My name is Lisa and I’m now 40, separated, with two beautiful children; one 8 yr od boy and one 5 yr old girl. It’s not where I imagined I would be at 40, I have good days and bad days, but I do have my kids and life would not be the same without them!
8 yrs ago I had a planned pregnancy and from the second the little dude entered my body my life would change forever. I had always wanted children… from my earliest memories I would hold random peoples babies, I would babysit, I got a job in early childhood and everywhere I went children would naturally gravitate towards me. But having my own was something completely different. There is no other thing that can replace the emotional ties you have to a life you has been created inside you. It changed the way I taught, the way I spoke to parents at my work, and the way I saw myself.
Bed ridden morning sickness coming at me 24/7, severe pelvic instability and fast forward to ‘that’ first contraction. I wake at 1am to go to the toilet and find myself leaking… what the hell is that…’ oh yes that’s my waters leaking’ and immediately intense contractions begin a minute or two apart. I call the hospital and they say ‘take a Panadol and go back to bed’. 4 hours later I’m slightly dying, I wake the husband. We arrive at the hospital for foetal monitoring… followed by going home again… and then back again… and all the while my contractions are still a minute apart.
2 (almost 3) full days of this and I’m in the delivery sweet… ‘oh yes you stupid cervix you have still only dilated 1cm’ WTF?? I get induced as bubs is getting into a not such a good state, neither am I, and bubs is posterior so its agonising. I literally can’t breath and beg for an epidural. By this state I can’t even take a deep breath to hold still inbetween contractions because there is no time so I’m held down and ‘oooh yea feel some relief’. Not a full epidural because the babies in distress and we need all hands on deck. By the time it comes to push I have 15 doctors in the room and a guy vacuuming out my baby while I push and yes ‘scream’!
Out he finally comes… not really breathing and not crying onto my chest… then taken swiftly from me as the large gathering of doctors work on him and then he is taken up to the neonatal ward. I’m left drained, and sore, throwing up in a bag, wondering if he is even gonna make it. I get wheel chaired up to the ward later to see him attached to tubes and in a nappy… but alive!
By 11:30 that night I’m too tired to feed him and they give him some formula. Fast forward to the next morning and I have him in my arms, breastfeeding and being the natural mum I knew I would be. Everything is peachy with my 5 pound little dude!
3 months later and I haven’t slept more than a few hours in a row, day or night, because he won’t sleep. I go to bed at 7:30 every night and wake at 10pm to begin the torturous process of resettling him, rocking him, and holding him to try to get him to sleep. He wakes from sleep cycles even when I hold him in my arms.
‘Sleep during the day when he sleeps’ they all say… BUT he doesn’t sleep during the day either! I wind up at the doctors a hysterical mess. Doc says you’re severely sleep deprived and writes me a script for a thousand different tablets… ‘sorry can’t take those cause he doesn’t sleep and I won’t be able to wake up after taking them’. So I end up at sleep school. A week of that and I have skills and a baby who’s sleep patterns haven’t really changed. I end up at the paediatrician and he goes on reflux medication which helps at bit. Then finally at 6months of age, when we have all had enough, I get the answer I need, mostly due to the fact that he has reached an age where you can try control crying.
I return home to the husband, ‘this is what we’re going to do’. I have been pushed to the absolute limits and I am willing to try anything with the determination only a ‘tired new mum’ has… it’s that or I go to a mental institution. So I control cry him and get rid of the dummy all in one go. Too much for the hubby to bear, I tell him ‘go to your parents’ cause I ain’t stopping! 2 nights and the kid sleeps like an angel (not like a baby as the saying goes) He meets all his future milestones and 2 ½ years later I have a baby girl. Pregnancy pretty much the same, but this time I’m doing Pilates twice a week and I’m fit and ready!
This time I have read the calm birth book off a friend, I have a Russian midwife who asks me what kind of birth do I want. I say an active one with no pain killers. So my waters are broken and I’m induced because she is almost 2 weeks over cooked… and posterior again! After a few hours she is delivered healthy and plump onto my chest and feeds immediately. The bond between us is different because this time I know what I’m doing, I know what to expect. I stay one night and go home to the comfort of my bed. She doesn’t breastfeed as well as the first and I persist for two weeks with success. This time I let go of control. I feed on demand, I use the skills I gained from sleep school, I know about sleep cycles, I know about the wonder weeks… I don’t know everything but I do know more.
I return to work when both of my kids are 10months old… bless them but I need to feel something other than just mum. I don’t have a lot of help from family, so work is my sanity and my break! I return to work a different person. I worry all day about them at crèche and when parents at work say good bye to their kids when they drop them off at kinder, I have a renewed kinship with what it means to go and leave them.
A few years of motherhood and work… and I’m tired. I’m always tired. But I start to find me again. I go to the gym, I drink with friends, I go out for dinner. But the core of me has changed. I have to now do it all with my heart on the outside, walking around in those tiny bodies. I feel every little scratch and bump, every fever, every tantrum, every giggle, and every heartbreak… it’s excruciating.
Time moves on and my son is diagnosed with Autism. Again life tests me and continues to to this very day. After a period of grieving, I summon the strength only mums have and deal with that shit.
In the meantime my marriage is crumbling. Autism, Tourette’s tics, hyperactivity, sibling rivalry, lack of sleep, stress, lack of making time for each other, and lack of time for each other, feeling alone and scared, I am pushed to my absolute limits over and over again.
No one can help me or make it all better… but the other day I had friends’ over drinking, I wake up in the morning, my 5 year old daughter unaware (that it’s not mother’s day or that I am hungover)…. “Mummy Happy Mother’s Day” she says and on a plate she is carrying she has an apple, a muesli bar, some nuts and a cup of water. “Breakfast for you!!” I smile at the sweet girl I have helped to build…(and I drink the cup of water like I had been in a dessert hehe) Those are the moments that are so sweet, when you witness your child being sweet because that’s what you have tried to build in your child, when you laugh together so much it hurts, when you watch their first steps, lose their first tooth, get their first haircut, go off to kinder happy, comfort another child who is hurt, care for animals, be aware of the natural environment and the impact we have on it and what it can offer our souls, hug their sibling like their best friend and begin their journey of leaving the safety of your side. The hardest part is watching them grow and letting go.
That is our job isn’t it? To raise them to the best of our abilities so they CAN GO… into the world armed with what they need to be resilient, successful, happy and loved??!!
And as women, we should find comfort in each other’s stories and journeys, we should be building up other mums and supporting them. No mothers group trash talk, just being real. I could not have survived without our mothers group. We have and still remain very close. Not once, not ever, have any of us said a bad word about the other, or their parenting style. Our maternal nurse, who I still see in our building complex at work, said ‘I have never see mums group so close’. We cherish our bond. I am proud to be supported by such loving, genuine women.
Be strong, never give up, and love like it’s the last day you will see your children, time goes so fast…