Thursday, 24 March 2016

I have an auto immune disease...

But I can't tell you about it.  I don't want to tell you the specifics - the name or what the diagnosis process was like, and going through those appointments by myself (well, Miss 1 just screamed any time anyone touched me when she had to come along; and dear husband had to take time off work to care for her when I just couldn't handle trying to settle a screaming toddler while absorbing life-altering information). 

But I do.  Because it's huge and it's impacting my life every day and forever.  It's incurable.  It's a disease that can, at best, be managed.  But it's still my body attacking itself.  And it's scary - your body isn't supposed to do that to itself!  And it's uncommon, so who knows how long 'this' has been attacking my body and been missed or dismissed.  But an earlier diagnosis wouldn't have changed anything anyway.  Incurable. 

I don't want to give the specifics because I don't want someone to Google it, and see pictures of what my body looks like, or what I am going through, because even for this over-sharer (hello?  Read any of these blogs!), it's too much, too personal.  But I feel so alone.  I want someone to talk to about this.

So.  I have an autoimmune disease.  And that's all I feel comfortable enough to say.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

My broken brain

It seems to me there’s a new movement – though perhaps not so new – of people leaving Facebook.

I left abruptly a couple of months ago with a quick status update one morning (that it turns out most people missed), because I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I was wasting too much time on Facebook, always reaching for my phone, not paying enough attention to the baby wiggling on the floor or the jobs that needed doing, until I HAD to face them.  But funnily enough, I was sick of Facebook too – always reading the same kinds of status updates, getting the same ads clogging up my feed, not seeing anything from the people I wanted to hear from, but not being bothered or forgetting to look for them or change the settings so they’d pop up again.  And increasingly, I was living my life ‘out there’ and it was really messing with me.  I needed to bring my focus, my attention and my love ‘back in’ – into myself, my own family, my own house, and my physically-present and oft-neglected friends.

Living my life ‘out there’ (with gesticulating hands) was causing discontent in my life.  I have a wonderful husband who loves me more than I confuse him these days, which never ceases to amaze me.  I have two beautiful, happy, healthy children.  We have a mortgage, which means we both have good jobs to buy a house in the first place.  WE are healthy.  Our family members love us and are healthy too.  I have a handful of true friends I love dearly, some close, some on the other side of the world.  But I’d see status updates about someone with a nicer/bigger house than ours, or in a better suburb, or doing renovations to make their dive their dream home.  I’d see how well other new mums were doing at life, while I felt like I sucked at all of it.  I’d see others travelling the world, seeing places I can only dream of visiting.  Discontent.  Discontent. Discontent.  So I left Facebook to bring my focus back ‘in’ and on all of the many, many, many ways we are blessed.

While I’m not in the typical Post Natal Depression phase anymore, given Baby is now almost 10 months old, my brain isn’t working quite the way it should – quite the way it used to.  Things really bother and get to me now that didn’t rattle me Before Baby.  I have a very short fuse.  I can’t stand crowds or noise.  I have an overwhelming desire to control as much of my surroundings as I can.  I calm myself down with cleaning and organising and getting jobs crossed off lists.  If I can see that I’m making headway on my list of things to do, I feel a sense of peace – I haven’t totally lost myself, I’m still capable and my world isn’t falling apart.  The Black Dog stays in its kennel.  But when the house gets too messy for my unease, or the pile of papers on top of the everything-out-of-date, totally disorganised filing cabinet starts to lean dangerously, I feel anxious.  And not anxiety like, “I hope I get home before it rains or we’ll have no clean underwear tomorrow”, but anxiety like “I’ve let it get out of hand; I’m losing control; I suck at life” and my heartrate goes up.  But get stuck in and tidy/clean/organise something, and my soul exhales. It can be as simple as the shelf in the bathroom where we keep the medicine.  Or clearing off the dining table.  Or scrubbing the kitchen.  “I’m okay, I can do this, I’m still ‘me’.”  I’m sure there’s a name for what I’m doing now, but I’m fine not knowing!

And while all of this started after Baby was born, I think it has grown bigger than that.  This isn’t about Baby anymore because Baby is awesome – loud and wakes way too early for all concerned, but awesome.  I’m not sure what it IS about though.  Sometimes I think of it this way - my brain was broken for a while, and it has healed a little misaligned, like a broken nose.  Or like when you’ve had a stomach virus and have thrown up for a few days, that first day when you don’t feel like vomiting, you feel better but also very ‘fragile’.  Maybe my brain is still fragile after months of throwing up.  Awesome.  Isn’t that a nice image for you!

