Running fast backwards ….

So “Running fast backwards” popped along and left this comment on my blog yesterday (have I told you how much I love comments, I do, I so do …. and I love them when they make me take a moment like this one did.)

Hi RM. I don’t blog; I am rather behind with all this new blogging, tweeting and you tubing stuff.
Any hoo..one day well sitting at my desk, bored out of my skull and completely unable to go on..I stumbled across blogs. It seems that I am addicted to reading other peoples blogs! Almost like my Big Brother addiction I had (when it first came out) how I adore to read and watch others’ lives, I find it fascinating. What I must comment on though is a common theme that I have noticed with all the bloggers that I have read and that is an underlying sadness. Why is it, that we are all so sad? I too am sad, but not in a lie down and cry my eyeballs out sad…just a sadness that I carry along with me that others seldom get to see. So I was wondering, why is it that you think we are all so sad?

Initially I thought “hey chump I am not sad” but then I thought, damn you are probably right.  I might be a tad on the “not happy side” and actually I follow blogs where there is a bit of sad, or huge snotty heaps of it in fact.

I wrote the post “Running fast backwards” commented on with huge tears running down my face.

I cried some more when I re-read it for spelling.  I cried some more when I posted it, and then I continued to cry for two more days.  I realised I had had one of those moments where you really take stock of who you are, and what the hell you are doing –  I have not cried yet today, but it is still early, so give it time. 

So yes “Running fast backwards” you are indeed correct.  A lot of bloggers are sad, but I think the issue is that (and this is purely my own conjecture on the issues) is that we blog because we are sad. 

We are not sad because we blog.

I have often seen bloggers who start blogging because they have or are going through an ordeal or something that is so huge that they need to put “pen to paper” and then when the “thing” is over, they no longer need to blog.  One example, that I have seen, is that a lot of women who are going through IF, seem to lose the urge to blog once they have had a baby or come to a point on the IF journey where they have decided that another journey awaits them. 

They just don’t need this outlet any more.

Blogging is much like journaling.  You journal so you can write down your thoughts, your inner fears and find a way to work through some of your “stuff.”  Often putting it on a page is liberating.  It is a way of facing your own fears – head on. And that is pretty much what we are most afraid of, our darkness and the sadness that lurks within.

I chose to blog versus journal, as I could not find the right ink for the right pen, and the journal with just the right texture of paper to get started. 

I got caught up in the details, amd I made excused why not to get started.

Eventually I figured I would blog – no pen and paper to procrastinate about.  I had a new born baby strapped to my left breast, I had one hand free, I had oodles of time to stare into a screen (as I was not sleeping anyway) I might as well blog.

I can’t see that a person who is so happy with life that they routinely break out into a skip and yodel while in full folk outfit needs much in the way of sitting down and pondering his/her life.  They often know who they are and are so truly happy/content that deep introspective is just not necessary for them. (bless their cotton tidy whities!)

My sense is if you are truly happy, truly happy, you feel a sense that you are a “full and complete human being.”

Unfortunately I don’t ever feel that happy – I aspire to be content.

I started blogging when I had just had my third child.   I started blogging because I had my third child.

I thought I was going to be the perfect mother.  I thought I had dealt with all my shit and it was going to be really wonderful to be at home holding my little pink fluff.  It was all going to be so happy and well, I was going to be so damn good at it too.  I wanted it all so badly and I felt ready at 37, that surely, surely now, I was ready to be a content grown-up person.

I was going to embrace motherhood – with a sense of happiness and confidence that I had never experienced before.

Instead I felt an overriding urge to stab my partner with a fork (in the jugular), fling my child against a wall so she would stop crying, and take as many combinations of ante-depressants and sleeping pills that I could lay my hands on.

It all felt a tad sad and a bit bleak.

Not quite the poster child for the latest Living and Loving Magazine I am afraid.

I started blogging because I had all this stuff that was sitting inside me, stuff that I thought was unique to only me.  I was so broken and so beyond repair that I was unfixable (or so I thought).

