Finding Time for Me.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

So lately, there's been a lot of talk around self-care online. That it's important. That we need it. And I think that often, it falls to the bottom of the "to-do" list. Especially as a Mum. There's no time for lengthy baths or money for luxurious facials when dishes need to be done and nappies need to be bought. We only manage to find enough minutes in the day to have a shower, let alone snuggle up with a good book so we can escape for reality for a bit.

My counsellor, for the first time, suggested a direction we take during our sessions. Oh yeah! In case you missed it, I'm seeing a counsellor. I was a little worried about how I was feeling about Jackson and motherhood in general and I was starting to reflect a bit on my past and even present and realised that there might actually be a reason (or two) as to why I was holding back. I'm not one to just sit around and wait for things to happen so I booked in and she's been great. Really. She just has a way of understanding and summing up how I'm feeling. A lot of the time she is saying things I know but it's just really reassuring to hear a professional (and someone who is no way bias towards your situation) validate your thoughts. And after sharing the things I've been through she said she could totally understand why I feel the way I do which lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. 

So yeah. Counselling. That's happening. Anyway, on Thursday I mentioned that Rob and I had been talking about Baby Key #2 and that I really wasn't sure whether it was something I wanted. I know we don't have a huge rush (I mean, there is the IVF side of things and that might not be as successful the second time and we've also both wanted a smallish age gap, like 18 months - 2 years so that means I'd be pregnant at the end of the year omfgwtf) but it's been playing on my mind a lot. Mostly because I know that Rob has always wanted at least two. And I did too really until I actually became a Mum and realised what it all entails and how hugely my life specifically has been effected. Not in a bad way. Just in a different way. So I brought it up with my counsellor and she said she's hearing a lot of "what Rob wants" but not much of "what I want." Which made me think, how often do I put myself first?

The answer, not that often. Between attempting to keep the house tidy, paying the bills, doing the groceries, looking after a baby, trying to run my own business, managing a second passion project, spending time with my husband, having a social life, visiting my unwell mum and gran who both are quite emotionally dependent on me, running errands for them too, dealing with unwanted texts from my brother, spending time with the in-laws, there isn't a lot of time for me. At the moment the only time I do have "me time" is if I get up between 4-5 am and sacrifice sleep just so I can have breakfast in peace and maybe catch up on some youtube. But a lot of the time I end up doing the dishes, putting away laundry and then the txt comes from Rob saying that Jackson's awake. And Kate time is over.

Then, to think of throwing another baby into the midst of that is nuts. Ridiculous. I don't even want to think about it. See, a lot of people might think you're selfish for not wanting another baby, for not giving your child a sibling. And maybe it is. But I don't think there's anything wrong with that? You really have to think about how capable you are, the kind of lifestyle you want and whether kids can fit into that or not. You have to realise that life won't really get back to what it was like before kids for awhile and in fact, it might never happen. You've gotta be okay with it too. But anyway, this post isn't about that. Although obviously it's been playing on my mind a lot because it seems to be the first topic I bring up with anyone. I suppose it's a bit of a controversial subject, having an only child, and I'm always interested to hearing what people think. So if you are one or are just planning on having one, let me know how you've found it! 

Right. Where were we? Oh yeah. Putting yourself first. As a Mum. Kate, you're dreaming. Surely? Because where do you find the time to do that? To prioritise you. Jackson is exclusively breastfed and hardly takes the bottle so time alone is rare. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who has a great knack for putting him to sleep so there are times when I manage an hour or two away. But I'm not sure I'm really using that time very wisely. And I also need to figure out what self-care means to me. Often, I end up in front of my computer designing or blogging. Being creative is my outlet but it's also my job so I feel like spending time behind a screen isn't really the best form of self care for me. I'm not particularly into pampering myself (expensive hair cuts, manis/pedis and facials aren't my thing) and I always overheat in the bath. I also find that when I do have hands-free time it's usually spent doing housework or the groceries. Maybe I need to do less? Like, take less on? But I have responsibilities and people that rely on me so I'm not sure how I would do that. 

I don't have the answers. Perhaps we could ask Hermione if we can borrow her time turner? I have found one thing that is better than therapy though. One thing that I've just started that I was super dubious about but has quickly become the highlight of my week. Now, don't laugh... It's called Kanga Training. Yep. I know. I felt the same when I first heard about it. Basically, it's an hour long exercise class where you dance around a bit and get sweaty with your baby in a front pack. Like a kangaroo! Get it? Of course you do. I've been for the last two weeks and the effect it had on me was amazing. Rob even said he thinks I'm getting more out of the classes than I am from the counselling (plus it's a lot cheaper). I used to dance when I was younger so for me, it's revisiting that, spending time with a baby who has a 100% track record of falling asleep in the front pack, hanging out with other mums and getting my sweat on. Like actually, what's not to like? And I truly felt like a new person after. Finally, I found something for me. That involved Jackson but still focused on my needs. That we could do together without me stressing about him being fussy or not settling. It's a 10min drive from my house so it's not long enough for any car melt downs, you don't even have to wear shoes, you get to rock out to Vengaboys and you can just go at your own pace.

How I felt afterwards was incredible. Truly. And for the first time in the last four months, I felt like myself again. I was doing something for me, without feeling guilty that I wasn't spending enough time with Jackson. Something where I put myself first but that included my baby too. That kinda just ticked all the boxes of what I need for self care. It made me realise too, it's possible. It's possible to do things for you and have a baby. You can prioritise yourself, even if it's just for a couple of hours a week. And you should. Even if you're a solo parent, take up neighbours or friends who offer to watch your baby for an hour. Find activities that interest you that you can also do with your baby. Instead of allowing being a Mum stop you from doing the things you want, confront it face on and find a way around it. Babies are resilient and not as fragile as we think. And man, what a difference it will make to your journey as a Mum too.

