Today is the “official” due date for my second baby girl, who was born via happy elective c-section last Friday afternoon. Miss A is now 6 days old and fast asleep in her cot. I am so loved up! And this caesarean experience has been sooooooo much better than last time! It all went very smoothly, with no mind-mashing drug experiences and a very successful recovery to date. I was fully present when I held my baby girl in my arms for the first time and I remember every second. I fed her straight away in Recovery, my milk came in about 48 hours later, and breastfeeding is now becoming well-established and hassle-free. We came home first thing Tuesday morning (I elected to stay a fourth night to make sure I could go 24 hours without the heavier painkillers), having been very well cared for in hospital, and we’re now being very well cared for by my lovely husband. Miss M is also assisting in her own special way wherever possible, and has taken to her new little sister very well indeed. It’s so wonderful seeing them together.
I’m a little disappointed to report that I didn’t have my tubes tied after all. Everything was going great and I had Miss A on my chest when I started to get those dreaded chest pains. I heard voices talking about what drugs to try, what to do next, and someone mentioned the words general anaesthetic. Um, no thanks!! I asked them to stop right there and stitch me back up, which they did. Quit while you’re ahead, I say! I also elicited a promise from my husband then and there with many witnesses – he will be making his vasectomy appointment forthwith!
Today also marks exactly three years since my husband and I arrived in Australia – and here we are, our little Aussie family complete and ready to begin the next chapter. Feeling immensely fortunate and excited to see what the future holds for us. Meantime, my plan is to take it one grateful, intentional, mindful and undoubtedly muddled day at a time 🙂
During this pregnancy I’ve felt a lot of social pressure to VBAC from strangers who have for some reason felt compelled to share their views with me upon being told that I am planning to have (another) elective caesarean. There have been tears, which on one particularly memorable and distressing occasion prompted a rather ranty post a few weeks back. Yesterday, however, I finally learned how to stop a VBAC v Caesar discussion / interrogation in its tracks. I was out back at playgroup, and there it was again, from someone with whom I have never had a conversation beyond “how ya goin?”:
Her: “So, you’re having a caesar on Friday? Why?”
Me: “I’m just too posh to push”.
Conversation over. Short, if not sweet, and definitely preferable to having another of “those” conversations, especially 48 hours from the birth. I just wish I had learned to say this months ago! I’m not “too posh to push”. I have my reasons, but that’s just it, they’re my reasons, and the only people who need to be privy to them are my husband, my OB and a very close girlfriend.
Anyways! In less than 24 hours I will hold my baby girl in my arms at last! I was showing at 7 weeks and am just enormous now at 39 weeks – I feel like this pregnancy has lasted forever! I am so excited to meet her. I’m hoping for a much better experience than last time, and armed with new knowledge and prior experience, I am confident that will be the case.
I’ll probably be in hospital until at least Monday morning if not Tuesday, and thereafter I foresee a bit of a hiatus for The Mindful Mum. I’ve had a great couple of months getting back into the blog with the help of Blogtoberfest and have found so many great new blogs to read and met some lovely bloggers. I’ll be back! But for now…ciao! 🙂
It’s well researched and reported that sewing and other crafts are good for one’s mental health and general well-being (for example, this study: The Relationship Between Quilting and Wellbeing). The simple (or not so simple!) act of making the time, dedicating a bit of space in your life to doing something creative and satisfying of itself, something completely different from the often mundane tasks of daily life…it all contributes to a balanced, healthy life perspective. Simply being engrossed in the task of creating something with no distractions is a Mindful process, and Mindfulness – the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgment – increases both mental and physical health, as outlined here.
I got my first sewing machine in April of last year and for about 8 months I taught myself and blogged my sewing antics here. Then I found I was still enjoying the sewing very much but I just couldn’t find the time to blog about it any more, so I wound up the blog and just kept going with the sewing. About six months ago, however, I found that without really realising it, the demands of my growing toddler and second pregnancy little by little encroached on my sewing time more and more, and it dwindled into nothing. I have missed it though – missed the time just spent doing something different, just for me, the whole process of pottering about with my sewing books and patterns and fabrics.
So, in a spirit of positivity and best intentions, I am creating a whole new “Sewing” blog category here and hope that come the new year I will be regularly posting something sewing-related. For this first post I am able to share a mug rug (pattern source here) that I started last Christmas and have finally finished this week (I’m choosing to call it early Christmas project completion rather than late 🙂 ); and a doll (pattern source here) that I’ve made in the last week or so as a present for my new baby girl who arrives on Friday. Time will be even shorter soon enough as there will be two little people to care for but I’m promising myself that I’ll somehow make the time to sew again. I know from experience that it’s so good for my mental health and general well-being to have that creative outlet and time out. I just need to perhaps get a little more creative about how I make that time!
