Babywearing with Jess


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What carrier is best for me?

Often I get requests for recommendations about what would be the ‘best carrier’ for someone… This is like the hardest question to answer! Because it’s not a simple nor a static question…

 

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So there are firstly many, many factors you want to consider but if we stick to this concept that ‘the best carrier is the one that fits your needs’, then the first questions to answer is going to be, what are your needs?

 

How old is your baby? When are you thinking you would use your carrier? Do you have preferences over the type or style of carrier you are comfortable using?

 

For many of us who do use carriers as a tool with our children, our needs may change and that may mean something else might work better but this isn’t to say you need many options, although it is a great excuse for more carriers if you were looking for one! 😉

The other thing to consider is how being an item you are wearing, like if we make the comparison to jeans for example, the best option for you is going to depend on the shape of your body, your preferences and individual fit… So while the favourite jeans of your friend may potentially be the perfect jeans for you, chances are greater that there is probably something you prefer more for you…

The absolute best way to find out some better idea of what works best for you to see and try a few different options. There are volunteer sling meets and groups around the country which is a great place to start, Raising Ziggy has made an awesome list of the options around NZ which you can find on Facebook here. Consultants and paid workshops are another option as well, both providing an option to have some more hands on support and individual guidance through the massive range of options now available.

So if it wasn’t unclear already, there isn’t a simple one size fits all answer for this.

In demo’s I do in workshops I broadly categorize into a few different categories; slings (ring slings, pouches etc), wraps (both stretchy & woven), tie on (meh dai etc) and buckles (soft structured carriers).

 

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There is so, so much option that even within those different categories there are many different brand and style choice options. But as a first step, getting some idea of the range of various styles alone may help you to start to work out what is going to be best for you…

 

If at all possible though, it almost always pays to try before you buy! It is easy to waste lots of money on a big investment based off someone else’s recommendation alone if you haven’t tried it for yourself too…

 

If you are not able to get a sling meet and looking for a similar demo of the various types of carriers there are online, check out this video by Louise from The Sleep Store – https://www.facebook.com/SleepStore/videos/10155176699829316/

 

 

 


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Emily Writes, ‘Rants in the Dark’

Ok, well firstly I haven’t attempted to do a book review since it was a school requirement so don’t expect literary genius from me here and as advanced warning I am probably totally not following whatever is the appropriate ‘book review’ template requirements, but anyway…

I got the chance to go to Emily Writes book launch earlier this week for her new release, ‘Rants in the Dark’. When I got home with my copy finally in my hands, I thought I would just flick through it briefly…

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I lost a few hours of time in the end and made that terrible mistake of staying up way to late to cope with kids concepts of morning time because I read it into the wee hours without realising it.

I have been known to ‘binge read’ if I get really keen on a book I may just hide and keep reading it until its over if I can! And that is exactly what happened with this book.

When I was at the launch, I not only bought myself a copy but an extra one which I got Emily to sign so I could give it away to another ‘tired mama’ out there and so I knew I wanted to write something about it and share the awesomeness with you all too.

In what I thought at the time was an inspired moment of genius I thought, “I know, I’ll book mark my favourite ‘one liners’, bits, the ‘gems’ I like most…” This was no help at all as it turns out and actually achieved not much more than using up a whole packet of book tabs and making it harder for me to work out what I wanted to say!

 

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Just a sea of book tabs of highlights… 

 

So what are my many favorite rants?

The ‘Day 3’ post birth piece, ‘Before I was a mum’ which is about that smug wisdom many of us have about how we might parent before we actually have our own kids, the ‘how to get your baby to sleep’ and ‘is your baby going through a sleep regression’ parts had me literally laughing out loud.

The In-My-Day Committee meeting minutes were also hilarious. The ‘Happy Mothers Day’ rant which suggests that one way we could celebrate this day is just end all the annoying things said to mothers, the ‘this isn’t indulgent’ part about by being responsive to our babies needs, the rant about the pressures we all feel of the evils of ‘screen time’, the ‘how not to be a jerk’ bit which featured one of my top two lines – “How about you get off my tits?” only topped by “get out of my uterus”.

It is not hard to see what has resonated in Emily’s writing. Far too much of parenting now days can feel like barrages of often conflicting advice or pressure – if only on ourselves from ourselves sometimes, to do the best we can as parents.

Emily takes a fresh, humorous and enlightened approach to relating to these real aspects without the bullshit of how to fix it. More so than that, it is uplifting, compelling and a relatable, real story of her experiences in parenting that many would enjoy.

Check out more from Emily Writes here – http://www.emilywrites.co.nz/

You can find the competition to win yourself this signed copy on my Facebook page here – Babywearing with Jess 

 

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Will you have more kids?

 

You know it’s this interesting thing that happens at a certain stage in life, isn’t it? The question of you as a baby maker, being obviously that you only need to be a woman as the common denominator for the general public to feel it is of their concern to ask you.

I know I have child less friends who get asked this all the time and who rightly so get sick and tired of it. I know that the minute Josh was born, people where suggesting it was time we considered another! And I also know that we are not alone in feeling that pressure as I heard it often from others too.

 

 

 

Now we have the “two kids” package, the pressure this time round is less, but never the less the question still gets posed regularly enough that its of uncomfortable interest, “will you have more kids?” or “maybe time for another?”

Its asked in different ways depending I guess on your circumstances but the thing people over look quite often when they ask it is, despite modern concepts of contraception and control and planning over these events in our lives for some of us, it doesn’t always work that way.

Yep some people it is like that, planned, coordinated and executed, but not for everyone. When James and I first got engaged and people would regularly ask us about kids, very few of them knew we had been ‘trying’ to convince already for some time.  Every time the question was asked it was like a sting that my body hadn’t yet got the message everyone else was asking me about.

We had been ‘trying’ for two years, we got right to the point where the doctor said, “maybe you guys should consider IVF?”

The pressure I had put myself under and the disappointment I kept feeling at myself every time I did get another period, which was like a soul crushing reminder my body still hadn’t conceived, was getting too much. The ‘trying’ was taking the fun out of our relationship. It was all too much…

This was relatively early stages of our relationship still, we had almost been ‘trying’ almost since we began our relationship. We decided that we would just wait. Focus on other shit. Live life. If the issue was still the same in a few years’ time, we would look at our options then.

Effectively, we stopped ‘trying’. See this sounds silly, cause the only thing that changed was that we didn’t have the same pressure on ourselves, on the situation. It’s not like anything had effectively changed but sex was no longer scheduled or timed and well, I guess I don’t need to say more than it put the fun back into it…. 😉

It was two months later we conceived Josh but I didn’t realise for quite a while. Having PCOS means I don’t usually have regular cycles anyway, the fact I hadn’t had a period in three months meant nothing to me and I had stopped living in hope that a skipped cycle meant I was pregnant. Before then, before then we had kept stacks of pregnancy tests in the bathroom and I would take them all the time, but at that point I had put the concept from my mind.

