That Time of Year

I’ve been having one of those weeks where I really miss having my mum around. I think the influx of Christmas does it to me. Christmas was  BIG DEAL for my mum. I remember her last Christmas so vividly and it feels like yesterday that we were at the shops every day planning the perfect (last) Christmas.

I took Augie to the shops last Friday and we sat in the outdoor eating area so I could give him a bottle. It was quite nice just the two of us in the sunshine and there was a musician playing songs. A lady sat near us with her mum and a baby the same age as Augie and it just made me so, so sad.

This would have been exactly the sort of thing my mum and I would have been doing together. Nothing special, just a trip to Kmart for some Christmas things and then some groceries from Coles. An extra pair of hands to help with Augie and plan the Christmas festivities.

I watched the mother and daughter and wondered if they knew how lucky they were. But then I realised that someone who desperately wants a baby could be watching me with Augie and wonder if I know how lucky I am. I try to be grateful for what I have, but it doesn’t cancel out the loss.

I silently willed the musician to play a song that would show me that my mum was there with us. He played Stairway to Heaven. It wasn’t a special song to us, but I tried to find some meaning in it anyway.

But, at least it is hard to stay sad for too long with this cheeky little monkey beside me as type.

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Dear mum,

I know that you would forgive me for writing this letter a week late. Now that I have a newborn baby I seem to be late for everything. I am sure that you would find it hilarious to see me turning into you!

Just one month and one day before your 56th birthday I gave birth to a little boy. Your second grandchild, both bubs born in the past year. I named my little boy August to honour you. Your birthday is in August and the entire month reminds me of you. Even though he will now have to answer the same question for the rest of his life:

Were you born in August?
“No”
Then why are you called August?

Sorry Augie!

Having a baby has made me discover entire new ways to grieve you.

Every day I look at August and all I can think about is how hard it must have been for you to be sick and know that you were leaving us kids. I love him so much and my biggest fear is not being here for him. Then I burst into tears because I feel so bad that you had to go through that. It’s only now that I can understand the torment you must have gone through.

Most of all I am just heart broken that you have missed out on being in your grandkids lives. They are the sweetest little people and you would love them more than anything in the entire world. Being a grandmother to them would have been the best time of your life.

Oh and I could really do with your help mum! I don’t know anything about being a parent and I just really wish you were here to help me through it. Even though, let’s face it, I am sure some days you would annoy the hell out of me with your advice.

I made you a birthday cake this year. I like to think August helped me, and he kind of did because he had a long sleep and let me bake. I am looking forward to baking a cake for you every year with Augie, it’ll be a lovely tradition for us to remember you. Plus, you know me… any excuse for cake!

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Happy Birthday mum. Please know that you are missed in so many ways, every single day. Never more so than this past year.

Love ya mum.

xxoo

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Lessons from Mum

Mum

My baby will never get to meet my mum, but there is still so much I want them to learn from her. We were complete opposites and so I feel like it’s such a loss for my baby that they won’t have her unique guidance in their life.

Where she was strong, I am weak. Where she was brave, I am scared. Where she was wild, I am meek. All I can do is keep my mum’s memory alive for my little baby and hope that I can impart all the wisdom and life lessons that she would have.

Here is what I know my mum would have taught her grandchild:

The importance of learning
My mum was kicked out of just about every Catholic school in Melbourne by the time she was 15 and then pregnant at 16. It’s fair to say she had a wild side! Because of her lack of education, she was adamant that us kids would have a good education. Me and my brothers were all lucky in that we did well academically at school (PE was a very different story though…). Back then we didn’t have labels for kids who struggled in school and misbehaved and most teachers just pegged them as bad or stupid kids. My mum had a great affinity with these kids and spent countless hours at the school helping them with their reading and writing. She refused to give up on any kid and never made them feel stupid because they couldn’t read. Even when they acted out, she didn’t get upset with them or judge them, her only focus was making sure that they had every opportunity to learn and that they knew they were worth the effort.

How to have a good time
Compared to my mum, I am a total stick in the mud. She was impulsive, silly and maybe a little crazy (OK, pretty crazy). She didn’t plan things, she was late for everything, she was too loud and often times a complete embarrassment to me. She just didn’t see the point in following the rules of life (as long as it didn’t hurt anyone). She loved nothing more than laughing hysterically until she fell into a coughing fit or wet her pants. When she started laughing, you would start laughing too because her laugh was just hilariously infectious… and because you knew she was going to wet her pants!

