Baby Butterflies

“What are you most worried that it will be?”

“Heart failure,” I say, to which my doctor nods and mutters “of course”.

“And maybe… anxiety?” I laugh because I think it’s funny to be worried that I have anxiety. My doctor laughs too.

I had been having a weird feeling in my chest on and off for weeks before I did anything about it. I had been trying to identify what sort of feeling it was and what was bringing it on. It wasn’t a pain. My heart was beating deep, not fast, and my breathing felt not restricted, but not quite right. It was kinda like butterflies in my stomach except the butterflies were pewter and stuck up behind my sternum.

Sometimes I would pick up my baby and walk into the kitchen where my partner was making dinner and feel the heavy-heart-beating-weird-feeling. Holding my ever growing and ever weightier baby I would say to him, “See – now, I’m getting it now!” This reinforced the idea that my heart was going to combust, my lungs fail or I had exhausted my chest and body in the first half year of being a mum.

I booked an appointment because one day while I was driving, I realised that I had had the weird-heavy-heart-butterflies for a full 24 hours. I needed to be responsible I told myself, for my daughter. I couldn’t wait this one out. Always fully booked, I had to wait a few days before I could see my doc. I took it easy, stopped driving and stayed home, didn’t pick up the baby too much, tried to rest. My sister messaged me every hour in case I had dropped dead and my baby was left alone. This sounds dramatic – but I was really actually very concerned.

The day I finally got to the doctor, I suddenly felt safe! I was so sure that something drastic was going to happen, that sitting there – about to get answers – I felt a great relief. The doctor poked and prodded and listened to my chest. “It’s like… I’m not short of breath… but I could just get a little bit more.” She nodded knowingly and motioned for me to return to the seat at her desk. My doc had previously proven herself a bit of an alarmist – I thought for sure she would send me for all the tests. Every test. It would be exhausting, but necessary. I could count on my doc to leave no stone untur-

“I don’t need to send you off for heaps of tests or anything,” my suddenly non-alarmist doc was saying.

“Oh?”

“Hundred percent anxiety symptoms,” she said smiling her warm but I-have-a-lot-of-people-to-see smile. “So now, you don’t need to worry… about it being anything serious. You can focus on trying to fix this. Your heart is not going to stop. Your lungs are fine.”

The doc asked me how I’d been feeling generally. I told her I was feeling fine. I guess that’s why I didn’t think it would be anxiety. I manage fine.  Then I remembered my little paranoid period where I would fully imagine someone killing me whenever I turned a corner in my house. So I told her about that. I told her how I felt pretty weighed down by the world. Not my personal world. The Trump world. It was the morning of the Manchester concert bombing. “Well, this morning’s events would not have helped that,” she said.

I’ve felt pretty good since my baby came along. Hardly ever down, pretty positive, very supported. This anxiety thing is a whole new ball game for me – depression, I know how that feels, but this is different. I knew I lost my Zen a bit after the baby came: I started to feel this new sort of stress when my partner and I would take the baby out, anywhere. To Bunnings, to the supermarket, to Queensland. I started saying things like “I just feel real stressed when we leave the house.” Hubby would ask why – if she cries, she cries. If she poos, she poos. If we forget something, we’ll deal with it. Even when I was with him I felt a deep concern about getting in the car and heading out with the baby.

So I guess that’s around when it started. And to be honest, having someone say, look you might have post-natal anxiety – meant that I could immediately feel relief that I wasn’t dying from something more serious, and start to take action to try remedy it. [I messaged friends and fam after the docs – “I have anxiety, LOL. I really shouldn’t say LOL, but I’m so relieved I’m not dying!”] I’m a mentally strong person, but I haven’t always been very organised. Feeling anxious about getting out and about has caused me to write more lists, pack my bag early, and talk through exactly what I need, where I will be, what time I will leave and how it will all work out.