It was actually a friend of ours who came over after work one evening with an aged bottle of rum which is usually a keen favourite of mine and he offer me a drink, “ohhh nah, thanks, I just don’t feel like it and I’m really tired, I’m gonna go to bed I think guys, I’ll leave you to it.”

He and James both looked up at me surprised and our friend said, “omg, what? Are you pregnant?” I laughed, “I don’t think so! I’m allowed to turn down a drink guys! It that so shocking?! I’m just tired!”

James too laughed, “it’s just that its 40-year-old Appleton’s babe! You love this shit!”

“Meh, not tonight. I’m good, thanks…” and I wandered off into the bedroom, too thinking, I really do love that shit, I just don’t feel like it… Maybe that is a bit strange…? When did I last have a period?

Needless to say, the next day I went and bought a fresh box of pregnancy tests. I did the first and it came back positive… I showed James and said, “no, I think there is something wrong with the tests, give me another one”.

Needless to say, the second one had the same result. Still not letting myself believe it, I said to James, “it’s gotta be something wrong with the packet, you do the last test!”

Entertaining me he took the third test in the packet and after me sitting in suspense on the edge of the bed for the two minutes it took him to return, I eagerly looked up as he walked around the corner, “well, one if of us pregnant and it’s not me!” he smiled. Showing me his negative pregnancy test, he put it alongside the two positive one’s I was still staring out trying to get my head around it.

We thought we had lost Josh when I had a placental abruption at 13 weeks, we didn’t. The placenta grew massive to reattach to the womb lining and he is now a full of energy (and testosterone!) four-and-a-half-year-old.

Between my boys, we had another pregnancy, a baby we call Jellybean. Who was our honeymoon baby, conceived when we went and eloped when Josh was 18 months old. That pregnancy ended in what is called a ‘missed miscarriage’. In between the time when we went for a scan, Jellybean had died and had no heart beat but my body hadn’t caught up with the message yet. I hemorrhaged in the processes of waiting for my body to miscarriage naturally and ended up getting an ambulance ride to the hospital and coming home with a tiny little box coffin with Jellybean inside.

Jai was conceived shortly after and again, despite some issues with bleeds and my massive concerns about losing him too throughout my pregnancy, he is now a full of beans and troublesome 20-month-old. Pregnancy after miscarriage in my experience is quite different. There are fears and concerns and doubts I never had in previous miscarriages the same, even with the huge issues we had early on with Josh. The threat of loss felt much more real.

And I had an amazing birth with Jai, don’t get me wrong, but I really don’t like being pregnant. It’s not a ‘mother earth’ time to me haha I gain shit loads of weight and my hormones go out of whack and symptoms of PCOS seem worse even though they are different. But as soon as Jai was born, James and I kind of looked at each other, “I know we only ever planned for two kids, but is this really our last baby?”

So, I don’t know. I am currently at the point where never having to be pregnant again is actually an incredibly appealing concept. I haven’t got to do things like open water diving in so many years because my body hasn’t been my own, I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding or both. Now with Jai close to weaning, the light at the end of the tunnel in that sense is close enough to catch glimpses of momentarily sometimes.

But I hate what contraceptives do to my body. I hate how they mess with my already normally slightly out of whack hormone levels and yep sure sometimes that stabilises, but at a different kind of balance than what my body considers normal and I find the issues of PCOS worse. Weight is more difficult for me to manage, all kinds of other symptoms I usually don’t struggle too badly with become facts of daily life again like they did through my adolescence.

Jai weaning himself off the boob and having days sometimes in between feeds now means my hormones are already changing balances and messing with me anyway. I think a lot of us overlook how much that affects us as the mothers when a baby or child is weaning from the boob. It makes our hormones jump all over the place too.

And sometimes I sit there on the rare occasion he still asks for boob and I get a tear in my eye and wonder if it might be the last time and I try to savour it as much as I can. Then I catch myself thinking, “would it matter if it is the last time I breastfeed?”

I know after all our battles, struggles and issues with fertility, James and I quickly jumped from, ‘two kids max’ to ‘whatever life throws at us’ but really… there are lots of benefits to just having two kids right? That’s why we always originally agreed on two, well that and we both come from two children nuclear families which probably does have a bit of bearing on how we conceptualise our understandings and expectations of family when we are getting to make the decisions.

But two kids means you’re not outnumbered by little people. We can still tag team and break them up when it gets too much, “you take one, I’ll take the other”. Travel is still somewhat affordable (but man, travel even with one kid is hard, I’m not sure my expectations of that argument still stand in my mind). You don’t need a different car – that one was like a fundamental two kid argument for us but when you really think about it, that one is ridiculous, we have changed cars several times over the last few years anyway.

And while I had thought before I had kids, one on one was easier, when you actually have a wee pack of children, like happens with friend’s kids etc, sometimes they can actually be easier to manage from the adult perspective. They entertain each other more.

But as I watch Jai at the age Josh was when he was conceived and see him finally getting to all those stages of independence, he plays by himself now, he likes pottering around the garden, he is more independent, more capable. He is interested in toilet training, he is trying to drop his day sleep. He runs and jumps and keeps up with his big brother. He is not a baby anymore, even if he is my baby.

They say you never regret having another child but you may regret not having one. And I imagine there is a shit load of truth to that. Because you bond with children, well you are meant to, and of course you wouldn’t regret that extra person to love.

I kind of expected that the threat of doing all these ‘lasts’ with Jai would make me more clucky, more keen to do it again, more set in my mind that whatever life throws at us is the direction I want to go. But strangely I am finding almost the opposite true for me, the idea this might be the last nappy I have to change, the concept this could be the last time I have to lie on an awkward angle to breastfeed my baby back to sleep… while heart moving and somewhat bitter sweet, it’s not making me miss doing it to the point where I want to jump up and start from the beginning all over again.

Its making me rethink just how much I want to in fact… so when you ask me, “will you have more kids?” well, guess what, I dunno… But maybe just realise often when you are asking a woman this, you have no idea of the context, journey or experiences she has faced on this exact topic when you do. You could be actually being really rude and hurtful, in fact, regardless of her journey, you are being rude.

It is her body, her family, her choices. How about we drop the expectations that we are all meant to do the same thing or plan for life the same way or even know what we want or what we are doing or need to explain that to someone else. Because this question of asking a woman about her choices around children, well it’s kind of like asking someone if they are pregnant… Just don’t. They will tell you if that want to talk about it. Otherwise you risk putting your foot in your mouth big time and really upsetting someone.


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Where is the fucking “red tent”?!?

 

If you are anything like me, the arrival of your period signifies some level of upcoming discomfort and potential emotional instability at least for the next few days coming forward. There is often a whole lot more that might signify to you but it really depends on which place and stage you find yourself in at that time in your life.

