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I do not trust you 14 November 2017

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The thought suddenly struck me.

I don’t trust you anymore.

As I was standing there, in front of the mirror, I finally admitted that to myself.

In fact, I don’t think I even know you anymore.

I admire you, yes, I’m even a little in awe of you. You bore me two healthy, bouncy, whopper children. I had known you could do that, in theory. But the actuality of it strikes me with awe.

I had spent many years of my life trying to prevent you from doing that, too. And then when we decided to try, you provided me with two gorgeous babies, exactly two years apart.

Yet here I stand, postpartum, and I don’t know you anymore. Despite the things we have been through together.

In my younger years I neglected you. Abused you even. Too much alcohol, too many sleepless nights, out dancing. Too sedentary. Too many calories. Not enough exercise.

You were beyond plump on several occasions. Crash diets, or emotional turmoil would bring me back to just plump.

In my late 20s, we found exercise. Steep learning curve. There were many set backs. But I pushed you, and you surprised me in what you could do. We did Tough Mudder together. A couple of duathlons. We learnt to swim together, and we did one triathlon. By no means an athlete, but we did that. Together.

Yet there you are, in the mirror. And I do not trust you.

The scar from the Caesarian from two years ago, fully healed. The hard, round breast that is full, the soft, slightly droopy breast that was recently emptied by the now softly snoring baby. The extra kilos I haven’t been able to shift after the second Bub. It’s all there.

You look familiar.

No stretch marks. Quick recovery from the births. A veritable milk factory.

Yet I don’t trust you.

I signed up for a mums and bubs Bootcamp this morning. I thought I would be excited. I got dressed in active wear, dug the old sports bra out of the cupboard. But I felt angry. Anxious.

I didn’t want to go.

This was not the usual lack of motivation.

I sabotaged my efforts all morning. Ate too much. Reached for the unhealthy options. Had Coca Cola for breakfast (I haven’t done that in the past decade, why today!?)

I did not want to go.

How could I go?

I don’t trust you anymore.

I don’t trust that you will be there for me. I don’t expect you to be as strong as you used to. But what if you straight up fail on me? I don’t know how you will respond.

The weak pelvic floor doesn’t help.

I have been doing Kegel exercises every day since the second birth. I thought I would feel more confident by now.

But I do not trust you.

There is still a very long journey ahead. One we must share.

Although I know I must learn to know you and trust you again, I do not know where to start.

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While on holiday 18 September 2017

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The baby won’t sleep. 

She tosses and turns and she’s flailing like an octopus. I think she might be hungry so I offer her boob. She is not interested. 

A little fist finds my nose at speed. It doesn’t hurt, but I’m now wide awake. I try to remove blankets in case she’s hot. 

She’s not crying, but she’s clearly uncomfortable. Impressions of the day gone past might be racing through her mind. Trying to process, make sense of it all. 

I’m hot. I pop out for a drink and realise the bedroom is hot and stuffy. I leave the door open. She is still flailing. 

I offer boob again, declined again. This continues for an hour, her eyes wide open. I wonder how many extra arms and legs my baby has grown over night. 

It’s almost 3am. I could not be more awake. Baby rolls into me, burying her face in the smell of mum. Boob sounds good. She finally settles. Her eyes slowly slide shut. Her arms and legs come to a rest. Her breathing becomes soft and regular. She falls asleep. 

I’m wide awake. I try to sleep. 

Suddenly, a crash in the next room. The toddler wails. Did he fall out of bed? I can hear his dad pick him up. Big cuddles.

Sobbing and pointing. The word “there”. I can’t see, but I know he’s pointing to where it hurts and what hurt him. More reassuring words, gentle whispers from dad. 

I fight the urge to go hug my toddler. Dad is handling it, and baby is only just asleep. I love the gentle, sweet reassuring voice full of empathy in the next room. 

Sobbing stops. Silence descends again over the two rooms. Time to sleep. 

Suddenly, a tiny voice, clear as a bell. 

“Papa?”

“Yes, gorgeous?” Whispered 

“Night, night!” 

My heart melts. 

Sleep tight my gorgeous children. Sleep tight. Hopefully I can join you in the land of nod soon. 

