It’s a boy!

Quite a bit has happened since my last post – I got a hair cut, used my juicer for the first time, survived Stormageddon oh and I had a baby!

Baby Predator arrived very early Sunday morning weighing six and a half pounds to a delighted mummy and daddy.

I am not going to go into detail about how he came into the world but I will say I managed to remain drug-free (aside from some gas) as hoped and everything went well. Also ouch, ouch, ouch – childbirth sure is painful but as all mums say so worth it.

He is super cute and perfect in every way. The Boy and I are thrilled to be parents and can’t stop staring at our little man.

Despite the fact I have not had an entire night’s sleep since last Tuesday all is going splendidly. We are still in hospital but plan to be home by the weekend where the real adventure begins!

Maternally yours, A-loved-up-mummy

Pack your bags, it’s almost time

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Packing. I hate it.

Whether it’s for an overnight stay, a two-week island hop or six weeks in Europe it still draws the same ire for me.

What do I bring? What don’t I bring? Will five pairs of shoes be enough? Can I really survive one night without my GHDs?

Nine times out of 10 I will forget something and pretty much every time I will over-pack. Quite often I’ll leave out something practical like pyjama bottoms only to find I have included something useless like a gold-sequinned evening bag – for an overnight stay at mum and dad’s.

I abide by the ‘what-if’ rule of packing.

What if – despite the humidity and my propensity to down cocktails at the swim-up bar everyday – I decide to use the hotel gym while in Bali? I better bring my runners and workout clothes.

What if – despite being on a Contiki tour with budget-conscious travellers who’d rather spend their holiday money skolling steins than indulging in fine dining – I decide to dine at a Michelin-star restaurant? I better bring a cocktail dress, heels and matching clutch.

What if – despite it being the middle of winter in Melbourne with skin so pale I’d be loath to flash even a wrist – I decide to hit the beach? I simply can’t leave my three bathing suits and cover-up at home.

Recently The Boy and I went away for four nights to stay with his brother in Brisbane. The Boy brought one bag – the size of my carry-on luggage – to hold his clothes, shoes and toiletries. Meanwhile I lugged a massive suitcase bulging with shoes, dresses, three pairs of jeans, a selection of tops, hair-dryer, hair straightener, make-up, styling products and a box of accessories which I had matched to each one of my outfits.

Ridiculous because our itinerary was to involve going to his Uncle’s birthday party – which I ended up buying a brand-new dress for while I was over there anyway, a visit to Australia Zoo, a day trip to Surfers Paradise and spending time with family.

I may sound like I’m high-maintenance but I assure you I am not, I just like to be prepared. Hmm okay maybe I am just a little.

Which brings me to this week’s inevitable and unenviable task of packing my hospital bag.

With just five weeks to go until Predator’s arrival it is high-time I put my lack-of packing skills to use and sort out what necessities I need to bring.

Already on the list are four pairs of pyjamas. Yes four pairs. Why? Because I can’t decide which ones to bring and what if I wish I brought one of the pairs I left at home? I know this logic is crazy especially as I’ll only be in hospital for five days and I’m sure The Boy can bring in an extra pair if I do regret bringing the dessert print ones over the leopard print ones. But what if?

I have a nightie for when I am in labour but have already started canvassing the shops in case I find a better one even though it will be more than likely end up in the bin after it’s been covered in after-birth and God knows what else. So more than likely I will have two nighties in my bag and a dressing gown.

What is a new mother to wear while in hospital? I had planned on rotating my selection of pretty pyjamas but alas the midwife has recommended bringing in comfortable day clothes.

This is not music to my ears. I pretty much live in dresses and tights/leggings or jeans. A friend recommended track pants – no.

So what am I meant to bring? I’m thinking a couple of pairs of leggings and a selection of longer loose-fitting tops.

When it comes to shoes I’ve decided on two pairs – my new pink fluffy slippers and a pair of ballet flats for the drive in and home. SORTED.

After much careful consideration I have also chosen Predator’s going home outfit. Ugh make that outfits. What if our mini-human is a boy? The red-striped ensemble might look a little girly and what if the cute little duck outfit screams too casual? Oh what a conundrum.

