Friday, April 11, 2014

Its happened

Its been creeping up on me, but the inevitable has happened - we now have a one year old in the house.

Somehow, we have survived a year. LJ has grown and developed. He has a sense of humour (although I still dont get whats so funny about catching my eye while he is supposed to be having his morning breastfeed!), is ticklish and loves being thrown around a bit.

He is half as tall again as he was when he was born, and weighs nearly 3 times as much. He has 4 teeth and a prolific tendency to dribble as they come through.

He is trying hard to start walking. It wont be long now, even though he only started crawling the day after we got him home from hospital in February (when he had bronchiolitis).

A few weeks ago, he started daycare two days a week. He loves it. Loves the other kids and the ladies who run the babies room. The activities (in particular sand, water and paint), and their food. They somehow get two naps a day out of him when I usually only manage one.

He's pretty epic all around, really. So different to who he was as a baby. So mobile, and interactive. Of course, I still dont understand his current obsession with putting balls down my top and then going hunting them!

I think I'm doing ok. Mostly.
I've spent most of the year beating myself up. I pretended I hadn't, but secretly did, set myself quite high expectations. And then, when I didn't meet them, I stopped trying to do anything. Because if I dont try, I cant fail, right? But it turns out I can. Because I wasn't trying, and I wasn't achieving, and I wasn't being.

Its been a rough year in that respect. I would love to have a chance to do it over again, for all the times I've not appreciated, because I simply couldn't. I try really hard not to beat myself up over my perceived failings, but thats really difficult, because its one of the few things I am actively good at! (and no, there wont be another child so I can try and do better next time)

There seems to be some light at the end of that tunnel at least. Even though the fear of relapse, and the sorrow of missing out will always be there, I suspect. I can only keep hoping that its not done permanent, irreperable damage to my relationship with LJ, or my relationship with Mark, which has had its share of rough patches in the last 12 months too.

Every day I become more certain that this life is ok. Its different to what we had, harder. But it has value, and love. And its enough. It will be plenty.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fun Fifteen: March 2014

1. Congratulations / Thanks / Good Luck: Congratulations to all the ladies in my Due March group, and antenatal group who have hit first birthdays already.

2. Annual Goals, Checking in: Exercise: I'm doing ok. I've been advised to focus more on core strength and less on weight training, and I also know I need to do more fitness work. Might have to find myself a personal trainer for one session a month.
Job / Course: Paperwork done, course and funding talking to each other, all thats left to do is collect my student ID and text books at the start of the semester.
Clothes: Still a work in progress. Motivation must be found.  
Weight: Holding steady. Only 3.5kg to go to get to pre-baby weight.
Creative: I have half a dozen course options that I am looking at, but none start yet.  
Online: Fail. Seriously so.

3. This months goals, summary:

*No coca-cola all month: Fail
*5 gym session: Made 3, plus 2 swims
*Do one thing off my off-line list every day: I should have written down what I did, because I think I failed
*Write two real letters: Nope
*Finish editing the photos I want to do from our Europe trip: I at least got a couple more days done. Only 17 more to go (out of 45 days we were away)

4. Next months goals to aim for:
*Drink 2L of water every day
*Do 45 minutes exercise twice a week
*Edit 5 days of Europe photos
(decided to stick to simple things this month!)

5. Cafe Review: We've been to Rata at Zealandia a couple of times recently, with LJ pretty much every time. And every time has been pretty good. They have a couple of high chairs (which are always in demand), and a playpen with a few toys scattered around. I've never made it there in good weather, but even in bad weather, its still cool to look out through the cafe blinds to the lower reservoir. Food good, Brioche french toast fantastic, caramel milkshake to die for.

6. Motherhood Moment: The realisation that the end of this month is the last time I wont be calling my baby a one-year-old. Gulp.

7. Been there, Done that: Started the month with a trip to Castlepoint for the races, and rounded it out with an overnight stay on Somes Island with the families group from tramping club.

8. Coming Events: A first birthday, with a party and family visiting from out of town. Easter and ANZAC weekend, which may mean some time away, and will definitely mean some time spent on renovations.