We all know people who have crippling anxiety that stops them from living normally. I can live normally, I just recognise the pewter butterflies when they attack, and try to calm them down. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little allergic to my baby though. It usually hits me when I am getting ready to leave the house with her. Sometimes just as I open the front gate. Today I was merely rushing around doing things and the butterflies were in manic mode. And still, it hits about half of the times that I pick her up.

She’s my little allergen.

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P.S. If you need help, make sure you see someone. 🙂 And look out for your new mum friends who might be staying at home a little too much, or seeming a bit stressed about the new little life in their life.

A childhood memory*

I don’t know how my mum found out about it. I guess she saw me from the lounge room window as she scanned the front yard for her youngest born. She would have checked the backyard first. Why would I be in the front yard? That was not somewhere I was meant to be. At any rate, by the time she saw me I had reached top base. She might have seen my feet dangling, perhaps spied my golden curls through the foliage, several metres off the ground. Our front yard tree, which overlooked the next door neighbour’s driveway was split into three bases: Third, second, and first, or bottom, middle and top. I was the youngest of three and each base could barely hold a child’s body comfortably, especially my brother’s – he was 5 years older than me.

I think I was 4 when I climbed to top base, without my mother knowing. Unfortunately I don’t remember the climb or the view that day. Just my mother telling me off in front of the kitchen sink, as her friend who was around for a cuppa watched on. See, we were always climbing trees, and my brother would sit at top base, my sister at the middle, and I would always be at third – barely a hop off the ground. I don’t remember my motivation for reaching the top, I’m sure I just saw the way was clear, and thought I would.

My mother didn’t smack me or anything. She didn’t even yell. But her face, level at mine, was struck with worry but tinged with relief. But what if you had fallen? I remember her asking me. But I didn’t, I say.

The big old tree was cut back to bottom base when the neighbours wanted to build a garage. That time that led to my mum holding me close in the kitchen, lovingly chastising me, was the only time I was able to climb to the top of the old tree in the front yard.

 

*may not be accurate; I’m sure Mum will let me know.

 

Welcome to the Cult – a Cloth Nappy Obsession

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. I command myself to stay off the MCN (modern cloth nappy) Buy Swap and Sell sites but I ignore my own warning and have a look anyway. Oooh, 6 Close Pop-Ins and postage for $110. Damn they’re cute. That’s less than $20 for each. Posted… I force myself off that group and head to the support group. I see that someone has just joined and has declared how happy she is that she’s begun her cloth nappy experience. “Welcome to the cult” someone has replied. I chuckle in the dark.

My stash (more coming)

Before my love of cloth nappies escalated (some of my stash above – just the ones I stuffed today), I would scroll the online community sites and be absolutely amazed at the level to which mums (and the odd dad) were obsessed with these things. I had inherited a full set of prefolds and covers from a friend – a great get – and had received 4 weeks of a nappy service (best present ever) when our first child came. The nappy service just dipped my toes into the whole experience (and every dirty nappy I chucked into a bin for someone else to wash). I had no idea the extent to which modern cloth had become a cult following and really – a big market for nappy sellers to that group (apparently only 10% of nappy users use cloth). Friends already on the cloth nappy wagon added me to MCN Review groups and the Clean Cloth Nappy Down Under group on Facebook. In the early days (oh how naïve I was then) I would read out posts to my partner. He would suffer, feigning interest, as I crawled down the rabbit hole further and further:

“Look babes – these women are OBSESSED! Look how many nappies this lady has?!”

“Oh my god, so much poo talk…”

“Wow, now they’re discussing what kind of SPATULAS they use to flick poo off into the toilet…”

“I mean seriously, how many nappies can a baby REALLY need?”

“I’m totally happy with the prefolds – I don’t need to buy any more nappies EVER.”

“How hard can washing them be?”

“What the f*** is FLUFF MAIL?”

“Sweet baby cheeses, someone made a cloth nappy key ring.”

 

Now, with some genuine interest:

“I think we need one of those hoses to shoot the poo off into the toilet.”

“Do these nappies smell right?”

“DO NOT USE THE RUBBER GLOVES IN THE BATHROOM, they are my poo gloves.”

“Can we have another baby so I can buy more nappies?”

