Prior to having Amaya, I loved hearing birth stories but they never really meant that much to me. Like I could hear someone’s birth story and think that is was amazing and then continue on with my day. You know, a bit like once you have traveled you are all of a sudden so much interested in everyone’s adventures…
Now is a very different story. I not only LOVE hearing birth stories, but they almost always make me cry. The moment that your baby comes into the world is so precious. It can be the most amazing, liberating, yet terrifying experience of your life. I unfortunately missed out on the moment Amaya entered the world, as I was under general anaesthetic. For a while I felt robbed of a lot of things, especially that moment, but then I realised that in the big picture, it did not really matter. I have my baby girl to cuddle and in this moment, that is all that matters.
When I hear a birth story of a preemie tho. I sympathise with the parents almost instantly, as I remember that journey all too well. Even talking about it makes me shaky and brings a tear to my eye. You see, God blessed me with this really cool thing where I feel things probably ten times stronger than most people…and not just for me – but for everyone. I can dwell on someone’s heartbreaking story all day. I like to call it ’emotionally intelligent’ – not ‘super sensitive’ or ‘sooky’. I am ok with being like this, it helps me connect to others easily and it certainly helps when working with children. It also means that I practice compassion daily and naturally.
Becoming a Mumma, no matter how you became a Mumma or how your babe entered the world – is an extremely overwhelming experience. The love teamed with the responsibility is enough to send you into a frenzy. But add worry to that and wanting to cuddle your baby so much more than most Mumma’s, because you had to wait so long for your first cuddle (and being able to actually physically see your babe in front of you and being able to touch them is the biggest tease ever).
Regardless of whether you had a preemie or a full term baby – we are ALL Mother’s. We all know the struggles that we face every day, as well as the beautiful moments and the moments that make motherhood just truly magical. You know you’re a Mother when birth stories bring a smile and a tear to your eye, because it automatically reminds you of the magical moment you met your little babe for the first time.
Amaya used to sleep well, then I cuddled her too much and that resulted in her wanting to sleep on me and ONLY on me. I didn’t get much sleep because of this. I would cuddle her to sleep then put her in her cot and she would wake up…and we started again from square one. There were nights where I was going to sleep for the first time at 3am. I wasn’t coping and I was so emotional. I knew we couldn’t go on like this, so I reached out to mother’s on social media. I gathered information from an array of woman and implemented what I thought would work best for us. Honestly, these women saved me. They saved my sleep, which meant they saved my sanity. Anyone that has ever had trouble sleeping or a baby will know how much sleep deprivation affects ever aspect of your life. I was miserable – the most miserable I had ever been in my life. I am writing this in hope that it will help another sleepless Mother who is at their wits end…
Amaya used to go to bed at 9:30pm, she would not go to sleep before that. This meant that I had to do her bottles etc. after 9:30pm. I wanted to get her into a better sleep routine not only for myself, but for her. Growing brains and bodies need their rest.When I found out how many hours a baby of her age was meant to be sleeping, it broke my heart. I felt like a failure. We decided that we would do ‘control crying’. I got many comments like “Oh I could never do that, that is so mean” or people would just give me a look. I wasn’t bothered, especially when Amaya started sleeping 12 hours straight a night. I knew that I was doing what was best for our family. Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind. I wanted Amaya to be able to self settle for when she attends daycare or is being looked after by someone other than myself or Teina.
Teina asked me to pick a bedtime for Amaya, I went with 6:30pm. So, that night, we put Amaya in her cot at 6:30pm and I had to go outside (because I couldn’t listen to her cry). She cried for 1.5 hours before falling asleep. Amaya had a dummy, but never had it in her cot as she would spit it out and I wasn’t playing that game. So we broke two habits, at once – without even realising it. Each night she would cry for less time, it was very difficult for me to keep going – but I persevered. I found that she would get tired from crying and would sleep right through the night. I would go into her room every 10 minutes to pat her, but never picked her up. Sometimes she would get more upset when I would go in there, so I eventually stopped. One week exactly, it took before Amaya didn’t cry when we put her in her cot. I attended a sleep seminar that was held at my work, a few weeks later, just because I wanted to learn more and to find out if I was doing the right thing. The pediatrician who specialises in sleep, told us that all sleep training is control crying, just sometimes called different things. He told us that your child will not suffer any psychological damage from control crying, if they come from a loving home. I felt even more confident in our decision. Now Amaya sleeps from 6:15pm – 6:15am. She does not wake at all through the night. If she does, she goes back to sleep on her own.
When we were doing the sleep training in the beginning, if she did wake through the night, I would go in and pat her for a while, as I didn’t expect her to self settle all the time. As the weeks went by, I stopped going into her room when she woke through the night and allowed her time to self settle. One night, she wasn’t self settling so I did go in and I ended up feeding her, as she was wide awake and that is not like her at all (as soon as I would pick her up she would usually go back to sleep. I have never sat up for hours with Amaya through the night). Lucky I did, as she drank her bottle in under three minutes. I put it down to having a growth spurt and it hasn’t happened since.
Obviously control crying is not for everyone, but I do urge you to at least give it a go. It does take time and equips your child with essential skills. When you are sleep deprived, you can’t be the best Mum you can be, for your child. So don’t ever feel guilty about doing it. Amaya is so much happier now that she gets lots of sleep and it has also resulted in her increasing her day sleeps, not by a lot, but they have definitely increased.
