Parenting: The Dark Passage of Grace

I wrote this three years ago and shared it on the Kindred Community, as part of a series of posts celebrating the Sacred Family. I was looking for some of my writing on parenting and found this, realising I hadn’t put it on my blog. Three years later, here it is! Here are the thoughts on birthing and pain that I had before my third child was born.  And interestingly … about that comment I made about labour being a predictable pattern? Well it looks like you can’t even count on that … this child did not even allow me the time to indulge in labour. Hers was a cold birth.  …. I tell you she really did lead me down the dark passage of grace – and what a shining light she has become!

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I am preparing for the birth of our third baby … soon. Thoughts about preparing for this birth are never far from my mind at the moment. Reflections on my past two births are also coming up and thoughts about the pain of birthing are surfacing too. I was writing an email to a friend a while ago, who was asking for some resources that will help her prepare for the birth of her first child. After listing a few of the resources that helped me greatly in my previous two births, and in the recovery from my miscarriage in between – I then found myself writing on to address the issue of fear of pain in birth. I think I may have garbled on a bit as I tend to do, but one remark I made in my email brought tears to my own eyes: I said that although I will always have certain concerns and worries about birth they are nothing in comparison to my experiences as a parent. Labour is a breeze.

I don’t think anything really prepares you for parenting – and indeed it can be a shock for first time parents. But I think that is part of what birth IS – the process of birthing is preparation for what is yet to come … it is the birth of a new phase in your life, a new role, a new you. I would take labour over waiting in a hospital emergency room with a sick child any day. At least with labour you know what will happen, well, kind of, as labour almost always progresses to a certain pattern. With a child’s illness you do not have this certainty. There is nothing quite like the tension and anxiety of waiting to find out if your child is going to be ok – or if they will make it through the night without further complications. We had that frightening experience as new parents when we waited to find out if our baby would survive the night without severe brain damage, at the beginning of a sudden and very serious childhood illness. It wasn’t fair. Labour was a relaxing meditation in comparison to the pain of that experience.

The times I cried when learning to breastfeed, the times when I’ve stayed awake all night nursing my children through fevers, vomiting, asthma or nightmares, the times we’ve visited hospital for accidents and illnesses, the times I’ve been ill and have STILL had to be a responsible parent, the times when our children’s behaviour is just too intense and challenging and confusing, the time when we found out our son is deaf … each time we experienced something like this I distinctly remember this thought popping into my mind: I’d rather be in labour! Labour is easy compared to the torture of on-going sleep deprivation, the agony of listening to your child’s struggle for oxygen during an asthma attack!! It is easier than knowing that parenting goes on and keeps presenting you with new challenges and you just have to learn how to move through the moments of uncertainty so that you can get back to loving and savouring every second of the joyful ones, which are far more common, even if the effects of the painful ones are long-lasting and bitter-tasting. Bitter foods awaken and enliven our digestive system. Bitter experiences awaken our ability to digest our life experiences.

I am painting a grim picture of the experiences of parenting! Like labour, these things pass into memory and labour prepares us for this. I love being a parent. I love my family and the colourful life they present me with. They’ve taught me that downhill runs and plateaus are so much more enjoyable and satisfying because you’ve had to slog it up the steep hill in the first place. I am grateful that my experiences of birth and parenting have allowed me to know what it is like to confront the scary face of the unknown, and move through it, maybe not always with confidence, but with the idea that if you just keep moving forward one step at a time embracing the unknown, then whatever happens next is much easier to accept. You’ve done what you could to prepare. You’ve done what you can to heal the situation – and the rest you hand over to trust and faith. THAT is the hard bit.

To be honest, pain in childbirth is never what you think it will be; certainly not if you are prepared to accept that it is going to hurt, knowing WHY it hurts. It is different every time, and for different reasons. Pain in labour happens because your body is changing shape in a matter of hours to let your baby out – it is a GOOD thing! It is a great skill to know how to then transform that experience into a power you can use, and recall how pain teaches us something new about ourselves. I am much stronger for the experiences I have had, through labour and beyond, and it has opened up parts of me that I couldn’t have accessed before.

I posted a quote on my personal blog from Rumi a few weeks ago, on the topic of pain. He wasn’t referring specifically to childbirth I think, even though he uses it as a metaphor, but all the same I think it applies.