Don’t let people push you around
She didn’t put up with people pushing her around and she certainly wouldn’t tolerate it if anyone did it to her kids. I was an incredibly shy kid who was pretty much scared of my own shadow. If she ever thought I was being mistreated or missing out on anything, she would march over and sort the situation out. Many a teacher, doctor, shop assistant, extended family member or school parent would cop her wrath if they thought they could get away with pushing me around. Even when I was well into my 20’s (OK, maybe even my 30’s) she would hear about something that had upset me and try to work out how she could sort it out for me. It might make her sound overbearing, but she just hated to see people who couldn’t stand up for themselves get pushed around.

If it was important to me, it was important to her
My mum always made sure I knew that my feelings were important. Maybe it was because she really wasn’t that much older than me, she remember what it was like to be ignored or not heard because you were just a kid. Our family didn’t have much when we were growing up, but if I really wanted something, even if it was frivolous like an ice cream cake for my birthday or 90210 pjs or a fluro ski headband (WTF was I thinking?), she would move heaven and earth to make sure I didn’t miss out. Often to my poor dad’s frustration who then had to find the money for these treats! I wrote more about it here at my old blog all the way back in 2008. She would stay up late sewing clothes so I had something to wear to the school disco and wouldn’t be teased. She paid attention when I said I didn’t want to go to sports day and be humiliated. She would drop me off in town to hang out and spy on my crush, even though we had no money for petrol. In hindsight I can see that none of these things really matter, but they mattered to me at the time, so she made sure it was important to her too.

Being different is OK
She was different to the other mum’s in our very small country town and she was judged quite harshly by a lot of people. She swore, she smoked, she didn’t go to church, she wore pyjamas all day, she laughed too loud, she made dirty jokes, she dyed her hair crazy colours and she wore big jewellery. That might not sound crazy, but back then in our little country town it was outlandish behaviour. She didn’t change who she was though because other people didn’t like it. Not even slightly. If people didn’t like her the way she was, then she simply didn’t want to be around them. It was their problem, not hers.

Being a mum is an important job
She loved being a mum, it was all she ever wanted to do (and be a grandparent). She thought kids were important and raising them was a privilege. She never acted like she needed more or that being our mum was a let down. Even when I would snottily make it clear that I was going to be a career woman, she didn’t mind my attitude and just said she would gladly look after my kids so I could go and have a career. She saw value in her role in the world and wouldn’t let anyone take that away from her.

Maybe that last lesson is more for me than my baby. As I am about to become a mum, I want my kid to know how much I will treasure that role, even if I am not perfect, I will be doing my best. Just like my mum.

Me and mum

Why I Decided to have a Baby

I’ve been blogging for a long time now, over 10 years on and off. So if you have been reading for a while, you might have heard me say that I wasn’t planning to have kids. I have never felt a strong maternal urge to have kids. I didn’t ever grow up assuming that I would have my own family. It was just never that important to me. Like marriage I suppose, I didn’t need it to be happy.

As the years passed and I turned 30, nothing changed. My biological clock didn’t start ticking. I had a great life without kids and I didn’t think I needed to change anything. AJ and I have a blast together and I was surrounded by good friends and family. Plus, I was working on finding a good place in my career, managing my weight issues and enjoying a new-found love for travel and experiencing life.

I think that another factor in my lack of biological clock was that I always had a reverse mother -daughter role with my mum. My entire life she was severely sick with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. I cared for her and was the only one who she would listen to, who could get her to take her meds, who she would let visit her in the psych ward. I think I was the only person who didn’t judge her and gave her unconditional love. Like a mother would I guess. So I didn’t ever feel like I needed to be a mother.

Then, after my mum passed away, I decided that I could never ever have kids without my mum. It was non-negotiable. All my mum wanted was to be a grandmother and I hated the thought of having kids and her not being here. I still hate it. Then as the fog of grief cleared slightly I felt such a big loss in my life. I had such a massive hole which used to be filled with family.