I am so grateful for the advice given to me by other Mother’s! Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help, none of us have our shit together all of the time, so we can definitely learn from each other and help each other. Oh and make sure your babe is warm, often they wake through the night simply because they are cold.
I wish you lots of sleep!
P.S. I was recommended to only do this when babes are 6+ months old!
Women are judged for their choices all the time. We are judged for staying with men who treat us wrong (their behaviour is our fault?), we are judged for when we have babies (how we have them, how we feed them, what we feed them…the list goes on. Becoming a Mother opens you up to a whole new level of judgement), we are judged on our careers, our bodies, the choices we make with our bodies…if I had a dollar for every time I have politely sat through people running their mouth about being anti-abortion, I would be filthy rich. Seriously, I could go on ALL DAY.
Lately, I have heard a lot about women I know being judged for returning to work ‘too soon’. What on earth makes other people think that when a Mother returns to work is their choice? Or that their opinion matters? It doesn’t. Women return to work for an array of reasons and a woman should never have to justify herself to anyone, but herself. If you decide to put your child in daycare, then you get judged even more (insert eye roll).
I am an early childhood educator and have been for 13 years. I can tell you now, that there are just as many pros (if not more) as there are cons when it comes to sending your child to daycare.
I believe that having social skills is by far the most necessary skill when it comes to being happy in life. If you have friends and feel that you ‘belong’, you are more likely to be happy. It doesn’t matter if you are shit at maths or can’t spell – no one is not going to not be your friend because of that. But if you are rude, can’t hold a conversation and have absolutely no idea how to interact with others, then you are going to feel rather alone – this will most likely result in feeling miserable (Edit: your happiness does not depend on others acceptance of you, but it certainly is a massive contributing factor). Now, don’t get me wrong – you don’t have to go to daycare to gain these skills, BUT it is imperative that children interact with an array of children their age. I have noticed that I can tell the difference between children who interact with an array of children their own age (i.e. attend daycare) and children who do not. Plus you know, you have the whole education side of things. Not only will your children utilise and develop an array of skills (fine motor, cognitive…) but they learn to take turns, learn to share, sort out disagreements and have many different experiences.
There are so many options for children to develop social skills – playgroups, playing with cousins and friends who have children. But by children learning to play with other children, without Mum around, teaches children a whole new array of skills.
There are downsides to daycare – illness’, shitty daycare workers and it is expensive. If you send your child to daycare – great. If you don’t – great. It is YOUR choice and no one else’s, but don’t judge anyone for sending their children to daycare.
We are all trying to do a great job. We question our decisions daily and do what we feel is best for our family. We are all different, have different opinions and think differently. Once you have a baby, you enter a Sisterhood. Sometimes this sisterhood will be the biggest support network you have, other times (and it’s NOT just Mother’s that judge you about daycare…and basically everything else) they can be your worst enemies. I don’t understand why this sisterhood can’t be supportive all the time? Let’s just trust that we are all doing what we believe is best for our families and drink wine together often!
I have been blessed with longstanding friendships, with extremely decent people. When I say blessed, I mean that I am blessed that we were on this earth at the same time and that we crossed paths. The longstanding friendships are through hard work and effort from myself and my friends. I honestly do not know how people get through life without their girlfriends. I legit would be a nutjob (questionable…? HA!) without them.
Some of my friends I have known since I was four years old, grade one and grade eight – other I have met along the way, but I am thirty years old now…so these people have been a huge part of my life, for a very long time. They have listened to me crap on about my problems over and over again, they have loved me at worst and at my best, they have been loyal to me and seen the best in me. We have shared a few glasses…ahem, bottles…of wine, passion pop and vodka…we have created memories and traveled the world. These girls know me better than I know myself, at times.
Since having Amaya, I haven’t seen or spoken to some of my girlfriends as much as I did pre-baby. That pregnancy, having a preemie baby and a few other things that happened last year was a hard pill to swallow. I withdrew from life as I knew it. I put on a brave face when I did see my friends, but deep down I was just bubbling with anxiety and worry. I feel different since having Amaya. I have never received so much bad news in my life, as I did when I was pregnant. Thankfully, our NICU journey was full of good news, but a lot of things shook me along the way. To say that I was scared would be an understatement. This all took its toll on me, plus the fact that my body is different and I am the biggest I have ever been. None of my clothes fit me and if they do – I look like a homeless dag. I didn’t feel like myself inside or outside. I became cranky, insecure and unhappy. I couldn’t get out of my own way. I felt lost. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise the woman staring back at me, I hadn’t seen Bree in a long time and I missed her. I had never felt this way and I had no idea what to do.
I realised that over the years, my girlfriends had come to me for advice and I thought about what I would tell them if they were feeling this way. I cried. I allowed myself to cry. I felt it all. I knew that it was all up to me, only I could help myself. That was a scary thought.
So I took control. I started meditating daily. Meditation is one of the hardest things to do, for me – my mind just keeps ticking! I do life with lavender on my temples these days and I concentrate on my breathing – a lot. I blocked out the negative thoughts, as soon as one popped into my head I thought of something positive and I focused on my breathing. It is still a work in progress, I am not sure if I will ever be the same again. Well, I hope I won’t be. I would like to think that motherhood is a life changing experience, a positive one.
The love I have for Amaya is insane. I am utterly obsessed and so in love. I think she is the most amazing little lady & she makes me smile daily…
After that last sentence, I needed a break. I needed a biophilia fix. So I headed to the water – it always calms me – with my Mum & my babe. I cannot describe how much better I felt afterwards.
