Category Archives: our story

Our birth story.

Standard

I’ve spent many hours, days, months thinking about the day[s] that Bo made the journey into this world. I’ve spent many hours writing and rewriting her story, our story – the story of how she made her very grand entrance into the world. I very dear friend of mine told me that the story will forever change in my mind and on the page. That it will be different if I write it today to the story that I would write tomorrow – but each and every story is valid and real and an experience worth holding on to. This friend was my doula. She was present at Bo’s birth, and a couple of weeks ago she sent me her version of Bo’s birth story.

Late one night after we had put Bo to bed, my husband and I sat on the couch side-by-side and read the story. The words curled around us, bringing us closer together, reminding us of our own journey, our strengths, our weaknesses, our love and our compassion. Her words reminded us of the very first moment we got to touch her. My husbands tears. Bo’s soft hand gripping my fingers. The heady scent of blood and birth and life giving power. The damp warmth of her face. The unbelievable emotion of it all.

We cried reading the words. We cried as we remembered. There is something unbelievable about being present at the birth of a human being, let alone being the person doing the birthing, it is a privilege. We were so lucky to have such support, kindness and compassion in the room with us. My husband, my doula, my mother – all there. Bo’s birth wasn’t easy. It wasn’t quick. And although in hindsight it is, at the time, Bo’s birth wasn’t beautiful. It was hard work, it was emotional – it was 42 hours of blood, sweat and tears. But it is our story. It is her story. It’s what made us, us.

I was 2 weeks overdue and hanging in there. I was patient and at times I was impatient. I was ready. I had tried everything natural that my doula could suggest; acupuncture, electrolysis, castor oil, acupressure, herbal remedies… the list goes on – and nothing. Not even a tiny sign that she was on the way. She had dug her heels in, she was comfortable and not keen to come earth-side.

We ate dinner in front of a movie like any other Sunday night, we’d stopped even guessing if “this would be the night?” All of a sudden I felt a wave of nausea come over my body, no cramps or anything, I just felt sick and tired so I put myself to bed. An hour later, at about 10pm I woke up to throw up. Just as I came out of the bathroom to a worried looking DH, the contractions started. The first one hit me like a frieght train. No words can explain what it feels like. I tried to stay calm (mostly because I really didn’t want to get my hopes up) – I leaned against the wall in the laundry and the cool tiles on my face were such a relief. DH hovered around me looking concerned. I went to the kitchen made a hot water bottle and my mum came and also hovered looking very excited. The pain was getting stronger across the front of my belly and at around 1am I called my doula – who suggested I try and get a couple of hours sleep and see where we were at from there. I tried to sleep – but it wasn’t happening. The contractions were getting closer together now and I floated from bath to shower to on my hands and knees on my bed – trying to find a comfortable position.

At around 3.30am on Monday my husband couldn’t handle it anymore and told me we had to go to the hospital – he was scared. I relented, I was in no way ready to argue with him… We called our doula who said she would meet us there. When we got to the hospital the contractions were around 3 minutes apart and strong. When they examined me, much to my dismay, we discovered my cervix was posterior and wasn’t dilating. They didn’t send me home, they weren’t sure how we would progress, my contractions were strong and close enough together to warrant being admitted to the birthing rooms. And so the super long time in hospital began. The nursing staff were right, my contractions kept getting closer and closer together and more and more intense. By 11am I was in agony, on my hands and knees, with my doula, my mother and my husband for support. We were sure it was time. My doula was convinced it was moments away. We were all wrong. Bo had other plans.

I had been in labour for over 14 hours. I dozed on and off for 2.5 hours after a shot of morphine and woke up with regular contractions which were coming every 3 minutes exactly. Strangely enough later that afternoon the contractions slowed down – no one knows why. By 6pm they were almost non existent at 10 minutes apart and relatively mild at only 45 seconds long. We sent my doula and my mother home to get some sleep. My husband napped on the couch and I sat talking to my baby, whispering to her in the dark of the night. The night midwives and insisted I had some sleeping tablets and they wanted to send my husband home and put me on the ward. I took the tablets but refused the rest of their advice. We stayed in the birthing suite.