You see, after mum passed away, my older brother became estranged from our family and my younger brother and his wife moved 900 kms away. My dad had always lived far away and had remarried after divorcing my mum years away. I have only ever had sporadic contact with my extended family every few years. Suddenly I felt like I had no family. I didn’t realise how much I needed my family until they were gone. That is where the urge to have my own family started.

I don’t want this to sound like I decided to have a baby because I was lonely. It was much more than that. It was about creating a family for me and AJ. I wanted to have those happy family memories of my own, Christmases, family dinners, laughter and tears. I wanted to love and care for and be part of a family again.

I didn’t need to convince AJ. While he was happy with our life the way it was, I knew he would be up for the adventure of having kids. Plus, I always knew he would be the most amazing and supportive father in the world and it was almost a waste for someone like him not to be a father!

I was still petrified about whether I was making the right decision. Was I letting grief and fear and loneliness guide my decisions? How was I going to do this without my mum? Was I going to be tired and stressed and broke for the rest of my life now? How could I cope with changing nappies, snotty noses and the chaos and mess that comes with kids? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I am happy that I have this baby in my tummy and that in 5 months we’ll get to be his/her parents.

Week 16: 3 February

This week I finally told people at work that I am pregnant. I didn’t really plan on telling my boss just yet, but an opportunity came us where we were having a big talk (i.e. she was telling me off) and it was the right time to tell her. She then proceeded to tell my team a few days later because she said if I wasn’t going to do it, she was going to tell them. So that seemed a bit weird. No one believed her at first, which has been a common reaction. I am not sure why this has shocked everyone so much?!

So now just about everyone I am close with knows I’m pregnant. It has been such a weird and awkward experience telling people I am pregnant because it feels like such a personal thing to share. I really hate talking about myself normally and now I am getting so many questions (which is lovely of people to care) but I feel quite uncomfortable. Has anyone else felt like that?

How far along:  16 weeks, yay! Ive been excited to get to this point. It seems like I am really getting there. Next milestone is 20 weeks. 🙂

How big is baby: The size of an avocado, which is weird when I have eaten avocado for lunch every day this week.

Sleep: The insomnia hasn’t been too bad this week, but sleep has been a bit lacking due to the very early mornings for my long commute to work.

Symptoms: Just so bloody tired. I have found myself pretty much done for the day at 3.00 pm and barely able to function after that. It might have more to do with the heat and the commute to work than the baby. Also, I feel like my hair looks like shit lately, is this a pregnancy thing or just having a bad hair month?

Best moment of this week: AJ got a new job, which has nothing to do with the baby, but I am excited for him. Unfortunately this means he won’t get much paternity leave, but hopefully he’ll be able to take 2 weeks off when I have bubs. I have a feeling I will have my hands full!

Miss anything: I’m still missing my mum. Ive been trying not to think about it, but I had a horrible dream on Saturday morning that my gran passed away and my mum was hysterical because it meant that I didn’t have her or my gran to be there for me and the baby and she was worried about me. I woke up sobbing and just haven’t felt good all week. My gran is actually alive in real life, but she hasn’t known who I am for 5 years and can’t really communicate with me at all. So even though she’s still alive, I miss her so much too. It’s just really bought home for me that I don’t have my mum or gran with me. It doesn’t help when so many people keep saying things to me about my mum. People just assume my mum is still around and will help me with the baby and I have to correct them. The HR girl at work was awful because she was pushing me to give her a date for my return to work and I said it would depend on childcare and she flippantly said “can’t your mum just babysit?”, which was just annoying on a number of levels.

Movement: I’m not feeling anything. Maybe in the next few weeks.

Food cravings: Nothing too much, just dry/carby foods and fruit. Nothing weird. I am trying to eat better this week after eating sooooo much take away while we were moving.

Anything making you queasy or sick: No issues this week, but I still can’t stand the sight of chili, onion, capsicum, tomato, mints, coffee and pepsi max. That’s been consistent for my entire pregnancy.

Gender: I still don’t know, I always think of it as a little girl, but that’s just because I want a girl!

How’s your mood: Don’t ask! Oh dear, its been a bit tough again this week. I have felt teary and emotional all week and just not like myself. I am blaming the hormones.

Looking forward to: Just fast forwarding through the next 4 months and being in my new house and having a big fat baby bump.