I read something this week and it said, "Happy Mum, Happy Child." Have you heard of anything truer? If us Mums don't look after ourselves and meet our needs, we're grumpy. We're shitty, we're unhappy and we're resentful. And I think our kids will pick up on that. So for our sakes, and for our wee babes, we need to look after ourselves as well as we can. Because not only do we benefit from it, they do too. And I'm sure our partners won't complain about coming home to a couple of smiley faces either.

PS. If you enjoy a bit of a dancey workout (it's kinda like zumba I guess, although less booty shaking) then I 100% recommend you check out Kanga Training and see if there are classes in your area. So good.

But I Don't Want To.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Ever since Jackson was born, the first question on anyone's lips is "How is the sleeping?" And as any parent will know, the concept of a full night's sleep quickly becomes a thing of the past. Some parents are lucky and are blessed with a child who manages to sleep through fairly early on, others are up every couple of hours to nurse their babes. But for some reason, and I don't know who's fault this is, this is a misconception that babies have to sleep through the night. That they should. That if yours doesn't, there a bit of a dud. 

I've been finding that this is coming from either, people who haven't had babies or our parents/grandparents generation. And they're not too sweet about it either. I remember talking to someone about Jackson's sleep. I never complain. I mean sometimes I'm like, "gah jackson just sleep!" but I also know that he's pretty "normal." Which in baby world means that basically everything is normal. He does wake up quite a bit in night, especially recently, but it's because he's actually hungry - jumps on the boob, and falls asleep before he's finished. Anyway, I just said that he's up every 2-4 hours and straight away they go "you've gotta be tough Kate." Oh. Do I? Says who? You? Hmmm. They then proceeded to tell me that when they had their kids their father in law told them they have to be tough and let them cry it out. "And honestly Kate, my son is a great sleeper now because he learned pretty quick that we weren't gonna deal with that crap." Huh. "My wife found it pretty hard but I had had enough." Right.

Each to their own and I'm trying pretty hard not to criticise parenting styles because the truth is, we're all different - our situations, our parenting, our upbringing and our babies. So it's pretty understandable that we'd all parent differently too. But, please don't tell me what to do. Don't tell me that what I'm doing is wrong, that I have to do this. Don't make me feel like I'm being indulgent, that I'm spoiling my baby, that I'm creating bad habits. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't effect you in any way. At all!

See, while you're at home with your teenagers I'm in bed with my baby. While you're sleeping through the night, I'm getting up and feeding Jackson. When you have a sleep in, I'm changing his nappy, playing peekaboo, rocking him to sleep. What I'm doing as a parent has no effect on you whatsoever so you don't really have a say in how I choose to parent. Sure, crying it out might mean I get more sleep, but for me it feels wrong. I could implement a routine and add some structure into our lives so I'm in more control, but I prefer to just go with the flow and follow Jackson's signals. And if it doesn't seem like the right thing to do for us, then I'm pretty sure it isn't.

I understand where you're coming from. You just want it to be easier for me. You want to help. You are a parent and therefore have advice for a new one. But how about we lay off the "you should" and "you have to's." Let's rephrase it to "in my day," "oh man I remember when our kids were babies" and "have you tried." Perhaps then I'd be more likely to listen. When it comes down to it though, if I'm happy, if Rob's happy and if, most importantly, Jackson's happy, then that's all that matters to me. And we are. Honestly. I know that the constant waking is just a phase he's going through. I mean, it's bloody exhausting but I know developmentally it will get better. And in the mean time I'm just hoping that happens sooner rather than later but hey, we're on the Jackson ride so I'm just taking it as it comes.

And it suits us. We have found a freedom in no routine. He doesn't need a dark room to settle down and fall asleep. Yes he's fed or rocked to sleep but he gets there.  He's not fussy during the night. He's just hungry. So thank you for your advice. Thank you for thinking of us and wanting what's best. But, and I kinda feel like a dick for saying it, we're his parents and we know best. 

When Things Don't Go To Plan.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

You learn pretty quickly that when you have a baby, there isn’t really a plan. There is the way you’d ideally like your day to go. Then there is your realistic expectation of what could happen. And then there is the worst case scenario. The fun part is, you have no idea which way it’s gonna swing, what you’re going to end up with that day. You’ll be pretty confident in how your baby works, how long they’re sleeping, when they sleep. You’ll feel like you know them quite well so plan an outing around that, feeling like it’s going to go swimmingly. Ha! Did you tell your babe that? For some reason, your wee angel has turned into an inconsolable, screaming thing that won’t settle and your plans are shot. I mean, you could still go. But going out with a baby is stressful enough in the best conditions. Add a full set of lungs that are ready to be used, not a great time. 

The trick is, to set low expectations. Not just with your baby, but let your friends and family have them of you too. At the beginning, we kinda said yes to everything (pre baby) thinking we’d be fine. We were wrong. Earlier in the year, Rob’s family had a weekend camp where they were all spending time together, doing activities and staying overnight. We knew we wouldn’t be staying but had planned to spend two full days out there (driving there and back each day) with our four week old baby (yep, we obviously had no idea what we were doing). The camp rolled around and all I could feel was dread. He was so little. There were so many people. All the kids! And they just want to touch and play with him but I can hear their sniffles and coughs. I’d be hanging out with loads of mums who I know will be watching what I’m doing and I still don’t know myself! I’ll have to feed in public meaning getting my boob out in front of everyone and trying to play the “will he latch” game that I haven’t quite got the hang of yet. What seemed like a fun idea was turning into a nightmare and suddenly, all I felt was dread and anxiety when I thought about spending two full days away from home. 

