Tag Archives: parenting

Our birth story.

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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.

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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

 

Home-made baby bath bomb perfection.

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Some may call it poor planning, others ingenuity, but whichever way you see the journey, here we are. Yesterday we ran out of bathing products for Bo. I’ve only ever used organic, chemical free, planet friendly bath products on Bo’s skin because, well, she’s worth it. Actually it all began in the hospital on day 2 post birth when we gave Bo her very first bath.

J&Js is an extremely popular baby bathing product in Australia (and I’m sure in other parts of the world too), and in the hospital you get a little mini travel pack FREE with every baby. Don’t get too pumped though, don’t just run out and get pregnant for the awesome freebees… I hate to tell you, J&J, in my opinion, is pretty average [crap]. But then, what do I know right? I only ever used it ONCE. Once was more than enough. One squirt of this stuff into the bath water and my beautiful newborns skin was dry and flaky afterwards. Poor poppet. So we donated the stuff to charity because hey, someone might want to use it? And upgraded to organic. Which was great. Never in the past 15 weeks of Bo’s life have we had a problem again.

Until now. Because we are out of products and in the local store is the dreaded J&J and a whole lot of other products that are overpriced and full of chemicals.

So, we made our own. Bo wasn’t much help this time… she was busy trying to roll off the mat.

The Method:

We are pretty limited here with what we can get our hands on. I’d love to use some lavender, or other dried flowers or goats milk soap… but I can’t find anything like that here… so for now we went really simple.

I used quick oats (cos we can’t get rolled outs here) and both peppermint and chamomile tea (I’d have preferred to use the dried flowers/leaves whole but again we have a supply issue here). It really is as simple as that.

Open up the tea bags and mix the two teas together then add the oats.

I used a muslin wrap cut up into pieces… anyone with a baby has a million muslin wraps… we just used an old second hand one. i cut it into squares, added the oat mixture and tied it up in a tight little parcel (with the fabric tie from my pj pants – cos since pregnancy, well, I haven’t really needed to tie my pants up anymore… they are snug enough).

That’s it. At bath time we just pop one of these little parcels into the warm water and squish it around a bit to release all the goodness. I then use it like a sponge on her skin, its really soft and gets in those chubby baby folds really easily, beautiful soft oat milk comes out and cleans her skin as you go. It makes the bath smell lovely (like a big cup of herbal tea) and the oats make her skin super smooth and milky. Baby spa treatment? Bo seemed to think so.

Perfect xox

This village life.

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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

A bum in cloth.

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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

A bad taste in my mouth.

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I came online today after Bo had gone down for her afternoon nap (yes, she is sleeping today – progress!) to write a post about honesty, a post about my internal struggles and to find the courage to speak. Instead of that post, I find myself compelled to write this one.

When I logged on to WordPress I read a recent comment, written by a reader in the dark cloak of last night. I’m used to wonderfully diverse comments from my readers. Some agree, and some disagree with my ideas, and I’m happy, grateful for and open to all kinds of discussion about parenting methodologies, lifestyle choices and both life and babies in general. What I am not happy to indulge in however are personal attacks.

In response to my recent posts about respect, posts in which I try to make sense of my own feelings, choices and responsibilities in this diverse and crazy world – posts where I talk about standing behind one another and our decisions… came a lengthy comment, a short essay, which not only stated quite clearly that this particular reader does not indeed agree with my decisions but went to great length to make judgement on my actions, my relationship and my [selfish] parenting of my daughter. Assumptions were made about my relationship with my husband, my background, my living situation, my daughter and indeed the village in which I live that were not only false but some of which were extremely offensive.

I have not approved the comment as I do not encourage the disrespect of anyone, myself included. But I did feel it necessary to make comment on it, I’m not sure why, I guess because I’m disappointed… disappointed that I was misread, or misunderstood… or perhaps just disappointed that this was waiting to meet me at the end of what has been a pretty difficult week for me personally. Or perhaps because after a conversation with a friend about honesty on blogs, I had prior to reading this comment decided to bear my soul a little more.

Hopefully tomorrow brings a little lightness and colour for all of us.

xox

If only there was a birth-plan for life after birth.

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Parenting advice comes in all shapes and sizes… and whether you ask for it or not, it comes. Some of it is good, some of it is bad and a lot of it is, well, for lack of a better word, painful. When you have a child, as soon as you are handed that baby, your parenting is scrutinised.