I had been in therapy for years, and I had tried various medications and their combinations, tried hypno-therapy, read a couple of self-help books, and spent too much time googling “depresson” and “running away from home.”

Blogging is  – for me – a way of just saying “this is me, this is my stuff, and I am hurting” – the moment I put it out there, and pushed “publish” on some of my subjects I felt a release that I cannot describe to you.

Just putting it out there, made it no longer run around in my head.  I no longer torment myself with some of the thoughts.  I can say things in my blog that I struggle to say out loud – to anyone.

With blogging I started to feel a little more real, a little more present in my own life story.

And then – and here is the wonderful part – when people started to comment on my posts I realized that as unique as I thought I was, I was not that unique. 

There are moms (and people who aren’t moms) like me. 

Who struggle, and who feel that all they see is the photoshopped smiley moms clutching their blue-eyed off-spring, when they are maybe not “those moms.”  Maybe they are the other moms, the moms who are afraid, who wonder why they chose to be moms, why every day is so fucking difficult, or why they are crying in the bathroom at 2am.

So “Running fast backwards” I must confess that you are right, there are a lot of sad blogs out there, and I too find many of them compelling.

Blogging has helped me in ways I can’t even describe.  It is not something I do anymore, it is something I am, and it is something I need. 

And, when I don’t need it anymore, I won’t do it.

Today I need blogging, and fucking hell, I am so glad I have this platform.  I am so glad I get to connect with other bloggers and readers who I allow glimpses into my soul, and who also allow me privilege of seeing bits of them.

Does that make sense?

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Freaking hell ….

 

I do think it is one of those situations where I am spread too thin and feel a little bit all over the show.

Trying to be good about keeping the blog up and alive is sometimes hard work.

I love blogging, but I prefer to write when I feel like it rather than when I have to.  The problem with “feeling like it” is that you sort of need to be in the zone, which right now I am not right now – the result is that I start posts and get a few paragraphs in and then lose the steam … and they lie there forlorn staring and me, begging to be finished. 

I need to still write the article for the magazine, so need to get into the head space for that (again a bigger deal for me than for them no doubt).

I need to still clean out my bag – as I get so frustrated every time I have to find something in there.

Today I got myself into a total tizz looking for keys, inside my bag.  After about 10 minutes of going ape-shit because I could not find my keys inside my stupid bag …. I then discovered them lying next to my laptop, on my desk ….. where I put them this morning …….so I would not have to scratch in my bag …. to find them.

I heard a radio article this afternoon as I got in the car, and the bloke was talking about being a responsible parent and that the best thing you could do for your child, was give them the gift of time.

I thought it was the gift of life, but I have been mistaken before.

Darryl, the presenter, went on to explain that you needed the time to sit and just listen to your child and hear what they have to say.

Which of course makes me feel all the more guilty as I really lack patience and often cut them off with a screeching: “just get to the point already…” ………….I mean seriously, how much crap must I actually listen to before you get to the part where you say what you need to!!

But on the more sane hand …..

I am really enjoying the photography part and the other blog.  

But that again takes a lot of work and of course more of my attention away from being able to listen to my children and even Kennith.  Trying to balance life and my hobby is challenging, and I have barely got started.

I am not a super-good photographer or even super-average, so I find the shoots quite stressful because I want to ensure that the “client” gets some good shots and I do not fek it all up.  I really get to be a totally stressed cabbage on the day.

Once the shoot is over, I am always excited to see the images – and more often than not I am more excited than depressed – probably because I expect so little ….. so that’s a good thing, low expectations and all, very hard to be disappointed if you start really low …… right?

I have been doing shoots outside which is much more difficult and requires more technical aptitude than shooting in a studio. 

There is shifting light, and usually a giant sun in the sky which is either creeping in to the shot, or creates such heavy lights and darks that it becomes almost impossible to get a good shot.  And  I am trying to take photographs of a child (and keep them unposed) so said child is running around like they are on E or something and that just adds to the chaos – I am thinking about taking along a little tranquiliser … not sure if it is for me or the children …. or the parents.

