My cat

My cat went for her checkup today.

Her last checkup was great, no issues.  In fact, the vet was very complimentary of her health at her age.  Not this time though.

How quickly old cats’ health can go south.  Her kidneys are starting to deteriorate.  We now have to put her on a diet prescribed by her vet to hopefully extend her kidneys health.  We’re waiting on results of blood tests to know what we’re dealing with.

As in, how much more time we have with her.

My heart is … I can’t really describe to be honest.  I cried when my partner brought her home from the vet and told me the news.  I am still crying.  I don’t know how to prepare for this.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I have been so busy with dealing with everything else, I haven’t had the time for her.  I feel sad and I feel extremely guilty.  She’s been sitting with me all night.  All I could do is cry and cuddle her.

 

 

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What most people don’t talk about being a new parent …

First of all, this post is about and for all those new parents who have struggled and/or who are still struggling.  This is not for those perfect parents with perfect babies, whose mental health is still very much intact.

These perfect parents who had perfect pregnancy, babies who slept through since popping out into the world, breast fed from the get go, ate solid food since four months, walked perfectly since six months, said their first word by seven months, etc etc …

I am not one of these parents.  I know there are a lot of parents who are similar to me.  It’s just not a lot of parents want to admit they are struggling for fear of maybe being judged by other parents as failures.  Well, if you are going through similar as I have, you are not alone.

There was no doubt in my mind at all.  I knew parenthood isn’t easy.  Well, not easy for some, maybe easy for others.

I struggled.  I am still struggling.

It was a difficult pregnancy and I had a hard time during the whole process.  I hated the way the hospital staff treated me.  I was and am angry that I put so much trust in the hospital.  I should’ve fought tooth and nail to get into private care.

A string of events before, during and after my pregnancy resulted in my mental health really taking a beating.

My child still isn’t sleeping through and I have accepted this is the way he is.  I don’t do cry it out.  It just isn’t something I agree with.  Also we live in an apartment.  My lil boy struggled with night time sleep.  Yes, we have the same routine every night.  Bath, story time, cuddles etc etc.  He is getting a lot better.  I haven’t really slept proper in a very long time.  I sometime stay awake for fear of sleeping through his cries due to me being so exhausted.  It is a vicious circle.  I became more and more exhausted.  I allowed myself to nap with him during the day once I dropped my pumping sessions.  For a while my waking minutes were all dedicated to pumping, washing equipment, washing bottles.  Before I know it, he’s awake and is clinging to me for dear life.  He has always wanted to be carried or cuddled a lot.  He still does.  If I stand my ground and won’t carry him, he will just play his toys around my feet.  He just needs to be near me all the time.  Occasionally he wakes up crying in the middle of the night and reaches for me.  For me, not his dad.  When he was a newborn and infant, he preferred his dad.  Now he’s older, he comes to me for comfort.  However, he has huge meltdowns every morning when he sees his dad goes to work.

I love my lil boy with everything that I have.  For a very long time though, I felt perhaps he should have someone else as his mother as I didn’t feel I was good enough.  I felt I just wasn’t doing anything right.  I felt like I failed him.  I failed him by not being able to birth naturally.  All the things I was told and read about how babies not born naturally are more susceptible to all sorts of diseases and behavioural problems in the future.  I had the biggest guilt.  I kept asking myself what have I done?  Why did my body fail me.  All these women who say shit like ”Oh my body will do what it is meant to do when the time comes.”  Well, my body didn’t do what it was meant to do.  I am reminded of this daily.  Yes, every single time I go to the bathroom.  I have this ginormous scar to remind me what a failure I am and how my body failed me.  My failure means untold consequences for my child.

The next failure is breastfeeding.  All that was hammered into our head during our pregnancy is that breast is best and it is natural.  It is natural and all women (new mothers) should be able to do it.  Well, I couldn’t really.  I couldn’t do something that is natural and should come naturally to all new mothers.  Then you get the breastfeeding nazis make you feel even a bigger failure that you are.