Every midwife knows that not until a mother’s womb softens from the pain of labour will a way unfold and the infant find that opening to be born. Oh friend! There is a treasure in your heart, it is heavy with child. Listen. All the awakened ones, like trusted midwives, are saying, ‘Welcome this pain! It opens the dark passage of Grace’.” – Rumi

I am looking forward to the growth I’ll surely experience after this coming labour. That isn’t to say I’m not wary of the pain!! Of course I am, that is human nature, but I know it will pass and I’ll be ok. I am looking forward to opening the dark passage of Grace.

Copyright Jennifer McCormack, May 2010

Lavendilly House: Celebrating sacredness and beauty in everyday life.

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Parenting: The Celebration of Transformation

060I was an early childhood teacher before I became a parent. It now seems like a previous existence! I entered family life with a background of theory about small children, years of classroom experience, and just a little knowledge about babies … and was to quickly find out that theory is all very well, classroom experience is only useful in the classroom, and the little I did know about babies still equated to knowing nothing at all. I will never forget the day our midwife made her last post-natal visit: I was gripped with fear and overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for this little tiny person my body had produced (what do you mean this is your last visit?) I just couldn’t fathom the idea that she thought we’d be fine. She smiled, and gave me a kiss … and left. I looked at our brand new son and thought that being a mummy is easier with the baby on the inside!

I was stunned at how much I had to learn – from scratch. Breastfeeding was harder than I thought it would be. Sleeping was a mystery. Teething was distressing. Fevers were frightening.  Food and decisions about health care were whole other issues!  I felt overwhelmed by all the advice that people shared with me, out of the goodness of their heart, and a little confused at the vast array of parenting styles and methods to choose from.

Despite feeling so unprepared, my husband and I still must have had some form of composure about us: our little guy was a ‘good’ baby who didn’t cry too much, a cute little thing who smiled at everyone and an inquisitive chap who was interested in everything (and therefore got up to quite a bit of mischief). The first year of his life was full of life lessons for all of us. It was wonderful and exhausting all at once. In reality we were as fine as any other new parents – stumbling along and finding our way in our re-defined relationship as a family of three. We had a go at every idea in the book (and devoured every book in the library), and then threw it all out the window and just went with what ‘worked’. We breastfed, didn’t use a dummy, co-slept, wore him in a sling. We used NVC and baby sign language. We used natural cloth nappies, and had a go at Elimination Communication. We did baby-led weaning and fed him only home-cooked meals.

Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. Our son knew what he wanted, we knew what we wanted, and it took some experimentation and some occasional compromising from each of us, to find a happy medium.

I have often marvelled at the bravery of the first child for being the ‘guinea pig’. They open wide the doors of parenthood and thrust us through them, willing or not! They are the trailblazers who will grow up and move on to the next developmental challenge before we feel that we have really mastered the last one. They test our patience, our creativity, our energy levels, our values and our relationships. They make us wake up to ourselves! I have found that parenting has been the single most effective way to learn how to listen to my own ‘truth’. I have learned more about myself on this journey than any amount of personal development I may have done before my first birth!

I have my favourite parenting books, and my favourite parenting ‘experts’ but I do not rely on them for all the answers. Since becoming a parent, I now interact with families socially through playgroups, mothers groups and women’s groups. I have shared my experiences and learned from my friends as they travel their own parenting journeys beside me. I have learned enough to believe that nobody can claim to have all the answers, because we only know for sure about our own experience with our own families, and all the rest is theory until it ‘clicks’ with you. I am inspired and interested in finding out more about what will enhance my understanding of my children, and thus our family life. It is exciting when we become our own teachers, and are forgiving of our mistakes.

Parenting has empowered me as a woman, a mother, a wife and a teacher, and I have learned that:

– parenting involves acknowledgement of the value of pain as a teacher (frustration, tiredness, disappointment and worry!),

– whichever way we parent it needs to come from the place of our own truth and intuition,

– parenting is a journey of discovery and learning, but is most inspiring when we keep looking and keep learning, rather than searching for THE answer, and

– for parenting to ‘improve’, it should be regarded as a sacred celebration of transformation.

We can get bogged down in the day-to-day elements of parenting and family life. I have found in my journey that the thing that keeps me going is to celebrate (daily) the sacred, the beautiful, the funny, the quirky, and the clever, but also to not overlook the ugly, the scary, the annoying, the angry and the frustrating. All these moments cycle in and out of focus but are ever-present in our parenting.

