My Heart, Your Home: September 2013   

Saturday, 28 September 2013

You are SIX months old



You are six months and eight days old, to be exact, and I have been wanting to write this post for days and days. But each time I sit down to write I just cant seem to find the words to summarise the last six months of my life, the first six months of yours. Mostly I just want to say I'm sorry.

Sorry that you had such an unkind welcome into the world, sorry that it took me so long to work out that something was a little off. Sorry if I didn't fight hard enough for you. Sorry that you were in pain. Sorry that I fed you for so long, unawares that my milk was, in fact, not the best option for you. Sorry that I haven't been able to offer you the very best version. Sorry that our first six months together has been... misunderstood. 

I want you to know that I fell in love with you before I even knew you were growing within me. I continued to fall in love with you every single day of our growth together. Our hearts beating in unison, our bodies growing around and within each other. I bonded with you while we laboured together and once you were finally in my arms, I knew that you and I were going to create something beautiful together. I have loved you every day since.

I dont remember much about our last 6 months together, but I do know that there hasn't been a day where I haven't been completely and totally devoted to you. I have watched you grow from being completely dependant on me, to being a small baby who is desperately trying to become a big girl like her older sister. I have watched you learn to sit, learn to eat, learn to sleep and survive reflux.

In the last month, you and I learnt that breastfeeding was no longer an option for you. Once you were on formula your entire personality changed. There were no more screaming matches for hours upon hours. You began to sleep longer at night. You smiled more and laughed harder. Your eyes were brighter and we were connecting on a new level. As a result we then decided to no longer medicate you, in that decision we have seen even more improvements and I now have a baby who is happy.

These six months have been long and hard, on you and on me. I feel like I am almost grieving this time as we were both living in such a haze that I don't feel like we were allowed the time to enjoy each other. I miss your newborn, your smell, your tiny body. But I look forward to growing and learning with you. I will make the most of your next 6 months and I promise to give you every thing I have.

I love you, my darling Zalia Sky. You are strong and wild, you test me and challenge me, but you melt me. You mean the world to me, and to our family and we have loved getting to know you.

Love Always,
Your Mumma 
xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

I am...



This is a reveal; an honest expose on who and where I am.

I am a 26 year old girl, who has an incredibly hard time accepting that I am, in fact, a 26 year old woman. In my mind I am still 23 years old and living a carefree, responsible-less life. When I think about the life I lead now it feels completely surreal. Like I am looking at my life happen before me. Watching on in wonder. My life is beautiful and wonderful, I am completely blessed and fulfilled, but I often feel detached. 

In my past life I have experienced many incredible things, and many damaging. I have fought to survive and I have come out the other side, always with a smile on my face. I am a survivor, I have survived great love and great loss. I have been mistreated, disrespected and discarded by my closest girl friend, time after and time. I felt rejected by family, a disappointment, an outcast. I have experienced tender care, and survived violent abuse. 

I have felt judged, criticised and un-liked for the majority of my life and as a result began to invert into myself. I had become accustomed to having people walk away from me, only talking to me when they needed something or when all their better options had run out. I allowed people, for years, to walk in and out of my life when it appeased them. Now, I put my effort into those who choose to put effort into me and am shocked every time when some one chooses to be my friend. Today, I have many great and wonderful girlfriends whom I cherish and love and adore more than they could possibly ever understand. Each time I walk away from seeing one of these girls I go home beaming, amazed that these beautiful girls are in my life.

My parents divorced when I was young. Both went on to marry new partners and both went on to lose those partners to cancer. This is not my story to tell, yet it has effected me in ways that I actually cannot begin to articulate. I don't feel like I am entitled to own any feelings when it comes to the loss of these people, yet I have many of them. I feel anger and sadness. I feel regret and I feel disappointment. But mostly I just feel like there is something missing. I have watched many people I love lose someone important to them and watching these people suffer has been impossibly hard. I have lived a life where I just want to help the people I love to not hurt anymore, but I cant do that. I always let them down, let myself down. 

Throughout my life I have loved many boys. Some of them have been kind and gentle, others have been disrespectful and reckless. One was emotionally abusive and irrationally controlling. I will forever love all of them, for each one of them taught me lessons. Lessons about boys, about love, about myself. But most importantly, each one of them taught me that they were just a moment in my life, a moment that was to come and go. They taught me that they were not for me and to wait for the one who is. Each one of them walked me along the path to find my one true love - Anthony.  