I miss my old life. I miss my freedom, the fun and how carefree my life was. I really did have an amazing life. I spent my weekends with my friends and my boyfriend and could do things at the drop of a hat. Now, I have to pack bottles, nappies and a million other things PLUS I need to work around Amaya. She is at that age where she wants to get out of the pram while we are at cafe’s, at the shops or going for a walk – she wants to see what is going on. PLEASE understand that I realise how stupid this sounds – I did know this was all going to happen – BUT that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provoke certain emotions. I realise that my life still is AMAZING and I am beyond blessed, my life is just different. I do not mean to come across ungrateful. I am just struggling a little with adjusting to my life going from super fun to another type of super fun.
Of course, my amazing girlfriends came to my rescue and reminded me that it won’t always be formula, bottles, nappies and nappy bags. Amaya will grow and she will bring things like Christmas and Easter back for us. I guess that I just knew that I always wanted a baby and I would have not felt complete if I didn’t have children of my own – and now I feel guilty for missing my carefree life.
I look at Amaya and I simply cannot explain how much I love her, I want to give her the best life possible and always be the best Mum I can be. In order to do that, I need to recognise my feelings and emotions and work through them so I can be happy – because if I am not happy, how can I be the amazing Mumma that she deserves. So I need to reach back out and be more available to my friends, because I need them. More than I ever have before. I also need to remember to be patient with myself through this process. Exercise, meditation and positive thinking will aid me in adjusting to my new life. One thing that has really been set in stone for me, even though I already knew this, is to always appreciate your freedom, your girlfriends…and yourself.
Today I had another biophilia fix…we took Amaya to the beach. I could have swam in the ocean ALL fricken day. As soon as we got there, Teina told me to go for a swim, as he knew that I had been hanging out for it. I floated in the water, I dived under waves…I was in my element. I dug my feet deep into the sand and I felt amazing. I was recharged. As I sat there staring out at the sea, I felt like myself again. Teina had Amaya for most of the day as I frolicked around in the ocean like a crazy ass mermaid. I couldn’t get enough of it! I just wanted to swim out further and further, but then my fear of sharks kicked in and I settled for frolicking in the shallow. I left the beach smiling, not only had I had a brilliant day with my family, but I felt like my carefree self again. So even though I had’t seen Bree for a while, it was nice to know that she wasn’t that far away…and that she wasn’t gone forever.
P.S. If you aren’t in the photos, please don’t be upset. There are SO many people who I love that are not in these photos ❤
Yesterday I witnessed women viciously attack another woman on social media. It was disgusting. I was disgusted…
As women, we endure all sorts of things. The pressure of having children or a career. The pressure of being able to fall pregnant. The pressure of not having children too young or too old. The ‘tick tick’ comments. Dealing with society and the fact that we cannot do the things that men can do, without being judged. The pressure of being a good, no – GREAT Mum. Abortion. Miscarriages. Children with learning/physical/mental disabilities. Rape. The constant worry about your children. Learning to love our bodies – pre-baby and post-baby. And the list goes on. But the people that judge us the most…are other women.
We are always so quick to judge each other, compare ourselves and attack each other. Being a woman is hard. Being a Mother is hard. Being a good Mother is even harder. I was talking to a Mother of four the other day and she asked me how I am finding motherhood. I told her that it was hard, harder than I expected. She replied – “Motherhood is hard. Well, it is if you give a shit about how good of a job you are doing.” Motherhood begins the moment you conceive a baby, well I think so anyway. It affects us all, whether we notice it or not and in different ways. Motherhood affected me physically (and being an emotional person already, emotionally) while some people are affected mentally. For a while after I had Amaya, I felt like I had failed. Like my body had failed her. But then I realised that I can blame myself all I want, it won’t get me anywhere or help us in a positive way. I also then realised that I was not a failure. I did everything the doctors told me to do, but at the end of the day, I can’t help that my body was rejecting DNA that it had recognised as not mine.
Having a miscarriage is not your fault and does not make you a failure. Having a stillborn does not make you a failure. Not breastfeeding does not make you a failure. Having an abortion does not make you a failure or a bad person.
Those pro-life protestors would tell you differently, but they are also probably the same people that would judge you for not breastfeeding. (I legit rolled my eyes as I typed that).
Not being able to conceive naturally does not make you a failure. Having trouble conceiving does not make you a failure.Giving your baby a dummy does not make you a failure. Postnatal depression does not make you a failure. Becoming a Mum is very overwhelming. The post-pregnancy hormones can kick you while you are down too. Whether you deliver your baby with no complications, whether you didn’t, whether you had an abortion, whether you were raped, whether you went back to work ‘too soon’, whether you put your baby in day care, whether you had a premature baby, whether you had postnatal depression, whether you don’t feel like yourself since the baby, whether you do…you are not a failure. If I am not a failure, then neither are you.
People can judge you all they want. But they do not know your situation. Even if they think they do, they don’t. This is your journey, and you are free to make your own choices. We are all in this together, why can’t we help & support each other? Is it really that hard to have compassion in your heart? If someone asks for help, try to help them. These days people are too proud to ask for help, because everyone is trying so hard to make it ‘appear’ like they are bloody kicking goals, all the time. So to ask for help is a big deal.