Apart from trying to use ‘control’ as a tool to make myself better, I tried really paring back my life to give my brain the space/time/energy it needed to get to the root of some of my issues – even if I couldn’t fix it, maybe understanding what Square One was would help.

1) Get off Facebook.  Stop living and focusing ‘out there’. 

2) Not going online as much as I used to and avoiding all negative stories (*though not possible to do in my line of work)

3)  Reconnecting with friends by picking up the phone or making coffee dates and Skype dates with far-flung friends. 

4) Being around genuine people.

5)  Not watching commercial TV anymore and avoiding shows with dark or ‘on the edge of your seat’ content…
I’ve also tried to mend some long-broken fences in the hopes that that will give my head, heart and soul more peace after months of nightmares.  I pulled away from a great friend for a while, too, because I just never felt like I was ‘doing a good job’ on the occasions I did talk to them.  Our conversations felt weird and strange to me and I didn’t understand why.  So I pulled back to try and figure it out.  (Turns out it simply had to do with the changing shape of our friendship – of all my friendships – because of all that’s happened this year and how our lives have both changed this year.  I don’t cope well with change sometimes, so throw my broken brain into the mix and you know I’m about ready to curl into a ball with a bowl of leave-me-alone ice-cream!)
But despite all this, I fear I may never quite be myself again.  I’m trying everything I can to get myself back, but I’m not sure yet if it’s working.  I clean and organise and cross things off lists one week and I feel a bit like ‘me’ again.  But the next week is busy and I’m more exhausted than the week before, and the house gets messy and disorganised again (to my irrational eye) and I lose it again.  I use my cranky voice with Kid Wonder (age 4) faster and with more force than is warranted.  I feel heart-aching guilt over things I have no control over.  I worry.  A lot.  I get angry at things I have no control over.  Then I push myself to try and get something done to make myself feel better – sometimes that works but sometimes it starts an avalanche of other things I see that need doing.  It. Is. Exhausting.
But I will keep trying.  Because at the start of this year when it felt like I was laying on the seabed, I wasn’t sure I would be able to swim up.  But I did.  I’m adrift in the ocean, perhaps, but I’ve learned I may not stay out here.  Maybe I’ll find driftwood to keep me afloat and give me rest.  Maybe I’ll manage to find an island to sustain me for a while.  Or maybe I’ll be rescued and taken back to the mainland and I’ll be ‘me’ again and stay ‘me’.  I will keep swimming.
PS:  You know how there was that lady in the US who created brutally honest greeting cards for people with cancer that the world went crazy about because nothing like it existed before?  Someone needs to start a line of "I'm sorry your brain is broken" cards for people to give to loved ones with mental illness.  Because sometimes people want to reach out but don't know what to say.  I'll take a simple 'finder's fee' for the idea!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Down the rabbit hole

So, after two years of trying to get pregnant, then finally hitting the jackpot and carrying our little squish to term, our newest daughter was born on New Year's Eve via c-section.  It was a wonderful birth (compared to her big sister's arrival in the emergency version) and she was perfect - everything present and accounted for, her dark grey-blue eyes blinking in shock and awe at me from my chest, weighing in at 3.860kg (8 pounds, 8 ounces).  I was taken up to the ward, with my new daughter tucked under my blankets, with a grin from ear to ear.  I was absolutely elated.  She was here.  She was safe.

But things started to go downhill for us the following day when she wouldn't attach to breastfeed.  After trying to attach, my baby would get worked up and then fall asleep from the battle of trying to feed.  This went on for days with no help from the ward midwives because A) public hospital, B) public holiday period so skeleton staff numbers meant nobody had time, and C) being my second child, they figured I was fine.  But I wasn't fine.  My baby developed jaundice so was sleepy, lethargic and almost impossible to wake, which made our feeding/attachment challenges even harder, which in turn exacerbated her jaundice because she wasn't getting milk to help flush it out of her system - the only thing more difficult than trying to feed a newborn who can't/won't attach, is trying to feed one who keeps falling asleep!  I would keep trying, but was torn about whether or not to let her keep sleeping... because all newborns sleep a lot, right?  Right?  I would get upset and frustrated when she wouldn't attach despite her showing interest.  And she would get upset at not being able to get to what she wanted and would turn beetroot red, arch her back and stamp her little feet into my very tender tummy.  And we'd both be in tears.  And then we'd both give up and fall asleep. And around and around we'd go.

