Life after birth and how I grew ~

#realtalk

PNDA

Post.Natal.Depression.&.Anxiety.

Let’s talk about this for a minute.

Today is my birthday. I woke up this morning recalling that a year ago I was on my 8th day of parenting and had already breastfed my son several times that day. Little did I know the whirlwind of emotions, challenges and darkness I would face within myself in the first year of parenthood.

Processed with VSCO with a9 presetPre motherhood I was coated in a perception that I was a tough, capable and independent person who could put my hand to literally just about anything. In this I had my identity, and in childbirth and rearing I lost it all. I felt everything in my life had flipped upside down and this was foreign to me. I started to have anxiety attacks, which stemmed from a traumatic birth, but continued months into my sons life. Because I didn’t want to acknowledge my lack of control I buried my feelings. But as the months went on and I didn’t acknowledge my struggle for what it was, it turned into a deep despair, a darkness that I hadn’t felt before. I experienced an exhaustion that ate away at who I was and my ability to function. It caused me to believe that my son and husband would be better without me, as I felt the weight of my sadness impact my whole family.

I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t want to share my vulnerabilities, my struggle and my perception of failure as a parent and as a person. And the more I hid this reality from myself, the more exhausted and stuck I got.

Someone very near and dear to me visited our family for a few days, which exposed them (unwillingly) to my mental struggle. They convinced me to seek help. Anxiety and depression is a complete battle of the mind and one I never really had faced before. I felt guilty for disliking being a mother; I felt shame for not being able to control my thoughts and emotions. In this guilt and shame I allowed the lie of internalising to eat me up. A light bulb moment for me was when my friend said to me “would you feel guilt or shame if you had a broken leg or were battling a cold or cancer? It’s the same with mental illnesses. They are sicknesses that need treating and you can’t help it. If you could just choose not too, you would, wouldn’t you?” This helped me accept that what was happening was not my fault and let go some of the guilt. It could have been a result of many origins. Hormones, loss of identity, the social isolation or pre conceived expectations. But ultimately it’s not my fault and its ‘OK’ to seek support and help.

I was very blessed that when I sought help it only took a few months to feel like I was coming out of the dark cloud.

Processed with VSCO with a9 presetHow did I overcome it? This is the crux of this story I tell. Now I am on the ‘other side’ of this season, I don’t want the lessons I learned to die in vain. I want others to gain from them too. And I hope for other parents out there struggling with PNDA. Firstly, it’s ok to admit you’re not doing ok. Secondly, that I may be able to point you in the direction of the true healer.

I bit the bullet and went to a therapist. I did not want to take antidepressants for SO many reasons, so went against the doctors orders there and just decided to try therapy first. I underestimated the power of being in a space where you can be totally honest with yourself and get to the root of issues. Despite my Social Work background and knowledge, I so desperately wanted a quick fix, a magic wand. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the process of going through and dealing with the issues in my mind. Although it did help to be challenged where problematic thinking lay, and have a more empowering narrative found within me.

My husband changed lots of patterns in our parenting and within our family that empowered me to feel less drained, and in turn be able to be a more present mother. This included more sleep training for my son ‘to sleep longer’; weaning him from breast milk, and also one day a week my husband takes the reins for my sons care and Mama gets a sleep in. This was all super crucial in being able to get back to myself again, I trust will be different for every woman’s journey.

From the moment I accepted that I had PNAD and sought support, I had an incredibly quick turn around to feeling like that season is behind me. Everything I mentioned, the therapy, my husbands’ support and talking about it with friends helped my recovery. BUT in all truth what helped the most was my personal journey in getting back to the root of who I am. I knew in my head that I am a child of God, created in His perfect image, but I hadn’t immersed myself in it for my heart to realise this. I began a day-by-day journey of submerging myself in the Word of God, listening to preaching, teaching and prayer. This sped up the healing process extraordinarily, as He healed my heart quicker than any therapy could. I found I had an overwhelming sense of not needing to be in control because He is! And I found that when I perused a relationship with my maker, the emptiness faded away. I am so grateful for being well.

Processed with VSCO with a9 presetLast night someone said to me “imagine if all you had today was what you were grateful for yesterday”. This really got me thinking about the power of gratitude, relationship and surrendering control. Its been a wild journey but one that I was allowed to go through to gain more intimacy in my spiritual life and to grow as a person.

 

 

A letter to my son ~

Dear Valentine.

