{The Nest Writes} What I wish I knew before her

Before having children I thought I was complete. I liked myself, my husband and the little life we were building together. We were two people that together faced the world and lived a life of adventure, travel and snuggly movie nights on the lounge.

Our life was lovely, but we decided not long after being married that it was time we extended our family to include a new little human.

Putting aside the fact that creating a human life is absolutely tremendous and amazing, it is a pretty damn extraordinary that a whole person (or three!) would not exist if my husband and I had never met.

Like most young couples we were excited and nervous to start trying, thankfully we didn’t have to wait long before those little blue lines confirmed that our lives would be changing forever.

I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for the introduction of a child into your life, I know for sure that no matter how many books you read or how many classes you attend that you never will really know the power of a child on your life until you hold your own babe in your arms.

Having been around children my whole life (I was the oldest of five, with my brother being 12 years younger than me!) I thought I was all over it. I knew how to change a dirty nappy, how to prepare a bottle. I knew how to read nursery rhymes and how to wash singlets. They are all the things I knew how to do, but parenthood is so very much more than that. It’s so much more than the things to do, it’s the feels that are the strongest.family

So, I wrote this letter to pre-baby me…

Dear Me,

So, you’re going to be a mum. Congratulations!

I need you to know though, you are about to change in more ways than you will ever really know. Parenthood is overwhelming and suffocating. It is the longest marathon of your life, blended seamlessly with numerous amounts of sprints that are over before you know it. It is empowering and satisfying. Devastating and uplifting.

I think the part you are likely to struggle with the most, is the eternally paramount urge to worry. You will worry about everything. Has your baby eaten enough, does she weigh enough, is that rash normal, is she smiling early enough. That’s the strangest part, the worry begins long before you even held her in your arms. You will worry about the foods you eat during pregnancy, worry about how many kicks you feel, worry about giving your new little person a name and how that name will grow with her over the years.

The worrying during parenthood is completely overwhelming, it never truly ends. To be honest you have always had a moderate level of anxiety that you have managed quite well during your life, but be prepared for the fact that suddenly those anxiety levels are going to be heightened exponentially.

Elizabeth Stone once said that “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I really believe that no truer words have ever been spoken. Once you have a child you are no longer one. There is a part of you that exists outside of yourself.

That is the really difficult thing to get used to, the fact that you are responsible for another entire human life. A few days after her birth, your husband will return to work. The visitors will stop coming. It will just be you and your little pink bundle left alone together. The responsibility you feel will be encompassing, but my darling, so too is your instinct. That’s the thing no one really tells you about. Deep inside, somehow, you just know what to do.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy! but, somehow you survive. You learn, you develop, you grow.

After a couple of days you will know her tired cry and her hungry squeal. You will learn that she likes to be patted on the back when going to sleep and does not like her feet being touched. You will learn that she likes cuddles but won’t fall asleep in your arms. Like anything it will get easier the more time that goes by.

Darling, the challenges are strong; the lack of sleep is a killer. Everything is worse when you are tired, everything is harder, everything is tougher. I promise though, it doesn’t last forever. One day, when you don’t even realise, it is you who wakes during the night and not your baby. Then the next night the same thing happens until one morning you wake up and realise you both slept throughout the whole night.

I just say, take the time to breathe in those sleepy moments, while it may not feel like it when you are buried in the trenches of sleeplessness, those little moments of you and your baby in the cool hours of the morning will be gone before you realise. The dark mornings are quiet and a wonderfully brilliant time to bond. There is no distraction, just you and your little one.

As they grow the worrying just gets worse, on their first day of school you are likely to cry, not because you are necessarily sad but because you are proud, you are realising your little baby is growing into a unique little person of her own. You will not be able to fight their battles for them, nor make sure everyone is nice. You little person needs to find their own place in the world. Just know though, you have done everything you can to prepare her.

You heart will bound when she takes her first steps, starts to run and learns to jump. Just as you start to think she no longer need you, a little voice will cry out for you in the night and you will be reminded that the little part of you on the outside is still only young and vulnerable and in desperate need of her mummy.

Your heart will break the first time she comes home crying because someone was mean to her. You will want to fight the battle for her and march into the school, but instead you have to teach her to be brave. Teach her to stay strong and teach her to take a stand.

Above all, the most devastating moment of your life will be when she gets hurt. It will literally feel like you are breaking into a million pieces. The pain associated with a sick child is nearly unbearable and you will feel desperately hopeless. on the flip-side there is no moment greater in life than seeing your child healthy and, even more importantly happy.

It is so easy to become engulfed in your new little person but remember those other people around you. Make time to be with your husband. A baby is an extension of your relationship, not the only glue that joins you together. You had a wonderful life together before so work hard to keep that spark alive. It will be hard, but he is worth it. You are worth it.

You will realise how easy it is to make sacrifices for another person. The last piece of cake, the rest of your pay check, the chance to go exploring the world yourself. Funny enough though, the price you pay in sacrifice is nothing compared to what you get in return.

