Mum-Shaming Myself: Post-Partum Body Comparison

Gumption and mental grit may be the badge of honour you earn after a second or third baby.

It took some getting used to my body not “bouncing back” this time around. 3 months after my first birth I was well on my way to becoming leaner and fitter than ever before, but with my second baby it just did not happen.

With the challenge of having 2 children to care for I had decided not to add the stress and anguish of looking as if I hadn’t had a baby this time. Whereas my first experience left me obsessing over it, somewhat unhealthily.

Having a second baby, I almost assumed my body would know what to do, how to bounce back yet again. But realistically I was 4 years older, 2 months off the age of 30, with a differing lifestyle. Going for walks with the baby in the pram has only happened a handful of times, as the opportunity was not available when I was free and willing to do so. Yet I could get out of the house daily before and walk for an hour with Zac sleeping away.

When my efforts fortified, hearing compliments became like a drug to me. “You look as if you haven’t had a baby at all!”. Had I beaten the mum-bod curse? Had I made it to the elusive MILF status? The most important question, now that I have experienced both sides, is it really that fucking important anyway?

There are enormous amounts of content bolstering motherhood, how you have earned stripes, how you should be proud of your body regardless of the opinions of others. But I found myself so hung up on them and using them to fuel myself when I should have been fuelling my own fire. When I should have been caring less about how the comments made me feel and cared more of how I felt about myself when I looked in the mirror, and what was behind the lense I was viewing myself with.

So here I am now. Another baby into my story and convincing myself it is okay to love my body when I don’t have other people telling me I look lovable by their standards.

Social media hurts to look at when you feel something between admiration and utter envy of famous personalities ability to regain pre-baby bodies within a couple of months. You almost look for those who appear to seem human and take their time and who still have mum tum in the “9 months in and 9 months out” photo.

A 15 minute workout these days is manageable on the odd occasion. For sake of sanity and for what my dismal energy stores allow. Keeping a form of muscle conditioning is important to me for the longevity and quality of my life but it cannot always take precedence over my responsibilities as a Mum, having a job and being a wife.

One day this will seem trivial. Spending time tossing up between wanting for my first post partum physique and being proud as hell for what this body aided me to do.
That little pouch sitting over my lower abs will always exist. It reminds us of the human life we grew inside there, and that miracles can seem impossible but occur right before our very eyes. Our breasts will be forever changed. They even scare you to look at sometimes. I can even see and feel that my pelvic bones changed placement with each pregnancy. That is awe inspiring. This body, those bones, literally moved great distances as far as they are concerned and birthed two children.

We may sit back and judge other women who seem to be completely unaffected by one or more pregnancies, but we never know their true story, what change was made to their physicality or what changed inside their brain.

Gumption and mental grit may be the badge of honour you earn after a second or third baby.

Gaining an understanding of temporary frustrations and learning that this precious baby and toddler phase speeds by so fast could be the perspective we gain. Maybe even the realisation that fitness can be earned, we can gain it back. It is not like a rare unicorn that can never be caught. That mental toughness though, that is brought about by dealing with the hard stuff that life will throw at you. You can read books and listen to podcasts but nothing can train your brain quite like living through a testing time and coming out the other side of it.

These thoughts get me through. And exposing myself to realistic, healthy and likeminded women or men who share honest takes of how they reach their goals.

Letting go of expectations to be like the “old me” gets easier when I feel the comfort of experience and knowledge gracing my daily mothering abilities. How good is wisdom?

Until next time,

Sha xx

Image may contain: 2 people, including Shaara Lee Horin, people smiling, people standing and child

For positive Mums on IG:

@emilyskye @reviejane

For some realness:
@garyvee

Gary Vayerchuck

The Things Nobody Told Me About Pregnancy And Childbirth

What I really looked like within the hour after childbirth (and a shower). Smudged makeup, tired eyes, relief beyond explanation and shock.

Often I wondered why no other woman told me the gory details of their pregnancy and birthing experiences. Being a person that loves to research and know what situation I am walking (or waddling or pushing) myself into, I was utterly bemused as to why all of the women in my life withheld information. Oh the betrayal! After my second child I gained more perspective. They didnt want to SCARE me. Plus there is so much to tell that it sometimes is best to let a person process it alone. Not everyone wants to know what they are in for. Also being a classic oversharer, after my first baby I would tell anyone about any snippet of my experiences, whether they wanted to know or not!

Now, I present you with a choice. See, this benefits me and I get to respect the easily-queezy folks boundaries by telling you that this is where you need to exit the article if you don’t like to know all of the deets of my experiences.

Nobody told me…I’d grow insane amounts of hair when pregnant. Like, alot of hair. I had to maintain at least 4-6 weekly appointments just to trim it and thin it out. The colour may also change. You would be surprised the information an experienced hairdresser can tell you about yours (and your babies) hair when you’re knocked up. My nails also grew like they were on roids.

Nobody told me…I would get debilitating sciatica pain which felt like lasers shooting down my butt, inner thighs and hamstrings. It’s usually due to pelvic instability as result of the relaxin hormone but SHIT does it hurt. You become afraid of sitting, standing, pooping. Everything!