I have to pinch myself that it has been a year with you. Since you made your grand entrance into the world our life has been nothing short of exciting and full. You have grown beyond what I thought was possible in the one year earthside you’ve shared with us. Each day I see you step out in more confidence wanting to explore your world. I love watching you grow in curiosity.

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You bright up my days with both challenges and joys. Like peeing in your own mouth as a newborn, or putting a bee in your mouth and it stinging your tongue, or how you kamikaze off just about anything because you are overly confident, daring and willing to try anything. And the joys, like sleeping through the night for the past 7 months, giggling every time you see an animal, having wrestles, saying Mum first and just your overall all cheeky personality which absorbs my heart.

I love when your Daddy and I fight for who is going to lift you from the cot as we both missed you so much while you were sleeping.

I love that you clap your hands in church and sing loudly every time the preacher prays.

I love that you wave to the man for stopping his car for us at the zebra crossing.

I love that you already have a knack for charming people and that you bring out smiles from everyone wherever we go.

I love you my son.

You’re a delight and a joy and I am so privileged and grateful to be your Mama and share life with you. And it is my absolute prayer that you will grow year by year in the revelation of the Holy Spirit, in His mighty power to impact this world in a incredible change making way. I pray that all your characteristics from your non-stop daring nature, to your easy going, friendly, socialite smile will be used for Jesus as He made you with every gift you bestow. My son my greatest prayer is that you will always know what Jesus did for you and want to share your life with Him forever.

I always want you to know how precious you are. With all the love in my heart, your Mama. xxx

 

 

Tiny House Bedroom Tour ~ our cosy corner

For a tiny space within our tiny home, I got pretty trigger happy. So enjoy the many snaps of the much awaited bedroom tour.

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I created the head piece from foraged silky gum leaves. As I brainstorm ways of making more income from home, doing something I love, with my beloved son, I am looking at incorporating items like this in a future online decor store.

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Bedroom features:

  • Hand stitched curtains
  • The bed is fairly high so that we have extra storage underneath.
  • The cupboards on top of the bed are inspired by caravan storage ideas. This has been a great way for storing books, electronics, bits ‘n’ bobs without the place looking cluttered. Which is easily done being such a small nook.
  • Homemade artwork.
  • Bed doubles as a sleeping zone, where the washing gets dumped most days, a wrestling pad for my little lad, cat bed and so on. I think this is fairly typical to most homes though.
  • our smallest window of the home, making it quite cosy.
  • a full length wardrobe that doubles as a divider between the bedroom and the living area.
  • and… a full length mirror, which my son absolutely adores because he knows just how cute he is.

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There is so much detail in this small corner of our home. The curtains were hand stitched with a newborn strapped to me.

All 2.4 x 2.4 meters of sweet, comfort and love making space.

*see previous posts for tour of kitchen and nursery

** living room, bathroom/laundry and outdoor tour to come

Tiny House Kitchen Tour ~ where the magic happens

So much detail in such a small space. My kitchen has to be my absolute favourite room in our tiny home!

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Robin propositioned me many times for space saving ideas in the kitchen. Such as a camp fridge that opens from the top, a convection over with a single stove top burned, a mini sink. But our little kitchen was one of the few areas in our home where I was not willing to compromise on comfort. Because.. of course… its where the magic happens. So much pleasure is to be found in creating tasty dishes. Especially with the family.

So Robin got innovative and imaginative with my endearing requests and created me the most pleasant of spaces.

Here is the build before, during and after. We were gifted the cupboard door timber which was from old wall lining, they had a yellow tinge, which didn’t go with anything in the home. This is why we decided to paint over them. Due to their natural and beautiful imperfections, we simply shabby chiced the doors to embrace the earthy, shack like, rustic look.

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The wall colour came around interestingly… I knew we wanted a fresh light look to open the smaller space. So we started with white undercoat and then to save a cent, purchased a mix of paints from the dump shop and found some left over paint in the shed of the rental we lived in at the time. So this warm, off white colour is a mix of all that we scrummaged together.

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Our house is wired with 24Volt, which is how a caravan or a boat is wired. This way Robin could do it himself. However, we do have one outlet that provides 240Volt that came with the Solar System we purchased from the incredibly helpful and quality Rainbow Power Company. Our biggest power consumer is the fridge and we had to get this LG Inverter Linear fridge from the mainland as it has the best power consumption in terms of the surges that is available at this time. We decided it was financially better to get a more expensive fridge than it was to upgrade the solar system to run a typical fridge. I love that its a normal family size fridge. Though I did want white, (not an option for this type of fridge)… can’t always have everything.