But on the afternoon of the fourth day, one midwife took charge of the situation and an anxious and engorged me, and told me to express and feed my daughter with a bottle of my expressed milk "because she's hungry, she's lost more than her 10%, you've got the milk so let's just get it into her".

"But she can't be that hungry because she isn't crying," I said, to try and reassure myself that we were really fine.

"Well, to a point," she replied.  "But newborns get to a stage where they just give up and will sleep."
Queue anxiety point #1 - my baby has given up trying to feed and is now sleeping until she dies!

Despite that 'throw-away' line, I am thankful that that midwife made a call that I was incapable of making at that stage - express every two hours and feed her that way - and we were able to go home from hospital the following day with that plan.  But in the wee hours of our first night at home, I remembered I had nipple shields from my first daughter that I never ended up using with her (and let me just say, I appreciate my oldest daughter's breastfeeding success so much more and on a whole other level now!), and she attached and was swallowing!  Cue choirs of angels!  No more bottles and pumps!

But a new battle was beginning.  She was still sleeping around the clock (11am to 7am the following day, I kid you not!), so we'd have to wake her every two hours to feed, but most times she wouldn't stir enough or long enough to either attach or feed for longer than a few minutes at best.  We would strip her off, wet her face with a washer, blow in her face, bath her and even putting ice cubes on her feet in an attempt to feed her!  She'd even do the same with a bottle, so it wasn't just my boobs!  One night we took her to the emergency room because we hadn't been able to wake her at all!
Queue anxiety point #2 - something is wrong with my baby because she won't wake up, and it's because she's not feeding enough to get better/stronger!

So despite her somewhat success at feeding from me with the shields, my anxiety started to grow around her feeds.  She was so sleepy all the time that she wasn't feeding often enough to be getting enough milk to flush out the jaundice, or to play catch-up on her weight gains. So she didn't have the energy to feed enough.  So she was sleepy all the time.  So she didn't have the energy to feed enough. And around and around and around.

Every feed that wasn't what I considered "successful" would have me in tears.  Every feed that she'd try to attach (even with shields) but couldn't/wouldn't because she was too tired, would send my anxiety skyrocketing, and I'd get angry at her and frustrated with both of us for not getting it right!  In the first two weeks, I had to put her in her bassinet twice after failed feeds because I was just too mad at her and myself.  Then I would collapse in tears and hysterics and rant and rave about how much I hated it all.  My poor husband tried to pick up the pieces - a wife sobbing on the floor, shaking, in the small hours of the morning.

"I don't understand!  Why won't she feed!?  I hate her!  I wish I'd never had her!  I want to quit!"

It hurts to write those words.  I should be basking in her newborn glow.  I should be thanking God for giving her to me.  I should be relishing these newborn weeks because they'll be over soon.  But my brain doesn't work that way right now, and quite frankly I can't think of anything I want more than to fast-forward six months to when this phase is over.

I've sought advice from two GPs (my usual GP seemed to be more stressful than helpful, labeling my daughter a "lazy sucker" and saying things like, "she'll probably never feed very well."  Great. Thanks). Queue anxiety point #3 - it will always be this hard.
A paedetrician told me she has a short tongue and nothing can be done but to keep trying and waking her every two hours to feed (yeah, how?!?).

And in all this, there was always 'advice' and 'warnings' to stop using nipple shields as soon as I was possibly able.  "They disrupt your supply."  "You'll get blocked ducts and mastitis because the baby can't drain the breast with nipple shields on."  "The baby won't get enough milk because they disrupt the let-down and flow." Etc.  So on top of the anxiety about feeding enough/often enough, her sleepiness and jaundice and never getting better, I felt immense pressure to give up the one thing that was making her feeds possible.

