All you wanted to know, and perhaps didn’t, about menstrual cups.

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So I did it, I finally bit the bullet and used a menstrual cup, the Lunette to be precise. Contrary to what you might think I don’t eat my placenta or make jewellery out of my breast milk, which I don’t have a problem with but I don’t want you to feel like I’m your typical cup user and therefore switch off. I don’t relate to the “hippy” lifestyle, I thought catching blood in a cup was gross, and even though I was assured it wasn’t I kept thinking, but you’re happy to eat your placenta so our gross meters are a little different. The only people shouting from the rooftops about these were people with whom I didn’t think represented me, I mean I don’t even do camping, so it seemed that tampons would just be my life.

If I’m totally honest the thing that actually tipped me over the edge wasn’t because I cared about the environment or that I want to have less chemicals in my body, what it boiled down to was money. We are financially under pressure at the moment and buying tampons/pads every month really adds up, I just couldn’t afford not to. I’ve always been good with money and a quick calculation showed that my $60 investment which lasted 10 years was going to save me roughly $1200 (I have a very heavy flow so I buy a lot). The decision was easy to make, with figures like that I’d be an idiot to keep buying tampons when we are essentially broke but actually using the thing wasn’t so easy.

That little yellow cup (mine is yellow but you can get other colours) looked huge and uncomfortable and my brain just couldn’t figure out how it’d get in there. Yes 2 big babies have been pushed out of my vagina but that didn’t seem to make that cup look any smaller. Birthing isn’t done monthly and I got 2 gorgeous girls after, where shoving that cup up me would only produce a reward of my menstrual blood in a cup. And lets not get started on penises being bigger than the cup either, my brain isn’t logical in times of panic!!

So as you can see I was extremely hesitant and my thoughts often teetered on the more negative, anxiety inducing side. However I had no sanitary products in the house but my cup so I was out of options. It was either use the cup or sit on the toilet all day, which isn’t very practical. I was just going to have to do it, I pushed a baby out of my vagina for fucks sake, I could do this!!! To my surprise my vagina can hold a lot more than I thought. My cup was easy to insert and popped open giving my a little shock but it never hurt. I did find that the tab was too long and I needed to cut it but that was easy to do. I honestly was shocked at how easily it popped into place. I had had images of my whole hand needing to get up there and push it into position in my head but it was actually easier than inserting a tampon as it sits lower.

It’s taken me a while to get the position just right, and I’ve found my body now seems to have adjusted to it and sort of sucks it up into position, I told you this might contain too much info! My first period was pretty uncomfortable, I had it sitting so low I was walking like I’d been riding a horse all day, all I needed was a cowboy hat. However even with it not sitting quite right I was still totally in love. I can’t explain it but the convenience of it being reusable, the money saving and even the fact I was helping the environment all made me fall in love. Then after a few tries and it sitting comfortably I knew it’d won this sceptical princess who thought a menstrual cup was icky, over! It’s not all peaches and cream though, I want to be very honest so if you do consider one you go into it knowing everything I can tell you. Changing in a public toilet is gross, you get bloody fingers (not dissimilar to when changing a tampon). You can just wipe it with toilet paper but I like rinsing it with bottled water, which is what I do at home, so it’s all a bit awkward but you end up getting a system down pat and it’s not too bad. But the worst thing is the suction sounds it makes, I’m sure people in the cubicle next to me are thinking some kinky stuff is going on. I have a very heavy period so I was changing my tampons every 1-2hours which means that I’m having to empty my cup regularly but much less frequently than a tampon. It is a pain in the butt but having a heavy period means I have always been inconvenienced and this is not worse than changing a tampon just more fiddly. For you with normal periods the cup holds a lot and you can normally change it 12 hourly, doing it in the shower is so easy and comfortable and it’s a huge advantage over other sanitary products. They are honestly the only negatives I can think of, that and that it takes a few tries to get the hang of putting it in comfortably, but if we look back on our first tampon experiences it took us a while to get the hang of those too.

Here are the things I was surprised by:

It isn’t gross, if you’ve seen your blood on a pad or in a tampon a cup ain’t any worse.

It doesn’t have any odour, no gross smells that can often come from using pads, not matter how many perfumes they add to them.

They are hypoallergenic, so if you have sensitive skin this could be great reason to switch, I often found I was really itchy after using pads but since switching you’ll be happy to know there is no more itching.

