Stay at Home Mum: Taking my own advice!


Mummy. Mama. Mum. Mom. Mumsy. So many different words to express that one special relationship. What is it in your household? I am currently known mostly as Mummy, occasionally as Mama, and frequently (by Pippa) as Mumumumum. It’s amazing though how just one word, one concept, one relationship, can effect your life so wholly, completely and utterly. While I worked part-time when Heidi was a baby, I am currently a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) with the desire to continue being one at least until our hoped-for move overseas in maybe 18 months. It is an absolute privilege to be able to do this. Many women (millions, I’m sure) have no such option. The choice is, well, not even a choice. No work? No money. No money? No food. I am entirely aware that pretty much primarily due to being born into this wealthy country, Australia, that I have even an option here. And it is one I am truly grateful for.

This does not make it an easy task though. And it is one that has been a little challenging lately. I feel like I am going through the crazies associated with being at home with small children a lot, mostly for the first time. Considering my oldest is not quite two and a half, I feel like this is not such a bad effort. But in saying that, maybe it’s happened before and I am simply choosing to suppress and forget those feelings! Either way, it feels fresh for me right now.

I’m feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of bringing these two little people up into the world. I’m feeling underwhelmed by the prospect of another day trying to get a baby to sleep and needing to entertain a toddler. I’m feeling frustrated by my lack of enthusiasm for getting out and about. I’m bored from being home a lot. In short, it’s a conflicting time!

I spent some time thinking about the advice I would give to myself, if I was the giving advice to myself kind of girl. Here is that  advice:

Don’t be ruled by the routine. Even though babies and toddlers need to sleep and eat, try not to be controlled by their routine. You are the Mama, you make the decisions. If you need to get out of the house even though it’s in the middle of nap time, just go out anyway. You will feel better, and more able to care for the kids if you are feeling good, calm and present.
My rebuttal: But the kids’ sleep is way more important than my sanity. If they sleep they won’t notice my crazies. Until they wake up…oh…then they might notice the rubbish in the fridge and the vacuum up the tree. Hmm.

Enjoy the little joys in the day. That first wobbly moments of standing alone for a few seconds won’t happen for much longer. That tender stroke on the face and whisper of “You’re so precious Mummy” will spark a fire of affection for your toddler that can keep you going in the middle of the next tantrum. Hold onto the good moments like they are a life jacket in a stormy gale – they may just keep you afloat the next time you think you are going under.
My rebuttal: Sometimes good moments are nice, but what I really need is a 10 minute break and a hot chocolate. Oh. Maybe I could do that. Yes. Good idea me. (So here I am!)

Pray together. With the kids. Even the little ones. Remember Mel, those times when you were having a grumpy morning and you could feel those frustrations rising and your patience decreasing (why not the other way around) ?You should sit and pray with Heidi. Out loud. Thank God for her. Ask God to help.Think of the wonderful things about Heidi and thank God for them. It really helps. God really helps.
My rebuttal: But I like being grumpy. Self-pity makes me feel worse. And I love revelling in my disastrous life. It’s awesome down here. Or maybe not so much.

Have a plan. Even though you are not a naturally super organised person, it can be helpful to have just a few things roughly in place. When you might have lunch, and what you might do before lunch. Stop looking at Pinterest and feeling crap. You don’t need a perfect morning filled with crafty creations that cost a fortune and make you lose it because it’s not quite working. Say something like “Let’s draw” – with blunt pencils on crumpled paper. Or “Let’s go for a walk” – which consists of the baby being popped in the Ergo and the toddler walking about 50 metres over 20 minutes, examining each gumnut, crack and leaf on the ground. The walking part of “Let’s walk” is so insignificant it can’t even count as exercise!
My rebuttal: But I can’t be bothered. And my kids are bored which is so annoying. Oh…

Talk about it with your spouse. There is nothing like bottling up feelings, seething resentment and bubbling bitterness to make life suck. Talk, listen, specifically explain your feelings. Remember that generally guys have a harder time hearing the feelings we are saying, and not just listening for the problem. So to help him out, be clear. And then clearer. And then add some clarity. Getting it out of the system is half (if not more) of the battle.
My rebuttal: But I like Paul to walk on egg-shells around me wondering about what is wrong. Then we can snap and argue ALL the time. I love that.