“FLLLUUUUFF MAAAAIIILLLLLL!!!”

“I need to talk to you about a new clothes line.”

“Don’t look at the PayPal account. But if you do, I can justify every purchase.”

“No seriously – can you smell these for me?”

“You don’t understand. Washing nappies is a science.”

“Imagine if we have twins – I would have to buy like, a full new set of nappies.”

When I first started musing about cloth nappies, my mum was very negative – (sorry Mum, but you were) or let’s say, cynical. She was fairly adamant that the power and water I would use washing nappies would make the savings from not buying disposables redundant. Now obviously I live in the echo chamber of MCNs, but I have seen much information that confirms that environmentally, and economically, I’ve made a good choice – especially since I don’t use a dryer. This came with my nappy purchase recently:

Info card that came with my Cloth Nappy Market purchase

**Before I continue – there is no judgement for those who use disposable nappies. Motherhood is bloody hard and whatever works for you, is what you should do. Also, washing nappies requires a certain commitment of time and effort – not everyone has the time and space needed to do this. **

For me the landfill issue is what justifies every moment of my cloth nappy lifestyle. Every year, for every child, you might be putting 300 kilograms of nappies into landfill. Disposables are made using energy and water, and take hundreds of years to break down.

We still use disposables at night-time and when we are away for more than a few days. I always have some back up in the nappy bag. For anyone wanting some environmentally friendly ‘sposies’, these nappies are great, and fully compostable.

Ecoriginals

(I actually know someone who composts them.) You can get them delivered, but they are more expensive than your more mainstream option. You can also get compostable wipes, but I’ve embraced cloth wipes too, which is easy if you are already washing nappies!
18493005_10158615946465433_559969515_oI made this for bath time >>  by cutting a hole in a zip up pouch that had some sort of baby related bath gift inside. (#hoarder) You fold them into each other like normal wipes and tissues. Wet as you go or fold in damp.

My (to be honest, sometimes frightening) obsession with cloth nappies has really made me question why I love it so much. Why I want to buy all the nappies. Why, when it was my birthday, I wanted to just get more nappies. I mean, I don’t even wear them. WHY DO WE LOVE THEM SO MUCH?

Being at home (I’ve been at home with baby for 5 months now) can be a lonely experience. It depends on your personality I think, and your ability to be alone how well you cope. I’ve always been good alone. Especially alone and busy. I talk to myself, I set tasks and I pump my fist to no one when something is a success. But I’m in this strange new situation where despite me being busy all day – all day – cleaning, cooking, breast feeding, washing, playing, shopping… I can go the whole day without doing anything for myself besides having a cup of tea. I treasure doing stuff for myself. I love puzzles, I love reading (LOL, haven’t read for months), I love learning, I love gardening (LOL plants are dead), I love accomplishing.

I loved being a teacher, and I miss it. Sometimes I feel that when I left my career behind I also left behind a little of my identity. I like to have purpose, and yet every time I set about doing something, there is a nappy to change, a mouth to feed, a baby to entertain, or dishes to clean. (These are all purposeful things, I mean, without me my baby would starve and the household would fall apart.)

But when I wake up and think NAPPY WASHING DAY, I jump out of bed and get started. I still feel new to this so getting the washing done correctly is SO important. I check the water level, make sure the detergent amount is good, make sure they’re pegged properly, ensure the safety of the precious nappies as they get smashed around in the Heavy Duty cycle. This is where the Clean Cloth Nappies Down Under group comes in. This Facebook group admin offer you all the information any novice cloth nappy user needs. They give you a nappy wash routine based on your detergent, your machine, even the hardness of your water. The admin (and the whole group community) support you as you sanitise and strip your nappies, choose detergent, fit your nappy to your baby properly… everything. I can’t adequately laud their greatness. They are angels. You have a problem, you ask them. I had smelly nappies after I washed them. The smell was still there a wash and a soak later and that broke me. I thought about giving up cloth. I was wasting water and time trying to fix it. I asked the CCDNU ladies, they gave me the help I needed and I am back on track with beautiful, healthy, clean smelling nappies again.