Once it’s in properly you just don’t even know it’s there. It has given me so much freedom as I can do everything I would do when I don’t have my period. I mean everything, swimming, bike riding, stripping, no more pesky strings you have to try and hide (not that I strip or bike ride for that matter but I could if I wanted to and that’s the point).

They don’t come out when you pee, pooing is another story which I discovered the hard way!

They are so convenient, I love not having to sneak tampons into bins at other people’s houses.

Plus NO leaks, I just won you over there didn’t I?

The biggest surprise though was that I actually love using it, it’s not just for hippies, it’s just a great product for anyone.

I really hope that this little blog can help some of you take the leap. Its not scary, its not gross, it just takes you taking that first step and I promise you’ll fall in love too. Do it for your environment, your wallet, your health but mainly because its just a superior way to deal with menstruation.

If you are in Australia and looking to buy a cup I would highly recommend buying from Sustainable Menstruation Australia. Rosie is so passionate about her products but more importantly is there to answer all your questions. Once you purchase a cup you are not just left high and dry. Rosie is there to make sure you get the most out of your cups and will go above and beyond to help answer your questions which is important with something you’ve never used before. I gave her a few calls during my cowboy walking stage and she led me to some great resources.

Good luck girls and happy menstrating xx

Juju cup, Lunette, Moon Cup, what’s it all about?

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Whatever cutesy names they call them menstrual cups are not a very exciting topic really,in fact whenever I heard the term Moon Cup I shuddered. Collecting my menstrual blood in a little cup made me feel physically ill. I honestly thought it was a hippy, tribal woman product that nothing or nobody could convince me to use. Funnily enough someone did get me thinking, I’m not saying I’m sold on the whole silicon cup careful inserted in your vagina idea but at least I’m thinking about it.

So how did anyone get me, the “I don’t do camping because it’s primitive” kinda girl to even consider using such a device? It was pretty simple actually, they basically stated quite simply that when we were first faced with the concept of shoving a cotton stick with a string attached to it right up our vaginas none of us were in love with that idea! In fact it took some time to get used to not only the idea but how to actually use those damn little (or what seemed like giant at the time) devices.

Why am I so grossed out by the the menstrual cup idea? I mean it’s a gross messy time of the month that just can’t be avoided and let’s face it the alternatives to dealing with this time aren’t exactly faultless, they are just what we are used to, making them normal and less strange. But are they in fact better or are these new fan dangled “cups” that are all the rage in those tree hugging, home birthing communities actually the better option?

Well I actually don’t know the answer to that yet, in fact I’m a little apprehensive about trying one out but I thought it could be fun to do this on behalf of all my readers and give you all a blow by blow account of what they are really like. If there is one thing about me it’s that I don’t mind over sharing, ask me what you’re major concerns are and I’ll give you a very truthful and raw answer. I’ve read all the reviews but I can’t help thinking, were these women as much of a princess as I am? Are these women more primal and in tune with their bodies than I am? Don’t get me wrong, I admire these hippy women, these primal women who have this real understanding and connection to their bodies but its not me and so these reviews are meaningless because let’s face it, some of these women are ok with birthing at home and eating placenta pie but that’s just not me!

So if you want me to embark on this crazy menstrual journey to give you that review that may sway you either way then why not ask me a question you’d like answered? Or maybe pop a dollar in my Go Fund Me account

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Don’t tell me my baby won’t starve

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This is the second heart wrenching time I’ve been told my baby isn’t putting on weight and that they are dropping rapidly on the growth chart. The first was with my first daughter and I just can’t believe it has happened again.

Both my girls are followed the same pattern and to be honest it’s making me feel like a failure of a mother. Both preferred breast milk to solids. This might not seem like much but it means as my milk becomes less nutritious my children aren’t making up for it by supplementing their diet with proper food! In fact they are breast feeding at a crazy rate trying to sustain themselves on the milk alone. Unfortunately no matter how much they drink its just not enough to sustain them and they simply stop growing.

Feeding your child so they grow is a pretty basic skill one needs to be a successful parent. In fact most of my friends seem to find that this is a non issue. You’d thinking making food and getting your child to eat it would be easy. Like they say they won’t starve themselves, or if they’re hungry they’ll eat.

I’ve never found two pieces if advice more infuriating because both of my children refused to eat to their detriment. Sure they didn’t starve themselves but they both ate so little they stop growing. To me that shows a fundamental flaw in their well meaning advice. Babies sometimes don’t eat enough to keep themselves healthy, they eat just enough to survive but not to flourish.

