Friday, 31 January 2014

I am lucky

I've been thinking a lot today about how lucky I am.

I'm a stay at home mum - on benefits.  My husband is studying to be a nurse, on Austudy.  We have 5 children.  We don't have a great deal of money, yet thanks to this generous country we live in, we have enough money for a roof over our heads, warm beds to sleep in, clothes on our backs and more than enough food in our cupboards.

True, we don't have money for extras that other people might have as a necessity in their life - but we have enough for our basic needs.  We have enough to pay our bills that come in (maybe not by the time they are due but extensions aren't anything to be ashamed of asking for!).

My children are all fit and healthy.  They have no major health issues.  Coo has an extra tooth in her mouth (the deformity of which comes from me apparently) and the new baby (who will now be known as "Lucky") has a pretty big port wine birth mark on his belly but that is all.  We do wonder if Speedy is deaf or if she is just being a typical 4 year old so time will tell on that one.

My children are happy if I serve up sausages in bread or pasta and cheese for dinner.  In fact, that is their favourite meal so nights that I'm exhausted and don't feel like cooking - they are happy to eat that.

I have never lost a child or anyone extremely close to me.  Out of 5 pregnancies, I have had 5 children.  I think the odds on that happening are pretty rare, considering the miscarriage rate is around 1 in 3 pregnancies (from memory?)  My pregnancies were all pretty good, and I had no morning sickness (that in itself is pretty damn lucky!)

My last birth probably should have killed me.  And little baby Lucky.  Two pretty rare complications and losing a bucketload of blood and I'm still here.  Since that birth I have been questioning why.  Why didn't I die?  Why didn't Lucky die?  I'm nothing special, I don't have anything to really offer the world - I'm not wise, I'm not beautiful, I'm not talented in any way.  Why did the universe decide not to take me from my family?  Because I'm incredibly lucky.

I have a husband who respects me.  Who rubs my feet and my butt every night, even when I'm asleep!  (Which sounds kind of creepy but I have sciatic issues, and if I don't get it rubbed every night I find it hard to walk the next day)  He does nice things for my friends when I tell ask him to, and he never questions it or says that he doesn't feel like it. He is a good dad - even though he probably doesn't think so. He downloads crappy mindless reality tv shows that I like watching - and watches them with me.

I have no major health issues.  I have no mental health issues that make me unable to live my life.  I have no disabilities to stop me from getting up and doing what I want to do.

My family is awesome.  Willing to help, always have my back and are hysterically funny.  I have good friends (not a heap, but enough for me!)

It is so easy to focus on the negative (we never have enough money for what we would like to have, we drive a 9 year old car that we will drive till its dead, our children are loud and our home life is chaos most of the time, etc etc) however looking past all those things - I am lucky.

And I am thankful.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

It's all about perspective

So its been a while since I've written in this blog - I felt that I wanted to come back to this one, this was my first one and I should keep this one going really - there is a bit of history here.

So I've had my fifth (surprise) baby and it was a pretty good pregnancy.  A few issues with SPD and sciatic pain, but otherwise much more pain free than some previous ones.  I had a traumatic birth, much worse than I could have imagined, and I'm still dealing with flashbacks from it.  I can't go on the parenting forum I used to be on - too many memories.  I especially can't go into the homebirth thread, I just can't make myself do it. I know I should probably debrief to someone about my experience, but in all honesty I can't talk about it in real life without being on the verge of tears.  It is too hard.  So I avoid it.

So number 5 arrived safe and he was the most crankiest baby.  From birth - he was never happy. For 12 weeks I tried my best to do what was best by him.  I (of course) was breastfeeding, even though he grizzled constantly.  Through feeds he grizzled.  Going to sleep he grizzled, staying up, putting him down, whilst sleeping - so much grizzling.  He had a permanent frown on his face.  His fists were always clenched, even while sleeping.

So he got called the world's crankiest baby.  I just didn't know what he wanted, it seemed that I was given this baby for some reason by the universe, but fucks me how I was supposed to deal with him because everything I knew was right - was wrong with him.  I took him to 2 different chiropractors who said that there was no physical reason for him to be so angry.  I dropped dairy and yeast out of my diet because one chiropractor said that might help.   It didn't.  I dropped all vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower out because they are said to cause gas pain.  It didn't help.  We tried medications - colic relief, infacol - nothing helped.  He didn't have reflux but was so incredibly unhappy.

I was so stressed out that I was getting down -  I definitely wasn't enjoying this child at all.  I even said to my friend that I wish I had aborted when I had the chance, because it was all so hard and I couldn't make this child happy. I could feel myself becoming a different person, an angry person and I didn't like it.