Luckily our chosen hospital supplies nappies, singlets, wraps and everything else Predator will require for his/her’s first few days in the world – thank God.

Can you imagine if I had to bring all of this too? Would I bring the muslin wraps or the flannelette wraps? The bunny-covered cloth nappies or the bright swirly patterned ones? I know what I’d do – I’d bring them all. Just. In. Case.

Then there’s the necessities – maternity pads (more like adult nappies), breast pads, toiletries, maternity bras, multiple pairs of full-brief underwear, bikini top for the shower/bath during labour, camera, video camera, phone charger, make-up, hair-dryer, music, birth plan, heat packs etc.

No wonder Beyoncé booked out an entire floor for the birth of Ivy Blue – I can’t imagine her to pack lightly so it was probably needed to store all of her belongings!

A lot of magazines/websites suggest packing a bag for the labour and a bag for the hospital stay, also a bag for dad. Well The Boy can pack his own bag and I’m going to bring one bag and one bag only. It may be bursting at the seams but if I have to pack two separate bags I’ll lose my mind and more than likely bring twice as much stuff.

Next step – to find a bag big enough.

If you have any packing tips for me please leave a comment below or perhaps you have a list of hospital must-haves which I haven’t included.

Maternally yours, What-If-I-Forget-Something?

It’s the final countdown

Source: etsy.com via Christine on Pinterest

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I have five weeks of work to go before I am on 52-weeks maternity leave. Five weeks. Wow.

Then I’ll have six weeks to go before I am due.

Where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday we invited our families over to announce the news that we were having a baby. Now I’m about to put my working life on hold and prepare for the next chapter in The Boy and mine’s life. It’s scary and exciting all at the same time. It’s going to be a huge change but I think I’m almost ready for it.

The hardest part is trying to imagine not getting up and going to work each day. I love my job and I love working. I’m so lucky to have a career rather than a job. I often feel sorry for people whose work is simply a way for them to earn money. I think I’d lose my mind if I had to work somewhere which wasn’t fulfilling and enjoyable.

I often imagine how I will spend my days. I admit I am one of those career women who wonder – “what do stay-at-home mums do all day”. Cue the boos and hisses from the stay-at-home mum brigade. Before everyone gets defensive let me say I am well aware I’m going to be busy changing nappies, feeding, doing housework etc while being deprived of sleep. I know it’s an all-consuming job but I do struggle to imagine how I’ll be any busier than I already am. I think it will just be a different kind of busy. Feel free to ask me how I’m going a week after Predator arrives.

I’m also concerned about being at home and not having any adult interaction for the majority of the day. I am a very social person, I love to talk and I go crazy if I’m stuck inside away from people for too long. I’m the opposite of a homebody. The thought of being at home all day fills me with dread. Lucky babies are portable and I have a swanky new jogger I can pop him/her in when cabin fever hits. I see a lot of pavement pounding over the next 12 months. My mum can expect a lot of visits too – hi mum!

The Boy and I have always said we wouldn’t let our lives change too much once the baby is here. Of course our lives will be different but I don’t see why The Boy and I can’t enjoy doing the things we do now after the little rugrat arrives. I know some parents become hermits once they’ve had a child or they use their offspring as an excuse to get out of social situations. Not us.

We’ve already booked our first family holiday for over the Summer and I’m going to Lady Gaga three weeks after Predator is due. We also have several weddings to attend this year and countless 30ths – we won’t be using the baby as an excuse to miss out. We are also taking the little one to New Zealand next year to meet The Boy’s family – I can’t wait.

Which brings me to the top 15 things I am looking forward to once I have given birth …

  1. Meeting our mini-human and giving he/she a big cuddle
  2. Giving him/her a name so I can stop referring to he/she as Predator
  3. Seeing my family’s faces when they get to meet Predator – my dad already has the most priceless look on his face whenever he sees me and my expanding bump
  4. Being a family
  5. Eating poached eggs on rye with smoked salmon, spinach and hollandaise sauce – my mouth is salivating at the mere thought of this
  6. Having Sunday cuddles – I don’t believe in co-sleeping or having children in the bed but on Sunday mornings there is going to be an exception where there will be plenty of family cuddles in bed
  7. Playing dress-ups – yes I am truly that shallow but I just can’t wait to dress this baby up
  8. Running/working out without the worry of overheating – I know it’s sick but can’t wait to get really sweaty and out of breath again
  9. Taking baby out for the first time – this one also scares the bejesus out of me
  10. Sleeping on my stomach and throwing out the giant body pillow – I’ve had a gutful of sleeping on my left side only
  11. Predator’s first smile, laugh etc
  12. Drinking a lovely glass of cabernet sauvignon while eating soft cheese and Italian sausage with The Boy, friends and the little one by my side

A cloud hangs over

English: Miranda Kerr at a book signing.