9. Links Round-up: When Cyclone Lusi was on its way here early in the month, Mike shared a link to an awesome world viewer of what the wind is doing RIGHT now, the slightly disturbing "It happened to me" from XOJane, we got to go past this hella ugly superyacht on our way to Somes Island, how to make a tropical cyclone beautiful (using the earth.null website mentioned above), someone close to me was involved in this awful mess in Christchurch, and I spent a lot of time following the GodZone adventure race, which produced some stunning photos

10. Life list update: Nothing happening

11. Wish Lists: Too poor to shop!

12. Life Lesson this month: Life goes fast. 

13. This time last year: I was overdue, and totally sick of being pregnant. I was seriously hating on my body for how I looked, and how it wasn't working any more. And I was finally finishing up writing up my Europe adventure. I should really get around to editing the last of the photos sometime soon!

14. Fave memory from the month: Going out for Friday night drinks and dinner with Mike & Jo for Marks birthday. Was such a treat to be out at dinner and bedtime!

15. Photo of the month:
I've been busy editing old photos, and 95% of my months photos are of LJ this month... So here is one from 2012 I recently shared

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Not the "best", not by far

There has been this cutesy article going around my parenting groups lately, about how, one day, you'll have no regrets about the time you spend as a parent and not working / pushing up the career ladder.

Which is lovely and all, but it frustrated me on first reading, because the header that comes across to Facebook is "What if the best years of your life... aren't". Which, to me, is NOT about how you wont regret it later. It took me 4 goes to actually read the article and see the positive message my friends are all sighing over. Because what I had expected to read was writing about something like PND.

How you feel guilty, when your baby is nearly one, because of all the things it made you miss in their life so far. Things you cant get back. Guilty, because you are so scared of it happening again (and potentially worse), that you have put your foot down and there a sibling. Guilty, because despite the current societal expectations, you feel like a better mother the more time you spend away from your child - because you need room to breathe.

Because, if this is the "best of my life", and if I look back in a few years and see this as the "best years of my life", then thats a pretty bleak picture looking forward.

PND is a bitch of a thief. It steals joy, comfort and peace. I never delighted in my newborn. If I was tied to the sofa, breastfeeding and having him sleep on me, I was itching to get up and get him down into his own cot. Trying to get out and about was an anxiety-ridden nightmare (reflux + trying to figure out how to do it with regards to sleep routines + fear of screaming baby while out and about), that I largely didn't do it. I'm a photographer in my free time, and yet I have almost no photos of LJ in his early days. Looking back, thats one of the biggest signs that things weren't right.

Sure, I was exhausted after a bitch of a pregnancy, and a pretty nasty birth. I was in quite a lot of pain, ongoing for several months (I rejoiced the day I took my last painkiller - sometime around Christmas after an April birth). But none of those factors should really have precluded my taking photos of something so gorgeous (and damn, he is gorgeous).

And I am devastated that I cant go back and have that time again. I cant go back and take those photos. I cant have those moments. I dont have that peace and joy to look back on.

I am worried about what impact my depression and anxiety will have had on LJ. What it will mean for him in the future. What damage may have been done to our relationship already.

If this is meant to be the best time of my life, then I have royally fucked it up. And I cant go back and do it again, although I wish I could. And even though I am now feeling more positive in general, and have plans for the future that I am excited about, I will always have that sorrow in my heart. I missed out on so much, and I cant have it back.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Swallowing Fear

Hell is watching your baby's whole body shudder and shake as he takes each breath while he is still asleep. When he wakes up and is obviously still exhausted.

Fear is the moment when your normally chilled out, "She'll be right" family doctor looks at you seriously and tells you the signs to look for that would indicate he needs to be admitted to hospital and advises you to go home and pack a hospital bag.

Terror is wondering whether you should call an ambulance while waiting for your husband to get home from work as the breathing has gotten substantially worse in the 10 minutes since you called him home early, but needing to finish packing a bag (an impossibility with 10.5kg of sweating, upset baby clinging to you).

Hell is watching your baby be held down, screaming, while the doctor and nurse try and get ventolin in to him to help him breathe easier.

