It’s been a while

toa-heftiba-469899-unsplash

I’ve had some emails and messages lately from those who’ve discovered my blog and are wondering whether I am still writing. There’s a short answer to this and a long one. The short answer is yes, I am still writing blog content but lately I’ve been writing it in private mode since I’m just not in the greatest space and I am mindful that no one really wants to read 30 posts about how I am struggling with managing Levi’s health and the mum gig at the moment.

Yesterday I had a really honest conversation with another mum who is walking a similar journey and she mentioned that she finds it helpful to read the not so great posts, because that’s where we all find ourselves so often and it helps to know we aren’t alone. I know for me, despite the best efforts of everyone around me I am feeling quite alone in this currently.

I have found that when things all fell apart initially with Lily and also with Levi, there’s a stirring with people and they scurry to offer support. I am so thankful for the multitudes of people who have made meals for us, prayed for us, came and washed my car, mowed our lawn. It seriously made the world of difference while we were coming home on oxygen with a newborn and figuring out what all of this meant in terms of daily life. I’ve found though, that once the initial storm settles, there’s this silence that creeps in. Everyone goes back to their lives (rightly so) and then we have to work out this new normal that is our life.

The normality hasn’t come so easy this time around. Hospital appointments have been scattered, leaving some weeks with not even a day at home. Communication broke down between teams for a while there which meant that whilst everyone was able to see the issue, there was no clarity in the best approach to fix it. Fatigue has set in and I can’t quite work out whether I feel worse this time physically and emotionally because I’ve walked this road before and I have a fair idea of the forecast ahead of us; or whether I am just soo damn tired from getting the last kid healthy that I don’t have any steam left.

Isolation is a killer. I get it, it’s not a pretty picture here. Its hard, its messy, and often my house looks like a bad episode of modern family where people are crying, somethings on fire (okay I may have exaggerated there), chaos ensues and then at the end of the day we all just fall in a big heap and brace ourselves for another day.

I’ve been really fortunate to find a small but genuine group of people who have kids with medically complex needs. They too survive on coffee, catch ups with like minded mamas and the occasional stiff drink. And while its helpful to have these beautiful people in my world who can say the right things and just listen without batting an eyelid when I retell the story of my child vomiting purple all through my car; I miss the people who were a part of our village before my life went up in flames. I miss hearing about their lives, their jobs and all the things that I valued and appreciated in them. Just because I’ve had to create a new community to support a part of my life; it doesn’t mean I don’t miss the former one that existed.

I’ve had this post sitting here for just over two months. I’ve struggled with whether to share it. There is something in me that cringes at the core at the thought of appearing lonely, because frankly it feels uncomfortable; but it also implies that those currently in my world don’t do it for me, and that’s absolutely not the case. I am just grieving for the life that we used to have. I miss my work. I miss being Sasha.

I’m still working on the answer to all of this. I don’t have some shiny resolution to sign off with. But that’s where its at. That’s where my heart is.

Sasha Fierce

x

Darling, it never goes away..

We are out of the newborn phase and heading into milestones, solid food and crawling. Whilst I am sad to have lost the squishy baby phase so soon, I’m loving the constant changes that our tiny human gives us. I’ve noticed that with all these exciting changes, brings so many questions about what is ‘normal’, what she should be doing at … months and how the choices we make now will impact on her as she grows.

Some days I feel like we are doing fine and I am so in awe of our daughter, but if I’m really honest, there are others when I feel so consumed with worry that I wonder if it will ever go away.

My latest concern has been that Sophie isn’t yet rolling over from tummy to back. She somehow manages to achieve it when she’s in her bassinet, but put her on the floor & it’s like watching a dolphin waving its tail at SeaWorld. There’s a whole lot of head lifting and moving from side to side but not a lot of rolling. Yesterday I watched about 30 YouTube tutorials on how to help a baby roll over. I’m not kidding, and I did attempt to implement various techniques and subsequently manage to confuse our tiny human. She was fine. She forgot about it moments later when I showed her some flashing lights. Works every time!

I was chatting through this with an older and wiser woman who I sometimes bounce ideas off. She’s been a major support since I was a teenager and it seems no matter what season of life I am navigating, she’s always got some pearls of wisdom for me. After I told her all of the above & then some about feeling completely bombarded with concern, she calmly responded with these words: “Darling, it never goes away”.  How I wish she had lied to me. Could the woman not tell a fib for the sake of my sanity. There was no sugar coating, no softening the blow; just a promise put rather bluntly that I would never stop worrying about my Sophie.