Some people might find this harsh, but I am honestly sick to death of women shooting each other down. What, all to make themselves feel better? Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect and I am certainly not claiming to be. But I do try my hardest to support and help other women, even if I don’t agree with their decisions, as I know that they would have their reasons and you know what…it’s not my journey! If you are coping, then more power to you. I cope too, but there are definitely times where I cry, I feel like I am a shit Mum, a shit friend, a shit girlfriend and I am more tired than I had ever thought possible. This is not to make anyone feel bad about coping.
I know that we are all busy, but please take the time out of your day to tell a girlfriend how wonderful you think she is. You could also start telling yourself this, daily.
I have always struggled to remain angry or hold a grudge. I forgive almost immediately (in most cases…) and then just have the lesson with me (that doesn’t mean that I don’t think they are an idiot still). I will always remember what you did, but I can’t be angry for too long. I just cannot do it.
Forgiveness is a big thing and sometimes you have to accept the apology you never got. Swallowing my pride and apologising has never been an issue for me, I love peace too much. Shady people have come in & out of my life, as they do everyone’s, for years. I was never very good at spotting them. I always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and trusted people from the get-go. Most people handled my trust with respect and care, others abused it. It took me a long time to realise that people act a certain way when they are hurt, miserable and angry. Happy people don’t go around destroying people. The moment I realised that, I stopped taking it personally. Life is too short to hate. Just learn the lesson, forgive and move forward. My lesson, was to learn to stop trusting everyone from the get-go. It took a while for me to learn this, so the universe kept sending bitter, shady characters my way. I finally stuck up for myself and I stayed strong (I can often give in, just because I want things to be peaceful again & honestly am over it), but I knew that this was a lesson I had to learn, so I had to remain strong.
Sometimes situations play out unfairly (I used to think so anyway). I tend to keep things to myself or within my cliquè, therefore my side of the story can be left untold. I used to think this was so unfair, but then I realised, that the people that matter, don’t believe untruths about you. What Susie says about Sally, says more about Susie than it does about Sally – you quickly learn who knows this. My Dad always told me that you don’t need to reveal people, they will always come undone and reveal themselves in due time.
As long as you can justify your actions to yourself, then that is all that matters. If not, then it is really not that hard to say “I am sorry”- and mean it. You may not be friends again, because the friendship has served its purpose – but it never hurts to apologise & move forward with no bitterness in your heart. When I was a teenager, I used to apologise just to keep the peace, but these days, I don’t apologise unless I think I have done something wrong. That does not mean that you can’t approach someone with compassion in your heart in an attempt to ‘let it all go’ and move forward.
We aren’t here for that long, we need to co-exist and look after each other. That is the easy part, but something I will always struggle with is bitterness and jealousy. YOU are unique, there is no one else here like you – so why be jealous of other people? It is so obvious when someone is nasty to someone or dislikes them based on jealousy – it is not a pretty look and just shows your insecurities. Don’t hate someone because they are beautiful or have a lot of friends. Take the energy that you would WASTE on jealousy and use it to improve yourself, or just put it towards loving yourself, because when you love yourself – you don’t ever get jealous, you just get envious. Envy is the non-evil version of jealousy. You might be envious that someone is about to go traveling, but jealousy would be you hating them because they are going on a trip. Jealousy doesn’t feel good or look good, and you never are in a better position due to jealousy. It will make you bitter. Envy on the other hand, might motivate you in a positive way.
Someone once said something really horrible to me (so horrible that I either blocked it out or I didn’t really care, cos I can’t remember it), BUT what I do remember, is what they said to me after their nasty comment – “THERE. Now you know how I feel ALL THE TIME!”. Wow. First of all I felt compassion for them, how horrible to feel that way. Ever. Let alone all the time. Then I felt even more compassion for them, for the simple fact that they thought that it was everyone else’s fault that they felt that way. Happiness is a choice. They could stop feeling this way today. Well, they could start to stop feeling this way today.
“You have to learn to select your thoughts the way you select your clothes every day.” – Richard from Texas (Eat Pray Love).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know what it’s like to feel down. Last year hit me harder than a tonne of bricks, for an array of reasons. A lot happened, some I shared with everyone, some I chose to keep within in my super close circle. So I know that sometimes you can’t just shake it off in a day. You have to process it. But here are my steps of how I dealt with some of the hardest shit that has ever happened to me..
I accepted it. It is, what it is. If you can’t change it, don’t waste energy on it. Open your eyes.
I talked to God. A lot. I talked to him like he was my friend.
I let myself feel the emotions. If I felt sad, I cried. But then I picked myself up. I believe in giving yourself a time limit. If something shit happens, then you say “ok, I am going to let myself feel this for a total of 30 days. Then I am going to start moving forward. In that 30 days I will cry as much and as often as I need to. I will talk about it with my friends, over and over if I have to (if you have good friends like me, they will listen to you over and over again – thank you to my saviours). Once 30 days is over, time to improve and take action.” You choose the time limit. Just be patient with yourself.
I approached my friend, she always has the spiritual stuff I am looking for. She told me to meditate. So now, every night before I go to sleep, I meditate. This was a game changer for me. If I miss one night, I am out of balance the next day.
Don’t accept people’s judgement. They don’t understand it like you do. If they judge you, get rid of them. YOU are the boss of your life.
