Bud: Wombview

Everything went perfectly. I was much more nervous this time around and really struggled with the similarities between this pregnancy and my first.

But there was sweet Bud dancing about on the screen. Cameron was very excited “Baaaaabyyyy!” and gave my belly a kiss. I think we underestimated how much he understood.

Everything is measuring spot on and looking perfect. My blood test results came back all clear (I was expecting low iron levels as I’ve been so fatigued) which is great.

We are so very blessed.

With my midwife appointment tomorrow and our mini holiday from Friday to Sunday, we are keeping busy :)

I’m Still Here

Sorry for the delay in updates! We all got sick & the nausea and exhaustion was getting the better of me.

But now I’m doing heaps better. I’m booked into my hospital and have a scan booked for a weeks time. My doctor has been seeing me regularly since my anxiety attacks and I’m now medicated again on a low dose SSRI and feeling like myself.

The stigma associated with antenatal and postpartum mood disorders is hard sometimes. Particularly if medication is concerned.

I struggled at first with the idea as I’m someone who takes every risk very seriously concerning my children.. But I have to remember the risks associated with untreated anxiety and depression. & I have learnt to give myself a break – if it were another illness that I had to be treated for, I doubt I would hesitate. I talk about it because I know that it is more prevalent than we realise.

I also have struggled recently with the fact that all these factors have meant that I haven’t been mothering like usual. Poor sleep from anxiety in the evenings and at night meant that mornings were hard and I’m not overly proud to admit that a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD got a work out at any time prior to 7 AM.

Our days weren’t filled with well-planned activities or outings. Instead they were spent mostly in pjs and we often went to my sisters house where Cam could be entertained by his cousins while I lounged. My ‘sanity-kit’ has included his dough kit (minimal Mum-input activity), books, his train set (which he will play with for decent periods of time without me), crayons, his magnadoodle, and his little nursery rhyme CD player. Oh, & a willing hubby who takes over when he gets home.

1.5 weeks ago. C said “my baby”

This pregnancy my nausea has been the kind where it helps to eat (hello weight gain) but I still feel ill even after food. & it is constant, even upon waking at night. But I keep all the food down, which is fortunate. I’m exhausted almost always even if I sleep for 10 hours.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I tell it like it is. I must admit that I haven’t been like I was with my previous pregnancy. I loved every part of my previous pregnancies, especially Cameron’s (aside from the fear of course). This time I’ve been more reserved, although I still feel very blessed. I can’t wait for Mike to see Bud next Monday (although I’m also very nervous as the dates are all so similar to 3 years ago).

Cameron has been doing great despite all. He talks about the baby often and he speaks in little sentences a lot now. At 20.5 months, he is currently loving - the letter ‘m’ (spotting it everywhere), planes (still), circles, getting powder in his nappy, eating cheese, helping wash up dishes, and telling me if something is ‘mean’ or ‘nice’.

He makes me so darn proud and I have been so lucky with how sweet and helpful he has been while I have struggled. For example, he patiently and happily waited for over an hour at the doctors the other week. & the other day he asked Mike “is she sad?” when I was resting and came over to give me a kiss.

Perinatal mood disorders

The statistics really suck. The risk of recurrence of antenatal and/or postnatal anxiety and depression is really high.

Hardly reassurring.

I had my first anxiety attack (since the early days with Cam) the other night. I had almost forgotten that unshakeable fear.

Everyone says “it’ll be different this time” and attempt to dismiss any fears that I have. Which pisses me off, quite frankly.

It may be different… but how different really? Having a newborn with a toddler will be freaking hard to begin with. All the fears (irrational or otherwise) that I had with Cameron have just as much of an effect on me now as they did then.

If people do speak of the possibility of me dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, depression and what not again… they always say “but you will know where to look for help”

I am well aware of that. So what?

When I’m mid-anxiety-attack, where I feel like I’m dying – literally, where it feels like there is poison pumping through my veins and I want to crawl out of my skin… where I think of doing the unimaginable just to escape it and nothing that I do or tell myself can change that urgent, terrifying feeling that takes over me… then what?

I should not have listened to my GP (who told me to wean abruptly off my Zoloft) & dismissed my history. I really need to go & get specialist help. Sigh.

Day of Hope – August 19th

Tomorrow is a Day of HOPE <3 August 19th is about honouring & remembering the lives of babies that could not stay with us.

Speaking out about the death of babies (whether it is through pregnancy, infant or even child loss) is uncomfortable, sensitive & so individual – like grief itself. But in sharing can bring healing and awareness.

For people around those who have had a loss, they can be reminded to be gentle and to acknowledge our losses as something significant.

Stunning tribute to my Ollie
(with thanks to Carly – ‘To Write Their Names In The Sand’)

This new pregnancy has several similarities to my first pregnancy with Oliver. I’m due in the same month, so many dates collide in sometimes terrifying ways. Exactly three years ago his little heart was beating away and sharing my blood.

So tomorrow I remember. I remember the little soul who paved the way for me to grow into the mother that I am today. The little soul who taught me so much in so little time. Who I will never stop remembering.