So I think I may have just convinced myself to take some of my own advice. I might just have to let you know how it all goes. Next week is looking better already!



Feeling Weary and Fickle


Last night we had some friends come over for dinner. (Hi Matt & Cazz!) After dinner as we sat on the couch enjoying some hot drinks together Cazz asked me how I was finding life with the two girls and enjoying being a ‘Stay At Home Mum’. I don’t know if I was really able to answer the question well. Which got me to thinking about why it was such a hard question. 

I love being at home with my girls. I am so thankful that we have the means and ability as a family for me to not have to go to work (paid employment more specifically) each day, or even just a few days in the week. 

I am so very glad that I am the person that these two precious gifts get to spend each day with. I want to be the one who is shaping, teaching, influencing and loving them consistently each day of the week.

My girls are a delight to me. They fill me with joy, laughter and enthusiasm for life.

And yet…

I’m so tired a lot of the time. I don’t get enough sleep because Pippa is not sleeping well at the moment. And Heidi is taking longer to get to sleep, and rising earlier. And she needs her sleep, so is consistently a lot grumpier than usual.

I don’t get a lot of down time in the day because now matter how hard I try, the girls just don’t always sleep at the same time.

Now that Pippa is starting to eat solids the mornings just seem to be full and stressful. Breastfeed Pippa, while keeping Heidi happy. Change Pippa. Empty potty. Express some milk. Get Heidi dressed. Prepare some food for Pippa. Feed Pippa, or watch her with some finger food. And so on it goes. Breakfast for me? I usually manage to eat, but it’s not a nice quiet time. It’s hectic! Always hectic!

And the afternoons are tricky too, because I need to start thinking about dinner, cooking, feeding Pippa again etc… 

So it’s really hard. It’s challenging. My patience wears thin far too easily. I want to be the bubbly, happy, fun Mummy who has the days full of Pinterest worthy activities for her Toddler, while bouncing the happy baby on her (perfectly fashionable outfitted) knee. Actually, I would be happy to settle just for part of that: I don’t mind so much about looking amazing. Because lets face it, vomit and other such things find there way into crevices, onto shoulders and over hair in the blink of the eye these days.

I don’t think that parenting will ever be easy, but I think the challenges will change. Right now my challenge is time. Time for anything except for getting through the day. There is so much energy, effort and care required just to keep two little people alive, fed, dressed (mostly) and somewhat content each day. Let alone shopping, cooking, exercise, relationships and any other kind of thing. I am thankful that for the most part the relational side of things is easy at the moment. The girls love me because I am their Mummy. They want to be with me. I know that this is one aspect that can greatly change with years and age. So I don’t take that for granted. But there are some real unique challenges to this stage of life, and I hope (and think) I’m not the only one who struggles with them. When I reflected on my previous post ‘The Small Sacrifices’ I realised a lot of the challenges had mostly to do with having two small children, more than having to do with Paul and I. There is just so little time for anything.

I feel very fickle. Some days are amazing. Like when we had a lovely time at PlayGroup, and after nap time Heidi played outside by herself for about an hour – a miracle! And then there are other days, where nothing seems to go very well. So I feel weary and fickle, and unable to adequately talk about how my life is going. And yet I know this is just a season. That it will all go by so quickly and I will miss the delights of watching these little creatures learning new things every day. From new words and funny sentences, to the gorgeousness of fat baby things – I know it won’t last. And yet, here in the thick of it, the days are long and not always easy. 

So forgive me if my answer to how life is going right now changes from moment to moment. Because that is life for me right now. And I love it – most of the time. 