The Bump: I can really feel it now when I am laying in bed, but no one else can really see it yet. Now that people at work know I am pregnant everyone keeps saying that they can’t believe I am 16 weeks pregnant because you can’t tell. I think it’s quite normal not to have a bump until about 20 weeks for your first pregnancy. Obviously I have a bit of padding for the bump to poke through yet.

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Week 15: 27 January

How far along: 15 weeks

How big is baby: The size of an apple

Sleep: Baaaaaad. I am so bloody tired. I’ve got insomnia, but I’ve been moving house too, so I am more exhausted than ever.

Symptoms: This week its been insomnia, heartburn, constipation (sorry!) and dizziness. I’ve also felt teary all week, which is unlike me, so I am not sure if it’s the hormones or just because I am so tired and its been a stressful week.

Best moment of this week: I am not sure there was a good moment this week.

I had to pack up my apartment and put it into storage and move out to AJ’s sister’s place in the country while we wait for our townhouse to finish being built. I am not sure when the townhouse will be done, hopefully June (baby is due 21st July). So in the meantime, we are living with AJ’s sister, her partner, their 2 year old, 4 year and 19 year old step son and his girlfriend. And we are commuting 90 minutes each way to work. Plus, I am beyond terrified of spiders and can barely function here because of my fear. Fuck my life. (Though I must say that my sister-in-law and her family have been so gracious and kind to take us in, I am so grateful).

Moving was physically and emotionally hard. I had to open my storage cage and go through my mum’s stuff that I put in there almost 3 years ago when she passed away and never opened again. I thought I would be OK, but AJ opened the first box and I immediately burst into tears. So we just packed it all up in new boxes and put it in storage, it was too much to deal with this week. Plus, moving house while 15 weeks pregnant is bloody tiring. I don’t recommend it!

Then to top it off, I’ve had one of the worst weeks at work that I have ever had. Let’s just say that the countdown to maternity leave is on… 5 months left…

Oh well, at least baby is doing fine. That is the main thing.

Miss anything: Sleep and my apartment. 

Movement: Nope, not feeling anything.

Food cravings: Nothing in particular. I did eat a lot of dumplings before I moved out of the city and into the country this week. Yum.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Still AJ sucking on mints in the car. I can’t take it!

Gender: ???

How’s your mood: Ha ha… Obviously I am a bit tired and emotional this week.

Looking forward to: Our townhouse being built and being able to set up our new house and the nursery. Hurry up!!!

The Bump: Still can’t see much happening, but I can feel the bump a bit when I lay down, it just feels kind of harder than normal.

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Rut

I’m not sure if life is getting me down or if I am down and it’s making my life seem shit. What came first, the chicken or the egg? All I can say right now is that I feel like I am in a rut.

Work is just so hard, my house build has been delayed and I don’t know where I am going to live, this infertility stuff is doing my head in and I feel lonely without any family around. I feel overwhelmed and like I have nothing to look forward to right now.

I am starting to wonder if the fertility drug I have been taking, Clomid, is part of the issue because I just don’t feel like myself. I feel like I have severe PMS symptoms all of the time. I am turning into a horrible snappy bitch that I don’t recognise. I’m not sure if I can take the drug much longer or what that might mean for me.

I am really letting it all get to me and I am trying to suffocate the stress with food and alcohol. I am eating poorly, drinking too much and now my clothes don’t fit me anymore. It’s a vicious bloody cycle.

The one thing I can do to help myself is take better care of my health. Eating a diet of potato chips and red wine might feel good in the short term, but it’s obviously not helping. Even though we are heading into the Christmas season, I am committing to focus on better eating and cut down on drinking. I’m going to make choices that my future self will thank me for, even if my current self wants sugar and salt.

In all the darkness, here is the light, I became and aunty on 22nd October. Her name is Penelope Jennifer (Jennifer is after my mum) but we mostly call her Polly. I was lucky enough to be able to fly to Sydney when my sister-in-law went into labour and be there to give her cuddles right away. I can’t wait to see her again at Christmas, I miss her so much!

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My first meeting with my niece

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Proud grandparents

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Juggling baby and dog, no problem!

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2 weeks old (dimples!)

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Looking just like my mum and brother

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Angel