Nobody told me…you have trouble pooping when pregnant. And god help you if you have low iron and need to take supplements. Not only is it painful, but irregular pooping makes people cranky and short fused. It does for babies and kids, why wouldn’t it for adults. Hint: use Iron Melts if you need a supplement. Second time around I was way less backed up.

Nobody told me…hemorrhoids. Enough said.

Nobody told me…. I would get varicose veins when pregs. Everywhere. Even around my uterus. Yep. If you have ever felt the aching of the nasty buggers in your legs. Imagine that in your midsection and downtown. And there is literally nothing you can do about it. Thanks genetics.

Nobody told me…The exhaustion when pregnant is next level. Sure, when baby is here you are a mum-bie but when you are uncomfortable and unwell due to carrying a tiny human, then trying to manage other tiny humans and possibly working at the same time. Well, let’s just say we ate a lot meals courtesy of Menulog and EatNow.

Nobody told me…heartburn is an absolute pest of thing when you’re knocked up. It’s logical, there is less space for food in your tummy so it pops back out to say hello if you eat too much too quickly.

Nobody told me…you can get extraordinarily painful migraines that turn you into a sloth for days at a time.

Nobody told me…. my second pregnancy would be more uncomfortable than the first. Any symptoms I experienced the first time around were amplified ten fold. Hip and back pain being the main offender.

Nobody told me…. I may find it more difficult to lose weight the second time around. Zac was too old for a pram but wouldn’t ride a bike so I couldn’t go for walks like I did with him. Plus juggling two kids at once meant I found it tough to make meals myself.

Nobody told me…I would not necessarily know the signs of labour. Both labours were spontaneous but I mistook early labour each time for active labour. You would find me bouncing on fitness balls and walking half up and half down on gutters, having baths and showers hoping it would kick start the real deal!

Nobody told me…the buildup to the pushing sensation feels like you need to do a number two. And it makes you paranoid that you ARE pooping. I didn’t poop, well my husband and doctor never let on that I did. I’m happy to keep it that way even if the opposite is true.

Nobody told me…delivering the placenta is like going through childbirth again. It was not as painful for me but there were similarities. The OB pulls it out by the umbilical cord which I found really strange.

Nobody told me…if you tear, it doesn’t tear cleanly and in the places you thought. I had a couple of grazes and tears with Zac. One was a lightning bolt shape and went upwards, not to the side or bottom. Ouch.

Nobody told me…you need to pace how you push to avoid tears and added discomfort. In the movies you don’t see the doctor telling the women to slow down after a certain point of pushing, not often at least. I escaped my second delivery with a minor graze because I paced it out with breathing and waiting for contractions.

Nobody told me…you have a choice in how you are treated by nurses and doctors in labour and what medications you receive. Unless the baby is distressed, it is up to YOU how you labour and deliver. I was meek and lacked confidence with my first which resulted in delivering in a way I was not happy with. Speak up or get your partner to be your voice!

Nobody told me…you might burst blood vessels in your eyes and around your body from the extreme pushing. You will also feel sore afterwards as if you completed the biggest workout of your life.

Nobody told me…there will always be a little pouch where your baby belly was. Sure you can work on it and pose so it disappears slightly, but you always know it is there. I am proud of mine.

Nobody told me…. things do not always go to plan. You write a birth plan or at least think about one. Many close friends and relatives of mine had several interventions with their labours they never anticipated. And as you may know, my first labour was extremely fast while my second was 4 times the length.

Nobody told me…you may turn into a complete nutbag after birth. Not just if you get the baby blues (usually day 3 post partum but mine was worse after 4) but also for MONTHS after delivery. I am a hormonal woman at the best of times but the rages and emotional breakdowns post partum can really test relationships. I remember completely losing my shit at Shane for not mopping the floor when we first got home with Zac. Prior to which he had been travelling direct between work the hospital and briefly home and was in a car accident. Hormone monster!

Nobody told me…after birth pains can be just as painful as labour. And you might be able to put your hand in a gap between your abs. It feels like you are wearing a strangers body.

Nobody told me…you could cry at the drop of a hat. Shane told me a story about a footballer and I cried. Any news other than mundane daily things, I would cry. Happy, sad, angry, excited. All the feels.

Nobody told me…my hair would fall out post partum at alarming rates that even scared my 4 year old. The hair goes everywhere. I gagged when I pulled some out of Judd’s mouth. Sorry mate.

Nobody told me…you frow strange “baby” hairs on your sideburns that cannot be tamed by any product or treatment!

Nobody told me…breastfeeding may simply not work out for you. And the guilt lasts forever. The judged feeling you may never forget. But you will also never forget that your baby gained weight, was healthier and your post natal depression improved when you decided to formula feed. It was what worked for me and my family. And you will always look on at other women feeding their babes with an appreciation for the effort they put in regardless of how they feed. Fed is best whether boob, bottle or tube.

Nobody told me…mum brain is real. It increases with each child. They steal your memory!

