Running On Empty

I need a serious re-fuel. I’m running on empty. It sounds pretty dramatic but.. I’m spent. Today the little things just got on my nerves a little more than usual.

Cameron woke up at 5:30 insisting it was playtime. He then pooped while I was attempting to eat breakfast. Nice. The day was muggy, humid and I felt sticky and blah. Cam just whinged most of the day and every whinge wore on my patience that bit more. “That’s enough bubby” was said.. as was “Mummy needs a cup of tea and some quiet time”.

I fumbled throughout the day attempting to feel like my normal self. I tried to pretend I wasn’t over it while my minds eye wandered to a pre-baby self drinking cocktails in a pool in a bikini with no restrictions and responsibilities.

It is all okay though. There are days like this. Hell, there are moments like this in most days during motherhood. That’s life and I’ll re-fuel and be back to my usual self in no time.

But for now… I’m spent. & I’ll allow myself the mini pity party while I wait for Cameron to sleep and *fingers crossed* he stays down. Maybe I’ll do some yoga, have a long shower and paint my toe nails??… Or maybe I’ll just sleep too.

“No” & Other Developments

Well we are all finally over our illnesses and I’ve been feeling creative. I tried my hand at sewing with my Mum’s sewing machine and made this toddler apron (it has a sneaky pocket that’s hard to see which I’m pretty stoked about for a first attempt) for Cameron’s 1st birthday. I’m hoping to make a matching one for myself soon. I also sewed a toy bag for the nappy bag and have been experimenting with applique.

These past couple of weeks Cameron’s started demonstrating a pretty big burst of new skills. He’s now using whatever he can find to play peekaboo (as shown above with one of my shirts :P). He puts the item up and waits for me to ask “Where’s Cameron? Where’s Cameron?” and pulls it down quickly with a huge grin. Sometimes he says “theeere” in baby-talk. It’s super adorable.

He’s also been getting pretty inquisitive (nice word for nosey). Here he is spying on the neighbours mowing their lawns. He’s often sticky-beaking around at strangers at the shops and taking interest in what children are doing.

Cam has also started saying some more words more frequently and in context. He now says Mum, Dad, bird, ball, boobah, there and… more recently (much to my dismay) “no” complete with a pointed finger and a stern facial expression. He signs Dad, bird, boobah and finished (only one he doesn’t verbalise or attempt to verbalise).

Cameron has started to test his boundaries with things like crawling to the rubbish bin (big no no) and looking at us as if to say “look what I’m doooinggg” and will mock tell us off before we get a chance to do so to him. Mum said he reminds her of me at his age and said “good luck”. Karma :P

Cameron dances now and still does little conductor hands. He makes noises along to the music (learnt that one from his cousin Jolee) and prefers different songs.

He stands without support for short periods of time quite often now but still isn’t attempting to walk much. He’s too fast and efficient at crawling really :P

Cam is a changed boy when it comes to solid foods! He’s consistently eating large lunches and huge dinners as well as some snacks and 5 big breastfeeds a day. I’m hoping this means a growth spurt as his weight gain is super duper slow-to-non-existant.

& to finish with the sweetest of sweetest things… Cameron now randomly kisses us. He started a month or more ago with kissing when prompted particularly upon going to sleep and waking up which was/is gorgeous. But now he’s started crawling up to Mike and I during play times, standing up and kissing us. He’s such a sweetheart. He’s a real snuggler too and very affectionate by nature. I’m very lucky to have such a cuddly cutie.

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What Has Changed?

So I’ve been asked how things have changed since Cameron was born. That’s a pretty complex question. But in short – what has changed? EVERYTHING!

My Marriage:

Mine and Michael’s relationship has only got stronger and more lovely. I mean that in the most real way I can portray. Our marriage is more beautiful than ever. We still do and say stupid things and have fun. We’re still learning how to juggle it all. We still have arguments.

But now there are more texts that say “how are my two favourite people”, more phone calls with “guess what he did”‘s, more “far out I missed you”‘s and more photo messages featuring a grinning bubba.