Written by and Copyright to Jennifer McCormack, May 2010

First published by Kindred at www.kindredcommunity.com

Please do not reproduce without my permission

Birth: The Birth Dance

mother and child

The Birth Dance

written by Jennifer McCormack, 2007

The sun and the moon, the planets and stars all heard your angel call.

They sung you a bridge, that you may dance to earth from your celestial hall.

Your father and mother heard your life song and prepared a heavenly home on earth.

A soft loving space to experience the world until you are ready to birth.

Your heart and your mother’s, your blood and hers, carry the beat of your song.

Together you move and dance to the rhythm – you dance and so you grow strong.

When you and your father and mother are ready to embrace one another in love,

the sun, moon, planets and stars dance joyfully from above.

The tune of your song plays loud in your ears, your mother moves in anticipation –

and when you dance your way into her arms, the whole world bursts with celebration!

All of your family has heard your life song and they’ve sung together for ten moons.

May you always dance to your own special tune, that is our wish for you.

My Book: A Mother Blessed

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I’ve been wanting to do this for years and years! Ever since my first baby turned one, and I wrote a poem for him that my friends turned into a song – and my good friend Deirdrie Cullen took such touching and breathtaking photographs – I’ve been wanting to combine my writing and the photos into a book that celebrates birth.

I’ve had some fun playing with Blurb.com to put the book together. There are a few photo-book programs available now and I have found it MUCH better than scrapbooking! All the photos of my family are going in to photo-books now. You receive a professionally bound book and it feels so awesome to hold this in your hands and know that you created this wonderful thing. I took photos of a book that my son and his school friend made together and turned that into a book for them too. Published authors at 8 years of age! He was so proud of himself.

This book, “A Mother Blessed” contains a collection of my poetry about birth, put together with some amazing photos and images of my fibre art. You’ll have seen some of it here on this blog over the years. I think my favourite one so far is “The Wise One”. There is also (of course) “A Mother Blessed”, a poem about a birth that didn’t go the way I thought it would. The whole experience of birth, mothering and watching my children grow has been very humbling and this book is an expression of that experience.

I am so grateful to everyone who gave me information and support along the way, to help me birth well – no matter how the birth evolved in the end. So grateful that I will donate 100% of the sales from this book to Homebirth Queensland until Christmas time. It is truly a lovely gift for any mother, and if you know someone who is birthing soon, or who is still in the midst of wonder in this experience (as I am still -eight years later!) you may like to share this book with them. You can view a preview of the book, and purchase it here at this link: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3719062. The book is available for sale as a pdf, softcover and hardcover so there are a few available options there. Please share, and help an organisation that supports so many women to birth with wisdom and support.

Dr Suess for Nursing Mothers

I couldn’t resist posting this – it made me laugh so much. I do not know who the author is (I don’t for a minute think it is Dr Seuss!) but I found it at this blog: NatureMom’s Blog

 

Dr. Seuss for Nursing Moms

Would you nurse her in the park?
Would you nurse him in the dark?
Would you nurse him with a Boppy?
And when your boobs are feeling floppy?

I would nurse him in the park,
I would nurse her in the dark.
I’d nurse with or without a Boppy.
Floppy boobs will never stop me.

Can you nurse with your seat belt on?
Can you nurse from dusk till dawn?
Though she may pinch me, bite me, pull,
I will nurse her `till she’s full!

Can you nurse and make some soup?
Can you nurse and feed the group?
It makes her healthy strong and smart,
Mommy’s milk is the best start!

Would you nurse him at the game?
Would you nurse her in the rain?
In front of those who dare complain?
I would nurse him at the game.
I would nurse her in the rain.

As for those who protest lactation,
I have the perfect explanation.
Mommy’s milk is tailor made
It’s the perfect food, you need no aid.

Some may scoff and some may wriggle,
Avert their eyes or even giggle.
To those who can be cruel and rude,
Remind them breast’s the perfect food!

I would never scoff or giggle,
Roll my eyes or even wiggle!
I would not be so crass or crude,
I KNOW that this milk’s the perfect food!

We make the amount we need
The perfect temp for every feed.
There’s no compare to milk from breast-
The perfect food, above the rest.

Those sweet nursing smiles are oh so sweet,
Mommy’s milk is such a treat.
Human milk just can’t be beat.

