Saturday, December 7, 2013
The classes made it look like cake -
a picnic down on mothering street;
but we did not match the diagram,
with milk to mouth our greatest feat.
Tedious crept the early weeks,
latch refused and dropping weight.
We missed the symbiotic memo,
as we stumbled around the starting gate.
Awash in shields and pumping parts
we slowly worked the puzzle through,
and like Archimedes we hit Eureka,
and proved the unnaturally natural true.
Head craned back and latch achieved
we entered hazy feeding on demand;
ensconced with the boomerang pillow,
in our twenty-four-seven milk bar land.
We peeled the layers of cause and effect,
added more oatmeal and water on tap,
subtracted chocolate and orange juice,
settled the stomach and afternoon nap.
We moved through milk drunk delirium,
then cluster feed bombs, epic and raw;
we hit our stride and rhythmic supply,
teeth getting less, spurts getting more.
Car feeds in crowded parking lots
and sanity snacks on interstate flights;
we mastered the baby hydration caper,
and regained the sleep of the nights.
From seven feeds, to five, now three -
the morning, the lunch and the bed -
and I can see the end creeping toward
as you reach for bowl and cup instead.
Snuggle downs have left the building
with little arms stretching to explore;
the magic milk has grown us up,
and the peaceful feed, it is no more.
We wrestle like dudes on cable now,
with foot in stomach and hand in hair.
We oscillate from couch to walking,
then via the bed and onto the chair.
The grapple extends to public view -
oh look, a napkin, a car, a puppy -
top open, bra open, mouth open,
flapping, conjoined: the feeding guppy.
From breast to table in a microsecond,
infatuated, ingratiated with the spoon,
we're changing the calorie landscape,
and milk will be on the firm outer soon.
As we head to two, then one, and none,
to the cupboard of cups and change,
I will remember back on this journey of
you, me -
the growing of a baby, real and strange.
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Sunday, December 1, 2013
|Fotballfrue via Instagram|
I stumbled across this photo of Norwegian fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen this morning, looking fab and fit in nothing but her underwear just four days after giving birth to her daughter Nelia.
Berg Eriksen is the wife of a Norwegian football player, and pens a blog called Fotballfrue (which literally translates to Soccer Wife, or the Footballer's Wife, depending on which translation program you use, but it's all just splitting hairs).
If you've been offline reading a good old-fashioned book or putting up your Christmas decorations for the last few days, you may have missed her photo and the nice (and not-so-nice) little flurry of opinion it has generated across the big wide interwebby land.
As you may well expect, journalists and bloggers across the globe have taken up their various corners and started the great debate, firing off posts ranging right across the spectrum from condemnation to congratulations.
If you have come across it while Procrastabooking or browsing entertainment sites, and stumbled through it's growing online shit storm, then you may well have already decided which corner you stand in, or even decided that you don't really care enough to stand in any corner at all.
I'm definitely in the last category on this one: I don't give two hoots about how Berg Eriksen's body looks, or the underlying motivations behind the snap, or what the photo contributes or detracts from the global post-pregnancy body image debate, or even the fact that Berg Eriksen appears to have a chandelier in her room (although that does border on being quite cool).
Perhaps I've reached 'celebrity postpartum selfie shot' overload and tuned out, or maybe I am just too obsessed with my own rather floppy and flabby post-pregnancy body and how it looks in front of the mirror to really care about anyone else's photographed reflection.
What does interest me about the picture, though, is the fact that a four-day young mother - who endured labour and birth and the first few days of life with a newborn - actually had the time, mental capacity and emotional stability to remember she had pretty underwear.
Not only that, she also had the physical strength to put it on and take a photo with her phone AND remember her Instagram account details, use a filter and operate the interwebby to upload it to boot. She has also managed to write a blog post complete with pictures of the birthing process and upload that too.
All this underwear donning, writing and uploading within just a few short days of giving birth to a baby. This is astounding - she had a baby, and remembered she had lacy undies, all within the first week!
Four days after I gave birth, I could barely even remember my own name and actually did forget my daughter's on more than one occasion. My brain felt like it was imploding, and my boobs felt like they were exploding.
Four days after I gave birth, I was camped in my lounge room wearing nothing but a fluffy mandarin coloured dressing gown, purple ankle socks and soothing gel breast pads, alternating holding my baby with bouts of crying and potato chip demolition.
Four days after I gave birth, I was in the throes of attempting to breastfeed, complete with nipple shields and breast pumps and lanolin and complementary expressed milk bottle feeds and daily home visits from midwives.
Four days after I gave birth, I was feeling the hormones crashing down around my ears, snapping at the people around me and hiding in the shower trying to feel even somewhere close to a normal functioning human again.