We called our doula at 4am on Tuesday and she returned to us. The contractions were again 1 minute apart and over 1 minute long and increasing quickly… I was checked at around 7am and was 5cm dilated. I heard talk of an epidural, but no one mentioned it to me, I would have refused it anyway. Another four hours of contractions like this and I was 8cm dilated (I had now being doing 1.5 minutes with a 30 second break again for 7 hours). Finally we were getting somewhere… I was in extraordinary pain particularly across my lower back and I couldn’t find any relief from the pressure, I could hear talk of a c-section, I zoned it out. At around 11am I was in transition, I dozed for almost an hour in an absolute trance in my doula’s arms. It was 12pm when I was fully dilated with a cervical lip – I got in the bathtub and after half an hour the urge to push presented itself – holy crap that urge to push thing isn’t a joke is it? I pushed for a long time. I had oxygen. I pushed and I cried again. I talked to my baby. I breathed with her. I tried to relax. I was on another planet. It was just me, Bo and a world of pain. My husband cried. He held my hands. He whispered into the shell of my ear.

At three hours they told me that a doctor would come in to check – he did at around 3.5 hours and told me that I could keep pushing as long as I wanted but the baby wasn’t going to come out… or he could use the vacuum to help her out. I looked at him like he was mental… “I’m determined but not stupid,” I thought, “why would i keep doing this if its not going to work?” All of a sudden the room was full of people – the baby resuscitation cart was wheeled in. I felt her turn, my darling daughter had finally decided to be present at her birth and wake up. I felt her head be born and within moments she was on my chest, her soft body against my skin. We welcomed her into the world 42 hours after our labour had begun. Our valentines babe.

The staff were worried about us. They checked Bo and checked me. Bo was fine. I was losing a lot of blood but was also fine. My daughter was blessed by her dad as she lay on my chest. He whispered into her ear as he had into mine hours before. She was quiet, holding onto my finger. People rushed around us attaching me to drips and trying to put us back together but we were in our own world, the three of us. We looked at her and everything else just disappeared.

It had been the most incredible test of endurance, but at the end there was the most amazing reward. Bo was beautiful, big dark eyes, red lips and an amazing amount of black hair. She had a long elongated head from such a long labour – I remember saying to everyone “it’s a good thing she has lots of hats…”

I have a few close friends who are pregnant now, I am so unbelievably excited for them. No one can explain the joy, the fear, the pain and the unbelievable love that comes from the very core of your being… We did everything we could to bring Bo into the world with love and compassion with gentle hands and soft voices. We welcomed her with loving arms and blessings and tears.

I love you Bo. This is your story.

xox

The spectacular photographs in this post are a very small selection of the amazing photographs that were taken of my labour, Bo’s birth and the first moments of Bo’s life. We were very blessed to have my mother, Kate Heaslip from Kate Heaslip Photography present during the entire event, documenting it for us. We are eternally grateful to both my mother and our doula (from Birth Rhythms) and friend Joelle, for their support, love and generosity of spirit. Without them I don’t know if my husband and I would be the people (and parents) that we are today.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Sometimes traveling really is JUST about the destination.

Standard

I’ve always said that traveling is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. And most of the time, this is absolutely true. But this time, this time our traveling really is all about the destination, and we have arrived. Finally.

The journey is (in my experience) often better, more exciting, more enveloping, more thrilling, more educational than the final destination itself. I guess now I think about it, maybe the arrival was the best part – but the journey itself was what has helped us to grow. It wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences. But we survived it. Bo smiled through it and I put one foot in front of another. Exhausted, overwhelmed and completely depleted – we arrived.

It wasn’t easy, but the reward is totally worth it. When I saw the littlest cousins in the backseat chatting to each other from their car seats, when I floated Bo in the bath, when I ate a plate of cheeses followed by a big glass of milk… When I sat with my my sisters and their children in a cafe, when I shared dinner with my brother, when I chatted with my mum… I knew every minute was worth it.

We are back, we are rested and we are ready for a whole new adventure.

xox

 

The longest day [ever] and sleeping around…

Standard

We knew it was going to be a long day.  But we had no idea of just how long it would end up. We left the village at 2am.

We piled into the car, strapping Bo into an old simple little car capsule, dreaming of hours of sleep on the road. Dreaming was right! Bo decided that she didn’t want to sleep. For the next five hours I talked to her, read to her, tried to soothe her, tried to help her sleep. A few times I took her out of the capsule and nursed her or just held her close as we drove (not ideal, I know) and she would instantly fall asleep. I would then put her back in the capsule and she would wake within minutes.

It should take us no longer than 10 hours to get to Jakarta. It took us closer to 14 hours – we did in car feeds, play time, and even a few bumper-to-bumper nappy changes. We only just made it to the clinic (with five minutes to spare) before it shut so we could get the medical completed for our mans Australian migration  visa. we had planned to do some shopping, spend some time together, maybe get some frozen yogurt… things you dream of when you live in a village. But we had run out of time. We then spent a few hours in the car  on the way to the airport.