I will nurse, in any case,
On the street or in your face.
I will not let my baby cry,
I’ll meet her needs, I’ll always try.
It’s not about what’s good for you,
It’s best for babies, through and through.

I will nurse her in my home,
I will nurse her when I roam.
Leave me be lads and ma’am.
I will nurse her, Mom I am.

 

The life line

We have been well taken care of on this babymoon – friends and family are bringing us meals, taking Kaelan to school, coming to help clean, offering to help us pack up our house when we move. It is a bit overwhelming at times to feel so loved and it is wonderful to feel like such a special part of my community. I am up and about now and able to cook, but am still grateful for the meals that continue to be offered from friends because it is helping me transition back into normal life. If it wasn’t for Amber’s pie last night the family would have gone hungry because I was so pooped from holding an upset baby yesterday that thinking about dinner was too much.

One of my favourite blogs, the Holy Rover described the offer of meatloaf and pickled beets as a lifeline, and I agree. While my inclination is to say, no thank you we don’t need a meal, I am resisting the urge to be proud and accepting all the bountiful blessings coming our way. Thank you everyone, it has made such a difference to us.

If ever one of your friends is unwell, unhappy, exhausted, or has been away on a long holiday, please drop around with a nurturing meal, some groceries, offer to take the children for a play, to do a load of washing or push the broom around for a while …. It isn’t the offer so much that is the important part, it is the gesture of love, and it is one that will come back to you. I have felt wrapped up in a big community blanket of love and I am sincerely grateful for everyone’s support.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week

It is a bit late … World Breastfeeding Week was last week and I meant to post about it, but I was busy … breastfeeding.

I’m three weeks into my third round of breastfeeding now, and going well. The first time I began breastfeeding I was quite shocked at how difficult and painful it could be! Nobody ever told me this!! I knew how important it was for newborns to receive mother’s milk, and there was no question of me not starting the breastfeeding. I would look at my breastfeeding friends and other mothers in my community and see their features soften as they fed their bubbas, and I would think, “that is something that looks special. It must feel so special,” and when my turn came – it wasn’t.

It was painful. Someone told me that a suckling newborn felt like the suckers of a little baby octopus … whatever that felt like … but when my turn came I felt like if I wanted the breastfeeding experience I could just go and connect the end of the vacuum cleaner to my nipples and turn it on. Baby octopus suckers! There is nothing that sucks as hard as a baby who desperately wants some milk!

I’m not sure where the problem lay with breastfeeding Kaelan … I received lots of different advice from the nurses and I had the traditional initiation into breastfeeding from nurses who would pinch my breast and wipe it all over Kaelan’s face until he latched on. At the time it didn’t feel right, but you’ve got to trust the nurses – don’t you? Then I went to the breastfeeding class in the hospital and they said to do it like this, and then once I was home my midwife said to do it like this … in the end I was confused and was trying to feed Kaelan bloody milk through cracked nipples. I would anticipate every feed with fear and I am sure he did too. Every feed was agony for about three weeks, and then with the help of my midwife and the ABA helpline, the next three weeks saw us through with healed nipples, and less (but still very present) pain, and the following three weeks I actually began to relax and enjoy the experience. All credit to my midwife who kept me going. I can understand how easy it is to make the decision to bottle feed. I was committed to breastfeeding because I knew it was the best thing, and I was suspicious of formula, but nobody ever told me how difficult it could be.

In the end I quite enjoyed breastfeeding – no more gripping my baby so hard during feeds that I would leave fingerprints on him – no, I started settling in and loving the snuggle time with my bub. Thank goodness we did breastfeed because introducing food to Kaelan was challenging, and after a series of dreadful illnesses we were relying on the breastfeeding to keep him going between his meagre meals. Not wanting to sound too melodromatic, I am sure it saved his life at one point. I fed Kaelan for 2 years, until I went away for a week to a conference and when I came home, he had just forgotten how to do it!