So I weaned him and switched to formula.  I felt horrible.  And then I started noticing some differences in him.  He stopped frowning and started smiling.  He woke up happy.  He started putting himself to sleep and sleeping for longer than 20 minutes at a time (and stopped needing to be resettled every 5 minutes!).  He started weeing a LOT more, I never noticed how little he did wee until I noticed how much more he was starting to do it.

And the biggest thing - he unclenched his fists.  The first time he did it I actually took a photo of it.

He was relaxed.  Happy even.  Happy to sit with his siblings, and smile and gurgle at them.

But even with all these changes, I still felt guilty.  I felt like a failure.  Like a quitter.  Embarrassed to tell some of my closest friends, who I felt would be disappointed in me.  Some I still haven't told because I was too embarrassed to admit it.

Then the other day I read a story online about some parents in America who put their 5 month old in a car seat for 8 days.  And didn't change his nappy.  Didn't feed him at all.  Just left him there while they played video games.  8 fucking days.  I cried for that poor little defenceless baby.  I cried for his pain, for his hunger, for the bacteria eating his skin from his soiled nappy.

And here I was, embarrassed and ashamed that I stopped breastfeeding my child at 3 months.  I wasn't a monster - my child was still being fed and thriving.  My child was happy, warm, safe and loved.  Some children don't even have that luxury of a mother feeling terrible about giving formula - some don't get fed at all.

It's all about perspective, isn't it?

Friday, 10 May 2013

The comparison trap

Sometimes when you are a mother you compare yourself to others.  Not that I go out of my way to do it, but I do it.  The last few weeks have been very difficult for me, comparing myself to other mothers who are my friends on Facebook and they seem to do everything perfectly and are so crafty and fun they make me feel like crap.

So there I sat, feeling bad about myself because I was looking at so many cool things my friends were doing with their kids on Facebook.  Then I realised I'm not a shit mum because I don't do those things with my kids, if anything I'm a shit mum because I'm on Facebook looking at what other mums do with their kids instead of pulling my finger out and actually doing something with my kids, even if its just reading them a book, or drawing a picture with them.

I'm not a very crafty mum.  I don't have great ideas of what to do.  I'm pretty time poor and stretched between fulfilling the needs of 4 children.  So because of that, does that mean I'm a crap mum or just not a very crafty mum?  I don't remember doing craft with my mum and I don't think she was a crap mum.  She kept us in line, she had rules that we followed, we were allowed freedom to roam around the streets and play with our friends - the 80's were a wonderful time to be a kid.

So anyway, here I was comparing myself, and I told myself to snap out of it.  I'm not the same as every other mother, and that's ok because my kids aren't the same as their kids.  I've been following along blindly for too long now - just going along with what someone else chose for their child, without even doing any research on my own.  And its time I stood on my feet and realised that I can be a good mum without following along behind someone else like a little sheep.

Of course I can never change the decisions that I have previously made, and that I am ashamed of now.  I don't think I've always done what has been in the best interests of my children - because I was more certain of other people's opinions and choices than I was of my own.  And that's pretty crappy really, to have no faith whatsoever in myself.

4 children later and I've done so many different things - I've had elective c-sections, I've had drug free birth centre births.  I've circumcised my first son, I won't with my second.  I've bottle fed, I've breast fed.  I've done mushy solids at 4 months, I've done baby-led solids.  I've done CIO, I've done rocking and feeding to sleep.  I feel like I've done everything wrong all the time because I've never done anything instinctively, its always been because thats what someone else did, or because thats what I should do.

So this time around with our surprise baby (22 weeks along today) I'll be doing things more instinctively.  I'm having a home birth because that feels right to me.  Birthing at my local hospital doesn't feel right to me, that fills me with extreme dread and fear.  My home feels safe so that is why I am doing it - its a safer choice for me.  And in turn, my baby.

I need to stop comparing (because nobody lives my life and the daily struggles I have) and stop blindly following people - and just believe in myself.

If I can have the faith in my body to birth a baby safe and without harm, then why do I have so much trouble having faith in my ability to raise them properly?

The answer?  I shouldn't.  And I won't.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The end

For the last couple of days, Bubbles hasn't had any feeds from me.  I know I'm lucky to get to 23 months of feeding, but I was so wanting to reach 2 years (recommended amount of time by the WHO).

I did better than any of my others - Sparrow was around 3 days before I gave up and went to formula, Coo was formula fed from birth, Speedy was fed both breast milk and formula for the first month and then onto formula.  So I know I've done a wonderful job.  She's never had a drop of formula, its all been from me until she reached one, and then she was having a couple of sippy cups of milk with the other kids, whilst still feeding up to 5 times a day from me.

So its sad that its ended.  I'm pissed off that its only ended because my milk has dried up.  I'm 12 weeks on Friday and I so wanted to go as long as I could to get her to 2 years.  But there is nothing there.

So now instead of feeding to sleep during the day, she'll have a sippy cup of milk and then go to sleep.  And the same of a night time.