I am an awful housewife, choosing to sit on the floor amongst the mess and play and talk to my Daughter's. I chose to walk out the front door, closing it on that mess, and take an adventure in the big wide world. I feel guilty each and every time Anthony walks through the day and I have not cleaned the house, yet he would never say a single word. He is patient and understanding, supportive and kind. I feel like I let him down, daily. 

I have had trouble, for years, to feel. I suffer terrible panic attacks, often curled up on the bathroom floor unable to breathe and truly believing I am having a heart attack. I have suffered these attacks in silence. Until very recently, I have not said these words aloud to the people in my life. Why? Because I have never felt like I am entitled to feel. Because I have always believed I have had to be strong. Because I was embarrassed and ashamed. But, only weeks ago, I said aloud to Anthony; I think I may need help. 

Since saying those words aloud to him I have felt liberated and free. Free of the guilt, liberated from the blurred emotions. I have been getting help for the last few weeks and intend to continue for the weeks to come. 

I am a 26 year old woman who has had neither a hard or an easy life. I am a Mother to two children who I love dearly. I am in a loving and strong relationship. I have family. I have friends. Yet I suffer from depression, anxiety, major self esteem and am on the verge of a nervous break down. 

I struggled to hear these things about myself, for many reasons. Mostly I struggled because I do not feel like I should be struggling. I have never felt entitled to feel negatively about my life. I have talked myself out of grieving. Talked myself out of accepting that bad things have happened. Then when good things happened, I was still numb and so the cycle begun. 

Why I am I telling you all of this? I guess because I feel like I need to say it out loud to someone and I am not brave enough to say it to the people in my life. I guess because I feel like if I actually talk about it, some where, that it may help me to accept that I need to break down the facade I have learnt to put up. I know that my posts over the past few months have probably implied that I am suffering depression, but up until my first session, I had not been diagnosed and I was not truly aware. I struggle knowing that I am suffering when my life is full of such beauty and happiness. I feel hypocritical to be so happy, but to feel so numb. 

I am strong, I am a fighter. I have fought to survive some brutal things throughout my life and it is time for me to start owning my feelings, it is time for me to survive. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Whoa Mumma! Slow down




I cant help but notice the pressure we put on ourselves as Mothers and, just as importantly, the pressure we put on our children. We are living in an age where parenting has become a competitive sport. Where children are the trophies. Where our children's abilities and achievements are compared. Where the speed at which our children are learning new skills, or not learning them, is critiqued. We compare, criticise, judge, yearn... better, bigger, bolder!

From the moment our children are born we are encouraged to visit the child health nurses with our little blue book which is full of milestones that children should be reaching by what age. If your child doesn't happen to tick off one of those marks in the allocated time then we are advised to worry, to try harder, to push harder, to obsess. Where nine times out of ten that child is perfectly fine and is just taking their time to concur such a huge achievement. 

We worry about why our children aren't speaking words, then when they are speaking words we worry about why they aren't speaking sentences. Then they speak sentences and we worry about why they cant count to twenty, why they don't know the difference between a square and a rectangle, why they cant sing the entire alphabet. We worry about our children not knowing everything they need to know before they start preschool. Then school. 

Ballet, netball, soccer, martial arts, swimming, music. One thing to the next, rush, quick children quick. We are running late. Running through life from one event to the next. One worry to another. One pressure, three pressures, eight pressures... explode. 

I remember a day where children were free to play without boundaries, without limitations. Where children were allowed their time. Where children were allowed the luxury to learn naturally, without pressure, without expectations and without fear of failing or disappointing. I remember a day where life was slow. 

I have seen these pressures and these expectations and I have found myself placing them upon my family. But today I am taking a stance. I choose to parent slow. To allow myself and my children the luxury of stopping to count the ants on the pathway. To say goodnight to the moon and all of the stars. To pick every single yellow weedy flower we see. To sing another song and read another story. I choose to walk slowly behind my Daughter and learn from her, from her enthusiasm for life and for the world around her. 

Rather than rush my Daughter's to their next activity, or carry them so that we can get there "really fast". I am taking the time to remind myself that my Daughters are only little for such a very short time. Do I want this time to be so full of activity's, of lessons and of expectations or do I want this time to be full of memories? 