What she said next has stuck with me and  allowed me to ease up a bit. She asked me,  “why do you think the worry won’t ever leave you? Because the unrelenting love that you feel for your daughter won’t”. Well, that had me in a pile of watery mess on the floor.

Maybe I will never stop worrying about this tiny human of mine. I guess the things I worry about will change and evolve as she grows. I only hope that I will learn the art of trusting the process and not giving so much time to worry. I’ve learnt this week that we can choose to be intentional about what goes on in our mind. I’m working on applying that idea more. Instead of worrying so much about whether she can shake a rattle at three months, I’m going to to focus on worrying about the example I am setting for her in the way I treat others. I will worry about how I speak in front of her and I worry about how much time I invest into teaching her how much she is worth. Those things deserve all the time.

What worries you as a parent? Did you get better at dealing with it over time or does it still consume you?

Xx SF

It takes a village

It’s been rather quiet around here lately. For our little family & some others close to us; life just seems to be throwing a few curve balls. I don’t know whether it’s a half year hiatus that arrived a few months late, or that we have been floating on baby cloud nine for the past three months and I’m finally coming back down to earth. Don’t get me wrong, every day is amazing with our tiny human. It’s just that life happens, & I can’t just take a break from parenting you know?

Last fortnight my dad had a fall in the front yard and cracked his head open. He’s okay, other than being less than impressed that I’m now calling him Humpty Dumpty. He had to stay the night in hospital & due to a prior arrangement my Mum was unable to collect him the next morning. Humpty uses a wheelie walker & has poor mobility so it would have been rather difficult to collect him with a tiny human. My mother in-law kindly watched Sophie while I went to pick him up. After retrieving Humpty from hospital; I went to collect my tiny human and started the drive home. As I was driving, I got thinking about this quote:

“It takes a village to raise a child” – African Proverb

It made me realize that over the past few weeks I have seen the above proverb, lived out through the people around me. I don’t know how I would have gotten to this point in motherhood without the support network that I have around me. I am blown away at the support from my husband, my parents, my in-laws & my amazing friends. It’s the little things that have made the biggest difference to our little family.

Little things like: having someone offer to cook us a meal, my mother in-law watching Sophie for me, my Mum coming over to clean my house, & my friends texting me to see how I’m going. I feel for those who don’t have this kind of community around them. I can imagine that it would be really difficult.

There was a time when I didn’t have a lot of people around me. I didn’t have a child, but I had managed to build a proverbial brick wall around myself in some twisted attempt at self preservation. It sucked. A lot. So after a few months of wallowing in self pity, I pulled myself out of my funk and found ways to connect again. I got online and found some groups that were running in my area. I love photography, so once I found a group of people who had something in common with me; it wasn’t so hard to get talking. I also got connected in my local church. The amount of times that my church community have been there to lift me up when I’m feeling heavy have been too many to count. It also means that I now have a resource pool of many generations of mums who have gone before me to bug with questions about tiny humans.

I guess the point I am trying to make is: life is hard & parenting is even harder. You shouldn’t have to go it alone. If you don’t have friends or family around to support you, branch out and find some people who can. I came across this site a few years ago and I tell people about it all the time. Meetup.com is a website with a group for every interest you can imagine. There are groups for web developers, introverts, knitting, mums groups and extreme sports lovers. You can narrow down the search to groups that meet close to your home or city wide. Another way you can branch out is to check out your local play group. If all of these options are still daunting, then please feel free to drop me a line and I can try to help you look at options near you.

I hope whoever you are & wherever you are that you’re having a great week.

Keep living the dream
Sasha Fierce
X

An Open Letter to Mum’s

I became a first time mother 10 weeks ago. It has only been a little over two months, but it feels like the lessons I’ve learnt in that time are enough to last till I’m 80. When I see another mum when I’m out and about, I realise how much we have in common. We have so many differences, I’m sure; but the struggles we face, the questions we ask ourselves and the tiredness we often feel are very much the same.

morning coffee

Dear Other Mums,

I saw you today in the supermarket, with your two little ones. One was screaming for the lollies at the checkout and the other was pulling your skirt demanding attention. I saw the look of embarrassment on your face that screamed “please God just let us get out of this store and in to the car”. I also saw the other mum in the aisle watching and rolling her eyes.

I saw you at the coffee shop with your newborn, you had the same glazed over look that I wear every couple of days. I also saw the working Mum, ready for her day at the office and the way she shook her head in assumption that you had no excuse to be tired.

