We are a long, long way from Europe and family. Come April it will have been four years since we left and while we are not especially close to our families, we still love and miss them, would adore it if we were able to see them more often, or indeed at all – and at times like this, well, we need them. But we can’t have them. In all honesty I realise now that we didn’t really properly think through the whole concept of having children so far away from our home countries (Germany and UK). Our current issues have really brought it home to me that by emigrating to the other side of the world, we have in reality sacrificed a great deal on behalf of our children before either of them were even conceived – the opportunity and security of getting to know their own extended family. That said, we know that this is the right place for us to be. We don’t regret our decisions. However, the difficulties of recent weeks have left me facing the reality that our little immigrant family is very vulnerable under certain circumstances, and it has been quite frightening and very stressful at times.
I have as a result of this realisation, and having been let down by someone I trusted, been forced to ask for practical help amongst my mummy circle. It wasn’t easy to do it. I explained the situation, told them I need them, that my little family badly needs help right now. Those I asked directly came through for me, straight away, and offering more than that for which I had asked. Others also proactively offered assistance to me and my husband and my girls. Immediately a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I slept well that night for the first time in almost two weeks.
The word grateful doesn’t cut it, how I feel on discovering that all I had to do was tell the truth and ask. This week I am so very, very grateful for the true friendships I have discovered here in a small town in Regional Australia. I can now breathe easy, knowing that our little family is not as vulnerable as I thought it was. And best of all I am now able to look forward to the birth of our second little girl without anxiety and with joy again. We found out yesterday that she will be born (via c-section) exactly three weeks today, almost to the hour!
We live in Australia, but my husband and I are from Germany and Scotland respectively. Apart from my father’s cousin who I’ve never met that lives in Perth, WA, we have no relatives within 16,000k. Only my stepmother and her partner have ever met my little girl, and we have no plans to visit Europe any time soon (if ever) because it’s too expensive. We have been here for almost 3 years and have no regrets whatsoever about our decision to emigrate. We LOVE living here in Australia and we feel very blessed and grateful that we have been able to make it happen, and start a family over here. I was 35 when we landed in Brisbane after 7 months carefree backpacking in Southeast Asia and within 6 weeks of settling in our new home on the NSW Mid North Coast, I was pregnant and we were over the moon!
In hindsight getting pregnant and having a baby in a new country so quickly was a very tough road to travel and I struggled quite a lot, not having the support of any family or close friends. I didn’t know any other mums and I had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately I had made some community contacts during my pregnancy – volunteering with Lifeline as a telephone counsellor and becoming an active member of the local branch of Amnesty International Australia – and my husband and I did know a couple of people in town, albeit not very well, so I didn’t feel completely isolated. The months went by though and I realised things were not quite right, as I was becoming increasingly down. I went to my GP who referred me to a psychologist and while I only attended a couple of sessions, she helped me so much. I was able to see where my difficulties were coming from – absolutely natural issues relating to being a new immigrant and a new mother, and deep-rooted stuff with my own mother that had come to the surface with the birth of my own daughter, mixed up with not having a close, familiar network to lean on, was a tough, but understandable set of circumstances. Once I was able to talk them through, things became clearer, and life got better and better.
My best decision during the more difficult times in my daughter’s first 6 months was forcing myself to go to a local mothers group that I found on Facebook. So many times I didn’t think I could face it, but I made myself go and always felt better afterward. I dreaded the monthly mums night out even more but I kept on going. I learned that it was normal to find the days hard sometimes, everybody wanted to cry some days, it wasn’t just me. I also grew to appreciate the joy of being to share little things about my daughter with other mums who understood my fears and wonder and love for my child. Two years later and these same women are some of my closest friends. I love our catchups, and am myself involved in setting up meets and welcoming newcomers. I now adore mums night out 🙂 Last weekend some of my lovely Aussie mummy friends threw me a baby shower brunch. As we sat in the sunshine laughing and sharing our tales of woe and joy, I couldn’t help reflecting on how different things are this pregnancy, and how very lucky I am to have found these friendships in a far away country that is now very much our little family’s home. So all the time, but this week most especially, I am grateful for my friends.
Blogtoberfest 2012, 2/31
Today is RUOK Day. I’ve had quite a tiring week or so, been feeling a bit drained. Last week was pretty hectic with Miss M’s second birthday – although it was an awesome day! – and I’m still waiting for my Ferrograd C to kick it (found out at last midwife visit that I’m a bit aenemic). Plus Miss M had some sleep “issues” for a few nights running. On Tuesday morning I had one of those “moments” when motherhood feels like a never-ending living hell that simply cannot be endured for another second, but by some miracle I managed to keep it together by being mindful – focussing on the sounds of the breeze flowing through the leaves in the trees and the birds singing, instead of phoning husband at work to have a despairing rant (never constructive!). Although in all honesty am not so sure I would have managed to remain so composed had Miss M not FINALLY gone for her nap! 🙂 Anyways, so yeah, I’ve feeling a bit shall we say, fragile!
