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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.

 

 

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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

 

 

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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.

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6 months with you ~

My son Valentine.

6 months with you has been the best thing I have ever done and I couldn’t imagine life without you.

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You radiate confidence and are so self assured.

You have never been shy. In fact, it wasn’t hard to see you are a little extrovert just like your Mumma from virtually the beginning. However, your confidence is something that I am seeing more and more as you grow. You took a while to bring your extroverted personality out into the public space but each day I feel you are becoming more sure of yourself. You are so eager to explore your world and your curiosity is one of your biggest traits. I love watching you do this so passionately and fearlessly.

You are active and embrace life fully.

Valley, you have two grandmothers and a grandfather who don’t know what the word “rest” means… not to mention a mother who isn’t dissimilar. You my darling, sure have inherited this trait. I sometimes wonder what it’d be like to have a child who cuddles into me, or plays independently and quietly in one place for a while. You my son, will have me continuing to wonder. Every cuddle consists of you attempting to climb onto my head, pulling at whatever you get your hands on, eating everything, chatting away, squirming, launching yourself from me and constantly changing positions to keep entertained. I love your enthusiasm and your go getter attitude to life.

In your enthusiasm you have often thrown yourself down stairs, into walls and been knocked about but you are so tough. It takes a lot to bring tears to your eyes and I think this Mumma will need eyes in the back of her head to make sure you are kept safe as you get stronger and more curious about your surroundings.

You are calm and relaxed.

It’s interesting though because despite how active you are, your temperament is so calm. Nothing really worries you. You have never appeared fearful or anxious. In this way, you are your father’s child. I feel you’re going to be happy just going with the flow ~ after all, the routine we have is ‘no routine’. I can throw you around, change up your sleep patterns, have you day after day doing new things in new places and still, you are a dream baby. This I think, is one of my favourite parts of your personality and character.

You are such a chatterbox and desire to be with humans.

I doubt that you’ll ever be a solo rider as you’re constantly seeking interaction and play with people. Even if that just means making eye contact and facial expressions. On the rare occasions you’re happy to play on your own, you talk away to your toys, or the cat, or the cat food. You just love interacting with things and people through the use of your voice. It’s funny, now you’ve slept through the night for a whole month, as you enter in and out of sleep cycles, rather then crying or fussing as many babies do, you just audibly exert a relaxed, almost meditative like hum before you settle back for more sleep. It’s funny to be woken, not because you need us but because you just like to talk, even in your sleep.

You desire to be happy.

Even when you are sick, or tired or sad, it isn’t hard to get a smile out of you. Often I’m not sure if you are giggling or crying as the noises intertwine. It’s really easy for me to tell when you’ve genuinely hurt yourself or teething badly because it is if, on rare occasions, you can’t find a smile.

You desire to make those around you have happy.

Yesterday I was in the airport and any time you would see someone you would just light up in a big smile. This resulted in wherever I went, people were smiling and charmed by you. However, one business man on the phone didn’t respond to your smile at first, and this did not put you off, rather you just persisted in looking at him with your big grin for almost 10 minutes until finally you won him over and got a smile.

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I love being your Mumma and cannot wait ti relish in every moment of you growing up.

birth · Uncategorized

Birthing my Valentine ~

Leading up to birth, each time Baby Bear would be measured at the antenatal appointments, I’d receive the response “Wow, you’re measuring big”. This gave me a false sense of reality where I assumed that, as a result I’d go into labour early. However, the days ticked on, bringing more and more symptoms that birth was ever so near. I have heard many times that the last two weeks of pregnancy can feel like eternity or comparable to the same length of time as the previous 8 months. How accurate this was! Baby bags packed, car seat loaded and tick tock, tick tock.

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Since moving to Tasmania in winter, the weather has been hit and miss with the occasional glorious and sometimes miserable days. Two days before my due dates was a Saturday and one of those glorious days. Robin and I had been trying to heed the advice to enjoy sleeping in, and making the most of ‘us’ time before we met out little baby. We packed a picnic and headed down to a remote beach, local for us. Here we collected pebbles for our tiny home’s bathroom floor, enjoyed soaking in the rays, took my last baby bump pic and collected wattle to attempt my first ever drying of flowers for a nature chandelier that I intend to make. It was so pleasant.

