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?