Trump gloves and cloth for poo removal

[Obviously it’s not sunshine and rainbows – every day (or two if I’m lucky) I put on my Trump gloves and rub my baby’s shit off a nappy. Yeah, I do that.]

My point is I love cloth nappies and I love the feeling of success that every good wash brings. But I also love the colours and the prints. I love their feel as I slide them under my baby’s butt. I love the fact that I reuse them. I love WASHING THEM. They’re pretty and awesome, but they give me purpose! It empowers me because I am doing something fantastic. I am literally saving a kilo of rubbish from going into the ground every day. I am a planet crusader, AND I’m saving money. But on top of this, I’m taking poo and wee ridden nappies and every third day I’m returning them to their natural, crispy white and bacteria free state because I am good at washing them. Think about that for a moment.

Stuffing time!

For stay at home mums who might feel like they have not accomplished much (besides keeping their baby alive and well and happy), being capable of reusing something that others throw out every day is a bloody marvellous achievement.
So cloth ladies, when you stand back and look at your freshly washed nappies drying, when you stuff them ready to go and stack them into a kaleidoscopic pile of environmentally friendly beautifulness, make sure you look around the empty room, nod your head at the imagined applause, high five your baby, and pump your fist in the self-adulation that you truly deserve.

Now I’m off, need to get the gloves on.

P.S. My fluff mail came with a cloth nappy key ring. My life is complete.

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No News is Good News (like seriously, none of the news is good)

I’m driving and I’m cursing. Oh man I’m cursing. I’ve made the mistake of tuning in to 774 on my way out West – breaking my self-imposed news ban. The ban began on Monday, and to be honest, I didn’t think I would make the week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been on Twitter and Facebook, the Twitter feed offering enough news headlines to keep me in touch with the world, but in a way that means I can quickly scroll through without become emotionally involved.

I usually have ABC News 24 running all day. Even after I’ve heard the same bloody story word for word for the eighteenth time, I still leave it on, just in the background as I play with baby Kylo, potter about the house, breastfeed, cook, clean – I basically exist with the hum of the news behind me. If it’s not the news, it’s Parliament Question Time or the Press Club Address. (Yeah, I know, thrilling.)

[So I’m in the car and Georgie Downer has just been asked a question – about the government’s inaction on workplaces short-changing workers and using visas to hold them to ransom. She answers by saying that those examples are another reason new citizens should be proficient in English. Urgh. She has no concept of her own privilege and no compassion, nor understanding that migrant workers are likely working in jobs IN ORDER to improve their English, or certainly to support their studies. Pure victim blaming. Grrrrrr SMH.]

Every piece of news has seemed horrific lately – I know I don’t need to tell you. You live in the same world as I do, where a former reality TV host who has admitted to sexual assault and regularly releases policies on Twitter is President of the United States, the leader of the Philippines sends death squads to murder civilians, capital punishment still exists and sometimes goes wrong, children are STILL being bombed in Syria, refugees are being targeted left right and centre and still being locked up in camps that we as a nation seem to have collectively forgotten etc etc so on and so forth.

When the floods hit northern New South Wales and claimed the lives of the mother and her children, I lost my shit. I couldn’t deal. I pictured her holding her children as the car sank. I can’t even deal writing these few short sentences about it. After that, Syrian refugees – buses of them, and dozens of children – were killed whist they were trying to flee. I found myself weeping as the story ran on the TV. Who the fuck bombs buses of fleeing refugees? What sort of a world is this?

Since understanding that I am probably am empath, I’ve realized how deeply I can become involved in things that I watch. Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules will routinely leave me with no fingernails remaining as with every nail biting moment of the show, I actually remove the tips of my nails. Not just cooking shows. Documentaries, movies, anything where there is suspense or really REAL drama that I can transport myself into and experience to the point where it disturbs me. It seems ridiculous, but I have had to learn to ‘turn off’ and watch without feeling and without getting emotionally involved in whatever is happening on the screen. Doesn’t always work though: we were recently watching my current favourite show, Grand Designs, and the house owners were having a wall-sized single window pane positioned on the side of their house using cranes; everything hinged on that moment and a centimetre out would screw up EVERYTHING. My partner looked across at me – “Is this stressing you out?” I glanced down at the perfect crescent of fingernail that I had bitten off and placed next to me on the table and lied, “No.”