But that being said, I am really enjoying it and learning more each week. 

Could I do this for a living?  I am not sure, and I think there are too many people trying to carve a living out of it – so for now it is a hobby that I really enjoy, and let’s see how it goes moving forward.

On Saturday one my the friends, whom I hold most dear, Judith, agreed to let me do some maternity/pregnancy shots with her and her husband, Alistair.

Her baby Benjamin was due on the 25 March, and last week her GYNE said that the baby’s head had engaged and that he couldn’t even measure the head, which meant that it appeared that birth was imminent.

I was excited for her and disappointed that Benjamin might arrive and make the maternity part of the shoot a thing of the past.  (yes I realise how self-absorbed I am…)

But he hung in there and Judith and Alistair and I frolicked around in 39 degree heat to take some photographs.  It was so hot it was unbelievable.

I loved photographing her.

Sure I took a long time and took nearly a thousand photos, but there were so many nuances of her that I could see through the lens that I wanted to capture, that I ended up taking much too many.

Part of it was also that we were chatting and laughing in so many of the photos, that the results involved open mouths and silly faces, and some of my feet because I was laughing instead of focussing.

It was great.

Judith had her Benjamin this morning – and she said that she started going in to labour on Sunday midday.

She got through labour and by the time she asked for the epidural, they said “er, it is a bit late for that!” and then she panicked.

I put it down to her good manners.  She did not want to be rude by asking and thought she might just wait until they offered.  There is a lesson there regarding drugs and pain relief.

So my hero and deliciously gorgeous friend Judith got through labour on her ace, without so much as a headache tablet – how cool is she?  Very cool, much cooler than me.

I went to visit her earlier today and got to see Benjamin who was all of 7 hours old.  It is funny how new born babies make me cry.  They just do.

But I was so happy and overwhelmed for Judith, that she  had survived her day, and had pushed this guy out of her nether regions.

Of course I got to lie on her hospital bed as we were screaming with laughter as she was recanting the tales of the “labour ward” – I love the fact that motherhood has not changed her …. much……yet.

While there, the nurse came in to ask if she wanted to be part of the “bath demonstration” today or tomorrow.  Jude thought about it and opted for tomorrow. 

For those who are not familiar, basically the “bath demonstration” is when all the moms who have just had babies go and sit around – usually with very pained expressions on their faces – in the nursery area of the Maternity Ward and watch how the Matron bathes a baby with absolute skill and does it in about 7 minutes.

You then get to repeat the procedure.  Problem is that your muscles are exhausted, you are highly emotional and you have a tiny wriggly person who you are afraid of breaking.

So you go through this process and it is awful.  You pretty much spend 45 – 60 minutes trying to bath and dress this baby.  By the time you are finished, you are so traumatised and exhausted and feel like such a pathetic mother that you need an ante-depressant and someone to pat you on your hand.

The problem is that you compare yourself to the Matron, who does this with about the same feeling as you do to change a toilet roll.

Anyway I made that mistake when I had Connor. 

Unfortunately I also did it on day 4 or what ever and I was seriously in a case of “baby blues” or affectionately called the “warm up to full blown depression” and I tried to bath this little wrinkled child and dry him, and get the nappy on and the special outfit I had chosen.

By the time Kennith arrived to collect me, he might as well have put me into the wheel chair and pushed me from Maternity straight to the Psychiatric wing.

By Georgia I learnt my lesson, and asked them if they could just bath her – for all three days I was there.  I figured I would learn when I got home.

With Isabelle, well clearly they stopped asking at that point!  But they did ask to use her as the “demonstration baby”  – even better.

So my wisdom that I imparted to Judes today was to ring for the nurse a bit later and say “please can you bath my baby, I had him this morning and he has not had a wash…” and then proceed to ask them to do it each day.  I said that if they looked at her like “well honey you need to learn” she should just tell them that her mom is a widwife and staying with them, and she will have plenty of time to learn at home.

