I haven't written in awhile, because frankly, everything is on repeat. Feed. Hug. Change. Kiss. Laundry. Snuggle. Clean some things. I constantly need to look at the bottom of my screen for todays date but that is pretty impressive because there were/are times when I can't even tell you the current month if I'm not given enough time to ponder. It is October which basically means its Christmas. We are suffering from terrible whiplash for all that's happened in these past 6 months. Reece has got his permanent residency, his drivers license, we became parents, we bought and sold two cars (major eye-roll). I have tried to keep up with some things that make me feel human, an individual, rather than a one stop living breathing 24/7 supermarket. So I pick up my sewing machine or my knitting needles here and there and try to stay sane. Also I try not make a huge mess. Unfortunately without much success.
We have gained good friends... and suddenly lost a dear one as well. There is a different type of grief when you're too far away to do anything. To say anything. Because it doesn't feel real. It won't feel real until one day when we visit SA again and everyone is together except for one. A piece is missing. Then the final link connects. Loss is no longer suspended or pending like the restaurant tip on a credit card bill. But until then, I think we both just feel mystified. Nothing changes for us. And that makes me feel guilty... and guilty is like breathing for moms. So look at me go.
So meet with your friends. Take lots of pictures. Eat dinner together more often. Because you have no idea how much time you really have on the clock. Also because babies grow so fast. Sometimes videos you take in the morning make you reminiscent in the afternoon. Its craziness.
Following the heaviness of my pondering, allow offer some cute pictures of Piper (5 months) and Everett (17 months), her long time bestie and the giver of arguably the most adorable hugs. Thanks Katrina Massey for the pics, once again. You nailed it.
And then some of her post-thanksgiving-mashed-potatoes. Apparently they weren't sufficient, but the table made a nice top up.
So people say that pregnancy has 4 trimesters. Labour lasts ages longer than the few days that we all scream for drugs and ice chips. I didn't really get it until my baby was over a month old.
So Piper was kind of an angel. I was told that this is just a 'newborn thing' that all babies are easy when all they do is sleep and eat and poop contentedly. I think not. I've heard some nasty stories about babies right off the starting block. Nights of waking and days of crying. This was not my experience.
I was duped. Tricked. Teased into believing that I had a 'good baby'. Inwardly I breathed a sigh of relief even though on the outside every night I had my supplies next to my bed for when I had to get up in the night. Glass of water, spit blankets and cell phone.
Just in case.
But that just in case hardly ever happened. By the time she was a week old, she was sleeping 5 hour stretches and I hardly had use for my 'just in case' stash. I was feeling more rested and stronger each day to face all of the feeding I had to do. It was hard, but I was doing it.
Then somehow... after like 8 weeks or so... Everything changed. Everything.
By everything, by the way, I mean that my baby no longer slept the night. She no longer even just stirred for food and passed out right away after. She began to fuss, cry and just generally express contempt for her current situation.
Seriously? But... she was sleeping... and then in the morning we played... then she slept some more... wha?
Where did my baby go? No, not this red faced screaming thing. I want the sweet sleepy one. The one that has no interest in my face at 3am. That is the kind of baby I like.
That is the baby I thought I had.
So this is my thought. First, I blame teething (yes, my three month old is getting teeth... you can think I'm nuts, but I can SEE THEM.)
Teething sucks at this age because, bless her soul, Piper kind of sucks at picking things up. Opposable thumbs are a mystery to her miniature brain. So its endless hours of frustration cries all for the want of something to OM NOM.
Second I blame all the brain development.
Look it up, babies grow a crap load during these first few months of life. They go from little squishy zombies to tiny humans with words and mobility so quickly that it basically drives them to tears of anger and frustration every so often. Like growing pains... but on the brain. Its awful.
So I'm tired. She's apparently grumpy-tired but doesn't sleep like it. Were all just doing what we can to survive right now... Though were technically out of the 'fourth trimester', it doesn't appear to work precisely that way in real life. Maybe parenting is just plain hard.
That means I have this giant pile of laundry next to me and nothing is happening about it till tomorrow.
Apologies for the lack of photos in this post. Better luck next time.
PS: I still want to name and shame the judgy people I've come across since my baptism into motherhood (quite literally). But seeing as I failed to collect their names... there will be mostly just shaming. I hope you look forward to it as much as I do.
I'm just going to bullet point some interesting facts about life as of late. Because I'm still apparently trying to shake my life up and down to see if therein lies some sort of purpose, direction or answers. Confidence? Knowledge? Organic, Non-Toxic, Hippie Mom Power?