Rob and I butted heads over it. And I get it. You don’t want to feel like you’re missing out and you also don’t want to feel like your baby is getting in the way of your life. But. Reality check. You will miss out and your baby will “get in the way.” That’s what they do. They’re demanding, require constant attention and need you to help them meet their needs. It’s not their fault. That’s just what being a baby is all about. It definitely takes some adjusting too but once you set the score and let friends and family know too, the pressure is off. 

Of course it’s hard to admit that you haven’t got it sorted. That your baby is being difficult. But that’s just how life is and the sooner you accept that, the easier it is to do what’s best for you. Even if it’s not what you planned. And when people expect the bare minimum of you, you can say no without fear that people think you’re being rude. You don’t have to make excuses for your messy house because they’re aware that you have a baby who doesn’t lend much opportunity to getting your household in check. Friends will understand when you have to cancel lunch because your baby won’t stop crying. Family will get it when you turn up an hour late as you wanted to let your baby sleep. People get it when they turn up and you are still in yesterday’s clothes with baby vom and food stains. Because you’ve let them know that this is just how it is. 

I’m still struggling to come to terms with it myself though. To let go of the idea of plans that must be stuck to. To understand that some nights he’ll be up all night and I need to sleep where I can instead of get up to work/clean because I’m going to burn out otherwise. To be honest with my clients about deadlines so I don’t feel so pressured and stressed when things don’t go to plan and I can’t get anything done. To get rid of this “supermum” vision I have of myself and just be honest and say, actually, today is just one of those days where I’m going to do nothing. That today has gone nothing like I planned and that’s okay. Because you know what? I still got cuddles. I still was treated to little smiles and giggles. I may not have showered and still be wearing my PJs but me and my boy got through another day and tomorrow is a new one. Hopefully one that is a little more “normal” but then again, what even is that? 

PS. This blog was written while I was on the toilet at 5.37am after being up at 11.30 (after a 9pm sleeptime), 12-1(feed and two cot attempts before admitting defeat and putting him bed with us), 2.30 (him waking me up by kicking me in the back), 3.30 (feed) and 4.30 (him wriggling around like crazy until he finally released a whole series of farts and a giant poo). I have a shit tonne of work to do but once I’m done here, I’m crawling back into bed for cuddles and some much needed sleep. Not how I planned today to go at all.

But Can You Tell Me Again?

Friday, 30 March 2018

Rob will tell you that one of the things that pisses him off about me (and I'm hoping it's a short list but you know guys and how much they love to talk about stuff ha!) is that I'm constantly asking for reassurance. And that even if he tells me I'm on the right track, that agrees with what I'm doing or supports my decision, it still takes someone else telling me for it to finally sink in. And I get that it's frustrating. To him it probably feels like his opinion isn't enough, that I'd listen to someone else over him. But I guess for me, sometimes I think he just goes along with what I say because he loves me. Because he doesn't want to start an argument. Because it doesn't think it's worth butting heads over. 

I have realised, especially since becoming a parent, that I really need that reassurance. I crave being told that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm doing a good job. I think we all probably do to be honest. I mean, we've been thrust into this new job/position/world where we have no real prior experience, we're 100% responsible for a LIFE that is not our own, and we really have no idea what we're doing. So it makes sense that we want to feel like we're doing okay. And there are so many ways to parent, so many theories/articles/bits of research that contradict and support each other. At every plunket visit our baby is being charted, compared to other babies. Our parenting is questioned - Does baby sleep in their own bed? Do you want to hear about safe sleeping? What are their sleep habits like? Have they started doing this yet? We actually don't recommend baby-led weaning. 

Every time someone asks how parenthood is going it's - Are they sleeping through the night yet? Do you still let them sleep on you? Isn't that starting bad habits? You definitely need to toughen up and just let them cry it out. Are they crawling yet? Have they started sitting up? Don't you think they're a bit hot? I'm sure they'd rather be doing this than that. And it's hard to feel confident when you're constantly being bombarded by questions, judgements and expectations. You think you have it sorted, that you kinda feel like you know what you're doing and are happy with the parenting choices you've made when an article comes out and flips it all on it's head. Suddenly you're not so sure after all and are googling away to find some kind of reassurance that what you're doing is okay, that you're not causing problems for baby along the way. 

Rob tells me it's more on me than on them. That the media/society isn't going to change just because I want them to so I need to steel myself, be confident and just back the decisions that I'm making. And he's right. I do need to trust myself and us as a couple, that we've decided this is how we want to do things and if it's working for us, then there's no reason to doubt what we're doing. But when you're tired, emotional and unsure, it's pretty hard to find that inner strength to not let things get to you. Plus, one of my flaws is that I'm super defensive. I just don't like feeling like I'm doing something wrong! I generally strive to do my best in everything, and I do like to please people so if I feel that I'm not doing that, it really gets to me. 

I've also noticed this coming out in a lot of Mum's that I've been interacting with too. How's the sleeping going? Oh yeah, well last night he slept with us - but he was so grumpy and I was exhausted and I just couldn't think of any other way we could all sleep but he was totally fine and we all slept great so it was okay that we all slept in the same bed. Mama, you do you. So when he falls asleep on you, do you try and put him down? Well I have tried before but then he usually wakes up and I figure it's better for him to get a solid sleep on me then if I put him in the cot and then he wakes up and it takes ages to get him back to sleep but he's still so little so I don't think I'm starting any bad habits right? And anyway it's nice to have some time to just relax with him and I don't mind anyway. We can't just say what we're doing without feeling like we need to justify it. That we need to explain why we're doing something, just in case we get back lash or told that we're wrong. 