Nobody told me…having a baby can bring out the most confident version of yourself! It forces you to step outside the box and speak to strangers who dote over your children, or ask strangers where the nearest parents room is. Or apologise for your child crying at an obscene pitch (even though you shouldn’t have to, you still do).

Nobody told me…. you might make amazing friends from having babies. Parents group, kids activities and sports, kinder or daycare all present more opportunities for you to meet like minded people. It is incredibly empowering finding another mum or dad to bitch about children with, and celebrate the wins of course!

There are so many more things about pregnancy and childbirth than the above but they really are unique to each womans experience. Which I am sure is why they are aren’t always shared.

Having children is a significant life event where you will be forever changed. So much emotion in such a short time. Enjoy what you can because before you know it your little ones are walking, talking and will not need your cuddles as much as before.

Until next time.

Sha x

Miscarriage. My Story.

Miscarriage. My Story.

You Do YouLosing (and gaining) your identity (1)

Not that I need to warn you now, you did read the title correctly, this is a confronting post and I debated over whether to write about it. Something tells me other people will understand.

We had no problems conceiving Zac, obviously, as he took us by surprise. When we decided to add to our wonderful little family of 3, the excitement of planning it all out was almost overwhelming. We didn’t have the chance the first time, so it was all new to us and we wanted to enjoy the journey.

We get to “work” and after a few months I started getting those changes that you only get when pregnant. Boobs and all. It was all happening and we were eagerly anticipating the future.

Mother’s Day morning I woke up to some severe cramping. Immediately I went to the toilet. The thing that you think won’t happen to you, happened. Undoubtedly it could not be mistaken for something else. I wanted to vomit. Someone was squeezing my heart and tightening with every breath I took.

I walked out of the bathroom and did not tell Shane. I did not want to say it out loud. Or admit to myself what took place. And so, I waited for a little while. The responsibility of destroying his world at that time, I could not cope with. Finally, swallowing the lump in my throat, I shared the news, and immediately felt as if I had driven a stake through his heart. He couldn’t speak. You see, we are a team. What happens to me, happens to him and vice versa. And the heartache and anguish I felt was cutting him too. I wanted to be selfish and have him hug me, feel sorry for me and focus on me, but the reality of miscarriage is that the baby is robbed from both of you, not just the mother. We cried and just moved around in a stormy haze. When you have another child to look after you put on a brave face, then ugly cry when they aren’t looking. Not that you should hide your emotions, but how the hell do you explain miscarriage to a 3 year old.

How ironic that day should be Mother’s Day and my Grandmothers 80th, which was an hours drive away. Feeling like we should keep up appearances and distract ourselves, we push on and head out to a lunch for my Grandma. Isn’t it amazing how when the chips are low you can still pull out a false version of yourself. It may not be the best version but it still resembles you in some way or another. We get through the lunch without saying a word to anyone about that morning. I wanted to go home, hide in our bedroom and cry.

We didn’t say a word to anyone for a few days. Why. Why would I want to talk about something that made me feel so much shame? Shane suggested we tell somebody so we can vent, let it out, and grieve. He was on the brink, as was I. But any pain I inflicted on myself seemed irrelevant in comparison to that previous Sunday morning. Eventually I tell my mum, and he tells his. For the first time I hear the word miscarriage and it may as well have been a knife stabbing me. I am told of many women I knew in one way or another that experienced loss of children or fertility complications. Some repeatedly. None of them ever spoke to me about it. You would have never known. I understood why.

We began trying again and eventually we were blessed with our second beautiful little man, JJ. We didn’t concentrate on “trying” as much as previously. The fun was sucked out of it by grief. One morning I realised my period was late and on a whim used a test we’d bought months before. When I laid my eyes on the positive result my heart again felt tight, but I could breathe through it and I let out a tear of relief. Showing Shane will forever be a dear memory. But the pain of the past still surfaces. And I ashamedly did not see a doctor, or tell any of the doctors including my future obstetrician about what happened. They ask you as part of protocol but I didn’t want to talk about it. When I lost the baby, it was so early on and I felt unjustified talking about it. Having it written down against my name on a doctors file was the last thing I wanted.

I want women who have experienced loss to know, I am so incredibly sorry that happened to you. You are not a faulty human. You are capable of love, there is so much love within you that the world needs. It is okay if you do not want to talk about it. But if you want me to come and just sit with you so you do not feel alone, message me and I will come and do that. I am so sorry you feel like a piece of you was stolen away and that you feel broken. You are not broken to me, you are amazingly strong and I admire you.

 

Sha x

 

Resources

Pregnancy Loss Australia

The Peninsula Mum has also written about her story here

Cope Australia

When Your Second Labour is Longer Than Your First

When Your Second Labour is Longer Than Your First

“Well Shaara, looks like Hubby will need to learn to deliver a baby because this labour will be much faster than the first”. Not true for everybody and I am GLAD that didn’t happen to me.

After the 2.5 hour labour with my first, my body went into shock for around 12 hours and I shook that whole time as if I was about to perform a public speech.