(Please, my kid wears disposables and my recycling habits... are less frequent than my blogging habits. Do the math.)
Currently, I'm watching the last soft beams of light as they pour through the blinds in my living room and the cool night air mingles with sounds of the street at 8:27pm.
My daughter is asleep.
I love saying that. My daughter.
I relish each moment speaking to someone official on the phone (doctor, nurse, and various receptionists for miscellaneous government departments)
My daughter, Piper.
She's two months old today. My girl with the eyes like her dad, nose like her mom, and hair like a tiger. The super platinum blonde bits are coming in but the lightening ginger chunks remain for the time being... creating this wonderfully adorable stripe effect... a la tiger. Or calico kitten. Something. Anyway.
Piper knows about fists. She can make them AND she can salivate all over them with pure satisfaction and delight illuminating her.
Part two on Piper's fists: she, just today, learned to punch things. Particularly a green frog named Freddy by Auntie Bestie Cait.
Piper has been smiling pretty much since she entered this world... but it always felt a little robotic. Like she was mastering the art before understanding the sentiment. For the last two or three weeks her eyes light up in the morning when we release her from her swaddle (during which time we are appropriately singing "Release Me") and she gives a few joyful gum displays... But just in the last few days she has decided that the world deserves to see her smile all day long. So when she is awake, oh my. Prepare to scoop up your heart with a ladle. Because it will melt like a popsicle in Dubai. Make that ANYTHING in Dubai.
These pictures, again, by the great and talented Katrina Massey were taken around a week ago. She has already changed so much! I really need to get the hang of blogging in a more timely fashion; I honestly tried to keep the number down... but there are many more that I didn't include just in the interest of not being obnoxious posting over 50 images. Leave em wanting more and all that...
More later on strollers and random people at Wal Mart judging me. The strollers weren't judging. Just the randoms.
Back when we were but 12 days old, mama felt suddenly ill and had to go to a walk in clinic. This moment is a sad face moment because bringing a brand spanking new baby into the public is moderately terrifying, I think, for all mothers. I took my Pipes with me into a room full of people with suspicious coughs and fevers and itches. It was awful, gut-wrenching and I most definitely did cry. In the end (after like 3 hours of waiting) I was fine. Turns out you're not supposed to haul your baby on foot more than 1km less than two weeks after they vacate your body. Its not like they just GIVE you that vital info right after you push the little sucker out. Hmph. Something about common sense. Whatever. So the previous residence of my adorable little tenant was complaining about excess abuse. Oops. Mama was getting stir crazy. Sorry.
After wiping up my snot, finishing my Starbucks and checking for the 25 000th time that my precious babe was breathing, Katrina and I went back to my house and took pictures. Because I was going to be fine and Piper was back in our own family germs instead of ugly, public, west-nile-virus-ey germs.
Finally, a whole month later, my dear people who read this small corner of world wide web, this is us. Piper and I. We spend the day at home with mostly greasy hair, wearing clothes that are a lot more comfortable than they are attractive. No makeup, because we ran out months ago and baby things are more important than face gunk. This is what moms look like. Sometimes we dress up and go out and pretend that we totally wear real clothes all day long and actually do our hair. When really its a top knot to avoid hair pulling and some coconut oil to soothe the mysterious face rash. I know. So not glamorous. But she is beautiful, no? Worth every penny and every patch of skin as dry as Nevada. Not Nivea. Nevada. The desert one.
I used to measure the days she had been on this earth... when her birth was still so fresh on my body and in my mind. I remembered the agony well but I was proud of this little thing I accomplished. We made such a great team, she and I.
Now she's seen every single day of the week. More than once. Piper knows about Mondays. She knows about the weekend. She loves to sleep good on the weekend because she loves chillin with her pops.
Piper loves baths. Piper does not love bubbles in her face.
Piper loves long walks.
Piper loves to eat. Piper will eat anywhere. Just today she was eating while I walked down to the parking garage to let someone in. She eats at Starbucks. Any coffee shop really... Piper is not brand loyal. Nothing will stop my little piglet from getting whats hers.
This month she has gained more than two pounds, she can hold her head up for a frightfully long while. And she snores. Like a trucker.
She's snoring while I write this brief post to let the interwebs know that I am capable of doing something productive while having a child. So there. Take that. Now to quickly publish before she wakes up. Because Piper doesn't stand for late meals. Won't be having one bit of that nonesense.