If I see one more headline featuring 'super-mum' Miranda Kerr I'm going to lose it.

About 10 years ago I was told by my doctor that due to suffering from anxiety I would be more susceptible to post-natal depression than most.

At the age of 19 I didn’t really think about it too much as having children was the furthest thing from my mind but lately it’s been weighing on me a bit.

For the past week or so I’ve been feeling low, my insomnia has returned with a vengeance and I even had a mild anxiety attack the other morning. These feelings are at their worst when I first wake up. I don’t want to get out of bed and quite often I get teary. At night my mind races at a mile a minute and during the day I am so tired it hurts.

A line from one of my favourite songs describes it best – ‘a cloud hangs over and mutes my happiness’.

That’s not what concerns me as I’ve been putting up with this sort of thing on and off for about a decade and I’ve learnt to deal with it. I find it more annoying than anything. However if these feelings do continue and it starts to become a problem I will speak to my doctor about it.

What concerns me is the lack of discussion about antenatal and postnatal depression.

There’s so much talk about birth, breastfeeding and parenting yet it seems no one wants to talk about this issue which according to Beyond Blue affects one in six mothers while antenatal depression affects up to 10 per cent of expectant mothers.

Antenatal depression occurs during pregnancy while postnatal depression can occur one month or even year after giving birth and has the same characteristics as depression. Beyond Blue has a PND checklist which is worth checking out if you or someone you know may be suffering from the illness.

It’s important to note PND is different from the ‘baby blues’ which develops pretty much straight away, is considered ‘normal’ and fades away after a few days.

Some mothers are more at risk than others when it comes to developing PND.

“Like depression which occurs at any other time, PND doesn’t have one definite cause – but it’s likely to result from a combination of factors. A mixture of physical, biological and hormonal factors seem to put women at risk of experiencing depression following the birth of a baby including:

  • a past history of depression and/or anxiety
  • a stressful pregnancy
  • depression during the current pregnancy
  • a family history of mental disorders
  • experiencing severe ‘baby blues’
  • a prolonged labour and/or delivery complications
  • problems with the baby’s health
  • difficulty breastfeeding

Social and psychological risk factors may include:

  • a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support
  • past history of abuse
  • difficulties in close relationships
  • being a single parent
  • having an unsettled baby (i.e. difficulties with feeding and sleeping)
  • having unrealistic expectations about motherhood including: mothers bond with their babies straight away, mothers know instinctively what to do and/or motherhood is a time of joy
  • moving house
  • making work adjustments (e.g. stopping or re-starting work).
  • leep deprivation

Source: www.beyondblue.org.au

I’m no medical expert but I’d like to add ‘pressure to be perfect’ to that list.

There is so much pressure for new mothers to be super mums these days and I’ll admit the mass media’s portrayal of mothers has a lot to do with it. Its infatuation with new mums such as Victoria’s Secret models Miranda Kerr and Alessandra Ambrosio and how they got their bodies back, how easy motherhood is and how being a mother is ‘the best job in the world’ is sickening.

It’s also not reality.

Why don’t we ever hear about what those first few months or year is really like? Instead we are bombarded with glossy airbrushed images of celebrity in bikinis six weeks after giving birth and interviews of them espousing how motherhood is a breeze. I call bullshit.

The women who buy these magazines are also at fault for feeding the machine which continues to project this false image. Ladies stop buying them!