Baby girl 13 July 2017

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The baby has drifted off blissfully

I’m exhausted and I should sleep

Yet I can’t help but lie here and watch her. 

Fleeting moments the world stands still. 

She stretches. 

I feel in awe of being allowed to be a mum. 

To be her mum.

Outlander – a Netflix binge 11 July 2017

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I recently contracted a upper respiratory infection (courtesy of my toddler) and my GP insisted I took the whole week off due to my ‘condition’ (Bub 2 was near fully cooked by that stage). I mostly felt fine apart from a cough, but used the week to catch up on some Netflix shows. 

I will warn you now SPOILERS and distressing content in this blog post.  

On the advice of a friend, I thought I should have a look at Outlander – a show she had been raving about on Facebook for a while. After my initial hesitation (time travel generally needs at least some scientific explanation in my view to suspend disbelief) with the premise of the show, I soon found myself thoroughly enjoying the story. 

It’s not exactly high brow, and at times it felt rather ‘chick lit’. Yet it was refreshing to see a story from mostly a female point of view, even the sex scenes. And there are a number of those. There was even the notion that a woman is allowed to enjoy sex (gasp) initiate sex (what?) and be on the receiving end of sex (mind blown). As in, not all sex was about the male orgasm. What a novel idea! 

And the scenery (Scotland at it’s best) the kilted men, some select nudity and lots of gorgeous accents made for pleasant viewing. 

So halfway through the first season, I contacted my good friend who put me onto the series to thank her. 

“Someone has warned you about the ending of season 1, right?” She responded. 

Blissfully ignorant, no one had. I was told it was harrowing. Traumatic. Unwatchable. Nightmare inducing. She had found it necessary to fast forward through several scenes. 

With no further information, I was a bit worried. As I had mentioned, I was in the end stages of a pregnancy and hormonal to say the least. Should I brave it? I texted a colleague at work who had been revealed to be an Outlander tragic and asked her about it – was it really that harrowing!? After all, she had read the books first, and still watched the show. 

“It is horrendous” was the response. “It really is harrowing, it’s difficult to watch.” 

By now I was so intrigued and scared to continue that I had to google the storyline. Suffice to say that the finale of season one is about the torture, rape and psychological breaking of the male main character. He is the man that we’ve slowly fallen in love with over the season and who at every turn makes either the right choice or humbly admits his mistakes. 

The man who seems able to communicate more than any man you’ve ever met, who is macho, strong, and who exudes sensuality, yet listens, is in touch with his feelings and likes a strong, opinionated woman. He’s the perfect specimen of man (and fictional). 

He gives himself to this situation in order to save his wife. 

Harrowing, yes. But was everyone so aghast at the storyline because he was a man? Rape of women for the sake of a storyline is frequently employed in television and movies (even Outlander resorts to rape of female characters as almost an aside). 

Our society struggles with rape of a strong virulent man for the sake of a story. And a strong, macho highlander such as Jamie Fraser just does not fit the bill as a victim. To me, Outlander broke some serious boundaries there – and did it well!! It was horrendous and traumatic and convincing. But after years of shows in the same vein (Game of Thrones anyone?), I found it possible to watch the scenes without further fallout. I felt for Jamie, I wanted it to stop. But I did not end up with nightmares. It is desturbing how desensitised I have become to blood guts gore and the evil of human beings. I should probably try to understand that better. 

But then came season 2. And it destroyed me completely. 

No one had thought to warn the highly pregnant woman about the stillbirth in season 2. I was sobbing through the episode, curled up in a ball, and I did not cope well. It took a long time for me to process the emotions, even now, it brings up fear and heartache. It was compellingly real and believable. If I choose to sit through outlander again, those are the scenes I will fast forward through. Too real, too many feelings. 

A rainy day 1 May 2017

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I long for a rainy day 

To read a book and drink tea 

Curled up on the couch 

Without interruption. 

I never did this enough 

Before parenthood.

Ode to childhood 15 April 2017

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Scuffed knees and sun bleached hair

Complete wonderment at the world

Slides and swings and round abouts

Ducks to chase and ants to study

A new friend in a tiny spider 

Walking its way across the carpet 

The world at his feet 

Oh, to be a toddler again.