I came across this quote today in a new post from Slow Your Home, a site I’ve only recently started subscribing to. It comes at the right moment for me, as although this is a wonderful time for us as we await the imminent arrival of our baby girl, it is also a very difficult and heartbreaking period as we are simultaneously dealing with the prospect of a bereavement within our close family overseas. Recent weeks have been some of the most difficult I have ever encountered, as there have been so many arguments and conflicting emotions, along with heavy responsibilities to shoulder. Sometimes it is hard to see any light or come to any understanding as to how things are going to unfold and what the impact will be on my little family as well as on our wider family. Hope is all I can have – that although there will be suffering, this too shall pass. And I hold on to the belief that the birth of our baby girl will still bring joy, and also comfort, in the midst of pain.
Until I’m 6 feet under
Baby I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Ahhh how I loved Bon Jovi, back in the day! Still do. Apparently they are coming to Australia late next year. This ol’ mama hopes to be there! Meantime I can only be amused at how the meaning of these lyrics has changed for me in the space of twenty years. I was a bit of a wild child in my teens and twenties, and I passionately felt that sleep was highly over-rated. Far too much else to be doing with my time! Right now though it really does feel like I’ll sleep when I’m dead and not before, simply cos there sure ain’t much sleep going on around here, and it’s not voluntary deprivation! Miss M is still having her nightly carryings on, and while her Papa is dealing with her, my other baby girl is here on the inside keeping me up as well. Bless! But also, arghhhhhh…how I crave a full eight hours of deep uninterrupted sleep. Six, even!
Last night as I lay awake in a silent house (no fair!), my mind was buzzing. Only nine days to go! This pregnancy has seemed sooooo long, but now it’s speeding up soooo fast! I feared I would never drift off, and I badly needed to, but then I remembered this beautiful photograph (credit: @SharonSalzberg) that came up on my news feed yesterday.
The Buddha looks so rested, calm and content. I visualised the photograph and concentrated only on the feelings of peace and contentment that it stirs in me, and on my breathing. In…and out…in…and out…and it worked, I fell asleep! Not really meditation per se I guess but definitely a Mindful start! I find my mind racing quite a lot at the moment, only natural of course at this stage, but it would be easy to let things spiral. I am really focusing on being Mindful to get me through this time. I’m
staying trying to stay in the moment, remembering to breathe if I get anxious, noticing the little things around me – birds singing, the sound of Miss M’s laughter coming through the open window as she plays with her Papa…all will be well.
I have never been able to remember the first time I held my precious Miss M. She was born via elective caesarean section (unusual breech), and right after she was lifted out I experienced the most excruciating pain in my chest. I thought I was going to die. I don’t remember anything except hearing her first cry, registering she was ok, and then…nothing. I don’t remember leaving the operating theatre, I barely remember being in Recovery and I have no recollection of being taken back to Maternity. The following hours and that first whole night are a blur. I have always thought that I was simply traumatised by the surgery, afraid and in pain. I thought my own pain over-rode my feelings for my newborn daughter. I never had that precious time that everyone talks about, the first time they held their baby in their arms. But, she was ok, and I was ok and that was all that mattered. I didn’t let myself get hung up on it, I’d read that it didn’t happen for everyone, that immediate connection and burst of love. In all honesty I never actually felt disconnected from her – I just felt overwhelmed, and that something had been missed, and in some way I had failed mentally in dealing with the surgery and subsequent recovery, but that it was ok now, so I should just move on. I never spoke about it and life did move on.
Indeed I forgot all about that pain in my chest until last week when it was time to book in for my second c-section and the subject came up. I said I wanted the baby to be given to me right away and explained why I thought it hadn’t happened last time – because something had gone wrong with me that to my recollection was never explained to me. I was given a pre-op appointment with an anaesthesiologist this morning so that we could find out what happened last time and stop it happening this time. It turns out that I didn’t fail my daughter – there is a reason for my not remembering anything. It wasn’t because I was emotionally unable to cope with the surgery and its aftermath. It was Fentanyl. A synthetic opiate analgesic which is 50 – 100 times more potent than morphine, and which was administered after I reacted badly to the Sentocin which was given (as was routine) to make my uterus contract while I was still on the table. Although still conscious, I was completely out of it before I even got to hold Miss M. I was then put on an intravenous morphine PCA – more opiate – which I told them to take out at some point that night as it made me nauseous and the fear of vomiting with my stomach all stitched and in so much pain was greater than my fear of more pain. And at some point after that I started to come out of my haze.
