The Flipside Of Love

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I love my family. I love my husband; by jove I love that man. I love my friends, the whole crazy lot of them. They’re our village.

But this kid…. This kid is different.

Maybe it’s the instant nature of it. I felt it the moment I held him, and I know it’s not like that for some people. It can take a little while to get your head and heart around this new being in your life. But it hit me full force, crazy pregnant lady hormones or nay.

And almost with the same force, I felt the fierce grip of fear.

I looked into the eyes of this tiny baby and realised that although I could with all confidence say that I would do anything for him, be the best kind of parent I could possibly be and give him all the love and support he would ever need – his future was not entirely mine to design.

And that scared the bejesus out of me.

I don’t mean this in a scary-dance-mom kind of way. I don’t have my sights on his career or academic/sporting life (though, I have a big plans for the use of novelty outfits and the like). I mean that I realised all of the things that could have been his life and that could still be his life simultaneously. Every news story, horror story, health warning and natural event that I’d never taken much notice of suddenly hit me like a tonne of bricks. Talk about an empathy baptism of fire.

But what to do with this fear? It can devour you whole if you let it, and dampen that pure love that made you radiate. But I think recognizing that it comes with the territory, that being able to love with such force has to come with a flipside of fear, makes it somehow bearable.

I suppose it may sound melancholic, but it’s important to discuss it. It’s only when we talk about our fears that we can recognise them, understand why they’re there and figure out how to live with them. I don’t want to helicopter around August, or instill a fear of the world in him. I don’t want to bang on about what could go wrong, and I don’t want those thoughts to consume me either. I want him to develop a healthy curiousity and interest in what’s happening around him, in other people and I want him to find his own place in the world.

I still worry. I will worry. It’ll probably give me more grey hairs and the like. But I deal with it knowing that it’s going to be there regardless, that all I can do is love him with everything I have, and that in order to enjoy this beautiful gift of bursting love, I have to accept it will always be there.

I think I can be cool with that.

 

August – 3 Months

 

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Time flies when you’re having fun. Or perhaps more accurately, when you’re feeding, rocking, singing, crying, loving, sighing and breathing baby.

We knew we’d love this kid, but we didn’t know the extent of this love. At times a heart-wrenching love, when it seems the world is so big, and your baby so small.

Excited calls of  “ooh, come look at this!” still ring and will continue to ring throughout the house, when we want to share with each other this silly face, the first roll, or a huge-mungous poo that this little thing presents to us. We laugh a lot, and now sometimes all together, when August figures a giggle out.

He’s grown in length, but not particularly in girth. His contemporaries are bubbling and bursting at the seams, but he suits his petiteness. He often captures attention because of his likeness to a miniature person, not just a baby. Bottle-shop attendants, key-cutters, and librarians have not escaped his charm, much to my amusement. And he knows how to turn it on.

I can remember life before him, I don’t hold with the adage that you forget. But this is a different life, a one that bring such highs, such swells and a little fear. But it’s all good. It’s where we want to be.

Happy 3 months August. We’re on the edge of our seats to see what 4 brings. And we love you so very much.

An Open Letter To Those Who Have Gone Before Us: Addressed to Parents of the Past

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Dear All

First up: sorry for not writing more often. And by more often, I mean never. But look, this is a start, and I’m rather ashamed of my tardiness, so let’s not dwell on it in case the baby wakes up before I finish.

I want to say something before I delve into this letter, something that should have been said, and should continue to be said to you more often:

You did a great job.

You guys all did what we new parents are learning to do right now: Raise a child in the best way you know how. You did it with love and with all the tools at your disposal at the time. You did it with cloth nappies, horse and carts, polio, war and depression. You did it without formula, central heating, vaccinations, research and Kaz Cook baby books. And we all turned out alright (sure, some of us might be card-carrying narcissists from too much love – but who knew that would be the outcome?).

The reason I want to say this, and say it loud, is that just as you did your very best – so are we newbies. It would be naive to assume there isn’t quite the gap between parenting in 2014, and the parenting of generations before us. In the baby-rearing arena, when continual research can mean that recommendations change almost yearly – a generation is a long time between drinks. And don’t even get me started on drinking!

So I guess I’m writing to clear up a couple of things:

Sharing is caring, but unsolicited advice is kinda annoying.

We would be nowhere today if knowledge wasn’t passed down through the ages, across the board. Science, literature, cooking  – where would we be without Nonna’s instructions or Great Uncle Kev’s fishing tips. But when new Mums are constantly barraged by conflicting information on how to look after a baby, a gentle suggestion can go a long way, instead of making an assumption that what is being done is wrong. You’d be amazed at what complete strangers have “advised” me so far. “He’s hungry” being a favourite.