So it seems appropriate that on Mothers' Day I should share the story of how I went from just a girl with way too much extra weight around my middle to being somebody's mama.
Apologies in advance for any profane language I may have missed in my 'beep editing'.
8pm on Thursday night I started to feel those coveted lower 'grippy' cramps and I hoped they were what I wanted them to be.
My baby girl was due on April 20th. Easter Sunday. (also Pot Smoking Day and Hitlers birthday... so I was not particularly keen on a due date baby if I'm honest) I waited and waited for 5 extra days hoping that something I was doing would work. Walking, eating pineapple, even verbena from the midwives and evening primrose oil didn't seem to remotely touch sides. I was convinced I was never having this baby. I was pissed.
At night my feet would burn up like a fever from the ankles down and during the day I would struggle to breathe sitting in certain positions... My patience was more than wearing thin.. It was non existent. From something like Saturday... I was getting the tightening... Braxton hicks... Whatever. They kind of hurt but not really. They were erratic but hard to ignore when I woke up to one jolting me into the realization that I, once again, would have to ice my awful hot feet.
So at night... I would think this was it. I'll wake up and labour for the day and birth the following morning in the early hours.
As f(beep)ing if.
Nothing ever happened and I was tired. My mind and my heart were so tired of the waiting. I was done being pregnant. Nestlé had sent me their stupid effing 'congratulations your baby is here!' email ,obviously driving me to complain violently and with much profanity to all of my friends. Screw nestle. Stupid pregnancy.
So when Thursday night started to feel different I knew. But even though I knew. I was still so desperately afraid that it would all amount to nothing and I would end up being nowhere close to meeting my baby.
I wasn't terribly far off.
Friday morning I woke up to period cramps still there from last night. I get those pretty bad. My period is kind of an overachiever as far as periods go. Probably makes for a cozy uterus and hence my daughters reluctance to vacate.
So when I felt the period cramps I was overjoyed. Never in my life have I had this reaction to period cramps. They hurt so good. Semi regular at 10 mins apart... Like 30 seconds each. Right on schedule.
Wednesday previous I was given a sweep at the midwives' office and measured in at 2-3 centimetres dilated. Which I was super proud of. Hell yes my cervix is awesome. I'll have this baby in no time once things start. I'm running from, like, the 20 yard line. Or some such sport metaphor. I have no idea. I pay no attention during such things.
So in the back of my mind all day Friday I visualised my cervix opening up with each cramp. I loved it. The pain followed by non- pain in intervals made me feel powerful and strong. Like the pain itself was doing something to me. Something magic.
Reece took the day off work and we walked, chatted, bought a new coffee table, and spent this gorgeous sunny day together kind of quietly giddy that we were going to have a baby soon. Even though my cramps had all but disappeared when I walked around and came back when I lie down... Interesting.
Back up again: I had been texting furiously with my doula for pretty much the entire week. I had blown up he birthing pool on, like, Monday... I was asking her every possible new mom question about birth. All laced with the all-encompassing question "could this be it?".
Renee, my doula, had another birth she was attending on Friday so I did kind if hope for things to stay quiet so I would at least be able to have her at my birth. We had such a great connection and being comfortable with people in my space is really important to me. So Renee said to call her when I needed her and she napped after her first all-nighter birth of the week.
Then by the time 1am rolls around I am breathing through the cramps now instead of just smiling inside to myself at how awesome I am just chilling out with greys anatomy and labouring with my first child at home. What a (beep)ing champ I am. This s(beep) is awesome.
So Renee arrives after our call and we start using previously discussed techniques to get through the escalating contractions. We time them. They're still around the 45 seconds and 10 minutes apart kind of thing. Things are getting intense.
This is good, right? 411 isn't far away. (4 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour) Well probably call the midwife by 4 or 5 am and have this baby in time for breakfast! Boom. Again, I rock at birth. Not.
Then stuff kicked up a notch and I had to really focus on Renee and her coaching to get through each pressure wave. We had a code. Tapping on the bed or the shower or wherever I was meant that I was contracting and she tried to time them.
By 4am it felt like the contractions were coming two at a time. The shower was so good. Sitting on the ball with the shower head aimed at my back and my tummy. That was true relief. I could get through lots and we were getting closer to that coveted 411.
Then, things got even more intense and I couldn't seem to cope. By 7am I was done. Everything in my body hurt, the contractions were overwhelming me and taking me to a place I had never been before. That kind of pain and relentlessness wasn't in my arsenal of experience or expertise. I don't experience much pain. I'm not used to it... I don't like it.