Choose happiness. Everyday, find something to be happy about. I remember my spiritual guru told me to focus on your surroundings – what do you hear? What do you see? – the questions threw me off when she asked me. I replied “nothing”. Then I really listened, I heard the wind, the crickets, a car backfiring, someone laughing. I felt calm instantly.
Sometimes, when I think of last year, I still get tears in my eyes. Sometimes tears of amazement – not only because I think I am super strong and amazing, I know I have some super strong, amazing people surrounding me and that’s pretty brilliant, because good people are often hard to come across.
When I first met Tahlia, she was a carefree uni student whose main concern was how are we going to get all of these assignments done (wasn’t that all of our main concern?). Within days Tahlia’s life completely changed – she learnt that was becoming a Mum and shortly after learning this, she finds her self single. Below, Tahlia shares the realities of being a single Mum, day in and day out…
Single Mum Life… – By Tahlia Ferre
Becoming a single mother was never something I had ever imagined myself doing, and yet here I am as single as can be, with the most beautiful little girl by my side. I didn’t plan this life, it happened to me while I was busy chasing fantasies and day dreaming of the crazy life I would lead and the adventures that I was yet to have; that’s what they say though isn’t it? Life is what happens while we’re busy making plans… This is the adventure I never dreamed of, that I now believe was intended for me.
Now although I love and adore my daughter it isn’t easy going it alone, not that in my circumstances I would have it any other way. I would never intentionally choose to expose my perfectly innocent child to the biology that helped make her existence possible, however it still doesn’t make being a single mother any easier knowing that this is the choice I’ve made for us.
Arlette depends on me and me alone to fulfil every single one of her needs no matter how small, the responsibility of sole carer for my daughter is me and that means being switched on 24/7 to cater for her every need. I make all of the decisions regarding her life, which is hard sometimes, not having anyone to back you up or agree with your choices; what if I fuck up and make the wrong choice and there is no one there to say to me ‘babe, you know what, I think this is a better idea’ or ‘maybe we should do it this way instead’. I don’t get a consult or a counsel before I make a decision, I just make the decision I think is right and I go with it… and sometimes that’s scary, and I dread the day that I really do fuck up and my decision is detrimental to Arlette’s life.
Not only is it hard in the way that it’s all me 24/7 and I have no one to give her to or help me with her or the decisions about her life, but it’s also hard not having someone for me to talk to, or lean on, for me and my sanity. I don’t have someone to crawl into bed to at the end of a long hard day of baby wrangling who will curl up with me and play with my hair, or tickle my back until I fall asleep, because I can’t sleep, because I’m totally wired from my insane day of running around making sure my 10 week old is fed, burped, changed and satisfied… In short, babies are hard work sometimes and just when I get a minute to sit down, she lets me know with a scream that could shatter souls that she’s ready for the whole charade to start again. It’s lonely sometimes when at the end of the day I crawl into bed on my own and stare blankly into the darkness, alone with my thoughts.
I love my daughter and I love our crazy life but it isn’t easy and sometimes it’s lonely when your constant companion speaks in coos, gurgles and spit bubbles and good, fulfilling conversation is hard to find. I wouldn’t change it though, not even in the hardest moments, when all I want to do is scream and collapse into a puddle of tears, when she won’t stop crying or screaming or fighting sleep when I know she’s damn well tired. I wouldn’t change a thing, because her smile in the mornings, it brightens my day and lightens my soul. It fills me with a love I’ve never felt before when she holds my hand and pulls it in close to her. It melts my heart when she looks up at me and smiles and coos.
I am filled to the brim with love, for this perfect little human being and although every day is hard, every day no matter how hard, she reminds me who I’m doing it for and how oh so worth it the hard times are.
Thank you for helping us through pregnancy, the before stages and the after stages. Thank you for always being patient with us and for loving us, even when we don’t resemble the woman you fell in love with anymore. Thank you for rubbing our backs when it aches, thank you for rubbing our belly during pregnancy and thank you for not poking too much fun at our swollen, unrecognisable feet (and thank you for massaging them too). Thank you for walking slower when we can no longer waddle very fast. Thank you for opening the car door for us, as you know getting in and out of the car can be a challenge. Thank you for holding our hair back or rubbing our back while morning sickness strikes. Thank you for the countless trips to Woolworths to satisfy the pregnancy cravings.
Thank you for supporting us in times when things are out of our control. Thank you for being so patient with our ever changing emotions and forever flowing tears. Thank you for forgiving us when we are sleep deprived and snap at you for putting the nappy on wrong, or anything else for that matter (and thank you for not making us feel too bad when we realise that you did do it right). Thank you for still hugging and kissing us when we are covered in our own breastmilk…and smell of it. Thank you for holding our hand still, even when there is a pram to push. Thank you for listening to us whinge when we get our first after-pregnancy period. Thank you for taking the baby when you get home from a long day at work.
Of course women would get through pregnancy and motherhood without men, because we are amazing. But having a supportive, patient, helpful, loving man in your life sure helps. Pregnancy and motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, for women & for men. I was so naive to what could go wrong when you are pregnant. When you fall pregnant you never imagine that you would have a miscarriage, a premature baby, a still born baby, a baby with defects, a baby with genetic problems, a baby whose organs are growing on the outside…and the list goes on. Whilst having a baby is a blessing, it sure is not glamourous. That’s why it is super important to have a man that will love you at your best, and at your breastmilk covered, no make up wearing, black bags under your eyes (permanently), emotional, worst.