Violence is something that stays in my mind’s eye very vividly. I actually have a fantastic visual memory. (I was raised without violent movies when I was young which could have something to do with how they affect me.) When my partner joined me on maternity leave we binged on Vikings. We watched every horrendously intense, but brilliant episode in existence to prepare us for the new series. That’s like, 50 episodes in a week. Being fans of Game of Thrones and House of Cards, A LOT of what we watch is quite violent. However, I’m a full on pacifist. I once joined a Karate club and gave up after one lesson when I realized I would have to hit someone.

So anyway, after all that binging, I became aware of disturbing thoughts and visions that were creeping in to my mind. I would pull the baby through the house in her bouncer, walking backwards, and picture someone stabbing me in my back. Serious. I would mentally remind myself to book a dentist appointment and then have a vision of a drill going through the top of my mouth. I would see murderers in the dark when I went to the toilet in the middle of the night. I would hear noises in the supermarket carpark nearby and imagine a car crashing through our bedroom wall. And so on and so forth. Until one day I said to my partner “I have a problem.” And so I (and we) stopped watching certain movies and series.

[This isn’t the first time this has happened. Whilst staying a week on the idyllic, quiet island of Korcula in Croatia, we watched every season and episode of the Sopranos. I had never watched it before. I found myself outside in the sunshine, doing some hand washing in my bikini, loving life as a traveller – but then began to have feelings that if I walked around the corner of the house someone would jump out and shoot me with an Uzi.]

And so, I banned myself from certain TV, and all the news for a week. It just seemed right, and to be honest, it really helped. It also forced me to do other things – and watch some good History series. (Oh yeah the Crusades – peachy. Ha!) I don’t agree with turning away from the world or putting your head in the sand, but when something is affecting you in a negatively way, maybe you need a break from it?

Surely some of my issues here comes from getting used to being a mum. I don’t like it when people start every sentence with “As a mother” and I wasn’t a fan of people who continuously said to me “You’ll understand when you have kids”, BUT – But…. Yeah my life is different. I can’t JUST think about me. Clementine Ford said that having a child was reckless as a part of your heart is walking around outside of your body. Yes! Maybe it is just my mortality that has hit me, now that I and my partner have not only been charged with the protection and responsibility that naturally comes with having a child, but also the legacy of family. There is something that extends further than our two lives now.

I made it through my no news week. I’m trying to relax. I’m trying to find the Zenness I’ve been really good at, at other times in my life up to this point. I want my daughter to be chilled out. I don’t want her to fear death, or anything in life for that matter. Unfortunately the world is not a great place right now – so it’s easy to find myself fearing stuff for her.

After Georgie Downer suggested that migrant workers should just get better at English to stop them from being exploited, some faith in humanity was restored for me when the last caller of the session rang through and told her how preposterous her answer was.

Maybe there will be good news next week. And if there’s not, perhaps I’ll just turn off again.

trumpcat

Lady on the Window Seat – An Unconventional Birth Story

Sitting down in my middle aeroplane seat, I was incredibly edgy. Not like cool and trendy – I was on edge. Stressed, anxious, worried, jumpy. A woman sat to my left at the window, staring out onto the tarmac. Sometimes she would close her eyes, still with her face to the outside world.

My partner sat on the aisle, and on my lap was our month old daughter. She had the little baby seatbelt hooked around her, but she was out to it all. What were we doing, taking our one month old interstate? Most reactions had been “Are you crazy?” but I appreciated the odd “Well done!” or “Very courageous of you!” So far so good – we had carried her through the airport in her baby carrier, enjoying some kind words from airport staff and strangers too. Hubby had left Little K and me alone briefly in a café and a man opposite was interested in the bundle strapped to my chest around which I was somehow sipping a latte with my head off to one side. “How are you doing?” he asked. “Great! We are all well.” “No, no – ” he said “How are you doing? Motherhood is hard – you’ve been through a lot.” He was so sweet.

