Bare & Soul

For Mums looking for honesty, truth and understanding.

THEN THERE WERE THREE…

Naive innocent children

When I think about the day Bailey was born I visualise Nic and I as naive innocent children, walking into Frances Perry Private Hospital skipping hand-in-hand to have our make-believe baby. We really didn’t have any idea what we were actually doing. We were just following the instructions given to us by our obstetrician. It didn’t feel real, but we were full of hope, excitement and anticipation. We could only see great times ahead. We didn’t envisage too much change or stress in our lives to come. We said all along we weren’t going to be like those people who become parents and then you never see them again. I remember when my oldest sister Sam had her babies Max and Tom and a few times she couldn’t make it to important family gatherings, because it was too late or too difficult with the boys. I would roll my eyes and complain to Mum that I would never be like that when I had babies and we would not stop going out. Nic and I would continue to take our babies out to dinner with us from day dot. What a naive idiot I was. I was about to get my eyes widely pried open about that little belief of mine and I was going to become much worse than my sister at getting out as well, but that’s for later. After 9 months of cooking this little bun in the oven Nic and I were just eager to get on with it. Finally the wait was over. It was time. Time to bring our baby into the world and more importantly find out what we were having.

We arrived at the reception desk at Frances Perry Hospital and were swiftly guided to our room, which would be our new home for the next couple of days. I remember sitting on the chair in the corner of the room in all of my glorious 92 kilograms. I got Nic to take a picture of me before I gave birth, just so I could assess what I really looked like without my pregnancy goggles on later. We were just so apprehensive about the day. Hoping it would all run to plan. That we would give birth to a healthy baby. We didn’t know what we were having either, so it was all the more exciting. What would it be? I thought because of my size it could possibly be a boy, but deep down inside I always thought I was having a girl. I really didn’t mind one way or the other. Nic was quite keen for a little boy though as many Daddies are I suppose. I think he thought that he might not know what to do if he had a girl. How ridiculous!

A man arrived with a trolley bed

A nurse came into the room with a gown and told me to put it on. She said someone would be here in a little while to take me to the operating theatre. So I thought, “Great, I have a bit of time to relax and compose myself”. But within what felt like a matter of seconds a man arrived with a trolley bed and told me to get on it. Okay. It’s all happening. We were off. Down the hall, into the lift and we came to rest in what felt like a holding bay. There was probably someone in the operating theatre having their baby as I waited in the holding bay. Experiencing one of the great unforgettable moments of their life. Having a caesar was a well oiled production line.

At this point I started to feel quite nervous. What have I got myself into here? What am I doing? Is this real? Before I had anymore thinking time the anaesthetist appeared. I think his goal was to make me feel as comfortable with him and trust him as much as possible before we entered the operating theatre or birthing suite as they like to call them. He had about one minute to achieve this. He passed. There were nurses too who had the same intentions. Trying to ensure you wouldn’t freak out when you entered the room and realised the enormity of what you were about to do. That is to have your stomach cut open and a baby pulled out of it. SHIT! Still no time to think. They made me lean over a pillow and stuck the epidural in my back to numb everything below the arms. That was scary, but it was over before I could think too much about the experience. Then I was lying on my back and they were prodding my belly and asking me if I felt anything. No, that’s fine. Little did I know they were actually cutting me open already. Nic had been taken away when I entered the operating room. I think they give the husbands ‘The Chat’. DON’T FREAK OUT! This is not about you. Do you understand that no matter how you feel, you have to stay strong and be positive for your wife, so she doesn’t freak out! Got it? Good. That’s what I imagined they said anyway. He was quickly back by my side after the epidural and smiling and saying many positive things to keep me in a positive state of mind. I could see in his eyes though that he was very stressed and worried about what was about to happen. It was almost too big to comprehend, that is that within minutes we would have a baby in our arms that we had created together. Luckily everything happens so quickly, so you don’t get much time to think to deeply about what is going on.