So to all of the men out there that are holding your partner’s hand through IVF treatment, a miscarriage, pregnancy problems, birth, motherhood and LIFE – you are amazing. We love you and we appreciate you (not just us, but your children love you for being a good example too).
The best thing a man can do for his children is to love their Mother.
In 2011 something happened that would change my life forever. I was single, 25 years old and working as a youth worker on the Gold Coast. That year, in early July; I lost my Dad to suicide. It was one of the hardest days I have ever had to live and an event that would shape my life, lead me on a journey of self discovery and pave a path to where I stand today.
Just two weeks after my dad passed, I found myself attending my Dad’s burial in Leongatha, a small town in Gippsland just two hours from Melbourne. A day later I met a man. He, like me; was going through a rough patch. Across a table in a mutual friends backyard we talked for hours. He spoke about his best friend Matt, a larger than life character who despite being loud, stole the hearts of all he met. He spoke about how his friend was in hospital and had been for months, how he had been put on life support and how he was scared to imagine what life would be like without him. That night we parted ways with no numbers exchanged but a feeling inside like I had never felt before.
Two days later I had a friend request on Facebook. Mr Chris Von D! Well lets just say that friend request led us on an epic journey which spanned 11 months. A few weeks later Chris had to say goodbye to his best friend and just like that, our grief bonded us together. Talking over the phone, texting, thousands of dollars in plane fares, 8 months of long distance dating and a bond created that I truly believe will never be broken.
In June 2012, I had resigned from my job, packed up my car and with the help of my friend Ekk – and drove 1300 km to start a life with Chris in Melbourne.
Chris and I shared a bedroom in a house occupied not only by us but his mum, dad and pop.. It was a mad house but we laughed, argued and cried together. We lived there for 8 months before moving to our own little rental property to begin our journey together as a happy independent couple.
3 months after our move, Chris was diagnosed with Epilepsy after having a seizure whilst driving home from the Footy. Our lives were turned upside down that day and we were taken on a journey through the world of Neurologists, anti epileptic drugs, learning the difference between seizures and everything in between. Overnight we went from happy and reasonably care free couple to a financially strained 1 income household. Team that with Chris’ pre existing back injury from years of working at the car auctions and we seemed to be in a bit of a pickle.
Fast forward through a tonne of medical appointments, me continuing to work full time, an engagement, a wedding and a hell of a lot of soul searching – we decided that we wanted to start a family. We made the decision to put off attempting to buy a home and prioritise the one thing we wanted so badly… Children ♡
After 2 years of trying to conceive (or TTC as it’s known on the pregnancy and conception online groups!!) we had our first pregnancy and miscarriage. It was early on at around 5 weeks. So by the time we found out we were pregnant we were actually in the process of losing our baby. We mourned the loss silently as we came to terms with the pregnancy and the loss in the same moment. We hadn’t had time to be excited, we hadn’t had time to think of the future or plan anything. It was a sad and lonely time for both Chris and I. But we were determined to get through it and decided that we would start trying again.
3 months later, 1 day after returning from a relaxing holiday in Tasmania, Chris and I had our first positive pregnancy test. To say we were excited was an understatement. As soon as I saw the word ‘Pregnant’ flash up on the face of the test our world changed. Chris was just as excited. It took a couple of days to ‘feel real’ but we embraced it. I started watching my coffee intake, the food I ate, was conscious of my stress levels and everything in between. We were already linked in with a private gynaecologist/obstetrician; so we booked in with her straight away.
Blood tests confirmed the pregnancy, blood tests confirmed the HCG amount was rising but blood tests also confirmed that my progesterone was on the lower side of the normal range and a phone call and script fax later, I was put on progesterone pessaries the very same day. For those women who have taken them for prolonged periods of time; whether it be pre IVF, pre pregnancy or throughout… Props to you! Gosh almighty…. twice a day.. Essential… But not fun!
In the 5 weeks we ‘knew’ we were pregnant; we laughed, we cried, we shared the news with our closest friends and family, we dreamt of what our baby would look like and playfully named him ‘ButterBean’ and we sneakily purchased a few little things. We were lucky enough to see ButterBean through the internal scans on 3 occasions and saw his heart beat on the screen. We were in love with our creation and felt extremely blessed.
At 8 and a half weeks I experienced light bleeding. I was scared at first but after a trip to the obstetrician was diagnosed with an ectropic cervix which placed an explanation for the light bleeding I was experiencing and was put at ease by seeing ButterBean and his little heart beat through an ultrasound.
That weekend we told my closest friends from high school that we were expecting whilst away in Sydney for a 30th Birthday. I sipped water most of the night and was perfectly content with where my life was at that point in time.
When we returned I began to bleed heavier, I had excruciating back and tailbone pain and the most intense cramps. Until that moment I never knew that your body went into labour during a miscarriage so early on. This continued until I passed what I now know was our little baby. By the time I got in to see the obstetrician and completed my final internal ultrasound, my uterus was empty. This was confirmed by the ultrasound technician in a room next door. And just like that.. my body had completed the miscarriage without me even 100% knowing it was happening.
In 3 days I had gone from pregnant, calm, happy, content and at ease to one of those collapse on the floor in a heap moments. Chris and I were escorted from the ultrasound room past a waiting room of pregnant women into a spare practice room to await the obstetrician. We sat there and cried. The only word coming out of my mouth on repeat was ‘sorry’. My obstetrician and her staff were wonderful that day and phoned twice that week to check in with me to see how we were going.