Taking up running again be like… 4 October 2016

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Every time I go for a run:

1) Find every possible reason not to go. 

2) Inner monologue during the run: I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. How does anyone like running? This is hard. I can’t breathe. Oh god, my calves. I hate this. I am CLEARLY not a runner. Oh my god, are you serious? I have only done 400 metres? Arg! I hate this so much! Everything hurts! When can I turn back? Yes, a red light, I will be able to catch my… oh. Green. How much further do I have to endure this mind numbing… I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. 

3) Inner monologue after the run: I totally smashed that! That was great!! I should totally do this more often!! Post-run showers are the bomb! (Insert additional exclamation marks)

Typical morning in my household 17 September 2016

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– Want to go outside, dear? 

– Oh yes please! 

– Shoes on! 

– Blasted shoes. I hate shoes. 

– Common Bub, shoes on. 

– Fine!! 

– See? That wasn’t so bad? 

– Whatever. Ok, I’m crossing the road! 

– Wait! Cars! 

– Nooooo! Crossing NOW! 

– Ok, it’s safe to cross now. 

– Oh look, duck poo. 

– Yes, duck poo. No, sweety, not in your mouth. 

– I do what I want! 

– But it’s yucky Bub. 

– Duck poo goes in my mouth! 

– Sweety! Oh… Well, at least you spat it back out. 

– Hmm. Maybe it tastes better second time? 

– Yuck, bubby. Don’t… Oh. 

– Yuck! Why didn’t you warn me it was gross? 

– Oh, Bubba. 

– You have some! 

– No thank you, sweety. 

– Have some! 

– No, let’s play over here! 

– WaaaaaAAAAAAA! 

– Look, a worm! 

– Meh. Whatever. Seen it before. 

– Really? But you had duck poo before and… 

– Whatevs Ma. Oh! Puddle! 

– Have fun in the puddle darling. 

– Ma! I fell over in the puddle and now I’m wet head to toe! 

– Oh, poor darling – let’s go inside and change. 

– Noooooooooo! You’re killing me, Ma! Oh! Cigarette butt!!! 

*sigh*

How I love that child. 

Children are little blessings 23 July 2016

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Tonight, little tyke decided sleeping was not for him. After finally thinking we had our night time routines down pat, yesterday and today were surprisingly hard – battles ensued with him screaming his little head off and me trying again and again to settle him. It just wasn’t working tonight, and I don’t know why. 

I started to become fretful and frustrated, which I know doesn’t help, but I just didn’t know what I was doing differently. I was wondering whether little tyke knew that I had work to do yesterday and today – or that he could feel that I needed to be elsewhere. “Typical,” I thought. 

Finally, after 30 minutes, there was silence. I counted to 60 – a full minute of quiet is normally a good indication that little tyke is asleep. 

To make sure, I counted out a second minute. I thought I had him. Exhausted (it’s surprisingly draining emotionally to ‘battle’ a baby for sleep), and maybe a little smug, I thought I could finally sneak downstairs. I wasn’t watching the door behind me when I closed it, and I must have misjudged, because it made a far louder noise than I intended it to. 

Oh dear God, no…

I held my breath, frozen in the hallway. The doorknob to my bedroom still in my hand, eyes on the door to little tyke’s room. 

Sob. 

My heart sank. 

Another sob. 

Then a wail, and and angry, high pitch scream. Little tyke was not asleep, and it was entirely my fault. 

Oh for Pete’s sake. 

I reopened the door to my own bedroom, and fell back on the bed, but from the pitch of little tyke’s screams I knew I had to go back in. 

I walk in, see little tyke standing at the foot of his cot yet again. 

Go! 

To! 

Sleep! 

I’m thinking firm and unyielding. I’ll win this time. 

But as I put little tyke back down from standing for the umteenth time, I see the utter sadness, the broken spirit on his face. It’s not obstinance this time, it’s not even over tiredness. Little tyke is telling me he needs me. 

Generally, once little tyke is in bed I don’t pick him back up. I give him a cuddle if he is standing or sitting, let him know I am there, but tell him it’s sleep time, and lay him back down. 