So when I communicated this to Renee and Reece after my fun times two-for-the-price-of-one contractions, they sort of started taking me seriously... But when I started grunting and demanding that I not do this anymore... Suddenly it was call the midwife time. Call her fast. Because I felt like pushing. I felt like she was right there and I could just get her out in that bathroom.
So in walks Lyanne, our midwife. Sweet Lyanne... patiently waiting to check up in my progress as I weakly and pathetically contract my way to the bed where I'm sure she will tell me I'm 6 centimetres dilated. I totally thought I was 8 or even 10 but I didn't want to be greedy.
I have never seen anyone put anything so delicately as Lyanne composed this next statement. As if chairman Mao himself was in the room and she were about to tell him she doesn't like msg.
"Great news- your cervix is amazing and thin and low and the baby is really coming down. So you're three centimetres dilated..."
Never in my life have I felt so crushed. So utterly cheated and hurt and devastated as I did when I heard that. There centimetres. You mean, just like I was THREE EFFING DAYS AGO?!?! I had been labouring my little heart out for the last 24 hours for absolutely no centimetres?
I cried. I wept. Renee told me not to cry but it's ok that I want to. It's just that crying causes our muscles to tighten. I wanted none of that. So I pulled my s(beep) together.
Then Lyanne left and we did it all over again. The shower. The ball. The water. The hip squeezes. Over and over again.
Tap. Contract. Breathe. Listen intently to Renee's voice taking me through each wave. Reece holding my hand and telling me I'm doing so well. I could see in his eyes he hated seeing me like this, but he knew I could do it. And if he knew I could do it, then dammit I could do it. Tap.
Reece and Renee and I tried to have some small talk... And I'm terribly easy to distract if you can get me talking. Renee was a pro. We would try to continue our conversation after each contraction. That got me through for awhile.
My mom came over to check and make sure we had what we needed. She brought extra drinks and snacks.
Beef jerky. Best advice I ever got. The salty protein hit me and I was able to keep pushing through. Just one more. Keep going. Just this one. Get to the end of just this one.
Every few contractions would overwhelm me and I would begin to cry. Because it was all too much. It was Saturday. I thought I started labour on Thursday night. I had no idea if I was even close.
At 1pm (or 10 to) I pretty much had enough. I did not want to do it anymore. My crying was angry. It was desperate and my tears stung my face like hot pain because I knew I was at the end of myself. No more. I want it over. Now.
We called the midwife once again. Renee promised me that she would fight for me to get in the pool. Even if my stupid cervix still said 3cm.
I measured a 6. Which was apparently 'over half way' to some (beep)ing retarded sense of glass half full sense of logic. To me, it was still 4 cm less than where I needed to be. But I did 3 cm in 4 hours. If I cut that in half, maybe I could get fully dilated in, let's say, 2 or 3. I had been put through enough pain already. Let's get this s(beep) done.
So Reece was given the go ahead to fill the pool. I contracted on my bed with a birthing ball (fancy word for Reebok exercise ball) because I couldn't move. They were coming so fast and so hard I had no time to move or walk or breathe. Just one after the other.
Then, like a water balloon popping inside me, my waters broke. It felt disgusting and I hated it. The gush wasn't like I thought it would be. I expected triumphant and relieving. It just shot some extra tokens into the contraction machine I apparently was chained to.
The pool filled. The bottom half was cold. That basically ruined my entire existence for a good 15 minutes.
Once the temp was ok. Nothing really improved. I was just contracting like a mother (quite literally) in the pool and it was so intense I am tearing up right now. Every fibre of my being wanted to get up and run away. Somehow escape from the pain I was in and the lack of rest that this relentless roller coaster of labour had me suffering from.
My mom had arrived for the birth, along with my bestie, Katrina who we have to thank for these images.
After a few contractions, my body took over. It was like I was letting me think that I was in control for a time, you know, contractions and labour and whatnot... But then there were no guesses. I either had to surrender to pushing this baby out, or I don't even know. I was unaware of any other choices. And I thought of what choices I could possibly have had when I was in that pool.
This was the part where I thought that mothers who had giant footlong needles in their back possessed quite the stroke of genius and those who chose a caesarean birth were definitely far more evolved that I with my pool and my severe lack of pharmaceuticals. But again, my choices were now limited to none. Again, I chose to relay my reluctance going forward with this whole task of birthing. Over and over again, contrary to every hippie birthing book directive, I said "I can't do this anymore"
And after every "I can't do this." Each time, my precious, brave husband would say "I'm so proud of you... You're doing it. You're really doing so well my baby"
I'll never forget that. As long as I live.