I intend to fill their childhoods with water fights and bubbles in the back yard. I choose long, slow walks along the beach talking about the sun, the sand and the ocean. I hope for love and laughter, for cuddles and kisses. Rather than setting my children up to feel like they need to deliver on the pressures our world places on them, I believe in setting them up to choose and to deliver for themselves.

I will hold their hands, answers their questions and kiss all of their hurts. I will pick the flowers with them, I will stop and gaze at the clouds with them. I will take more time to just be with them and less time herding them. I will make more effort to sit and chat about the world and less time worrying about their milestones. More acceptance, less comparison. More love, less pressure.  

Today I choose to parent slowly, without boundaries and without limitation

Sunday, 15 September 2013

37/52




Evelyn: A girl of many colours
Zalia: Chubby cheeks waiting to be squished

                                                        


Monday, 9 September 2013

With eyes as blue as the ocean

Over the last couple of weeks I have been building a friendship with a girl that I grew up, side by side, with. We were never friends, but never not friends. We shared many of the same friends, our social circles crossing, but we don't share any memories together. I had an image of who I thought she was growing up, who our small town had created her to be, as she did me. But through talking, and reminiscing, and sharing, I have found that she is not at all as her reputation would have you believe. As I hope I am not.

We grew up in a small town with a passion to gossip. You could not sneeze without the entire town having heard about it through five different people. Tales of your adventures would often become misconstrued, misstated and misunderstood. Once one person disliked you, if they had the power, the popularity, they could have an entire crowd dislike you. Once you were disliked by the right (or the wrong) people, your life and your reputation would now be in jeopardy. Once you had a reputation, you could not shake it. 

I had a reputation. A bad one. But my reputation was created for me before I had even committed my crimes. I was known as a drug user, as a slut. Yet, I'd never even smoked a cigarette let alone touched any drugs. In actual fact, I didn't even know what any drugs looked like. I had only ever kissed a boy, then been too afraid to talk to him the next day. I was actually a prude, "frigid" if you will. 

I still remember my first kiss like it was yesterday. I remember my tummy being tied up in knots, the sweaty palms, the confusion, the fear. The people. Oh do I remember the people watching me, egging on this first kiss. The first kiss that I felt pushed into doing in the corner of the room at a "Say No' disco. With a boy whom I barely knew and a crowd watching on, laughing at me for keeping my eyes open, slapping that boy on the back, asking me how do I feel. I felt terrified and wanted to go home. 

After that first kiss my interest in boys grew. I was still terrified and still didn't know what I was doing, but I was interested. My reputation was created for me by my naivety and my trust and faith in a boy that I met on a beach. A boy who was nice to me and talked to me for hours upon hours. A boy who called me at my home and whom I called at his. My very first crush, which at the time I thought was so much more. I would dream about him and I would think about him daily. 

He and I were at separate schools, in separate towns, so he was able to spin whatever he pleased and I was so young and impressionable that I thought that he was truthful and trustworthy. That was until after the holidays, I changed schools from my school in taree to my local school, to his school. My very first day, as I walked out of my classroom and into the playground for lunch, the very first thing I saw was that boy sitting on a bench with his longterm girlfriend that I had no idea about. The girlfriend who he had told I was harassing him and who then proceeded to make my life a living hell. 

From that very moment, my reputation was built. I was a boyfriend stealing, slut. I hated that word. That word used to be hurled at me across the playground. It used to be screamed at me as my hair was pulled from my head. Or screamed down the stairs at me after she had attempted to push me down them. The people yelling that word at me grew daily. One girl, two girls, six girls, twenty. 

That one girl and her tormenting words still ring in the back of my mind every now and then. How quick she was to jump to conclusions, assumptions and how easy it was for her to hang that reputation upon my shoulders. Her actions caused my schooling career to be tainted by the titles she gave me. Groups of girls, girls upon girls, had decided before even knowing me that they did not like me. I felt very much alone through school. I had friends, sure. But I never felt like I quite belonged. I grew up to believe the things that were said about me, I began to live, in a sense, the way they told me I was living. 

Sharing old tales of life in Forster with this new friend, who was not a friend, has made me question what I always thought I knew about people. How easily we form an opinion on another based upon the stories we have been told. I wonder, had any of those girls given me half a chance, would they still have hated me so intensely? How easily we paint people with the same brush as their friends. I wonder, how differently my life would have been had I never of met that boy on the beach? Words have such power, they are dangerous. I wonder, does she remember the way she treated me? Does she know how she changed me?