Fear is standing in the emergency department and hearing the paediatric specialist list your baby as status 2.

And yet, as soon as I got through the waiting room and into ED, I felt relief. Especially once the specialist said LJ was sick enough to be admitted. Relief that I didn't have to take him home and wait for an improvement, or watch for a deterioration. Relief that someone else was taking responsibility for fixing what was wrong, and all I had to do was be there for comfort.

Mostly, relief that I was right. That even though he was still eating, and still playing with toys when I was sitting with him (the two key things I had been told to watch for), he had deteriorated, he was really sick, he did need to be in hospital. My normally bouncing baby was lethargic, exhausted when he had just woken up and clingy.

We didn't notice till after he was home, but he lost weight in the week before he was admitted - not a large amount, about 150g, but still significant. For a boy who loves to eat, to lose weight is a big deal.

Thankfully, we were released only 24 hours after he was admitted. Loads of ventolin, and overnight on oxygen with monitoring, and he was back to almost normal. Certainly too well to be constrained to a isolation room - which he was stuck in due to his original diagnosis of bronchiolitis.

And a week later, you wouldn't know. But I will always remember having to hold myself together through the fear of waiting and watching. Swallowing it down so he didn't freak out. Spending the night in hospital with him. I certainly hope to never go through that again.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Fun Fifteen: February 2014

1. Congratulations / Thanks / Good Luck: Thanks to the wonderful staff at Wellington hospital ED and Childrens Ward 1 for their care of LJ at the end of the month. It was a seriously rough 24 hours, and you were all wonderful.

2. Annual Goals, Checking in: Exercise: I've been slack a bit at writing in my exercise recently. I know the last week of Feb I barely exercised at all (my long walk was from the ward to the supermarket and back). But I feel like I'm doing ok. Have been to the gym 4 or 5 times now. Job / Course: I am enrolled, and have applied for a student loan. Now to complete some additional paperwork, and get the two to talk to each other and I'm set! Clothes: Still a work in progress. Motivation must be found. Weight: Down 1kg. Woohoo! Creative: I have half a dozen course options that I am looking at, but none start yet. Online: Fail. Seriously so.

3. This months goals, summary:

*No coca-cola all month: Nope. Wound up instead doing no BUYING coca-cola. Worked much better.
*5 gym sessions: Made 3. Given the end of the month was sucked up with sickness, thats ok.
*Do one thing off my off-line list every day: Again, a bit slack on this. Will keep this one for next month too
*Write two real letters: Gulp. Didn't even do one!
*Finish editing the photos I want to do from our Europe trip: Also still not finished. You could say I had an uninspired month.
*Baby Finances: Still drafting and trying to sort out how to separate it - I have something like 1,200 words at the moment and more to say. Oops.

4. Next months goals to aim for:
*No coca-cola all month (working towards consuming nothing I wouldn't feed LJ),
*5 gym sessions (at least one a week),
*Do one thing off my off-line list every day (and spend at least half an hour on it),
*Write two real letters (handwritten and posted),
*Finish editing the photos I want to do from our Europe trip (its only been nearly 2 years)
(everything carried over from last month)

5. TV Review: The Blacklist: Wow. Seriously entertaining, and so many potential twists. I really really want to find out why Red is so interested in Liz. And is he really interested in bringing down all these people, or does he just want the FBI to do his dirty work so he can become the #1 criminal in the world?

6. Motherhood Moment: Making the decision that NO, I was not happy with LJs breathing, and YES, we did need to go to hospital NOW. Calling Mark home from work, and having to leave a message with Granma to tell her we were off to hospital, so no need for her to come to our place.
At the same time, watching LJ finally figure out crawling. Hilarious. And worrying.

7. Been there, Done that: A night in hospital. Round the Bays as a family (15 minutes faster than last year, so not a bad effort). To end the month, I drove myself and LJ to Castlepoint for the weekend, with Mark and my parents following on after work.

8. Coming Events: LJ turns one at the start of April, Marks birthday in a week - which will also be LJs first night away!