I ended up pumping.  I pumped whenever I could.  I was determined to feed my child breastmilk even though I couldn’t really breastfeed him.  But guess what?  I still get people saying there was no point in feeding my child expressed milk as he wasn’t feeding directly all the time.  Oh you know, breastfed babies have breastmilk designed especially for them.  As my baby wasn’t technically breastfed, there wasn’t any point in me feeding him breastmilk.  One of these people was my Women’s Health Physiotherapist.  She was this young physiotherapist specialising women’s health.  This young woman out of uni for a couple of years, never had children but told me a few things that made me wanted to slap her.  My GP recommended to see her to deal with postnatal issues (which I will write about later).  However this woman felt the need to tell me what a woman’s body naturally can do and that I really shouldn’t have bothered pumping milk past six months as there really isn’t any benefits for the baby if not breastfed directly.

My relationship with my partner really suffered.  We didn’t have this glow of happiness you hear about that new parents have.  We were severely sleep deprived.  We fought.  I felt neglected.  We had a lot of difficulties connecting.  Sex was extremely painful.  Hence why I had to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.  It was embarrassing.  Another failure I had to deal with.  You want to know what the pain felt like?  It was like being scraped on the inside by a cheese grater.  Or a spiked rod.  Tearing and grating at my insides.

We decided that I would stay at home to look after our child as childcare is extremely expensive and we don’t really have any family to help out.  So this means we have only one income.  We are happy with our decision.  But the subject of why I am staying at home rather than going out to earn money often comes up in conversations with friends/acquaintances/strangers.  The current society where women should have it all, you know as a working mother with a fulfilling career?  I get reminded often that other mothers are out there working while I am just a stay at home mother.  Yes, just a stay at home mother who is trying to take care of her child rather than out working and putting her child in childcare.

So to all you other struggling new/first time parents out there, yes being a parent is hard. It is hard enough without having to deal with all these other people judging us.

To all you parents who had difficult pregnancy, who couldn’t birth naturally, who had a hard time with those horrible uncaring midwives, who couldn’t breastfeed, who are staying at home trying your best to look after your babies, who are struggling alone … you are not alone.  Ignore all these BS all these perfect parents are telling you.  Not all babies sleep through the night, not all of us can breastfeed, not all of us have to be supermoms having a career and have babies in childcare.  We are trying the best we can to be the best parents we can.  Don’t let these people make you feel you are not doing a great job.

You are doing a great job.  Because you love your babies with everything that you have.

Dear Child-free/less friends … (yes, rant incoming)

Thank you for all your invaluable advice as to how I should be raising my child and how I should be as a parent.

I am not sure if you are entirely across with parenthood.  I’ll let you in on one important bit of information.  Ready? Yes?  Ok.  Here goes.  There is no such thing as sick days off.  That’s right! We don’t get to take days off ‘work’ when we’re sick.  You know, all the times when you call in sick at your work for feeling a bit meh?  Ya know, it’s that easy?  Well, we don’t do that.  So it is best we don’t get sick.

So.  When I get an onset of something or rather, I am going to take all the medicinal drugs I can take to not get too sick, to get better faster, to be able to function tackling the illness and looking after my child.  And no, I will not let the fever/whatever do its thing and run its course.  I can’t afford to be sick.  I am responsible for keeping a little human alive.  I will do whatever it is to make sure I am able to.

So.  You think I should let my very young child to crawl around the floor in a pub to build up immunity?  Or that I should take my child to swim class?  Or that I should put my child in day care to socialise with other kids and to swap germs?  Oh it’s ok for them to be sick, you say.  Have you ever seen your child being so sick and you feel so helpless?

What do I feed my child?  All kids love bananas?  Well mine doesn’t.  Sorry to shatter your expertise in child rearing.  Bananas can also cause constipation.  Have you seen the pain your child go through with constipation?

Let me ask you one very important question.  How many babies have you conceived, carried, birthed and raised?

