Wednesday, October 9, 2013


This weekend we celebrated my smallest daughters first birthday. Amongst the cake, candles and some fabulous 60's Australiana decor (more on that later) there was also some reflecting and reminiscing over the fact that Paige is now a year old.

(All photos by the lovely Barbara Coombe)

The day your baby turns one is such a mix of emotions: relief - the sleep deprivation didn't actually kill me! Pride - I didn't drop the baby, forget the baby, sell the baby on e-bay - insert all the random ways you worry you could injure your child. Fear - if you're now that old, then how old am I getting? Also sadness. The sadness comes from the realisation that my baby's first year is over. She is on the cusp of leaving her babyhood behind her forever. It feels like each day I can practically see her limbs lengthening, her face maturing and her eyes growing more aware of the intricacies of the world around her.

Paige has been such a sweet, content and loving little baby that I feel an ache at the thought of her moving on from this stage. It makes me laugh when I remember that just over a year ago I was nervous about the effect that adding a second child to our family would have. Nervous about my sweet Paige? It seems so silly now. Paige is pure sunshine and light. She has deep rich chuckle and an eye crinkling grin. She is warm milky breath and soft skin, she is fat dimpled hands curled around my finger and silky soft baby hair. 

When you get lucky enough to have a baby like her, you celebrate the big milestones and celebrate we did. Saturday dawned sunny and bright and saw a large group of my family and friends gathered in a local bowling club for a sausage sizzle and some barefoot bowling. So wonderfully Australian it hurts! As was the decor:

 (Large Aboriginal painting in the Namatjira Lounge) 

When it came time for my sweet girl to blow out her single candle, the reason this gathering felt so poignant really struck me. There were about 40 loved ones standing in a group smiling at Paige and singing the happy birthday song to her. It bought a lump to my throat because, you see, while they may have thought that they were bellowing happy birthday, what they were really saying was "we are glad your baby is here", "we love her too", "we support your family" and "we like eating cake". All good, tugging at the heartstrings stuff, no? We are so lucky to have such a large, loving family surrounding us and I am so glad that Paige will grow up with her extended family all around her - cousins to run and play with, Aunties to bake her birthday cakes and sing songs into her ear that they used to sing into mine when I was as small as her, Uncles to throw her in the air and tell her 'remember when' family stories that never grow old and Grandparents to simply adore and spoil her. She is truly blessed.

(Thank you Christine for Paige's gorgeous cake!)

So the cake was eaten, the fairy bread was trodden into the carpet, loud sugar-induced tantrums were had and on the drive home I looked at both of my girls sleeping faces in the backseat. Yes, I'm sad to say goodbye to Paige's babyhood but knowing how much fun watching my first born baby turn into a little person has been, I have much more reason to look forward than to reflect on the past. (Besides, all that looking back was starting to give me a crick in the neck...)

Happy birthday, baby.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Birth of Paige

Knowing my beautiful Paige as I do now, my experience of being pregnant with her mirrors my experience thus far of parenting her. My pregnancy was quiet, easy and peaceful. So easy and comfortable for the first 6 months that, being me, I occasionally worried something was wrong. Where was the dreadful morning sickness? The exhaustion? The baby hiccoughing and twisting under my ribs 10 times a day? That wasn't Paige's style - she just calmly got on with the business of growing.

I was booked in to have a cesarean on Wednesday the 3rd October 2012. I spent the weeks leading up to it waiting to go into labour, certain that I wouldn't make it to October and still be pregnant. I had my hospital bag packed and Johnnie had the crib set up in our room from 33 weeks (we learnt our lesson from last time!) I spent the days leading up to my due date washing the little clothes, buying the few things I still needed and really enjoying the last days that Eve would be my only child. The day before I was booked in to have the baby I spent a few hours at the hospital filling out forms, having blood taken and (awkwardly) running around after Eve trying to keep her out of trouble. The hospital told me to be back there the next morning at 7am. 