I was exhausted by the time we got in the line for our ticket. I was beyond exhausted. Bo had slept for maybe three hours all day long. I had slept maybe one and a half since the day before. A kept telling her it would be over soon. We would be on the plane and she could curl up in my arms and sleep soundly and undisturbed. I was wrong.

After a long line for check-in in the sweaty Jakarta airport, another long line in customs and immigration and then a two hour delay. Our flight was cancelled due to a tornado over the ocean. We then stood in another long line to get back through immigration, more stamps in our passport, then a long line to find out what was happening with refunds/reissuing of tickets. I was frazzled. I would like to thank the little man from the middle east, the love7l gentle Indonesian woman with her three year old baby and the three Lebanese Aussie guys – they helped me push trolleys, collect baggage, find passports, find sanity… they gave me comfort and helped me relax when all I wanted to do was cry. They said the next flight would be sunday night. but then they said that it might not be until Tuesday. Bo. was in her sling, watching the world. Quiet as can be. I was a train wreck.

My lovely husband turned the car around and drove the three hours he had gotten away from the airport – back to the airport. Just to help us figure otu what we were going to do. We tried to get a room at the transit hotel. It was full. So we got into a strange car, with a security guard and a driver… who promised to take us to a near by stand by hotel. My husband started the 10 hour journey home… again.

We drove through the back alleys behind the airport to a dingy little hotel. I was just glad they took us to a hotel at all. I got in locked the door. stripped Bo of her sweaty clothes and cuddled her up in bed, trying to help her relax. It was nearly 3am. We slept. I got up early to try and figure out flights. I was fried. I tried to find a solution. I was going to go to the airport with Bo and try to get on a flight standby… and get out of here… but   then I got a call from my mum. We had been rescued.

Since 11am this morning Bo and I have been holed up in a lush hotel room, on a big comfy bed. We have both slept. Bo had a five hour nap. And tomorrow morning at 3am we will leave for the airport.

Right now Bo is rolling around on the mattress next to me. A tropical storm is thundering outside and we are both warm and clean and comfortable. I realised today just how blessed I am to have a baby who is so adaptable. She was awake for seven hours without a nap yesterday and still she was quiet and smiling and chatting. She was happy to play on a blanket on the floor. She waited in lines without getting upset. She was patient even when I know she must have been hungry. She just stayed strapped to my body, calm and quiet, her big eyes looking up at me. She is a wanderers wandering daughter… and this is a pretty good start for my already-seasoned traveler… in the past 24 hours she’s slept on the floor of an airport, in my arms, in a dodgy Indonesian hotel and in one of Jakarta’s most comfortable hotels… She’s done it all.

xox Hopefully next time we will have finally arrived and be in the arms of family.

Worlds away…

Standard

It was a very quiet start to our week here in the village. With the man out making longboarding surf videos with an Aussie crew… Bo and I have been left much to our own devices since the beginning of last weekend. Bo’s been going through the  notorious – I’m[almost]-four-months-old -and-everything-is-more-interesting-than-eating [and sleeping, apparently] stage… which was driving me a little batty until I took a deep breath and reminded myself we aren’t on any schedule, just relax – the kid is clearly not starving. We’ve had long days of nothingness that have been filled with baby-babbled stories, naps [not nearly as many as we could be having mind you] – and some new favourite blogs – which in the isolation of this week have done a good job of keeping me sane. That and home made sticky sugar cake and the last of my western tea stash (it’s ok – we can restock this weekend!).

So here we are, and here we have been, just the two of us… sometimes it feels as if we are worlds away from everyone who I’ve ever known. Sometimes it feels like it’s just the three of us in this big wide world. Whilst almost all my mama friends are curled up on the couch during nap times with “Mr Grey” and his trilogy of smut (my how word travels fast the world over!) we have been laying under the fan and reading Possum Magic and Where the Wild Things Are for the 50 thousandth time this month (because nap time here is a just a lovely dream and smut would never make it in the post).

Tonight we will do the 10 hour drive to Jakarta, followed by a long day of visa-related tasks in the city, then a midnight flight back to Australia. Bo and I are heading home for a little breath of air, some family cuddles and a whole lot of cheese, bread and a rice-vacation.

We area a little behind on our posts here at Inked in Colour – sometimes village life, bad internet connections and the salty call of the sea get in the way a bit. Thank you again to all of you for your support, votes, love and wonderful comments this week. It’s always so very appreciated.

