As I sit here stuck under a sleepy baby (thanks to 6 week imms), I can’t help but do a lot of thinking. To be honest, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since Lily arrived. I was stuck in hospital for a week without family being able to visit so I reflected a lot, I didn’t sleep much and the mind wanders.

I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life, who hasn’t? When you’re in the thick of it, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But there’s generally a positive to every negative.

Every poor decision (and I’ve made a many), every shitty situation, every friendship gained and lost has helped me get me where I am today. 

I’ve written blog before that have touched on the friendship topic. Motherhood really made me reevaluate the friendships and relationships I held. Reuben and I have started a bit of wedding planning and we were having discussions around the guest list and how many people we think we’d have there. My thought process was around the whole would they invite me to theirs? Have they met our children? Have we ever met their partner? Would I regret not inviting them? Have I seen them/had contact within the past year?

It really made me realize that I can count my ‘friends’ on less than 2 hands these days. Sure, I have a lot of contacts and connections (personally & professionally) as well as Facebook friends but how many actual friends do you have? That you can confide in? Communicate often? Hang out or couldn’t imagine your life without? I’d be curious to know. Am I the only one with such a small friend group? Is it my own doing? Before meeting Reuben I lived alone for a really long time and was single (about 5 years), I became super independent and often went into my own shell and ended up becoming a bit of a hermit. I became at peace with my own presence and didn’t feel the need to be surrounded by others. Sounds odd, but if you’ve been in that situation, you may know what I mean. I was never a drinker, I never went to town or anything like that. I’ve drunk more since becoming a Mum (those end of day Pinot’s are my saviour).

I hold my friends dearly and would do anything for them, sometimes I am slack, I get busy and I don’t reply but that is not a reflection on how much I value their friendship. I try and tell my friends how much they mean to me, even though most find it corny. I would hate for tomorrow to come and something happen to myself or one of them and have had not told them how much I appreciate them.

As I mentioned above, I’ve made poor decisions in the past. I’ve allowed people to walk all over me and treat me badly. I’ve settled for less than I deserve and I let people hurt me. But looking back now, yes, those actions and situations changed me. They’ve shaped me into the person I am now and that I deserve a hell of a lot better. They’ve helped me find this drive that I didn’t realize I had.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve always been about helping people. Being there for everybody else even though at times I felt as though nobody was there for me – and maybe that’s why I am the way I am. I treat people how I would like to be treated. I like to tell them I care, I love giving my friends gifts – it genuinely makes me smile. I absolutely love doing things for others.

Building this blog into what it is today and getting amazing private messages from people saying how much I’ve helped them has made the negativity bearable. The support group for mums that I created now has over 13,000 members and daily I see mums empowering and helping our other mums. Giving support, guidance and positive praise. Sometimes all we need is a non-judgemental ear and some reassurance. It truly does make me feel so damn good. 

I have struggled with mental illness, this is no surprise. I talk openly about it because there is so much unnecessary stigma around it. I thought I was managing it, and then developed PND with Baxter. I have this new body that has been difficult to be comfortable in until I learned that acceptance was the key to my happiness. This body grew life (2 even). I jiggle more than I used too, I have scars that will never go away – and I am now OK with that.

It’s been a tough road this mum gig, I never imagined myself being a parent. To be honest, after some pretty shit past relationships – I thought I’d be on my own for the rest of my life. Then Reuben came along, unexpectedly – and changed all of that. Falling pregnant with Baxter had us both freaking us – new and unknown territory is scary but we owned it and embraced it, what other choice do you have? We’ve fought like mad and we’ve shared so much joy together. We’ve watched Baxter reach milestones and we’ve been so extremely proud, we made that and by god is he handsome. With the recent arrival of Lily, we still don’t know what we’re doing – no day is the same. Becoming a Mum has shown me a strength I never knew I had, emotions I didn’t know existed and it’s made me laugh and cry – sometimes at the same time. My family is complete and I have never been so happy in my life.

I truly don’t even know what the purpose of this blog was all about, I had feels I needed to get out.

As if the 3 trimesters of pregnancy weren’t enough, there’s actually another one. Yes, the fourth trimester is an actual thing. Basically, it’s the idea that the first 3 months of life are very much an extension of life in the womb for baby.

In my opinion, the first 12 weeks with a newborn (see my survival tips here) are the most difficult. Hence why it’s been dubbed ‘the 4th trimester’. Nobody really tells you (warns you) or talks about it and I’m not really sure why. In the hospital they often tell you about the dreaded 2nd night, I’m pretty sure with Baxter we were even given a print out on what to expect. Constant feeding being the main thing and most babes don’t know their day from night in those early days (sometimes weeks).

I did some googling….