Doctors and experienced parents share the notion that if a mothers body has already done the stretching and adjusting once (or many) times before then it usually means the next time you birth a babe it will come out much faster. I’m sure for a vast majority of women this happens but for whatever reason my second labour resulted in 3 days of early labour and 8 hours active.

When you first discover you are pregnant with baby number one you begin to write a plan. An idealistic, dreamy birth plan that may include a fitness ball, yoga music, relaxing back massages, burning essential oils and overpriced candles while you lay in a warm birthing pool repeating mantras and affirmations in your mind as each contraction comes and goes like waves off a tropical island. Well, that is pretty much what my plan was with Zac and as you may already know, it certainly did not happen. {You can read about that here}.

Our second baby, Judd (JJ), decided to take his time.

At the beggining of last year, after our dreamy American honeymoon, we decided we had recovered from the rollercoaster of the first child and took the plunge to procreate once more. Since Zac was more independent it seemed like a good time to try for another as I was no longer helicopter mum-ing him all day, therefore thought I had enough energy. Lol. Oh the naivety of past me.

Eventually July comes along and the pee stick reveals we had another Horin on the way. I was so happy and emotional that I burst in on Shane showering, shoved the test in his face and waited for his reaction. He probably won’t want me sharing this but he had more tears than I did and struggled to get any words out. Being a Dad and growing our family meant so much to him and he was ecstatic that we managed to make another little jelly bean.

The early days were once again filled with nausea and exhaustion. But this time I knew why and I must admit that I took it much easier on myself pyschologically. This was after I thought it a wonderful idea to shovel stones and move wheelbarrows like I did when pregnant with Zac. My back was angry at me but my husband was angrier. After I’d learnt my lesson, gone was the pressure to behave like a superhuman and in came the more relaxed, self-caring version of myself. I looked forward to seeing that baby bump and feel the tiny flutters of first movements. It was a special time and apart from my back and hip issues (hello sciatica!) and initial first trimester sickness, I was astounded at how mentally stable and excited I felt. This was planned and I am a planner.

The months roll by and I was swept away on a suprise luxury getaway to Daylesford for our first wedding anniversary. It was like the babymoon we never had. I pondered whether my husband had really been working those overtime hours because the guy I married, while I love him dearly, is probably the least formally romantic guy I’ve ever met. Sorry babe, but you know you are. He books the most amazing couples massage and at this point I am a sloth like creature who struggles to stay awake for 2 minutes after dinner let alone reward the man for his efforts 😉.

Along rolls the end of January and I am waddling like an Emperor Penguin. I certainly did not expect this level of discomfort in a second pregnancy, in fact, I thought it would be easier. Again, who the hell is this naive and ignorant voice in my head feeding me lies? It was a tough pregnancy physically this time and in the height of summer. My boss let’s me finish work early as she feels sorry for me – thanks Mum (benefits of working with family). This gives me more energy and time to devote to Zac’s first days of kinder.

February comes along and a week before my due date I start to feel some light pains in the evening. Thinking nothing of it, I ignore and continue watching a marathon of The Amazing Race. After some time I realise the pains are coming at regular intervals. We time them at about 5-7 minutes apart and call the hospital. As we drive they get stronger and I get concerned we won’t make it on time. Pulling up to the door was like an antidote for labour. As I was being monitored, they plateaued and the nurse suggest I take a bath in their new birthing tub. This was an exciting moment for me. I’d wanted to labour in water but never had the chance earlier with everything accelerating quickly the first time.

Contractions continued to plummet and we left for home in the morning. The next day we decided to go for a walk to help things along. Night came and there I was bouncing on the fitness ball watching The Amazing Race again with regular pains. It did not escalate past the previous evenings levels so we stayed home and once the pains slowed I got some rest. Feeling frustrated, the next day we decided to live life as usual, seeing as baby was hesitating to exit the incubator. So we did. We dropped Zac off at kinder, cleaned the playroom and garage out and headed out to do a big grocery shop at Aldi. By the time we began packing our shopping, pains returned and were intensifying. Determined not to obsess over it, we pick Zac up from kinder. It is at this point I realise the baby would come that day. Taking deep breaths and pausing with the regular contractions, Zac’s kinder teacher explains his day to me and with empathetic eyes asks if I am having contractions at that moment. I nod, unable to speak, hoping some form of motherly telepathic powers kick in. They kind of do and the teacher empathetically glances at me and encourages me to head off.

Still determined, I agree to take Zac to the ice creamery as we had missed his company the last few days. There I was, helping Zac eat ice cream between moments of deep breathing and closed eyes, probably making me look narcoleptic. Not exactly what happens in the movies. I didnt let it bother me.

Again with that horrible guilty conscience of mine, I just wanted to spend time with my boy who I’d been unable to see those last few days. And I knew it would probably be the last moments we had together as a family of three.

We head for the car where, once driving, I instruct Shane to drop Zac off at his parents who happened to live around the corner from the ice creamery. My poor mother in law tries to talk to me but I’m at that level of being unable to speak again. It’s so bizarre when you go through labour again. You know what to expect and yet you do not. There is no way to fully comprehend and be prepared for the experience of birth at any time.