More prodding occurred

More prodding occurred. A bit of muffled discussion was taking place in the room between my Doctor and her assistant. There were about 10 clinical people in the room. A lot was going on. I remember the Doctor, who was assisting my Doctor, asking me something to do with where I was hiding this baby. I think she was shocked at the size of Bailey in comparison to Nic and I. I also think they mentioned they had to cut a wider opening in my stomach in order to get my baby’s shoulders free. My god, what was I giving birth to, a giant? It was surreal after this. I heard a loud cry and then they lifted up my baby to show me over the operating curtain. What is it? And there he was in all his glory. Magnificent. Beautiful big baby boy, with a mop of black hair. Screaming at the top of his lungs and quite obviously extremely disturbed about what had just happened to him and wanted to make sure everybody in the room knew about it. He was the image of his Dad. A mini Nic. His nose was a little squashed, because it had been so cramped in there for him, but it popped out pretty quick. He was perfect. I could tell that Nic was completely overwhelmed. How could it be? He was besotted and starry eyed. I knew from that moment on nothing else mattered to Nic, except his babies and family. He was happy.

At this point I was on an emotional drug induced high. I felt such a sense of achievement to have created this perfect being in my very own belly. I had no idea how drugged I was and how completely ridiculous I looked with my massive boobs and bloated 92kg, now wobbly body, and in my pink poker dot night gown from Target, but no one seemed to mind. Well, no one said anything anyway. All I cared about was showing off my new baby boy to the rest of the world.

Cutting the cord

After the birth of our baby, Nic was given the honor of cutting the cord. Then we spent some time with our little cherub, where we decided Bailey was the right name for him. We had it down to about 4 names before the birth. Bailey felt right straight away though. We all laid there for a few more minutes as a new family of four (including Bear). Nic and I just gazing at him in wonder. Then Nic was taken away with Bailey for weighing and other common tests and I was told I would meet them back at our room. I went along with everything, because I was so happy, not to mention drugged to the eye balls. All of a sudden someone was wheeling me back to the lift and towards my room. On the way there I ran into Nic’s Step-Dad, Norm. I think I was telling him how wonderful everything was. Then they wheeled me back into the room, where Nic’s Mum, brother and wife were being introduced to the new little man in town. My sister in-law was heavily pregnant too, so I am sure she had all sorts of emotions running through her. Anticipation of her own birth and wondering what she was having? A boy or a girl? We always thought that I would have the girl and Bianca would have the boy, but now everything was turned on its head and we had to reassess our predictions for Bianca.

How was I going to cope for the next year or 20

When my Mum arrived it was a very emotional moment. She was so nervous for me that day. And so worried about anything going wrong and I am sure worried sick about how I was going to cope for the next year or 20. For me, I wasn’t aware of any of my responsibilities yet. I hadn’t even hardly had to breastfeed. The nurses just put him on my boob every now and then and I just went with it. The drugs were obviously very good. My Nan and sisters were overwhelmed too. There were lots of tears to say the least. And I was just over-joyed by my new bundle and extremely proud of what we had created.

Then came our first night as parents. Our first night was very hard, particularly for Nic, because I wasn’t allowed to get up after the operation until the next day. Nic had to be on-duty all night. We had been told that after a baby is born, he usually sleeps for the first 24 hours, due to exhaustion. Unfortunately, for Nic in particular, this didn’t happen. Bailey screamed most of the night. We think he was extremely distraught about being pulled out of his cozy nest in such an unpleasant manner. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of our sleep troubles. From the moment Bailey was born, he was an alert baby. Frustrated and demanding. We just kept calling in the nurse to ask her if everything was ok with our baby and she would just keep putting him on my boob.

The next day the drugs were beginning to wear off. The reality of the operation was starting to rear its ugly head. Many women recover very well from a caesar. Unfortunately I was not going to be one of them. It would take me all of the 8 weeks and more, but the first few days were the most horrendous. The pain was coming on thick and fast as soon as the drugs wore off even slightly.

We were out of our league

Unfortunately the room we were given was less than ideal too. It only had one single bed in it, so not only was Nic playing Mum, but he was also sleeping on a very uncomfortable hospital floor. Our room was like a shoe box. It took us two nights before we realise we had been given the worst room on the baby ward, which was also right next to the nursery where all of the babies were screaming their heads off all night and we were in a shoe box while other couples were set up in massive rooms with double beds. I don’t know how we lucked out, but just bad luck I suppose. By the third night Nic and I were beside ourselves. Bailey had not stopped crying and we were way out of our league. Breastfeeding had become a total nightmare and my body was in a state of post-operation shock. I wasn’t bouncing back, it was getting worse.