“Your baby’s fourth trimester starts from the moment he/she is born and lasts until he/she is three months old. The term is used to describe a period of great change and development in your newborn, as he/she adjusts to his/her new world outside your womb. You may find the term “trimester” odd, since your baby is already born.”

So there. It is a ‘thing’.

I’ve always told people that things get better after the first 12 weeks, they’re not so fresh, they respond (some what), they smile and are a lot less fragile and become more interactive each and every day.

Back to the whole ‘fourth trimester’ thing. Imagine what the life is like for you wee one tucked up inside your womb: tightly cocooned in a warm, dark, comforting place. Constantly hearing the safe sound of mums heartbeat. This is why they’re like koala’s once earthside. They take comfort in the sound of mum’s heartbeat and her smell. Mum’s chest is their safe place. Your baby will want to be held by you, and only you. Babywearing can help during this period to enable you to still go to the bathroom and do things that help you feel sane without being stuck under a newborn 24/7.

I look at the fourth trimester similar to the third trimester for many. You’re tired, your uncomfortable and many of us are anxious. Some of us still look like we’re pregnant, I know I did – just a lot more squishy!

Nobody warned me about the contractions after birth if you’re breastfeeding, your uterus contacts when you feed and it can take up to 12 weeks for it to return to is normal size. I found I bled more during those first few feeds too.

Don’t worry too much about creating bad habits during this time, you can’t spoil a newborn. They’re still too young to form bad habits.

The fourth trimester is an adjustment period for all, mums/dads & babies. I just wish there was more discussions surrounding it so we can align our expectations and not be so overwhelmed.

IMG_7091

Firstly, thank you. Words alone cannot express the gratitude I have for you. 

You’re a Midwife, a Mum, and a damn good friend.

You made me see a strength in me that I didn’t know I had. A strength I didn’t even know was possible.

You reassured me that everything was going to be OK and that I could do this.

You let me ask all the ridiculous questions I had including a late night text freaking out because my poo was black (thanks iron pills). Questions like “what if I don’t know I am in labour?” haha, how fucking naive was I? You know alright…

You helped us in ways you will never even know. Pre and post-birth.

You’ve never questioned our decisions and you’ve always supported us 100%. I start to ramble and you stop me and remind me that our decisions are exactly that and I don’t need to justify myself.

You’ve been totally honest and straight up with both Reuben and I when we needed it most. 

You made us see sense when we were in a sleep deprived state and it was all getting a bit much.

My midwife is also a personal friend, I was always a little worried her seeing me at my most vulnerable (and seeing my lady bits) but honestly, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. She is a total champ and I don’t regret my decision even when she challenges me – generally for my negativity and crap attitude (and I thank her for it). She was well aware of my past mental health issues and was so amazing seeing signs of PND early on with Baxter and jumping on it straight away, educating me and making me see that it’s far more common than we realise and there is so much help and support out there. She made me feel confident in talking about how I really felt which in turn has allowed me to help others going through the same thing by speaking openly in my blog about my struggles.

Her love and support throughout the pregnancies/births of both Baxter & Lily is something I will be forever grateful for.

You know who you are… thank you doesn’t seem like enough.

18057083_1313091305393642_5427747711100726190_n

Jess asked me to write about how it felt to become a grandma for the first time.  I was honoured to be asked to write this for her (and you all).

From the moment we knew we were going to be grandparents, both Kevin (Dad) and I were excited and instantly got how our friends have felt over the years when they got the exciting news they too were going to be grandparents.

I went crazy buying stuff and Jess had to tell me to calm down. Baby was going to be here for along time and I should pace myself. To be honest it was little stuff as Jess and Reuben had everything under control, and Baxter was never going to able to wear it all!

The nine months waiting for Baxter seemed to take forever. When Jess called to tell me her waters had broken we were up the coast visiting my parents. We bade them a hasty goodbye to get closer to town, knowing it would take a while for things to happen. We weren’t needed of course but we wanted to be close.

Reuben was great at giving us a running commentary via text and invited us into the hospital once Baxter was born. Kevin didn’t need a second invite. We were in the car and hospital bound pretty quickly.  We were suddenly but not so suddenly grandparents. The older generation just like that! Older and wiser! Nope, not really, just Grandma and Grandad.

Baxter brought us all instant delight. He was a bubbly, giggly baby from the get go.  He can light up a room and make us feel young again. We see him often but never enough. I, like grannies before me, bore anyone who will listen on how fantastic our grandson is.  Yes, I am one of those grandmas.

Baxter learnt pretty quickly if he comes to Grandma and Grandad’s for tea there is always a bath afterwards. Now Baxter gives us the hurry up at the tea table and once let down from his chair he runs straight into the bathroom to get Grandad to run the bath.