Judith, welcome, welcome to this little band of demented people who call themselves mothers – here we are – some of us more sane than others.

If you thought life was a bit strange before, wait until you can sit and discuss the colour of your child’s faeces over dinner, and think nothing of it!  There are even forums that chat about this.

It’s a brave new world chick, it’s a brave new world and welcome to it.

You have already set the bar high by going through what must be one of the hardest test of endurance without drugs (albeit not by your own choice) – and chick you survived.

But I did like the way you said…”next time straight c-section!”

 

So you think you’re alone now

It really is quite blissful having a first baby – you feel like you have given birth to a messiah and you are just blooming.

It really is so wonderful and you feel dreadfully special – like the world has chosen you to be the one – the one WHAT is still open to interpretation.

For me it was all soft and flowery around the edges and I felt like I was being carried around on a pedestal.  Everyone smiled at me, and people drop by and bring you presents and congratulate you – it really is all quite good for one’s self-esteem.

I remember with such clarity when my lovely bubble burst.  Connor was born in December so we had the benefit of a lot of holiday and Kennith took some time off work to cherish his new family (The family Walton’s theme tune plays in the background.)

Then one day, the sun came up, and he put on his work clothes and seemed to make movements that indicated he was going to be going somewhere.  As the morning wore on, he picked up his car keys, gave me a peck on the cheek opened the front door and disappeared through it.

I remember how shocked I was as the car drove off – I was standing on our little stoep in my jammies holding this baby and wondering “what the hell do I do now.” I kept thinking this was some practical joke and he was going to turn around and come back saying “ha ha that was funny!!!”  (er, not so much …..)

I came back inside looked at the clock on the wall and it was 7:05am – and I calculated that it was going to be 11 hours until Kennith walked back in the door at about 6:00pm.  Who thought it was a good idea to leave ME alone with a baby?  And more importantly WHAT was I going to do for 11 hours with a baby!!  I was so scared and really felt quite lost.

True to form the day was chaos/scary and jammies seemed the easiest outfit to go with puke and spilt milk.  It might be the crazy pattern that hides all the stuff you spill on yourself all afternoon.

The day stood before me as a great open crevasse of time.  It soon got filled with feeding, burping, bum changing, making tea, more feeding, burping, bum changing and so on.  Busy – but not terribly fulfilling – am I allowed to admit to that?

I really do love the sage advice people give you about sleep when the baby sleeps. It is such great advice, but I think anyone who has had a baby will be able to testify, even though the books say that a new born baby should sleep for 16 – 20 hours of a day, somehow it does not seem like that.

If they were sleeping for 20 hours, why are you not getting your 8 hours of sleep – why are you walking around like the zombie extra from the Thriller video?

If they sleep for 20 hours why are you not lying on the couch Nutella smeared sandwiches and watching the box set of Desperate Housewives?  Because every insane new mother knows that they do not sleep for 20 hours – after three I still can’t tell you how much they actually sleep, but they definitely do not sleep for 20 hours.

Sleep is when you are in a coma like position and lie down and remain there for a few hours – babies do not do this!!  I am lucky if I get 20 – 45 minute breaks from my baby, and that is only because I have been breastfeeding him for what feels like 3 hours to try and get him to be calm and be sleepy.  Sure my nipples are about 5cm longer than when I started and throbbing like no-one’s business, but anything for some peace and quiet.

Really there is no sleep for the wicked and I realized this very early on in the relationship I was trying to forge with my son.

By the time 3pm swings round, I am watching that clock like a hawk and literally watching the minutes tick by in anticipate of Kennith walking through the door.  By 5pm I am climbing the walls, and by 6pm I am in a rage.

Poor unsuspecting Kennith skips in from his little day at the office and I am the lead character in the Omen, and practically throw the baby at him – usually with a  phrase like “Why the hell are you late?” or “Do you know what I have been through today?” Either way it is small wonder that our partners start to work that little bit later …. of course this tactic does nothing to calm our inner bitch and as the weeks tick by our rage does tend to turn towards our partners.