The point is, even if you are not comfortable talking about it (potentially because you may not get one? Aka, you are a man??) you likely have a sister, wife/partner, daughter, mother who this exact thing will affect at some point in their lives, even if that time is not now. It is part of life- at least for 50% of us, right? And for a large chunk of our lives…

And as much as one part of me wants to be all ‘moon goddess’ about this shit and “I am woman” and all that crap, a large chunk of me is primarily driven by ‘fuck this shit’ mentality..

The cramps, the mood swings – “who ate my chocolate?! WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU HIDE IT?” *crying* “omg I love you- no not you – I’m talking to the chocolate!” – I am awful when I have my period, another thing I blame PCOS and hormones for… they kick my arse big time.

 

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Thing is, I think it might be easier to go all ‘mother earth goddess’ styles if we still had this ‘red tent’ concept and celebration of menstruation and femininity and everything that comes with it. Our modern ideas of ‘hide and don’t talk about it’ with menstruation is kind of strange, if still deeply embedded.

When I was in boarding school as a young teen, there were times when people ‘synced periods’, usually dorms of girls at a time- its pheromones or something apparently. And it would be hell, a whole week sometimes of all 12 girls getting their periods at the same time – but in a way, it’s the closest I’ve been to this ‘red tent’ concept.

During that week, each dorm took more effort to do ‘self-pamper’ stuff, we did face masks and nails and all that shit while we ate junk food and watched, well probably something like Dawson’s Creek cause it was in that era.

Everyone knew each other was moody and grumpy, yes fights definitely happened especially with excessive bitchiness in a confined space – but arguments were moved on from quickly, mistakes and words in the moment more easily forgiven. Gentleness and understanding were fundamental values.

Move forward to the ‘real world’ of flatting, working, uni, travel and everything else in between and periods, menstruation, yep – bleeding, that’s what I am talking about whatever name we want to give it, we rarely just straight up talk about it especially if the forum includes the opposite sex.

In those times, it is usually quiet questions, “can I borrow a tampon?” whispered in hushed tones as the other sneakily hands one over, “don’t mention it babe. I get it”, maybe even with a wink if we want to overdo the clique…

And you know what, I’m not even wanting it to be like socially acceptable or common place to talk about it openly and honestly as a broader social cohort. Really, the concept of trying to even get my husbands and sons alone to really understand what life is like as a woman, just in this micro aspect alone, is not super high on my agenda.

 

 

 

I just want the ‘red tent’ really. Somewhere you go to celebrate femininity with bitches who get it and can be just as moody and irritable as you.

A place which is like a retreat or safe haven from the demands and pressures of everyday life as a woman, wife, mother and everything else – just for a few days. A place and opportunity to look forward to this aspect of womanhood that is otherwise a ‘hidden burden’ half the population try to hide, disguise or minimise every month while we ‘solider on’ with everyday life. The very same aspect that is the reason we are able to procreate and continue as a species.

Right now, hiding in my ‘healing den’ (aka self-contained cottage at the bottom of our yard) while I am still recovering from rib injuries, well again, it’s the closest I have found to this embracing ‘red tent’ concept again in years in some aspects… like the ability to hide away, indulge in chocolates, Netflix marathons and do face masks, but it is missing a key element – the collective.

 

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Face masks, hiding and chocolate! 😉 

 

Geez do I know we would have a long way to get to a social norm of women getting to take a few days off each month, ‘for the good of humanity’ and all – but just for a second imagine it, wouldn’t that be a fucking cool reality?!

A retreat you look forward to with all kinds of benefits, instead of what is often an inconvenience and pain, also sometimes accompanied with utter relief or on the flip side, despairing disappointment, but regardless is a collective part of life?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to get your period and be excited, “hell yeah! I get to go to the red tent!!” 😉

 


 

 

Related post – The verdict… Period or pregnant?! 

 


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One day I will appreciate this, but today is not that day… 

When I was heavily pregnant with Josh and got to that ‘oh man, I am so fucking over this’ stage was probably one of the first times I encountered this ‘enjoy it while you can’ concept from other parents…
“Get some sleep before the baby arrives”

“Enjoy it now!”

“Ahhh, I miss being pregnant…”

 

 

What?! Really?

Highsight is a funny thing isn’t it?

Sometimes the things, events, times, phases in our lives that we look back on fondly, were not experienced in that moment with the same glowing perception…

 

 

 

When I was pregnant with Jai and at that same stage (I felt overdue by months with that kid even if in reality he was born on his due date), I faced similar commentary and even internal pressure…

 

“Enjoy only having one kid!”

“Make the most of it now”

“Oh I miss my time with my big kid now I have two – enjoy it while you can!”
Again, what?! Really?!
Yes I do look back on those timed now with a different, rose tinted version of reality. When it comes to pregnancy, labour and that fourth trimester our hormones have a huge job to answer for! In fact, they literally help trick our brains into remembering things with a bit of a blurry haze – there is a reason you feel so forgetful when you’re pregnant!

 

But the same of “enjoy it while you can” is often given to mothers pulling their hair out in frustration while in the madness of parenting babies and children. Of course many of us appreciate these may be the ‘golden years’ with our kids – days which we will some day be looked back upon with fond nostalgia and potentially longing to relive them…

 

But it is hard to remember that in the moment sometimes…

 

It’s funny, at the moment while I am largely still physically incapable of caring for/being actively involved with my kids in the same way as pre-accident and I miss them and that role.

 

But as I do slowly start to get better and am taking ‘shifts’ of parenting back slowly there has been many, many times I am reminded of the benefits of perception and highsight.

 

So when I am in the moment, literally covered in food or another persons bodily fluids and someone spills a juice on the couch or someone is smacking someone else over the head with a train track – I’m actually not, in that exact moment thinking, “these are my glory days!”

 

No. Far from it.

 

But then I have to give my body a break and rest again – I am still healing, I am not yet through the ‘six weeks off’ which was ordered to me when I had this accident and shattered my rib cage.

 

And in the down time, in those moment, I often feel guilty.

 

Guilty I can’t do more to support my family and care for my kids at the moment. Guilty I don’t seem to find it as easy to cherish those moments with my kids in the moment somehow more…

 

Guilty I am not appreciating this ‘forced rest time’ I’m in at the moment.

 

‘Mummy guilt’, its such a pervasive thing we put on ourselves..

 

But I am reminded of highsight, that one day I will cherish these moments, all of them; the good and bad, the frustrating and heart warming, all with the beauty and benefit of highsight.

 

And also I am reminded to focus on being in the true authentic moment. Whether that be pleasant or painful – knowing that this too, like everything else, will pass and one day will be a rose-tinted memory that I look back on.

 

And I promise, I will at least try not to be a jack arse that ‘forgets’ the actual reality of being in these kinds of moments and feeling stuck and telling others who find themselves there to “enjoy it while you can”!

 

 

 

 

 


 

I have blogged on this topic before, if you’re keen to read further rants of mine on the topic, check out past post, ‘Savour it while you can’ here – https://babywearingwithjess.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/savour-it-while-you-can/


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Becoming a Mum: Josh’s Birth Story

 

 

To my beautiful first born,

 

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You in my painted pregnant puku!