16010311_10154190338840823_439780143_oOur baby wasn’t really a crier, but I was so worried about her crying and upsetting people. I know parents reading this will say “Oh who cares what people think?” or “You’re doing your best – don’t worry if they cry!” But I was worried about being a burden on the quiet aeroplane. What if she had a poo explosion? What if she was inconsolable? How would we cope? Would anyone be offended by me breast feeding? I know, I know, we have the right to breast feed anywhere – but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or comfortable. I watched as a family sat in the seats across the isle. They smiled at me and my comatose baby. I hoped they wouldn’t see my boobs later and get uncomfortable.

The woman next to me continued to ignore our presence. I knew this meant nothing, but in my mind I took her disinterest as a slight – which heightened my worry that we might upset her somehow during the two hour flight. Maybe she was exhausted. Or hated babies. Or was staving off a panic attack. Or all of the above. She was so still, it was weirding me out a little.

You know when you eventually have to acknowledge the other seated passengers because the flight attendants come to hand out the snacks? Well that happened, and the lady on the window seat was forced to communicate with me as I passed over her muesli bar and coffee. She glanced down at Little K who had stretched her arms out behind her head and fallen asleep in that position. “So cute.” She mumbled, then added something else but all I caught was “…was born last night.”

I thought she had said “MINE was born last night” but my brain couldn’t compute – did she say her niece or nephew was born last night? I was immediately socially useless and didn’t clarify quick enough – so as I always seem to do in these situations… I smiled and pretended I had heard what she’d said.

The lady on the window seat pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of a tiny baby. “Beautiful” I say. She then proceeded to tell her story, barely stopping to take breath. She was on her way to be reunited with her partner who had had an emergency C section the night before, at 35 weeks.

“Oh my god!” I say, “I didn’t hear you properly before – when you said it was your baby who had been born last night!” For a few minutes all I could say was “wow” and unhelpful Captain Obvious declarations like “You must be so eager to get there.”

I felt two pangs of guilt – one that it had taken my brain so long to figure out that this women’s son had been born while she wasn’t there, and the other that fate had landed myself and my newborn next to her for the most agonising journey of her life. She had come from her work in Tasmania, changed flights at Melbourne, and at Brisbane would have to journey down to the Gold Coast where her partner had been transferred from their home in Byron Bay. She hadn’t slept, having spent the previous night in Tassie pacing around, stressing out. She was a wreck.

My heart broke for her – she was clearly, and fair enough, extremely concerned. She was very lost – not having been there for her partner at the time when you need someone the most. She told me all the info she had so far: it wasn’t much, but she knew that her partner had been taken to the Gold Coast hospital and that her baby boy (still unnamed) had been born. Apart from this there was not much. She knew little more about their health other than that they were recovering with presumably no major issues.

For the next hour we talked of many things – family and friends, names, gifts, difficult relations, parenting techniques, Little K’s labour and birth, what we had wanted – compared to how things turned out. And as with almost every connection or random meeting I make – I was sure we had been sat next to this woman for a reason. “Of all the seats,” she said, “I can’t believe I got the one next to a newborn…” “I know. I’m really sorry,” even though it wasn’t something I should have been sorry for. We stared silently at my cherubic little sleeping baby. My new travel companion said that whilst she had thought it would make things worse, having Little K and me next to her was helping her to relax a little, and she also believed it was a somewhat serendipitous arrangement.

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While we travelled she received word on her phone (Virgin Wi-fi – amazing!) that all was well and her partner was breastfeeding. I answered all of her questions about feeding, sleeping, recovering, and practical aspects of her life that she was in no way prepared for. I mean, until the day before she had thought she still had a month to get her family’s life sorted before the baby arrived. I tried to employ all the positive language and encouragement I could muster without sounding patronising, and without making it worse that she had not experienced the birth. I think talking helped the time pass quicker, for all of us. (Meanwhile, Little K was silent and very amiable throughout the flight – why was I worried?)