My hubby Chris was even more wonderful. This man was brave and strong throughout all of this. He held my hand that day in the ultrasound room, he hugged me close as I cried day and night, he rubbed my back through the back aches and pain I experienced and most importantly; he told me each and every time I blamed myself that it wasn’t my fault, that I had done everything right and that everything was going to be ok.
The road since that day in December has been a little rocky. We have both experienced our up and down moments filled with smiles, tears, anger, disappointment, laughter and that overwhelming feeling of ‘why us?’ We have been supported by our wonderful friends and family and have been reminded continually how lucky we are to have to kindest and most caring human beings imaginable in our lives.
But nothing will change the fact that although Chris and I don’t have any babies to hold from our pregnancies, we are still parents.
We will miss and mourn our babies for the rest of our lives. For you see; we aren’t just mourning what we lost last year but every year in the future we miss out on. The first b’day party, the first day at school, the naughty 16 year old, the P plater, becoming an adult and everything in-between.
We continue to grow stronger as each day passes. We do this by remaining as positive as possible (despite the bull shit that life sometimes likes to deal), putting all of our love and strength into creating an amazing future for us both as well as the babies we may have later in life and focusing on the good times we are lucky enough to experience, instead of dwelling on the bad.
As confronting as it may be. With the support of my husband, I have chosen to speak publicly about our miscarriages. Why?…because it is something so common in pregnancy. (1 in 5 women!) Because it is something that is never spoken about. (Why are we not speaking about this?!!) It’s like the first rule of miscarriage is to not talk about it! We NEED to talk about it. So that women, like myself and their partners do not feel ashamed, helpless, weak, angry or guilty. So they don’t have to scroll through literally hundreds of webpages; googling miscarriage because they feel alone.
Because even though some people may find this topic of conversation uncomfortable, this is my story, this is my truth and in this moment I know…I’m not alone.
MAS (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome) My Full-Term Nightmare – By Tahlia Ferre
My pregnancy was nothing special, I was growing a human, and as such I experienced the usual things; morning sickness, nausea, exhaustion, crazy emotions caused by the radical change in hormones and last but not least hunger, all the time… always so, so hungry. A totally “normal” textbook pregnancy, that’s the pregnancy I experienced, it was perfect, and she was perfect, in every way.
At 41 weeks exactly I went into labour, my girl had ideas of her own and took her time, at 6am on the 18th of December at 41+1 I was taken into the birth suite 4cm dilated, this was it, I was offered painkillers and ended up having an epidural, I slept for two hours and woke with the need to push. Fifteen minutes, that’s all it took and my girl was out in the world. That’s the moment my world turned upside down something was wrong, terribly, terribly wrong.
My beautiful “perfect” girl was placed on my chest, gurgled momentarily and went limp, prompting the midwife to rip her off of my chest, cut her cord in haste and call a code. Now for a first time mother who’d just given birth a code being called has to be one of the scariest things to experience, or so I thought at the time, little did I know what was in store for us. Twenty or more doctors, midwives and nurses rushed into my birth suite surrounding my limp, purple little girl and I watched as tubes were shoved down her throat and she was suctioned and resuscitated, I had no idea what had gone wrong, or what was happening to my little girl, all I knew was it wasn’t good and all I could think was ‘Please, please, let her be okay! Make her okay!’ She was resuscitated and as quickly as she’d come into the world she was wheeled out of the room, away from me. I could only lay there unable to move. The team of doctors, midwives and nurses following the lead paediatrician as he barked orders that made no sense to me as they went.
I didn’t hear anything for hours, nothing, not even a ‘She’s okay, everything will be alright.’ I understand now that they couldn’t tell me those things, because at the time she wasn’t, and everything might not have been alright. After what seemed like forever the midwife who had delivered my girl came to see how my epidural was wearing off, finally after three hours she said though not usually advised, in my circumstances I could get up, if I felt confident enough to walk, shower and go see my girl.
I got up, standing on shaky legs, still numb, showered and was wheeled into the special care nursery only to have the site I was faced with completely shatter me. There she was, my perfect little girl, hooked up to a multitude of machines, with a ventilation tube down her throat, a central line, and a glucose drip… through my haze of disbelief, I heard the word ‘TRANSFER’ all that ran through my head was, Where… Why…When?
Being told she was transferring, and I wasn’t able to go with her broke me for at least the third time that day, all I could do was melt into a puddle of tears and disbelief, my girl was leaving this hospital and going to a completely foreign to me hospital and I couldn’t go with her, ‘Why was this happening to me? Why my baby?’ I felt helpless, and lost. I was her mum, I was supposed to be there for her, I was supposed to keep her safe, but there was nothing I could do but watch as the team taking her packed her up and wheeled her away.
Lights and Sirens I was told by the team taking her, she’s a very sick girl, lights and sirens. Now I don’t know about you but when I see an ambulance with lights and sirens I worry for the poor person or people who that ambulance is racing to or transporting because I know that lights and sirens aren’t a good thing, that ambulance has people in critical condition that they’re racing to save and that day… that person in critical condition was my fresh, little, perfect baby girl. I sobbed, for what seemed like forever before I got moving, I needed to follow her, I had to go and be with her, and so I did, a transfer was arranged for me and before things were even finalised I was in the car with my friend following my baby.