It has made meal times the most stressful times of my day. I sit there for an hour at times singing, jumping around, distracting. I’s truck them by giving them something they really wanted to put in their mouth but just as they opened their little mouth I would shovel a spoonful of food in there, only for them to spit it out. Tv on, tv off. Tears from me, tears from them. Finger food, baby lead weaning, force feeding, following them around the room squirting mouthfuls of food in their mouth. It even got to the point where i’d leave food on the floor because I knew they’d pop that straight in their mouth. In all honesty most of my days have been spent in a state of high anxiety trying to get my daughters to eat. It’s gotten so bad at times that 4 baked beans was an achievement.

I think the most heart breaking thing is that this time I’d decided after months of feeding time struggles that I’d listen to those people that said she wouldn’t starve and I just let her eat as she wanted, I’d find most of her finger food squashed under her bottom, 2 spoonfuls was ok because I refused to keep having such a stressful time 3 times a day. Food should be fun not an anxiety attack causing event. Only to notice that in over 2 months she was still fitting into the same clothes with no change in how they were fitting her.

I decided to go see a doctor for her 1 year check and see if my suspicions were in fact a reality. When the nurse came back with her weight marked on the growth chart which clearly showed no weight gain for 2 months I had to hold back tears. She tried to explain it was ok but she’d have to be monitored, I didn’t say anything because I knew the only sound that would escape my mouth would be the sound of me weeping at my failure as a mother. I couldn’t believe it, I’d done it twice! I lacked the skills to nourish my baby so they would grow. I felt like one if those neglectful parents that are on the news for starving their child.

The doctor asked me if I’d tried distracting her, finger foods or just more variety. I flashed back to all those hours spent desperately trying to get her to eat and I felt like yelling at her. Of course I’d tried everything. Did she think that my skills were that lacking that I’d given her a bowl if gruel which she refused to eat and I’d just given up?

I’ve begun the long journey of trying to get my daughter to gain weight. It’s a matter of cutting down her breast feeds, it’s working to some degree. It’s still an ordeal at meal times but more is going in instead if being stored under her bum or being spat back out at me. This might seem pretty obvious and I can’t believe I’ve made the same mistake twice. However when all your child will have is beast milk it’s so hard to refuse that to them because you fear they will starve. My fear of starving my girls therefore breast feeding them on demand has actual led them to starve themselves as my milk just wasn’t enough.

It’s seems such a simple thing feeding your child, before I became a mother feeding was not an issue I even thought to be stressed about, birth, breast feeding, sleep deprivation were all those scary topics talked about having issues with. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how the simple act of trying to get my baby to eat could cause me so much heartache. I know you all mean well but please don’t tell me that children won’t starve themselves, it’s true they won’t but it’s such a hollow comfort when you are in the midst of your child withering away.

Hiding behind Culture

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Yesterday I witnessed a horrifying event which got me thinking, are we so afraid of being racist we let people hide behind Culture?

When I arrived at my daughters school I heard sickening cries from a little baby girl, maybe 9months old. I saw a crowd of women gathered around her and was automatically concerned that something horrible had happened, perhaps a terrible fall. I walked towards them to see if I could be of any assistance but as I walked closer I saw that this pain was being inflicted by choice. The first thing I noticed was that they were filming this event and that was my first clue as to this not being an accident. The second was the smiles on these women’s faces, surely if your child was in that much pain you would be distressed. I was distressed listening to it and I wasn’t that little girls mum.

Soon I realised what was going on, they were piercing this little girls ears, in the school yard and using one of these women’s earrings to pierce her ear. Not only is this totally unhygienic but it was barbaric! Now one thing I haven’t mentioned was that these women were Indian. When I was talking about the horror I had just witnessed one mother said but maybe it’s a cultural thing? It was then that I started thinking, what if these women had been caucasian? Would be all be happy to sit back and watch then pierce their child’s ear with a blunt implement? Or would we sit their judging them, making sniggering comments about how awful they were as parents?

Why does culture make us blind to moral rights and wrongs? Of course if you ask anyone they would all agree sewing a woman’s vagina for cultural reasons is wrong, but that’s a pretty clear cut one. But what about circumcision? Piercing of ears even using proper tools?

We tend to think because a child is ours that we have the right to make these decisions for them. I personally don’t think we do, they are a little person, maybe without a voice but shouldn’t we let them make these choices when they are old enough to decide for themselves? I understand that we must make tough decisions for them that will benefit them in the future. Of course because they have no voice we do have to make these decisions for them. What I don’t understand is why we are allowed to make decisions for them that will impact them forever and that have no real benefits? Why are we allowed to hurt our children in the name of religion or culture or just because they are ours?