Why don’t we ever hear or talk about the fears new mums have? Is it a sign of weakness to reveal how we are really feeling? Does it make a woman less of a mother if she admits she’s not coping? What’s with all the competitiveness between mothers? Perhaps if there was more discussion and openness surrounding these mental health issues less mothers would suffer from antenatal and postnatal depression. One in six is a very concerning statistic.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I am petrified of becoming a mother – PETRIFIED! I barely know how to hold a baby, I’m sure I’m going to lose the plot if I can’t get he/she to stop crying, the thought of being at home all day with barely any adult interaction gives me anxiety and I have ZERO maternal instinct.

I absolutely love being pregnant, childbirth doesn’t faze me too much but it’s what comes after which scares the hell out of me.

Just once when I tell a friend or family member my fears it’d be nice for some truth or advice rather than the generic – ‘oh you’ll be fine’, ‘it’ll kick in once the baby’s born’ or ‘it’s different when it’s your own’ followed by a swift change of subject. These sorts of responses only add to my anxiety.

What if it’s not? What if I become the one out of six? If that is the case I hope I will be strong enough to ask for help rather than keep up the façade that all is well. Because at the end of the day if mum isn’t happy or coping how is that mini-human meant to have the best start to life?

If you aren’t coping – please ask for help from a supportive partner, friends or family and talk to a health professional.Here are some tips for helping yourself.

Or if someone you know looks like they’re not coping give them a hand, listen to their fears. Sometimes just talking is enough.

Maternally yours, Not Ashamed.

Freaking out … just a little

I attended my first-ever antenatal class on Monday night and what an eye-opener it was. However the biggest realisation for me was learning just how much I didn’t know thus rekindling my romance with Google and leaving me to try to resist the urge to buy every pregnancy/childbirth book on the face of the planet. I am also starting to freak out … just a little.

The group of expectant mothers meets weekly and is facilitated by members of the South West branch of the Australian Doulas. I found out about the group from one of the facilitators who is a friend of mine and a doula herself.

A doula is someone who supports the mother and her partner before, during and after childbirth. While a doula has no medical qualifications like a doctor or midwife they are trained and experienced in childbirth. Most are mothers themselves. They are the ones who will speak up for you during labour and make sure your birthing plan is followed through as best as it can. They are also handy to have around if your partner needs to step out for a moment. Think of a doula as your very own personal birthing cheer squad.

I am keen on having my doula friend at the birth – The Boy not so much. He doesn’t want anyone else in the room. *sigh* That’s a whole other blog post.

Prior to Monday evening my birth plan was simple – a natural birth with no drugs no matter what.

This still forms the basis of my plan however after talking to the other expectant mothers and the lovely course coordinators I am now aware of so many other things which are worth considering.

For example delayed cord clamping which up until 24 hours ago I’d never even heard about. Did you know by cutting the umbilical cord straight after birth your newborn misses out on about 32 per cent of its blood which is filled with all kinds of goodies? According to a 2005 study a two-minute delay in cord clamping increased the child’s iron reserve by 27 to 47 mg of iron, which is equivalent to one to two months of an infant’s iron requirements.

I also learned television has a lot to answer for. Birthing on your back is a no-no. It makes sense too when you think of where everything is positioned. How on earth is a baby meant to navigate itself up out of the womb – being in some kind of an upright or squatted position makes the most sense.

Hopping into the bath at the wrong time can also slow down labour – another thing I was unaware of. It’s also not a good idea to sit in a bath once your waters have broken, unless you’re at the hospital, as it may result in an infection.

There is so much to learn and I can’t wait for next week’s meeting.

Like I said despite this extra knowledge I am now starting to freak out about the birth. What concerns me is would my GP/obstetrician or midwife have told me about any of this? I certainly wouldn’t have thought to ask. When I visit my GP I bring with me a list of questions each time and he’s not entirely forthcoming with information. Am I purposefully being kept in the dark? I am now petrified of the birth being taken over by the ‘professionals’ and my birth plan going out the window. How do I prevent this from happening? I would love to hear from the other mothers out there. What are your birthing experiences? Do you have any advice for first-time mothers? Let me know by leaving a comment underneath.

Maternally yours, Nervous Nelly.

P.S. I strongly advise any first-time mothers to consider taking alternative antenatal classes as well as the ones put on by your chosen hospital. You’ll learn so much more and it’s always good to keep your options open. Not to mention the fabulous other first-time mothers you’ll get to meet.