fine, so the swelling is just an annoying pregnancy symptom and not an indicator of anything more sinister.

I had an entire week of a very quiet bub last week – and ended up in Fetal Monitoring a total of three times. Almost a week to the day of when it went quiet, it started jumping and jiving again and hasn’t stopped since. I felt good about that – it meant there was actually a defined period of quietness (sitting in a different position, I s’pose) – and I was right to check it out.

Mr Bun and I also attended our first Antenatal class at the hospital last week. We opted to go for two intensive five hour (!!) sessions rather than split them out over a period of weeks. It means half of our Saturday’s get eaten up, but I still think it’s the best way to manage the time.

The first class was all about the three stages of labour, pain relief, etc. There was a fair bit I wasn’t aware of, but the rest was pretty repetitive.

Weirdly, it made me pretty emotional. For a few reasons, I think. First off, I never thought we’d be doing such ‘normal’ pregnancy things as attending an antenatal class. Just being there with all of the other couples was rather surreal. Secondly, the talk of the pain, and episiotomies, and emergency C sections, and forceps, and and AND … I did come away feeling a little … apprehensive.

I guess I’ve been so fixed on the pregnancy and the wellbeing of the baby, that the labour has snuck up on me a bit.

Rightyo. I need to haul my swollen elephant skin-clogs into the kitchen and make something to eat. Work is busy at the moment and I’m really hanging out to finish. If only to get my feet up!

A Kicking Christmas (20w)

And, ladies and gents – we’re halfway there.

WOW.

This week Mr Bun and I finished work a few days early, and are using the days to Get Shit Done. This has included my 20 week ultrasound and appointment with Dr Spock. Wonderfully, everything seems normal and good and there’s nothing at this stage they’re worried about. Merry Christmas indeed!

Very kindly, Mr Bun’s agreed to let me have my wish of keeping the gender a big unknown. Although, like a little boy shaking down his presents on Christmas Eve, that didn’t stop him from trying to find out. He was puh-reety focused on the screen during the scan, peering at the images to see if he could work out if it’s a boy or girl. At one point I had to steady him, ‘No darling… don’t get too excited … that’s the umbilical cord.’

The BEST thing about the past week or so has been the increasing activity from the little wriggle-pants that is our baby. The first kick was a serious HOLY SHIT moment, and came around 18 1/2 weeks after a while of ‘weird’ flutterings that I was pretty-sure-but-not-certain were baby movements. But then the kick, felt under my palm as I was lying in bed one night, and it was … yep, pretty awesome.

Since then, it’s been getting more and more active. Between 5-6am and 8-10pm are the busiest time. Not sure if they’re kicks or punches, but I can actually see some of them and Mr Bun can definitely feel them. Early this morning was pretty full on. I was lying there feeling the mini-prods and then suddenly it felt as if my stomach was turning inside out and a large lump ROSE UP under my hand. It was hard and round and basically freaked me out (maternal, much?). I’m assuming it was a head or bum … pretty cool, but also a rather pretty intense reminder that there’s another little being in there.

So, we move into the second half with a heady dose of This Is Really Happening. It feels great and very, very unreal in the true sense of the word.

Symptom Check, for those of you that care:

– Sleeplessness, caused mainly by a pretty sore back that gets worse as the day goes on

– A ‘waddle’ that is now rather pronounced, and amuses me

– A tendency to grunt whenever I have to bend over the increasingly large bowling ball of my stomach

– An intense, emotionally-overblown fear response to pretty much EVERYTHING. Don’t believe me? Try these on for size: Losing our house to the bank (this will never happen, but there was an article in the paper and now I can’t stop thinking about it); Nuclear war, caused by the succession in Nth Korea; Anything happening to Mr Bun (the poor man has acquired a pregnant limpet these holidays); Cancer (always); Falling down the stairs; The taxi driver crashing the car … It goes on … sigh

– Energy energy !woo! feeling fine OH GOD I NEED TO EAT/LIE DOWN NOW

There are more. Apparently the past month has been the ‘eye of the storm’ as such, and stuff starts ramping up again. Like I said, it’s feeling a lot more real and every day I say Thank You and Please, let me keep being thankful.

Have a wonderful Christmas / holiday / rest and let’s all cross our fingers for a sparkly 2012.

xx