I've seen four lactation consultants, who've all given me difference advice.  But when the third one at the hospital said, "Oh, she's just content to starve" (the single worst thing she could have said given my anxiety triggers!), it started the gush of water out of my sanity dam.  I'd tried to feed my daughter in her presence so she could help us, but my daughter once again fell asleep and wouldn't feed.  I started to cry.  I started to cry harder.  I started telling her how much I didn't like my daughter; how if someone wanted to take her away, I'd happily hand her over.  Between handing me handfuls of tissues, the lactation consultant asked if I would mind if she called the Perinatal Mental Health unit to see if someone was available to come and talk to me.  I was embarrassed, but relieved that she did.  The next day, I talked to a mental health nurse over the phone, who arranged to come and visit me at home a few days later.  In the meantime, I had another massive meltdown at home about being worried my baby wasn't getting enough milk.

When the mental health nurse arrived the following day, I spilled my guts!  I told her everything I'd been struggling with, thinking and feeling - and not feeling (love, attachment, protective of my baby).  She told me I had Post Natal Depression, and that medication would be a good first step of several to help me get better.  I started to relax.  I had a plan.  I had help.  I was going to get better.  But then she, the GP and the pharmacist told me about the side effects of the drug I'd been given (the safest for breastfeeding mums), and that scared a good chunk of the crazy out of me!

"Your mood will get worse initially before it gets better, and this can sometimes include suicidal thoughts or tendencies, so if you feel that way, put the baby somewhere safe and either call 000 or go to a neighbour's house for help.  It can also disrupt your sleep, so take it first thing in the morning so you can get some sleep at night.  It can make you feel sick - like morning sickness - so try to have it with food to ease the sickness.  And it can also pass through the breastmilk to the baby and make them sleepy (like we hadn't struggled enough with that!).  But don't stop taking it - we have to wean you onto it, and wean you off; suddenly stopping it can do more damage."


So after battling my thoughts, I decided not to take it.

  • I felt so low already, I didn't think I could cope with being made to feel any lower and still function on any level - even minimal.  
  • Suicidal?!  Suicidal?!  Taking a drug that came with a warning to call an ambulance?!?!  Why are they even making it then!?!  
  • I didn't want any drug in my new baby's system unless it was for her needs or benefit, but certainly not one that was going to make an existing problem even bigger!
  • I was exhausted already and didn't think I could cope with more sleep disruption.  
  • Not being able to stop taking it once I started, even if it made me crazier?
  • And feeling nauseated on top of insomnia and suicidal?  Hell no.  All kinds of no!

That was just over a week ago.

  • So now I'm seeing a psychologist, and I have my second appointment with her tomorrow, and she's going to give me tools to help challenge my anxious thoughts.
  • I'm going on walking dates with a beautiful neighbour at least one night a week after our kids are asleep, so I can get some fresh air, exercise and a change of scenery (and gas-bagging helps too).
  • I will be able to drive at the end of this week (albeit a few days earlier than the recommended 6 weeks), so I've planned to attend a breastfeeding mothers' group (oh Lord, I hope they don't judge me for using shields) to meet some new people and get out of the house for a hour or two, and meet up with my sister-in-law for coffee once a fortnight, and also just get out and feel alive and independent again.
  • And I've also found ONE, international board certified lactation consultant to talk to for advice, to cut out the crap-load of mixed-messages I've been given to date.  And you know what she said?  "So what if you need shields?!  They're working.  I've had clients who've used them for two years!"  And if nothing else, I am embracing that one sentence from her whole two-hour visit.  I don't have to ditch the nipple shields.  It doesn't matter if I keep using them - they are my security blanket because I know feeds work with them; bub is getting lots of milk; she's gaining weight back.  My anxiety is lower when I use them.  When I try to feed without them, my anxiety is up from the start, and bub doesn't feed as well or for as long, if she attaches at all.  Decision made!

I have Post Natal Depression, and it's going to take time and effort to get better.  There isn't a quick fix, like "Just eat better" or my favourite, "Fake til to you make it!  Get dressed, put make-up on and smile, even if you don't feel like it, and you'll feel better".  Bwaa haa haa!

I am a nipple shield mumma and I will not give them up.  My baby has issues with feeding and needs help.  I don't know why.  It doesn't matter.  I will do whatever I need to do to make sure she's okay, and if that includes washing a piece of silicone after every feed for six months, Lord knows I will wash that piece of silicone after every feed for six months!