I get the drying and dressing chores. This means I get to smother him in baby powder and give him his first freshly washed & dress hug. I love it.

I know there is going to be two soon and there will be some changes, but I have enjoyed the past 20 months of having him around.

Grandchild number two is almost here. Another week (hopefully no more for Jess’ sake) and we will have “grandchildren” and not just a grandchild. It sounds like so many.

I can’t wait to meet our newest member of the family. Princess Bemrose is just over a week from arriving and I know Baxter is going to be a cool older brother.

Over the past four years Kevin and I, along with other members of our family, have spent quite a bit of time assisting our parents who are either ill or ready for the next phase of their lives in care. I recently lost a stepfather who was in our lives for 40 plus years. Whilst I was at the hospital during his last couple of days, a visit from Baxter still managed to put a smile on our faces. Kids have the ability to make any challenging situation more bearable.

It is also good to see Jess and Reuben parent. I am proud of all my children. I am especially proud of the mother Jess has become. To see her go through motherhood is a privilege and I am very aware that not everyone gets to see their children having children, so I try not to take it for granted. Jess is doing a wonderful job and she doesn’t see what I see in her. Baxter has the ability when we are tired or stressed to make us look at things a little clearer and remind us at times not take things so seriously.

I couldn’t imagine life without Baxter in it. I feel very lucky to be his grandma. Love you Baxter.

I have spent a couple of hours with Baxter this morning whilst Mummy was at the midwife. Gosh these little humans can eat! Half a banana, a piece of a hot cross bun, a packet of raisins and some cheese. Balanced diet right?

Jess asked me to comment on her blog and what I thought about her oversharing at times.

I admit that I find it very difficult at times to read the blogs Jess writes. When she is open about her depression it makes me sad that she often doesn’t talk about it with us, and when she is at her toughest point she deals with it herself. I understand why but as her mum it is very hard. I respect Jess’s decisions and she always makes the right one for her and her family.

It is great to see her succeeding and her blog has been posted in so many different publications. It is good to know that Jess is helping others to open up and talk about their feelings as well, and to acknowledge that at times being a mum is hard. But it’s a full-time job and what job isn’t hard from time to time? The good times outweigh the bad and she has such a positive attitude. I always wanted to write, so it is good to see Jess getting on with it and owning it.

I struggle with some of the negative comments people write about Jess or her lifestyle. I am grown up enough to know you can’t be out there in the big wide web without being trolled, but some of the comments are vile and no one deserves to be treated like that. It’s these times I wish Jess wasn’t online but that feeling passes and she tells me not to read the comments. I read the positive comments that people are finding some of the blogs very helpful with pride. That makes it worthwhile.

Jess, you’re doing a great job.  Now about your swearing… LOL.

 

 

Right, I’ve had sooooo many people messaging me on various platforms asking me for my updated hospital bag essentials list.

I did use my initial list as a starting point as well, it was a bloody good list!

Similar to last time, I’ve packed and unpacked the bags (yes, bags) several times. This is mainly due to me being terribly behind in the washing and saying to myself “oh, I wanna wear this in the next few weeks”.

Like last time, I would recommend taking enough clothes etc to get you and baby through 3-5 days that way if you end up having a long stay, you’re more than prepared. In saying that, I was in for 3 nights (4 days) and I’m pretty sure I wore the same clothes for a large majority of the time. Yes mum, I changed my underwear. Even though most people say “oh I can send my partner home to get more” I’d rather just have it there with me. We have a 30 minute drive (no traffic) to the hospital.

I will say in advance, I am super anal so took everything whether or not I ‘needed’ it, it was good to have it ‘just in case’. It’s better to be over prepared than unprepared, right? I am all for being over prepared, it’s easier than sending people out for stuff.

Right, I’ve broken this down into 5 lists;

For you:

  • Comfortable clothes for after the birth – I took slouchy yoga type pants and a nice baggy top to hide my newly acquired pooch, track pants will become your best friend. I have my amazing Silent Theory pants that I’ve lived in throughout my pregnancy, hence why I keep packing and unpacking them
  • Socks
  • Nana undies – the higher the better, especially if you have a c-section you don’t want ones that rub on your stitches. The Warehouse do awesome packs of nana gruts super cheap so you can chuck them after.. or keep wearing months after like me. You can get a 5 pack for $10. I took 2 packs ‘just in case’ (plus I know I will live in daggies for months after, hahaha
  • Toilet paper – the hospital stuff is like baking paper and that’s the last thing you want to be wiping your lady bits with. You can also get those amazing hoo-hah wet wipes, I used these once I got home (up until about 8 weeks when I got the courage to wipe and not dab). I found putting some WaterWipes in the fridge/freezer is ahhhh-mazing down there
  • Maternity pads – you’ll need em. The hospital supply you with ones that resemble a large single mattress but I found the libra maternity ones better as they had wings. In saying that, I was rolling two up (hospital ones) until I came home and once the bleeding died down I swapped over to the libra maternity liners
  • Maternity bras if you’re planning on breastfeeding, take sports bras with no underwire if you’re not going to BF. I don’t think I’ll ever wear a bra with underwire again, haha.
  • Labour clothes – if you don’t want to get stuck in a hideous, unflattering hospital gown, pack some clothes you’d like to labour in. It all happened pretty fast for me so I ended up in a long singlet, it covered my lady bits while walking around the room (some dignity) but also meant the midwife etc could do their thang
  • Slippers & Dressing gown – a lot of people say the hospitals are hot but I personally found it bloody cold!
  • PJ’s – Peter Alexander do amazing maternity pyjamas but they’re hella expensive, I was lucky enough to be gifted some by my amazing mama!
  • Phone/Charger – I also packed my portable battery pack ‘just in case’
  • Snacks: I took barley sugars, gummy snakes and Powerade. All of which got demolished during late nights feeds the following days and that dreaded second night. I also came across these devine Lactation Cookies which I’ve been eating now for the past 2 weeks – they’re delish!
  • Essential oils (if this is your thang) – I used the Le’esscience Labour Blend & Clary Sage during Baxter’s birth and will be using them again this time around. They have a huge selection of ah-mazing pregnancy safe blends AND they’re made here in NZ
  • Your own pillow – hospital ones are s.h.i.t – make sure you use a bright pillowcase so you don’t forget it when you’re in a rush to get out of there like I almost did!

Toiletries:

(I went and raided Countdown/The Warehouse for all those mini travel bottles)

  • Shampoo & Conditioner – save room and find a 2 in 1 or just rock the dry shampoo!
  • Hairbrush, Hair ties or headband if you want to ensure your hair is out of your face
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Lip Balm – by god did I need this
  • Moisturiser
  • Soap/Body Wash
  • Breast pads if you’re intending on BF’ing – I got some awesome reusable ones from Bibbitty Baby! I also purchased some Hydrogel Breast Discs to try this time around as my nips were RUINED last time
  • Lanisoh (nipple cream)
  • Hand cream
  • BB cream – I could not be fucked with full on makeup but this made me feel, and look less like a zombie when it came time for visitors
  • Medications you may need
  • Weleda Hypercal Lotion if you have a vaginal birth – this stuff was amazing the weeks following, I chilled it in the fridge in a shot glass then syringed it onto my lady bits, you could always make a heap up in a pump bottle but I found this awkward as hell and it just ended up everywhere but on my hoo-hah

It looks like a lot, but all of this fit in a small toilet/makeup bag for me. As I said, I went for the small travel sized bottles that the supermarket/Warehouse stock.

For partner/family/support person:

  • Camera (make sure you charge your battery or take spares) and don’t forget a memory card! My partner was on birth photog duty last time and done an awesome job
  • List of people who need to be contacted after the birth if you’re not up for doing it
  • Snacks/drinks
  • Change for the carpark/food etc

For baby:

  • Hats, booties, scratch mittens (you can also use socks)
  • Light blanket or muslin for swaddling
  • Merino onesies or suits – some people prefer gowns as they’re easier for late night changes
  • Singlets
  • Leggings
  • Woollen cardigans
  • Baby wipes/nappies
  • Wool blanket
  • Capsule or carseat – the hospital generally check this on discharge

NB: With Baxter, I packed all newborn clothes but he was quite small so ended up in prem clothes for a week or two once we came home (he wasn’t prem), so if you think/know you’re having a wee babe then I would take 1-2 prem suits just in case.

Backup bag in the boot of the car:

  • 2 spare outfits for bubs
  • Extra blanket/swaddle in case other gets soiled
  • Extra nappies/wipes (hospital often has this stuff but if you have a preference as to what you want to use then take your own
  • Change of clothes for my partner + toiletries
  • Camera charger

Ladies, leave a towel in the car if your waters break at home and you have a wee (haha) drive to the hospital. I needed a towel in the car, and on my side of the bed which was lucky as my waters broke in bed. I finally remembered to take the towel out of the car a few weeks later when I rose from the newborn haze (ha, ew).

As I say, everybody is SO different. It’s likely Reuben won’t be staying so he probably won’t need half of his stuff but he used it all last night as he did manage to stay a night or two (I would have discharged myself had he not been allowed too). Every birth can be so different so we are prepared for all situations and if we don’t use it, no major. Some people take the bare minimum while I like to feel comfortable and have my things with me.

I hope this helps!

13230100_1022978281071614_9142603659484747327_n