I understand my view will not be popular but my brain has been whirring and I just had to get it out there. For instance circumcision has been proven to help with the reduced likelihood of getting diseases such as HIV and as much as this seems to be a great reason to circumcise why do it to a baby under no anaesthetic, will your child be involved in sexual acts where this is relevant? As a parent I can’t understand why you would hurt your child by choice for the sake of religion or culture when it serves to have no benefit for them. If your child feels that they want to be circumcised let them make this decision for themselves, if they want the health benefits let them make that choice when they have a voice and they can have it done under anaesthetic.

Piercing of ears seems harmless enough and I guess it is but again I’m not sure why we are the ones who get the make that choice for our baby. That hole is there for their whole life, or it closes and leaves a scar. Now I know this isn’t a huge deal but it serves no benefit to them, in fact it can get infected and cause them to be very sick. So why is it that we get to chose? Why not let them decide when they are old enough to make that decision themselves? I was 6 when I got my ears pierced and I was so glad that I got to chose, it was my choice, my voice and it was special because of it. I didn’t just grow up having holes in my ears because someone had just thought I should. What if I pierced my daughters eyebrow or belly button? Why is that not ok? It might hurt a bit more to do these but when they are that little pain is pain, it would really hurt. What about tattooing my child? I know we have to draw the line and I know that a hole that scars isn’t as much of a permanent fixture as a tattoo but it is still permanent and serves them no purpose as a baby.

In the end I guess I’m not saying we can’t pierce our babies ears but I’m saying we need to start thinking about it more seriously, we need to make sure we make decisions for our children that benefit them. They are voiceless and we are their voice so we need to speak for them with their best interest at heart and try and defer as many decisions as we can for them to decide when they do have a voice.

My other point is this, we can’t be scared of being racist for not agreeing with someone of a different culture. If it is morally wrong it is wrong, it doesn’t matter if the person in Chinese, English, Ugandan or French. We are all human and we must make sure we see each other as that, not as a colour so our morals must apply to all. When we do that that is when we truly will be free of racism.

 

 

My (second) Birth Story

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A year on from the birth of my second daughter I find myself reminiscing about how she came into this world. Much like her sister she came at her own time, not when we wanted her to. My first daughter went 2 weeks over her due date and so we were expecting a similar time for her little sister. My mum was coming from Adelaide and so we had booked her flight 5 days after my due date seeing as last time she spent most of her time waiting for my daughter to arrive rather than spending time with her.

For weeks I’d had Braxton Hicks and felt that she was coming any day. Every night my husband and I would think this is it, but it never eventuated into anything. The night of the 1st of May we both went to bed smiled at each other and said, I don’t think she’s coming any time soon she seems determined to make us wait. With that we turned off the light only to hear a might POP. I felt a mighty push in my belly before the pop and I honestly thought, in my crazy hypochondriac way, that my daughter had kicked me so hard she had burst one of my organs!!! Now I look back I think I must have been insane to jump to that conclusion first. Shortly after the pop I felt warm liquid seeping between my legs and only then did it click that my waters had broken.

We quickly turned the lights back on and rang my mum to let her know (she was arriving the next day), and then messaged and called all who mattered, our birth photographer, my doula and my best friends. We then made the split decision that our 4 year old would attend the birth (we hadn’t decided what to do) and off we went for a long wet ride down the mountain to the hospital. Now this ride was a good hour so I popped on some music, my 4 year old slept and we just cruised on down. I remember going over bumps made the water gush out but other than that all was going smoothly.

I felt so empowered, shaky but empowered. It was so strange I just couldn’t stop shivering but I wasn’t cold. I mean my teeth chattered so loudly my husband could hear them. My waters had t broken last time so this was all very new to me.

I really thought I’d get to hospital be 7cm dilated like last time and it’d be show time! Boy was I wrong.

When we arrived everything was closed up, I liked having a very private entrance seeing as I was leaking water everywhere, so we buzz the buzzer and were let in. I was so embarrassed about the giant puddles I was leaving everywhere I went. It’s not a very natural for me to be what felt like peeing, in such a public place. I couldn’t help but think about the mess I was making and hoping no one was slip and fall due to my puddles.

