Tag Archive | Women

A Shambolic Birthing

If you had had a blissful pregnancy, a trouble-free birth and slipped easily into the world of yummy mummy step away from the screen there’s nothing for you to see here.

On the other hand if you found the whole pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding thing a bit darn hard then open the wine we’ve got bonding to do.

It’s been 15 years since I first encountered pregnancy, but I still distinctly remember the shock as my body morphed into an unrecognisable shape and my emotions went into free fall. At the time I felt I was being perfectly reasonable, although perhaps in hindsight crying hysterically for 30 minutes because I emitted a rip roaring fart and my husband laughed was a tad of an overreaction.

There were moments of amazement and wonder although most were eclipsed by constant all-day sickness (I refuse to refer to it as morning sickness this was a 24 hour-a-day living hell). I was to become familiar with every toilet facility within a ten kilometre radius of anywhere I went.

By the time the birth rocked around I was more than ready, unfortunately my husband was not, he forgot he was supposed to be timing the length of time BETWEEN contractions and started timing the LENGTH of the contractions. Then he lost the car keys. It was like a bad sketch comedy me arguing, him befuddled and a baby on the way! Somehow the keys were located and we got to hospital.

I wimped out of the pain with an epidural (and no I won’t feel guilty about that) and my baby decided to make an unexpectedly quick appearance, after all Mum was pretty relaxed so she figured she just get on with the job. Unfortunately, the placenta didn’t follow the child’s lead and remained steadfastedly stuck to the uterine wall. Doctor went in for a manual removal and so help me I thought her hand was going to come out of my mouth! There was a couple of stitches required (again I’m feeling no pain) but the amount of threading in and out did give me some concern over just how much was being stitched up! (There’s a number of ‘layers’ to get through apparently at least that’s what I think I was told).

What was my husband’s response after sitting through all of this? “I wouldn’t be a woman for quids”. Remember ladies this is the moment to ask for whatever you want.

If that had been where it ended all would have been good. Unfortunately, we had one more challenge to face, breastfeeding. My underweight baby (I think that placenta was a bid dodgy in the last month) had tiny, tiny lips. I had size F hooters. Somehow the coupling was not a happy romance. We tried and tried. We got help from midwives and a lactation consultant.  But at the end of the day the mastitis did us in.

I was swamped with a burning, ruby red rash and overwhelming tiredness that left me incapable of caring for my baby. On the third bout I threw in the towel. I hired a giant milking machine from the chemist and did my dairy cow duties for another few weeks with expressed milk and a bottle then went on to formula. Baby and I had never been happier. The best piece of advice at this time was from a nurse at the hospital “really look around the room, can you pick who was breastfed?” If you can breastfeed all power to you, if you can’t, and you know you’ve tried as hard as you can, then formula is not the worst thing you could do to your child.

Fast forward three years and I line up again for child number two. Again my friend the all-day sickness arrives. This time I end up on a drip in hospital more than once. I manage to catch the world’s worst flu which develops into chronic asthma.

Then I wake up one morning, almost three months before the baby is due, covered in blood. I’m convinced I’ve lost her. The desperation and fear are overwhelming.

The next few hours are a blur, the ambulance, the hospital, the specialists, the baby’s not dead, there is a heartbeat. But now unfamiliar words “placenta previa”, “high risk pregnancy”, “emergency caesarean” are echoing around the room.

It turns out that yet again the placenta has let me down. This time it has grown in the lowest part of the womb and is covering all or part of the opening to the cervix. There’s no way a baby can come out that exit!

We spend a month on steroids to build up the baby’s lungs, there’s some smaller bleeds, then another big one. It’s time for that caesarean.  There is the certain knowledge that my baby is tiny, she’s seven weeks early, will she be big enough? Will there be complications? You are completely helpless. Reliant on the expertise and judgement calls of a roomful of strangers.

When she arrives she bypasses her parents and is whisked straight to the arms of the paediatrician. There’s a terrifying moment of silence when the world stops moving and then the most wonderful sound in the world – a cry.  She’s sent straight to the neonatal nursery where she needs a few puffs of oxygen but essentially we are very lucky. She weighs in at 1750 grams, not much bigger than a bag of sugar.

It is only later, when I see the look of relief on the obstetrician’s face that I realise just how much guess work was involved on when was the right time to deliver. We are so grateful she picked it perfectly.

There’s three weeks in the nursery and the devastation of having to leave hospital without my daughter but she emerges a strong little individual who now, at 12 years of age, is an intelligent, caring and very capable young lady.

Birth and breastfeeding are unique experiences that I don’t think you can prepare for, some will find them beautiful and wonderful, others will struggle, at the end of the day we all manage to muddle our way through. We must all be confident that we can make the right choices for our circumstances.

Written for and first published by Saturday Morning Ogre Mum for a series on birth and breastfeeding stories.

The Quest For Me Time

It’s now official women get no “me time”. They did a poll. Seriously just asking for “hands-up who doesn’t have a minute to themselves” at the school gate would have done the trick but nevertheless 1000 women with children aged 16 and under were surveyed by Galaxy Research for Procter & Gamble.