Renee, my doula, who is pretty much a birth goddess in my opinion. She knows so much useful s(beep) it's actually unbelievable. My birth story hinges on her help. She continued her magic that is also known as the '"double hip squeeze" along with back massage.
But nothing actually got me through that final, awful part more than seeing my husband's face and knowing that I was doing all this work for our baby. That if he could sit there and let me squeeze the life out of his hands, knowing that he can do nothing to fix the pain, and tell me how amazing I was... Then I could not let him down. He believed in me. So I believed in me. Except not really. I also just knew that practically the only way out was down.
So when my body said go, I pushed. Nobody told me to do it. But nobody told me to stop either. So I just kept doing it.
The room was disturbingly silent but for me and my pushing noise. And that was big. I was told to quiet down... Only to save myself a sore throat later. So I searched what else I had. What lay in the corners of me that I could scrape away from the wall and pull together. And I pushed. I was terrified. I knew that it could and would hurt me. That maybe I would tear. But it was time. So I pushed again and again until the last push came with this PULL.
And she was there. I knew she was and I managed to turn around and sink down to see what had happened out of me. They unwrapped her neck from the cord and she was on my chest. So purple and slimy and so perfect. Her eyes were squinty and her skin was covered in vernix. She was mine and it was all over.
It was profound. It was enlightening. It was nothing like what I had imagined. There is a halo of light over that moment in my head right now, but at the time... I was just so glad it was all over and (its kind of a shame to say) my first words to my daughter were "I hope you don't mind being an only child, because I'm never doing that again".
Of course, even with only two weeks recovery under my belt, that isn't true. I shall, God willing, have more babies. But for now, this little piece of spitting, peeing, gurgling mush is my world.
Sorry for all the profanities. But home birth isn't just like the scene from the movie "Wanderlust" where that weirdo hippie girl just pops out a baby on the porch in the light of the full moon. Its raw, terrifying, but pure and precious. Golden. Its the best thing I've ever done and I wouldn't change a thing (except the 3cm thing... that sucked.) Because half an hour after she was born... I was having a cold drink in my bed surrounded by loved ones breastfeeding my new baby. She was weighed on my bed without a single sound of protest, she took no notice of her vitamin k shot because mama held her close and continued to feed her. One by one everyone trickled away until it was just Reece and I and our daughter in our home that held no real evidence that someone was just born there. Our living room was back together, there was no sound... just the three of us. We softly discussed her name. Which we had chosen long ago but wanted to be sure it fit. Piper Valentina.
Piper is musical, it sounds beautiful and it means 'one who plays flute or pipe'. I always wanted to play the flute when I was a little girl.
So my Peach has a name. She has an incredible personality and she grows every single day. I already miss how tiny she was.
When I read this, it made me feel that I could possibly really love the works of Mr Scott Fitzgerald.
I've mentioned before, I don't pretend to be a cultured, complex literary student. I read Nancy Drew mysteries and Heartland in grade school... I've never been able to properly digest the old prose of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Too many adjectives for one page, I say.
I watched Midnight in Paris, so I have this vision of what Scott Fitzgerald was like which is probably really inaccurate, but somehow, it frames my reference. Old Sport.
But then this quote changed everything. Beyond being mystified at the life of Gatsby or mildly entertained at Owen Wilson playing pretty much the same character that he has in every other movie I've encountered, its truth moved me.
I'm not too young to be a mother, nor is it too late for me to change career paths. I've made my way down little rabbit trails that I didn't particularly like, and it takes such courage to turn around and go back and try again. Because in turning around, in changing your mind, you're admitting that you might have gone the wrong way. Or perhaps the courage is in hoping that there is always something better than what you thought you should have had. Either way.
"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it"
So right now, on the 27th of December, we're all finding ways to improve ourselves by taking an underwater yoga class or opening a savings account; hoping to achieve financial freedom and an enviable figure by the time the turkeys go back on sale.
But the truth is all we have is today, and if we fail, tomorrow is always there to remind us that its never too early or too late to make a change for the better.
Have a sparkly New Years. I'll be warming up with a hot cup of something and try to finish some knitting projects for this little peach.
My Resolution list:
- import a South African husband, specifically the one that belongs to me already.
- complete growing a tiny human.
- facilitate tiny human entering the world.
- keep her alive.
- keep me alive.
- be an industrious home-made maven. (optional)