Not only did I leave a giant mess in the elevator but then no rooms where ready for me as it had been a very busy night so I was asked to sit soaking wet in the corridor. So many things were going through my mind, how cold I was, how awkward it was to be sitting in a corridor having contractions and waters spilling everywhere, how painful would this all get but mainly how soon it would be until I would finally meet this wriggly girl I’d been lovingly carrying for over 9 months.

Finally the room was ready and we made ourselves at home. My daughter was so excited because we’d packed her a bag a yummy treats, an iPod and DVD player all to keep her entertained, so it was a very special occasion for her. Then I saw them wheel in that little plastic bed for baby and it all became so real! It was just so strange and so fearful to think my little girl would be lying in there in….well who knew how long but soon enough. All this waiting was finally over and we could finally meet her and see what she looked like. I was so excited.

I got on the bath and was very on top of it all. I was making all the right deep noises, just going with it! My 4 year d was bouncing around talking to my doula and the nurses, not looking tired even though it was 2am.

It was all feeling so good and natural. Then they checked how dilated I was, 4 cm, I repeat 4cm!!!! What was that??? Only 4?? But how could that be, I’d been in agony (or what I thought was agony at the time) for over 4 hours to only have 4 cm. I was so deflated. I honestly felt so scared, if it had been that hard for the first 4 how much tougher was it going to get?

That hippy, natural earth mumma in me was regretting everything. I kept thinking, this isn’t what it’s all hyped up to be, where’s the bit I feel empowered, when will I feel that warrior in me awaken and why am I not one of those women who orgasm? Although I really don’t know how comfortable I’d be having an orgasm in front of a room of people anyway.

I’d read the books, this was all meant to be natural instinct right. My body would know the best positions to get in, it’d know when to push, what to do. Well let me tell you, my body knows shit all. Maybe I’m too far removed from the nothing women in fields but my body said lie on the bed in the feral position. It actually said that, with legs clamped firmly together. Yep, no walking around and using gravity for me, no deep gutral sounds, nope just high pitch squeals of help me, crying and legs firmly shut. I pushed when I shouldn’t and was just a mess. I even asked for gas in desperation only to try and suck on it and decide it was too hard to do while crying and throw it to the ground.

You might think by this stage my daughter was beside herself hearing mummy in so much pain but no, she actually said to me “can you please stop screaming I can’t hear my iPod” she also mocked me by putting on my voice and screaming “help me, he’ll me”. Clearly her iPod was a lot more important than her noisy mum giving birth. Don’t get me wrong we’d prepped her that I might scream and cry but to see how relaxed she was was quite disconcerting. I even saw my husband and midwife having a good old chat while I was screaming in pain and I remember thinking, doesn’t anyone care I’m in so much pain??

Those last few hours took forever, like a well oiled machine I dilated 1cm per hour, which wasn’t fast enough for me in my state of agony but I was reassured was actual perfect. I just kept asking, how much longer do I have to do this? Begging them to give me a time frame. The planner in me just Cosby handle this unknown time that it would take. I needed numbers and I needed them now.

Eventually my OB came and prized my legs open to find I was dilated enough to push! Sweet sweet pushing, that’s all I can say. Yep it hurt like acid burning my vagina but at least it felt like progress, just sitting in pain didn’t feel like I was going anywhere but pushing made me feel in control.

This is where my body knew what to do, yep it’d gotten me into one of the most unnatural positions to both, one that makes things harder but it sure knew how to push. My daughter, husband and doula all stood there cheering me on and finally with a big push relief, her head was out.

The rest was so quick, suddenly she was in my chest, I was sure she want breathing, can you tell how neurotic I am yet? Of course she was fine, in fact she was born with the cord around her neck but my cord was so long it didn’t affect her in the slightest.

All this waiting and pain had led to this moment, meeting my little girl for the first time and she was perfect. So fair compared to my first but exactly the same size at 3.8kgs and 51cm. She fed so easily with her giant mouth and to be honest once on there never really wanted to get off. I has walked in with a family of 3 but we were now a family of 4.

Natural birth was hard and i’ll be honest it wasn’t exactly what I expected. That rush you get didn’t erase the extreme pain for me but recovery was a lot quicker than with the epidural I had. It was an experience I’ll never forget and even though I’m not a natural norther I’m glad I did it. Those books were wrong about me, I didn’t have a bloody clue but I still ended up with my gorgeous little girl.