They don’t administer Sentocin any more, so chances are I won’t have that same reaction this time. There’s nobody to blame, I just had an unusal reaction to one drug which was treated with the drug they thought most appropriate at the time. I don’t quite understand why such a strong drug was used, but I’m not going to get hung up on that now. What’s done is done, and now I have the knowledge to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I can refuse the Fentanyl and ask for Endone instead, or have nothing if I choose. I’m told that the chest pains, excruciating as they are, won’t last for long if they do recur, so if I can endure it and I don’t want any drugs, they won’t give me any. It’s all in my notes, plus the request for no morphine at any time.
I was stunned when the anaesthesiologist explained all this to me. I finally have a reason for what happened, and it wasn’t my fault. I hadn’t beaten myself up about it, or talked about it, but it made me very sad whenever I thought about not remembering holding my little girl, and the fact that I let her go to the nursery that night instead of staying with me. I was too out of it to make a different decision. The anaesthesiologist asked me if I felt “cheated”. I guess I do if I think about it. Because I was denied that precious time that everyone talks about, the first time they held their baby in their arms. But I am comforted by the fact that I know that I was able to hold her just 15 minutes or so after she was born, even though I can’t recall it. And her father held for that whole first 15 minutes, she wasn’t alone or with a stranger. I was completely disoriented but I managed to breastfeed her straight away, and every time they brought her to me in the night. I have photos of me holding her and gazing at her with love and wonder, even thought I don’t remember those moments with any clarity. She was with me, as she has been ever since. And this time around, it’s going to be better. I know it.
I find that, like me, my “gratefuls” are increasingly closer to home as the birth of our baby girl becomes ever more imminent. Apart from sticking to Miss M’s regular outings (without which we would both go mad), and my joy and relief at the re-election of President Barack Obama, my world has shrunk to home and hearth. The kicks are everything, the regular tightenings are an obsession, my hospital bag is packed and I’m putting together a little bag for daughter #2 today. I’m organising and list-making and trying to rest as much as possible. Thirteen days to the scheduled caesarean date but I feel more and more sure that she’s not going to wait that long!!
In particular this week I am grateful:
* to my husband’s flexible workplace, which has allowed him to take Miss M to work on a few occasions to give me a break, and also cut his hours to mornings only in these final 10 days before his 4 weeks off begin – much needed respite for this big, tired mama;
* that the hospital is only 5 minutes down the road;
* that I got the lovely OB I wanted via public healthcare, that he’s on call the entire week before my scheduled c-section date, and that the OB I can’t stand is now off rotation until the end of the month (relief!);
* that I’ve found a sleep book I hadn’t yet tried, on my own bookshelf – Elizabeth Pantley’s The No Cry Sleep Solution – and so there is (I hope!!!!) some light at the end of the sleep deprivation tunnel for both daughter #1 and her parents;
* that my pregnancy continues to progress relatively easily with no major issues even though the minor ones are starting to get me down a lil bit at this point – I am, for example, sad that I had to (with great difficulty and much assistance) remove my wedding ring from my swollen fingers last night – but if that’s the most of my late pregnancy hassles apart from being so cumbersome and achy, then I’m grateful indeed!
Tubectomy. Not a word I was familiar with until a few days ago. Also known as tubal ligation, or female sterilisation. Scary sounding, that last one. Very, very…final. I was always under the impression that it is a major surgery and had decided that if anyone was doing anything quite so drastic, it would be my husband, not me – I figure my body has at this point done enough for this family! So, although we definitely don’t want to have any more children after our second little girl arrives in two weeks, it’s not a contraceptive option we have ever considered. I was rather taken aback, therefore, when my OB quite casually asked me during a routine 36 week pregnancy appointment if I’d like him to tie my tubes before he stitches me back up after my baby is born via caesarean section. He explained that it’s just a quick job and as he’s going to be “in there anyway”, it’s a good option for me if I am sure that I don’t want to have any more children.
In the days since my OB (who delivered Miss M via c-section two years ago and is most lovely and trusted) and I had our chat, I’ve thought about it a great deal and my husband and I have talked about it a lot. I’ve been assured that there will be no risk of added complications on top of those already present in c-section surgery and no extension to my recovery time beyond that which is considered normal for a caesar. I’m 38 now and I do not want to have a third child at 40, for financial, emotional, practical and physical reasons. My husband is in complete agreement (and also I daresay delighted that consequently he won’t have to have anyone “chop off his willy”, which is apparently the calm and measured view he has of the very thought of a modern vasectomy). So, while we still have two weeks to make our final decision, I think we are there already.