I miss you.

************************

For more information, see Carly Marie’s amazing website ‘Project Heal’ which provides so much for so many.

Survivor

The past week I have found myself stalked by the familiar fog of anxiety and depression. It was lingering around me. The niggling negativity. The numbness. The fear.

But it doesn’t realise how strong I am now.

Although I am medicated for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (including anxiety attacks and Post-partum Depression which followed), I no longer see a psychologist and I manage with lifestyle.. I see myself as a survivor and has someone who has recovered.

I know I will probably have more times like these that remind me of The Darker Times but I hope with my next babies I can enjoy the newborn stage and beyond.

A great easy to understand list of The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (In Plain Mama English) can be found HERE. I am so proud of how far I have come since a time where I pretty much experienced EVERYTHING on that list.

It is hard, I think, from an outsiders perspective, to comprehend mental illness in many circumstances. People can, without realising or saying anything, have a Glint of Judgment (click for great blog post that explains how it feels!). So many people have more hardships in life.

There are things about my experiences with peri-natal mood disorders that I haven’t shared… things I’m not sure how to express and things I have only remembered as time has gone on.

But, each time I see people finding my blog by searching things like “pnd and anxiety attacks”, ”will i lose my baby if i have anxiety” (and the fact that “postpartum insomnia” & “postpartum anxiety” are the #3 and #5 searched terms that lead people to my blog), I remember that it’s important to keep talking and to keep inspiring mamas and letting them know that this is treatable, temporary and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Update On Me

Being a Mum has taught me a lot about myself. This journey of motherhood that has really only just begun has amplified, adjusted and completely changed aspects of what makes me, me.

It’s pretty expected with such a monumental shift in priorities and life but it has surprised me just how much motherhood has highlighted my flaws and strengths to myself.

I never knew how teaching was so instinctive to me. I never realised how much I adored showing someone the world and all the magic and mayhem. From the routine ‘hum’ of our mornings and evenings to the busy ‘rustle’ of the in-between… I love how my life has transformed and this new role.

I have always been a worrier and have constantly fought this label but motherhood has taught me to embrace it. I frequently find myself saying “I worry, as I do, about…” as I now value how I think things through.

I now see my anxiety as part of what makes me different and important and how I function effectively – rather than the opposite! I think the biggest shift is my reaction to the worry… I now accept it as something that I will think about but can chose to react differently.

I’ve always been quick to judge myself and motherhood is no different. (particularly when I was in the thick of my anxiety attacks aftermath with postnatal depression) But post-PND I have come to realise that if I’m not happy with something that I’m doing/saying/thinking as a Mum; I change it. Or if I’m anxious about some choice, I can validate my worth and decisions.

In that sense, I’m so much stronger than I ever thought. & I look back at what I went through at my darkest points with anxiety attacks and depressive episodes and I now see strength and I’m proud.

Just recently I realised that I was not only a postnatal mental-illness survivor but that I’d gone that step further… I am now in a place I really didn’t feel I could get to… As I drove past the hospital I gave birth to Cameron in I felt that familiar warm pang of want… I’m not blind to all the less-than-great things about pregnancy/birth/motherhood and I still have fears… but I want to do it again.

& that… is pretty awesome. Up until now I’ve said that I want to have more children (we’ve always wanted 3 or 4) but the reality of it scared me more than I admitted. Now I’m in such a great place. Still, it’ll be a fair while (at least half a year or so) until we’ll even consider it – this pre-toddler stage is too great and we want a 2 year age gap… but hey, I’m here in this positive place and it is great.

Also, I’ve lost 5.5 kilos! Yep, Operation Fatty Boomsticks Sexy Mumma is coming along!

I hope you all don’t mind the Racheous update! I’ll update with

Two Years

The 4th of October was mine and Mike’s second year wedding anniversary and it was a gorgeous day weather-wise but still paled in comparison to our day.

I looked at Michael and saw he already had tears. My throat had a swelling of emotion caught in it and I focussed on keeping it together but was feeling it. My whole being was feeling it. He was too perfect. The day was too perfect.

Grandad mumbled at me to watch my step onto the red carpet and I giggled as I kicked my big dress in front of me and shuffled down the isle. I beamed at Mike and he beamed back and he got more tears. Every person I looked at had the same emotion showing… happiness. Unshakeable happiness.

I got to the end of the isle and faced Michael. We mouthed “I love you’s” and I told him I wanted to kiss him. I couldn’t wait to kiss him.

Our celebrant kept the ceremony light and it flowed perfectly. At one moment I just listened to the birds. We picked the venue for many reasons but one was the flower fountain and the birds. I love birds, I’ve always felt a connection to them. And on our wedding day a group of beautiful lorikeets came to bath and eat and watch and sing. It was so lovely.

Speaking with Michael since, we have both discovered how in the moment we were. Everyone says “did it feel like a blur” and no, not really, things slowed down and we embraced the now. We really felt it all together.