Pippa’s Birth Story


Fresh out of the oven

Birth stories can be kind of crazy, graphic and sometimes push certain birthing/parenting philosophies. This is not that kind of story. While there will be some mention of birth and other related moments (due to it being a birth story), I am telling this for a few reasons, and pushing an agenda is not one of them.

Reasons for Writing

1. To record what was a particularly crazy moment in life
2. To fill in those friends/family who may have only caught snippets of the story
3. To share with Pippa one day when I am too old and forgetful to remember the details

The Pregnancy

We found out that we were pregnant the day that we moved house, about 20 minutes before a bunch of (wonderful) friends were arriving to help us out. It was quite simply a matter of, “Oh my goodness! Quick! Hide the test before people get here!” and then the day carried on. We were very excited, and despite a difficult time of morning sickness for the first few months, my health and Baby Squishy’s health was fine.

The Last Few Days

Due date came and went with not a lot of action. The midwife at my check up did a ‘Stretch and Sweep’ (aka S&S) – which as much as Paul called it a ‘Scratch and Sniff’ is not what it was). It was quite painful, but she was fairly confident that it would get things happening. It basically helps the body to get ready for labour. The midwife actually thought I might be back in after a few hours. I was enthusiastic, but not too worried about things either.

The Build Up

Thursday night I had contractions. The midwife was right in that things got going, but wrong in that it wasn’t as quickly as she thought. Paul and I sat and enjoyed some episodes of ‘The Office’ (American version), while every now and then I was quiet and shifting in my seat with some nice little contractions. It also meant that I didn’t get a good night of sleep, but thankfully the contractions didn’t go on all night. Paul also didn’t get much sleep, which was quite unusual for him.

Quite early on Friday morning I realised that Paul wasn’t feeling well. I thought he hadn’t slept well because I had been up to pee about 356 times, he had actually had a really bad headache all night. So at about 7am we got in touch with Paul’s parents and asked if they were able to come down for the day to help out. They live a bit more than an hour away, so we were keen to check their availability early, and thankfully they were free. So I got up when Heidi woke around 8 while Paul stayed in bed with a headache.

The day continued fairly normally, and I began to have contractions again. They were inconsistently persistent. There was no pattern, rhyme or reason, but there they were, over and over again throughout the day. Ron and Mary (in-law’s) arrived around 9am and helped with Heidi during the day. Paul stayed in bed for the whole day, and I ended up having a few hours to sit on my own with nothing to do – Heidi was out with R & M, Paul was in bed, and there I was, twiddling my thumbs and waiting! I still kind of thought my contractions with die down again, and that nothing would happen over the weekend…

The Evening Before It All Happened

It was probably around 6pm when we started to really worry about Paul. He had taken some medication but still wasn’t feeling any better. He had a migraine, was unable to move his head or cope with light because of the pain, and we decided to try and get him to see a Doctor somehow. After a few fruitless phone calls, we realised we could call a locum service, where the Doctor would come and visit Paul at home.

It was probably 9pm when Dr Martinova arrived. She had this thick, Russian accent, like she had just stepped off the set of a James Bond movie. But she was very good and thorough. I liked her. Up until the point when she said to Paul, “You probably had viral meningitis. You have to go to hospital straight away in an ambulance.” I grimaced through another contraction and thought to myself, “As soon as she leaves we will just drive to the hospital ourselves. I’ll need to go soon anyway.” But she was insistent. We needed to give her a phone. I had to speak to the ambulance officer. And then I had to sit on the couch and cry.

My contractions were getting stronger, and I was a little bit past the thought that they might just disappear. So I sat down and cried. If Mary was going to go to hospital with Paul, and Ron was going to stay home with Heidi (who thankfully slept through all of the drama), then who was going to take me to the hospital? And what about Paul? I didn’t know if he was going to be OK or not. After thinking about who I should get in touch with, I decided to call my friend from church, Merrilyn. She also happened to be a midwife. Only I didn’t actually call her myself because I was too upset to speak. But she could be over in about half an hour. And she was.