When we touched down, I wanted to yell for the whole plane to remain seated so that we could let this poor woman grab her hand luggage, sprint down the aisle and get herself to the Gold Coast asap. I wanted to dramatically scream “LET THIS WOMAN THROUGH!!! SHE NEEDS TO GET TO HER SON!!!” But I knew we would probably just see her at the baggage claim in 10 minutes anyway.

Having long believed myself to be an empath, it didn’t surprise me that I felt like I had run a marathon after the whole conversation, as I felt that I had absorbed a lot of stress and energy. The lady on the window seat however, was looking great – and very cheery as we farewelled her for the final leg of her journey. She thanked me for chatting to her, passing the time, and reassuring her that all would be well. I think about her sometimes when I consider how lucky I was to have a kickars birth partner with me for the birth of Little K – so many women don’t have a positive, supportive person, not every non-birthing partner can be there, and so many women in times gone by have laboured without their husbands being allowed in the room (my Oma reminded me of this). I hope the lady in the window seat safely got to her partner and son. Our country is so huge – sometimes the quickest you can get somewhere will never be quick enough, like when you are on your way to meet your baby and throw your arms around the person you love.

 

Best of times/Worst of times

Dear mother expecting a Rainbow baby,

You will be okay. You will make it. But – yes, it’s hard.

It’s okay to feel confused when you know you are pregnant again. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay not to be excited until you feel that it’s right to feel excited. It’s okay to cry.

If you just live day to day, that’s fine. Don’t book shit in. Don’t mark each week in your calendar. Not until you are ready. Protect yourself. When people say “This time will be it!”, just smile and nod. But don’t feel – if you don’t want to. People just love you, and might not understand the leap of faith that actually believing those words requires you to take.

It’s okay if it’s one of those days where you find yourself sitting at the end of the bed crying, with no idea why. It might not even be that day you read a Guardian article about a woman who lost her baby at 15 weeks (don’t click on that shit!). Or not that time that your friend thought you strong enough to hear a story about her colleague who was bleeding, and lost. Not even that time you realise you haven’t deleted all the weeks marked on your computer calendar… and you get an alert saying “30 weeks today!” It might not even be one of those days.

You are just crying because it’s bloody scary! And that’s okay.

When you reach the week when you feel safe (if you ever do), it’s okay to still feel confused. Are you excited yet? Should you allow yourself to be? Do you feel happy? Is it wrong to feel happy? Don’t be hard on yourself. You might start to tell people. It’s okay to make a previous miscarriage part of your pregnancy announcement.

Say whatever you feel like saying – because if it makes others feel uncomfortable then that’s their diff. Miscarriage happens. So if you want to say “We are super excited to be pregnant, because we lost one last year,” then say it. If you want to say “I’m pregnant again” then say it. Your previous pregnancies happened. When people ask you how you are feeling, being pregnant, it’s okay to say “Actually I’ve been pregnant before” but if you don’t want to – don’t. Just smile and say “Great!”

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People will react in different ways. And some reactions will be stupid, or hurtful. But forgive these people, they just don’t get it. Someone who you adore will ask you, like a grown up to a child, “But Jac… how far along are you?” as if you would be telling him before you felt ready, or when it was very early, or when there was a good chance that you might lose your baby again… sigh. Another friend will say “But wasn’t it fun trying to get pregnant, hey? Hey?” Wink wink nudge nudge. As if the fun of sex would make trying again after a loss a fun filled journey.

Sigh. Just smile and nod.

Women will share their stories of loss – so many will whisper this quietly like a dirty secret. That’s their choice. And you might wish that they spoke it louder, so that miscarriage could be spoken of more. You might wish that they would grab your hand and say, yes, yes I know what you have been through! Loudly, proudly. So the young woman across the staff table will hear and in the future, when someone she knows goes through this ordeal, she will comfort them with the words “so many women feel what you are going through, let’s get through this together.”