I know that there is a fine line between helping and being a pain, but perhaps think about the way you provide any advice you’re giving to new parents. You want to help, not hinder, and statements are a whole different ballgame than a suggestion.

If you’ve had kids more than 4 years ago, and you’re going to be around a new parent a whole lot – do some reading

Just as we’ve had books, blogs and baby forums shoved down our throats, you too might benefit from a little updating of your new baby knowledge. Perhaps things have changed since you were a tired, hormonal mum, or a pensive new dad, and it would be a huge benefit for you to combine your past experience with current recommendations and regulations. Then maybe you can skip the whisky-on-the-gums suggestion and spare us the eye-rolling.

Just because some things might have changed, doesn’t mean we’re saying you did anything wrong

This is a biggie. When a new parent in 2014 disputes your advice about the position baby should sleep in, or the best swaddling method, this is not because they think you are wrong or have done wrong. It’s simply that what we’re being advised now is different to the advice of yesteryear, and we have to follow the safety stats. Please don’t take it personally, and please don’t infer that what you had done (tummy sleeping etc) was something terrible. You were doing exactly the same as we were – following recommendations from the health professionals. You’ll find you’re far less defensive if you do a little reading as suggested above, since then we’ll all be on the same page.

Lastly – don’t stop helping

I don’t know how frazzled I would be now if someone hadn’t showed me some fantastic positions for de-gassing baby, or the body language babies show when they’re in the early stages of tiredness. This stuff doesn’t change. It’s really the things surrounding our babies that change. So keep sharing your homespun advice, but with the new-found knowledge of 2014. We’d love your help.

 

Let Me Be Your Daddy Blog

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My husband was actively involved in my pregnancy (up to a point of course, and then the eating of donuts/carrying of child/aches and pains were all mine), and was also involved in the planning of said pregnancy. And now that we have August, we co-parent as much as possible. Sound too good to be true? The fact that to many people, it does, is the issue here. There are heaps of great Dads that are taking an equal share of raising a child, but do we hear about it (apart from when it’s reported in wonderment)? Nope.

Throughout my pregnancy and now as a Mother (always with a capital for marketing purposes), I have at my fingertips an overwhelming amount of information, mostly in the form of Mummy blogs, ranging from the inspirational to the contrived. Some I felt resonated with me, but others were eons away from my way of thinking. But that’s cool – I have a heap to choose from. From the very beginning of this crazy child-rearing adventure, I was learning and absorbing. But I soon realised that my partner hadn’t been worded up on this stuff, nor had he even been invited to the party.

See, he’s a Dad. And therefore, he’s struggled to find a blog for this role. He wanted to be able to connect and share this new experience with other like-minded Dads, preferably in the same country. But it appears that the Daddy Blog is a rare beast. When he did find a ‘group’, the promise of beer, sport or food was apparently necessary to grab and keep a male’s attention, and often overshadowed the main purpose of the group. He was dismayed, and I can’t help feeling that this is hugely patronizing to those men wanting to connect with other fathers, and this certainly didn’t fly at our house.

Why do we do this? I don’t want to downplay the value of the parenting blog or forum, in whatever format it works for you – but it appears as though women have staked a claim in this area, with an almost righteous attitude about it. There are clubs, awards, societies, and everything in between for mothering blogs – in the Kidspot Voices of 2014, the parenting blogs in the Top 100 are all by women, with various forms of the word “mum” in the titles.

The reality is, women are continuing the vicious circle of parenting roles by keeping men out of the loop, and I’ve found that the assumption is continually made that if something needs to be researched or checked in regards to our son, all eyes on me. Why do I need to be the one to Google, call or ask – that’s a BIG responsibility dude. Ask my husband. Get his signature on August’s immunisation form. Have him sign the boy up to a daycare waiting list. His handwriting is much nicer than mine.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that just because a women is writing a blog about parenting, there isn’t a place for that. We have bits that men don’t, and these bring with them a whole range of fun stuff to LOL about (or FML about). But there should exist a more shared experience, where the joys, trials, and hilariously confusing aspects of having a child can be discussed by everyone involved. And this, in turn, will go towards both parents taking on a more equal responsibility.We know of a couple of great fathering blogs, like this one, and we love people like Brian – but we hope ours will also become somewhere for everyone to go and laugh at ourselves and our kids equally.

Spread the love peeps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FFS Friday: When Your 9 Week Old Has Better Hair Than You

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Volume? Check. Colour? Check. Silky Smooth To The Touch? Check. Natural Hipster Coiff? Yeah, another Check.

Anyone who has had a baby, or, in fact, has ever just carried one around in public will know that you instantly become the invisible man/woman behind the infant. A prop that has the sole purpose of bringing this babe to the masses. And I’m totally cool with that. Ya gotta give the public what they want.