Feeding issues is just part of our journey and my daughter's baby story.  I will tell her all about it when she's older - and ask for an extra big bunch of flowers for the next Mother's Day.

I am getting better.  I am getting stronger.  I am beating this.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

I believe in Santa

I believe in Santa.

Well, I did as a child, until I busted my grandmother being the tooth fairy when I was about 6 or 7 and the whole fantasy-land part of my childhood died in seconds.  No Easter Bunny.  No fairies.  No Santa.  It was sad because it was the end of a really special part of my childhood, where magic was not just possible, but REAL - where I'd stare up in the sky on Christmas Eve just willing myself to see Santa's sleigh; where I could barely get to sleep the nights I lost a tooth because a REAL toothfairy was going to visit my room that night to take my tooth away and leave me 20 cents (it was the 80s and I was cheap to please).  I think once I even made a little 'bathroom' out of my doll's house furniture for the toothfairy in case she needed to use the toilet, wash her face or have a drink of water on her rounds!  I was a sweetie.
My mum did a wonderful job of nurturing and growing this fantasy land part of my childhood.  She wrote a letter from the toothfairy for every tooth I lost (until I busted grandma), sprinkled in some glitter and came up with beautifully magical names, like Moonbeam and Twinkle Toes (well, they were beautiful and magical to me at the time!)  She diligently ate half the raw carrot we put out every Easter for the Easter bunny.  She drank the milk and biscuits left out for Santa (an easier task than raw carrot) and even let me collect lawn clippings to leave for the reindeer and sprinkled them down the hallway and out the front door to make it look like the reindeer had to eat it on the run.  I cringe at the mess she made, all to make my Christmas morning that year more... magical.  I think my oldest sister and brother even got in on the action one year and rolled their bikes back and forth on the front yard to make sleigh tracks in our dead, brown and crunchy North Queensland drought-affected lawn.
My childhood rocked in that regard.
So let me tell you why I will be working my butt off over the coming several years to make sure my darling daughter and her little brother/sister have that same magical wonder I enjoyed, thanks to my mum and despite the scoffing of my dad (and no doubt others).
That age of magical wonder and innocence is so freakin' short!  Poof - gone!  All too soon, my babies will be grown up and slowly understand the realities of life and being a human in this world.  They will know that bad things happen all too often, and to good people.  They will know that people can be mean.  They will learn about poverty and homelessness.  They will know they will be expected to work hard at school, only to leave school and work hard in some area to make a living and pay a never-ending slew of bills.  They will have their heart broken.  They will make friends and lose friends.  And yes, they will fall wonderfully in love.  They will see real miracles happen, and how kind and wonderful people can be.  As well as the ugly in the world, they will see the beautiful, too, I know.  BUT, that magical wonder - the magic and fantasy and innocence and excitement and wonder of childhood - only lasts a few precious years.  I want my children to have that.
Hearing a five-year-old tell my two-year-old, "Santa's not real!  It's just mum and dad!" makes me sad.  So while you may teach your child/ren that Santa isn't real and Christmas is just about presents and food and being with family (and the fact that the whole reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ - that's a whole other blog), please also tell them to keep their mouths shut when they're playing with other children.  You might not want to "lie to them and deceive them", but I bloody well am and will continue to, to foster my childrens' wonder and imagination and excitement and magical view of life and the world for as long as I can.
The world needs more magic and wonder.  Not less.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Mumsy's the word

Mumsy. adjective. Giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable

I've always been a bit of a dork.  I've never had much time for make-up and usually only wear it when required - whether it's work or blemishes or late-night dark circles.  I have never been able to style my hair past the ponytail or tussled-dry looks so I steer clear of hairstyles that require appliances, and the greys are starting to take over.  We don't have much money (especially now that we're expecting our second baby and will be dropping to one income soon) so I don't buy clothes for myself.  New injections to my wardrobe come via two means - hand-me-downs from my beautiful sisters, and things my mum buys me out of pity (bless her!), which are usually smaller versions of the clothes she buys herself. These aren't usually clothes I would buy myself but I really do appreciate them.  And while I could buy myself quality pieces as the budget allows, I find myself overwhelmed and lost, so by default go back to the same dorky options from the same cheap shops.