As day one became day two and day two become day three, Nic and I were becoming more and more stressed from our lack of sleep. We started to argue as we just didn’t know what to do to make him stop crying. What we didn’t realise was that he wasn’t going to stop crying any time soon, because he was absolutely ropable about what was happening to him. He was also hungry and not getting enough milk. He was tired, but unable to sleep. He wanted back into the cocoon, I am sure of it. In hindsight, I really should have sent Nic home to get some sleep in our bed and for me to be able to sleep alone in the hospital bed, but as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and at the time I believed Nic should be there with me every step of the way. He wanted to be there too, even though he was a wreck.

Learning our new job

Our time in hospital I would describe as difficult. We were learning a brand new and very important job and the information couldn’t sink in fast enough, before we required some new learnings. Some of the nurses were lovely and helpful and others were crap and grumpy and should have been working in a prison ward and not a birthing ward, but it was what it was. I was actually glad when this time came to an end, even though I was petrified about standing on our own two feet once we arrived home.

It was now time to leave the hospital with baby Bailey. This is another experience you completely underestimate. Driving home from hospital for the first time with your baby is totally nerve wracking. First of all you have to work out how to use the baby car seat correctly and then you have to deal with the fear of all of the other cars on the road being too close to your car. I sat in the back seat to protect Bailey. I actually did this for many months until I got the courage up to let him be there by himself. The sun was out and beating down on Bailey’s face. Even this stressed me out. He was screaming with discomfort. I was trying to shield his face from the sun. Nic and I were arguing, because I kept telling him to stop in the shade when he stopped at lights. He didn’t understand. We finally got home. Very stressed, tired and uptight.  But we were home. What do we do now?

Thankfully the Maternal Health Nurse comes over fairly promptly to check you are doing everything correctly, so we felt a bit better after that. She spoke a lot about mental health to me and I was a bit confused about this. She asked me questions, made me fill in a questionnaire and told me the danger signs to look for in myself and Nic. This is obviously a huge problem, but I didn’t feel I had to worry about this. I was feeling fine. A bit tired, but fine. The emotional side of giving birth is something that just sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I wasn’t depressed, but I became extremely emotional when we got home and even in the hospital before we left and I couldn’t fully understand why or what I was crying about. I was just crying. My hormones were going wild and I was dealing with a whole new sleeping routine, or should I say non-sleeping routine. Not to mention the stress and pressure to breastfeed and the total loss of control you now had over your life, body, emotions and daily functions.

Poor Bear…

Poor Bear, our beautiful 2 year old black Labrador was unsure of what was going on too and why he wasn’t getting as much attention. Nic had brought home one of Bailey’s suits to let him sniff it, but he just grabbed it and ran off with it. He loved to be chased. Oh dear… When we arrived home we tried to introduce Bear to Bailey, but Bear just wanted to lick and sniff him, so we thought we would wait a while for that one. Everything immediately becomes an issue to either overcome or get used to when you have a new born. We had to keep Bear at a distance for a while, but we didn’t want him to feel left out. He still slept on the bed in our room, so he was doing okay.

Everything had changed already and it was about to start getting really hard for Nic and I as we struggled to cope with ongoing sleep deprivation. We argued about what to do? What not to do? Who to ask for help? Why Bailey was crying? Was he getting enough food? Was he constipated? Did he have stomach aches? Was there a serious problem? Was there a reason why he was crying so much? What are we doing so wrong? But there didn’t seem to be a specific reason why he was crying so much and certainly nothing to do with his health, as he was one of the fittest and strongest babies going around. He was just frustrated and whatever it actually was that he really wanted, we obviously weren’t giving it to him.

Responsible for the life of another

Going from having next-to-no responsibilities in life, to then being responsible for the life of another was probably what had the biggest impact on me. I wasn’t prepared for the affect this pressure would have on Nic and l and how we would need to manage and control our worries and fears of protecting this helpless being. It felt immense to me. The fear of making a mistake or a wrong decision. The stress I put on myself to ensure his safety at all times and keep him from harm. The fear of ever letting him down, or losing concentration of my job as a parent for a second too long. Taking my eyes off him. Accepting other peoples’ word and advice without researching myself. It all comes back to trying to minimise the amount of mistakes you make.