I think my team had so much to do with it, having my husband who was literally there for me to lean on throughout, my doula who kept encouraging me and explaining things to me, my amazing OB who let me figure it all out myself and my daughter who asked me why I still had a big belly after the baby had come out but was the loudest at cheering when I was pushing, they all made it so memorable and kept me strong when I was weak.

Sleep, what is it good for??

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As I am currently struggling through a very rough week of minimal sleep due to my little ones sickness I thought it would be a good time to delve into the murky depths of sleep deprivation. Although I’m sure this post will probably make little sense and be full or grammatical and spelling errors but it’s a time when it is at it rawest form.

In all honesty this second child of mine is a relatively good sleeper, that’s arguable but compared to my first she is a dream. Waking up twice a night to tend to her, verses hourly for my first, seems very manageable. In the end sleep deprivation is all about management. You get up and manage, you manage to go to work, you manage to eat, you manage to clean, you manage to just hold in there. Let’s face it though, just managing isn’t OK, I mean I probably was terrible at my job, I was always cranky, in fact on more than one occasion I forgot to buckle my daughter’s seat belt! You feel so helpless, so powerless and in that moment in the middle of the night when you have been woken for the 4th time, the night that you will get to sleep without interruption seems like it will never come.

After hourly wake ups for 5 months I’m not sure I could have taken much more. It’s so hard to explain just how physically and mentally depleted you feel when you are woken so regularly. You look for support and understanding but no one really gets it, I mean other mothers do but no one seemed to have it as bad as me which left me feeling so alone and helpless. Yes my friends also had terrible sleepers (waking 3-4 hourly), but in my desperation I hated them, I thought to myself, how dare you even call that a sleep problem? I dream of the day I can sleep for longer than 40 minutes at a time. My husband couldn’t help as my little one refused a bottle and would only fall back to sleep being breast fed, adding to that feeling of being completely alone in this. As much as people could sympathize no one could fix it, I had to wade through it alone. The longer it went on the harder it got to keeping on wading,but you have to because that little human needs you to survive but your mind you can feel it slipping.

I knew I was totally losing it when I would fantasize about getting very ill and being put in hospital so then I didn’t have the responsibility of looking after my daughter for a while and I could just sleep. I was tested for post natal depression but every time I scored in a healthy range, but I didn’t feel healthy. Nothing about wishing you were sick to get away from it all seemed healthy to me. In fact all I could think of was sleep. I fantasized about it, I talked about it (or the lack of it) and I prayed for it. Boy did I pray, dear God please let tonight be the night this all turns around for me, please just let her sleep. My prayers were never answered because in the end I came to realise that it wasn’t magic or prayers that would fix this but me. It was all up to me.

That’s a pretty sobering thought, it meant I was really alone in this. Even though it was all up to me to change this, I came to realise that actually I wasn’t alone because people could be there on the side line cheering me on. They couldn’t do it for me but they could be there for me to lean on when I just couldn’t go on alone. I took charge of me sleeplessness and I went to my community nurse who had been there since I brought my daughter home and we discussed what actions I could take. I saw my doctor, I spoke to other mothers. In the end I felt a sleep school was what I needed and there I went. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, I was finally at a place which understood and were physically there in the middle of the night to support me through it. No matter what tactics I had been offered before it never worked for me because when you are running on 2 hours of sleep your tolerance is low and you do what is easiest which often isn’t what is best. Now I know sleep school isn’t for everyone, in fact I know we all love to judge each other about the approaches we choose in parenting but can I stress that in the end a mothers mental health is the most important thing if that isn’t there then that child will not experience the best of his mother.

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and let me tell you it felt torturous but I got help and from the day I came home from that sleep school my daughter slept through the night. Don’t be bogged down with mother guilt, in the end a mothers health is more important than what others think. You need to listen to your body, talk to people about it, never hide how you feel or people can’t help you and use the services provided.

As a wade through this very challenging week of 3 hours sleep a night I am taken back to that place were I thought I would break, I am so glad I sought help before it was too late. Sleep deprivation is seen as just part of parenting and often dismissed as a small problem but from a mother who was broken by no sleep please know that it is one of the hardest things to endure and that there is a light but YOU have to reach out for it.