We have really enjoyed the wonderful feedback that has come through from TBB – it’s been a real surprise how many votes we have had. If you have just discovered us, love us, or have loved us for a long time… we’d love it if you’d vote for us again.

This village life.

Standard

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but here we are again at the end of another week. Ever since Bo graced us with her beautiful presence life seems to have been in fast forward – every day disappearing before I have the chance to even grab a firm grip on it, and often before I’ve had a chance to have a shower.

After a really difficult week and the real downer that one of my readers decided to vomit all over my blog to really top off its shitty end – I started this week with a whisper of hope that we could find a little lightness and colour to turn things around. And somewhere out there in the ether, it would seem, my whisper was heard. With Inked in Colour consistently in the top 10 over at Top Baby Blogs (vote here) we have been super lucky to have lots of new visitors (over 1,000 in one day!), some great new work opportunities and lots of love to make up for that one nasty comment last week.

I got brave and took Bo to the market where she seems to have gained celebrity status. The weather has been beautiful and a friend dropped into the village unexpectedly with plenty of hugs and long chats watching the waves at the beach. To top it all off Bo decided this week she would master a baby milestone and roll for us, once she got going, she hasn’t stopped and has know mastered rolling in her sleep to ensure she is her optimal tummy-sleep position at all times. This is bringing up a whole new debacle in our co-sleeping adventure. One I am determined to conquer.

There have been cuddles, and great grandparents and naps at the beach. There has been love online and in person. There has been lots of kind words and some exciting moments. There is only a week left in the village before Bo and I return to Australia for a mini-break and doctors visits… how time flies!

Thank you all for your continued support.

Thank you to one special reader, who after discovering us on TBB, wrote this beautiful blog about our blog. A blog about our blog, now that was a surprise! So, here is a very public thankyou (and hopefully a bit of extra traffic for you!).

Have a colourful weekend!

xox

Sweet she rocks, sweet she rolls.

Standard

I never thought I could get excited by rolling. That is until of course my 3.5 month-no-longer newborn baby rolled, all by herself. She has been trying for weeks… but as of Monday afternoon she can successfully roll from back to front. It then took me four days to have my camera in hand at the same that she felt like doing it.

As you can see, we got there in the end.

xox

 

 

Playing it solo.

Standard

I’ve loved Bo at every stage of her pretty eventful three and a half months of life, but there is something pretty special going on right now that makes me fall in love with her again and again all day long.

We [I] had a rough week last week. Isolation and distance got the better of me and I sunk a little into a bit of a slump that wasn’t a nice place to be. I was afraid I wasn’t being the best mama that I could be because essentially I was feeling sad and sorry for myself for all the things we were missing out on having back home. I was craving adult interaction, friends, family, shop keepers, whoever.. and it was getting me down. I love my husband dearly, but he’s not always enough.

This week brought a fresh new outlook on life and a surprise friend to brighten the mood. It’s amazing the difference a fourty five minute chat over a glass of juice in your native tongue can make. And then some!

Bo has been a patient little gem through the ups and downs. She’s starting to really chuckle and she interacts in a way that brings so much joy to our little house on the rice fields. she loves to play. With her uncles at the beach. With her daddy. With me. She loves to be chatted to, in her own language, and she chats right back. She’s always got a smile and a story to share.

But then there are her quiet times. When she just likes to play alone. I watch like a fly on the wall as she talks to her hands and slowly rolls from side to side learning how her body moves. She eyes off her toys and has started reaching out and really grabbing them and pulling them close to her. There is such beauty in it all… such a presence of a little soul finding her way into the world. I watch her and I realise just how privileged I am to have her as my girl. She’s her OWN girl first, of course. But she’s mine too – because she comes from my heart.

xox

A bum in cloth.

Standard

cute, soft and enviro-happy… Bo in one of her 2nd hand Itti Bitti’s

I never thought that I would be spending time seriously considering the pros and cons of different nappies, nor did I think I would spend time writing about them. But here we are, and here I am… writing. I have a confession to make. I have an unhealthy love of cloth nappies. I’ll admit it. Even from here in Indo I find myself using my slow internet connection to browse second hand (I try not to buy new, but that’s a story for another time) nappy sites and look at the beautiful cloths and dream about Bo’s little toddler bum running around in cloth. I don’t purchase, I just look, and dream.

I don’t purchase because Bo has enough cloth. We have thirty something nappies in a big red plastic bin in her corner of our house. 90% of these nappies were gifted to us and the others were bought second hand. We love our cloth.

