Aaaaaannd….. we’re back!

babyIt’s been a while, we know. Sorry about that. Will try to be a bit more frequent with the posting. It’s just so bloody challenging to get clean writing minutes. And then, even more challenging to have a brain functioning effectively at the same time.

Sleep deprivation is quite the slapper.

 

A gentle surrender

Warning: this post contains an uncharacteristically high level of schmaltz
Baby

So he’s here, and it seems that I didn’t even realise this family was unfinished until this last baby completed us. The day before his birth, I couldn’t imagine a baby amongst our existence; the day after, couldn’t imagine life without his being part of it.

He’s perfect, he’s zen, he’s so comfortably present.

I wonder why it’s taken nearly a month to even post about it, but then each day I attempt to do things, am thwarted, and learn to adapt by downsizing expectations.

Domestic order, I’m delighted to let slip first. But I do have my standards. My goals for each morning are three: Wash up. Clean the kitchen’s horizontal surfaces. Make the bed. (It will never win any awards for perfect hospital corners, but on a good morning, the pillows are back in alignment and the sheets kinda taut.) Then, if I’m lucky, I score a shower during a break in feeds. Sometimes this happens before midday. In the shower, I indulge in dangerous fantasies that I’ll have time to achieve other stuff when I’m out of the shower. Sometimes I make a mental list. Sometimes I even form sentences of prose to type when I’m dry. They’re yet to make it to any page, as I’m usually greeted by a crying baby before I’ve toweled off the curling grey steristrips across the scar on my abdomen.

I feed A even more than a usual newborn; he’s taking both breast and bottle. (More on this in a later post.) Plus he has a great appetite. I probably feed him for half my waking (and sleeping, and not-sleeping) hours. Then burp him for, like, forever, particularly after formula feeds. I’ve got David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest in position next to the couch. Turns out it’s a great choice: its fragmented narrative works brilliantly with a fragmented reader.

And I am ridiculously, extremely, almost manically happy.  I was not this happy with my earlier babies: not because of the babies, because of me.

I keep using the word “surrender”, and not negatively. It may be the wrong word to use. I have surrendered to motherhood, to this evaporation of time in milk and nappies and fatigue and baby vomit. I am old enough, and maybe comfortable enough, to not resent that the only real role I can play right now is this one. Any other identity (or psychoanalytic ego-driven ideas of self) is on hold, or changed, or maybe gone. Perhaps I was affected by having my sense of self changed by an outside force (a little, baby-sized one) with the last kids, in my thirties. I know I’m still capable, but whatever those capabilities are, they’re funneled into a rather noble pursuit for now. The fact that it’s so commonly done does not diminish its nobility. Maybe that’s what I didn’t get, before.

This surrender is akin to acceptance, or mindfulness. Mindfulness. Fuck I hate that term, but it fits, despite being smashed out of shape by newage cranks and opportunistic pseudo-gurus.

The view at work

Keyboard w/- view

And I am incredibly lucky to be able to surrender to normal baby-raising things. I am lucky to have a partner who makes school lunches if I’m tied up feeding. Who pulls his weight, and sometimes some of mine. When Daddyo says he enjoys doing the vacuuming, I choose to believe him. I am lucky to be part of a community that drops off pies and offers to drive the kids to soccer. I am lucky to have parents who help with dinner when we need. So I have the luxury of being able to sit, and feed, and burp a baby, and allow myself this calm inertia that I call surrender.

We were incredibly moved by our friend Todd’s show, The Button Event, last week. Even when we know some of the story, his performance underlined the needs of managing twin babies, and then the special needs of a sick infant. This obviously resonated with me right now. We know wonderful parents of children with special needs, of children who are unwell, and their stamina and strength inspire and astound me. Constantly. My miniscule efforts in deceleration to tend to the needs of a regular newborn are nothing compared with their momentous daily, ongoing efforts.

 

 

Welcome aboard, baby.

It's a boy

Here he is. Not sure how my kids (or I) feel about my using their actual names on a public blog, so let’s call him little A for now.

Born 29 August at 7:50-something. Weighing in at 8lb 3 oz, or around 3700g.

Adorable.

I’ll write more, when I get it together to get some words together.

One day old baby
One day old

 

 

 

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    Belly-of-monkeys at 39 weeks.

The Bump Files

38.5 weeks

Impending.

These last weeks, this last stretch: it’s like sitting in an old-school, 1980s Dreamworld rollercoaster (I wonder if it’s even still there), the ratchety one that never let you forget, right from the start, that you were climbing ever-higher. Click-shudder, click-shudder, and the view just amazing. Each little motion higher brought a sense of excited foreboding and a broader perspective. A little ridge at the top, and a suspended moment, limbo pause between the jerky climb and the freefall to come.

rollercoaster

Image credit: DJ Madden

 

This last fortnight sits about three clicks from the top. Bought the ticket, well on the way now. Anticipating the freefall.

This last stretch. Pun initially unintended, but I’ll take it. Didn’t think my skin had any stretch left, but surprise! Measured the belly a week ago; we’ve cracked past a metre. It itches as it grows, soaks up moisturiser. Time has flown like a cliché. Work endures, dear clients appearing over the past months needing just a little bit more. Which is awesome.  I’d aimed to finish it all last week, set personal deadlines and calendar reminders to keep myself on-track. But what’s a deadline if not a suggestion? Hopefully we’ll be done this week. Or maybe just a little bit next week.