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By 4:55pm we were home in our cosy house, fire going and settling in to watch a nice movie before dinner. I sat on the toilet and suddenly could not stop the flow. It’s hard when with each new symptom, you get your hopes up that at any moment we would meet Baby Bear and then find out its just another ‘step in the right direction’. So I was trying desperately not to be hopeful. After a while, it subsided and I nestled in, watching the film. During the film though, I went to the bathroom 5 times, being unable to stop the flow. By 7pm I said to Robin, “I think my water really is breaking!” Regardless, I had no other niggles to suggest birth was near, so we had dinner and popped on the electric blankets, intending to get some good hours of sleep in before Baby Bear arrived.

At 8pm the three hour trickle had stopped and I got my first wave of period pain like feelings in my lower back. Now this had been common for 6 weeks up until now, so I was still trying not to get my hopes up. Then three times, 15 minutes a part, I felt the same sensation. I asked Robin to time them. Three at 8 minutes apart, then three at 6 minutes apart.

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Our new home in Tasmania is a 46 minute drive from my front door to the hospital. Robin and I decided to ring the hospital just to check at what stage to come in. On the phone I had two contractions. Not painful, I just needed to stop talking and breathe through them. I was told not to rush, but to slowly start packing and making our way to the hospital. I definitely didn’t want to spend too much of the first stage of labour in the hospital, if instead I could have been in the comfort of my own home but by then end of the call, the contractions were closer to three minutes apart. So we headed in, slowly but surely. Both of us wanted the experience to be as relaxed as possible. We were overtaken many times, though we were driving at the speed limit. It was a strange feeling driving in knowing we are about to give birth while we watch the world of others go by, including someone intoxicated, throwing up in a car park. So many different people’s lives, playing out so differently at the same time. And in that moment, we were walking in an unforgettable, life changing journey.

By the time we made it to the delivery suite, I was having some, stop in your tracks contractions, yet making normal conversation in between. We couldn’t have been more blessed because, upon arrival, we discovered that our midwife had started her shift 5 minutes earlier and just read through our birth preference.

My ideal labour was to have a natural (painkiller free), water, home birth. However as we moved interstate at 34 weeks pregnant and there were limited home birthing midwives available, my option was to birth at the hospital. In QLD I struggled with my GP who often tried to impose his ideas and ideals onto me. Rachel, my godsend midwife, accepted with grace, all our requests, despite some being not so common and not according to hospital procedure. And as her shift had just started, it seemed highly likely she would be the one supporting me throughout the whole birth. That was such an answer to prayer!

Also, at the hospital, though they have the facilities to support water births, only a select handful of midwives are comfortable with this style of birth and I knew it would be hit and miss. So again, I resorted to prayer and the hot water was running as we arrived.

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Upon arriving at 10:30pm, the intensity of my labour ramped up. The midwife, Rachel, was so respectful and really left us in the room alone for the majority of the labour. We had de-stress aromatherapy going, soothing worship music and an array of homeopathic and natural medicines derived from the earth in case I felt I needed support without having synthetic drugs.

One thing that I did not expect was the level of intensity… no, pain. I did not expect it to hurt as much as it did. Really the only thing I can liken the experience to is torture. I know that may sound dramatic considering so many women in the world have experienced labour. This perhaps added to my impression that labour wouldn’t be as hard as it actually was. I could never imagine birth outside of water. Having its comforting warmth on my body made the pain far more bearable. Though in first stages of labour you cant really work with your body and the contractions, besides trying to slow your breath and intentionally breath into the pain. I found much comfort in being about to roll and toss my body without the hold of gravity.

In Queensland we had antenatal classes with a beautiful home birther who shared with us that though we have birth preferences, sometimes things can get so intense, that I may even feel delusional and ‘zonked out’. This can be really hard for partners, Robin, to see and experience the one they love go through so much pain, and feel helplessly unable to do anything, yet to also stick to the birth preferences. About three hours into active labour I got to a stage where I felt I could no longer do it. In the past when I have hurt myself seriously I always internalise my reaction. That how you know its serious with me. However, in birthing, I could not help myself from screaming out and I said to the midwife and Robin, “I need something, I can’t do this, and I just can’t do this anymore”. To my great disappointment, she calmly told me I was doing really great. She also said that this response is common for women at that stage and is a sure sign that I am in ‘transition’, about to enter my second stage of labour ~ pushing.

Robin was so comforting, he sat there with his feet in the bath, ready to jump in if I needed him and I was able to squeeze, lean and be absolutely comforted by his presence. Before you go into labour, you don’t know whether you will be loud of quiet, need lots of physical touch or none. For me, a gentle stroke, an “I am here for you honey” was all I needed. Robin did try a few massage techniques we had been shown, but this provided me no comfort. And as I couldn’t have anyone near my head. I felt claustrophobic even at a gentle, comforting kiss. I know that if he could, he would have taken the pain for me. Oh what would I have done without him!