Zac was happy to have a sleepover at his grandparents, me on the other hand cried on the way to the hospital. My big baby had hardly seen Mummy lately and what was about to happen to him would change his little world forever. No longer would everybody notice just him, it would be him and his brother and I hoped he would become proud rather than jealous. An Aunty had bought him a book about becoming a big brother and I knew he was excited, but what if it went all wrong?

The midwife at the hospital was, if I am completely honest, kick ass and so boss at her job. She made lame jokes which relaxed both of us, but probably Shane moreso because he is in his Dad-joke prime right now. Lord help us when the kid are teenagers.

The contractions are stronger and the monitoring system at the hospital sends information to the obstetricians phone. He asks if I would like any intervention to speed things up but I refuse as I wanted the baby to come when he was ready. He stays at home and informs us he will return at 9pm.

They fill the gloriously large bath and I hop in. That warm water was bliss. The contractions were well and truly increasing. Because they are necessary and a sign of birth preparation, they didn’t bother me as much as the back and hip pain I’d felt all pregnancy becoming sharper with each wave of pains. The water relieves the weight of gravity and after over 3 hours I feel the need for the toilet. I did not want to be the one that pushes more than a baby out on the bed. So I request that the nurse begins emptying the bath so I can get out. With the frequency of the contractions I had no idea how I would get to the loo and do my business. I stop the midwife emptying the tub and ask her to put more water in, only to tell her minutes later I need to push. Clearly I had confused what movements were going on down there. Shane is sitting by the bath the whole time, letting me squeeze his arm like a stress ball and massaging me when asked to. That was just a precursor to what I was about to inflict on him. The midwife insists on me getting out of the bath and over to the bed for labour because the hospital is not accredited for water births. I stand up and feel the full weight of my belly and baby on my back and hips, and they begin to burn. The doctor arrives just on time, earlier than anticipated and luckily so. I walk over to the bed, having to stop and lean on the nurse as I concentrate breathing so I won’t scream like a banshee. I have to lie down on my back so that the staff can monitor our vitals. At this point I become very verbal.

“Please can I go on my knees to push. I don’t want to lie down. My back and hips!” That burning, tearing, and disjointing feeling is one I wont forget. The staff reassure me I will be able to roll over and kneel at the head of the bed. I’m fully dilated and feel that uncontrollable pushing return. Kind of like when you need to vomit and can’t stop yourself, not the most pleasant of comparisons, I know. The OB notifies me that waters had not ruptured in the bath as we had suspected and asks would I like him to break them. I’m sure I replied “Yep!” before he finished the question. He proceeds and it ups the ante. Like a tantruming toddler, I keep repeating that I do not want to give birth on my back.

It. Is. Time. With assistance, I roll over to kneel with my arms on the head of the inclined bed. Gas was offered, but after my strange out of body experience last time, I declined. That’s the planner/control freak part of me. Immediately I need to push. This time I had the OB and amazing midwife guiding my pushes. Shane again repeating their words like before but this time coaching me like pro, and I could feel the positive, encouraging vibes from him. With that, I knew I could do it. I just had to overcome the feeling that my lower back and hips were going to split halfways down the middle. This was not a quiet birth, people next door definitely heard my wails and I did not even care. I needed them. Pushing a baby out is bloody hard work. Two or three lung emptying pushes followed by a bunch of little pants and our second baby boy enters the world. I felt a rush of endorphins as I pull JJ through my legs up to my chest and roll onto my back. He is here and he is sure to let us know with his compacted and wrinkly, squelling face. I’d done it and he was perfect.

Looking down at him, tears formed. He had light coloured hair that covered him like a layer of shimmery glitter. I breathe in his smell like it’s the best drug in the world and secretly hope he will be a red head like me. I glanced over at Shane whose smile was ear to ear, eyes full of proud, happy tears. The entire room was alive yet so tranquil. Encouraging comments from the nurses, doctor and my husband were chimed back to me and it dawned on me that I’d managed to pull off a drug free labour as planned, that it was beautiful and I should be proud of myself regardless of the banshee impression. It was almost an indescribable moment, even while my placenta was being delivered. I felt love immediately, not world-upturning shock like my first birth.

I had researched all I could about breastfeeding, getting advice and watching videos. The first latch was painful and awkward and from there it became more difficult. Nurses commented on how red my nipples were and how unusual it seemed. My supply was also problematic and I could not get a comfortable latch (even with the so-called lactation consultants help, later we discover JJ has a lip tie) so after a few days I gave it a rest and pumped exclusively while mix feeding formula. The baby blues hit me and Judd was crying throughout the night. This time I bucked up and asked for help from the nurses. I didn’t want to or have to do it alone.

The nurses made my hospital stay a wonderful memory. Each supporting whatever decision I made. I hadn’t experienced that before and I left hospital with nipple shields, still expressing but knowing deep down that breastfeeding was not for me and my child. I continued to pump. Almost consumed by the idea of being able to eventually breastfeed. But the reality was that for so many reasons I was not capable. I stopped pumping after awakening to the fact that I was clutching at straws. I’d given my baby colostrum. He was mostly fed by formula. Time for me to overcome my pride and put my family first. It took weeks of grieving. Of hiding my tears and ugly crying in the shower. Hormones did not help but I felt like a failure again.