The day was utterly magical. It was hot but not terribly so. The air was very still and the sky was blue. Colours seemed more vibrant and the day had a certain ambiance. It was simply magical.

I could feel Ollie there. We both could. He was in everything.

Michael was holding my hands and we began the vows. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold it together. I wrote each word. Meant each word. Live and breath each word… and our journey is so special.

Surprisingly I kept it together through Michael’s vows and smiled through each sentence. I couldn’t see my bridesmaids but my sister assured me later on that she was crying and a couple of other’s had tears but it was mostly smiles.

I repeated the vows after the celebrant:

I, Rachel ***, take you, Michael ***, to be my husband,
my best friend and my love from this day forward,
In front of everyone here I pledge to be true to you,
to respect you and to grow with you through the years.
Time may pass, fortune may smile, trials may come;
no matter what we encounter,
I vow here that this love will be my only love.
For eternity, you and I.

The swelling of emotion in my throat soared through me and I choked through the last three sentences and Michael’s face held our pain when I choked out the words “trials may come”… I just wanted to hold him.

Before long we finally heard the words “You may now kiss your bride” and we managed a big passionate kiss before the celebrant said “I think some people missed that” and told us to kiss again. Then in the blink of an eye there was cheering and clapping and we were walking back down the isle hand in hand.

The next day, I miscarried. It wasn’t a completely sad day. It was one filled with relief, closure, awe and strength.

Our sweet baby is beautiful, he’s perfect… little eyes, nose, ears, arms, legs… our sweetheart is at peace. Birthed at 9:40 PM on the 5th October 2008 at home with his newly wed Mummy and Daddy at 16.5 weeks.

It was a beautiful, intense moment seeing Oliver for the first time. Michael and I had tears flowing and marvelled over his perfection. We held him together in our hands and talked about what beautiful, phenomenal lessons we have learnt and what a blessing he truly is.  We have learnt so much and grown so much in ways I cannot easily express.

It is so hard to not question what went wrong and think it is unfair. He is tiny and amazing, our precious boy.

A lot can happen in two years…

Last year at this time we returned to where we got married:

& this year I have this to photograph:

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My ‘Rainbow Baby’

For those unfamiliar with the phrase “rainbow baby” it is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Cameron is my rainbow baby. He is my beautiful and bright rainbow that followed the storm and injected hope for better things. A rainbow is always more appreciated having just experienced the storm.

I choose to inject my families life with positivity and cherish every minute. I want to be able to look back in the future when my children are all grown up and have kids of their own and be able to say that I devoted my time to creating beautiful positive memories for my family.

I suppose it can seem a little over the top to some – having a rainbow themed birthday party for a half-birthday, painting with a really young infant, rolling down a hill at a park just to hear my son laugh, designing and re-designing his play space to adapt to his ever-evolving personality.

But it’s me. That’s just what I’m like. I talk openly about things like pregnancy loss, depression and anxiety because they’re hard… but the core of me is Rachel The Life Lover. I refuse to feel like less of a person, just because I don’t fit someone’s idea of who I should be.

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, and love… to complete your life.”

So Cammy, my rainbow baby in every meaning of the phrase. Thank you for lighting up my life and creating all these sweet memories with me.

I love helping you experience this lovely world… Even if there are a few bumps along the way. Like that bruise on your forehead from were you banged your head on the glass while we had a shower. Or that blood blister on your fingernail from where you jammed your finger into a cupboard door trying to use it to stand up.

Each of those ‘bumps’ (literally, heh heh) were followed by snuggles, giggles, bubble-elf-hats, tickles, stories, tunnel-time and more memories like your ever-present babbling of late (goodness! it’s like he heard how I was worried that he wasn’t as vocal!)

What makes you feel blessed?

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Remembering

Around two years ago Mike and I walked hand-in-hand into my first ever pregnancy scan. With an intense mixture of excitement and nerves we went into the room to see our first little baby.

Little did we know that it would be the first and last time that we would see our Oliver with his tiny heart pumping away while he wriggled in my belly. That devine rhythmic beat making that line surge up and down and filling our minds with more hopes and dreams than we could express.

I remember that full feeling I got when I saw him. That sweet, sweet blossoming feeling. That can’t-contain-my-happiness feeling. I remember the permanent grins imprinted on our naive faces.

Oh how I clutched onto those scan pictures. Tangible proof of this beautiful life we had created. We brought more baby items and I excitedly drew up more ideas for his nursery. We called Oliver’s grandparents and we told them every little detail in quick succession.

“‘Lil Brownie is measuring at 8 weeks and the heartbeat is 150 beats per minute. He was wiggling about and was so cute!”

(Thank you so much again Carly for finding me and taking this beautiful picture for our boy)

I like remembering this day.

I wish we knew you Ollie. I wish your little brother could have known you. I wish it were different. I hope you feel how often we think of you and hear how we wonder aloud how you would have looked/acted/been with Cameron.

We miss you. Today, and every day.

You left this earth knowing you were loved and with your Mumma… as close as two people can be. We are so priveleged that you chose us baby.