 

 

 

Dating for a Friend

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For whatever reason we are often faced with the need to make new friends in adult life, maybe you have moved, or your friend has moved, perhaps you’ve had a falling out over not picking them as a bridesmaid or maybe you’ve lost them forever. Whatever the reason the process is the same. I’ve moved many times now and every time I’ve had to make new friends. I’ve found this process exhausting, heart breaking, exhilarating and lonely. In fact the more times I’ve had to do this the more I’ve realised it’s exactly like dating for a life partner. The same fears, the same excitement and the same results. Yes I am dating for a friend at the moment and I’m exhausted, like anyone who’s been in the dating scene too long and longing for that special someone to share important milestones with, I too long for that special someone in the form of a friend. 

So what are these similarities I see?? Well it all starts by seeing someone who you see similarities with, maybe they have a child the same age as yours, maybe they are wearing a tshirt of a band you love, either way you see something that grabs your interest. The next step is the trickiest, although with age I’ve come to find it easy as I’m confident in myself, you need to go up and introduce yourself. Suddenly a conversation is started and you then have the nerve to exchange numbers. All the time in the back of your mind you’re thinking, someone as nice as them surely has many friends, probably a bestie they do everything with, why would they want me? Still you persevere because lets be honest that human contact was nice and you could use more, even at the risk of rejection. Now you have their number, do you message straight away and tell them you had fun or will that seem too needy? How long do you wait before you organise another meeting? What if they were just being polite giving you their number? No you felt a connection so you text and tell them you had a good time. You then spend hours analysing their response. What does it mean? If all goes well you get more catch ups and the friendship grows but the same fears creep out as they do in dating, what if you like them more than they like you? What if they’ll get sick of you, after all you are extremely needy. What if they simply don’t have space for you in their life?

Yes my friends, I’ve been doing this long enough to know all the ins and outs of finding that friend and I know not only how important having that friend is but also how hard it is to find the right one. Like dating you can settle for the first person to show you attention because you are lonely but let’s be honest they are probably not the one, maybe you’re in a friendship where the other person is always taking, or plain controlling, but your loneliness drives you to stay. Either way finding that person, who has a hole to fill in their life at the same time as you do, as well as having similar values and interests is almost impossible. It takes so long to find that friend that needs you as much as you need them but just like a life partner it is as vital to our happiness because with their love and support you can do anything.

I will always remember a work colleague in Canberra telling me quite bluntly that they didn’t have time for another friend. Yes in my desperate state she had sensed me trying to start a relationship which she quickly put an end to. At the time I felt brokenhearted, I took it really personally, what was wrong with me?? Why didn’t she have room for me? These days I get similar rejections, like when you date sometimes it just doesn’t work out. In the end I don’t want a friend who doesn’t want me and are my friend out of guilt or obligation. I can sit around moping thinking it’s me with the problem or I can pick myself up and realise not everyone will click and it’s not me that’s the problem it was just the combination. I just have to keep searching, because wasting my time with people who aren’t quite the right fit stops me from finding the perfect fit. 

Friendship keeps you sane, you need that sounding board, that cheer squad that is a great friend. That person who will push you to be the best you can be, to challenge you but also support you through the hard times. Yes a life long partner should be all those things but sometimes your partner can’t be everything you need. I find that another woman understand my emotional needs better, but having said that I couldn’t live with someone equally as emotional as me that’s why they are friends because they have a special place. If you have that support then you can achieve so much more and that is why I keep searching. It’s a bloody pain in the arse sometimes, or plain heartbreaking but in the end it’s such a wonderful thing it’s worth all the heartache. 

With that said treasure the friends you have, they are more important that you can imagine, cull the ones who are holding you back or abusive and if like me there is a hole keep on searching to fill it because when you find the one it truly is magical.

What’s in a name??

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OffTheGrid

I have chosen unusual names for my 2 daughters and I make no apology for it, although at times it feels like people want me to. I had 2 reasons behind this, one my name is one of the most common girls names and therefore my name alone wasn’t good enough to describe who I was in a class or among my friends, I’d be little Jess or Jess R or some other variation. It got really confusing and I hated being named the same as nearly every second girl! My other reasoning behind the unusual names was that I am a teacher and I have taught so many children and they have all left an imprint on my mind and so I wanted a fresh name, one I hadn’t ever heard so the imprint could be completely new, the first mention of that name would be my childs.

I feel that my reasons are valid and I love my daughters names. However I am constantly getting comments like “Can you say that to me in English?” “She’ll have problems getting people to say that one at school” “That’s a weird one”, the list of rude comments goes on. In fact my father in law blatantly said he didn’t like the name and so would call my daughter Isabella! Her middle name is Isabelle, so it’s not even one of her names. After a week he got used to the name and called her by her real name but regardless I was so upset that he felt he had the right to change her name just because he didn’t like it. In fact I find that people are just plain rude when it comes to names. We might have come a long way in political correctness but people seem to think they can tell you exactly what they think of a name even when you haven’t asked they’re opinion.