 

As anxious first time parents, with no clue what lay ahead of us, your dad and I did all the things instructed to us by the doctor and the obstetrician. Except, I forgot to enroll us in antenatal classes which apparently something I overlooked the fact is like some kind of major priority that if you don’t do like as soon as a baby is immediately conceived seems to be like trying to find a ticket for some kind of amazing performer that everyone wants to see…

 

I didn’t realise there was so much demand for this or that there was like a time limit on me making sure we were booked into one. So when I was sitting with Aunty Cushla in her backyard (she was two weeks ahead of me when we were pregnant but you ended up arriving earlier and Hadley later than the doctors guessed so there is only a few days between you guys) and she said “at the first antenatal class…” I totally interrupted, “what?! Antenatal classes?! Are we meant to be doing those now?”

 

She laughed at me, “ummmm you were meant to book that at like 13 weeks!”

 

Panic ensued as we discussed the “limited ticket feeling” of leaving enrolling yourself in these kinds of services to the last minute.

 

“Why don’t you just call where I am doing them and see if they had anyone cancel?” she suggested.

 

I did and luckily for us, they actually had. So they had a free space for me and dad to go along to the same class Aunty Cushla was doing with Brenda at MAMA Maternity (the same place I set up the very first of my monthly Babywearing workshops with Brenda’s help). But because we had late enrolled, we missed the first class.

 

When Brenda told us the first one was about early signs of labour and that kind of thing and not to worry, we could make that one up when the next intake started as it would be a two weeks before my due still, it was like awesome, cool. Dodged a bullet AND it meant Aunty Cush and I not only shared the journey of being pregnant and doing pregnancy yoga together but also the antenatal classes which was pretty cool in itself.

 

So the antenatal classes finished for our cohort, I was 38 weeks pregnant with you and Aunty Cush must have just been overdue with Hadley. And Dad and I attended the make up class for the first session we missed at MAMA.

 

When they start these classes they had this process of everyone introducing themselves and saying when they were due. They went around the circle, everyone saying things like, “I’m due on 1st Feb”, “I’m due mid March” etc etc, it got to me and dad and we said, “I’m due in two weeks” hahaha everyone’s faces! It was hilarious that we had to explain we were just making up the first class and had already done the other ones, that we hadn’t actually left it THAT late, even though I did leave it late to enrol us hence why we had to make up the first session.

 

As Brenda started her talk about the early onset and signs of labour I kept glancing at dad… “what?” he whispered to me. “Nothing” I replied shaking my head, but every “sign” that Brenda listed as early onset signs of labour was something I had been feeling all that day…

 

Pain in lower back, check.

Twinges in your belly, check.

Feeling drop of weight into your pelvis, check.

 

I didn’t over think it hugely. We talked with Brenda as we left, she has seen a lot of pregnant mums in her time and she said to me when we were leaving, “I don’t think that baby is that far away you know, it looks like your bump has dropped quite a bit from when I saw you last week..” I made some joke about how I hoped you didn’t take too long because I certainly wasn’t very comfortable at that point!

 

Afterwards Dad and I went to a fancy restaurant in town. We had made it a bit of a ritual that after antenatal class we would go get dinner together somewhere nearby and just chat about everything we had heard and been told about. This we knew was our last time for that ritual so we wanted to go somewhere special knowing it could well be the last time we did that together before we became parents.

 

I had this massive craving for steak and ordered like the most extravagant thing on the menu.. The waiter was lovely and mentioned something about me being pregnant (it was kinda hard to miss, I was just blooming huge pregnant with you boys both!) and Dad told him, proud as punch, “this might be our last flash fancy dinner before we become parents! Our baby is due in two weeks”.

 

The waiter said to us, “I have a feeling this will be a night you will always remember!” and treated us like royalty. He was really lovely, helping me get out from behind the table when I needed to wee every two bloody minutes even. He went above and beyond trying to make it special for us and indeed it was.  

 

On one of my many trips to the bathroom I stopped, half to catch my breath, I felt like a beached whale trying to move around heavily pregnant, but also to look at the fish in the built in tank they had separating the men’s and women’s toilets. Retrospectively, not that I knew it at the time, that’s when I felt my first contraction.

 

My belly just felt really tight for a minute, like all my muscles tighten at once and I was a bit like, “oh that was weird!” started to talk to you and rub my hand on my puku and you kicked my hand almost immediately. I was thinking to myself, oh ok, you are just enjoying that steak as much as I did hey?! Nothing like iron to make you feel stronger!

 

As I slowly waddled back to the table and started my slow decent sitting down, I looked over at your dad and said, “you know some of that stuff Brenda told us about signs of early labour and stuff? I’ve been feeling some of those things all day now.. Like it couldn’t be early labour signs though if they are just like really mild and stuff though a…”

 

We discussed it and kind of dismissed the concept, thinking back to that idea of “when you are really in labour you will know about it”… Which to me translated to “when it hurts like shit, you will likely be having a baby”. And decided nothing hurt and you weren’t due for another two weeks so I was just probably experiencing some of those “your body is getting ready” symptoms and that’s about it.

 

So I guess that was my context for comparison, pain = labour. But it’s not always the case, in fact our perceptions of it being painful are so damaging for us all as it creates this fear and fear is the absolute enemy of labour progression, as we found out later when I was in labour with you first hand.

 

So while we were at the antenatal class, when we were at dinner, all the long drive home, I kept feeling these “tightening” sensations across my stomach. I was uncomfortable but no more than the days or weeks because being that heavily pregnant makes me feel uncomfortable and restless and urgh anyway…

 

Dad and I joked about the waiters comment about it being a night to remember and how funny it had been to see everyone’s faces at the antenatal class when I said we were due in two weeks when they all still had months and months to go.

 

As we giggled and laughed as dad had to help push me up the front stairs from behind when we got home because I just felt so heavy and huge, the tightenings I had been kind of ‘ignoring’ or downplaying in my mind happened a bit more intensely and I rested leaning against the door frame as Dad unlocked the door.

 

That time I was like, “yep no, that definitely feels different to the last few days but it’s still not painful..” kind of repeating to myself in my head “they said you definitely know if you are in labour” so if I’m not sure then you are just doing some kind of weird acrobatics in there right now and can you please stop cause it’s making me a bit nauseous and I really don’t want to vomit up that expensive as steak I just ordered and ate at that fancy restaurant!

 

Dad opened the door and we both went inside and he said, “I’m just going to pop down stairs and see if that load of washing is done” as he walked in. I made my way slowly to the toilet and sat down. It was a weird sensation, I kept feeling like I needed to wee but I couldn’t. Still I felt the need to sit there.

 

All of a sudden it sounded like someone poured a bucket of water in the toilet. I was kind of shocked, “did that come from me?!” Then it kind of just sounded like a hose running now and I was confused, I felt my urethra and was like, “no that’s definitely not wee” and then moved my hand back further and was like “oh yep that’s coming from me!”