I recall thinking that “we” were in this together.  Remember how “we” were pregnant?

Well I was pretty shocked when the “you” part of “we” toddled off to work and left me holding the baby.  How come this has become MY problem when “we” were so much a part of this before.

It’s all quite shocking stuff, and really unless you have been there – difficult to imagine how absolutely lonely and desolate you feel.

It does pass – eventually – but not before you have made best friends with the wine bottle and the cork screw, maybe had a bit of therapy and if you are lucky some mind altering medication –  maybe even have a go at couple therapy with a lovely therapist in Kenilworth …… ah happy times.

End of Days

Kennith likes to get his monies worth out of everything.

The fact that we had paid for the full day at our Medi-Clinic meant that I was going to stay there for the full day – none of this going home at 11am nansy-pansy stuff.

After work Kennith arrived to collect me.  I had been sobbing for the last two days and the idea of wrenching me away from my trusty nurses’ buzzer did little to calm my already frayed nerves.

In the car we go and start the drive home, which in a non traffic situation would be about 20 minutes.  The consequences of collecting me late was that now we were trekking home in rush hour traffic on what is a very busy route.

The problem started when I was sitting in the back seat with Connor firmly strapped in his snug and safe (points there for supporting the Arrive Alive campaign).  I looked over at him and it occurred to me that he was dead.  I could not see that he was breathing.  5 minutes with me and my child had clearly not survived.  I sat there in the back seat wondering how long I should let this continue before bringing it to someone’s attention.

Unfortunately with a manic episode one’s concept of the linear time equation gets a bit skewed and minutes seem like hours and visa-versa.  I yanked Connor out of his seat and decided that if I breastfed him, then it would wake him up and if he woke up, then he could not be dead, and then all would be fine.  Kennith is trying to drive and keep this situation as sane as possible.

I eventually get Connor out of his seat, whip my shirt over my head (I do not endorse driving with kids out of a car seat, but this moment I was having a clear break down of anything remotely normal).  My breast exposure resulted in cheers and generally lecherous behavious from the labourers returning from work on the construction truck driving adjacent to us.

I am trying to push my rather inflated breast into Connor’s face and he is so fast asleep that he is not taking any notice.  To my rather frazzled mind, this indicates again how dead he actually is.  Kennith pulls over to the side of the road checks the baby – reassures me baby is fine and carries on driving.   His reassurance calms me for all of 30 seconds and then I start panicking again.

All I can think of is that this baby is near death (notice how the level of death keeps changing for me on this drive.)  I need to get it to a hospital – and how are we going to get to the hospital if the traffic is bumper to bumper.

The other critical issue is that Kennith is wrong and he has now become the enemy to my trying to save the life of my baby.  I am already thinking of how I am going to field questions from people when they ask “how’s the baby” and I have to explain that I could not get him home without killing him.

At this point, I am thinking that when Kennith slows at the robot, I can jump out the car with Connor, rush into oncoming traffic, hop in to an unsuspecting person’s car and ask them to take me to the nearest hospital ER.  All a good plan – just trying to work out my timing and whether I am going to tuck and roll when I eject myself from the motor vehicle.

I am so deep in thought that Kennith’s eff’ing and blinding finally breaks through and I realize that the car is over-heating.  He has to pull over to the side of the road while plumes of steam and smoke are coming out from under the bonnet.

The only thing keeping me from total hysteria is that I am busy hatching my “jump out of the car” plan.  Before I can take my plan to the next level, the Albino character from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie End of Days appears along side us – this woman was incredible.  She was also incredibly drunk, but I digress.

This guy was straight off the set of End of Days - it was incredible.

This person was straight off the set of End of Days - it was incredible.

As we had blocked her path, she steps to the right, and then proceeds to pull her homeless trolley along the side of our car.  We sat there in the car hearing the high pitched screech of metal on metal.