That night after we put Eve to bed Johnnie and I sat up for a while and talked. We kept saying how strange it was knowing that in a few hours we would become a family of four. 

I woke up early the next morning and lay in the dim, pre-dawn light feeling my baby stretching and kicking - I put my hands on my stomach and whispered to my little one that I was going to meet them today and that I was so excited to see them. I told the baby not to be scared, that it had nothing to worry about. I would be waiting, ready to hold and love it the second it was born. 
Johnnie woke up and he and I got ready, moving softly in the quiet, still house. Thankfully Eve woke up just before we had to leave. I held her close and told her how much I loved her and that I would see her later that day and she would finally get to meet her little brother or sister.

It was a beautiful morning and as we drove to the hospital along the beach I was looking out at all the people sitting in cafes having breakfast thinking that it was strange and funny that for them it was just a normal day.

We arrived at the hospital and it was a nervous and jittery blur of (yet more) paperwork, stowing our bags away, changing into a gown, drinking some absolutely horrible liquid to stop nausea and then - waiting. Waiting and waiting. It was only an hour but Johnnie and I were alone in the room just waiting for them to come and take us down to the theatre and it felt like FOREVER.  I whiled away the time listening to the baby's  loud rhythmic heartbeat thudding out of the moniter. Johnnie tried to start a conversation with me a few times but I kept losing track of what he was saying and falling silent - too nervous and distracted to talk. Finally, finally the door opened and a man and a lovely nurse came in. I got on the bed, they put the sides up and started wheeling me through the labyrinth like corridors of the hospital. 

We went through to the operating suite and again I noticed straight away that it was very cold and had a sharp smell, like alcohol and medicine. I had to hunch over a cushion while they put the spinal in - it was more difficult this time, it took a lot longer to get in. They kept telling me to curl my spine over more which is almost impossible when you are hugely pregnant. They finally did it and had me lie down but it wasn't working properly - there was still a section of my stomach that I could feel. They tilted the bed and said they would give it 5 minutes to start working properly. I didn't ask them what would happen if the spinal didn't take properly because I knew - I would be given a general anesthetic and miss the birth of my baby. I spent the 5 minute wait staring up at the light above me pleading in my head for the medicine to do its job. They checked again and thank goodness I couldn't feel a thing. They led Johnnie into the room, put that high blue sheet up in front of me and said it was time to begin.

As they were operating the lovely surgeon asked us what we thought we were having - I said a boy and Johnnie said a girl. A few minutes later I felt some pushing and tugging and I knew this was it - my darling baby was about to be born. My heart started racing and my hands were shaking. All I could think was "come on little one, I want to see you and hold you so badly. Please be ok, come on." Another big tug and a beautiful, longed-for cry. I sobbed out "what do we have? What do we have?" The doctor said "You tell me!" He lifted my baby up, up over the curtain. I looked up and my heart just exploded with love. Paige Beatrice had arrived in our lives. That tiny, beautiful, cross little face - I felt like it was imprinted on my heart and in my soul  already. Johnnie whispered urgently "what do we have?" I choked out the words "it's a girl and she is so beautiful!"

After weighing and measuring and cleaning her they bought her back to me and lay her on my chest. She lay there so calmly, her soft skin against mine and I kissed her and whispered sweet words into her ear - all about how loved she was and how truly grateful we were to have her with us. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sweet Golden Days..

My daughter is growing up so fast. I know that is a commonplace statement but really, look at what has happened to my darling girl in just 18 short months -

From this:
To this:

It blows my mind.

My second child is due in just 9 weeks and the knowledge that Eve is soon to become a big sister is making me look at her with renewed eyes. She has gone from a wholly dependent little baby to a bright, funny little child running around our house.

I feel very aware at the moment that we are living in the 'before.' I have no idea what the 'after' is going to bring, and I am sure that soon enough I wont be able to imagine going back to being the parent of just one child, but for now, for now, it is oh so sweet.