When Rosella was born she latched on by herself beautifully, within minutes of being born. It didn’t hurt, it felt wonderful that it could be so easy!! Hallelujah!! But, ah, once my milk came in … that bounteous fountain of free-flowing liquid gold, it became clear that something was up. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt! It hurt worse than Kaelan, and very soon there I was again with cracked nipples, bloody milk and on the brink of mastitis. I would start crying an hour before each feed and begged my midwife to let me feed her expressed milk in a bottle. I just wasn’t going to settle for the pain again. Credit, here, goes again to my midwife who spotted that Rosella had quite a tongue tie, which was causing her to suck harder in order to get enough milk, thus trashing my nipples. One little snip of that little bit of sinew anchoring her tongue to the bottom of her mouth and almost instantly things improved! Within two weeks of her birth we were feeding happily, if not a little sloppily… I am a milk machine…

And now with Linden, you know the story already … a little tiny tongue tie, a little snip, no more pain, baby led attachment … all is good. The milk machine is back in business. I am already used to sleeping on damp sheets, and smelling a bit like a dairy. Milk, anyone? Plenty here!

Breastfeeding is a different experience for every woman. I am glad that I persevered because I’ve seen the benefits. I have also seen many challenges that have arisen from things that the nurses don’t talk about. I am not a breastfeeding counselor (although I think I’d like to be one day), but I will share with you what I’ve learned in my experience. If you read this and you are a counselor please tell me if I am on the right track. I know it FEELS right for me!

Attachment – Nurses are big on correct attachment, and that would be great if they could get together and give consistent assistance to every woman. There is also a manner of sharing advice that is important. I’ve written about my experience with two different lactation consultants. If I was a first time mother that first consultant I saw was not making breastfeeding look like a do-able thing for me. Without the correct support it is easy to give up. With both Rosella and Linden I have gone with baby-led attachment – which basically involves letting baby bob around as soon as possible after birth until they attach by themselves. If they can do it themselves, they generally do it right! First time and each time afterwards. Sooo much less fuss! I am sure your ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) counsellor could tell you more about this.

Four-hourly feeds is rubbish Imagine coming from the womb when you were fed continuously through the umbilical cord. Being hungry is a new sensation! Without continual feeding, the baby is learning what hunger feels like – and they are not used to waiting for food! Four hours is a long wait for someone with a tiny tummy. Feed your baby when they are hungry. That is all I am going to say.

Foremilk and Hindmilk – Did you know your body changes the composition of your milk as baby grows? At each and every stage your body makes milk that perfectly supports the particular growing needs of you baby at their level of development. Amazing isn’t it? Blows my mind how clever our bodies are, all by themselves. Our milk also changes during each feed. The first milk that comes out is the foremilk, which is high in sugar. My guess is that this milk satiates the desire for milk and corrects baby’s blood-sugar levels. Then after this milk comes the hindmilk, and this stuff is full of life-giving fat. MM-mmm – I know when Linden has hit this good stuff because she settles in for long slow sucking and she relaxes totally. Milk also contains a natural sedative – yes it does! One that works for mumma and baby, and I guess when we get good breastfeeding going accessing this hormonal hit helps the bonding experience between mumma and baby, thus prolonging breastfeeding. I just love how clever that is.

The thing is, because every woman is made different, how this milk comes out is different too. Because every woman is different, not all advice fits for each person. Many women feed on both breasts for each feed, but I can’t do that. There has been a bit of experimenting with Linden: because I make so much milk it takes a few feeds for her to get through the foremilk. If I keep swapping breasts frequently, then all she gets is the foremilk, which means that her little tiny tummy has to process a lot of sugary milk, which gives her a sore tummy, lots of gas and green poos. So for me, I can spend just about all day feeding just from one breast to make sure she is getting down to the fatty hindmilk at the end. During this time, the other breast is filling up, getting ready for night duty. Around early morning and late afternoon I can tell you that I feel quite lop-sided!

Diet – The foods and drinks you consume move chemically into your milk. I am on a GREAT diet! I don’t drink caffeine, I don’t eat much sugar, I avoid all processed food and artificial additives, I haven’t been indulging in chocolate, chilli or curry. I’ve been pretty good and kept to my gluten, soy, nightshade and (cow) dairy-free diet, and yet at the moment I am still convinced that there is something in my diet that is affecting Linden. She has been crying during and after every feed for days, has a rash on her face and I can hear how upset her belly is. I’m in the process of working out what is going on there, but I am convinced it is food related. If I didn’t know about how food can affect babies I could put her upset down to colic and probably feed her some awful thing from the chemist instead. Or worse, I could declare that breastfeeding isn’t working for her, and quit. Lucky Linden.