Another moment occurs when it is confirmed why I married my husband. He sits with me while I cry and tells me that I got the labour I wanted. I set out to use a fitness ball, have spaced contractions so I could process what was happening, use a birthing bath at least for pain relief, avoid medications, get back massages AND give birth any way but on my back. If I could have slapped myself I would have. Gratitude hit me and I snapped out of the grieving. I was fortunate to get something I asked the universe for. I should be grateful to have ANY type of food for my baby. I am grateful.

Physically, my recovery was swift. Mentally, that took time. It is a work in progress that I chip away at each and every day. Looking at my beautiful, healthy and loving boys I feel complete. Not in generic way but in a way where it is like your heart has grown and you don’t know how to tell other parents with one child so that they will understand how great it really is. My boys dote over each other. I had always wanted 2 boys. Ask and you shall receive.

Until next time.

Sha x

Just after giving birth
Judd (JJ)
Our boys first cuddles
Walking to help labour along

Resources

If you are a “planning/routine” Mum like me you made find The New Contented Little Baby book helpful. Take advice that is relative and leave the rest.

Your local Maternal Child Health Nurses. A lot changed in 4.5 years and our local MCHN (Cardinia Shire) are much more accepting and constructive than they were previously. I would recommend talking to them if you are not coping or need advice.

St John of God Raphael Services in Berwick are wonderful for PND or Anxiety support

When You Miss Half Your Pregnancy

When You Miss Half Your Pregnancy

You read it right. I’m somewhat famous amongst my friends and family. The girl who didn’t realise she was pregnant until she was 20 weeks. I was 25 at the time but I call myself a girl, not a woman, because mentally that is how I felt.

After over 6 months of organising the build on our house, I knew something felt different. I had been unwell and so incredibly nauseated the entire time. Physically I was pushing myself harder than ever before. Moving wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of bricks into skip bins. Landscaping, shoveling, cleaning and pushing my body to breaking point every day. I worked full time and did this after work, on the weekends, then going back home and adjusting to living with my now husband and his brother and brother’s wife. Amongst all of it, the paperwork, oh the paperwork relating to an owner/builder style of building is relentless. Sourcing trades, negotiating prices, losing your shit at the carpenter who is also supposed to be your mentor and assist with organising the build. It was a heck of a ride with many lessons learned but as you can tell, I didn’t have time to scratch my back let alone consider the fact my contraceptive pill had not done it’s job effectively around New Years Eve.

After weeks of bloating, random abdominal cramping, tiredness and epic mood swings, I consider getting it checked. Maybe it’s gas, I thought? Or appendicitis? Off I go to the GP to ensure it’s nothing sinister. After explaining the symptoms he pushes me out the door convincing me it is nothing, even when I mentioned pregnancy. Off I went.

3 months into pregnancy I had a Gyno appointment. Undertaking a common procedure, I mention symptoms to the doctor to get his opinion. Even after being in the vicinity of the baby making station he assures me it is nothing to be concerned about.

After these instances the most peculiar feeling begins. Tiny bubbles feel as if they are floating around and popping in my abdomen. Okay, this definitely is strange and it is at this point I decide to get a pregnancy test, you know, just in case.

The little line appeared and I felt as if I’d been winded by a kick in the guts. I cried. Actually I sobbed. Sitting there in the toilet while my partners family gathered in the kitchen. I didn’t really believe I could possibly have been pregnant until now. I was on a really expensive, new contraceptive pill that is known to stop periods so that warning sign was not relevant to me. After a while I dry my eyes, walk out and grab my partner by the hands and we walk outside. His face when I told him still amazes me. The look of complete shock where it drains the blood from your skin, then suddenly he realised I was in more shock than he. And the most amazing thing happened in the moment that I was on the brink of falling apart. He smiled the most heartfelt smile you could imagine. He hugged me tightly. And told me he was excited. We’d been together since I was 15, and he 16, and I can tell you right now that all of my instincts of him being a good Dad were coming to fruition that day. A good choice was made in staying with that guy. I stand by my decision every day.

The pregnancy feels short. Many moments occur where I fall into such mental despair that I can’t get out of bed. I wanted to be a Mum some day. But in the future after we’d settled into our house and travelled Europe for a while. Abortion never crossed my mind, yet I couldn’t comprehend how I could be strong enough to give birth and support another human being. Never disillusioned about the trials and tribulations of motherhood, I knew it would be a hard slog and I was shit scared of it.

This is when my best friend came to my house, unsure of why I was so completely upset (as I was supposed to be excited), she came to the doctors with me so I could get an understanding of how to book the hospital, what scans did I need, how do I figure this whole thing out? She remained one of my biggest supporters even when my boobs where hanging out and I needed someone to pick up a breast pump for me. The kind of friend who’d happily kill for you . It helped having someone to cry to about feeling alone and out of my depth.