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Robin made me some great space saving storage tucked behind the fridge, so the home looks tidy. This is where we also have our power pack to charge all our appliances.

Speaking of electrical, as the lighting is 24Volt, we have had to use boating switches. I love the novelty this presents for fun and creativity in the home. From the back of our house, the Stern (bathroom) to the front where our bedroom is, the Cockpit. I love the unique hardwood box he made me to store it all, it’s just gorgeous!

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Oh our sink. I love our sink! I always have loved the Butler sink and we searched high and low to track it down. There is a certain class I was seeking and our sink feature brings about exactly the look I wanted. Its Valley bath, one of my favourite times of the day. We don’t have a bath in our bathroom so it was an excellent two in one option for the kids.

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Every corner or our tiny home has details that I adore. One thing with owning our home is that we had the freedom to make it what we pleased. BUT… having a tiny home, meant we could afford to get creative in every section of the home. There are still a few minor details I need to tend to but in time they will come.

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Keep a eager eye out for my upcoming blogs on the rest of our home.

Tiny House Nursery Tour ~ because everyone needs their sleep…

Slowly but surely I am capturing the different corners of our tiny home and want to introduce them to you here. While I blog about sleep training, Ill show you Valentine’s neck of the woods.

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Blogging about sleep training is probably one of the hardest blogs that I’ve had to write because I know that parenting is something so deeply personal and unique to every family and even child. None of this is said in judgement to those who parenting differently, this is just what worked for us… incredibly well!

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We entered the parenting journey having a fairly confident idea that we were going to sleep train.  There were several reasons for this, one of them being that we wanted our little edition to add to the family, joining into the already formed ‘Shearer unit’ rather than having to change our lives dramatically to fit around his needs. Don’t get me wrong, life does change with a child, and for the better, but we can do just about everything we did prior having Valley and he just comes along for the show.

Another reason, I am a big believer in sleep equals good health. Literally, when I am tired I become irritable and more prone to sickness. This is why, for the sake of loving my child, I wanted to train him into sleeping well. I’m very confident as a mother believing that, just like adults, if a child has enough sleep then they are happier and healthier. In the sleep training guide we used it stated (based on research) that humans are naturally creatures of habit whether there baby or not.  No matter what behaviour (sleeping through or waking often) Valley was doing, would be creating a habit and we decided to help support our child to create healthy habits.

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More than that though, I’ve always been someone who is need a lot of sleep and function poorly on low sleep. This is why at five months of age we decided to train Valley to sleep through the night. I needed this for my sanity. I needed it to be a better mother. I didn’t see this selfish either because I believe happy mum equals a happy home.

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I definitely have value some old school principal that come from my upbringing however I really disagree with the concept of leaving a child cried out. From working in the Child Protection field before I became a mother, I learnt enough and  I didn’t want to have Valley feeling abandoned or emotionally abused. So rather we sleep trained gently, consistently and we have beautiful bedtime routines that we have created together to prepare for bedtime. Its always a very special time of the day for me.

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The most important principle was teaching him to fall asleep on his own rather than using a prop such as myself or the car. The only sleep proper use with the Lulla doll as it didn’t require my attention every time he woke up. We we did this from a very early age so that there were some nights where I was feeding him in the middle of the night and had a wet cloth to wipe gently on his feet so that you stay awake in order that when he was put down, he fell sleep on his own.

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At five months old, I decided to stop feeding him through the night, feeling (and knowing from research) that he had enough strength and to not need to be fed through the night. I would’ve done this earlier if we weren’t moving houses and having so many visitors between 3-5 months old. It was just the right timing for the season our family were going through. Then rather than feeding him when he cried and I would going and sit with him and pat him until he was calm, and supported him to learn to fall asleep on his own. I was super blessed that this only took one night and he was trained. From then on, only on the rare occasion we may wake up through the night but I can very happily tell you that I am no longer a sleep deprived mother. 

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I also find that sleeplessness creates sleeplessness, so for my little lad, since he started sleeping through the night he is a much happier camper in the day. I have the sleep training program on a PDF ebook so if you want to check it out yourself and modified to fit your family definitely comment of shoot me an email and I will send it to.

Bloopers of our love affair ~

This morning marks 6 years waking as a wife.