The enormity of having a baby is grossly underestimated. Well, it definitely was for me. You can’t possibly prepare yourself for it no matter how many books you read, how much advice you get or what experiences you have had caring for other babies. Until you become a parent or carer, you just can’t understand what it means.

I CAN EAT ANYTHING. I’M PREGNANT.

It was the right time…

So, finally it was the right time to start a family. It was 2008. Nic and I had now been together for 13 years and married for 5 of those. Bear, our magnificent black Labrador, had become our main focus. We basically stopped going out because we didn’t want to leave him on his own. We took our new “pet ownership” responsibilities very seriously. We still call Bear our first born… I’m sure Bear helped in some way to prepare us for parenthood, but I honestly believed that because I had looked after a puppy for a year, motherhood would not be such a shock. I remember telling a friend, who had recently had a baby and sadly her marriage had broken down not long after this, that I would be fine, because Bear gets me up every night to have a wee anyway. She went along with it, because we all know you can’t tell a pregnant women how her life is going to change when she has a baby, but I am sure she thought, uh oh, she’s in for a rude awakening. And I was. Surprise. Surprise. When Nic and I finally decided it was time to get pregnant, we thought it would probably take a long time to actually fall pregnant.

We had to wait until a certain date because we had only had private health insurance for a short time since being back from the UK and we needed to get through the waiting period. So, we basically waited till a specific date where would we would be within the correct time frame and then we tried.

We were pregnant…

That’s all it took. One try. Nothings ever that easy? I didn’t realise for about 4 weeks, as I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. I wasn’t looking for the signs and I didn’t really feel any different. I pretty much felt fantastic the whole time I was pregnant though, so the signs I was looking for weren’t ever going to arrive. It was a Friday and I thought, I’ll check tomorrow morning when I wake up just to make sure I’m not pregnant. Nic and I had had a few wines the night before and he was still in bed when I got up in the morning. I was quite keen to do the test though, even though I thought it was almost impossible for it to happen this soon and also I wasn’t feeling any affects. I went to the bathroom and pulled out the pregnancy test. I followed the instructions and placed the lid back on the test to wait the 5 minutes maximum before I would slide back into bed and have a few more hours sleep. It was immediate. The 2 blue lines came up within seconds. I picked it up and looked at it for a while. I re-read the instructions. No, that can’t be right. Am I pregnant already? Really? But I feel great. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought, but a sort of shocked smile, like I hope this is right, but it may not be. I sat down for a minute to take in the information. Then I walked back to our bedroom where Nic was still asleep and hung over from his Friday night beers with Bear and me. Nic was as shocked as me, but he was very proud of himself too…

For the rest of the morning we spoke about our baby. Boy or girl? Naughty or nice? Placid or outspoken? Athletic or academic? I immediately thought we would be having a girl. Probably because I am one of three girls. We were both shocked. Our brains needed time to process the information we had just confirmed. After this, I think we went back to sleep for a few hours to help get rid of the hangovers, which is what you can do when you don’t have babies. Sleep at will. In the day. In the night. Whenever and wherever you want to. We confirmed our test at the doctors that day and then went about telling our families. We went over to Mum’s to tell Mum and Nan and they were over the moon obviously. Though I am sure Mum was secretly worried about how I would cope with motherhood, knowing how emotional I am and such a worrier. Mum hadn’t had any Grandchildren since Maxxi Moo, my eldest sister’s youngest son, so the news was very exciting for her. I didn’t understand the enormity of this at the time as I didn’t understand what it meant to have a baby, but it is such a special time for Grandparents and now that I have my own baby I can completely understand why. They are the new generation and a part of you. Grandparents don’t have to judge them, or place any expectations on them. They are there purely to have fun with you. Grandparents get to do all of the fun bits, as well as being able to hand the babies back at the end of the day and go home to bed and sleep ALL NIGHT.

I can eat anything

I have to say that my first pregnancy was something I absolutely loved, and there are 3 main reasons why.

  1. I could eat anything I wanted
  2. I could eat anything I wanted and not feel guilty about it.
  3. No matter how much weight I put on no one would dare say anything, because I was pregnant.