I wanted to make up for all of the terrible things I’d done to my body whilst unknowingly pregnant. The guilt was unbearable and I still don’t think I’ve forgiven myself entirely. I began prenatal yoga and it was the best thing I could have done. My muscles thanked me and my brain did too. The baby didn’t mind it either.

At 36 weeks my mucus plug came out and some pretty intense cramps started. It was my now fiances birthday and we were having a small family barbecue. I stayed quiet about it for a while but then it became too much and we drove to hospital. The cramps had stopped and the baby was fine so back home we went.

At exactly 38 weeks, I awoke to my waters breaking and light cramps. After doing the usual call to the hospital, they assured me as it was my first baby it may take a while to go into full active labour. They recommended I walk around, have a shower then get some rest. I wake up my partner before my shower to let him know it was go time and he begins to pack the car on my request. Not fast enough for my liking as by the time he visits me in the shower I am having intense contractions at 2-3 minutes apart. We quickly get me dressed and into the car. Fiance asks me repeatedly if I am okay, should he park or drop me off at the hospital entrance? A pleading look in his eyes for me to reply and give him confirmation everything was alright. But speak, I could not. By the time we drove out of our street there was zero gap between contractions and by the time we hit the freeway I was desperately trying not to give into the pushing sensation. Adamant that giving birth on a roadside was not on my bucket list.

“Pull up to the door” I manage to say and as we walk down the corridor to the maternity unit. The midwife sees me half keeled over as I walk. My eyes must have darkened as I replied to her question of “Oh sweetheart, what’s the matter?!” by shooting daggers out of them. I’d just been on the phone to her, and obviously as a first timer I must have sounded as if I was exaggerating. They walk me into the birthing suite which has only just been cleaned. Mid September is apparently one of the hospitals busiest time of year. Ushered into the ensuite to give them a wee sample, my waters were still exiting at a rapid rate. I stand up to wash my hands, still hunch-backed like Quasimodo over the basin, and I freeze. The pressure was overwhelming and I needed to push. Right there and right then. I’m still sure I could have delivered in that bathroom standing up. Yet I was shuffled over to lie down and be examined and attached to the heart monitor to check baby, and offered the gas which I happily used as a distraction (it did nothing to relieve pain, only made me feel like I was another person watching over myself in labour). While the baby’s health is of utmost importance, that pushing feeling is one that is so unexplainable and fighting it is like trying to win a losing battle. The midwife does an internal examination as it is so busy no Obstetricians are available. She looks shocked and starts moving fast.

“How many centimetres am I?”. I’d watched that many episodes of One Born Every Minute, I thought I knew all the lingo and I thought I was prepared for what was to come. “You’re fully dilated. Whenever your body tells you it’s ready, you push!”. And that I did. The most ugly faced, gruntiest sounding, Deadpool Maximum Effort like pushing I’d ever done before. It was scary, daunting, yet I knew there was no turning back and I reminded myself that each contraction/push is one less I have to do. The fiance stands next to me, mimicking what the midwife says as he has mentally stalled and is just as shit scared as I am, still.

One extra large push, when you feel like no amount of pushing will get that baby out, and the sharp feeling of tearing jolts me like a lightning bolt. The upside, baby’s head is out and with light pushes to follow he enters the world in a room with utterly surprised people. The labour was 2.5 hours long. I was at the hospital for about 30-40 minutes and my midwives were somewhat unprepared for Zac to arrive so quickly, the heated crib was not even yet heated.

Relieved of intense pain, I sigh and stare at Zac’s screaming, squashed face. I was in awe of course. And struck with guilt immediately that I did not feel overwhelming love and rainbows and unicorns that every mother brags about. It had all gone so fast. 18 weeks of pregnancy (that I’d known of) where we’d moved into our house and become engaged. 2.5 hours of labour. On the inside I was just begging for something to take it’s time. Just allow me to process one portion of this gargantuan, life altering occassion before I fall into a heap. I hold our baby and feed him while the Obstetrician (who finally walks in) delivers my placenta and stitches me up. I hardly notice that pain after the ordeal that had just occurred. My biggest supporter, Shane, cries tears of joy having watched his wonderful little boy enter the world. He remarks constantly at how proud he is of me. I still love him so much more knowing that when I look like a sweaty, frizzy haired witch he still thought I was a rockstar. I felt proud that I’d given life to a wonderful little boy but the whole situation felt alien to me.

What happened next was precisely what I didn’t want to happen. 2 weeks of a crying baby that hardly slept, was not gaining weight and was beggining to look unwell and very jaundiced. Oh and reflux. Actual projectile, vomiting reflux. Add it onto the list of things I felt unqualified to handle.