Growing up with all that hated pointed toward me has affected my self image, made me care about how people see me, made me believe I am unlikeable. But this new friendship is helping me learn that perhaps I always had more to offer and that it was not me that was unlikeable. But, the girls who were throwing such hatred across the school yard. This new friend is helping me to see that, just as I may have misjudged her, then people may have misjudged me. 

I was just a young naive girl who trusted a handsome blonde headed boy, with a smile as sweet as the sun and eyes as blue as the ocean and in that... my life had changed. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Friday, 6 September 2013

35/52





Evelyn: Getting to know your way around a surf board, just like your Daddy
Zalia: my darling water baby




Welcome happy girl




Two days ago I hit an all time low, I sobbed to Anthony and told him that I am worried about myself. Two days ago I said some words out loud that totally shocked me, words that I was ashamed to say and yet, so very relieved to let out. Two days ago I admitted to my "real life" world that it is all getting too much and that I am not sure how many more days I can survive without walking away. Two days ago was one of the darkest, yet one of the lightest days of my entire Mothering journey.

Thankfully, on this particular day, we had a night in the city planned. We were due to see P!nk and spend a night away from the kids. By the time we were due to leave home, I really just did not want to go. I felt like disappearing beneath my covers, not to resurface for a good couple of days. But, I did go and I am so very thankful that I did!

Not only did I have an amazing night, enjoy a spectacular show and have a sleep-in, but I left Zalia behind with no expressed milk and therefore she spent 24 hours on formula. My night in the city turned out to be a true blessing. It refuelled me, gave me the strength to come home and fight another day, rested my weary mind and uplifted my spirits. I came home, ready to take on my screaming baby. But she is yet to scream. Last night, Anthony and I noticed just how happy she was and put it down to no breast milk. So, in that moment we decided to trial our theory and see if she remained happy today if I continued the formula. 

Yesterday as we sat down to lunch on Sydney's Harbour a couple walked in with their baby, who would have been the same age as Zalia. For a moment I seriously considered leaving, as I deal with a screaming child every day but this day was meant to be my day off. I quickly shut down those thoughts, as I knew as a Mum, that I would be heartbroken and feel horribly judged if someone did that to me. So I stayed and gritted my teeth in preparation. Only, that child never once screamed, he barely made a sound. I commented to Anthony about how unusual that is. 

Today, I have learnt that this young baby was not unusual, he was normal and now my Zalia seems to be normal too. I had become so accustomed to the constant screaming that I began to believe that this was how babies behave. I had stopped attending Evelyn's social events because it was too hard. I didn't go to the shops. I didn't go anywhere that anyone would hear me, where anyone would look at me. With those eyes full of pity, of judgement, of shame. Those eyes became unbearable and my broken spirit just could not take any more.

But today has been different. Today I don't feel like burying myself beneath the covers. Today I don't feel like walking out the door with out turning back. Today I feel light... and, should I dare say it, happy!

There has not been one single scream. There has not been a battle to sleep. There has been no tears. There has been no cranky baby. In her place, is this placid, happy and super content little girl who is almost unrecognisable to me. She has slept her morning nap. She played and danced through Evelyn's music class. She slept in the pram while her Sister and I went shopping. She didn't protest when being put into the car. She went to sleep in just seconds for her afternoon nap. She has smiled and laughed. She has played and talked. She is becoming the happy, beautiful little girl that I only saw mere glimpses of before today. 

I spoke to my Paediatrician and explained to her the situation and she was just so excited for me and by the end of that conversation I made the final decision to no longer breast feed my baby. It is far earlier than I had planned for, than I had hoped for. But, as I learnt while trying to breastfeed Evelyn, sometimes breast is just not the answer. I have successfully been able to breastfeed my baby for 5 and a half months. I have been able to breast feed when previously I could not. For 7 months of pregnancy I walked around with a suction cap on my nipple to break my physical hurdle and I did it. I fought for something that was extremely important and I have made myself so proud.

But, now it is time to say goodbye to breastfeeding and say hello to my beautiful, happy and content darling baby Zalia. Its time to say goodbye to feeding but hello to my happiness. I am sad to loose that intimacy and that connection but I am so excited about moving forward and being able to live our lives as a happy family of four. Rather than a broken one. I am so excited about no longer crumbling to pieces, no longer feeling like I am a failure and no longer feeling like I am letting my entire family down. 

This is the beginning of the rest of our lives!