But when your baby starts to pull admiration for his tresses, in particular after you’ve hit the salon for a long over due ‘do’, it’s time to accept the fact that no matter what you do, what you wear or indeed whether you’re wearing anything at all – this kid will be the king of the focus-pull.

Don’t take it personally. I mean, you made the kid, so bask in the baby-love and remember this: many hilarious hairdos are at your fingertips for future birthday embarrassment. Small victories.

Birth Plans vs Birth Ideals: Knowing What You Want, With The Knowledge That Your Captain is a Newborn

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I love to learn new things. Anything really. Ranging from the completely superfluous skill (writing backwards and mirrored, faux tap) to something that I can utilise every day (tech stuff, mediation, faux tap). So naturally, when presented with the completely new world of pregnancy and an impending labour, I did my research. To me, knowledge is comforting, it makes me feel in control and worded up in an often unknown landscape.

Look, I didn’t overdo things (no magazines, a few great books and I may have stalked a bogan baby online forum), but I asked a lot of questions and read-up on what spoke to us heading into this new adventure. My husband Adam and I had strong ideas about giving the natural labour sans pain relief a go, and as our hospital offered a water-birth and I am a lover of all bodies of water – that had me at hello.

A Birth Plan was talked about from the very beginning, and it was around the time we were writing it up that I realised that a plan was all what it was. And we know what happens to the best laid plans. What I’d be taking into that birthing suite was a plan of attack, and during my pregnancy I’d read about and met people who were taking in Birth Ideals. This is about as pointless as writing a business plan and incorporating daily flowers in the foyer as part of your indicators of success.

One of our main points in the Birth Plan was (in addition to a water birth, as little intervention as possible and a big bouncy ball) was “get baby out safely”.  I know enough women who have given birth to understand the absolute luck of the draw when it comes to following a Birth Plan. This is where knowledge comes into play for me. I knew exactly what I wanted to when it came to a birth ideal, but when it came to the plan, I also found out what my options were should the baby take the decisions out of my hands and throw some us some curve balls. What would happen “if”? And knowing all of this didn’t scare me; if anything I felt it further equipped me to approach the labour with confidence and positivity.

In one of our birthing and labour classes the hospital provided, the midwife went around the room of first-time parents-to-be and asked three questions: What were their names? What week were they in? What reference materials had they accessed?

I would say that about 80% of a rather large group said they’d avoided reading too much so they didn’t scare themselves. Holy crap – THAT is my version of a nightmare. I can understand that to some people ignorance in this arena may appear to be bliss, but let me tell you, after going through labour myself I could not imagine entering that situation knowing the bare minimum. The biggest challenge you will face in labour is fear, and although this may not ring true for everyone – when you don’t know what’s happening and why and you’re experiencing pain like you’ve never experienced – fear will increase this tenfold.

A great resource for me was a book called “Birth Journeys: Positive Birth Stories to Encourage and Inspire”, compiled and edited by Leonie MacDonald. It may look a little hippie-esque from the front (nude pregnant women in a lovely strategically-draped scarf). It is full of positive birthing stories from Australian women, ranging from full natural home-births to high-risk caesarian sections. It reinforced that whatever way your labour goes, regardless of your Birth Plan, it can be a positive experience and not one to be judged by – either by others or yourself.

This meant that when my Birth Plan was quickly thrown out the window thanks to a combination of body, environment and baby – I knew what the options were, why they were there and when they would kick in. This meant that although I was disappointed I didn’t get my intervention-free waterbirth, I had such a positive birthing experience that it didn’t matter. It felt like the ultimate outcome was just a part of the journey to meet August. Whether he arrived via the official exit or the stage door – my experience was not lessened by its diversion from the planned path.

Welcoming August Gray

If I’ve been a bit quiet of late (though really, with Amy solely holding the fort with some cracker posts – you’ve got a pretty good reason not to have noticed), it’s not because I haven’t been carrying my weight (all 42 weeks of it) – it’s because that weight was finally converted to baby on the Nineteenth of March, 2014.

Introducing, August Gray Kennon. We think he’s a bit scrummy.

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In addition to a long labour, birth plan that went out the window and a longer stay in hospital than anticipated, well, you know, I have a newborn. It’s pretty much all consuming, and he has taken my time and breath away faster than you can say grazed nipple.

So I’ll be back in the swing of things with a post tomorrow, and since Amy has her own impending baby to birth, you might see a bit more of me when she disappears into the newborn haze.

I’ll leave you with the moment Hazel met August (this was taken just before August started crying and Hazel took the hands-off “I didn’t do it!” approach to baby-holding)

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