It felt like an eternity and I felt so incredibly judged by the hospital lactation consultant and maternal health nurses as if I wasn’t trying hard enough to breastfeed. It’s bullshit of course because I was trying with every piece of energy I could muster. I’d feed, top up with expressed milk, pump, clean house, get a wink of sleep if I was lucky and do it all again. Poor Zac was still hungry and after crying most of the days and nights I did not believe I deserved him. He deserved a Mum that could function properly and dote over him. The most ultimate cloud of loneliness I had inflicted on myself. I could have been at an Ed Sheeran concert and still felt alone. Our friends would visit and dote over our boy. I would force a mask of “expected” gloating new mum behaviour onto my actually dishevelled and depressed face. Mastitis crept up and slapped me right in that face and with cracked and bleeding nipples, I hit rock bottom. At this time I threw in the towel. I had admitted defeat. My mother in law gave Zac a bottle of formula while I went to the 24 hour doctors to get antibiotics and, I’m ashamed to say, tablets to stop my milk production. Zac then slept. I got more than 30 minutes of sleep and those little sparks of human were beggining to return.

It was a tough decision and one that impacted me incredibly, but it needed to be done as I’m simply not a very good cow and I had to draw the line when I started thinking horrible thoughts. It was also the best decision I made. After weeks of nothing but confusion and guilt because I did not get that doting and adoring feeling you are told you should get when you have a newborn, I slowly began to look at my boy like he was the most wonderful, magnificent sight I’d ever have the pleasure of staring at. He became so healthy and happy over the next few months.

The transition into motherhood, for me, was like a bumpy old dirt road that the local council couldnt give a rats about. It just gets beaten down with more potholes that really shake up your suspension until one day, they get some machinery onto it and level that shit out. It wasn’t a glorious, starry eyed journey for me. Instead it was filled with self doubt, guilt (see previous post on this), anxiety and I neglected to say until recently, PND. As time went on I gained perspective and understood that it maybe wasn’t my ideal timing for having a child. Maybe I wasn’t really “ready”. But it was something I call the “deep end technique” where you get thrown into the middle of a foreign situation and you learn to swim or sink. I swam. And most of us parents eventually do. This journey taught me more than any class, lecture or seminar I have ever attended. It gave me a chance to turn so many factions of my life around and somewhat rewire my brain. I see how lucky I was to be surrounded by people who wanted to support me. Mum, Mum-in-law, Aunties, Dad’s, mates but most of all my husband who is the epitome of loyalty and steps in to be my backbone when it crumbles.

Zac was my first baby and together we conquered the challenges of newborn/new mum life. I have nothing but gratitude for him and although guilt plays a part in this story, regret does not. Things happened just the way they should have.

Childbirth, birth story, delivering baby, firstborn

Shortly after Zac entered the world

Final days of pregnancy with Zac
Feeling more relaxed at 6 weeks postpartum

Resources:

The Motherhood by Jamila Rizvi shares other real and somewhat brutal stories of women’s first weeks into motherhood. It also demonstrates that most first time Mums do feel lonely and would make a practical gift for someone who may be experiencing a tough time with their first baby

PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) – a website I hesitated to look at but felt so much better when I did. They do have a hotline and I did use it when I felt extremely lonely

BeyondBlue – very experienced with depression and anxiety and also has a great website/phone like resource

St John of God Raphael Services Berwick – If you are based in the South East Burbs of Melbourne. This place has counsellors that are specifically trained in PND recovery techniques

Reach out on social media;

“Due in Groups” on Essential Baby can be very helpful for finding friends who are experiencing the same new mum probs at the same time that you are. Join the forum, find your “due in” group relating to your due date month and make some new friends. They’re generally up feeding all hours of the night as you are, and they’ll totally understand your hormonally,sleep deprived induced mental breakdowns.

Mum bloggers/influencers. It seems silly and fan girlish but for me it was all about connecting with like minded people who show you can come out okay on the other side of all of this. I like Olivia White (House of White), @mrsconstancehall, @emilyskyefit, @newmumstheword and @justusjunghens

Taking the leap

Here we go – finally the day I set out on a journey to expose what goes on inside this head of mine. Something my husband is forever wanting to know, and immediately regrets once he finds out.

I’m from an outer burbs town in Melbourne, Australia and like many other oversharers on the internets, I too am a Mum. How original right? My household is filled with boys. Husband, Zac (4yo) and baby Judd (3mo). What I aim to do is impart my knowledge of not just mum-ing but also life-ing and the strategies and methodologies I have used to get me to the ripe old age of 30. This is in the hopes that someone out there who was once as clueless as me in many topics will find a post that makes them feel as if they are not alone, something I too have sought through late night googling when life throws a spanner in the works.

I will also share what shenanigans I get up to on the daily. Probably best that you follow me on insta for that -@shaaralee

I warn you. My life would seem somewhat ordinary to most. I’m not a full blown #fitmum or a #breastfeedingmum or an #organicmum. But I am an #openmindedmum and I have respect for every person’s decisions and believe we all tread our own little path. I love my family and my children. I have battled PND and anxiety just like most people in this decade and I have only in recent years accepted and learnt how to combat it. I’m learning to retrain my brain and by sharing what has worked for me in this lifetime, heck it may work for someone else out there.

Cheers for reading and keep on eye out for my next install ✌

It is well to fly towards the light, even when there may be some fluttering and bruising of wings against the windowpanes, is it not?                                — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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