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

Baby No. 2

Something scary happened. I saw a newborn pic on Facebook and felt clucky. Broody. Warm and fuzzy, even.

Aren’t our brains clever little things?

I found the first six weeks three six months of motherhood really hard. Even with our struggles getting pregnant, and years of baby-free pain fresh in my mind, I just couldn’t comprehend trying to conceive when Little Bun was six months old. Because – YES – that’s what most of the baby-based medical fraternity suggested we do.

As Little Bun rapidly approaches her first birthday, the searing shock of those first few months is softening. While still bloody tough, motherhood now feels more like a beautiful new life that I’ve moved into – rather than an intensive experience I had to survive.

Harsh words? Probably. And I wasn’t that vocal about this socially unacceptable negativity … until I read this brilliantly written article via the PAIL girls.

It hit home SO HARD. It captured the visceral, raw shock that I felt at being a new mother. When LB was born, an old friend and mother of two (older) children, said to me ‘Enjoy this snuggly warm time.’ I read that line over and over. I didn’t feel warm, or snuggly. What was wrong with me? I felt cold with exhaustion. I loved my baby girl but in a primal, protective way. Things didn’t get snuggly and warm in my head for some time.

But now, nearly 12 months later, my life has hit a new rhythm of normal – and it is wonderful. With the head space that a full nights sleep (and other luxuries of an older-baby) gives you, the thought of another baby is once again a happy one. Maybe not something I’m yearning for just yet, but definitely one to look forward to.

We’re not trying for number two. I may regret these ‘wasted’ months one day. If years go by and Little Bun remains an only child, I’m sure I’ll look back on this time and wonder. I’ll ask myself if I should have leapt back onto the conception train as early as I possibly could have.

Hopefully there will be another Little Bun. A Littler Bun. But for the time being, the three of us are knitted tightly together – enjoying our ‘snuggly, warm time’.

 

Make Like A Swan

Life keeps on keeping on, doesn’t it? When it starts getting easy, we humans generally just go and make it hard again. Guess that’s what keeps us living, as opposed to just being meaty breathing machines.

I’ve finished my first week as a working mumma. It was HAA-AAARD (she whines, to a world of, “Well – duh‘s” …)

It’s only a week in and working has already changed the dynamic between Mr Bun and I. There’s definitely more tension: we’re both tired and working hard and it’s difficult not to be short with each other. But we also have so much more to talk about, the relationship feels richer again. We’re even more of a team now, playing the juggling game together.

And then there’s my baby. My love, my daughter. Oh, my darling. I crave her throughout the day. I do my grownup thing, and wear heels and makeup and joke and berate and negotiate and email and present and through it all, my heart sings for my little girl. I am missing the little moments throughout the day, the pure intimacy of spending every moment together – drinking in my girl. Now I am realising just how fast she is growing, because I am catching up, instead of being there when it happens.

But leaving Little Bun has been easier than I expected, mostly because she’s used to those caring for her, so departures haven’t been too traumatic. I think this may change as she starts to become used to the new routine.

Leaving work at 5.30 on the dot? Much, much harder than I expected. Me and my jobshare twin have landed in a typhoon of big projects with short timelines and little support team. I am working full bore, head down, arse up, no-time-for-a-wee hard. Sprinting until 5.30, then sprinting home, then sprinting through bath-bottle-bed-dishes-laundry-dinner-more work-emails-teeth-face-bed-START AGAIN.

Argh.

I am going to have to embrace working after LB goes down to bed, and for the time being, being on phone/email on my ‘off’ days and weekends. Just to get through this initial few months. Just to prove to the office and the bosses with wives at home that job sharing is a good thing, and Mums who leave at 5.30 can still kick arse. To prove to the other women in the office that it CAN be done. To prove to myself that I can do both.

This is it. This is the new reality. I’m going to have to make like a swan and keep smiling up top, while paddling like crazy down below.

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.

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

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.

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.

 

 

Tears Before Bedtime. And During. And After. And …

Little Bun has been a fabulous sleeper from early on. She napped like a champion from week one, and I entered her second month with hours (literally) of downtime every day under my belt. She’d crank out two naps of at least two hours every day, with a few shorter ones thrown in for good measure.