Four days after I gave birth, I was reeling with exhaustion, with had a baby who wouldn't sleep a wink at night time and only five broken hours sleep logged on the clock during the past ninety-six.
Four days after I gave birth, I was thinking about buying larger maternity bras and trying to summon up the courage to try and squeeze my post-partum body into a scarily tight pair of recovery shorts so that one day, I might hopefully be able to wear some normal pants again.
Four days after I gave birth, I was marveling at the tiny little squirmy baby lying on my chest, wondering how she ever grew inside me - and more to the point, how on earth she ever actually came out.
Four days after I gave birth, I was looking down at my puffy belly and plentiful generous expansions and somewhat judging myself for eating my way through my final trimester and dissing pregnancy yoga as boring.
Four days after I have birth, I would not have been able to remember I owned a pair of nice knickers, let alone remember where I had put them or even think to put them on.
Some new mums bounce back at an incredible pace, heading out to the grocery store and running errands with their new bundle snuggled into a carrier; other new mums (like me) take a little longer to adjust their eyes to the new daylight glare of the parenting world.
Caroline Berg Eriksen has a fab and toned physique, that she clearly worked hard for before and during her pregnancy - but it's her apparent bounce back and her ability to remember she has pretty undies so soon after birth that has me impressed.
How quickly did you bounce back after giving birth?
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Photo credits: Fotballfrue via Instagram/Chiot's Run via photopin cc
Thursday, November 28, 2013
|My beloved spiky plastic shrub|
When the supermarket fills with tinny Christmas carols each November, I switch from being a (relatively) reasonable person to a tinsel waving loon, with one hand in the decoration box and the other firmly planted in the shortbread cookie tin.
Like a broken carols record, I insist on mapping out all the Christmas light displays within a twenty kilometre radius and visiting them one by one in all to revel in their multi-coloured high wattage goodness.
I love to send and receive Christmas cards the old fashioned way, with a pen and an envelope and a stamp and a little love, and have been known to lose entire afternoons (err, days) admiring the glittery holiday trim displays lined up in department stores.
The Christmas tree is the pinnacle of my home-spun Christmas glory, holding court in the lounge room from the first day of December until the first day of the New Year (or perhaps the second, or even the third, depending on the severity of the Auld Lang Syne hangover).
Sure, my tree is just a spiky plastic shrub wrapped in artificial materials and cheap lights, and it attracts debris and dust and will probably be bowled over by the dog at least twice before the season is out - but it's a special spiky shrub, and it makes me feel like a little magic might just happen.
My husband does not share my level of enthusiasm for the silly season - while he is more than happy to down a Christmas beer and throw some king prawns on the barbecue, he's a strictly non-tinsel type of guy - the perfect naysaying yin to my obsessive decorative curling ribbon yang.
He dislikes the triteness of the whole occasion, and the entrenched culture of commercial madness and giving gifts just for the sake of having something to wrap and unwrap on the big day - and really, if we're being honest, who can blame him?
The sight of a mile long queue at the end of a snowflake themed gift grabbing bonanza, and the effort of having to conjure up a fake smile of appreciation for your seventh box of chocolate covered macadamia koalas can deflate even the most buoyant seasonal balloon of happiness.
It's not just the consumerist aspect that gets under my husband's skin. He is also not a fan of accompanying me to check out the annual Christmas window display in the city, and we have long since ascertained that he has zero interest in trimming the tree or trying to form any sort of sentimental attachment to a bauble or red felt stocking.
In fact, he is so uninterested in the art of tree trimming that he usually just settles back on the couch and shrugs intermittently when I ask if the tree looks wonky or the decorations seem unbalanced.
Last year, when I was heavily pregnant and trying to wrap a tangle of lights around the tree without bursting my waters or my leggings, he only chimed in once - to ask if we were really, actually, seriously going to do the whole Christmassy Santa type thing with our kids. Sigh-bah-grinchy-humbug-sigh.
With his aura of Noel nonchalance, he is unsurprisingly less than enthusiastic about entering the prime parental decade of nibbling carrots and making up stories about a jolly dude sweating around Australia in a climatically inappropriate red suit.
To a point, I can understand his reluctance. It takes a lot of parental effort to perpetuate a myth the size of Santa, and even more energy and dedication to allen key a fifty-seven piece swing set together at midnight without making a sound.
It can also be sheer hard work to deliver a sleigh load of cheer and sliced ham on a non-negotiable date year in year out, no matter the state of your personal credit card economy or how many end of year bevvies you've consumed.
