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Eloise birth story

For thirty-eight weeks she grew in my belly. Before she was conceived I was sure our family would be completed by another boy, that we would give her brother a brother and our weekends would be forever filled with rugby and cricket. Yet from the moment I learnt she was there, blossoming from a single cell, I knew I would have the daughter I so deeply wanted.

Carrying and growing her was very different to her brother. The first trimester nausea and the third trimester exhaustion were the same but emotionally I felt inexplicably different: calmer, happier, and more grateful for the opportunity to experience pregnancy, birth and motherhood all over again. Where last time I wished away the weeks, eager to get to the next ‘stage’, this time, I begged time to slow down, to just let me savour it all.

My tummy grew quickly, rounding out, as our baby’s tiny arms and legs lengthened, got stronger, chubbier. And then I felt her for the very first time. A pop. A bubble. A flutter that soon turned into strong thuds and then kicks as her feet pushed through my sides seemingly looking for escape. At night I lay in bed hand across my belly waiting for those kicks, that secret code between the two of us. And as I felt for her I would fall into a contented sleep to dream of our dark-haired brown-eyed little girl: our sweet daughter.

As our baby’s due date grew closer and my belly stretched to bursting I prepared myself for her arrival. In the day I washed and folded tiny clothes, filled our pantry and fridge with food, and cleaned with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. And at night I read and studied the approach of Hypnobirthing*: a generous friend guiding me through the process as I learnt about the enormous power of the mind and the benefits of a calm and natural birth. I was nervous about our baby’s arrival but more than anything I was excited about the experience that would bring her into the world.

Two weeks before she was due my Braxton hicks began to build in frequency and intensity. At times I would find myself leaning over the kitchen bench swaying and breathing deeply as I had practiced. For four days I woke each morning thinking today would be the day we would meet our baby and by days end the tightening’s would have faded and I would be left doubting my intuition. November 5, the day I was sure she would be born, came and went. I cried to Troy that I just wanted to meet our baby, to hold her, to know when it was all going to happen. Patience deserted me as I became increasingly frustrated.

The next day I woke determined not to pay any attention to the Braxton Hicks until I could no longer ignore them. I baked banana bread, built Lego towers with Lachie and mopped the floors. At lunch our friends Laura and Matt and their son came to visit. We reminisced and laughed about Laura’s labour, how she rocked on hands and knees on a busy Brisbane street while I assured concerned passer-bys that she was not hurt but probably about to have a baby.

The afternoon slipped by and as the three of us, Lachie, Troy and I, sat eating our dinner I winced as the pinch of a contraction took hold. “You’re going into labour aren’t you?” Troy asked me. I assured him it was likely another false alarm, that he was tired and should get some sleep. The time was 6.30pm.

We played some more Lego with Lachie and then Troy went to lie down. In between brushing Lachlan’s teeth I timed my contractions, eight minutes apart, one minute long. He chose a story, Tiddler: The Story Telling Fish, and we snuggled in bed. Story read I kissed his soft blonde head goodnight and turned out the light. The time was 7.30pm.

The contractions were coming seven minutes apart, tightening across my lower back and radiating through my stomach. I leaned over the kitchen table rocking involuntarily while I called Troy’s mum, Sheryl. “It’s probably a false alarm” I told her, “but can you come over?” I made my way to the shower, wondering still, if this was it, if we would soon be meeting our baby girl. Nerves of excitement started to build.

I undressed, my swelling belly reflecting at me in the mirror. The warm water cascaded blissfully down my aching back. Aware that baby had been posterior at my last appointment, I leant on the shower screen eager to help her turn. The contractions got closer, longer, harder. Six minutes apart. Standing in the shower I called Sheryl again. “Better come sooner rather than later” I told her. “I’m still not sure it’s the real thing though”, I said apologetically. The time was 8.01pm.