Today is different. My whole being is telling me something is wrong. 

So I pick little tyke up. He melts into me and sobs into my neck. 

He pushes away from me, looks at my face. Then he looks at the cot, and starts to cry again. He is distraught, shaking with emotion. 

You’re not in trouble baba I whisper. 

I turn us away from the cot instead of hovering above it. 

You’re ok baba. You’re ok. 

Little tyke relaxes in my arms. I can feel the relief in his little body. Somehow my focus on getting him to sleep had made me miss seeing my little tyke for what he was tonight. A tiny little human soul in need of comfort, in need of his mother. 

He smells salty, his little head is wet with perspiration and agitation. 

His face tucks into my neck. His breathing changes from short, superficial sobs to slower, deeper breaths. His little right arm tuck in underneath him, his left one curls around my neck. 

It strikes me in that moment. 

What a privilege. 

It’s a privilege to be little tyke’s mother. 

It’s a privilege to be his whole world.  

It’s a privilege to be the arms that soothe him when he is unwell or sad. 

And it’s an absolute privilege to be able to hug my child, to hold him, and to feel all that love that we share. 

I felt overwhelmed in that moment. Overwhelmed with privilege and love. 

He fell asleep in my arms as I rocked him softly. He stirred slightly as I placed him in his cot, covered him with his blanket and whispered I love you my darling boy. 

He is a blessing and a privilege and I am lucky to have remembered that tonight. 

Facebook culling 31 May 2016

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I have developed a private protocol so to speak for Facebook friends and when to cull. It came to a head when I simply had too many ‘friends’ on there to have a meaningful relationship with, and I asked myself what am I doing this for? 

I use my Facebook to stay in touch and updated with people I care about, and not business or networking reasons. So I set out the following ‘rules’ for myself. Not all people on my current Facebook follow these, there are always exceptions. 

All of these rules are a reflection on me, and by no means on my friends, past and present. If I I friend you, it does not mean you are a bad person or a bad friend. It also doesn’t mean we won’t become friends again in the future. 

1) The memory test. Do I remember who you are? If after poking around in your photos for a second does not ring a bell, then that is a very good indication of our friendship. I only do this in case you’ve had a name change that I’m not aware of, but if I don’t recognise you or can’t pick you in a photo without confirming with the tags, then you will be unfriended. This happens to people you met once, got along with, intended to be friends with, but then nothing. 

2) The past relationship test. This one boils down to are you an ex boyfriend? I’m not friends with any of my exes, that shit ain’t healthy. That’s not to say I don’t wish them all the best, but I do not wish to be updated on their every move. Unfollowed and unfriended. 

3) The milestone test. If you post “OMG, I am totally legit preggers right now” and my reaction is “whatever”, that is an indication of our relationship. If I can’t muster to congratulate you on something major in your life, such as a wedding, a pregnancy, a birth or an engagement, then what are we friends for!? Unfriended. Many of these are from a lifetime ago – school friends that you wouldn’t stay in touch with without Facebook anyway. 

4) The happy birthday test. If Facebook kindly reminds me that it is your birthday and I do not feel like wishing you a happy birthday, then that gives me pause. Birthdays are very important to me, so I try to acknowledge them where I can. If I can’t muster a measly happy birthday on your special day, then my level of caring for the relationship has clearly waned. If not unfriended, at least you have been reconsidered. 

5) The reciprocity test. If our communication over the last three years looks like this: 

Me 2013: Happy birthday!!!! 

Me 2014: Happy birthday lovely lady, plans for the big day? 

Me 2015: Wishing you all the best for your birthday! 

Me 2016: Happy birthday, have a great day! 

Then maybe I need to take a long hard look at that relationship as well. Does our ‘friendship’ possibly mean slightly more to me than it does to them? If I haven’t heard from them at all for three years, why are we still friends? Unfriended. 

So far, I have culled more than 100 ‘friends’ with this method. I’m sure there may be more. And to date, there’s only been a handful of those that I have regretted unfriending and re-friended. 

Facebook is a wonderful tool but it needs to continue to be there for my benefit and pleasure. Hence the above system. It’s working for me so far! 

Happy facebooking!