I saw you in the clothing store. You walked up and down with your pram, trying to find something that would accommodate that “I just gave birth” figure. I also saw the stylish, well dressed mum with her designer pram look you up and down.

I read your post on Facebook, when you said you’re struggling in the hope that someone could relate and provide a hint of encouragement. I also saw some of the comments that followed from women who know exactly how that feels but were too scared to admit it.

Can I let you in on a secret? I have those days too.

I’ve had that moment where I’m at the shops with my screaming newborn and copped the looks from passers-by who have no idea that my child has just been fed, changed and there’s nothing else that I can physically do to meet their needs. They don’t know that my child suffers from reflux and this is the only thing that calms her down when she’s in pain.

I’ve had that moment when it’s 2:00am and I’m tired and emotional and I just need to hear encouragement from someone who “gets it”.

I’ve had that moment when I’m out and about and I see a mum looking oh so fine with her newborn and wonder what planet she came from, because in my world looking like that is not humanly possible.

Why are we so quick to tear each other down? The hardest job I’ve ever had is this one. It’s rewarding and beautiful and the best thing to ever happen to me; but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard work.

I’ve never questioned myself as much as I do now as a parent. Google should cut me a cheque for the amount of hits I have given their site in the past 10 weeks.

We need to start pulling back the masks and being honest with each other. We need to stop being so concerned about what people might “think” and being willing to walk up to each other and give a word of encouragement.

Statements like:

  • “I’ve been there and you’ll get through it” 
  • “you’re doing a good job”
  • it’s okay to not have all the answers”

Never underestimate the power of one of these said outloud to another mum. It reminds us that we are human, that we are not alone, and that there is hope.

To the mums who have grown up children, sometimes the best wisdom that you can share, is the stories of the times that you didn’t get it right.

We need to do less of the comparison and more of the community.

So ladies, I’ve got a newsflash for you:
We’re on the same team. Let me spell that out more clearly..
W E   A R E   O N   T H E   S A M E   T E A M

Let’s build each other up and do less of the tearing down.

Tag, you’re it. Pass it on.

Sasha Fierce.

My dog ate my lactation cookies

We have a dog, and his name is Lattè. He is the definition of the word Special and to say that he has quirks is a vast understatement.

Lattè’s quirks became known to us soon after we brought him home. He developed a fascination with tissues which then progressed to an obsession where he sneaks into rooms and seeks out the tissue box and then eats said tissues whole. I always get the image of Buddy the Elf eating cotton balls when I think of Lattè and his tissue habit.


The following include but are not limited to the other quirks that Lattè displays:

  • he is territorial about a dirt mound in our backyard, he will often go out and sit on the mound of dirt and stare at us
  • he is afraid of anything new that comes into the house including our gym ball, the baby rocker and Sophie if she is crying
  • he has doggie dwarfism, yes you heard me correct, my dog suffers from achondroplasia. His front legs are shorter than his back ones and he stands on a permanent lean
  • growling at us for no apparent reason
  • Licking the carpet
  • Trying to swallow objects whole

It’s been 10 weeks & still he doesn’t understand that Sophie can’t throw him the ball

perplexed by the tiny human

sprung.. he’d been poking around in Sophie’s room

The newest quirk we have noticed is his stealth approach to stealing food. A few months ago he figured out how to get on to the dining room table. There have only been two dinner disasters to date, but I’m quite concerned about the future when Sophie is eating solids.

This week I had some concerns regarding my milk supply, so I purchased some lactation cookies. I have to admit they have a rather strong taste due to the magic ingredient: Brewers yeast, so I made myself a cup of coffee to wash them down with. Just as I sat down to eat I heard Sophie stir on the baby monitor so I went to the other end of the house to settle her. I returned to find that my darling dog had demolished my cookie collection.

It was a fun little phone call to the vet when I called to find out if there would be any adverse effects to Lattè following his binge. I have been assured that it’s a real fluke that he’s not a female dog because otherwise we might have had an issue. My vet found the whole thing quite amusing and asked if I would mind him telling his colleagues because in his 20 years of practicing, that was a new one.

I’m not quite sure why we were chosen to be Lattè’s owners, sometimes I think it’s because no one else could love him like we do. He also brings us a great deal of joy and entertainment.

Have you got a quirky dog? What amusing traits do they display?

Sasha Fierce

Tales of a sleep deprived mum Episode 1

So blogging is all about being honest and getting it out there right? Well, with that in mind I have a confession to make.