In the dim light of his unenthusiastic Christmas light bulb, though, I can see that he is conflicted - while he would like to wrap the whole season up and store it at the back of the wardrobe, he also wants to deliver a little bit of Christmas magic to our daughter.
Santa is a top bloke with an excellent team of elves and PR advisers, he's still just a man with a sleigh and he needs a little parental help to spread the magic right across the world in just 24 short hours.
He needs our assistance to usher kids into shopping centre photography lines, oversee the writing of wish lists and to carry out the all-important tasks of gift wrapping and Christmas morning present placement.
I've been willing and waiting to help bring the magic to my own family since I was initiated into the land of the knowing when I was nine and a quarter, after months of classroom gossip and a run in with the Easter Bunny in the laundry led me to bail up my mother in the bathroom on the morning of the annual Santa photo and demand to know the facts. Wiling, and waiting, and waiting ...
I'm sure that when the pudding boils down to it my husband is willing and waiting too, and I bet that when he's actually chewing on those carrots and making up those stories (and feigning excitement about them while stumbling about the lounge room at 5:20 in the morning trying to find AAA batteries and a pair of box cutters) he will find himself having the time of his life.
Goodness only knows I will, complete with jingle bell earrings and a string of tinsel wrapped around my head like a sparkly turkey on a merry mission.
My name is Meg, and I'm a Christmasoholic - are you?
Linking with Grace for FYBF
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Sunday, November 24, 2013
|My rose bush in better days|
The plant is a picture of perfect neglect: unpruned arms have wrapped around themselves and spindly offshoots curl up toward the sun. The potting mix has turned to dust and the thorns have deflated into an embarrassing rubbery mess.
Completely out of place, one lonely bud sits atop the plant tower, defiantly trying to unfurl in the face of overwhelming gardening adversity.
In ordinary circumstances, I would probably pluck this wilting rosaceae from the pot and replace it with a nice green succulent from Bunnings, still strong with the power of industrial strength fertiliser and in with a far greater chance of surviving both the summer and my appallingly lax gardening routine.
These are not ordinary circumstances, though, and this is not an ordinary forgotten backyard plant. No, this shining example of plant abandonment is my very own heterotopic pregnancy rose bush, planted in memory of the saddest time of my life and two little chances that slipped by the wayside.
What is this heterotopic business, you ask?
Medically speaking, a heterotopic pregnancy is a multiple gestation where there is at least one pregnancy implanted in the uterus and at least one implanted somewhere outside the uterus (such as in a fallopian tube).
Keeping on the garden path, we can think of a heterotopic pregnancy as when one little seedling grows in the designated baby patch, while another jumps the fence and tries to grow in impossible territory, like in the middle of the lawn or smack bang under the garden shed.
Heterotopic pregnancies in natural conceptions are relatively rare, occurring just once in every 7000 - 30,000 pregnancies. They occur more often in pregnancies where ovulation induction and assisted reproduction techniques are used, with numbers estimated to be as high as 1 in 100.
Of course, heterotopic pregnancies are far more than the sum of reproductive organs, statistics and medical jargon. Like blighted ovums, like miscarriages, like ectopic pregnancies, and like stillbirths, they are human stories involving people like you - and people like me.
My heterotopic story began rather unremarkably, with the simple act of putting my Pills in the bin and a quick Thursday afternoon roll in the hay (and yes, kids, one time really can last a lifetime).
Within weeks I was sobbing when the morning tram was late, outgrowing my favourite jeans, and generally being shittier at the world than usual. I progressively broke up with my favourite foods until the only thing left to buy during the weekly shop was spiral pasta, rice crackers and a pregnancy test.
Despite my obvious up the duffness, the first test was negative - as was the second, the fifth, and the ninth. I worked my way through the entire market of available tests - pee in a cup, pee on a stick, pink dye, blue dye, two lines, single crosses, even the fancy digital varieties with date markers and yes/no answers.
After weeks of expensive peeing, I finally got the (barely perceptible, when you squinted, husband wasn't certain he could actually see it) positive result I had been waiting for and skipped off to the GP for my obligatory early pregnancy confirmation blood test.
The day of truth was a Wednesday. I woke up with a stomach ache, which I put down to an unfortunate combination of nerves and a dodgy bacon and egg roll, and my husband put down to my famously overactive imagination.
We shuffled nervously to the appointment, where the doctor confirmed that we were definitely pregnant, although the hormone levels were reading lower than he had anticipated - this suggested we weren't actually as far along as we thought, and was probably why I had gone through a veritable forest of pee sticks before getting a positive.
We went home as happy and high as little kids set free on a sugar bender in a theme park. Nothing could bring me down, except my tummy ache, which hadn't dissipated with the worry and was still rumbling away with an unpleasant intensity.