The outcome – mums average less than 40 minutes a day to themselves, they spend 2 hours and 20 minutes a day solely on childcare, 87 per cent felt isolated, and over 50 per cent felt guilty trying to reach a balance between work and raising children. No surprises there.

Although hats off to the mums who are managing to get 40 minutes to themselves on any given day. I don’t think they asked how they got that 40 minutes – barricading yourself in the loo, arriving at school pick-up half an hour early just so you can sit in the car by yourself, or counting up the time you spend getting Macca’s drive-thru coffees is probably not the most rewarding of time to yourself but I’m sure it counts. When you find yourself enjoying the grocery shopping because it’s an hour by yourself while the kids are at home with their father it’s probably a sign that your definition of “me time” needs a rethink.

Naively I thought with my children being older I could attempt to claw back some “me time”. So began the Shambolic Living blog and  Project 44. Now don’t get me wrong all are supportive of the endeavour but that doesn’t stop the heavy sighs, the eye rolling and the “you are on the computer again?” comments.

Getting “me time” for my little hobby has involved rising at 5.00am or staying up until after midnight on many occasions. Like a shining beacon my firing up the computer seems to attract the family. Sitting next to me looking over my shoulder watching what I write, perched on the nearby lounge asking “what are we going to do about …” or standing behind bellowing “do you know where my jumper/assignment/bus pass is?”.

Sometimes I sneak away to the bathroom, load up the tub with scalding hot water, pour in a bottle of bubble bath, slink down below water level in an attempt to drown out the noises from the adjacent rooms. Without fail Princess Child will appear at the doorway announcing the latest injustice she has suffered at the hands of her father or sister. Seriously they just had to be alone together for 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes to go through the social niceties, pretend to be civil  and not rile each other up. Anyway, who died and me referee of the whole world? Fight it out amongst yourselves.

Notice nobody seems to be surveying the dads. Are they just as stressed out or are they better at finding me time? I suspect they are probably just as time poor but more capable of slipping in moments of tranquility while our whole “guilt metre thingo” hinders our ability to even carve out a second for ourselves.

While I flounder about in my feeble attempts to restructure my life to support my new blogging addiction hobby others do give much clearer guidance. Life Coach Kirri White has a great blog post A Short Guide to Achieving Life Balance which advises finding your main stumbling blocks, creating space and honouring your own values as important steps on the road to creating your own down time.

Do you manage to get “me time”? What do you do to create the space for your own “me time”?

Open Letter to High Achieving Women

Quentin Bryce, Governor General.

Dear Women Who Have Done It All

I’ve just got one question, how? How do you combine high profile, hardworking, careers with raising children? Seriously ladies I want some answers and I want them now.

In my life achievement now boils down to whether we can see the kitchen bench and everyone has left the house wearing clean undies – I struggle to see how you lead countries, run big corporations, work ungodly hours in high stress jobs while there are kids at home demanding time and attention.

Does it come down to money? Earning the big bucks gives you more options? I desperately want a Nanny, not for the children they are long past that stage, for ME. Someone who cooks my dinner, ensures I’ve got clean clothes to put on in the morning, brings me cool drinks and Panadol when I’m ill, someone whose only priority in life is making sure I’m OK.

Does a Nanny make the difference in terms of doing it all?

Looking at some of the high achievers in Australia it’s not like you went the no children policy, in fact some of you were high achievers in that regard as well, Governor General Quentin Bryce you had five children, Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac you stopped at four, but that included a set of TRIPLETS.

I look at you all on paper and it all sounds so calm, ordered, successful. Your bios read like a step-by-step case study in focus, drive and determination but please tell me there were days when the wheels fell off.

My goals aren’t as lofty as yours, I don’t need to be the 32nd most powerful woman in the world (Gail, just in case you didn’t have time to notice that’s you according to Wikipedia via the Forbes list but you have dropped a bit you were 8th in 2010 – might want to work on that).

All I want is to write a 300 word blog each day. I don’t even have to leave the house to do it, but buggered if I can figure out how you find the time to think creatively, write interestingly and correct spelling and grammar mistakes while arguing with children, debiting the pros and cons of buying a new car with my husband, cooking meals, washing clothes and ignoring the housework to the point you can’t find the youngest child under the rubble.

I know you were busy doing really important stuff, but what I want to know is, did you have sleepless nights worrying about missing school concerts? Or did you manage to make it to the school events on top of everything else?

At the end of the day, as far as I’m aware, your kids grew up to be OK. But do they ever harp on about what you missed out on?

Most importantly of all, any regrets? Note I’m not expecting that you will say God Yes, if I had it to do again, I’d be happy in suburbia  running the most successful P&C in the country.

As a mother who did the Gen X thing of opting out of the career race – what advice can I give my daughters of what it’s really like out there in the big bad world?

Please note high achievers – and I’m not just talking Quentin and Gail here – give it to us straight, without the PR spin of girls can grow up to be anything, do anything, have it all – how was it REALLY?

Signed Tired, Frazzled, Doing the Best She Can Mother.