Rob is right though. It IS on me. It's on me to be confident in what we're doing. To reassure myself that the way we are parenting is what works for us and for Jackson and that's all that matters. That we're all happy and healthy, and that's because of the decisions we've made in terms of how we want to raise Jackson and work as a family. I do try and research, just because I don't want to be stubborn and purely follow Jackson's signals if there is potentially a better way that will benefit him and his development. I do think you need to find the balance between knowledge and instinct, even if it's just to make a decision that you can be more confident if what you're doing is backed by research that  believe in and agree with. I feel like I can truly stand up for myself if I really believe that I'm doing the right thing, because sometimes I don't. 

And Rob (yes you) also needs to understand that as a Mum, you are questioned. You are judged. And sometimes you just want your partner to agree (or not) with you, to read the articles, to show interest in the fact that you're trying to make sure you're taking the best approach and if they don't, to share with you what they think you should be doing. Team effort guys. It's new for everyone, just because us Mum's carried the baby for nine months doesn't mean we know better than you do (even though it might sometimes feel like we do). And when we feel backed, when we're reassured (and we might need it once a day, or sometimes ten) then we can be confident and say - this is my baby, my life, and you can just bloody well let me get on with things thank you very much.

So just bare with me Rob. Reassure me. Let me know that we're in this together. Be honest with me when it comes to parenting choices I've made and let me know if you think we should try something else. I'll get there. Of course I will. It's still early days. But eventually, the judgements will slide off, the expectations won't feel so pressured and I'll be able to confidently face people and stand up for our choices and decisions we've made.

PS. On the subject of sleeping and worrying about your baby cat napping during the day, I recently discovered this wonderful article that put my mind at ease and reassured me that following Jackson's signals was really just allowing his body to naturally do what it needs to do. I felt pretty proud of myself to know that my instincts were correct, that by following what felt right I was aiding a natural process. And now when people question his sleeping habits, I know for sure that it's okay he might not be sleeping how the experts say they should be. That he's behaving as he should and I've just gotta ride it out until he's developmentally ready to change.

A Threeish Month Update.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

My goodness. Three months with Jackson have come and gone and we're starting to hit the crazy developmental stage. The stage where they go from being this fragile little bundle and start turning into someone with more personality, more tricks, who is making more obvious discoveries and developing everyday. 

Hindsight is a funny thing. Throughout the pregnancy I was constantly worried I was doing something that might end up harming him in the long run. During the birth, it was long and a bit awful and I was adamant I'd never do it again. That first month of Jackson was such an uncertain time. Breastfeeding hurt and I questioned having a baby nearly every day, wondering if I was going to be able to handle it and whether I thought it was a good idea at all. I felt like I couldn't do anything right, that I wasn't holding him properly, worried that he wouldn't like me and struggled with the fact that I didn't love this baby at all. And I don't mean that I hated him or didn't want him to exist, but I couldn't connect with him past the fact that I was looking after him.

Other mums told me just wait it out, just get to 4 weeks and breastfeeding will be easier. Get to 6 weeks and you'll start getting into the swing of things and feeling more comfortable. At the time, it was so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just couldn't see things getting better and didn't know if I could manage in the mean time. Well here we are. Threeish months later. And we're all doing fine! We've made it through poonamis, car melt downs, breastfeeding and changing nappies on the side of the road, a 4 hour drive to Tauranga, one round of immunisations and multiple visits out of the house. There's been times where he won't sleep, where he wants extra comfort, where the pram has had to come out a couple of times in a day just to help him (and mum) out a bit. And it's been okay. I mean, it hasn't been easy, but it hasn't been the worst.

Jackson is in the 99.6th percentile for height, weight and head circumference so I'm obviously doing something right. And the breastfeeding is SO much easier. He seems to be an average sleeper, he doesn't fuss too much (except the poor little guy is teething), gives us the biggest smiles and he will not stop talking. Seriously, baby chat is the bloody cutest! He's now wearing 6-12 month onesies, sleeping in his cot and we're looking at car seats in the weekend because he's outgrown his capsule. He's a big boy after all! We're hoping he's going to take after his Dad but who knows. There's still so much growing and changing to come.

It's not just Jackson who has changed over the last threeish months either, it's me too. I can't say that it's become easier, but there is definitely an ease about it. Yes, I still worry too much and end up on google when I'm a little unsure about things. But I've definitely relaxed a bit. I'm slowly learning to be more confident in myself, and to back what I'm doing as a mum. You come to learn that there is a pretty huge range of what's "normal" for a baby and most of the time, your baby fits in it. Which means that it's okay that your parenting is completely different to someone else's. When I ask myself if things are going okay I just go through my little checklist. Is Jackson happy? Yes. Am I happy? Sure am! How about Rob? Looks like it. Well then, seems like we're doing okay.

One thing I'm waiting for is that huge rush of love. That feeling like my life is complete, that my heart is totally full of a love that I've never felt before. That Jackson has completed me in a way that I never thought was possible. Because that's what's meant to happen right? Apparently. I mean, I definitely love him, and I do LIKE him a lot. When I get a smile or giggle, when he can't take his eyes off me or when he lights up as I walk back into the room, I know we have something special. But I'm still just not quite there. I don't know if I'm holding back because I'm still worried that once he's more aware, he won't like me. That I won't like him. That our personalities will clash. But I'm being patient because I'm sure it will come. I just think about how long it took for me to fall in love with Theo (our cat) and while it's a little different, it kind of isn't.

To be honest, I still don't think it's sunk in that we have a baby (ha!) There are times when I catch myself going "holy shit, that's a baby and it's my baby and I grew it for 9 months in me and then birthed it and now it's mine and holy shit that's my baby." Between the lack of sleep, the 24/7ness of being a parent and the lack of independence on my part, I think the days can all merge together and you don't really get much time to absorb things or reflect. Which might be why it still feels a little surreal to me. But hey, it's early days. I have learned to not be so hard on myself. Three months ago I had never held a baby, was scared shitless of even being near one and look at me now. I've learned and been exposed to so much and I think mostly, I've taken it in my stride. There a days where I wanted to give up, where I honestly thought I couldn't carry on any more but I didn't. I breathed. Re-centered. Had a cuddle with Rob. And moved on.