In our birthing plan we were very clear about what we wanted for the first few hours of our life with Bo. We wanted respect. Respect for the bonding that would take place, respect for the decisions we made about how to bless her, how to love her and how to welcome her into the world. We were very grateful that the hospital that we were at were extremely respectful of our wishes and regardless of how dramatic the final moments of Bo’s birth had been, within fifteen minutes the room was cleared, the lights were dimmed and we were left alone and in peace with our baby.

I chose to co-sleep in the hospital. It wasn’t a conscious choice, it was just what happened naturally because we were allowed (Bo and I) to evolve into our real-world partnership and begin to find our feet together. What we needed was closeness, and so during the night, Bo’s tiny newborn body slept in the crook of my arm in our single, crisp-white sheeted hospital bed. The midwives raised their eyebrows a few times (I could see the SIDS warnings flashing behind their freshly minted smiles) but they held their tongue. The staff respected my decision, and I was grateful to not have to justify myself to anyone. Bo and I have been happily and safely co-sleeping together ever since, and for us, it is the very best decision I could have made (or not made as the case may be).

If only we could write a life-plan, or a life-preferences sheet and give it to everyone in our lives and have them respect our decisions for the way we would prefer our life to go just like we can in a hospital for the birth of our child. If only I had my doula on hand for every step of my parenting, my very own advocate, standing by my side, holding my hand and whispering encouragement in my ear. This parenting gig is hard, and the second you walk out of the hospital (and unfortunately for some mums it starts in hospital with the midwives) people will judge the decisions you make.

I know a woman, with a young baby just like Bo, who was very recently verbally attacked in a shopping centre food court for bottle feeding her baby. The woman scolded this mother, telling her that babies should be breast fed, that she was, essentially, not doing what was best for her child. I also know of other mothers who have been made feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in cafes, restaurants and other public places by general members of the public. The first few weeks, months, years of a mothers motherhood is an extraordinarily emotional time and to think that anyone feels they have the right to comment (with anything other than praise and encouragement), or indeed pass judgement on the way a mother feeds her child (as long as the child is indeed being fed) greatly disturbs me. How have we lost so much respect for each other that we can’t just stand behind someone and say, we as your brothers and sisters, we support you…

The idea of respect has been on my mind a lot lately. Respect for peoples choices. Respect for other people situations – regardless of the outcome that those situations may have on me personally. Respect for babies as people. Respect may be something that is culturally ingrained in us, and this is something that I’m planning to ponder further as it’s something that I’m facing day to day here in the village.

Why can’t we just find it in ourselves to let go of our own judgements and ideals and just respect each other and find love and acceptance just because we are people, all in this together, just trying to make sense of this wild world… one day at a time with no life-preferences plan to follow.

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever heard? What’s the worst?

Becoming “Abah”…

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I am, by no means, an expert on my child. Bo is a creature of unpredictability, she’s lovely and charming and down right unique, all things I am very proud of. It has taken me the past 12 weeks to be able to read my daughter (I stopped reading “baby books” around day 2), and just when I think I have her “signs” figured out, she goes and grows up a little more and we start right back at the beginning again. I’m OK with that, we have a bond that is unspeakable. We understand eachother even in moments of complete exhaustion, just when total frustration is about to take over – we understand eachother.

My husband wasn’t as lucky as I, he missed six weeks of this beautiful childs life and so in the past week and a half he’s had an awful lot of catching up to do. His daughter, no longer a newborn, has clear needs and wants and personality. He has had to become Abah (the local Sundanese word for father) very quickly and it’s been a wonderful thing to watch.

I decided before we arrived that I would do the best I could to step back (ha!) and allow him to parent his daughter, his way. That I would try hard (ha!) to not boss him around or tell him how things should be done… even though I’d been doing it solo for the six weeks prior.

So after a few days I stepped back and I watched them together. I watched as she cried and he would hand her back to me. I watched as he would lay her (awake) next to me (asleep) and promptly fall asleep himself. I watched as he discovered her smile, her laugh and her chatters all for the very first time. I watched as he learnt being a father is not just when your awake, when you have free time, when the surfs not good – being a parent always comes first. I watched as he stopped handing her back to me when she cried, I watched as he learnt how to soothe her frustrations. I watched as he scooped her up out of bed and left the room allowing me a few hours of peaceful sleep. I watched as he whispered secrets into her ear, in a language that I don’t understand, and she gazed at him adoringly. I watched them create their bond.