9. Links Round-up: Not a lot to share this month. I've been doing some more "personal" writing over at, any fan of Dr Who will love this dalek relaxation tape, some fun things adults should know, and I tried to start the 100 happy days thing, but got seriously sidetracked about day 2.

10. Life list update: Nothing to report here. Should probably start trying to achieve some again.

11. Wish Lists: Nothing new this month

12. Life Lesson this month: Making time for yourself is essential - especially when things are hard.

13. This time last year: I flew in a chopper for my first time, had finally finished writing up our trip to Europe and was waiting for Dad to get out of hospital

14. Fave memory from the month: Getting out and doing Round the Bays.

15. Photo of the month:
I actually haven't edited a single photo from this month yet. Oops. So here is one from last year
Fly over Ferry

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A farewell

I'm trying to find the positives in the situation. To not focus on the loss.
And its tough.

Yesterday a lovely couple came to our home and took away Checkers.

We had made the insanely difficult decision to rehome her after discovering that LJ has a strong cat hair / dander allergy, which he is likely to never grow out of.

People gave us ideas for keeping her - like keeping her off beds (when she sleeps on ours) and away from soft furnishings (which apparently includes carpet and curtains, so not sure how that would work), replacing the sofas with leather ones (our existing ones are only 2.5 years old and cost over $2k, so I dont think so), or washing her every week (she hates getting flead, I was NOT going to try this).
Basically, everything we could do in order to keep her was either insanely difficult, or not fair on her.

So, after 36 hours in denial, we posted a plea on Facebook, asking for someone to find a friend who could take her. Under a week later and she is gone.

There is a hole in our home. Its called Checkers. We both cried a little last night when she left. And consoled ourselves with half a bottle of wine.

There are upsides to no longer having a cat. I am trying to console myself with them, even though (at the same time) I am going to miss most of them in their own way.

So, here is my list of upsides to no more cat
  1. Cost savings - no cat food, no litter. No vet bills.
  2. Less worry - no longer having to find someone to feed her while we are away for the weekend, no stressing about getting a cattery space over Christmas if we are away for longer
  3. Less cleaning - no cleaning the litter tray, no litter tracked through the house. No vomit on the bedroom / dining room floor
  4. More space - I get my whole side of the bed more-or-less to myself. Although in winter, I know I'm going to miss that foot warmer
  5. No indoor cicadas - the only thing (other than ONE mouse that came in alive) she has ever caught.
Most of all though, it means (hopefully) less sneezing and itching for LJ. Fingers crossed removing this means less itching and therefore less eczema flare-ups.
And hey, you never know, he might decide as a teenager that having a cat is worth having to take an antihistamine every day. And we might say no by that stage.

And so, farewell, to the cat that made our house a home. We are so glad you picked Mark that day at the SPCA. As much as our families thought we were insane putting up with what they saw as a psycho kitty (since they never really saw her), we loved having you around.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Nesting, a bit late

It appears I have finally got my nesting urge on - only a year after everyone in my Due March 2013 group, and 10 months after LJ arrived with us.
I guess thats the advantage to nice weather not being weighed down by nearly 20kg of baby and swelling!

Over the weekend we got heaps done - and all around a very grizzly, unhappy baby with a nasty cold.

I managed to tick off 13 things on my weekend to-do list, including
* 2 coats of stain on the outdoor table and chairs (since they got no love last summer and were looking awful),
* Clear, sweep and wet & forget the deck
* Clean out the wardrobe, clean the walls and deal to the damp patch on the carpet (next job, figure out where it came from!)
* Change the sheets, including the mattress protector, take the electric blanket off the bed (finally), rotate the mattress, and get the sheets washed
* Take 3 bags of clothes to the local charity bin
* Take apart the high chair and detail clean it

And I'm still going! Annika is coming over later today to help me sort and bag up all LJs too-small clothes in preparation for the Plunket Sale in April, I'm going to go through my recipe books and sort out half a dozen to get rid of because I never use them and hopefully I'll get some time to either clean up my bike a little (before we move it to my parents garage to stop it getting so rusty) or re-compost my potato pot and perhaps even get some planting in.

I feel fantastic. Now to figure out getting to the gym on a regular basis and we'll be getting on to set!