No more condoms, pills or IUDs!! Praise be!!! One day, I might even want to have sex again 😉
Monday mornings are my time out, when my husband takes Miss M to swim school and I go into town and do a little shopping for things that are not groceries, visit the library when it’s not Storytime, and have a coffee alone, alone in the sunshine instead of at the playcentre. As a stay at home mum, I adore – and need – my Monday mornings!! It was also my intention to make some time to meditate today, but I was side-tracked by a pavement cafe special – hot drink and locally grown mushrooms on toast, $10. It was absolutely delicious and I consider the whole experience, which included a pot of green tea and a home-baked Anzac biscuit, to have been just as good for this very pregnant mama’s soul as meditating would have been. Certainly I mindfully savoured every morsel!
Today I also want to post another of Kirri White‘s fab Facebook shares. I came across this one yesterday and it really resonated with me. I don’t think I realised it was true for me on a personal level until I read it, and found that it actually made me feel quite emotional. I had a good long dark decade in my 20s and I think that it is only now in my late 30s that I can really reflect on and properly understand that what happened back then has made me what I am today, and that I am ok with that. I can now stand up and say this is who I am, warts and all, without shame or fear. It’s a great feeling.
I am lucky enough to have what I used to call my Sewing Room, containing a table where the machine can stay set up, a large storage unit, iron and ironing board, and fabric / haberdashery storage tubs. As my pregnancy has progressed, however, it has become the Junk Room. I’ve not sewn in ages and everything just gets thrown in there when I’m tidying elsewhere in a hurry – out of sight out of mind! I started to store and sort things for the new baby in there too. That was all going great, separate boxes labelled newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months and I even went through all my daughter’s wardrobe and boxed up everything she’s grown out of. I felt ever so organised and together. Then of course Miss M got in there and played havoc with it all. And we got her a single bed with all the associated linens and doona which piled up in there too while waiting to be built. And I started buying christmas wrap and cards which all got chucked on the table on top of Bounty bags, baby shower gift bags and presents that the new baby has bought for Miss M, and the (alas, many) story books that Miss M has ripped that I need to repair. And the ironing pile kept growing (and will never stop growing as I have now stopped ironing entirely). And my filing tray is fit to busting – I did have that Mission Control Centre that all the organiser books and websites suggest but it got buried under everything else months ago…
I am not sure if it’s hormonal nesting (am 37 weeks on Thursday) or just that I can’t bear not being able to find anything anymore, but this morning I got up and went a bit nuts with some long overdue decluttering. Having realised yesterday that I couldn’t find $43 worth of stamps that I bought just the other day, I was certainly aware that something had to be done. However, I was not expecting to become suddenly possessed by some greater Force. In the space of an hour I had a giant bag of recycling, another big bin bag full of rubbish, and I could almost see the carpet. I got rid of all the bubble wrap I’ve been hoarding for future use and all the flyers and brochures I’ve been keeping from the Happiness Conference in March, that I’m realistically never going to get around to reading. I was ruthless – I even went in the unit and emerged with a whole bag of stuff that I know I am never going to get around to eBaying if I haven’t by this point, and sent it the Lifeline op shop with my husband before I had time to change my mind. I found keepsake family christmas cards in a filing tray from last year that I still haven’t put in the Precious Things box, that was a bit of a shocker given it’s only seven week to this christmas – oops! It’s also finally occurred to me that there is no point having an ironing pile if I don’t iron any more (can’t stand up for long enough any more, oh how wonderful to finally have an acceptable excuse for being creased all the time). So that can all be folded and put away and if people (hello husband!) want pristine, crease-free t shirts well they know where the iron lives. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh it feels good!!!
I’m not by nature a clutter-free super-organised person. I am sure that my child has a very good immune system as cleaning is not high on my list, especially now that physically I’m just not up for sweeping and mopping (again, how fantastic to have a good excuse!). My household management baseline at present is that we all eat good, healthy, unprocessed food as much as possible, and that the kitchen, bathroom and toilet are not health hazards. But I also detest not being able to find anything, ever. And I don’t like having drawers full of used bubble wrap, I think that is a bit weird. I don’t know if this morning has been about pregnancy nesting or not but I do know that I feel much lighter now, despite the fact that I am actually very, very heavy. I would love to be organised in all ways, all the time, but right now I have accepted it’s not going to happen. But if I can just get this room cleaned out, finish sorting the new baby’s clothes and wraps, get about six loads of washing done and write a new set of Things To Do lists, then I will feel in control again by this evening. Oh and I really must pack the hospital bag!!
Thanks to Home Life Simplified, The Organised Housewife, Slow Your Home and Planning With Kids for tips and inspiration on how to keep it all (just about) together. I have high hopes of entering 2013 with excellent plans and strategies for managing my family of soon-to-be-four!