Between contractions, as I felt settled, it was the strangest looking at my belly, which once was wedged as high as it could go under my breasts to suddenly lowering and becoming hollow.

Our birth preference plan stated that we wanted for the midwife not to encourage or tell us to ‘push’. We had educated ourselves enough to know that it isn’t like it is in the movies and that our bodies will naturally tell us when we need to start pushing. I was in the delusion of transition, and then suddenly, I bellowed (yes the screams that came from my body, surely were heard miles away, but they were a foreign, gut wrenching roar/bellow) “I PUSHED!” Again Rachel calmly looked at me and smiled, “good”, she said.

When the pushing began, I found a new sense of energy I did not have before. In my antenatal classes, I had learned how the little body I have been carrying comes through my pelvis and out into the world. I could start to feel and understand where my baby was in my body, and this enabled me to feel like I could work with my body. The pain changed too. Still intense, still close to unbearable, but different, which almost felt like I was running a different race. And I knew the end was near.

Robin saw the change in me, and this changed him too. He became my cheer squad, looking and seeing Baby Bear’s head emerge and then go back, with each push, more of Baby Bear was apparent. I found comfort too in feeling with my hand, Baby Bear’s crown. Not long to go. I can’t remember exactly but I believe it was about half an hour of pushing. A burning sensation overcomes the contraction pain as you stretch for little Bear to make his appearance. He would creep out and retract, until half his head was out and he just chilled there. Not so chilled for me. The midwife did listen to his heartbeat in this final stage and Baby Bears had a consistent, calm rate beating away. Then his head was out. So close! I got this!

The only time that I felt that I made a conscious effort to push was when his shoulders were out and I just needed that contraction to be my last, so I gave all my energy to pushing his little body into the water. Having no energy left, the only intervention Rachel did was scooping Baby Bear up and placing him in my arms.

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Since Robin and I had first discussed, we knew we wanted to keep the gender reveal as a surprise for birth. To us, there was something exciting about the hormones of oxytocin, becoming new parents and discovering who will join our growing family all occurring in the same moment. And a surprise it was! I was utterly convinced most of my pregnancy I was having a girl and often referred to Baby Bear as a “she”. When placed in my arms, the way my grip cuddled him made me sure he was a boy. Rachel said to me “find out what gender he is” and I said “I am pretty sure he is a boy”, I did not have the energy or desire in that moment to actually check, but Robin was eager to see and had a peep, revealing that we in fact, had just had a son.

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In our birth plan we opted not to have syntocin after birth, as we desired a natural physiological third stage of birth, as I wanted oxytocin, the ‘love drug’, to overcome Baby Bear and myself when placed in my arms in a euphoric bonding state. However, when that precious baby was placed on my chest, I was still too exhausted to feel the impact of the ‘love drug’. All I felt was complete exhaustion. I had to process a little guilt over this, as there is a societal expectation/pressure to have instant love and connection. I did not have that. It took me several days to actually feel that Valley was worth going through the trauma that was still to come.

The midwife wanted to pull the plug on the bath in order to feel more confident with supporting me through the third stage of labour. As soon as the water drained, I felt the uncomfortable weight of gravity taking hold of my body and did not feel so well. I knew skin-to-skin was utterly important for new life entering this unfamiliar world but I knew I couldn’t be that support in that moment. So I asked Rachel if it was good for Baby Bear to have skin-to-skin with his Papa, Robin. She said this is absolutely fine and in fact really great for bubs to bond with dads, so I passed him over.

From here things became much of a blur until over the two weeks following the birth, I was able to unpack step by step what occurred. The feel of gravity swamping my body made me feel so uncomfortable and ill. I remember saying so and Rachel suggested I come out of the bath. She wrapped a towel underneath me like a big nappy and as soon as I stepped out of the bath a weight within just pulled me down and as I fell into a crouching position, the placenta fell.

I remember looking down at it and said “some people eat that!?” to which the midwife said humorously, “It’s not too late to try some”. This is not said in judgement to women who choose to encapsulate, it certainly something during pregnancy that I contemplated, it’s just something I seriously couldn’t stomach. And in reflection it’s brought me a good laugh that despite the trauma of birthing, I had not lost my humour.