And that's probably the biggest take away from the last three months. No two days are the same in the world of being a parent. Things are constantly changing and you just have to learn to go with it as much as you can. Right now, your baby is acting purely on instinct - to survive. So they kinda know what they're doing and we just need to learn to try and understand their signals and provide what they need as best as they can. And honestly, it's easier than it sounds once you become a bit more flexible and easy going. But hey, check in with me in a couple of months (after that dreaded four month regression I've been hearing so much about) and we'll see if I'm singing a different tune. I guarantee I will be.

Here's To The Working Parent.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

There's always a bit of to and fro-ing with who has the hardest job. The parent who is working their 9-5 or the parent who's at home with the kids. Both have their challenges. Both have their bonuses. I don't think one is harder than the other, they're just different.

Lately though, I've been noticing how much of a toll it's been taking on Rob. He's had to work in Takapuna this year which is a bit of a hike from our home in Titirangi. It means early starts and late finishes, which, for someone who is NOT an early bird and who has a three month baby, is a bit shit. He's been given more responsibility which is wonderful for his career, but not so great for a first time Dad. We know that while it's hard now, it's going to be worth it in the long run because he'll have a bit more freedom and the potential to earn money but in the mean time, he's struggling.

The thing is, Rob would love to be the stay at home Dad. In fact, he was the big push behind having a baby. I was always open to the idea but because I wasn't sure if it was going to be a reality (and it was looking pretty likely that it wasn't going to be one), I'd kinda come to terms with it not happening. Rob on the other hand, this is what he's always wanted. Coming from a large family, having one of his own was always in his future and for him, the younger the better. I'm so glad that his dream has come true and we have a lovely little family, but I don't think either of us imagined that it was going to be this hard. 

Now, I'm not saying that being a stay at home parent is easy. It's hard being alone all day, with no one to pass your baby over to when they're having a moment or you need a break. You have to hold your pee, stare at an empty glass, clock watch until you can finally have your lunch and nearly go blind from all scrolling through Instagram. You have little beings that are completely dependent on you and you don't get time to yourself. It's just all go 24/7. And all you're looking forward to is when your partner walks through the door and you can offload your children to them, so you can finally get your five minutes to yourself.

But, I really feel for the working parent too. For them, it's also 24/7. Sure, they aren't with the kids all day but they're busy. They've got the pressure on them to earn an income, to provide for their family and to keep up with the expectations from their employers. They are also up at night when the baby is crying, but can't spend the day in bed. Instead, they're dragging themselves out of bed and somehow making it through their shift knowing that when they come home, there isn't a break for them either. They're missing out on the first roll, the first word, the first step. They're watching their baby grow up through photos sent by their partner, knowing that what their employment is important, but wanting to be at home every second.

I see what this is doing to Rob. I see that he's struggling between pushing his career and being at home as a Dad. And wanting both as well. Finding that balance is hard, especially when you're already going through massive changes and having to adjust to a little babe in the house. I really don't like the idea that we might look back at the first part of Jackson's life and think of it as stressful and unhappy because we haven't quite got the balance right.

And I don't have the answers. I'm still trying to figure out how to balance being the stay at home mum as well as self employed graphic designer. Does anyone have it figured out? Unlikely! But I just want you working parents to know that I appreciate you. I see what you're doing and what you're going through. I know the struggle that you're dealing with and I want you to know that we couldn't be doing this without you. When you've had a bad day at work, you still show up. You still give us those five minutes that we need, even though you're busting to go to the toilet. You'll settle that crying baby and let them sleep on you, even though you know you have emails to reply to, clients to please.

I know it's hard. But it's also amazing. And you should be so proud of yourselves. Because we are. We'll get through this. We always do. Life always comes in waves of hard times and easy moments and we'll find that ease eventually. But for now, just know that we so appreciate you and what you're doing for our family. 

Please Bear With Me While I Try & Figure It Out.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Jackson, I'm sorry that I keep forgetting. You're so new to this world, and sometimes I expect too much from you. I get frustrated that you won't sleep, forgetting that you are being so exposed and overstimulated by everything around - it's no wonder you don't want to. Sometimes I want you to fit into this mould of how I think you should be, but I forget that for you, there is no routine. There is no mould. No normal. You're just following your instincts to survive, and instead of embracing that, doing my best to help you along and being understanding when things don't go to plan, I wish you'd behave differently. That you would be easier. 

I've started working again, and it's hard not to resent the fact that you're stopping me from getting work done. That when I'm counting on doing work, you wake up early or take ages to settle. I'm stuck between my old life, where I was selfish and spontaneous. Where I could just do what I wanted without worrying too much how it was going to effect anyone else. And now I have this new life. You are my life. I am at your beck and call 24/7, to feed you.. To change you. To comfort you. I knew what I was getting myself into but I didn't anticipate how hard it would be for me to work and  Mum. And the thing is, I still need to work. But I don't know how to do both.

Being in a creative career, inspiration comes and goes. Often I'll be facing a block for days, but then inspiration can hit all of a sudden and I need to sit down for a couple of hours and just let loose. There are also deadlines that need to be decided and met, and I find it so hard to be able to give a straight answer when I don't know what lies ahead for the week. Fast turn arounds and spending hours at the computer are a thing of the past. Because you need me. Not just want.. Need.