Over the course of the evening, the pain shifted out of dodgy egg and bacon roll territory, through excruciating pain, into the undeniable reality that my insides may actually be exploding and I needed to get to the hospital pronto.
A short eight hours after being confirmed pregnant, I found myself lying in the Emergency department under the heavy influence of morphine, listening in to a huddle of nurses in the hallway discreetly discussing my likely miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy.
I was poked and prodded, tested and turned, measured and monitored. The night staff hooked me up to several machines that went beep and wheeled me to the critical ward to doze under a blanket of painkillers until the ultrasound technicians arrived at sunrise.
A delightful orderly wheeled me to radiology, where the ultrasound technician quickly got down to business and zoomed in on my reproductive bits. The first wave of the wand showed everything to be in order, with a tiny baby jellybean located inside my apparently normal looking uterus. The technician smiled and I allowed myself to breath.
The second wave of the wand showed a completely different scenario and I stopped breathing altogether: I could see a jellybean in my uterus, which didn't seem to have a heart beat, and I could also see a big mess where I thought my fallopian tube should be, a large pool of blood that really shouldn't be there, and a large roundish mass free floating around my abdomen.
The technician disappeared and returned with the head radiology honcho, who immediately lit up like a Christmas tree and started rattling off the features of my internal disaster zone: Incredible, just incredible. Failed uterine pregnancy. Ruptured ectopic pregnancy. A true heterotopic pregnancy. You don't see these very often. Did you do IVF? No? Really? That makes this even more interesting.
My exhausted, morphine meddled mind struggled to comprehend what was going on. Yesterday I had been happily pregnant and ready to tell the world, five minutes ago I had been pregnant and sore, and now I was doubly pregnant and rupturing and about to be prepped for emergency surgery.
Immediately and irrationally, I sided with the uterine pregnancy: it had done nothing wrong and was seemingly being punished for the ectopic pregnancy's failure to abide by the rules and park in the correct bay. Why did it have to do that? Why did this have to happen? Why couldn't it have worked out? Why couldn't I just have a baby?
I burst into tears and couldn't stop. The delightful orderly reappeared and wheeled me back to the ward in respectful silence, where the nurses quietly tucked me in and placed a nil by mouth sign at the foot of the bed. The intern nurse held out the tissues and looked terrified. My husband arrived and crawled into bed with me.
The surgeon came to prep me for the procedure: they would go in with keyhole surgery, remove my ruptured fallopian tube and the ectopic pregnancy and maybe even my ovary, and perform a curette as well.
She reassured me that the heterotopic pregnancy was not my fault, just a rare natural occurrence and a horrible case of sheer bad luck. She also explained that in cases like mine, up two thirds of accompanying uterine pregnancies survive, and it was just even unluckier that both of my pregnancies had come to their natural end. I nodded, and cried, and cried, and cried some more.
In the hours before surgery, I napped in bed with my husband and fell into an incredible state of calm. This sense of quiet and peace stayed with me until a week into my recovery, when I sat down on the shower floor and cried like a maniac - then got dressed, went out and got drunk.
I drank vodka and wine, and wine and vodka, and then some more vodka for good measure, and stayed up till dawn before doing it all again. I danced to bands and accidentally did some drunken star jumps, before realising the hard way that abdominal stitches and star jumps are truly terrible bedfellows.
Once the hangover died down, I made my husband drive to the nursery and pick up a rose plant and a big black terracotta pot, which I potted and stared at right through the winter and into the spring. My heterotopic rose bush, with its specialised bag of potting mix and its thorny glory.
I met with the hospital counsellor, who strongly suggested we wait at least a year before trying to fall pregnant again - focus on work, go to the theatre, take a holiday.
I put her theory into practice for three whole weeks. I went back to work and I bought tickets to a musical and I felt okay - until I saw my husband play with a friend's baby and was brought to my knees with the realisation that the only thing that could bring me to terms with losing a pregnancy was to bring another to fruition.
I wanted to be a Mummy, and in that split second of watching my husband bounce someone else's baby I knew that no amount of quality cabaret or trips to Tahiti could make that want go away.
A month down the track I started crying on the tram again, and ten months later I gave birth to my beautiful daughter - in the space of a year my husband and I went from being that unlucky heterotopic couple with the sad story to the luckiest couple you can imagine.
There is nothing remarkable about my story. It does not define me and it does not control me, but every now and then, when the world is quiet and no one is watching, I let it out of the genie lamp to prick at my eyes and sit on my heart.
I have experienced sadness and joy. I have one daughter, two pregnancy stories, three keyhole surgery scars and a ridiculously hardy rose bush that I really must remember to water before summer arrives in earnest.
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