My Sense of Self:

Before Cameron I didn’t really know who I was. I felt disjointed and like I needed to explain myself and behave a certain way. Even in the early weeks of his life this continued but now I have a clarity that he has taught me.

More recently I feel that I know who I am in a work-in-progress kind of way and I like who I am. I like my quirks and even my flaws and I think it comes from realising what I am capable of through my journey to becoming a Mumma.

I’m still learning what that means and where I am heading but for now I have a simplistic contentment and feel like I fit in my skin well and that I am someone who can be proud of who/what/where I am today.

My Body:

I like to call it Rachel 2.0… It is a medly of large thick red/purple stretch marks and extra flab. But it is also a creator of life, maker of milk and provider of comfort.

My Home:

My house now feels like a home. I really love this house. I’ve began to appreciate the notion of Organised Chaos… Like messily folded clothing (but folded none-the-less) and neatly organised boxes that are filled with unorganised bits and pieces.

We now have a perfectly functional bed frame stored in our spare room because I prefer the mattress on the floor with Cameron sharing the bed with us (if he rolls out… there isn’t so far to fall – oh that sounds awful!)

My Day-to-Day Life:

My life is now filled with nappy changes, drool, puke, much more washing, stress, concern, crying (his and mine), tiredness, and generally more chaos and questions.

Before he blessed my life I feel like I didn’t have a purpose. I love that my life is also filled with kosses, giggles, smiles, singing silly songs, splishy splashy bath times, bubba massage, boobah, cuddles, book time, new friends, swimming lessons, dancing, and watching him blossom into the beautiful boy that he is.

Cammy – Update!

I really haven’t updated about Cameron specifically… so here I go. It’s just going to be in point form!

Cameron is now 18.5 weeks (4 months) old and:

- Loves rolling from his back to his belly
– Won’t take a dummy or bottle
– Is 66 cm long and 6.4 kilograms
– Did great at his 4 month immunisations
– Is wearing 000 clothing except for his feetie-pajamas which are 00 because of his length
– Is a fully modern cloth nappy (I use Baby Beehinds Magic-Alls BTW – amazing) and cloth wipes bub
– Is exclusively breastfed
– Loves books and his flower toy
– Giggles occassionally… mainly when you kiss his neck and nom nom nom his chest
– Shares our bed but will sleep in his cradle swing, in a wrap sling and in the car (occassionally)
– Has far too much clothing 
– Is a very sensitive boy – the tiniest of things can change his emotions instantly
– Has found his feet
– Smiles at EVERYONE… he’s so social and beautiful
– Loves Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Loves bathtime
– Is starting swimming lessons in a couple of days
– Has got better with the car
– Does not stop moving
– Always gets the hiccups still
– Raises his eyebrows like his Mumma
– Is a huge fan of tummy time
– Still has a newborn-esque cry
– Is balding :P
– Has nails that grow pratically overnight
– Puts everything in his mouth
– Is not a fan of the pram
– Is beginning to recognise how things relate (i.e. smiles when he sees us get the wrap sling because he knows it means “I won!”)
– Is always drooling
– Already has lots of little ‘friends’
– Does not generally sleep well throughout the day
– Sleeps great at night with only a few wake-ups purely for a feed
– Is doing brilliantly… he’s such a delightful, clever cutie patootie.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression (PND)… no one likes to talk about it. No one likes to admit that they have it. There’s a severe stigma attached to it. Even though I suffer from it I still find myself conjuring up certain images, ideologies and expectations when I hear the words uttered.

There is such an awful stigma attached to mental illness in general but in particular postpartum mood disorders.

Many people (and I’m talking intelligent, grounded, everyday people) do not view depression or anxiety as illnesses. They instead label people. As a worrier, as negative, lazy, self-involved, dramatic, over-emotional, loner, etc etc etc.

It is a temporary disease. One that is strong. One that you cannot fathom unless you have been there.

I hate being someone who ‘gets it’… but I do. So I simply cannot ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening.

The mornings are the hardest. It is physical. I wake up feeling hopeless and aimless… even though I know that I have so much to enjoy, cherish, love and be grateful for. I wish people could get that. When you suffer from PND you do not control those thoughts like you do others. You know it’s not logical… but it affects you. It’s as much physical as it is mental (especially anxiety, lordy!)