But, I had decided to just slow things down this week, not do all our usual running around, and by today I felt energetic enough to get down to the local growers market, which I love to do (Miss M a little less – there was some protest from the buggy, but can’t have everything!) and then we went to a friend’s house for a playdate and catchup. Sat in the sun, ate yummy food, and when she asked me RUOK? I was able to answer a very truthful, Yes, thank you!
Taking a step back and slowing the pace right down was the right choice for this week. I’ve also been doing a little nesting while spending more time at home, getting things organised bit by bit for the arrival of Miss M’s lil sis in 10 weeks max (caesar baby #2). Feeling good now. And very grateful for lovely husband and lovely friendships.
29 weeks today and counting!
Don’t forget to ask your friends if they’re OK today. We can each of us make a difference.
For 24 hour crisis support call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Just been using my @themindfulmum Twitter profile to gain entries in a few comps, and it occured to me that rather than let my little quiet blog lie dormant in the sphere of little quiet blogs for all eternity, I could write a post and see if that leads to another post…and if it doesn’t, well, no matter!! Here’s a little of what has been going on:
- I’m now 25 weeks pregnant and the size of an ocean liner, which was something of a shock to me, but apparently it is not unusual for bumps to be much bigger the second time around – I figure it”s just the old lady muscles giving up at the first sign of trouble! God knows what I’ll be left with at the end of all this but I am having vague thoughts about goals to reach before I’m 40 (gah!!!) which will be 18 months after my daughter is born (gah!!!) and I did just win a week of gym membership in a prize draw, which they’ll let me use once I’m good to go again after c-section. So, will deal with my body then and meantime I’m trying very hard to me MINDFUL about what I eat, with reasonable results.
- We left Steiner playgroup in a little puff of smoke – in a nutshell I love the philosophy and the system but I didn’t love the judgemental “natural” parents that I was forced to deal with on a weekly basis. Not so bad when just me and Miss M – not so good when pregnant and a fan of such things as ultrasounds and elective C’s. Oh and I shop in Coles. Nuff said. Am in no way judging Steiner Schools in general, I don’t know any others personally, but there is only one in the little place where we live and it’s not the one for our little family. Very sad and was with a heavy heart than we made our decision. However, heart lighter each week now it’s over, and the silver lining is that I have made a lovely new friend and so has my daughter. Today we went to the beach together and I feel blessed to have gained a great positive new relationship out of the whole experience.
- Many moons ago I received my copy of Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World , mentioned in my last post. It lies unopened on the shelf.
- I have not yet quite finished Buddhism For Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children, by Sarah Napthali. It (still) lies next to my bed and I plan to start back at the beginning of the first book this week.
- I have, however, read all of Fifty Shades of Grey and enjoyed it well enough. I am not ashamed to say it! To the haters – chill!! (and at least read it if you’re going to knock it!!)
- Not much sewing going on, but am knitting some instead. Easier to pick up and put down than cutting and machine sewing, and time is ever shorter as my toddler grows ever more boistrous and I grow ever larger. Tried some crochet too but it makes me too angry – can’t get past the first row. Which is not point of exercise (point was baby blanket. Ha!!).
- No more party planning – too much change in family circumstances. Don’t miss it. Do have shelves of lovely stuff that am enjoying using 😉
In summary, I am still grateful daily (if in very short bursts); and still mindful often, but certainly not enough. I’m lacking in focus, and have allowed life to get in the way. Time is short before another massive, massive life-changing event will be upon me. Let’s see if a few more posts can get me back on track!
I entered Motherhood a big fan of the gentle approach and my little girl slept very well for most of the first year of her life. Then gradually, as she grew, things changed, as I now know they always will, and finally the upheaval of moving house a little after her first birthday did for us all. It’s been a pretty hellish few months around here with regard to sleep as she has lost the ability to self-settle, so bedtime and naptime are very hard, and she often wants to start her day at 4am. I now completely understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. I also know what it can do to a marriage. Sleep deprivation has the power to increase marital strife a thousand fold – it fuels the fires of resentment like nothing else.
I’ve spoken with Tresillian several times, and tried almost all the other recommended solutions, to no avail. Tizzie Hall’s Save our Sleep is a controversial method, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say. So, since waking at 4am today, I have listened with a breaking heart to almost 5 hours of crying, and I’ve shed a fair few tears of my own. And we haven’t hit bedtime yet! I’ve also dealt with some unkind comments about my methods (why in the hell can’t every mother just live and let live??). However, I have also been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received from my IRL friends and my online mummy partners in SAHM life. And when I was about to reach absolute breaking point this afternoon, there was a knock at the door. D is a relatively new friend of mine, but she is one of those people that occasionally in life we are lucky enough to find, one with whom we just click, despite differences in years, background and circumstance. She knew today was a monumental struggle for me, especially because to go down this new path of strict routines is against my cherished earlier beliefs, and she wanted to make sure I was ok. As we talked, I managed to rebalance myself and by the time she left I was ready to keep going as planned, with strengthened resolve.
Today has been my hardest day of Motherhood since bringing Miss M home from the hospital. But my most overwhelming feeling right now (apart from exhaustion!) is not resentment or despair, it’s gratitude. I’m so lucky to have women in my life that can and do make the hard times better, as well as sharing the joys. Today especially, I am mindful of that.