Pregnancy for me was basically a free ticket to consume food at an unstoppable rate. If I felt like something, I ate it. It didn’t matter what time of the day or night it was, I just went with it. It was very simple. I craved it, I ate it. That is except for the forbidden pregnancy foods. All of the foods I love, which are bad for me, were enjoyed at will. As far as I was concerned pregnancy gave me the right to stop controlling my eating behaviour. This was the first time in my life, that I didn’t have to think and worry and control and live with daily guilt and pressure about food and my enormous appetite, which was more in line with the daily requirements of a 120kilo male body builder, not a short 161cm women. I just ate when I was hungry and I was hungry a lot. Particularly for MILK. I consumed litre upon litre of it. I just couldn’t get enough. This loss of control made me very happy, and contributed to my thorough enjoyment of pregnancy. I was not concerned about my weight the whole time I was pregnant, which is weird, because you would have thought I would have been worried about having to get it off later, but I wasn’t. I thought it would just shed off with birth. Wrong! I am sure Nic, my family and his family were very concerned as they watched me balloon out over the 9 month period and I know Mum and Nan thought I would never be able to get it off again and get back to what I was, but, Master Bailey took care of that for them and ensured I was back in shape within about a year. He was like my own hard core personal trainer. He didn’t speak, he screamed, and he made me move a hell of a lot in every direction from the moment he was born, day and night.

30KG heavier

By the end of my pregnancy I was a whopping 30kg heavier than the beginning. Yes, I went from 62kg to 92kg in 9 months and I was as happy as Larry about it and even quietly proud of it at the time. I didn’t think I looked that bad, but I obviously had the pregnancy goggles well and truly on. I just thought to myself, “You are pregnant, you’re meant to look like this.” And when I saw skinny pregnant women I thought they were very strange. As far as I was concerned you were meant to put on as much weight as possible, and well, I took that to the extreme. I felt great though and I didn’t suffer from any morning sickness. I can honestly say that I felt better and slept better when I was pregnant than prior. My body seemed to just love being fat and pregnant. I have always been a foodie, like my Nan. It is a gene that we believe runs in the family. It has been passed from generation to generation. We all, particularly the women, have very healthy appetites to say the least. We call ourselves Big Eaters who are not so good at control. My sisters and I could quite easily eat a bigger meal than our partners, but we try to keep that a secret. My weight has always gone up and down a bit over the years, but in general I have always been at the higher end within the healthy weight range. Probably the biggest I got prior to my 30kg pregnancy blow out, was when I was working at a bakery in Geelong. This was one of my jobs while studying at uni. After working there for about a year Nic and I became the dough couple and got very chubby. We ate lots of bread, obviously, but also pies and bee stings and banana cakes. It was dangerous for me to be working in such a dough focused environment, because as soon as I was feeling a bit down or frustrated or sick of being a poor uni student I became the dough monster and consumed at will. Actually, come to think of it, that is the only job I have ever been sacked from. They told me, “I just wasn’t the bakery type,” which is ironic because I had just about turned into their dough mascot.

Anyway, back to my pregnancy. We were living in Hawthorn when we got pregnant and decided we better stay put until after I returned to work post-maternity leave. We didn’t know what was going to happen, so we didn’t want to take the risk or give ourselves any headaches. I am so grateful now that we did stay for that period, because my memories of the first 9 months, although hard, were great times of my life and to live 4 minutes walk away from the Glenferrie Road shops and next to the beautiful Rocket Park kept me sane and connected to the rest of the world.

I continued to work throughout my pregnancy up until 3 weeks prior to my due date. I would highly recommend to anyone that 5 weeks prior to your due date would be preferable, particularly if you are like me and driving an hour each way to work every day. My stomach was squashed up against the steering wheel by the end and I was busting for the loo every time I arrived at work. By this time the weight gain was taking its toll and I was getting sick of everything being hard from getting dressed to getting out of bed. I was enormous and my stomach had stretched to the max. Even going to the toilet was difficult. For me and the toilet…