 

My waters had broken.

 

“BABE?!” I screamed…

 

“just a sec” came the reply as your dad came up the internal stairs with a basket of stuff from the dryer, which included towels, “yeah?” he said as he popped his head around the corner.

 

“I’ll take one of those please”, I pointed to the towels, “I think my waters just broke…”

 

I am not sure what I expected but I had just been sitting on the toilet for five minutes feeling like I had done the hugest wee ever so I guess I figured, that’s gotta be like all the “waters” right? As soon as I stood up from the toilet it flooded everywhere all over the floor.. (the amniotic fluid isn’t like smelly or dirty or anything it is literally like someone was just pouring buckets of water on the floor)

 

Dad dropped the washing basket, tipped it on its side and started laying down towels on the floor, after he had passed me one to shove between my legs, so I could get out of the bathroom without slipping over.

 

I decided to have a shower, the nausea I was feeling kind of subsided and the tightening didn’t really change or feel painful at all… we talked about how maybe I was one of those 10% who have their waters break before labour commences so we should probably just chill out, as we had been told and wait and for me to try and get some rest etc.

 

I was uncomfortable but not in the way I expected, I was restless and couldn’t really lay down and sleep and I was excited, I wanted to be over this pregnancy shit and actually have my baby to hold in my arms. So I didn’t really sleep at all..

 

I laid down with dad for a bit, paced around the house for a while, bounced on a Swiss ball, I think I probably got in and out of the shower like 10 times…  there were a few times I felt I had to breathe through the intensity of it, but it was intensity I was feeling not pain, like tightness, like someone squeezing me around the middle (aka, muscles ‘contracting’).

 

When dad woke up in the morning, I was trying really hard to let him rest and not disturb him, I guess I had a feeling this was going to take a while, he was like, “shouldn’t we call the hospital? There was something about either going in when you are in active labour but wasn’t there also something about how long after your waters break that you need to be on antibiotics?”

 

“Ok I will call them soon” I replied. I was actually really calm and zen and chilled. I seriously didn’t even connect that those “tightening” feelings were contractions because everything I knew told me contractions hurt but these didn’t. I think if we had done nothing at that point, waited another two hour before we called anyone, well things would have been very very different that’s for sure.

 

Anyway we didn’t, we dutifully called the hospital. I was under the care of an obstetrician for being high risk (I had a placental abruption early in my pregnancy with you and lost lots of blood, we thought you weren’t going to make it but instead the placenta grew twice as big to reattach itself firmly again and everyone was convinced I had gestational diabetes because of excessive weight gain, I didn’t have it, I just get fat when I’m pregnant haha) so it was the hospital midwives who were our first port of contact.

 

“They were like, well if it has been 12 hours since your waters broke you should really come in for an exam…” this was where things all started to change. The tightenings I was having quite steadily and consistently at home walking around the kitchen became sporadic and less regular as we drove to the hospital, the internal dialogue of “maybe this does mean you are in labour? Are you sure those sensations aren’t painful?” started to mess with my chilled state.

 

On the initial exam, the one duty midwife examined me and said, “ok love, you are about 6 cm dilated and obviously your waters have broken”. When your “waters break”, what that means is the membrane holding the fluid around the baby have been ruptured, not actually the waters itself, they replenish to keep baby safe, so if your membranes break and you are leaking fluid, another part of your body is like we need to make more, so really, it just keeps coming… “I’m going to call your OB, we are just going to move you to a suite to monitor baby’s heart rate and that stuff ok?”

 

And we got moved through to a different ward. The next place we were put was a full suite. All women waiting for OBs I assume, which means many of them were considered “high risk”. Right next to us behind a curtain was a lady crying, her baby and herself were obviously distressed, the irregular heart beat of the baby was being broadcast really loudly throughout the suite.

 

Fear.

 

I felt fear. And you clearly did too because it almost felt like you immediately tried to crawl back up inside my puku. Like you were like, “no, this doesn’t sound safe”. I got a bit distressed myself, looking up puzzled at your dad I said, “Everything’s stopped. All those sensations, they have all stopped”. I rubbed you through my puku around the monitor straps they had me in and watched your heart rate on the screen. You were fine. Happy as, still chilled. But definitely no longer in the mood to be making your entrance into the world.

 

Just then the OB turned up. “Ok, well let’s take you for an ultrasound and exam hey?” she said. By this point, there was no zen left in me to be honest. “Ok…” and we followed her to another room.

 

She did an ultrasound, “well baby looks happy, everything is fine there”… as she went through her exam further she looked at her notes, “it says you were 6 cm dilated but your cervix is closed shut my dear. Are you sure your waters broke?”

 

Cue self doubt.

 

Yep I am sure that fluid came from me and I checked, no I didn’t piss myself.

 

“Go home” was the instruction, “the midwives should have told you to wait there a few hours before you came in initially.”

 

Well that information was kind of useless now. The damage had been done already. We were back to the start, but worse, this time with a big invisible timer…

 

We went for a walk down the road, we tried to distract me, there were still some tightenings but now I was calling them contractions because that’s what the midwife at the hospital had called them as we watched it on the monitor and with that change alone, my brain had started to change the sensation into something much more uncomfortable, potentially ‘painful’ even because that’s what I was told they should be.

 

But they still weren’t consistent or sustained like the way they were when I was feeling them that morning before we went to the hospital. I’m not sure how long I expected they would let me stay at home but I was just like, “ok baby is not ready I’m going to start getting ready for bed and have a shower and stuff” and dad answered my phone when I was in the shower, “It’s the hospital,” he peaked his head around the corner, “they say we have to come back within the hour as you are meant to be on antibiotics and starting induction now..”

 

My heart sank. I knew you weren’t ready. The questioning had already started though, the process and power felt like it was taken away. As I stood in the shower, savouring those moments of the water running down my back and leaning against the glass only able to see you moving around in my big puku not my feet, I murmured to you, “ok bud, here we go…”

 

Turning off the shower and getting in the car we were back in the car. Yes I was technically in labour, my waters had broken and I had got to 6 cm dilated but then it completely stopped and then after the shower before we left to go back to the hospital I felt more like you had moved down again, the twinges were slowly coming back.

 

INDUCTION

 

There is something ultimately unwelcoming about the sterile environments of hospitals. But driving to the hospital dad abd I were talking about how we knew you would be with us soon as we knew that even if you decided you didn’t want to come out, there was a time limit over us both because of the fact my waters had already broken the night before. We were excited to meet you.

 

While ultimately I did want as much of a natural birth as I could with you, my reasons for doing so were not martyrdom, they were recover time based. So the less interventions the less likely to need more interventions or so they say… but ultimately, as charted in my notes my birth plan consisted of “get the baby out me” so I was kind of teetering a fine line of “give me all the drugs” and “let me like ‘mother earth birth’ this baby”… You on the other hand were like, “oh crap, not this place again”…

 

Any progress we had made in the hours leading up to that again halted. They put me in a room by myself now, this would have been much handier on our initial visit but then I realised they wanted to try the gel induction first, so that meant we had to try and sleep in this room overnight. There was no way I was letting your Dad go home and leave me alone, he didn’t want to, to be fair but the nurse kept telling him to and in retrospect it would have been a better idea.