The bathroom door opened and Troy peered his head in. “You’re definitely in labour” he said, seeing the obvious where I could not. I got out of the shower and dressed, gathering a few last-minute things in between contractions. I rang the hospital to ask if I should come in, nervous not to go too early. Contractions had jumped to every three minutes and I was having to breath deeply through each one. Make your way in they said. “I think we need to go soon” Troy said. “Should I call someone else to come until mum gets here?” he asked. “No, it will be okay” I replied. Another wave hit. “Actually, yes, do”, I said from the ground. The time was 8.19pm

Bags packed in the car and a pile of towels on the front seat we waited for our friends to arrive. I looked in one last time at Lachie, my first-born, my boy who taught me the endless depth of a mothers love. I felt sadness that his world was about to be changed and in the same moment, joy that we were giving him the lifelong gift of a sibling. I kissed his cheek once more and made my way to the car. I found my earphones and selected the Hypnobirthing track I had been falling asleep to each night for the past few weeks. I closed my eyes. As the wave of the contraction built I went to my knees, leaning over the front step as we waited for Emma and Michael to arrive. Pulling up in a bundle of excited energy Michael tells us he couldn’t find his keys, that he had parked Emma in, that they had to get his brother to bring around his car to use. “He went 80 and ran a red light” Emma tells us. We laughed at the unnecessary panic. I hugged and thanked them both and climbed into the car. The time was 8.45pm.

Sitting upright felt unnatural. I wanted to be kneeling, my belly hanging to relieve pressure on my back. But I had to sit. I turned the volume up on the music and closed my eyes. In the darkness there was nothing but my breath, my baby and I. The outside world stopped existing. As each contraction took over I imagined myself walking into the ocean, the cool water lapping at my body. I felt myself floating, weightless as the wave lifted me up. The pain was there but it was distant, remaining on the sandy beach while I floated offshore in the salty water. I briefly opened my eyes as we neared the entrance of the hospital. “This way” I said quietly pointing. The car stopped and I climbed out. Another contraction. I squatted by the entry path, grasping the handrail for stability, bending deep and breathing down into my belly. The parking attendant smiled knowingly and directed Troy where to park. The time was 8.50pm.

Car parked, Troy lifted me from the ground. Enveloped in his arms, we walked toward the entrance and through the glass doors, my eyes mostly closed, only mildly aware of my surroundings. We arrived at the entrance to the pregnancy unit. “Press the button,” I whispered to him as another strong contraction took over and I went to my knees in front of the door. Eyes closed I heard the door open; “take your time”, a kind voice said, “when your ready” she reassured. The wave passed and I stood. Troy told the midwives my name. “How often are the contractions coming?” they asked. “Every minute or so”, he replied.

The birth suite was dark and calm. “I want to have a shower” I said, kneeling by the bed my belly tightening as I went again to my mind and the ocean; breathing deep, my body soft as Troy ran his fingers gently up my back and down my arms. “Just pop up on the bed so we can check you” the midwife said. I climbed onto the bed and lifted my knees as I felt the baby’s head move down, the pressure intensifying, and the urge to push beginning to take hold. I felt a pop as my waters burst with a bang. The midwives and Troy laughed, thankful to have been standing out of the way.

The pressure became even more forceful and in the middle of another contraction a brief moment of desperation took hold, “I can’t do this, it’s too much”, I thought. Rallying, I closed my eyes tighter, breathed deeper and without realising, started to push. The midwife had called for the on call obstetrician but she was yet to arrive. In my head I thought they would tell me to wait, to stop pushing, I was scared that I couldn’t stop. “I. Need. To. Push.” I said softly. “Push then” they tell me.

And so I pushed. Eyes shut tight, music still flowing to my ears; I remembered Lachlan’s birth and how I brought him into this world. This time I didn’t yell or scream but instead focused all my energy into pushing our baby down. I breathed down as low as I could as our baby’s head was born. “Wait” they told me. I waited. “You can push again” they said. So I did. And her body was born. I reached down as they helped our baby through my legs onto my chest. I held her, pink face crying, chubby cheeks covered in white vernix. The time was 8.59pm, Wednesday November 6, 2013.

I looked up to the man who helped make this beautiful little human: joy and love pouring from every inch of me. He smiled at me; kissed my head, told me he was proud of me, that he loved me. “Thank you” I said to him. For everything. We both looked down at our sweet baby. Our dark-haired, brown-eyed girl: our darling daughter.

birth story

* My lovely friend Caitlin from Mother Down Under guided me through her Hypnobirthing course. I can’t recommend Caitlin enough, she helped me achieve the natural, calm birth I wanted and I am so very thankful to her for that.

Eloise Grace Gofton
Eloise Grace Gofton | November 6, 2013

This sweet little girl joined us one month ago, turning the three of us into a family of four. Born on a cool November night, her first month of life has swept by in a haze of newborn cuddles, sleepless nights and a whole lot of love.