Nightime was also smug-worthy. While yes – granted – she wasn’t sleeping until 10 or 11pm, by six weeks she was going from then until 6 or 7am. I threw my daytime naps away and started to see the under-eye bags disappear.

So, when things started to go sour a fortnight ago, I wasn’t too sure how to handle it. The infamous 45 minute sleep cycles that Little Bun used to snooze happily through, with just a peep and a snuffle, were suddenly waking her up. Loudly. And she wasn’t going back to sleep.

And as we head towards the big 12 weeks, I began to wonder just how long we could manage evening after evening with her on our laps. Not conducive to adult things like dinner and conversation. And not really fair on a little bebe who needs a proper bedtime.

And finally, I would really like a routine. I’d like to know in advance when she would probably be napping, and probably we awake – so I could plan things like doctor’s appointments, or a visit from a tradie, or even – gasp – going out for a coffee with more than 30 minutes notice.

You know where I’m getting to, right? We’re doing some sleep training.

She’s still young, so the approach I’m taking is very gentle on her (and me!) It’s really just about teaching her to self-settle through one sleep cycle to another. I’m shushing and patting and notching up future chiropractor bills like no tomorrow. It’s only Day 3, so a set schedule is a while off. At the moment it’s about getting her used to the rhythm of the day; to going down to sleep, and to staying that way for longer than 45 minutes.

Part of me is frustrated as I thought we had this sorted a few weeks back. But since I’ve started (and she’s been getting more sleep) I’ve been seeing a huge difference in her. She is so much more smiley, ‘talkative’ and engaged. I think maybe what I thought was a good pattern, wasn’t so much after all.

The first three days are (apparently) the hardest … and I can attest to that. I’m starting to climb the walls, as I’ve been staying home to really lock in a routine. Yet for the past few nights she’s been asleep by 7 or 8pm, and has gone through until 5 or 6am.

I am ready for two steps backwards for every forward. But I think the small wins I’ve had since beginning are enough to keep me going. I’ll be interested to see how I feel in a week or two.

 
Have you done anything like this before? What did you find difficult? Did it help you in the long run?

‘Breast is Best’ (except when it’s not)

So as I’ve mentioned, I struggled bigtime with boobfeeding for the first weeks of Little Bun’s life.

It started at the beginning (duh) with a combination of Little Bun having a small mouth, a high palette, a very tiny tongue tie and a ‘suck like a piranha’ (to quote one midwife). In the first days in hospital I made sure I buzzed a midwife every time I fed Little Bun. This was to check that my technique was OK, and her latch was good. I felt pretty good about this, as if their very presence would ward off any nasty breastfeeding spirits that might creep in.

I was consistently praised and told that everything was looking great (I was feeling pretty smug at this point). However on Day 4 Little Bun tried to kickstart my milk coming in by feeding every hour. With one midwife’s ominous declaration that ‘it only takes one bad latch to ruin your nipples’ I worriedly persevered through her increasingly voracious feeds. I don’t know whether it was that ‘one bad feed’, or just the frequency of the little sucker going hell for leather on my poor nipples – but by mid afternoon they were grazed, blistered and bleeding and I was crying every time she squeaked for another feed.

That evening, a very young and well-meaning midwife was trying to manage this escalating issue as Little Bun got hungrier and I became more desperate. Finally we asked to speak to her superior (in the nicest way possible – I think she was more relieved than us to bring her boss in). A much older, more experienced nurse bustled in and took one look at the situation. She firmly explained that I needed to put my boobs on 24 hour’s rest, start pumping colostrum, and give Little Bun some formula in the meantime.

I’d be lying if I said I took that well. Mr Bun had to do a fair bit of talking to make me see sense – that my wellbeing and her full tummy were the most important things. She took the formula like a champ and I started expressing straight away. On seeing the in-hospital lactation consultant the next morning, she put me on a WEEK’S NIPPLE REST … they were pretty bad. So, we came home with a rented hospital-grade pump in tow and Little Bun took expressed milk and formula for a few days until my milk came in and I swapped to giving her 100% expressed breast milk.