 

Anyway, your dad, despite complaining of the dismal conditions he was being expecting to sleep in, aka on the floor with like a thin hospital blanket and pillow, still managed to snore his head off the whole night. The midwife had used a gel induction which was the first attempt at trying to convince you out.. It did move you down but in my mind I had this mental image of like a cat with all fours on each side of the door frame as someone tried to push it into the bathroom for a bath… you were not that keen on moving…

 

And you were pushing right on top of my bladder so for every slight contraction that did come throughout the night I would feel the need to get up, step over your snoring father on the floor and go to the toilet. And then I would waddle back and climb into the bed and try and sleep but it just wasn’t happening.. At best I might have had an hours sleep or so that night so by the time they came back to see me and our progress in the morning I had been through two nights without sleep and I just as much as you, had a bit of a “fuck this shit” attitude.. Nothing was going to happen in this state, that much I knew.

 

When the next OB came into the room and examined me they were concerned about the lack of progress. They decided it was time to move me to a birthing suite and put in an IV induction. I had enough, I was so uncomfortable and tired and to be honest just pissed off. Interrupting the doctor I said, “before you touch me again or do a thing, call the anesthetist, put the epidural in now!”

 

The doctor and midwife and everyone was like “why don’t we just see how we go, wait a little bit…” I know they were thinking of shit like this can slow down the process more, she should wait blah blah blah…

 

I found some courage or empowerment or something but a voice that didn’t even feel like mine almost screamed out of me, “Look I haven’t slept in two days, I am fucking exhausted and this baby does not want to move right now. Call the fucking anesthetist now. I can rest for a bit, you pump me full of hormones which I know will make contractions more painful and intense I remember reading all this shit, the interventions have already stated and I want my fucking epidural NOW!”

 

The OB was like “ok, I will hold off but if the anesthetist can’t get here in the next 15 mins I am going to have to start the drip anyway”

 

When the anesthetist did walk in like 5 mins later my first thought was fuck she’s young and the second was, holy shit I don’t even care about all those scary risk shits they told me about just give me pain relief and give it to me now! I probably would have jumped up and kissed her if I hadn’t been so tired in all honesty.

 

Now this part I had researched, our antenatal class perspective was kind of aimed towards, ‘try and avoid interventions’ and there was limited information we took from it but we had also been to the hospital’s own workshop specifically about pain relief options and epidurals as well which was about the various options the hospital did have when it came to interventions and pain relief. Also obviously dad with his research chemist hat on had lots of questions about the specific mix of pharmaceuticals used in each option like he always does and asked like a million questions.

 

But also we had no long before had dinner with some friends, engaged at the time (you came to their wedding, just about five months later) he is an anesthetist and she an OB, so in terms of epidurals I had already had some clear idea of what I wanted if we were going down that road and when I saw we had a young anesthetist I thought of them and that conversation and had like an order in my mind of what I wanted and realised now was my best chance to get it.

 

She introduced herself and before she could even ask me any questions I said, “I want a self administered walking epidural. I just need a break for a bit, then I can have a chance to change my mind set and we can get this baby out. Just put the line in now and let me have a self administered one please.”

 

She chuckled a bit and was like, “well you researched your epidural options didn’t you..” but understood and respected my wishes and a self administered epidural was put in and the IV line for induction drugs just after. I pounded that little red button, made dad go find me some food and finally got to sleep for a few hours.

 

I have no idea of the doses of Pitocin or Syntocinon or whatever they were pumping into me but I know it must have been quite high. The OB would set it and I could see the midwife giving him a sideways glance then the charge nurse would come in and say, “oh no this is much too high” and turn it down. Just for the OB to come back half hour later and turn it up again and repeat the process. I just kept hitting that red button, my hopes of a vaginal birth just kept lowering, “well it was fucking useless getting that walking epidural then” I was thinking..

 

For the record, they may call it a walking epidural but it’s not like I could walk around, you still have a catheter in and are bed bound or at least I was, but it was lower dose and I could move my legs and move around more when the dose I had administered with the red button started to wear off. They would have to change the chemical mix if I had to have a c-section but the line would already be in so that part was done and all this faffing around and disagreement between the medical staff made me just shut off mentally.

 

I wanted to avoid c-section just because the recovery time is so much longer. That was the only reason. As I said from the beginning I was teetering a very fine line between wanting a ‘mother earth experience’ and a ‘just schedule me a planned c-section’ kind of birth plan and as I shut out all the noise and activity going on around me I guess I just accepted the fact that the longer recovery time really meant nothing and I was so over this process, which at that point, felt like it might never end. I didn’t realise it at the time but by shutting off my brain I was actually letting the cocktail of drugs they were pumping into me finally actually start to do something.

 

JUST CUT IT OUT

 

You were due on the 9th of Nov, 2012. My whole pregnancy I had this fear, this suspicion that you might be born on the 2nd of Nov, which is the date that Pa (my dad) died on in 2010. More than anything in the world I wanted you to have your own birthday, the last thing my Dad said to me was “don’t let me steal your thunder”… I remember in that moment looking at the clock, “you have three hours until we reach the cut off for this approach then we will have to do a c-section but I don’t want to do it yet, because I think we can convince this baby to come before that” – the doctor’s parting words rang through my head, in three hours, it would be the 2nd of fucking November.

 

I remember first looking up at the ceiling in despair, thinking, almost angrily, “you can fucking have my thunder dad but dont steal this kids day, dont fucking do that please – help me out here!”… Taking a deep breathe I looked again at the clock, the second hand seemed to slow down as I continued watching it and breathing really deeply. Then I looked down at you, still inside my puku and said to you “Ok bud, I know we were scared, but its all ok. I am ok, you are ok, this is a safe space ok? But we need to get you out, I need your help bubba. We really need you to come now, I don’t want you to be stuck with that date as your birthday. Please – work with me bub…”

 

I couldn’t feel anything before that point, as much as the idea of a self administered epidural is so you can still feel something and you don’t have the same high dose, my finger had been reaching for that little red button often. The only way to really tell before then if I was having a contraction was for me to be watching the monitor, but in those moments of really connecting with you I felt two things physically happen. First, not through the sensation of my belly but through my hands on my belly I felt a massive tightening – so huge my belly was moving under my hands and then I felt feet.

 

I felt your feet, push right up high in my womb, like you were trying to dive your way out! “Wow, those are some huge ones!” said the midwife breaking my concentration and drawing my attention to the monitor, “Oh there’s another!” she said without much pause for a break. “We might be calling the OB sooner than we thought!”