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They say that the most common issue a couple can face is related to M O N E Y. Thank goodness Robin and I totally are on the same page and ‘speak the same language’ when it comes to money. Though, there were two occasions in our six beautiful years of marriage that we did disagree and in hindsight they both cause me to giggle as they were so ridiculous.

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The first was when we were in Bali for our three year anniversary. Our budget was tight as we both were University students so we embarked upon three weeks of backpacking in $10 accommodation per night. For that we were able to get gorgeous beach front rooms. We were quite content. I’ve never really holidayed in luxury and overall am a rather down to earth chick BUT when I came across a private villa in the forest with its own swimming pool, outdoor garden shower, stone round bath tub, king size bed, room service and meal included all for $50 per night, it got me all giddy. After all, it was our anniversary. Despite our small wage, I thought we could indulge a little and treat ourselves to two nights there. After all, something like this would cost more than $500 a night back home. So in my excitement I asked my husband who to my surprise protested firmly as it was farrrrr to expensive! He had gotten used to making our small budget stretch and was quite comfortable doing so. He didn’t want to see us indulge unrealistically. Especially considering my proposal was five times the amount we had been paying… safe to say it’s only now that I laugh out loud. At the time I just broke down and an emotional mess and after a few hours of begging and sobbing he finally came around. It turned out to be everything I was hoping for and he rather enjoyed himself too.

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Ok. So now I’ve taken the micky out of my Mountain Man for a moment, it’s time to reveal my own ridiculousness. On our tight studying income, as a couple we made a commitment to discuss any purchases over $50. We built and moved into a shed on a farm and in our busyness it took two months to build our compost toilet. So after two months of driving to my mother’s, going in the bush or using public facilities as our bathroom we were thrilled to finish our very own composting toilet. It was working beautifully for about… um… about two weeks. But then residue came, flies were attracted to it and it just wasn’t comfortable. Even so we persisted with it. The final straw with the toilet came when one day I went and there were about a million baby ticks nesting under the lid. Oh my goodness, this was the worst! What followed this wasn’t really a discussion; I simply told Robin that as much as I am a bush girl and can tolerate and even love a lot about the outdoors, I could not deal with this. To his dismay after many hours and weeks of researching and building me the compost toilet, he reluctantly went and bought me a porter potty. I came home that afternoon as he waited for me with this surprise new edition to our home and instead, he caught more grief from me because we hadn’t formally discussed or agreed upon making such a big purchase, well and truly beyond our $50 agreement. Oh my poor darling, all he was trying to do was please his wife.

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And in six years of marriage, if they’re the worst blows, I think we’re doing all right. Each day I think to myself, again and again…

I love this man.

You’d think it couldn’t be that hard to keep a human alive. I mean, most people manage. Today has been one of those days. Who knew a 7 month old could be so impetuous?

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This mornings heart stoping moment was when we were out and was crawling around and playing happily. He found and broke off a leaf from a plastic plant. It got lodged in the back of his throats and he couldn’t breathe. I’ve not ever felt anything like it but had the company of another mother who gave me the confidence to apply all I knew about choking first aide. Thankfully, despite having a very distressed boy, he was okay.

That moment was enough to zap the energy from me, leaving a very flat and emotional mother bear.

Locally, we have the most amazing mother group and this afternoon I had the chance to offload, cry and be supported. I left feeling mildly more confident about my parenting abilities only for moments later, just out the door of the centre, while crawling around a real leaf got stuck in the back of his throat. This time back tapping and thumping didn’t bring it up and I had to put my fingers deep into the back of his throat causing him to throw up, bringing the leaf up.

I come home in distress to tell my husband all that had happened. We spend the rest of the afternoon loving, kissing and nurturing our child. I am especially shaken in the light of little Alby who recently at three years old lost his life to choking in the most unlikely way. It hit us hard particularly as his family live a mere 2 hours drive from us. Oh my heart hurts for the Davis family. #foreverthreeforeverthree #ripalby

Then, tonight my Mountain Man is about to walk out of the door and says to Valley, “don’t pull that stool onto you”, which he has never done before I might add. Well before he had a chance to get into his car he hears a heart wrenching scream. Sure enough my son pulled the stool onto his face. Blood was all through his mouth.

My son is a water baby so we straight away run the bath  with our calming organic  soaps and it does calm him. Momentarily. I’m there right with him and he slips and hits his head on the side of the bath. Oh can my heart take any more? Is this the “normal” mothering experience?

By the grace of God my son sleeps tonight whole and healthy. My cheeks are stained with tears as I believe many mothers have been and will be in the future. Raising boys.