I am also hungry! All the time! I am craving fats and carbohydrates and sugar and protein and … well … everything really! I eat all day long and get most upset if we have run out of food again. I am going through eggs and bacon like I never have before. With both Kaelan and Rosella I lost A LOT of weight while breastfeeding. I didn’t notice because I was still eating well and felt great, but other people noticed and commented on how skinny I was, and indeed I came across some photos of me during those days and I’m just skin and bone … so this time I am conscious of eating food that is going to allow me to absorb the most nutrients as possible: bone broths, saturated fats, proteins, soaked grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, soaked pulses, nuts and seeds … yum. This is the fun bit for me 🙂

Water The other thing to be conscious of is how breastfeeding affects the mother. My lips are so dry they are cracking. I’m not drinking enough water. If ever you see a breastfeeding mother, offer her a drink of water! And when she has finished that, refill her glass.

Energy Levels and Hormones – Breastfeeding is tiring. Making milk and feeding a baby from your own body IS WORK. It is. It takes all day to do, it takes a lot of energy to make milk, and it effects our emotional energy too. It is so important to recognise and respect this, and make sure your family does too, particularly your partner. It so helps to have an understanding partner because more likely than not your baby will want to feed at high-energy times of the day like meal times and bed times – times when it isn’t so convenient to sit on the couch for an hour with a suckling infant! But that is the way it is. The whole family needs to support each other at these times, and it may be that a little fore-planning helps too. Make dinner in the morning and then it is done so that when baby demands that hour-long feed at 5pm you can relax and enjoy.

Feeding baby to sleep – The jury is out with this one. I am not giving advice here. It didn’t work for Kaelan, but it did for Rosella (mostly). There were times when I would have to change habits and encourage my babies to go to sleep by themselves, and other times when feeding to sleep was ok. For now with Linden, feeding to sleep is working for her, but she also tends to unlatch of her own accord before she drops off. Do what you need to do, and don’t be afraid to change and try something new if it isn’t working for you. Ask for help from the ABA if you need to.

I’m loving breastfeeding again. This time Linden and I are working intuitively with each other, but I am grateful for the support of my midwife and community (again!) …

Cold Birth: Reclaiming my labour

Oh yes! This is another 2:00 AM missive from Lavendilly House, and this time I am being kept company by a tiny little girl who should be asleep  … as should I … so we are wrapped in a dressing gown and I am typing with one hand, very slowly.

We really have been blessed with a rather divine little person in baby Linden. Well, partly blessed because all newborns are a blessing, and partly she is so divine because we have allowed it to happen. That is something I am proud of. All our choices during pregnancy, birth and post partum have given her the best transition into this world that we could provide, under the circumstances, and she is happily basking (and growing!) in the glow of pure love and admiration from the whole family and community. Similarly, our whole family has been receiving love and support from everywhere: offers of meals, groceries, gifts of baby things and loaned family heirlooms, offers to help clean, do school pick-ups, keep me company … the meals we have enjoyed thoroughly, and I am hoping the other offers will still be around after David goes back to work in a week’s time … that is when I’ll need them most.

For now I am cocooned in my bedroom, cradled in the support of my husband, who is really taking care of me. However I am also sore, my wound is swollen, I’m bored and frustrated that I can’t participate actively in our family life. I am not used to lying still and doing nothing, and I am starting to succumb to my emotions.

An emotional abyss can be a deep one. I can certainly see how easy it is for people who are at their emotional end to just make the decision to let go and keep falling. AH! I know you must all be thinking this sounds rather unusual of me – having such sad thoughts. Well I am in a bit of a post-birth hormonal soup right now, that is one thing, and then the healing from my caesarean is another – plus the adjustment into life with a newborn and two other young children each at their own distinct stage of development,  AND now I am beginning to grieve for my lost labour too … and with nothing else to do except lay in bed and think about things that I’d rather be doing if I were not laying in bed, it is hardly surprising that I am indulging in a bit of sadness.

I have had three different births now: a long labour (transfer to hospital and caesarean), a short labour (natural home birth) and NO LABOUR (transfer to hospital and caesarean). A caesarean without labour is a cold birth. I never realised until it happened to me, that this is the case. Rosella’s birth totally opened my whole being to the immense power behind the experience of birth. Sure it hurt like hell and frightened me into insanity, but I did it. I did it by myself and it was a rush that still stays with me. After such a birth the feelings of hurt melt away in the rush, and sanity doesn’t seem important when you are high on happy hormones. I am so glad that I have had that experience.