Last year I went to a friend's hen's party and there was nothing, a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing, in my wardrobe that was suitable to wear out to a bar or nightclub.  Not even a top to pair with basic jeans!  Not even with accessorising!  And earlier this year, my husband and I were able to get away for the night to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary at a very swanky hotel and I had nothing suitable to wear to waltz through the doors of said swanky hotel and sit stylishly in their marble and polished timber foyer.  I put on the dress I chose, looked in the mirror and asked my husband, "Does this look too mumsy?"  He shrugged, meaning "Yes, I agree with you that it is but I can't really say anything about it."  He's a smart man.  I looked like a haggered mum from the suburbs wearing a dress she got from a $2 clothes swap.  Because I was.

Mumsy. adjective. Giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable

While I've always been a bit of a dork, I seem to have gotten worse in the last six or seven years, since I've been with my wonderful husband.  Now, my current 'mumsy' appearance has nothing to do with him (he doesn't have anything to do with what's in my wardrobe!), but I think the reason behind the change in my appearance just happened to coincide with the time he entered my life. 

Let me explain.

I've written previously about how before I was a Christian, I slept around because a) I didn't know any better and b) I just wanted someone to love me so badly and thought that's how I'd find it. After all, sex = love, surely!  ( So after almost 10 years worth of letting myself be treated like a play thing and of dressing to attract the opposite sex (albeit in a relatively modest fashion compared to what you see these days), I found God.  Then I found real love with my now husband.  And then I unconsciously started to go out the other side - waaaaay out the other side.  I chose and accepted clothes of a style too old for me, that were ill-fitting, ultra conservative, boring.  And floral.  Lots of floral.

I realised this morning that all of this was a reaction to - in retaliation of - those 10 years of dressing for attention.  I was dressing to hide. To repel attention.  To blend into the background (of a couch from the 1960s?)  Almost like women who've been abused who put on weight as a way of protecting themselves and making themselves feel invisible.  I started dressing in a way that wouldn't draw any male attention at all.

But now I catch sight of myself and wonder where the hec I've gone! "Where's the Jen I feel on the inside, and why doesn't she show on the outside?"  Now more time has passed and I'm stronger and in a better and genuinely loving place, I want to find the new me.  We still don't have the money for shopping sprees and wardrobe make-overs, but I could at least clean out my cupboard of the worst offenders.  I could start looking through magazines at the dentist or hairdresser (actually go to an actual hairdresser) and get ideas of what style could suit me.  I could start paying attention to women around me who are my age to get ideas.  I could go into shops and try lots of things on to find out what does suit me.  And I could start loving myself more and realising that I am worth a $100 dress or pair of shoes every now and then - hec, anything from a shop that doesn't have shopping trolley bays at the entrance!

I am beautiful.  I am worthy.  I am forgiven.  I am safe.  I am loved.  It's okay.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mr Judgey McJudge

The great thing about living in Australia is that our Federal Government can pay the primary caregiver of a new baby (born or adopted) up to 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave (PPL) at the national minimum wage rate to allow them to be home with and spend time with their new little one.  What a blessing.

The problem though, is navigating the MINEFIELD of paperwork and questions and forms and links, tucks and half-pikes with a double twist required to submit your application!  So I had a little vent on Facebook (as you do) about equally needing and loathing applying for PPL.  Paperwork and I hate each other, but I'm the only one who ends up in tears!  It's a dysfunctional relationship.

So how very dare one childless Facebook 'friend' judge me for applying for the government's PPL!  A man who has no idea what it's like to have a mortgage and raise a family and make ends meet!  A man who doesn't think twice about money!  How very dare he look down his nose at me for applying for government assistance so I can spend more time with my new baby!

I sure do envy those women who either have a big fat savings account and don't need PPL, or who have a partner who earns enough money that they don't need it. We, however, need it! We need it so badly that if the government didn't offer such a great deal, I would have to go back to work very shortly after baby's birth just to afford our modest mortgage, rates and insurance bills. And I don't want that!

I want to be home with my new baby for as long as I possibly can so I can bond with them, love on them, get to know them, encourage them, and spend time with them while I have the chance - for them and for me. I want that block of time to be as big as financially possible. And as stressful and anxiety-causing as this financial position may be, I wouldn't change having our baby for the world. The Lord knows we wanted them!