You might wish this. So women will feel more supported. So women will feel less alone.

But that is their choice.

 

[This is where I wrote to, back last year when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. I continued to ride the roller coaster of anxious moments up until the birth of my daughter. The last week was one of the worst, as I had one day where she moved a lot less, and then the day when the doctor suggested that she wasn’t growing. We got induced that night – without leaving the hospital from the 40 week appointment, and had our baby at 3pm the next day. She came on her due date and was a perfectly healthy 8 pounds.]

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Now that I have my rainbow baby, I don’t often think about my miscarriage – not like I used to. But when I do think about it… I know how lucky I am. I know that, had we not fallen pregnant again, I would be still struggling. And hoping.

I also have no doubt that should we become pregnant again – I will still be a walking anxiety zombie until that 12 week scan. A friend put it so well – that after you lose that first pregnancy, you will never truly have that glowing excitement that you had for that first time. You lose your innocence. Even with nothing to suggest that we will lose more pregnancies, knowing the reality of miscarriage and its 1 in 4 pregnancy occurrence, I sure as hell don’t want to waste any time trying to conceive. As soon as we are ready, I am sure we will try again.

Stay strong, mother expecting a rainbow baby. You are not alone in your strange excitement that is mixed with grief and worry – reach out for help whenever you need – and I wish you a life of sunshine, as well as rainbows.

An open letter to Bill Shorten

Dear Mr Shorten,

I have been a supporter of you for some time, and wish you all the best for the coming election.

I was, however, very disappointed by your recent declaration that Labour would not be removing the GST from sanitary items should you form government. I am equally disappointed in the Coalition who have remained silent on the issue despite the former treasurer Hockey stating that the tax would go.

I understand that a government cannot “tell everyone what they want to hear” and comply with every societal groups’ wants when it comes to the Budget. But, please take a step back from this issue economically for a moment and consider the personal  ramifications and implications of this tax.

You are taxing women – only women – for their bodily processes. The bodily processes that create life. Women who use sanitary items are at the most vulnerable times of their lives: menstruating, or bleeding due to miscarriage or childbirth. Periods can debilitate women. But we do not complain despite the painful, tiresome and annoying week per month where we bleed. We continue to work, continue to care for our families, continue to compete as elite athletes, continue to attend to our study, and continue to go through life. Sufferers of Endometriosis often suffer in silence – undiagnosed or not even realising that their pain is so much worse than others’. For a moment think of women suffering financial hardship and especially homeless women – many cannot afford to buy sanitary items which becomes a horrifyingly unhealthy and uncomfortable situation for them to find themselves in. But it is certainly not their fault for being women, is it?

I had a miscarriage last year. It broke my body as well as my heart. Whilst still in the throes of contractions, sitting in the passenger seat of the car, my partner ran into the local milk bar to buy me pads. He came back with Tena pads for incontinence. Despite the pain coursing through my body, I laughed at him “those are for women who can’t control their BLADDERS!!!” He ran back in and changed them.

The comparison here is ridiculous. Pads for incontinence do not attract the GST. But pads for me, as I lose the baby my body and mind has begun to make a dedicated space for, attracts a 10% tax. Deemed not essential. Deemed a luxury. Are you serious?

Women who give birth can bleed for weeks. I don’t really think I need to explain to you the importance of childbirth to the human race or Australian society. But please explain – why should women be taxed for dealing with this wonderful, but often traumatic event?

You often speak of – and many of your proposed policies are based on – respect for women and a wish for real equality in this country. If you cannot put in the effort to remove a tax that only affects women at the most vulnerable times of their lives, then you are NOT respecting the rights of women, nor showing you care about equal treatment of the sexes. You are using us as a means of raising revenue.

My body SHOULD NOT BE a tool for raising revenue. It is as simple as that.

I urge you to stop pandering to the Budget bottom line and DO what you SAY you do best – put people first.

Wising you all the best for the weekend,

Jacqueline

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