Staring at my belly

I remember sitting on our couch the day before we were going into hospital to have our baby and just staring at my belly for hours, wondering who was in there. Who are you? You are a part of me, but I don’t even know you yet or what you look like. Who will you look like? Nic or me? What will you become? How can I be the best mother I can be? I want to give you a great education. To live in a nice house and grow up in a good suburb. To make you laugh. To make you happy… We all want so much for our children and we want to give them so much too. It is a great pressure for families, but one that we were happy to place on myself. How would I achieve this though? I took a picture of my belly that night, to remind me of that moment in time, when I could only imagine what my baby was like, imagine what being a parent would be like and imagine what sort of mother I would be. I was about to find all of that out very soon indeed…

The Simple Life

Freedom

The freedom of youth & adventure

One of the biggest shocks about becoming a Mum is realising just how free and easy your pre-baby life was and how much more you could have done had you known just how free you were. I remember when Nic and I were living in London and one night I was talking to Mum on the phone back in Australia as we did  at least once a week. I was telling her how Nic and I should come home and how home sick we were and that we should have babies soon. I remember her reaction, because it was the opposite reaction to what I was expecting. I thought she would have encouraged me to come home at this point and agreed that we should have babies too, since we had been married for 4 years and together for 12. But she didn’t. She proceeded to tell me how free I was and that I should enjoy it while it last. She kept saying that I don’t realize how free I am and soon enough I will be tied down by responsibilities. At that point in our lives we had no responsibilities really, we had no mortgage, no children and no animals. And no idea just how free we actually were to do what we wanted, when we wanted. We spent our whole time planning our futures and talking about how much we needed more responsibility in our lives, without realising that it would all come in good time and we should just relax and stop living for the future and start living for today. But no one knows they have freedom, until it’s gone.

The freedom I am talking about is the freedom of youth and adventure. The sort you have before you get serious with life. Freedom to walk out the door without a second thought, freedom to sleep through the night, or stay out all night if you wish. Freedom to have a shower when you want to, to buy whatever you desire, to go out to dinner any night of the week, to visit friends or to just simply sleep in. To basically live in a self-contained bubble that allows you to do anything you like whenever you feel like it. How we take these simple pleasures for granted.

Life is very simple when you only have one person to worry about. It’s all about you! Not intentionally, but you have never really had the responsibility of another person’s life in your hands. Well, I hadn’t anyway. Accumulating responsibility is something we humans intentionally go about doing. We get to a point in our lives where we need more than just us and materialistic possessions. Well, some never get to that point, others do and realize how hard it is so they walk away from it straight back to their self-contained bubble (usually leaving wreck and ruin behind them) and then there are those who take on every responsibility they believe they should have and live with the consequences. The hard times, the good times and the great times. I think they call this acquiring “The Great Australian Dream”. To have a mortgage, family and of course the family dog.

The Great Australian Dream

Well, Nic and I wanted “The Great Australian Dream”, but the timing had just never been right for us. We met when we were both very young, just 20 and 22, and we had a lot to get done before we entered, “The Great Australian Dream” phase.

First of all we needed to get professions, then work experience and finally international travel was very high on my pre-baby agenda. It took me 7 years post-school just to work out what I wanted to do and complete my studies. Then came the work experience in my profession as a marketer. And finally I got to fulfill my life long dream to live and work in London in my chosen profession. This all took another 8 years. So 15 years post-school we were finally ready to settle down.

The grass always seems greener from other side of the world and Nic and I were quite home sick after 2 years of living in London. We hadn’t seen any of our family in that time so we were keen to come back. We decided it was now time to settle down and buy a house, have babies and get that black Labrador, called Bear, that we had been talking about for so many years.

Like having a baby, I also had no idea what was involved in getting a puppy. I was completely oblivious to the fact that it is hard work and a big responsibility if you wanted to do it well. I didn’t think our lives would change in the slightest, but I was very wrong.