Some mornings, for whatever reason, I can fight through the funk with relative ease. I stretch and sit up and smile at my boy. I kiss him and sing to him as I change him and I get up and make myself tea and porridge while I talk away to Cameron and make a mental to-do list.

Other days, however, I struggle. I fall in and out of negative dreams and foggy wakefulness where I just want to sleep. It’s like my body is saying “it’ll get better… if you do nothing” even though I know it isn’t true. I’ll smile at Cam, feed him and change him then lay back down submissively to the overwhelming desire to not care… although I do. I really really do.

PND changes your reality. It starves you of positivity. It drags you down and makes you feel tired, worthless, hopeless… sad. It takes and takes and takes.

But worst of all, I believe, it tries to cloud my perspective. The beauty. The magic. My happiness.

Most days I start to feel better as I do more… but there is the matter of fighting it with motivation (which is harder than it sounds).

It can be so easy to get sucked into the cycle. Depression feeds off negativity and loves to hear you think or say “I give up”. So you can give in… I can quite easily start to believe that I’m a bad Mum, who is not deserving of happiness, who is lazy and worthless.

But I’m getting stronger and stronger each day. Finding new, creative, beautiful ways to construct a different perspective and breathe loveliness into my life. Not that I don’t have all that I want right in front of me… but being proactive helps. And it shows that anxiety and sadness are just parts of what makes me me.

More on this soon.

That Moment

Today, so fittingly for Trying Tuesdays, is one of those days.

The days where you scream things like “I give up!” in your head and whisper “What more do you want!” angrily at an almost 4 month old like he knows and can communicate it to you.

Today, I cried as I begged him to – Stop. Crying. Please.

He slept 40 mins in 7 hours and nothing – and I mean nothing – would help.

It started off innocently enough. He wouldn’t sleep all that well for his morning sleep. He woke up after a mere 40 mins and no amount of cuddles, stroking of his hair or boobah would help him get back to sleep.

Then ensued hours and hours of whinging and I-want-nothing-more-than-you-holding-me-and-walking… which just can’t happen when you have a headache, are out of milk, haven’t dressed or ate and your anxiety is through the roof.

We tried smiles, songs, books, boobah, bath time,

Please tell me that is not him crying now…

It was.

25 mins he lasted.

Blah. There’s your blog peeps. & the photos can wait.

I don’t need any advice either. Boo!

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Thankfully there are those other moments. Like when I hear the roller door of the garage and know Mike is home. He instantly changes the energy in the house and I get to mutter those magic words: “your turn”.

Cameron grins at his Dadda through his persistent whinges and Michael breathes positive life back into the situation. There’s cuddles and gummy grins and I feel the tension rolling off my shoulders.

Michael runs Cammy and I a bath and I get to witness his messy wet eye lashes and smirks while he froggy kicks. I step into the shower and Mike gives Cam his baby massage, makes me a cup of hot cocoa while cradling Cam to sleep.

Yes, I’m very very VERY blessed. Don’t worry. I know.

So now my two Blue Eyed Boys are snuggled up together while I read my favourite blogs and check my mail.

Even the worst of days have beauty. Even the worst of days end with a smile.

Dreaded Car Drives

I have always feared driving. The idea that I’m in control of something large and potentially lethal doesn’t appeal to me. I’m uncoordinated at the best of times.

I only got my provisional licence when I was 37.5 weeks pregnant. Yes, you read correctly. I waddled up to the instructor in 33 degree heat early December and crossed my fingers.

I knew I had to do it for Cammy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to not have the option of leaving the house. I knew I needed the independence. I had a perfectly good Toyota Sportivo sitting in the garage each day.

When I was 39 weeks pregnant I drove alone in the rain for the first time. I was driving to the shops around our suburb when I went too fast around the roundabout. I lost control of the car and spun around to be facing the wrong way on the round about, in traffic, in the pouring rain.

Thank God for lovely people, that’s all I can say. A man stopped his ute so no one could run into me. A woman yelled instructions to me but I was in shock and shaking. I tentatively yelled “help”.