I have been mulling this over for a long time now trying to figure out why this bothers me so much and then it hit me. It’s just plain rude, I don’t go up to people on the street giving them my opinion on what they are wearing because in the end what does my opinion really matter to them? I’m not sure why people feel that I want their opinion or actually care what they have to say. I don’t know them, they mean nothing to my life and yet they feel the need to share this with me. It’s so hurtful that my children have to have people mocking their names, adults mocking their names. Don’t they understand that that hurts my children. Whether you like it or not that is their name and you saying something rude will not change that, just make my children feel bad about it. I think people have forgotten the age old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all”. I’m not asking people to lie and say they like it, but they just don’t have to say anything at all.

In an age where more and more people from different nationalities are living together we are all going to have to learn new names, and yes they may be hard to say but it’s down right disgusting of people to think they don’t have to learn it or Anglicize it to make it easier for themselves. I’m not sure why people seem to think they are more important then others and things need to change to make it easier for them? Have you ever thought that people from Uganda might find the name John strange to say or just plain weird. Siobhan is a very strange spelling for that name however we are all now pretty used to it, yep it was really weird back in the day but now people just know how to say it and if they don’t they are quickly told and they learn. Learning shouldn’t be feared, it helps our brains stay active. So what are people afraid of. Why do we all have to be called Jess, Jim and Emily? Why are those names not strange? Those names are just a bunch of sounds stuck together after all, and it’s just because we are exposed to them we are now familiar and comfortable with them.

Names are just weird full stop, some have just been used more than others. In fact the purpose of a name is to differentiate you from others, to make you unique so people can refer to you and everyone knows who they are talking about. In an age where villages had only a few thousand people Jane, Peter, Paul and Mary was sufficient, but in our age where we are connected to billions of people it becomes harder and harder to be recognizable but merely a name, even a surname doesn’t guarantee you a uniqueness anymore. Unique names are going to be more and more common because of this, along with the merging of cultures and I think it’s time we moved with the times.

As a teacher I am faced with many names, yes I get them wrong all the time but I care about those little lives I teach and so I learn how to say their names, and I practice them if they are tricky because that is part of their identity and as an adult I need to model to the future generations that we should not make fun of people’s names but respect them and cherish them. If the adults of the world can’t even be decent enough to do that what hope do we have that children won’t get picked on for any difference they may have?

The Bond of Women

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I know women get a lot of bad press, I hear about women judging each other and being just plain nasty to one another instead of supporting each other through tough times. Now I’m not sure if I just happen to have found all the nice women of the world or if a few bad apples are giving us a bad name because my experience has been so incredibly contradictory to what I had heard.

My struggle with my second daughter has been made very public with this blog, it is my place to vent my frustrations and give other mums a look into my life, so if they are going through something similar they feel less alone. Having made it so public I was also ready to get a lot of criticism, I’m very honest and I felt I would get a lot of mums who would judge me, after all that’s what I had read over and over again that mums did to each other. To my surprise this didn’t happen, not one person has criticised me, in fact all I’ve received is support.

I have had women I know and some I don’t who are mothers, who aren’t mothers, who have children who are grown up all email, message and call me with words of love and support! I have cried because I was so overwhelmed by this unspoken bond between women, this sisterhood. All these women didn’t tear me down, tell me what I should be doing or how wrong I was doing it. All these women have just been there for me, with stories to share to make me feel less alone, support emotionally by listening to me cry or just practical things like giving me names of great doctors to contact.

Women understand each other like no one ever can, and so we can support each other in a way no man ever can. Together, supporting each other through tough times, even by just sending a quick message saying how sad you are that they are going through a rough patch, we become invincible. When my daughter was sick with her reflux, before her diagnosis I felt so alone, so sad and like I would never be able to make it. My husband was so supportive but I still felt like this was an impossible task. Suddenly all these amazingly kind women (and these are women I have never even met in some cases) have lifted me out of despair into a place of hope.

I am so thankful to be a woman and to share this beautiful bond with other women, where we can support each other through the darkness to a place of light. If you are a woman who has messaged me, called or just liked one of my blogs thank you. You have made me so hopeful again! 

If you know a woman going through a rough patch, send her a message, it might be the thing that shows her the light again!