From here the assisting midwife, Geraldine started pressing into my womb. I could not tell you on a scale of one to ten how painful this was compared to a contraction but as I had just experienced the most intense pain I had ever imagined possible, I had absolutely no energy to allow myself to experience anymore. I remember just saying “stop, please stop, I want you to stop”. She explained that we need to get all the clots away from the wall of my uterus. However, this standard hospital medical procedure resulted in me loosing too much blood too quickly. I said to the midwives again, ‘I don’t feel well’. So they sat me up on the edge of the bath. From here my husband filled in the pieces of what occurred. He said that as the midwives were checking my bleeding he saw my eyes start to roll into the back of my head. He told them he thought that I was going to faint and they responded that I was fine. He said, “no seriously, she is about to faint!”, this is right when I did and I was semi caught on the way down, hit my head (only a small bruise) and ended up in a seated position on the floor. Robin said that though I was ‘out’ I was semi-lucid and he was desperately pleading for me to stay with him. I do remember at one point looking into Robin’s eyes and I could see so much fear and intensity in his eyes, and this scared me. Then I really went out, falling floppily to the ground and started breathing raspy and erratically. At this point the midwives hit the emergency button and warned Robin that lots of people will come running. Suddenly there was a large crew of doctors in the room where it took four of them to lift my body into a wheelchair and push me down the corridor to another room. Again four doctors lifted me into a bed.

Robin said later that he found this quite terrifying, as he did not know what was going on. He was trying to stay calm as he held our little man but also not knowing what was wrong with me, and admitted later that he even wondered if he would lose me. It took over 10 minutes for the medical team to bring me back and they did so through a pain response, shoving a catheter into the vein in my arm.

While I was out, I remember having vivid visuals of people around and talking, though since, I cant recall exactly the details. Then everything went bright and white and a women was in my face talking. It took a while before I could hear her say my name and then just like that, I was back and could see and hear the doctor saying my name. I’ve never had a panic attack before but this was my first. I scanned the room and counted the humans. 14 in total, all acting medically, and trying to engage with me and each other in one way or another. I was hyperventilating with an oxygen mask on and I remember searching for Robin. But as there were so many people in the room I could not see him. I just said over and over “where’s my baby?”

Before birth I said to Robin, if anything were to happen, go with our baby, not with me. So where my baby was, he too would be. When they realised what I needed, the crowd moved and there were my boys. Robin calmly said to me “breathe deeply… in… out” and so I did and this began to calm me.

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The doctor said to me that again they need to press my uterus to ensure that all the clots were removed from my womb. I said to them that no matter what they need to do, I just couldn’t bare to feel any more pain. So they offered me gas. I was not in a mind frame to be able to decision make so I just looked to Robin. I still was quite out of it and didn’t realise that my incredibly supportive husband asked very informed questions, such as the impact of the gas on breast milk etc. Once he was satisfied with the answers he looked to me and said “ok baby, you can have the gas”. No sooner had they given it to me, again I fainted. This time however, I was totally aware of the increase in panic of the people around me and their attempt to call me back into consciousness, though, I could not respond. I felt like I was trapped in my body and imagined that this was what it could be like to be in a coma. While I was out this time, I heard one of the doctors ask how much gas was being pumped and whatever the response was, it was met with a shock and a command to turn it down. Again a pain response brought me back when one of the doctors drove her hands firmly into my womb. I came back with an absolute gasp, my whole body responded as if I was revived and life was breathed back into my body.

thumb_img_5802_1024.jpgAfter I came to again, they turned the gas down to repair my body with stitches. I had a lesser amount of gas whilst they administered the anaesthetic. And from here recovery began. They placed Valley on my chest for a couple hours while we were able to share skin on skin in more comfort. I dozed in and out during this time and the midwives kept an eye on me. Robin too was able to doze leaning against the bed. Though I birthed my son at 2:33am on the 20th August 2017, by the time all the drama settled and we had a rest with our son it was close to 7am. Valley was then weighed, measured and checked over.

  • 53 cm long
  • 6 cm head circumference
  • 045 kg

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  • Over the 90th percentile newborn

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Apparently during my dazed snooze I picked up that Valley had irregular breathing. I mentioned this to Robin and while I continued to sleep, the paediatrician came to check it out. She sat there with Valley for over half an hour monitoring his breathing and stated to Robin “it’s hard to tell when babies are sick or not” and she recommended that he be taken to NICU to be monitored closely. I woke up while he was being prepped to be taken. As you can imagine, with all the emotion whirling around from birth, and having not remembered picking up on his breathing, I became quite distressed learning that something may be wrong with me precious little boy. Little did I know it was a blessing in disguise because after 24 hours he was released back to his Mumma and Papa without any medical intervention. Our prayers had been answered. All that had occurred was that because he was such a big baby in my small body, his nose was squished. As his nose self corrected, his breathing did too. He was a strong kid from the start.