The lovely woman came to my window and said “Oh, you’re pregnant! Are you ok honey?” I rambled about not being a confident driver and not knowing what to do. She parked her car on the side of the road and helped me, still shaking, safely to the side of the road and moved my car for me. She didn’t leave me until I had gathered myself and drove slowly… so slowly to my Dads.

Fast forward to now and I have a baby who also HATES the car. He doesn’t just cry… he outright SCREAMS. Like sweaty-holding-my-breath-someone-cut-off-one-of-my-limbs screams.

Thankfully, he’s got a heap better lately and only rarely cries (not screams) if he’s hungry or over tired. But for a while there I got anxious leaving the house.

Trips had to be close to home and well timed… and even then it was far from a guarantee and there was always the trip home…

Car trips involved him outright screaming while I sung stupid songs to him at the top of my lungs or turned up the radio or cried. I tried toys, mirrors, blankets/no blankets, adjusting the straps, different clothes, variations of air con and a hell of a lot of “it’s OK baby” and shhh shhh shhhing.

I still park in ‘easy parks’, can’t drive with shoes on, reverse ridiculously slow, and have a lead foot but I’m getting there. I’m still not the most confident driver but at least I have mostly peaceful trips now.

Honest Update

A Typical Day
You pop around for a visit and you find what appears to be a functioning, happy, capable, strong Mother and woman who is doing what she thinks is best for her. My 3.5 month old is full of smiles, happy and you can tell he is loved.

What you don’t see is the internal struggle that I go through on a daily basis despite all of the above. I function on the outside but mentally some days I’m really not coping. You don’t hear my inner thoughts…

All the negativity.

You’re a bad Mum. You are ugly. You are fat. You are unworthy of happiness. Cameron deserves better. You are worthless. You have always held Michael back. Cammy doesn’t love you. You aren’t good enough. You deserve pain. You are lazy. You should give up. You have post-natal depression and anxiety because you weren’t meant to have children — that’s why you miscarried in the first place. It’s not the depression hindering your motivation – you’re just pathetic. & in my darkest moments – You should bleed; it is what you deserve. You’re not really depressed or anxious – you’re just lazy and hopeless

All the anxiety.

Am I reading to him enough? Do I give him enough tummy time? Do I give him enough down-time without stimulation? What does she think of me? Why don’t I have friends? People don’t like me. Why does he scream in the car? Do I sterilise his toys enough? How much of an impact did those 20 days of formula feeding cost my boy? Why am I shaking? I’m always so tense. I feel like I’m on the edge all the time. I feel like I’ve always got a headache. Does Cameron love me? I’m so lonely. Why hasn’t he giggled yet? Is he breathing normally?

The guilt.

You shouldn’t put him in the swing even though you’re hungry. Why can’t you just enjoy motherhood? Why must you fear everything? You’re spending all Michael’s hard earned money on a psychologist. You shouldn’t drive – he hates the car. You should have him in a routine.

Simple things are too much.

I’m scared to drive. I’m scared to park the car. I’m scared to go to the bank. I’m scared to tell people how I truly feel. I’m overwhelmed with household duties. I feel like I’m just waiting for Mike to come home so I can stop living in my head when Cam is asleep. I’m scared to go grocery shopping. I’m scared to go to mothers group. I’m scared to go to my psychologist.

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Yet I’m happy. I know that sounds ridiculous but it is true.

Logically I know I’m a good Mumma. Cammy is always smiling, he’s always squealing with delight, he’s growing, he’s healthy, he’s meeting all his milestones, he’s never left to cry (other than if I’m driving and can’t do anything :(), he’s always warm and safe, he’s always fed, he’s always clean, he’s always cuddled and kissed, he’s always talked to, sung to and read to and he’s loved. Completely, utterly and truly loved.

But post-natal depression and generalised anxiety disorder do not run on logic – they are fuelled by fear, negativity and guilt. & I’m fighting it… day by day. & I treasure every happy moment and every small accomplishment. I’m real. I’m a real Mum. I’m not a bad Mum. & I’m not weak – I’m so strong. So so strong.