Real workwork* means much less posting has happened here than planned. Half-arsed blog posts and scratched ideas sit on the computer. Notes hang there, virtual post-its from the past nine months:

  • Toxins: pregnancy. E.g. Teflon
  • Toxins: breastmilk
  • Caffeine: an apology to #3 (but I’m so tired!)
  • Health issues: 3. Mental health.
  • Raising gentle men
  • Call out for a zimmer frame-pram combo sketch
  • Nappy bag rant.
  • Well, slap my denim-clad arse and call me Daisy. (I think this is meant to be about urban gardening, but who could tell?)
  • WTF is a WIPES WARMER?

Some of these make little sense now. Most will have to wait. Mental capacity has slowed; it pains me to accept this. Along with the physical treasures: the sleep deprivation training (there are so many ways to wake up in the middle of the night, even without a newborn!), the spasms, the smashing foetal kicks. Oh, the indigestion.

Last night, I had my best sleep in years, and woke feeling exultant, hearing Puccini in my head. I remember this; it’s the same feeling you get after months of baby-related sleep deprivation, the feeling of having a proper night’s sleep. Thinking, ah, that’s what normal people feel like when they wake.

If I don’t make it back on here this week, see you on the other side.

 

* “workwork” … There’s a funny story there.

Elephant

Dreamt last night of elephants rolling around in the surf. Yep, there’s some symbolism for you. 

Image via rebloggy.com

Generation Mama and the not-so-ancient breeder

A guest post I recently wrote for Little Kisses.

Thelma & Louise: the original selfie

I found out I was accidentally pregnant with my third child in the midst of my 40s. A third child was never an actively pursued option, to put things mildly. For a week or so, I sprawled in deep, dark shock. Yes, this changed a few life expectations. But the biggest surprise has been how into it I am.

Little Kisses asked me to write a guest post to discuss the differences in being pregnant in my 40s compared to my 30s, and I’m struggling to entertain you. At the moment, at 35 weeks pregnant, I can’t think of any age-related issues that seem either important or amusing. I could write about how old I’ll be when this child finishes high school, or turns 21. I could tell you that I’m called an “elderly multigravida”, which is a funny, archaic term.

I call myself the Ancient Breeder, but to be honest, this pregnancy does not make me feel ancient. If anything, it makes me feel young, fresh, and, despite the daily afternoon naps, quite vital. And crafty, like a hipster friend of Patience Hodgson. As they say, I’m so crafty, I make people. Even accidentally.

I'm So Crafty, I make people

I did feel ancient, once, this week, when I was a guest at a function populated by sweet, wholesome food bloggers. Why? I offered to take a photo across the table of a couple of fellow guests. (Her selfie-taking arm just seemed too short to encompass the glory of edible delight lying outside their shot.) I like to be pictorially helpful: I often volunteer to take strangers’ photographs for them. I have taken many blurred photos of Asian package tourists, so that everyone in the group gets in. I feel sorry for the one photo-taking parent who, you know, is the one always left out of the family documentation. I balance their albums.

But the selfie, I discovered, is sacrosanct. Blogger One looked at me aghast, not quite comprehending why I’d interfere in the gentle art of mobile-phone-self-photography. The other blogger, the one who looked quite like Moby (and hence closer to my middle-aged years; no twenty-year-old would look like Moby) realized what I’d offered, shook his head, and shrugged kindly at me.

“It’s a selfie thing,” he explained. (He may as well have added, “You wouldn’t get it, grandma”.)

A Royal Selfie

I didn’t get the selfie thing, but I got the bigger message. I really did. I took no offence; there was none to take. But this was the message: It’s not about age; it is about your generation. Or cohort, or tribe, or whatever other sociological label you prefer.

Moby of Brisbane was all of about 18 months younger than me. This misunderstanding had nothing to do with age and everything to do with tribes. For I was not one of theirs, and I don’t think that the heavily pregnant mature lady who shared their table for a couple of hours would be first on a shortlist for new members. Which is fine. Because I realise I belong to another generation, not just defined by age: Generation Mama*.

Generation Mama transcends age and forms new bonds. You don’t have to share birth decades, scary high-school-formal hairstyle memories, or the same pre-teen crush on either Cory, to share exhaustion, the slam of maternal love, and the maternal guilt and confusion that comes home with a new baby.

When I found out I was accidentally pregnant this time around, I thought a blog called The Ancient Breeder would be a hoot, but it’s sometimes proving to be less relevant as this pregnancy progresses. I hear more from followers in their 20s than those close to my own age. Perhaps I should write more age-specific posts, but the material just isn’t that exclusive. We’re all breeders, if we’re breeders, and the age bit isn’t so relevant. At the moment, I have more in common with my beautiful twenty-something niece, who writes The Single Mumpreneur blog, than with many women my own age.

Because our ages belong to different generations, but our circumstances are completely Generation Mama.

 

*Or Generation Parent, to be fair, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

 

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