My girl is so happy, so bright and bubbly and loved. Our days are easy and fun, our nights are filled with 12 hours of peaceful slumber, our mornings start with a giggly little girl running down the hallway to spend that quiet early morning hour being loved on by both her parents. She has all of our love, time and attention and so far it isn't spoiling her - quite the opposite, she is blooming like a flower being nourished under perfect conditions.

I know how blessed we are to be adding another baby to our family but it also feels daunting to change what is so good and working so well. I worry about how Eve will deal with the transition ahead. I'm also a little concerned about upsetting the balance we have now - currently we get lots of family time, some couple time and Johnnie and I also manage to get enough time to ourselves. I imagine that is going to become more difficult as we add another child to our family.

However, baby number 2 is on his or her way and we are just going to have to figure it all out and make it work. Eve has brought us so much joy that the thought of doubling that feels like the biggest blessing and gift.

I still have 8 or 9 weeks of this pregnancy to go but I have a feeling I may not get there - it feels like this baby may be planning to enter the world a little early, so we shall see. In the meantime I'm going to spend however long I have left before becoming a mother of two just loving on my first born girl.

It really isn't hard:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Birth Of Eve

17 months on and the details of the most memorable, life changing day I have ever lived through are starting to fade and blur at the edges. It's time to write the story of my daughters entry into the world, before she asks me questions one day that I can't remember the answers to.

My pregnancy was at times, difficult. I had horrible "morning" sickness for the first 14 weeks that saw me throwing up in different places all over Sydney. Outside restaurants, on the side of the road next to my car, outside my office building. My up close and personal viewing of various bushes and roadways of my suburb felt endless at times.

Once the nausea left, the tiredness kicked in. I thought it was just regular pregnancy tiredness at first but it got worse, and worse. Turns out my sweet little stowaway was sucking all the iron out of my body leaving me feeling as sprightly as an overcooked piece of spaghetti (which I couldn't eat. Or I would throw up.) This necessitated a course of iron injections, to be administered at my local hospital. For anyone lucky enough to have never been given an iron injection, let me tell you they are Not. Fun. A whole lot of not fun involving a very large needle inserted over your hip bone in an 'S' shape.

Despite all this, I loved being pregnant. Feeling the baby kicking and rolling around was like magic to me. The baby was due on the 28th January and I spent the lead up to Christmas dreaming of the following year when I would finally meet my little one. I had thought all the way through my pregnancy that I was having a boy. This held up until two days before Christmas when I had a dream and I saw myself having a baby girl. The doctor held her up in my dream and she had chubby little cheeks and frizzy black hair. From the moment I woke up that morning, I knew I was going to have a daughter.

27th December and I woke up at 35 weeks pregnant feeling huge and sore and cumbersome. I posted on Facebook that morning my intense shame that Johnnie had to do my shoes up for me, I just couldn't lean down far enough any more to get them done up myself. We spent the morning walking around our local shopping centre looking for a coffee machine to buy. I didn't enjoy being out in such a crowded place at all, I just felt a bit off and wanted to get home.

We arrived home at lunchtime and I had a nap and woke up feeling better, so we arranged to meet some friends for dinner that night. About halfway through our dinner I got what I thought was a very strong braxton hicks contraction. I turned to my cousin Georgia and said "wow that was weird, I just had a braxton hicks but it was really low down and felt like period pain." She got a funny look on her face and said something about not wanting to freak me out but that it sounded like the beginning of early labour. I shrugged it off, but when I felt it twice more in 10 minutes I started to get a little concerned. I told Johnnie that we had better go home and he asked if we could just stay till he had finished his dinner - after replying "no darling, let's go now" (or something slightly less polite than that) we headed home and I got in the bath to see if the contractions would stop. When they increased in both frequency and intensity we knew it was time to drive to the hospital.

The whole way there Johnnie kept up a running commentary about how I couldn't really be in labour, it was just a false alarm, we would be back home shortly etc etc. I was too busy gritting my teeth through the contractions to argue with him so once we arrived at the hospital and the nurse hooked me up to all the moniters and said "yes, you are definitely in labour, you wont be leaving here without a baby" his face went white and then slowly turned an interesting shade of green.