 

Shortly after the OB returned, it was my favourite from the team of obstetricians thankfully and as soon as he walked in, while looking at the clock, I cried out, “I can’t do this Tim. Just cut it out of me now, please. I know all the stuff we talked about but this baby can’t be born on the 2nd of Nov, I dont have any strength left. Just take me to theatre, please..”

 

By the time I had finished my rant at him, he was already gloved up and doing his exam, he said to me “Jess, remember how we talked about that ‘transitioning stage’, that’s what’s happening, you are feeling self doubt because we are at the next stage, you are going to have your baby soon. You’ve got this. James, come here, look…” and as dad walked around he said “I can see a head!” like it was the most shocking thing in the world! The doctor, Tim looked up at him and laughed, “yep well it wasn’t an elaborate joke, you’re going to have a baby. We are going to need you to push now Jess.”

 

The midwife, I’m not even sure of her name, but she was so amazing. She was right there in my ear saying to me, “We need to get your breathing in order, chill. Deep breaths ok? I saw on your chart you have been doing lots of swimming and pregnancy yoga, show me your breathing from some of those?”

 

Ok I thought, I knew this part from all that prenatal research, I knew that the pushing stage can take a while in many labours, I knew that if you were going to be born before the 2nd of Nov, I had a very limited time frame within which to literally push you out. But also, something happened in those moments when I was talking to you, you were ready now. No amount of artificial hormones or drugs they pumped me with trying to convince you it was time to come out had seemed to help that much, but me surrendering to the process and having a chat, a connected moment with you was all it took and then I could literally feel your feet trying to push downwards as well.

 

“I need to get on my knees” I declared. The epidural dose was wearing off and I was able to get up on my knees and leaning over the back of the bed with dad and the midwife supporting me. That’s when we really started to work together, I could feel you trying to push out every time I beared down. It was so amazing, like “holy shit this baby is actually trying to push his way out” that it gave me this like refreshed vigour and energy.

 

You were born 20 minutes later.

 

“You pushed like a demon!” said the OB breaking his normally very considered thoughtful ways of speaking. It was clear he was impressed at our efforts together too to get you out and into the world. You were born at 9.31pm on 1st of Nov, 2012.

 

You my beautiful first born where teaching me new things about connection and mind over matter and all kinds of stuff, even before you actually entered the world!

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I’m not sure who was more tired after that marathon effort, you or me! I certainly would have preferred more sleep than you did!

 

After you were born, Dad dressed you while you were checked over and I hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood, probably because of all the interventions and cocktail of drugs I was given to try convince you to come out. No one really explained that those set of circumstances also meant my milk might take a while longer to come in and it was only my PCOS that was ‘blamed’ for that after the fact. If only I’d realised that maybe all you needed was to hear your mum, me, tell you it was ok and to come out now and for me to shut off my brain and surrender to the process I wonder if your birth may have been quite different.  I also realised after your birth, what a blimp on the radar the birth process was, even as drawn out as that, in terms of this journey of parenthood we had embarked on when you where conceived… In retrospect it wasn’t the birth I should have worried about so much but the three months of struggles we had ahead of us following that!

 

Like I say to you often sweet boy, thanks for making me a mum and thanks for choosing us to be your parents you smart clever little soul you are.

 

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Getting some vitamin D and skin to skin time with Dad the morning after you were born

 

 

 

Love you to the furthest quasar and back,

Mum x

 

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Cuddles at Birthcare

 

PS – Sorry it’s taken me 4+ years to write your birth story! Your little brother does get to be the first for a few things still, even if you are the eldest 😉 – Jai’s birth story was my first post on this blog and can be found here – My beautiful rainbow amazing baby’s birth story

 


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Talking with kids about death

So if you’ve read any of the posts I’ve made like The Grandfather my kids will never meet, New Years Giveaway – in memory of my Nana MaysieTo Andy, on what would have been your 40th birthday, you would probably have already guessed, there has been more than a few really important people in my life that my kids won’t have the chance to really know as they’ve left us earthside already.

Whenever death comes up as a topic of discussion with children thought, I am really aware of what I am saying to them about it and conscious that it will influence how they think and feel about the topic not only now, but in years to come. I know this doesn’t sit well for everyone and sometimes makes people uncomfrtoable but its a reality in our world loss & grief and I think it might better prepare our kids for them if we can talk about it more…

Also I think personally as children, there is a lot more that we are spiritually in touch with before the realities of other peoples or societies opinions or our own questions or unsureness of these things really clouds our views.

I think children are much more connected to the spiritual world than we give them credit for. In a recent TED talk I watched by Phil Borges he told a story about viewing, from an outsider perspective, a relationship between a great grandmother and great granddaughter and they time they spent together in the village life as peculiar.

He said the tribe explained to him it wasn’t at all strange, the elder was just about to return to the spirit world and the young girl was just leaving it so in fact they had the most in common.

It made me think about being a very young girl and spending lots of time and sleep overs at my Great Aunty Fayette’s house.

I don’t know how old I was when we used to do these sleep overs but very young.

My mum is the eldest of her family and my dad the eldest of his, me being the eldest in my family, it’s kind of logical I am also the eldest of my generation, of my cousins, of my family line in both sides.

I do remember there being a time when it was just me. When I was the only grandchild, which would have been in my mums side of the family, up until my sister was born when I was three and a half. I think the sleep overs where probably around that age.

When I think about it now, it may well have been a way for my mum to prepare for having my sister and my Aunty Donna would have been pregnant with my cousin at the time too.

I remember handing out with the “oldies” lots during that time and as a little girl. They we all “greats” in the family line to me, my great grandmother and my great aunts (many of whom we not actually blood relatives but friends of my Great grandmothers, who we called Gran, and people who we all considered family).

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Having four generations of your family alive is very special. I loved hanging out the “oldies” but when that is the case, death is also obviously something you come to experience before you even know what that means.

It would although avoided, a topic that came up lots. Reading the obligatory section of the paper was a common thing that was done as a group to see if anyone they knew where in them – more often than not, there was. But death wasn’t something spoken about with fear, it was almost like waiting for a bus. You never know when your one is going to arrive but you do know it’s on its way eventually.

Aunty Fayette’s was my favourite place to be though. Her and Aunty Dot, they were always my favourites.

But sleep overs at Fayette’s weren’t my favourite cause she was but because I got to sleep in her room with her and Honey, her wee dog. In my Great Uncle Jack’s bed.

I never met Jack. He was someone who dies before my time. But I feel like I know him.

 

 

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When my Great Grandmother got dementia my Aunty Donna made her this big pin up board of everyones photos and thier names to help her remember when she got frustrated. I loved that it was this that my Aunty sent when I asked her for a photo of Fayette and Jack because not only is there them but right next me with Aunty Dot around the age I am reminising about right now, just above us “Jenny & Grahame” are my parents and in between us all, my Great Gran who this pin up board was made for before she passed…

 

 

 

On those nights I stayed at Aunty Fayette’s she always made sure she had Vienna Ice cream cake, we loved that stuff – both of us.