Here's a quick reflection upon our time together, its a shame I don't have a photo of her at 23 months having a feed.

From her birth:

Out and about in the freezing Tasmanian winter (it was also raining):

When she was sick:

When it was her birthday:

And when she was a toddler (around 15 months here):

I took this the other week after she had fallen asleep - it was one of the rare feeds that she stayed on for more than 2 seconds like it had been since I had discovered I was pregnant.  I wish I had gotten a pic of her feeding instead of asleep afterwards.

Thanks for the memories Bubbles. Sorry it had to end this way.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Our own harshest critic

Most days I think I'm a pretty shit mum.  I'm happy to tell any friend that I think I'm a shit mum. I don't know why that is, so I thought I would look at it more in depth here on what is basically my parenting blog.

First I have to look at why I think I'm a shit mum.  Ok so I swear - a lot. I yell - a bit, more than I would like. I get frustrated, easily (which leads to point one and point two).  I don't in particular speak nicely to my children all the time. Sometimes I just want to be by myself without being interrupted every two seconds.

So. Reading that over, it would seem to me that I'm crap at coping with stress.  Really - that's basically what it boils down to.  I'm crap at that, and somehow that relates directly to my parenting ability.

So what is a crap mum - society would probably deem a crap mum to be someone who doesn't give a shit about her kids.  Someone who happily lets them play in the gutter with needles or some foul substance and not care if they catch some incurable disease or get really sick. 

Or maybe a mum that puts herself before her children - all the time - like, makes sure she is fed but the children go hungry (my children make that choice themselves, they never like my dinner I cook them).

Or someone who beats the living shit out of their children just for walking in the room because they can't stand the sight of them.  Or someone who doesn't bother using a car seat for their children because they don't care about their safety.

Or maybe a mum that doesn't breastfeed or use formula and instead uses some weird concoction of substances that looks like milk because she needs to feed her nicotine habit before her baby.

Would that all be considered a crap mum do you think? (these are just examples, I don't actually know people that do this)

So on the surface, it would appear that I'm not a crap mum.  I may not be a "perfect" mother, I don't do a lot of craft, I don't do a lot of reading or playing games.  I don't remember my mum doing that either but I don't care to be honest - what I care about is that I knew she loved me.  She would have yelled at me, and I would have gotten into trouble - and I can't remember any of that.  What I do remember is her hand on my head when I was trying to hide in her skirts when approached by a stranger.  I remember her sitting next to me for hours one night when I had made 2 litres of powdered milk and drank the whole lot and ended up with huge stomach cramps and a good dose of the runs.  I remember her sitting next to me on the cold toilet floor rubbing my tummy, rubbing my back - trying to take the pain away for me.

So hopefully my children remember the things that I do like that. I rub their tummy when they are sore. I give them cuddles whenever they want.  I share my bed, my food, my water although they backwash, I share my heart.

Hopefully my children will grow up remembering the things I can do well, instead of my crappy coping skills. 

I'll keep trying every day to get better at coping with high level stress situations, even if it means I have to count to 10 before I answer a child, to make sure I use a nice tone instead of a harsh tone.

To keep trying is to have a greater chance of success - even if it takes longer than expected.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Slides are fun. End of story.

Its been ages since I wrote anything on this blog.  I've been feeling unfulfilled lately with my life, you know, same old stuff, day in and day out.  Dealing with all the whingers in my house - including Elf Man - and sometimes it all gets a bit too much and I get a bit down.

So today I went to the park with the kids (on my own while Elf Man was doing an exam) and I actually had fun.  I saw a person there who was so like what I used to be - sitting on a chair with his face in his phone, while his daughter played by herself.  There was no interaction there whatsoever, and I saw for the first time how other people must of seen me when I was doing that.

So today I got in there with the kids - I climbed up the timber wall hanging onto the chain.  I went down the slide heaps of times and cracked up with the kids about it - and it was actually really fun!!  We were only there for just over an hour but I felt so connected to them all, it was great.

I really need to get out more....for them, and for me.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Back into it - with rules!

Ok so I have established that I do like having Facebook in my life, I like my friends that are on there, and I miss the contact with other adults!  So I will log back onto Facebook, however, I am setting myself some rules so I don't make it a priority in my life.

1.  No FB during the day.  This will be a hard one, so I won't put the app on my phone.

2.  No FB until kids are asleep of a night time.

3.  No FB until the house is tidied up.

4.  No FB until my dinner is prepped and ready to zap in the microwave (most dinners are reheated for Elf Man and myself!)

SO!  With those done, then, AND ONLY THEN, am I allowed back on.

And to any of my friends that read this - if you see me online during the day - feel free to give me a good old butt kickin' and tell me to go play with my kids instead.

So with that said, and dinner warming up in the microwave... its nearly time to get back on!