Oh none?

You never have to see your own child be in so much pain that you hope you were the one going through it instead?

You never have to stay up all night to make sure your child is breathing?

Well then, shut the fuck up with your advice that I never asked for!

Midwife

midwife
ˈmɪdwʌɪf
noun
  1. 1.
    a person, typically a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth.
verb
  1. 1.
    assist (a woman) during childbirth.

(source: oxforddictionaries.com)

 

 

When asked why she became a midwife, the hospital staff who was with me during my labor responded with: “Oh because I really love babies. I already have four and won’t be having anymore.  So this is my opportunity to snuggle lots of babies.”

Now, in my epidural haze, I thought, “Wow, that’s so lovely.  My midwife loves babies, that’s why she became a midwife.”

So, she became a midwife not because she has an interest in assisting women, the mothers-to-be.  She became a midwife for the babies.  She also told me I’d better push or the doctors would take over.  Erm, isn’t that her job to let me know when?  Did she not remember the epidural they gave me?  Wasn’t she the one who was supposed to be monitoring me?  So it would be my fault the doctors intervene?

This was quite evident in the hospital I was at.  The midwives in my ward had no interest in looking after me, one of the women who had just given birth.  None whatsoever.

The only midwife who remotely care was the initial midwife who was assigned to me when I went in for my induction (who was subsequently taken over by the senior midwife and a student midwife).   Then there was a young midwife Mel who discharged me but didn’t look after me.  She had a similar bad experience as I did at the very hospital I was at.  She was a RN and decided to train as a midwife as a result of her bad experience at the hospital.  She explained that even over 18 months after the birth of her son, she was still affected by her experience.  But she channeled that anger towards becoming a midwife so as to hope other women didn’t have to go through what she went through.

My five days stay at the hospital was horrendous.

 

(1)  They wouldn’t let my partner stay with me even though I had been there since early morning and was cut open.  He was promptly kicked out an hour after our newborn and I arrived at the ward;

(2)  They took my newborn away while I was passed out and not return to me for over 24 hours.  And without any explanation.  They told me an hour.;

(3)  I was still in the hospital gown I was put in before they rushed me to theatre.  It was covered in blood and meconium.  It was not til the next day when that a midwife got me a clean gown and helped me changed into it and also cleaned me up. (I was hooked up and couldn’t really walk);

(4)  The midwife assigned to look after me the majority of my stay had no interest in looking after me.  She was instructed to remove the catheter and the cannula but she refused.  Took many attempts by the seniors to instruct her before she remove them.

(5)  The very same midwife refused to help me get a wheelchair so I could go to the nursery to see my newborn.  I wasn’t able to walk and I was still hooked up to drips.  It wasn’t til towards late afternoon before someone got me a very big wheelchair with deflated tyres.  I hadn’t seen my newborn and I was scared.  I couldn’t even recognise which baby in all the cubes was mine!

(6)  The same midwife, again, told me off for not changing out of my hospital gown.  Uhh,  what?  I had tubes sticking out from my body and every few hours someone checks my back.  But yea sure ok.  When I could finally go to the bathroom, she told me that my partner would have to help me (even though all the hospital material said the midwife would help the patient).

(7)  The midwives refuse to help me with the pumping equipment so I could get colostrum to my newborn in the nursery.  My partner had to ask a lot of midwives until one finally pointed him to a cabinet saying that’s where all the stuff are then gave him a couple of shields (that were way too big for me but we didn’t know til after we engaged a lactation consultant when we got home).  No one showed us how to use the pump.  We had to figure it out ourselves.

(8)  The midwife was as charged with looking after my newborn in the nursery not only use a dummy on him, she also fed him formula milk.  When I went down to see him, I asked to feed him but she refused.  I gave her the syringe of colostrum I expressed, she just left it on the bench without feeding him.  She left it there and went home.  Not only was I not allowed to feed him, she kissed my newborn’s face in front of me.  I was too drugged up, too tired, too scared, too shocked to do anything.  I felt like I failed my little boy.