So, my dear, you will never be the same, but you will be a better kind of different. You will learn patience and resilience. You will instinctively become protective of this small little human. You will forever be changed because a little part of you is now roaming around on the outside. Don’t give yourself too many heavy expectations, just aim to raise a little person who is happy and kind. She doesn’t need to be the best at everything, really at the base of it, she just need not be a jerk.

Embrace it the journey. AND remember, sleep is for the weak.

Love from,

Post-child you. 

Audrey&Mama

{The Nest Rant} To the super helpful 20-something…

| R A N T W A R N I N G |

This is to the SUPER helpful 20-something that told me yesterday in the supermarket that I “shouldn’t be SO stressed with my three little girls because her brother works fulltime, has four kids and handles it just fine”. Well woo-fucking-hoo.

You know what you tiny, clean, non-pelvic-floor-compromised person GET FUCKED. Don’t judge me, until you have walked in my shoes you don’t get an opinion. I have kept three little humans alive. Plus, they even usually use their manners. Like yesterday when they didn’t tell you to mind your own goddamn business.

I have pushed three children (including one just under five kilograms) out my very own vagine. My body has fed them. My brain has taught them. My mind has nurtured them. My heart loves them. So, if I’m a little stressed you don’t know what got me to that point.

Your brother might be doing a fantastic job and good on him, but I am doing my goddamn best and some days we eat spaghetti on toast for dinner. Whoa! I know that must be devastating to hear to a judgmental know-it-all like yourself.

You know what, I get to wake up everyday and see what it is like to be loved by a tiny squad of people I made myself and you have EXACTLY no idea how good that feels.

It may have been my choice to have children, but babez, it is also my choice not to listen to you and your small mindedness.parent3

End rant.

{My story} Post Natal Depression Awareness week

This week is Post Natal Awareness week and it is important that you, I, everyone support this.

I look at her now and can't even imagine the feelings I once had

I look at her now and can’t even imagine the feelings I once had

Post Natal Depression affects everyone. It is not discriminatory. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor. Black or white. Young or older. It doesn’t care.  It affects about 1 in every 7 new mothers (and those results are based on people who actually seek help).

I have never really spoken about my post natal experience. Whilst I was never diagnosed with Post Natal Depression I felt panicked. I felt isolated and lost.

I remember feeling extremely guilty because I was unable to soothe my new child. I wondered if she knew I felt like I didn’t love her enough. Is that why she screamed?

Did she know I was lost? That I felt all alone?

I often asked myself if I loved her enough. Shamefully about three weeks in, wondered if I would miss her if someone else took her home.

This led me to feel more guilt. I felt inadequate and hopeless.

I had grown this little child in my body for over nine months. Before I met her I was excited. I envisioned hours of long cuddles and midnight breastfeeds. I would supplement her with my milk, as I believed nature intended. The truth is, I was unable to nourish her alone. My baby could not solely rely on me to provide for her. I felt worthless.

I felt guilty each time I used formula. I felt sad each time I used the bottle steriliser. I cried often as I tried to offer my breast but she refused me.

I was dark and alone. She cried. I cried.

I felt like my guilt was surrounding me, almost, some days drowning me.

I had also been diagnosed with Bells Palsy weeks before having my baby and felt ugly and different. My face still hadn’t returned to normal. I still had pains in my dreams. I felt low and sad.

On top of this, I felt like I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Like deep down my daughter expected more. I was constantly exhausted, not only with the battle of looking after my newborn but with the battle I was fighting each day in my head.

My turning point was a Tuesday. I had spent the day listening to my child wail from her perfect bassinet in her perfect nursery.  After lunch I called my husband and told him to come home. I needed him to close his workshop for the day and come home and save me.

I needed to be saved from this screaming child. I needed to be saved from the heavy expectations of being a new mother. I needed him, above all else, to save me from myself.

He came home and held me. I let him cradle me like a baby. I finally realised I needed to let go. Let go of my expectations. Release my guilt. Free myself.

Then one day, when she was not very old. The clouds above me parted. I looked at her with love. I felt immediately attached to her, like I needed her more than my desire to breathe. I realised that she was mine forever and that was not conditional upon me being perfect. She was me and I was her, a part of our souls intertwined forever.

I have an amazingly supportive husband and great family and friend network. I think that saved me. I think they saved me from myself.postnatal depression

I can look back now and see that dark period as a time of great character building for myself. I tell myself that without experiencing all those emotions I may not have realised how much I am actually capable of. It allowed me to realise that I need not be so hard upon myself but rather enjoy the time without necessarily aiming for perfection.

It is so important that you speak up. If you are a new parent and experiencing any of the following symptoms (for two weeks or more) please ask for help.