I don't really like where my head is at. I'm stressed. And overwhelmed. I'm waking up at 5am (sometimes even 4am) and sacrificing sleep just so I can get some work done. And financially, I know that I need to be working. Without the small income I do bring in, bills won't be paid and bellies might not be filled. But I also just want to Mum. I want to be the housewife. To take care of the housework, make sure our fridge is full. Plan meals and actually cook them. Spend time with you, without having to worry about deadlines and when I'm going to finally sit down at my laptop to get shit done. I want to enjoy my time with you instead of thinking about everything else that needs doing.

Your Nana has been coming to help, and I know you love your time with her because I can hear you both laughing and talking when I'm in my office. I still haven't come to terms with it. I still feel like I'm failing you. I didn't have a baby so I could sit in an office and listen to someone else look after you. But I don't know how else to make it work? Every day, I can feel myself getting more and more exhausted because I'm not catching up on sleep and I'm not getting a break. And I've always felt so self sufficient so when I ask for help, I feel more like I'm a failure. That I should be able to do it alone and admitting defeat. 

But I have come to realise that I actually missed being creative. And missed working. That when I get into my groove, I don't want to come out and play with you because I just love being able to work with people and create something they love. It's always been my passion. And almost a form of self care. It's my time where I just zone out and maybe, as you get older and more independent, we'll be able to find a balance. Where you're happy to play while I work from the couch. Or you play at my feet while I get things done in the office. I hope so.

I just want you to know that I'm working on it. And I'm working for you. So that you are provided for, but also so that you know it's okay to do things for yourself that you love. That just because I'm sacrificing time with you doesn't mean I don't love you. That I don't want to be with you. It just means that I have look after myself and make sure I stay true to my own passion. We'll figure it out. A way for me to have both. But for now, just know that I'm trying not to resent you. I'm trying to appreciate that having help doesn't mean I'm not doing enough for you. I'm trying to remind myself that it's a good lesson to teach you, that it's important for you to see me follow my dreams so that hopefully you'll feel confident to follow yours.

I'm Exhausted But I Feel Like Me.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

One of the most common pieces of advice you get as a first time parent is "sleep when the baby sleeps." Which sounds great right? Oh of course I'll catch up on sleep because my baby is going to sleep in their little bassinet by themselves for at least three hours so I'll have a nice wee snooze at the same time. Perfect.

Well. Unfortunately. Babies aren't aware of this plan of yours. They don't know that if they sleep in their bed then you can go and do the dishes. Or have a shower. Or have a nap yourself. They just know that they're tired, hungry, need a nappy change or want a cuddle. So unfortunately, unless you have a dream baby that does just what you want them to (please don't tell me they actually exist) the whole "sleep when your baby sleeps" thing just puts unrealistic pressure on you.

And that is why (and you might think I'm insane) I'm up at about 4.30-5am every morning. Voluntarily. But hear me out. I know for a fact (at this stage anyway) that Jackson will sleep for at least 3 hours after that first morning feed. Which is three blissful hours for me to do whatever I want.  Jackson is asleep. Rob's asleep. So it's just me. And sometimes, sleep isn't the priority. Yeah sure, I know it's important and you do need to rest, but sometimes it's not actually what you need.

There are three things that I HAVE to do everyday for me to feel like myself. That's it. Just three. If I can get them done then, regardless of how the rest of the day goes, I'll feel like me again. And it's have a poo. Shower (and wash my hair if I'm feeling fancy). And eat breakfast. In that order. If I can squeeze in a load of washing, or fill the dishwasher, or even have a quick vacuum then that's a bonus! Simple right? Only three little things but usually they make more of a difference to me than if I had an extra couple of hours of sleep.

I also think they help me feel a little less resentful towards him. Yes, that's a thing. Remember, your whole life has turned upside down and it takes a while to adapt from life before baby. Especially when it included leisurely lie-ins and doing everything at your own pace. But if I can manage to do those three things in the morning, I feel clean. I'm full. And I don't have a sore tummy. And then I can appreciate and enjoy my time with him, instead of thinking of all the things I have to do.

Eventually his sleep will stretch out a bit (so I hear) so I'm sure I'll get more of a solid chunk but if I don't.. That's okay. I've figured out what works for me and while you might think I'm crazy for trading sleep for house work or a shower, I've gotta do it. For myself. For my sanity. And when I feel like me, I'm giving Jackson a tired but happy and clean Mum rather than a grumpy, smelly one. I know what I'd prefer.

I'd love to hear if you've got a little routine or things that you need to do each day to feel like yourself? Surely I'm not the only one waking up at 4am to spring clean the house otherwise I'll lose my mind! 

Before I Met Rob.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

I’m still not sure how I feel about 2010 and early 2011. I do know that I'm glad I have the memories ( it was a crazy fun time) and there will be no regret that I didn't make the most of the first few years out of high school. You know, the years where you've left school, you're studying or working and you're discovering the big bad world. 

Weekends were full of alcohol and new phone numbers. Temporary BFFs and 3am Burger King stops. I have no idea how I managed to afford it (it might have something to do with the $7 bottles of wine and refusing to go anywhere with a door charge) but somehow, I was out every weekend. Sometimes just the Saturday night. Other weekends it was Friday AND Saturday. And the occasional Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (holy crap, just thinking about that makes me want to crawl back in bed). But that's what I lived for. 

Honestly, I just loved the attention. I was such an extrovert so I really thrived when I was out, meeting new people, dancing the night away. A successful night was one that ended with a kiss and a couple of new numbers on my phone. Like seriously, I was almost sad if I came home without one of each. I guess, throughout school I'd never had a boyfriend, never really had a love interest.. Not even a kiss. I was completely "untouched" and just so ready to experience this whole other world. So I jumped in all guns blazing. Threw all my inhibitions to the wind and just went for it. 