At that point, I had attended a full day lactation clinic in the hospital. While helpful, I found their somewhat obsessive ‘breast is best’ attitude restrictive and not very supportive. I was looking for a plan of attack, rather than ‘just latch her on and go’. Whenever Little Bun attached it was complete agony for me. I developed a full-blown anxiety issue about her coming near my boobs, which in turn created a very tense situation: not conducive to good feeding. In the meantime, I was expressing every time she fed – so, 8 x feeds a day + 8 x expressing sessions a day – that’s eight hours a day of not eating, sleeping, resting or talking. Of course Mr Bun was around, and he ended up doing many feeds while I expressed, but this in itself was really distressing as I was missing out on valuable bonding time with my child.

It was really rough, and I think if someone had told me at the outset that it would take five weeks to fix, I wouldn’t have stuck it out.

So – what worked? I found a private Lactation Consultant whose approach I felt comfortable with. She came to our home, and for three hours she sat with me. While we did work on a bit of technique, it was the holistic support she provided me that really helped. She gently explained it would take three weeks to transition back to boob without affecting my supply. She made it clear that formula was fine, and in doing so took the pressure off. She provided me with a written plan (including the ratio of one boob feed to three EBM/expressing sessions – then 2:3, 2:2, 3:1 etc) all the while focusing on my confidence and comfort levels. We had Little Bun’s tongue tie snipped. She grew bigger, and so did her mouth, so her latch improved. I became more confident. Many small things changed so then, slowly but surely, I was 100% breastfeeding.

But beyond all of this, the one thing that got me through was having the Lactation Consultant on the end of the phone whenever I needed her. Some days I spoke to her twice. There were calls on Sundays. Public holidays. Nighttimes. I felt so, so lucky to have her support and without it I would not be breastfeeding now – simple as that.

I’ve been surprised at just how many people were impressed I stuck it out. I think everyone (at least, those in the birth/baby/new mum world) understands how hard b’feeding can be.

But if I’m honest I’ll say I did it for me, and not just for Little Bun.

I have no qualms with formula AT ALL. And I so envy those mothers’ freedom – how they can share the responsibility of feeding their child more equally, and of course their ability to go out and enjoy a wine – or three (!) But, we bottle fed Little Bun EBM for long enough to know the hassle of sterilising, carting bottles around, heating things up and cooling them down. The luxury of having a meal on tap where and whenever was needed was very attractive to me. Like all baby things, it’s such a personal choice. I’m just glad I happened to get my choice, eventually.

New Blog, Old Blog

So, the question many infertility blogsters ask themselves when they’ve been lucky enough to tick over into motherhood land – what to do with the blog?

As many have questioned, just as many have written posts about it. I’ve wondered absentmindedly over the past few weeks what – if anything – I’ll do. And my thought is: not much. The non-sleep deprived (and therefore, observant) of you will note I’ve tweaked the title and I may add a few more links in … but that’s about it.

When I was preggers I did think that maybe the blogging would stop. I found this medium and its community to be infinitely helpful during those terribly painful IVF times. Would the ‘happy ending’ of a baby make this blog redundant? Yet since Little Bun has made it into the world I’ve found myself turning to the computer more and more.

It’s an outlet. As before, I find this a form of release that allows me to vent, share, worry and laugh. And in a time when I am missing work and the identity it brought with it, this is something that lets me use my brain.

I stopped reading post-baby blogs when I was still trying for mine. Their pages were filled with things I couldn’t connect with. This wasn’t done with anger, or sadness – I just felt a lack of connection with the content. So I understand if there are those of you out there who are drifting away as posts about nipples and sleep schedules invade the screen. I’ll still be reading your words – sending you love and support and advice from the other side. Hoping very much that you get what you want.

And there may be new friends, those who are going through the new challenges we’re facing: the exhaustion, the monotony, the terrified joy of getting what you wished for.

Hello. Goodbye. Welcome! Thank you!

x