The new baby, Bear

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Bear arrived at Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine, after a flight from Tassie. He shared his cage with his blonde brother. I had borrowed a dog cage from one of my friends who is a dog breeder, so she gave me lots of advice. I am sure she knew I had no idea what I was doing, but no one could stop me. I waited at the terminal for him to come out. It took ages, but finally a man called me in and the others who were picking up the blonde puppy. There he was in the cage. Crying and scared with his brother. He must have been petrified, being taken away from his mother and placed on a plane to be handed to a stranger who had absolutely no idea about caring for a dog. I gave him a cuddle and put him in the cage in my car. Being the amateur that I was back then, I didn’t even give him time to relieve himself in the garden before putting him into the car. We got 10 minutes down the road and I could smell something. Bear was fretting very badly and as he was obviously busting. He had to go. I pulled over to clean everything up. At this point I was very stressed as Bear was crying so much and I didn’t know how to calm him down. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity we got home and Nic was waiting for us. I remember it so clearly, because seeing Nic’s reaction to Bear was so beautiful. One of his lifelong dreams had just come true and he opened the cage and picked up Bear and cuddled him and just went straight inside with him to stare at him in wonder. Bear is a magnificent looking animal and when he was a puppy he was particularly divine. A big ball of black fluff, with a lovely round belly.

Bear became the center of our world from that moment on and we didn’t want to leave him alone ever. Even when we went over to friends’ houses we asked if we could take him. We were pathetic, but we just adored him and wanted to make him happy and comfortable. I don’t know any other Labrador that could be anymore happy and comfortable than Bear became. He slept with us on the bed every night. He went with me to work most days, due to our dog friendly policy, and we took him everywhere we could or were allowed to on weekends. We even took him to the beach every weekend for a swim. He really had the life!

It was time…

But things were about to change in a big way, for all 3 of us. It was time. We were ready to have a baby.

Well, that’s what we thought…

 

Rabbit in headlights continued…

WOW! I feel so inspired and humbled by the amazing response to my first post. I had to force my hand to actually press the publish button, but I am so glad I did. I have heard from many women and men in different stages of their lives, but they have all connected with my story in some way. From Mums with babies, toddlers, teens and adults, to successful career women worried about the impact that having children is going to have on their careers. I have also heard from Mums about to return to work or who are currently dealing with the pressures of juggling their career and motherhood, as well as from Dad’s, Nannies and everything in between…

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to continue posting my book. I believe that hearing the raw honest truth about parenthood and beyond is what people really want to hear. Not constant advice and glazed over truth that we are more often than not subjected to. Hearing others’ stories has also been extremely encouraging, so please keep it coming.

Below is the final few paragraphs of chapter one, “Rabbit in Headlights”. I will be posting book inserts once a week and sometimes other stories and information along the way. I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to continue sharing my posts, your comments and experiences too.

Rabbit in Headlights continued…

Bailey Dingle was born in the April of 2009 to first-time parents Nic and Liz Dingle. We couldn’t have been prouder of our creation. A beautiful big bouncing baby boy weighing in at a very healthy 4.17kg, with masses of black hair and the image of his father. Mummy weighing in at an also very healthy 30kg more than she was pre-pregnant. Being only 161cm tall and going from 62 to 92kg certainly wasn’t a good look for me, but I enjoyed every minute of being pregnant (obviously). I slept like a baby, ate whatever I desired and I actually felt incredibly well throughout, give or take a few days early on. And Bailey just prospered within his cocoon. He loved the cocoon so much that we believe when he was taken out he decided to punish us for 2 years for what we had done to him. From the day he was born Nic and I were thrown into chaos. This baby boy was not going to lie down and sleep until he absolutely couldn’t stay awake for a millisecond longer. There was going to be no freebies, no easy way, no set routine and no telling what tomorrow was going to bring. He was going to make us work for every inch we wanted to achieve as parents and that’s exactly what he set about doing.

How do you explain to an expectant mother and father how dramatically their lives are about to change in every way? How do you fully prepare someone for parenthood? I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t. It’s impossible. Firstly, because each child is so completely different to the next, so you can never predict what sort of frustrations you will have to endure. Secondly, it depends on the level of support and assistance you receive from family, friends and carers. And thirdly, because parenthood really needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Based on these three factors, Nic and I;

1. Became the parents of a very active, determined and alert baby boy, who wanted to be on the move constantly and was not interested in sleep one little bit.
2. All of our family and friends worked full-time, so understandably we had limited assistance in caring for Bailey, or getting some quality sleep or nights off.
3. And neither of us had any previous experience with babies, so everything had to be learned on the job.