The blessing in disguise was that in the NICU we were supported by most amazing nursing staff who closely guided Robin and I in how to parent a newborn from swaddling, breastfeeding, bathing etc. They would patiently sit for hours’ making sure Valley was latching correctly. Also, because my body was so weak and still requiring a wheelchair, when I returned to my bed, I was able to really rest.

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When I fainted after, I fainted onto the floor where I had just birthed my placenta. As a result, I was fairly covered in blood. After waking up I just wanting a bath – to get the blood off. I felt so dirty. Every time the nurse came to check on me, I’d just express my desire to be clean. A couple of times I attempted to get out of bed but I was just too weak. This is when the Lord sent an angel of a nurse who offered to give me a bed bath. You would think after birthing, that there isn’t much more dignity to lose, however, there was something psychologically challenging with exposing every crack and crevice of my body in the light of day to someone I did not know. I was humbled by the nurse kindness in bathing me in bed, cleansing every inch of my body with such tenderness. Regardless of my shame, she treated me with honour and made it really ok. And oh, I felt so refreshed after that bath. It took another couple of days before I was able to have a slow shower on my own.

A tip for anyone preparing to go into labour. Buy incontinence underwear from your local supermarket. They were a lifesaver. Despite being unattractive, those big, nappy like undies served awesomely with the following weeks blood loss and reduced washing. Bonus!

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13 days postpartum

One day post birth, my energy had not returned and I was feeling borderline feverish. This is when the doctors advised they’d be giving me an iron transfusion. I was fairly close to needing a blood transfusion, but they thought an iron transfusion may help me improve enough so I wouldn’t need to tap into the oh-so-limited and precious blood supply stores. Luckily this worked, though I didn’t know that iron dyes the skin permanently like a tattoo. The first line they fed it through started to leak and they had to re-do the catheter, leaving the vein under my skin a bruised colour, and quite possibly for the rest of my life. #theunexpectedmarksofchildbirth

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Here is another side effect of growing a human

The final complication that arose in my recovery was that as they shoved the catheter in my arm to wake me from unconsciousness, it was done rather abruptly. Somehow this caused the insertion to become inflamed and infected. One of my prayers during the whole pregnancy was for Valley to be born and brought home without having antibiotics administered, as I was aware of how this could suppress the natural immune system. When he was in NICU this was mentioned, but I snuck him some of the world top quality probiotics and as his body self corrected, he did not end up needing antibiotics. But when my arm became inflamed, they mentioned they wanted to me have them. I can’t remember the last time I had them but I knew for sure that this was another attack against my prayers for having Valley antibiotic free. I did not want him having these through my breast milk so rather, I pumped my body full of oh-so-good, natural products that I had brought as a precaution – minerals, colostrum, probiotic, Hawaiian noni – and slowly but surely, my body used nature-based goodness to correct itself. I am pleased to say, that other than the gas after birth and the iron transfusion, Valley and I walked away from that hospital 4 days later without any further synthetic treatment.

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I am so grateful to the many people who supported us with prayers, to the midwives who tried their hardest with the information they had learned and for their respect where we chose alternate methods of treatment. I am grateful to my darling husband who despite his own anxieties, emotions and sleep deprivation continued to put his family first. Most of all I am grateful to my God who brought me through such a traumatic experience. In the weeks that followed my birth, He sent several women, some who I’d never have expected to reach out, who shared similar birth experiences. Their insight, experience and encouragement have helped me to make sense of some of what had occurred. And it helped me to heal emotionally.

It has taken some time to process the emotion, to write this story and to look at my son and truly mean it when I say, “you’re worth it”. And that’s ok. It’s also ok that at this stage, neither of us can comprehend the thought of having another child, despite our strong will for Valley not to be an only child. Time heals.

 

John 16 v 21

It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labour. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.

 

Pregnancy and birthing really don’t agree with me, as to be perfectly honest were close to the hardest days of my life. Being a mother on the other and is the most wonderful thing. And any day I’d take a hard pregnancy and birth over having a hard baby. Valentine truly is my valentine. He is the most placid, easy, joyful and strong baby I have ever known and I am blessed to be his mother. And at seven weeks old, he just gave me 5.5 hours straight sleep last night. Now that’s something to be grateful for.