(9)  None of the midwives knew what was wrong with him and why they took him away to the nursery while I was sleeping.  Til this day, we still don’t have an answer.  On the day of discharge they were still refusing to let him leave even though the paediatric coordinator signed off on the discharge (after a lot of noise made by me for not getting any answers from anyone).  They were throwing random numbers about infection and one even told us to be prepared for the worse (and to leave without him).  Then when we asked the next midwife, she looked at us like idiots and told us she had no idea what we were talking about.

(10)  I was told by the ward co-ordinator that she had assigned a midwife to help me overnight with breastfeeding and help me while I was expressing.  She didn’t.  It was all a lie and cover-up.  The young midwife on my last night not only did not help me with anything, she gave me a bottle of formula to go ‘help yourself’.  I did not sleep at all that night.  My whole hope of getting my newborn home the next day hinged on getting him to feed and that I would expressed sufficient amount.  They didn’t even tell me this.  I only found out from Mel the next day.  She pretty much said if I didn’t express enough and he didn’t gain enough weight, they wouldn’t let him leave.  I was horrified.  I was trapped in that hell of a hospital.

 

So tell me, midwife.  How are you assisting the woman?

I am still scarred by my experience.  I am still waking up to check my baby hasn’t been taken away.  Do you know how this feel?

I still look at my scar and blamed myself for not being able to ‘push’.  A stark reminder of my failure.  The words of my midwife still rings in my mind.

The image of the young midwife kissing my newborn is still fresh in my mind.  Now I am afraid of someone taking him away.

Tell me midwife, how are you assisting me, the woman who gave birth.

The woman who was cut opened.

The woman whose newborn you took away from her room while she was asleep.

The woman whom you refused to help with expressing colostrum/milk for her newborn.

The woman you wouldn’t help to feed her newborn colostrum.

The woman whom you refused to help breastfeed her newborn when you finally returned her newborn to her.

Midwife.  If you do not like nor enjoy your job in assisting the mother-to-be.  Or you have decided you have made the wrong career choice.

Please, for the sake of us, leave and find a different career.

 

 

 

 

Another child?

My partner is wanting us to try for another child.

I am not sure I am ready yet.  Or if I really want to.

After giving birth to my lil boy, I said I didn’t want another one due to what I went through.  To be honest I am petrified.  Probably 3 days after coming home from the hospital, he talked about giving our lil boy a sibling.  I was shocked.  I thought we agreed it’s fine if we have just him.  Obviously not.  So I’ve been going through this massive guilt trip.  If we don’t try and give him a sibling, he’ll be an only child and lonely.

Physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, I am not ready.  I am scared.  Also I love this lil dude so much, I just wanna spend all the time with him and love him with my everything.

I remember what I was like when I was pregnant.  I had morning sickness for a long time.  I couldn’t stand a lot of smell and couldn’t deal with a lot of flavourful food.  I was constantly tired.  I just wanted to sleep all the time.  Yes.  All.The.Time.

This time round I will have a toddler to look after.  I can’t bear the thought of not being able to play with him as much as I can now.  I can’t bear the thought of being humungous and not able to run around with him.

What should I do?  Am I thinking too much?

 

Will I ever recover?

I don’t take it for granted that I am so very fortunate to be a mother.  I never thought I would and could love someone so much.  The love I have for my son is different to the love I have for anyone else ever.  I am so thankful to be his mother.

However I also know that my mental health has had taken a beating.  Physically and mentally, I am still trying to recover.  I didn’t have a good experience in the hospital and to this day I am still traumatised by it.  The hospital’s interest is in the delivery of the baby and they have no interest in the mother’s welfare.

“We’ve taken the baby out of you, it is alive, you’re on your own now lady!”.

Well, pretty much.