I tend to become a little odd when I’m tired. It’s not that I go into nervous breakdown mode or anything; but more that I sometimes can be awkward, clumsy and just a tad like Phoebe from Friends when I’m low on the zzz’s.

Earlier this week I had to make a phone call regarding a service that I have. It had been a rough night with Sophie but I was determined to kick over a few things on my ‘to do’ list before I caught up on sleep. So I made the call, went through the automated system and got connected to a customer service representative. For the purpose of this post lets call her Maggie.

Maggie was very understanding regarding my issue. She spent some time initially checking my details but then allowed me to fully explain the situation. I went on to tell Maggie that I hadn’t been receiving my bank statements each month and how this was causing a lot of confusion when it came to paying my credit card bill because I never knew the minimum amount required for payment. I also politely reminded Maggie that I had purchased a product and how I was disappointed in the bank and their ability to deliver said product.

I didnt get angry, but I did make clear my frustration in regards to the situation and strongly requested that the matter be looked in to and resolved as soon as possible.

I still think that Maggie deserves an award for her patience and willingness to listen to my concerns, because  after I had finished my toned down rant, she calmly explained that whilst she understood my frustration; was I aware that I had called RACQ insurance and not my bank?

Insert awkward silence here. In that moment I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I had no idea what to respond with other than “I’m sorry, I’m a new mum and I’m sleep deprived”. Maggie responded with giggles and some encouragement from one mum to another. I’m sure though that there may have been an office wide email telling the tale of that phone call, or even a meeting to discuss what to do if that girl calls about her bank again.

So what have I learnt from this experience?

  1. Don’t zone out when going through an automated phone system. Usually they provide helpful information such as identifying where it is you are calling
  2. Be kind to yourself, this new season comes with many new experiences, including making a huge fool of oneself

I have deliberately included Episode 1 in the title because I have no doubt that there will be many more of these to come in the future.

Has anybody else had similar experiences? I’m keen to hear about them.

Sasha Fierce

If it aint’ broke..

I made a silly mistake last week. I tried to implement a new sleeping routine for Sophie in an attempt to get her to sleep through the night. But as the title says.. if it ain’t broke…

And it ain’t. Sophie is doing well in terms of sleeping. On average, she feeds every four hours during the day; and then we are usually blessed with a five or six hour stint of sleep at night with a night feed somewhere between midnight & 2:00am.

I met up with an old friend last weekend and she told me how her son was “sleeping through the night” at Sophie’s age and suggested that I read this book that changed her life. I guess the lure of an uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep was the reason behind my choice to give it a go, but honestly, it wasn’t necessary and we paid for it with a baby who didn’t get the sudden change in routine.

I’m not saying its a bad book or that it didn’t have a few valid points around establishing a routine; but I felt as though this plan that was meant to elleviate stress and help my child sleep more did nothing but make me feel inadequate and as though I was failing at baby sleep 101. It also made me believe that in order to implement said routine, leaving the house with a baby.. Ever.. Would be dictated by the many nap times of the day.

What worked?

Not a lot, to be honest. Perhaps what worked is that I gained some perspective through the process and was able to find a clear stance on a few perspectives on  infant sleep.

What didn’t work?

The whole concept of cry it out. I refuse to implement controlled crying. I just can’t do it. Maybe when she’s older I will change my mind on the topic; but for now it’s a no from me.

I’ll admit, I’m a softy when it comes to my little girl, but is that such a bad thing? To simply refuse to respond to her at this early stage in her development does not sit well with me.

The other thing that didn’t work for me was this strict regime of feeding & sleeping. The book wanted me to feed Sophie every three hours and only allow her to be awake for 45 minutes max. It also suggested that naps in the pram or in the car were an absolute no no and that I should simply plan my life better.

In the 24 hours that I attempted this routine, we barely got to spend time with our daughter. I felt as though the day to day interactions that we have with her where she is smiling, cooing, having tummy time, chilling in her baby swing and enjoying cuddles went out the window.

I’ve deliberately left out the name of the book because I don’t want to come across as critical of those who have implemented its methods. If it works for you and your child; I’m truly happy for you. My point is that it was silly of me to try and change Sophie’s routine when there really isn’t anything wrong with the way she sleeps.

I’ve said this before in a previous post, I’m learning that one of the golden tickets of raising a child is that there is conflicting advice on all aspects all around & it’s about having wisdom to find what works for you and your family.

I just wish I had recognised this last week during my coffee catch up. Next time I will be stoked that the other person has found something that works for them and continue on my merry way.