Even after Kaelan’s birth, one that ended in a way I hadn’t planned for, I was not upset by the caesarean, in fact on the whole it was quite a good experience, and I healed remarkably quickly, both physically and emotionally. I actually felt no pain at all after the surgery. Really! Nothing. I went home the next day, rested for two weeks and resumed life the week after. I am sure that the experience of labour, during which those healing hormones were activated, had a lot to do with it.

This time, however, I am taking longer to heal.

I know, I know! It has only been two weeks. Yes! I also know things are different now that I also have an active family with two other little ones … but it is more than that. It has been super bizarre, very surreal to just be wheeled into theatre, take the needles, be unzipped, then have my baby handed to me and zipped back up again like this sort of thing happens to me every day.

It happened the way it needed to happened, and I wouldn’t change it because this is Linden’s journey too, but I can’t seem to move past it. It will sound strange to those who have not had a baby, or who did not experience a wonderful birth, but I was really looking forward to going into labour!! I was a self-professed birthing junkie (something I think I am cured of now!) and I really was ready to leap into the arms of the Great Mother and let her carry me through to my next transformation as a mother-of-three.

When I recorded Kaelan and Rosella’s birth stories I wrote:

Every birth changes you: Kaelan’s brought me down to earth and into reality. His birth and the subsequent years of infancy taught me faith and strength and endurance. These were qualities I needed for Rosella’s birth, which sent me forth as warrior maiden. Through both I have learned about how to trust, but that seems like a life-long lesson that I need to learn again and again, although I am improving! I wonder what quality my third birth will give me?

I am not sure yet what qualities Linden’s birth has given me, but I think that is the key to this: labour is the transition from one life to a new one. By participating in the transition you are rewarded with a gift that will help you unfold in your new life – however by not participating in labour I feel like I have received a present in the post: one that I did nothing to earn and one that customs had already unwrapped before they gave it to me. Definitely I am delighted! What a surprise! But I was looking forward to doing the unwrapping and discovering myself.

So this is where I am at with my thoughts about birth right now: when I mentioned in an earlier post that I would have more processing to do, this is the start of it, and while I am bored with having to rest to heal, and frustrated with not being able to participate in family life, I am very aware that this time has been given to me to help me make this transition. I am having my labour NOW, because this is HARD! I think it is much easier to get labour over and done with BEFORE the baby arrives!!

And now, having sifted through my thoughts, and arriving at something that pleases me, I have a little one who thinks she is hungry again (she couldn’t be!). I feel much better now that I’ve realised I’m still in transition … I’ll come back to these thoughts later.

Moment of Birth

Again the sweet, life-giving pain

sweeps over me.

Like waves upon a shore,

surging,

receding,

it fades … and then envelops me once more.

And in between its fierceness and its fire

a great and tired peace.

The pulse of life within me

beats triumphantly.

Statistics say

a child is born each moment of the day.

Confronted by this thought,

my consciousness

shrinks,

This wave, this pain, is not just mine alone.

I am no shore …

I am but one of many grains of sand

sharing a common wave.

Multiplied a million times, I become

insignificant.

And yet,

the moment that my child was born

I was no more a tiny grain of sand.

It seemed in all the world

I stood alone.

And God reached down and touched me with His hand.

Written by Charmaine Solomon, from “Love and a Wooden Spoon”

(I wish I had written it!)

My favourite newborn nappy fold

I learned this fold when Kaelan was a baby – it uses no pins! I loved it and it is perfect for the soft muslin nappies that I like to use when my babies are so tiny. This fold is not so good when bubba starts moving around a bit more, but I’ll show you my favourite fold for that stage too 🙂

First, fold your nappy into a triangle. My nappies are quite large so I fold them in half like a triangle, and then fold the corners over again to double the thickness and make it smaller. Arrange the nappy so that the middle points towards you.

Next, fold the top down. This will create a flap that will hold the ends of the nappy in at the back. I like a big flap, David makes his a bit thinner.

Turn the nappy over so the fold is underneath.

Now, find a gorgeous little newborn who needs a clean nappy and place on top.

Fold the middle point up between baby’s legs.

Then take one end and fold it between baby’s legs, and under the bottom on the opposite side. Tuck under the flap.

Do the same on the other side.

It should look like this at the back:

Then top it all off with a pair of home-made woollen soakers that have been lanolised. The lanolin helps the wool to absorb moisture, but keep the pants dry at the same time.

Do you like her flares?