  • low mood and/or feeling numb
  • feeling inadequate, like a failure, or feeling guilty, ashamed, worthless, hopeless, helpless, empty or sad
  • often feeling close to tears
  • feeling angry, irritable or resentful (e.g. feeling easily irritated by your other children or your partner)
  • fear for the baby and/or fear of being alone with the baby or the baby being unsettled
  • fear of being alone or going out
  • loss of interest in things that you would normally enjoy
  • insomnia (being unable to fall asleep or get back to sleep after night feeds) or sleeping excessively, having nightmares
  • appetite changes (not eating or over-eating)
  • feeling unmotivated and unable to cope with the daily routine
  • withdrawing from social contact and/or not looking after yourself properly
  • decreased energy and feeling exhausted
  • having trouble thinking clearly or making decisions, lack of concentration and poor memory
  • having thoughts about harming yourself or the baby, ending your life, or wanting to escape or get away from everything.

Take the time to drop in on new parents. Ask if they are okay. Let us support each other, for every person is fighting a battle you may know nothing of.

Please seek help – You can get through this:

Beyond Blue – http://justspeakup.beyondblue.org.au/

Panda – http://www.panda.org.au/

parents

 

Oi, mumma – a new perspective

Sometimes everybody needs to be reminded that your best is good enough. You are doing so much better than you realise. While parenthood is hard and testing, it can also be the most rewarding experience of your life.

Do you think you aren’t patient enough? Are you not understanding enough? Are you not doing a good enough job?

You are enough.

This very clever video posted on Vimeo shows mothers sharing their worries, their concerns and reflecting on their parenting abilities. Then their children explain what they actually see in their mothers.

Take the time to watch this. Grab the tissues. Then forward it to all your friends who might need a little reminding that they to are enough.

Patience is a virtue

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Sometimes being a parent is holding your breath while deeply breathing in, telling yourself it is okay to stop and smell the roses, and the daffodils and the pine trees and the neighbours dog all while running 10 minutes late for a doctor’s appointment.

Breathe. Deeply. Often.

You will not get this day back and they will not be this young again.

Bliss is.. Not drinking lava in the laundry

Before becoming a mama-bird I had visions of long cuddles with a sweet curly haired child who spoke politely and thoughtfully. We would have hours of blissful moments reading together, making cookies and having long walks in the park. We would play tennis. We would learn French. What a blissful life we would lead.

O, how wrong I was.keep-calm-and-hide-to-drink-tea

Now what this mama-bird has come to realise is that a blissful moment comprises of watching my children NOT wipe snot on each other whilst I hide in the laundry, slurping impatiently on my scalding hot cup of tea.

Said tea is hotter than volcanic lava as it has been reheated 4 times in the microwave because baby-bird has already needed two baths, 3 changes of clothes, 2 bottles, one mix of pears and rhubarb and a milk-arrowroot biscuit. Toddler-bird is on her third bowl of weetbix and is demanding hummus and carrots (but the carrots must be cut in long pieces just like on TV mama, you know like on ‘Mastersheve’). All before 10am.

Hiding, taking refuge, Patiently standing in the laundry sipping tea is completely fine. I am not ‘one of those parents’. You know the ones that can’t even drink of cup of tea in the mornings. This mama-bird is completely in control. There is no fear to be smelt here.

Having said that, what this mama-bird is starting to realise is that bliss are the days when you don’t have to try and convince the lady at the bakery that the weird green substance on your shoulder (read: regurgitated broccoli) is the new black.

Bliss are the days where you haven’t felt obliged to provide an afternoon seminar dedicated to learning why it is not appropriate to feed cat food to baby-bird. EVEN if she does seem to like it.

Bliss are the days where you are not found topless, straight from the shower, caught mid-run by the postman at the front door, chasing toddler-bird down the hallway because she is armed with a handful of sultanas, talcum powder and a stapler.

Bliss are the days where toddler-bird’s invisible frenemy, Kevin (the dragon) does not magically jump out from behind the fridge and make toddler-bird squeal. EVERY 3 MINUTES

Bliss are the days where a lecture on social security is not required. Just in case you missed it, yesterday’s topic was learning the importance of not hiding mama-bird’s keys in the letterbox. I am sure Parliament House will release a statement soon.

Bliss are the days when you are able to go to the bathroom (alone) and not return to find toddler-bird showing baby-bird what snow is. Using 1 kilogram of uncooked rice.

Bliss are the days where you are able to answer your IPhone without it being covered in gravy or spit or really any non-Apple approved substance.

Bliss are the days where you don’t have to remind toddler-bird that the cat does not like when you chase him, let alone when you try teaching him to drink apple juice… through a straw. Please stop. Love mama-bird.

Sometimes though, bliss really is watching baby-bird play peek-a-boo, behind a clear water bottle.

Bliss really is when you catch toddler-bird telling baby-bird that she is glad papa-bird ‘bought’ her from Target.

Bliss really is when toddler-bird declares to her kindy class that ‘mama & papa are my best friends’

Bliss really is seeing two little birds building a strong relationship that will take them into the big world together one day.

Bliss really is, when all is quiet, everyone is asleep. You take a sip of your appropriately heated tea and realise that you cannot wait to see what sort of day tomorrow is.