Which basically lead to a year of glandular fever. HA! No really. I had this weird sore throat and croaky voice for a whole year and finally went to the doctor where they sent me away for blood tests, the result being I was a carrier of glandular fever. Ew. It must've been super mild or something because I was never SICK, just croaky. Anyway, this phase kind of went on for about a year and like I say.. I had fun. I did genuinely enjoy it. Do I wish that I'd backed myself a bit more and not thrown myself at every guy that looked my way? Yes. Do I wish that I'd held back a bit and enjoyed my time with my friends, rather than looking for someone new for the night? Yeah, I do. 

After about a year of this, things slowed down a bit, mostly because I'd realised that from my first kiss (which ended up being with a girl) to finding photos of me hooking up with guys on my friends phone, this wasn't the life for me. I was burnt out. I was sick of it. I wanted something real, with someone that I actually liked. Cue my first ever boyfriend who was a total douche bag who just wanted one thing - and who got said thing. So much for finding some thing real with someone I liked huh? I lost my virginity to a dickhead who cared more about trying to put it in my bum than he did my feelings. And honestly, I knew he was shit. I don't know why I agreed to go out with him, I hated every minute. We only lasted a month (thank god and thank you friends who talked some sense to me) but I had lost my virginity to someone who really didn't care about me at all. 

And then, my life changed. I met Rob. After the second date, I told my Mum that if I accidentally got pregnant to him, I wouldn't even care because he was amazing and oh my god my life was amazing. What. A. Psycho. I had fallen for him hard, and luckily it seemed like he felt the same way. I realised that all those little crushes I had at high school weren't anything like this. I'd met someone who got me, despite us coming from very different backgrounds. Who loved sports and wanted to keep up with the latest trends, even though I was a creative through and through and didn't own one piece of branded clothing. Who was always spending time with his family of 90 while I had a small one of 5. Who knew that I was a dorky/wannabe indie kid who wouldn't stop talking but liked me regardless.

Initially, I was ashamed of my past. I feel like I had done stuff that made me less of a person for when I met Rob. I wished I hadn't lost my virginity. That I could have had my first time with him. I wished that I didn't need to be embarrassed everyone talked about "old Kate" and the things we did in town or at parties. I wanted to completely wipe the memory of that first "boyfriend."  I wanted to be my best for him, but I realise now that maybe I needed to do those things and have those memories so that when I finally met him - I'd be done. I'd be ready. I'd feel like I'd experienced enough so that I could give my full self to him without wondering what could've been. And let's be honest, I had obviously awakened sexually and WANTED to experience these things. Which is something I shouldn't be ashamed of. 

So anyway, at 19, I'd met the love of my life. The guy who would see me through the shittiest times. He decided to take a chance on me, despite us not really sounding like we'd work out on paper. And he was patient with me too. I made a lot of mistakes at the beginning and found it hard to transition from being this carefree single chick to someone in their first real relationship, but he let me figure it out.

He was there for me during the hardest part of my life. It’s crazy to think that the worst part was also the best, mostly because I had him. He held my hand when we found out that we might not be able to have kids. And through the years of waiting to hopefully have a baby through IVF. He could've left. I asked him over and over if he was sure he wanted to stay because I needed him to know that I understood. He'd come into my world that was all over the place, and being turned upside down constantly. I'm sure it wasn't really what he'd pictured when he imagined his future so I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd wanted out.

Luckily for me, he stayed. We had enough time together, without too much drama, to form a solid foundation that would stay strong throughout all the shit that was thrown at us. I know that I would've made it through alone, that I could've managed - but I'm glad I didn't have to. He's been my shoulder to cry on, my rock to lean on and the clown that keeps a smile on my face no matter what. Yeah, he's not perfect. He could do the dishes more and stop playing that stupid bloody Fortnite game (can I get an AMEN?!) but he's perfect for me. And I think, without the crazy, loose times, I wouldn't have appreciated him as much. I wouldn't know that, actually, this is what love is and this is what I want. So yeah.. While I wish I had lived those first years out of high school a little differently, ultimately I'm thankful that they gave me the confidence and experience (even sexually) to know that I was ready for a real love with Rob.

To be honest, I don't really know what this post is. I was just thinking about the whole IVF journey and how lucky I was to have a partner who not only understood, but stayed with me regardless of the fact that we might not have been successful. And it got me looking back at our whole relationship, and before that, to see how far I've come as a person. Also, I've realised that I need to enjoy the memories (regardless of how cringeworthy they were) and see them for what they were... An 18-19 year old who was discovering herself, her sexuality and ultimately just living life how she wanted to at the time. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Booking In To Make A Baby.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

In 2014 I found out something that completely flipped my world upside down. In 2015, my life changed again. Gone were the ideas of a natural conception, the "trying" to have a baby (ie. sex) and peeing on a stick to see those two lines appear. Instead, we were looking at a two year journey full of blood tests, things being poked up my vay jay jay, self injections and a whole lot of trying not to get our hopes up.

Our first appointment with Fertility Plus was 30th April 2014. It was just a sit down to discuss our options and find out how the whole process worked. We had to do some preliminary tests and there was correspondence with Australia so we knew it was going to take awhile before we'd actually get the IVF all rolling. A year later, the tests were all complete and we began to make a plan for how we were going to move forward. We were actually planning our wedding for later in 2015 and were on the waiting list so we were looking at probably getting started in 2016, once we came back from our honeymoon. It was a pretty crazy thing, to be planning our first baby before we had even gotten married (and at only 23 years old) but once we learned how long it can take and how uncertain it is to even be successful, we wanted to get started as soon as possible.

10th August 2016 was when we had our first IVF orientation appointment. During this, I mentioned how I hadn't had my period in nearly two years which led to more tests and finding out that I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This kinda threw another spanner in the works. Obviously, a lot of women have IVF because of fertility issues (often PCOS) so we were in the right place, but it complicated things a bit. It meant that when it came to the hormones they'd be giving me, they'd need to ensure the dose was just about perfect because if I was overstimulated, I could end up pretty sick and potentially in hospital. What we had thought was going to be kind of straight forward was getting a bit more complicated.