When in Australia we used disposables most of the time… with a brand new first-time-mama baby, a husband overseas and packing for a move… we had enough on our plates, so I “learned” cloth slowly. Once we arrived here in Indo we went cloth, and we are using the last of our disposables just for night time sleeps (they last a super long time when you are only using 1 or 2 a day!).

I read a lot about cloth diapering before we started the cloth adventure. I joined MCN (Modern Cloth Nappy) forums and found out how to wash, care for and use cloth diapers of all makes and models – and you may find it hard to imagine, but there are a few.

We have our favourites. We love Itti Bittis and Designer Bums… but the China Cheapies we have are really just as reliable and Bo couldn’t care less which one we put on her. My husband loves them, I love them, they don’t leak, they don’t smell, they look cute and they are super easy to use and to wash.

Good for our pocket. Good for our environment. Good for Bo’s bum. And now we have our semi-automatic (yes that means it’s part manual) washing machine and we don’t have to handwash… there is no reason not to go green and use cloth.

When nappies are $40 a box in stores… it’s definitely something worth considering when thinking about your babies bottom.

xox

Moments worth remembering…

Standard

Every day is a series of moments, one after the other, some worth remembering… others completely uneventful. Life with a baby has shown me that sometimes even the tiniest moment in the most uneventful of days is worth capturing, and holding onto for a lifetime.

 

Beautiful moments from a week inked in colour.

What was your most colourful moment this week?

xox

I’m on her team.

Standard

Right from the beginning: Photo by Kate Heaslip Photography

How would you like to go to a brand new place, have some strange giant pick you up, get all up in your space and repeatedly tap your face until you grimace in such a way that it convinces the giant that you’re smiling. The giant will then proceed to bounce you up and down whilst waving your arms around and banging your fists together as if you are clapping until another strange giant comes over and repeats the entire game from the beginning again… Personally, I’d rather not. I’m a big fan of my personal space. Don’t get me wrong, I can be quite affectionate, I love a good cuddle and I like being physically close to people who are important to me. I love meeting new people, but I’m always a little wary at first, just trying to find my feet before I dive right in there. I like my little personal space bubble to be respected, and I am really trying to ensure that Bo has the same respect given to her.

People love babies. There is something really magical about a little person. Their little tiny feet, their chubby hands, those cheeks… they are magnetic, there is absolutely no doubt about it. Long before I ever held my own child I felt drawn to children, the purity, the naivety, the beauty is enchanting. So I completely understand that people want to look at Bo, how could you not? She’s spectacular. I even understand when people want to squeeze those chubby pillow feet sticking out of the sling when we are at the beach. I love that people talk to her when she is in the safety of my arms – it gives her a chance to interact with the world whist still feeling secure and protected. It allows her to transition into this big world gently.

What I don’t love is people tapping her face repeatedly trying to make her smile. I don’t love people leaning in until they are an inch from her face and making loud noises at her. I don’t love people bouncing her up and down and talking loudly at her and treating her like a puppet, especially when it’s nap time and she’s tired. I don’t love people trying to pick her up out of my arms when she is snuggled in close. I certainly don’t love completely strangers trying to take her from me on the beach… whilst culturally all of these things are totally acceptable here in the village, for me however they are not. For my child, they are not. I know people don’t mean any harm… but I also know people don’t always think beyond their own little bubble.

These things don’t only happen here. They happened a lot when we were in Australia too. The only difference is that in Australia I have no qualms about telling people no, picking up my child and giving her what she needs – regardless of how that may make other ADULTS feel. Here I do the same but I’m not quite as linguistically capable of explaining my actions, so I’m afraid at times I probably come across as a real bitch.

Some people may say I coddle her, others may say I’m controlling, some people may think I’m not being respectful of my elders – there are always plenty of critics. I know there are parenting “methodologies” out there that would say I’m spoiling my child, but I don’t believe it for a second. I try to be as respectful of others as possible. But my respect for my child trumps my respect for anyone else… I’m on her team first and if that means the strange woman on the beach and the surrounding crowd think I’m awful for not handing my precious baby over to her, so be it.

One day Bo will be able to tell me how she feels, and she will be able to show me what she’s ok with and what she’s not. One day she won’t need me as her advocate (even though, let’s face it, I always will be) and she will be free to do what she feels ok with, and I will trust her implicitly to do so. For now however, I’ll protect her and build her up and by respecting her as a person I’ll help her to learn how to respect herself, something that so many young women out there have forgotten how to do.

Have you had to manage cultural expectations that have been placed on you as a parent? Have you ever had to challenge them?