It was about 10pm when Merrilyn arrived (I think). By that stage it was time to get the heat pack out, as the contractions were getting quite strong, and closer together, but I was still able to kind of breathe through them. They were still quite irregular though. Probably because I wasn’t particularly focused on what I was doing. And also because I didn’t really want to go and have this little baby right now because Paul was so sick! But I couldn’t quite convince those contractions to go away.

Probably at about 10:30pm Merrilyn decided it was probably time to go to the hospital. So I called the birth suites, they asked me a few questions, and said that I could go in if I liked. The nurse on the phone asked me, “Would you like to come in?” And I remember wondering why she was asking me. I thought she was the one who knew! Anyway, after that we moved my bag from our car into Merrilyn’s car, and then I said a quick, quiet and teary goodbye to Paul. As we were pulling out of the driveway, we had to wait for the Ambulance to move. Paul was literally about to leave in the Ambulance as we were leaving for the hospital. This is a true story. Unbelievable yet true.

The Morning She Arrived

The drive from home to the hospital might have only been 15 minutes, but contractions while driving are definitely not fun. After arriving at the hospital and being shown through to  the birthing suites the contractions seemed to step up a notch in intensity. Merrilyn was a great support, and I had a lovely midwife called Robyn who was just what I needed: Encouraging, positive and gentle.

When Robyn managed to check how far along things were – after not quite long enough gaps between a number of contractions – I was already about 8cm dilated. I was very glad to hear that! So physically things were moving along quite quickly, but mentally I was struggling. It was just so much harder without Paul being there. I didn’t have that same concentration, focus and determination that I had like I did with Heidi’s birth.

I tried some gas twice. Laughing gas is meant to help you to relax, focus and help to dim the pain. I tried it and felt like I was going to pass out. My face flopped onto the bed and I couldn’t move it again. It was not a nice sensation! I was very, very close to asking for more drugs, but in the end I didn’t.

I really felt like I couldn’t keep going. My mental resolve was absent. As each contraction began I would whine “No!!!!” as if I could actually stop it. I wanted to stop it. I got very close to begging for a Caesar, but managed to keep those thoughts in my head and not voice them. Although apparently that is very common!

After an episiotomy, some loud noises, pushing, and waters breaking, Pippa Violet was born at 2:03am on October 27th, 2012. Paul was able to share the moment in a distant way. He was on the phone (Merrilyn had put me on speaker phone) as Pippa cried her first cry, and as I said, “It’s a girl!” and then tentatively said, “I think this is Pippa Violet…?”. But he was unable to hear much more than that, and definitely didn’t say much. He was dopey on some drugs that he had been given for the pain.

Those First Moments

Pippa was so bright, quiet and alert from when she was first born. It was lovely. And she had so much dark hair! I didn’t expect that! But new life is a joy, a blessing and an absolute gift from God. I was sad that Paul wasn’t there to meet his new baby girl, and to celebrate together with me. But I was thankful for a healthy baby, and SO glad that the birth was over!!

The Next Few Days

Paul did have viral meningitis. I had to be put in an isolation room with Pippa just in case either of us had it. We couldn’t see Paul for 3 days. But in the end we were all healthy and well. While I wouldn’t have planned it that way, we are all OK now. And it’s a pretty good story too!


Smiley girl last week

The Birthday Girl


My beautiful Heidi.

Happy 2nd birthday for the 25th.

You are strong, energetic, social, intense, happy and determined.

You love dancing, spinning, animals, friends, reading books, praying, cooking and tea parties.

You are now only in nappies overnight. You sleep in a toddler bed. Little miss independent is on her way.

You are a beautiful big sister who is kind, loving and enthusiastic with your baby sister.

You only smile when you want to. You only let us tickle you on your terms. You often take yourself off to bed crying “sleep!” if you are particularly tired.

You are a joy and a blessing and it is a privilege to be your Mummy.

I love you.