From our first night as parents Nic and I were cactus. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were about to be awake every night from there on in. Minimum wakes one (these were  very rare, but amazing nights!), medium wakes 3 (very hard work) and maximum wakes an all nighter (particularly hard the next day).

When we entered parenthood we weren’t in the slightest bit prepared for what was to come. We didn’t know that we were about to be tested in every way imaginable, at every level both personally and as a couple. We had entered the serious adulthood stage of our lives and the road ahead was going to be very challenging and tough.

Coping with sleep deprivation on top of life as a new parent, personal hurdles to overcome and the stress of trying to get ahead in life would push Nic and I to our absolute limits. It tests the strength of your character and the foundations of your relationship. It was all encompassing.

From supposedly simple tasks like breastfeeding (yeah right!) and getting your baby to sleep, to more challenging hurdles like coming to terms with your post-pregnant body, making sense of your future career and keeping your relationship in tact, every aspect of your life is challenged. It changes in every way and you must adapt and learn to overcome, grow as an individual and move ahead positively in the best way you can.

And that’s why I have come to believe that parenthood is… “The hardest thing you’ll ever love doing.”

Baring my soul to you…

A few years ago, when my first son was about 14 months old, I wrote a book about my experience with Motherhood. It’s a very honest and lighthearted account of the journey I went on and how it affected me and my career as a professional. It was something that I needed to write to try and make sense of it all and basically at the time to express myself and get it off my chest. I loved writing it, but when it was finished I couldn’t bring myself to do anything with it as it felt too personal and also I thought that it was no good. So it has been hidden away in one of my draws for over 3 years.

Just over 2 months ago I lost my job. I was working full-time, albeit one day from home, doing heaps of overtime every night and also trying to be the best mother I could to my 3 and 5 year old beautiful boys. I was busting a gut and running morning, noon and night. It was normal for me to have ulcers all over my tongue and actually it was a pleasant surprise to wake up without them maybe one day of every month. My mind and body were run ragged.

Then I lost my job. I went into panic mode and started applying for anything available, not matter whether it suited me or if I really wanted it or not. Thankfully they didn’t come to fruition…Now I’m trying to take a deep breath, as I have had the time to reflect and see what I was doing to myself. I’m also trying to work out the way forward. What do I actually want? Do I want to work in a full-time demanding role and not have a single minute to spare and be constantly stressed and feeling down with myself as a Mother and a professional. I know I have to work and earn money, but there must be a better way than this.

I have decided to start this Blog, called Bare & Soul, to talk about how I am feeling as a Mum and professional career women and get the views of others out there who may be in or have been in the same situation. I also want to start posting inserts from my book for people to read that might be feeling the same as me, but have no place to communicate their feelings or don’t even realise yet what they are doing to themselves, not to mention the fact that they are right off their natural and intended path in life.

Below is the first paragraph from chapter one of my book. The chapter is called “Rabbit in Headlights”. Please have a read and send me any comments or advice…or anything you like really. I wrote this when my eldest son was 14 months old and still not (even remotely) sleeping through the night. I was also working 4 days a week in a demanding job. I hope you enjoy it.

“Instead of being good at one thing, that is being a great mother, or an accomplished career woman, I’m failing at both. I try to talk myself into the fact that no one has noticed, but of course I know that they have. I’m sure that even Mum doesn’t want to admit it, but surely she knows it too. That is, that I am really bad at this thing called Motherhood, which in turn has led me to be really bad at being the career women I have worked so hard to become. Actually, I should clarify. I am not actually a bad mother. I am just bad at being a mother.  I am good at the emotional side like love, laughs, care and cuddles, but really bad at the admin side like cooking, routine and sleep-time. Not to mention failing to successfully implement any routine of any baby book that has ever been written to make motherhood easier. All they have achieved for me is to make me wonder what is wrong with me and why I can’t actually make anything work the way they say it will if I follow their routine. They make you feel like if it doesn’t work for you, then there must be something wrong with you. Like every other baby who has been put on this routine has been successful…except you. Then there are those parents who say the same thing. They think because their child responded to a particular routine, every child should respond in the same way. What they all fail to remember is that no child is the same and as adults differ in degrees of determination, will, frustration, excitement and sorrow…so do babies. And if you have a non-sleeper, like me, then you’re in for some tough days and nights or in many cases years ahead.