And she would cut us both a big slice and we would take it to her room and prop ourselves up in bed (it was the old school set up of two single beds-his and hers, with a small draws set in between) and she would turn on old school movies on the old TV set she has in her bedroom (she was also the only person I knew with a TV in her bedroom – which made her extra cool to me) and she would tell me stories about her and Jack travelling through Asia after the war.

They travelled to some crazy places and had amazing experiences at a time when travelling like that was just not something people did.

On Jack’s side of the room, the one I slept on, I slept in his bed, there was a chair at the foot of the bed and next to the dresser.

It was where he put his shoes on in the morning after he got dressed. I’m not sure if someone told me that and for some reason in my mind I have an image of him doing exactly that. As an adult I feel it must have been a photo or something I saw as I can’t rationally have seen him doing that as he died before I was born… The reality is though; I am not sure if a photo like that exists.

But I do know as a little girl sometimes Aunty Fayette would be telling me a story about Jack and their adventures and we would be eating our ice cream cake and have old movies playing and there were times she would laugh as she told stories of what seemed like and probably were, very exotic and dangerous situations they lived through together and then other times she would finish telling a story and she would seem sad.

And I remember in those times literally seeing Uncle Jack, sitting in his chair at the foot of the bed, smiling, radiating love but kind of glowing, like he was see through in a way.

And he was there whenever she said, “I miss Jack”. And while she said it with sadness and she didn’t say it that often, when she did the overwhelming emotion was the nostalgia, rather than so much that of loss.

And every time – I would look at him smiling there in his chair – and I would look at her and say “but he’s right here”.

Like in a matter of fact way. In a three-year-old way. Like I didn’t overthink it, I didn’t grasp that might be a strange thing at all. It didn’t feel strange – it just was. He was just there. In his chair.

And she would wipe away the tear from her cheek and look at the chair and look at me and she could smile and say to me, “I know”.

And we would continue on as we were. Talking well past my bedtime, often eating a whole Vienna Ice Cream cake slice by slice and watching old movies or looking at her slides from her travels around Asia with Jack.

I didn’t even think of this story for such a long time. I do remember feeling this overwhelming desire from Fayette for me not to go to her funeral. When she totally unexpectedly dropped dead at her own doorstop many years later on Christmas eve, we found out she had long since planned and paid for her own funeral years in advance.

The funeral home called and said she had everything organised for it all, pretty much, “just bring us the body” kind of scenario.

We were all there for Christmas that year. I didn’t have to travel to get to the funeral, there was nothing stopping me from attending or staying around for it. Yes, it was going to be a few days before I had a big camping trip for New Year’s planned with friends and changing my flight might have interfered with that. That was the premise under which I took my intended flight back to New Zealand, to my home, days before her funeral and never attended it but it isn’t why.

I remember sitting on the front steps of the house I was boarding in at the time, which means I must have been seventeen when she died, and it was the night of the funeral.

I remember just at that moment having this guilt stricken panic, “oh shit! Why didn’t I stay for the funeral? I’m not even leaving for the camping trip for two days! I could have totally been there…”

And looking up at the stars, because I was told that’s where we can see the spirits of our loved ones, that the brightest star we could find would be them, shining for us to remember them. In that moment it was like I almost heard her say, “I don’t want you to remember me like that, remember me like Jack” and without even thinking about what that meant, any guilt or indecision I had was gone in that moment. I wasn’t meant to be at the funeral.

It was a dark phase in my life when Fayette died and things over the years got darker before they got lighter again. I had made my peace with my guilt and loss. In fact, despite being so close to Aunty Fayette, my grief and loss over her death was the easiest for me to seem to get “closure” on. I guess because it felt like she never left.

I didn’t even think about or remember the specifics of staying at her house actually until this morning. Someone mention something about their young child saying they could see a past relative. I commented on it about how I do truly believe we are closer to the spirit world when we are young.

I shared with them a story about Josh telling me when he was three he could hear and see Pa (my dad) but now he’s four he can’t and he didn’t “feel” the love the same way. I’m not sure if he’s incredibly insightful, if he has a great imagination, if it’s because of the way we’ve talked to him about these things or a combination of all of them.

He’s also talked to me about past lives lots. He once said as we were driving down the road to me, “we’ve been together before but you weren’t my mum then, we were brothers. We rode these big carts and had these costumes and horses pulled us around”…

He would have been three at the time. As I said he has an active imagination and had a new brother so maybe it was just a story he thought up, but James and I kind of exchanged glances for a sec..

“Was it a really long time ago?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. Ages ago!” he replied.

James said something like “I didn’t know you had seen chariots? That sounds like what you are talking about with the carts and horses?”

“Ohhh…” said Josh, just casually looking out the window deep in thought, “chariot… hmmm”

And James and I just looked at each other a bit bemused, fairly certain we have never exposed him to anything where he would have seen a chariot and not sure what was fact or fiction but not really caring either way.

As I thought about myself at 3 this morning as I was in the shower and I thought of the story of Aunty Fayette and Uncle Jack and it all came flooding back to me, I thought, man there must be so much stuff we know but forget by the time we are old enough to express it.

I’m not really sure how you or I are “meant” to deal with and talk about death with children but for me, I try to follow their lead and always leave my answers as reflective, open ended questions because in a way they are not only their own, but my greatest teachers with this stuff.

I don’t have the “oldies” to learn from anymore but there is now a whole new generation and my kids and the opinions and ideas from them who haven’t yet been shaped or closed by their own adult perceptions or realities of life in this lifetime.

By being open, by admitting to them often when they ask questions that I’m not really sure how it all works, or if anyone really does, its all just different ways of thinking and believing and having faith and connection to something greater than us. And then most importantly I ask and actually listen when I say “what do you think?”

I continue to learn and develop and progress my own perceptions and ideas whilst also encouraging them to develop and understand them for themselves. Especially while they are still young. The might be able to answer their own questions better than I could in years to come but by then they would have probably forgotten it.

But I won’t. I will remember what they think life and death and all the big questions meant to them before the world encourages them to forget and I can be there, hopefully I will be there, to remind them.

 

 

 


 

Skylight Trust has amazing resources for helping support people through greif and loss, particularly with children. Check out thier site and the many different ways they can support you if this for you, like me, like many of us, can be a tought topic to discuss with your kids – http://skylight.org.nz/

 

DISCLAIMER: Obviously we are not a family that prescribes to a set religion or school of faith but that doesn’t mean we are not open to them, in fact, there is lots we like from many of them, but for us, nature is our temple. Even between James and I we have slightly different takes on what destiny and God and all those things mean to us but one thing we have always firmly believed is giving our children exposure to lots of different ways to find faith and belonging in the world and encouraging them to answer those decisions for themselves. But this is not meant to be offensive to someone with different beliefs, my favourite tenants of the faiths that speak to me most are the ones about us all being on our own journey up the same mountain and that your relationship with something bigger than us is a very personal one.