On very difficult days or nights, they remind me of what a failure I am.  I wanted the best for my child but can’t help being angry about what happened at the hospital.  I failed to birth naturally.  I failed to breastfeed.  I failed to protect him at the hospital.  I should’ve been stronger and demanded he be returned to me when they took him away to the nursery.  The sight of him barely a day old hooked up to tubes and being fasted still haunt me.  I’m afraid the hospital experience has scarred me, possibly for life.

I have a very energetic high needs child who is currently also very clingy.  His clinginess, I guess is also part of his natural development of curiosity wanting to know what’s going on all the time.  I love him.  I love that he is so observant that he picks up how to do things very quickly.  The thing with learning and development is he also has difficulties with sleep at night.  I am so proud of him though.  I am grateful of being his mother.  However, I do know there will be many more parenthood challenges to come.  I am bracing myself for them.

 

I finally ventured out on my own

For the second time since leaving the hospital, I ventured out on my own.  Not just another outing with my partner and my precious boy.

The first time was for a mere hour when I went to get a hair cut.  Just on the weekend, I went out for 5 hours.  I gave myself a time limit and told myself I wouldn’t go home until the time was up.  I made it!  I went out and aimlessly walked around, looked at shops, had a coffee.  I almost cried as I ventured out.  My heart was pounding so hard, it almost jumped out of my body.

I know it sound very strange but it is a very big achievement for me to be able to go out and do things on my own away from my lil boy.  We’ve been stuck to each other.  I love him dearly but it got to the point where I was frustrated and scared.  I didn’t want to be away from him for any amount of time.  I know exactly why this is so.  When we were in the hospital, they took him away from me while I was sleeping.  8 hours after he was born.  I’ve been badly scarred from that ever since.  It was a horrible experience.  It should not have had happened.  It was irresponsible of the hospital.  Not only to have taken him away from my room while I was asleep, they could not, would not explain to me what was wrong with him.  To this day, I still don’t know why they did that.  Why it was necessary for them to do that.  It was horrible.  It was frightening for a first time mom who already had a bad birth experience.

My partner is encouraging me to go and do things on my own and this in a way also allows him to spend one on one time with our lil boy.  So I have overcome the first obstacle of venturing out on my own but I will have to see if this will happen on a regular basis.  I know I need to do this for everyone’s sake.  I can’t just stay home with him all the time.  I have to make time to go do things for myself.  Or so I tell myself.

 

Another breakthrough is he’s been trying to put himself to sleep.  He’s really been trying to do this by himself.  Sometimes he’s able to, sometimes he can’t and get frustrated.  So he asks me to help him by rocking him to sleep.  I don’t mind rocking him to sleep.  I know this shocks a lot of people who have sleep-trained their babies or have very independent babies who go to sleep by themselves.  I am happy to rock my baby to sleep.  This is not forever.  He’s already  growing up very fast.  I feel a tightness in my chest that I can’t catch up.  He’s growing up.  My lil boy is growing up.

 

 

 

“Your body will do what it is capable of”

I really hate reading this.

Really.  Hate.

On internet forums, parenting/mother-baby websites, when the question posted by any woman about to have a first child her concerns of childbirth.  You will no doubt read at least one post from Madam Earth Mother that ‘it will naturally happen, your body will do what it is capable of’ and ‘I had mine no drugs, no gas, all natural birth, I didn’t even feel the pain!’ and ‘IT WAS MAGICAL’.

Well, Madam Earth Mother, for the rest of us mothers whose body couldn’t do ‘what it was supposed to be capable of’, what of us then?  Are we lesser women than you are?

For those of us who couldn’t naturally birth, are we lesser women than you are?

For those of us who had to be induced, had to use gas or be administered epidural or pethidine, are we lesser women than you are?

There is so much written about the ‘magic’ of (natural) childbirth, that first time moms don’t really get told or read much about that their birth plan or whatever this fantasy instilled upon us could go wrong.  Our once idea of having a drug-free, natural childbirth (well, because it’s the most natural thing is the world right?) is shattered when we end up in the theatre being butchered up.

What do you say to us then?