I really wish I had kept track of dates etc so I could really give you an idea of how long it took but I think I was just trying to go with whatever happened (and never really had any intention of sharing our journey) but I'll do my best! Basically, there are two kind of phases in IVF. The first is to get as many eggs as possible that will then be fertilised (hey Rob) and left to see how they progress and if they'll develop into a suitable embryo to then get put back in. The second is to create your cycle (or go off your natural one) to make sure that when they put the embryo back in, your body is in it's prime condition so they're successful.

The first stage sucked. It was definitely the most emotionally and physically draining. First off they get you on the contraception pill, to stop your body from ovulating. Then, it's all go and you start injecting yourself with hormones daily to kinda kick start everything and get your body creating as many eggs as possible. This is where I was at risk of OHSS so they had to make sure that I was feeling okay but also still going to produce enough eggs. Then, once your ovaries are the size of oranges (literally) and you feel like absolute shit, they book you in for your egg collection. Mine was on the 7th October, 2016.

I gowned up, had a bit of anaesthetic and rocked on into the operating room where they proceeded to collect the eggs.Actually, they suck them out. Seriously, they shove this syringe/needle thing into your vagina and suck the eggs off the wall of your fallopian tube. And I had 18 of them. Which is amazing (and a lot more than we thought), but I was in there for 45 minutes and it was awful. Whenever I'm stressed out I get the worst spasms in my bum (I think it's an IBS thing) - it literally feels like someone is stabbing me with a knife up the bum, and this happened the whole time. And for the next couple of days afterwards too. 

So anyway (enough about my bum) they sucked out the 18 eggs, Rob popped out of the room to collect his contribution (yaaaaassss) and we were good to go. They were going to be fertilising all of the eggs today and we'd find out tomorrow how many made it through the night. The next day, 14 of them had survived. We then had to wait until day 3 to find out how many had made it to the blastocyst stage and they called us to let us know we had 8 embryos. We actually couldn't believe it. Here we were, planning for the worst, hoping for the best and we had 8 embryos! It wasn't over though.. As I mentioned before we were in contact with Australia and there were still tests to be done so they were frozen and flown all the way there. From there, we had to wait two weeks to find out how many we would have. This was the hardest. So many ups and downs, waiting for phone calls and hoping that we'd at least get one! We got the call. Five. We had five embryos that were frozen and ready for whenever we wanted them. Insane.

No seriously. Rob and I had come to terms with the fact that we weren't going to have a baby. We knew that IVF wasn't a sure thing and because of these extra tests we had to do, we had a success rate of 30-35%. So we were realistic. We'd talked about it. We'd both agreed that we would try the two cycles that came funded but after that, we were just going to make the most of our lives and enjoy it. But here we were on the phone with our lovely nurse, finding out that we had five shots at a baby. Or even five babies (hahahahaha no). 

So now we just needed to decide when we wanted to put this baby in. Christmas was approaching and I had a trip planned for Australia in the new year so we thought it might be good to wait until then. And also, they needed to base the implant around my natural cycle so wanted to see if I would get my period by myself. That didn't actually end up happening so once I came back from Aus in February, we were back at Fertility Plus getting all the drugs I needed to get this cycle going. This time, it was just a matter of manufacturing my period so after a bit more experimenting with doses, I was ready to go and lying on another bed with my legs in the air - ready for a baby! Thankfully this time round was a lot easier so they basically just inserted the embryo into my uterus (we even got to watch the little air bubble) and from there it was really just a waiting game. 

That was the 20th March 2017. Seven weeks later, we went in for an early pregnancy scan. And there it was. Our little blip. This cute little button. Together, and with the magic of science, we had created a little babe and I was pregnant! Honestly, it was the dream result and one we did not expect at all. It was seriously the biggest emotional rollercoaster either of us had been on. So many ups and downs. What ifs and maybes. Re-evaluating our lives and plans "just in case." The injections, the drugs.. The hormones being pumped into my body.. Waiting for phone calls. Following strict schedules as to when to take this and what time I have to inject that. It was a massive journey, and one we are so thankful have made to the end and with such an incredible result. 

IVF can really be the most amazing or heartbreaking experience and I totally get why people keep it under wraps. We did. We went at it mostly alone. Having no idea whether we were going to have a positive or negative result, we only shared the journey with a few close friends and family because if it didn't work, we wanted to grieve by ourselves. It's hard enough processing your whole life not panning how how you planned without carrying everyone else's emotions too. We wanted to be able to just deal with it as we needed, and share the good or bad news when we were ready. 

And I guess we are ready. We were one of the few couples where it worked. Jackson is the sweetest little miracle baby and we are so thankful for him. It was the dream outcome, and the fact that we can potentially give him a little brother or sister is beyond anything we'd ever imagined. Because I hadn't really planned on sharing, I didn't do the best job of keeping track and it probably wasn't as in depth as it could've been, but it's probably an accurate representation of how it worked for us. Since finding out some shitty news in 2014/2015, we've learned to just go with the flow and to make the most of each day so we didn't dwell too much on the dates. On the doseages. We were just forever hopeful that it would all work out, and ready to get through it together if it didn't. 

So there it is. A kinda jumbled look into our whole baby making experience that didn't turn out as fun or spontaneous as we had imagined. But it did lead to little Jackson and perhaps, another Key baby later on.

PS. I know that I've mentioned a couple of times about this shitty news that led to IVF and us needing more tests than usual. Please don't ask me what that's about. I couldn't really leave it out, but I'm not quite ready to share... Probably one day. 
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