Kennith flips his switch and moves away from the sanity corner.  He hops out of the car intent on causing severe bodily harm to the homeless person – at some point he realises it is a woman.  In the end he decided that using his super human strength and tossing her trolley to the kurb was the solution.  The situation is clearly past out of control and now we have a drunken bergie person swearing and blinding at us.

Kennith gets back in the car and with a  final eff’it, starts the engine and just drives home totally ignoring the plumes of steam and potential fire under the bonnet.

By the time we get home I am about ready for my shot of Valium, hell it should be administered as a drip at this point.

My mom had made us a wonderful lasagna and salad as our welcome home dinner and I am crying and just want to lie on the bed and cried some more while holding my child like a blubbering idiot.

I am not sure of how happy other people’s home comings have been with their babies, but that was mine!

The Crying Game Begins

The pregnancy moved along without much incident.  There were some work issues and  I resign to do some freelance work.

I worked three freelance jobs in my last two months of pregnancy as I felt this overwhelming urge to ensure we had a nest egg in place.  I was feeling fit and good, so other than being a bit tired, it was all quite jolly.

My OBGYN was supportive of an elective c-section – bless him.

I’m a bit of type-A and the idea of squeezing something the size of a rugby ball out of my front-bottom, compounded by not being able to plan when-where-and-how was really not helping my stress levels.

Once I had a date, and a theatre booked, I felt much better.  I had managed to focus only on the pregnancy and the idea that at the end of this   I had nothing to compare the two procedures against in terms of pain and drug supply, but I felt strongly I would be more calm in a situation where I had some control, so a c-section was the block that I ticked.

The idea of freedom of choice has not really worked its way down into the rather complicated maze of childbirth and there was still a definite opposition to c-sections.

The question I had to field the most regularly was “what’s wrong with you?” and I found myself explaining my situation even to a very strange woman in Woolworths who happened to get my work telephone number and ring me there to “chat” some more – I kid you not.

The idea of the c-section was a bit daunting.  Someone hacking through you with a very sharp scalpel and moving your insides around is scary no matter how good a mood you are in.  I felt like I had read every pregnancy/birth book (I am a voracious reader) and felt comfortable and safe with my choice.

Everything went to schedule and our bonny wee lad Connor was born on the morning of the 10 December.  There was much hand clapping and cheering – I had my friend David come and take photographs during the surgery and he was a great addition.  I was blissfully happy until day three rolled around, then I started to cry and cry.  It was quite staggering exactly how much tears and snot really could come out of one person and I was almost inconsolable.   The nurses seems to look at me with disdain which did not help my cause in the least.

My friend Alice refers to it as “literally crying over split milk,” which is a very good reference.  I was sobbing and howling – the kind where your eyes are red and swollen and there are large globules of saliva dripping out of your mouth.  I am not talking about the polite cry where the odd tear makes it’s way down your just foundation-applied face.

I felt the nurses all knew more than me and were mean and controlling, actually the janitor probably knew more than me at that point.  I was hopelessly untrained and unskilled for my new role.

My biggest surprise was that I did not get a baby manual at the hospital – it seemed like a very complicated purchase to not be provided with some sort of manual.  I felt information about the baby, when to feed, my boobs and I could not retain anything.  I really really started to panic.

It was so apparent that when it came to going home day, my OBGYN asked if I would like to stay another day – through my blubbering I said “I’m fine.”

Kennith fetched me.  I was still blubbering.  I managed to get myself dressed, bath my wrinkled little baby, get my flowers and “congratulations it’s a boy” balloons together and make my way to the exit of the hospital.  I felt reassured that the nurse walked with us to the door of the hospital.

I was so desperately afraid I am sure she could see the pleading in my eyes and smell the fear on my skin.  It did seem rather abrupt when she handed us the baby, and then retreated with the bassinet behind the sterile sliding doors of the hospital leaving us alone on the kerb holding this wrapped up baby.

I had not factored the “drive home from hell” – so in retrospect I wish I had known what a truly happy moment I was having right then and there.