Because I was 35 weeks pregnant they decided to leave me in labour overnight to see if my contractions would stop on their own. They came into my room at 8am the next morning and still were  unsure about whether to perform the cesarean (I had to have one due to medical reasons) or leave me in labour for a while longer. They discussed it and told me they would come back at 11am and make the decision then. At this point, after having been in early labour for 13 hours with no sleep and repeatedly throwing up from the pain of the contractions I burst into tears and demanded that Johnnie call my Mum and have her come to the hospital now.

My Mum arrived, and so did the doctor at 11am. After examining me and confirming that my labour was progressing and not going to stop he said "right, lets prep you for surgery, I'll put your name down on the surgical teams list and you will have your baby in the next few hours." At 1:10pm two nurses came into my room and began wheeling me into surgery. On the way there they explained that as my baby was a little early there was a chance that it could have some troubles breathing and they would need to assess this straight after delivery. If the baby wasn't crying or its lungs sounded wet then they would have to take him or her straight down to the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) for some assistance.

We got to the doors of the operating theatre and they had Johnnie kiss me goodbye, he had to wait there until my spinal block was administered and they came to bring him back in. They wheeled me in through the doors and I noticed straight away that the room was very cold and smelt like antiseptic. They transferred me to the operating table and had me sit up to administer the spinal. I was really nervous about this part and began shaking. I hardly felt a thing though and it was over before I realised the anesthetist had started. They laid me back down and bought Johnnie back into the room and had him sit up near my head holding my hand, then they began the surgery.

All that kept running through the forefront of my mind was "please let my baby be ok, please let my baby be alright" and in the background ran continuously, "what if I'm not ready, what if I can't do this, I don't know if I'm ready yet."

1:51pm, a tugging motion and then the little stowaway who had slept, grown, kicked and been nourished inside me for the last 35 weeks was pulled out of my body.


Oh I am ready. I am so ready. Please, little baby...

A cry split the air and a voice spoke from behind that high, pale blue curtain, "It's a girl. Look to your right."

I turned my head, my eyes lifted, and there she was.

Eve Amy.

It was an instant, a heartbeat. I laid down on that operating table the same person I had spent 28 years being, and in the time it took for my eyes to lift and see her there held above me - pink, crying and the most beautiful human being I had ever laid my eyes on - I simply became someone else.

Her mother, and a more complete version of myself than I had ever dreamed of being.

Choking my voice out through my tears I kept asking Johnnie if she was ok. Smiling and nodding, his hands shaking with emotion, he kept reassuring me that she was fine. As they carried her over to the warmer to wipe her down the details the nurse was making note of washed over me.

6pounds 2ounces, 45cm long, breathing unassisted and healthy.

They brought her back over to me, laid her down across my chest and as my tears ran down my face and fell on her I kept whispering over and over "hello sweet baby, happy birthday. I love you so much."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Ode To A Shoulder

I often find myself staring slack jawed and wondering at the small details of my beautiful daughter.
Her big sparkling brown eyes, her flawless vanilla skin, my favourite crooked white tooth on her bottom jaw.

I got lost in a similar reverie the other day - her shirt had slipped down over one shoulder, leaving her with a slightly rakish '80's disco air and I became entranced by the small shoulder peeking through.  It is so little, so delicate and fine boned, yet contains so much unmapped possibility - she will sling a school bag over that shoulder, wrap the arm attached around friends and loved ones, perhaps lay her own sleeping child over it one day and marvel at the life she has created.

It made me realise that this time when she is mine, wholly mine, will last for such a short time. Soon (too soon) she will venture out into the world and I will lose her a little.
A moment in time where I stared at the sun glinting off a beloved body part will fade into the ether.  I will forget it, she will never know it and the period in her life when I was young and she was a toddler will be unimaginable to her.

This is why I need a blog - to capture the small details of our history. Her history.