Yes, it's my choice to have a baby. Yes it's my choice to have a mortgage now instead of rent because I grew sick of the uncertainty, instability and hoop-jumping of renting. And yes it's my choice to take advantage of our Federal Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme to help me stay with our new baby for 18 weeks longer than I would normally have been able to, because I want to be a good mum, which to me equals time.  Before I turn around twice bub will be cared for by someone else three days a week so I can go back to work to keep paying off our worst-house-in-the-best-street, in-need-of-renovation house, full-of-love, warm and cosy little house that I hope to grow old in.  And I'm blessed that I can choose to go back only part-time, even though it means our life in simple and not extravegant.

The mean and nasty side of me hopes Mr Judgey McJudge, who took a dig at anyone who needs any government assistance, one day finds himself standing in line at Centrelink in need of help, advice or guidance like me, and he can see with his own eyes that he's no different to anyone else there. But the kinder part of me... shoot, she hasn't shown up yet!  But I'm sure it's something along the lines of I hope this man is blessed enough that he can continue living life to the level he's become accustomed, and that he never knows what it is to be in lack.  I hope that when he's one one of his international holidays and sees people in need and expresses compassion for them, he realises tha tthey're just like some people in his own country who are also in need, but are blessed with a governmental system who can help them.

Don't ever judge another's journey unless you've been there too.  Hec, even then!  Don't ever judge someone if you're not willing to talk to them and find out their story.  And certainly, don't you dare look down on anyone, unless you're helping them up!  WORD!

(Note: Yes, I do know there are people who rorte the system and that's not fair and I disagree with that too.  But for the purposes of this post, I am referring to people who are genuine.)

Hey, baby!

My goodness it has been a long time between drinks, and there is much to catch you up on.
My last post was about going for our last and final round of IUI because I couldn't keep putting myself and my marriage through the financial and emotional stress of it all.  But by the grace of God, that last attempt worked and I'm now 31 weeks pregnant with a beautiful baby we're calling 'Titch' for now because we've chosen not to find out the sex - how I do love surprises!  It was a conception unlike our first - very unfun and unromantic - but at least my husband was in the room with me!

But as soon as those two pink lines appeared, I started freaking out.  About everything!  "Am I really ready to do this?" "What was I thinking!!?!" "I've waited so long for this, I just know something is going to go wrong"!  I didn't write an update before now because I was worried (read: convinced) something was going to go wrong; and then I just got busy with life and ignored my online journal journey. 

And honestly, it's only been recently that I've started to chill out a bit (a bit) because I can feel baby moving around, and if they needed to be born now, there's a really good chance that they'd be okay (though I am glad I live in a big city, with my hospital only 20 minutes from home... and I reckon an ambulance could do it in under 15).  But I know I won't truly relax until I'm holding Titch in my arms, happy, healthy and strong.  That is my prayer.  My due date is in early January, so we'll wait and see when Titch wants to arrive!

It's been a bit of a rough ride, but nothing compared to some (hello long-distance friend! You know who you are) - faint and light-headed spells, hip pain, back pain, insomnia, muscle cramps, anaemia, low blood pressure... you know, the usual.  But carrying around an extra 12kg will do that to a person.  

I make noises when I sit down and stand up now.  I have to sit on the bathroom floor to brush my teeth because my legs get too tired to hold me up.  I can't stand too close to the kitchen bench to cook comfortably, and need to sit back from the dining table to make room for my tummy.  My feet swell and ache on my busy home days when I do my washing and cleaning jobs.  I've had to take my wedding rings off because my fingers swell so much in the heat I fear losing my ring finger due to lack of circulation!  But I'm embracing all of it (so far) because I'm pretty sure this will be our last baby.  There is no way I am going through that fertility doctor process again (to a sigh of relief from my husband and our bank account), but I think we're going to save a lot of money on birth control from now on!  Ha!

So stand by as this blog changes direction again - from struggling with wanting to study but not knowing what (definitely settled on social work) or having the money (still waiting for that lotto win!); to whether or not I'd lose my job through 'future proofing' the company (didn't happen and thankfully no new rumblings among the water-cooler whisperers); to struggling with infertility; now pregnant; and hopefully out the other side to being a mum of two on maternity leave, navigating the world of cloth nappies and how not to lose my mind, while Miss 3 starts kindy and I try to take my baby back to work with me!  Yep, wish me luck on that one!
I hope you still want to join me on the ride. Peace out.