My husband is becoming a father, slowly and surely, day by day – he too is learning to read our child. And it’s an absolute pleasure privilege to watch.

xox

Motherhood makes [me] crazy…

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Just call me crazy. Seriously. This motherhood thing, it’s turned me into a bit of a lunatic. People warned me before I had this baby, they said to me “Sash, the world that you know is going to change, it’s going to change hard!” And I smiled and nodded and did all the boring pleasantries that make my stomach turn a little and I shrugged it off. I mean honestly, how much could my world change? I’ve always been a pretty open minded person… I’ve always (attempted to) seen things the way they are but left plenty of wiggle room for those not so frequent (who am I kidding?) moments when I had it totally backwards.

Then I had Bo.

Now I look at the world through a totally different lens. And right now, I’m going through the lens that is commonly known as the lens of FEAR. Welcome to motherhood, sucker! Seriously though. Before Bo I was a traveler, I lived out of a backpack for years. I flew around the world… I drank in strange bars, I partied in languages I couldn’t understand, I lived on the proverbial edge, I did things I was proud of (and let’s face it many things I wasn’t)… I wasn’t living in fear, I was living for adventure. I used to say, the only thing to fear is fear itself – I was very “deep” (and very naive).

I wrote about fear and how to get away from it and to stop it from taking over your life. I thought I had this no-fear approach to life down. I was so very, very wrong.

Now here I am with this precious little being in my care and it’s making me crazy. Everywhere I look I see Armageddon. The mandi buckets in my bathroom a drowning hazard, the rats in our kitchen a sanitation issue, second hand smoke a  killer… Everything that I used to think was fun now just seems super dangerous. I imagine car crashes, planes falling from the sky, kidnappers, murderers and the giant purple people eater. The list goes on and on until you start reaching global warming, over population, starvation and aliens taking over the world and turning us all into slaves. I mean what if something was to happen to me? Then who would take care of Bo? Who could possibly love her the way I do? What is going to happen when she’s a big adult in this crazy world and no longer wants/needs me to protect her? I get stuck in these spiraling thought processes and they are driving me mental!

And all you mamas out there are nodding and sipping your coffee and laughing at me… welcome to motherhood, you say…

Come on mama’s (and papa’s) – share with me, what’s your most irrational post-baby fear?

xox

This weeks little loves…

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beautiful Bo, my favourite little love of all…

It’s been a bit of a rough week in our little house this week. With the main man in our lives away in the city for a lot of the week and a power failure right in the middle Bo and I experienced hot and sweaty in a way we never have before. We battled rodents, we boiled water for bath time, we read books and talked to the chooks. We took long walks along the beach in the cool of the day and found company in friends chatter from far away… days as just the two of us can seem like long, neverending stretches of “almost-nap-time” moments where i constantly feel like it’s time to try and get the baby to sleep – needless to say she has not been sleeping well since we arrived. Perhaps its the upheaval, the climate change, the new sounds (cows, chickens and a foreign language right out the window) keepign her up, or just something else all together.

In amongst all of this there have been a few things that have helped keep us feeling human. I’ve never been a lover of brands or products – and since becoming mama I’ve disdained the constant stream of product pushers out there trying to convince sleep deprived parents that if they don’t BUY this or BUY that – they aren’t doing what’s best for baby.

So I thought I’d start sharing with you our little loves for each week, whether they be a product or a toy or a much loved book… a little inspiration goes a long way sometimes.

Little Loves: For Me

“The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf, an all time favourite book and helps me put life, love and feminism in perspective. Deep radiance gel oil by Palmers and my Body Love System Emergency body spray – it’s like rescue remedy, for your body – it’s 91% organic made from Australian bush flower essences, refreshing and smells lovely.

Little Loves: For Bo

“Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak – one of my all time favourite childrens books and Bo’s favourite for this week (it get’s those little legs a-kickin’). A Chicco rattle that was mine as a baby and is now in Bo’s. Itti Bitti all in ones – after just starting full time cloth this week – these are by far my front runner favourite, a great Aussie company making quality cloth. With heat and humidity comes rashes – the Stelartria cream by Mustela is expensive but magical and works in seconds at healing blotches, itches and heat rashes…

xox

What are your little loves this week?