She made it to The Royal NICU and was in a critical but stable condition. That night I got to hold her hand and change her first nappy, a task that I would’ve taken for granted or seen as a chore in any other circumstance, but in this moment it was something I cherished as I still wasn’t sure I’d get the chance to do again.
The news I received in the morning was more than I could manage to handle in my exhausted, postnatal state, I was sore, my whole body ached, and I was mentally, emotionally and physically numb. I cried myself to sleep my heart literally aching after being woken by a doctor at 5am with news that she’d deteriorated, there was mention of a chest drain and another transfer, not definite but on the cards… then 7am, a different doctor and a nurse; She’s being transferred to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital PICU for emergency surgery, come say goodbye.
Goodbye… More tears… More heartache… Sobbing, disbelief, anger, and would you guess, more sobbing. The drive to Lady Cilento was a blur, the whole morning was really, I was too numb to take much of anything on board. By the time that I arrived, she’d arrived, been settled and was being prepped for this all or nothing surgery, this was her only chance, and, in her state it was now or never. I gave my consent, was given a quick run-down of the procedure and off she went to be cut open and hooked up to a machine that would be her lungs for as long as she needed… Waiting, waiting, waiting… The two hours of waiting to hear that she was out of surgery were the longest two hours I’ve ever experienced, then there was another hour wait before I could see her. So. Much. Waiting.
Walking into that room, all I could see was my tiny little baby, hooked up to these giant machines that took over the entire space and made her look even smaller than she was. There in the centre of a mass of machines was this tiny body, still and silent and perfect. Still so perfect, still covered in the aftermath of her birth, with meconium coating her hair… she had so much hair… perfect, innocent, and so underserving of the hell her body was experiencing.
The next week or so was a blur of crying, holding her hand, chatting to the nurses, asking questions, watching screens; jumping every time something beeped, pumping and not sleeping; not really… I was a broken, shadow of myself, existing just enough and putting on a brave face for my baby. That week I spent Christmas in hospital, sitting by her bed.
As with most things, there were good days and bad, one day her lung collapsed, another her lung inflammation had reduced involving the change of her ventilation tube, then her chest drain fell out and had to be put back in by a surgeon due to the blood thinners coursing through her body.
There were little things that would ruin my entire day, and little things that would make it.
She was on so many drugs and medications to keep her body working, but still and unmoving, she was sedated and paralysed. There were a handful of moments where her sedation and paralysis were reduced enough for her to wake and in those moments she would look up at me, her face hidden behind tape with tubes and wires covering her body, look into my eyes and hold my finger as if to say ‘Hi mum, I’m going to be okay!’ Those moments, I treasured and still do, because at the time I didn’t know how many of them I would get.
Thankfully, she made it through, progressing in leaps and bounds much more quickly than doctors had anticipated and exactly a week after she was put on the machine, she was taken off of it. Two days after coming off of the machine and ten days after she was born I finally got to have my first cuddle with her, it took three nurses ten minutes and a lot of manoeuvring to move her and I stayed holding her there for hours, I didn’t want to put her down, I didn’t want the moment to end. It was the first time I’d held her, cuddled her, felt her against me, it was perfect and three hours just wasn’t long enough.
That wasn’t the end of our cross country journey. We were transferred back to The Royal NICU where she stayed ventilated for what seemed like forever before being put onto High-Flow oxygen through nasal prongs and at the same time she was on a methadone program to wean her off of the drugs. For me, watching her experience withdrawals and scream, cry and thrash about in her bed was one of the hardest things to have to silently observe my baby go through, she was for the first time in her short life experiencing the pain, experiencing the torture her body was enduring and it was heart wrenching.
Hours that seemed like days, days that seemed like weeks… The commute… The feeling of guilt when I’d leave her for the night… The grief of coming home to a room that was waiting for her… The exhaustion… The numbness…
We eventually “Graduated” to special care, she was no longer reliant on drugs, she’d been downgraded from high-flow oxygen to low-flow oxygen she started breastfeeding as well as being fed through her nasal gastric tube. Every day we were a step closer to home but it still seemed so far away.
I spent days in the hospital with her, talking to the other mothers there spending time with their sick or premature babies, all of us so close to home we could almost taste it but still unsure of when it would happen for us. I watched as babies and parents were transferred back to their original hospitals, one step closer to home with their little ones by their sides and longed for the day it would be our turn. Eventually it came, our final transfer, back to where it all began, the nightmare that rocked my world for exactly five weeks and one day was coming to an end.
She was transferred to the Redlands where we were reunited with the staff that saved her life. The ones who had acted so quickly on the day of her birth to rescue her and bring her back. She will never know the significant part these people played in her life but I do, I know how hard they worked on such a little human to breathe life back into her body, to make her stable enough to move in a condition that was completely unstable.
I experienced a completely normal, “textbook” pregnancy, my labour was perfect… and then, my baby was born on the brink of death and the only reason she is still here is because of the fast work and determination of the doctors, nurses and midwives that were there that day. I didn’t think this was something that could or would happen to me, I took it for granted that my baby would be born perfect, and then she wasn’t, even though up until that point everything had been. I often asked myself while experiencing this and still do sometimes ask myself as I reflect on that nightmare of a time, ‘Why me?’ ‘Why my baby?’ ‘Why did we deserve that?’ Honestly… the answer is, we didn’t, we didn’t deserve any of it, but these kinds of freak things happen, even to the least deserving of people and it’s the way that we handle the hard times that makes us the people and the parents we are meant to be.