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Outdoors · Uncategorized

6 weeks of you ~

It’ so great to have my mojo back. Pregnancy was like “blahhhhhhh” but postpartum is WONDERFUL. I hear Mum’s say “I can’t wait until they are walking, walking, this or that” but for me, I am so relishing in every moment of my little, not so newborn son.

He is 6 weeks old now. Already wearing cloth for a 3-6 month old, using his legs, head and vision with strength. And he has just about been dragged across the countryside, handling it like a trooper.

I hear a lot that women struggle to get out of the house with their newborns. And by no means do I criticise that because breastfeeding is hard, having little sleep is hard, working out what to wear is hard and for me most days remembering to eat is hard. But boy oh boy is it nice to feel like I have energy again.

These are the adventures we have been able to embark upon so far:

  • Evendale markets (1 hr drive) ~ 5 days old
  • George Town Sight Seeing (half hr drive) ~ 2 weeks old
  • Deloraine and Liffy falls (2 hr drive and 45 min walk) ~ 3 weeks old
  • Rock climbing ~ 3 weeks old
  • Launceston play dates x 2 (1 hr drive) ~ 3 and 5 weeks old
  • Derby sight seeing and lunch (2 hr drive) ~ 4 weeks old
  • Holwell Gorge (half hr walk) ~ 5 weeks old
  • Cataract Gorge (1 hr drive and 1 hr walk) ~ 5 weeks old
  • Today at 6 weeks ~ first RUN!
Uncategorized

There is power in the name ~

For Robin and I choosing a girls name was easy. We had two beautiful girls names picked long before we were even considering having children. As for boys names, this was a real struggle. We came to agreement upon a boys name twice before we settled on Valentine. However, about two weeks later for one reason or another, one of us had changed our mind. We loved the name Oliver until we realised it was 2016 and 2017 most popular boys names.

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Valentine originally was a name we had thought of about two years before conception. We wanted a name with strength, a name that was unique and one that was meaningful. Valentine, meaning strong and vigorous, acquainted with the modern trend of being commonly known for love, was very much liked by the both of us. Though, realising that all names get shortened, we couldn’t stand  the thought of having a Val.

During the pregnancy, both of us leaned towards names found in nature. We explored names such as Hail, River, Storm and Forest. Somehow in conversation we came upon Valley. Not a name that is in any of the baby name books. Actually, not really a name by definition anywhere… yet.

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Initially I was stumped on the fact that Valleys can be dark and gloomy and it is the mountain tops people aspire towards and then Robin said to me “Jekkie, water brings life, water heals, water is soft and flexible, yet strong and it moves mountains. Where does the water flow? In the Valley”. From then on we loved it so much and were set on it for about the last two months of my pregnancy.

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So why Valentine? As much as we have received the common “we love Valley, it suits you guys so much” type comments, we aren’t deluded to the fact that Valley can be seen as an ‘eccentric’ type name. We also wanted our little man to have a name that as a adult, is more formal, and this way he can have some autonomy around what he prefers depending on his stage of life, vocational choice etc. So we chose Valentine. As for his middle name, that was easy, in honour and remembrance of my precious father, he received Rainald.

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We both are very much besotted by our Mr. Valentine Rainald Shearer.

 

Christian Surfer Girls posted on Instagram this week:

“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” – G.K. Chersterton 
The modern world takes great pride in mountains. We conquer them physically, and mentally and emotionally, mountains are used to convey hard seasons in our life, another sense of overcoming. But, we never talk about the valleys. Or, if we do…we talk about “The Valley of Death.” 😧 
I’ve found though, that valleys are the source of life. The valleys are where the water runs through, and where most life dwells, from animals to vegetation. And for most of us, we’ll spend significant times of our lives in valleys (or as we like to call it, community). The valley is the place where we grow. Without the valley, we could never conquer the mountains. Yeah sure, the valley might seem a little bleak compared to the top of the mountain, but the valley puts your life into perspective. The valley is where you find your true self. Your true self who is great, with or without conquering mountains. To live in the valley is a true challenge, a challenge of your self and how to be grateful in the seasons where we’re settled. Of course, we’re always going to conquer mountains, physically, emotionally and mentally, but take the time to grow in your valley first. Your appreciation from the mountain tops will be humbled when you see your valley below. “I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose–I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
‭‭- Philippians 4:12-13‬