I’ve been so very absent from this space and from the blogging community in general this year. It’s something I’ve missed dearly but to be honest I have contemplated many times letting it go. Life is busy. Time constraints abound. Yet with the arrival of our baby girl I am reminded just how fleeting these moments of our lives are and even if no-one were to read along (though I am ever thankful that you do!), I want to keep blogging for my own sake, so that whether it be one month or ten years down the track I can look back and remember these times when our family was just beginning; when the days were long but the years were short.

Birth stories are always amongst my favourite blog posts so I am looking forward to sharing Eloise’s with you soon. Take care and have yourself a lovely weekend.
x

The Monster & Me

Somewhere between selling a house, getting pregnant, growing a baby, parenting a three year old, working from home, searching for the perfect family house and about a million loads of washing, this poor little blog has been sadly neglected. I’ve missed it. The writing, the documenting,and the connections.

I’ve considered simply giving it up. Committing it to the cemetery of abandoned blogs (which I imagine is quite full these days). But I just can’t. I had and still have so many ideas for this speck of space I can call my own. And even if not one person popped by to say hi, I love being able to flick back through time, my thoughts and our lives.

So I’m hoping that you will find me here more often again. And over with you on your blogs, too.

In the interest of catching up on six months of half written (mostly in my head) blog posts some thoughts of late:

– House hunting with an energetic three year old is about as relaxing as attending a ballet concert with a drunk football player: you’re constantly muttering ‘be quiet’ while willing them not to tackle people they don’t know.

– When you work from home it’s helpful if the people you are working for have kids of their own and don’t mind that halfway through a business call an excited preschooler snatches the phone, just for a chat.

– They aren’t kidding when they say second time pregnant bellies pop sooner. When I was pregnant with Lachie I scanned the mirror each morning, willing my stomach to just look even a bit pregnant. This time round I’m thankful if I can still fit the jeans I wore the day before.

– Growing a baby and parenting a preschooler means far less time to stress about the baby and the pregnancy and all the unknowns that go along with them. It also leaves far less time for sleep.

– If a property listing doesn’t show photos of the kitchen or bathrooms, be afraid. And ‘quaint’ is really just real estate talk for ‘tiny’.

– I am absolutely ecstatic about having a baby girl. I’m also totally terrified. Boys, I know. I get. Is parenting a girl really any different? Should it be? Irrationally I’m expecting a sweet quiet child. Not because she is a girl really but because the thought of two crazily energetic kids is more than a little daunting.

– Talking about girls, what is with all the pink? This little girl will be rocking her brothers hand-me down navy stripes never mind that I will have to constantly tell strangers that ‘he’ is in fact a ‘she’.

– Living in a unit we have packed away a third of our ‘stuff’ and really, ninety percent of the time, we don’t ever miss it. After seven months I can hardly remember what is in the two dozen boxes stacked to the ceiling in the spare room. It’s been a testament to how much excess we can accumulate.

What have you been up to lately? Care to share a random thought with me?

The Monster & Me: Letter to Lachlan

Dear Lachlan,

You are thirty one months old and if I ever worried you were late in talking, those fears have long since been put to rest. I remember the early days and weeks and months of your life and the strange loneliness I felt while I mothered you: the house quiet but for your cries and my own voice self-consciously narrating our daily routine. Actually having a conversation with you felt a lifetime away and yet, here we are, conversing every day, and despite occasionally longing for a moment of quiet, I just love this part of mothering.

You like to tell us what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you think we should be doing (have I mentioned how bossy you are?!). There is no internal censor when you are two. And as you narrate your life and your thoughts to us, I can see your mind expanding with connections: you look at an Australian flag toothpick staked in your toasted sandwich and remark “it’s a flag, like Ethan’s” (board shorts he wore on Australian day), you see a plane flying and you remark “Ma-ma’s plane, go to South America” (which she did a few months ago). You are fiercely observant and smart to boot. And you make us laugh at least once every day.

The Monster & Me: Letter to Lachlan

Always an active child, your latest physical endeavors involve jumping and rolling and hopping. But mostly jumping. And mostly off things that look far too high for a 95 centimeter tall toddler to be launching from. Launch you do though. Sometimes even at people, a fifteen kilo boy is leaping into their unready arms their only warning. Miraculously all your bones remain intact even if your legs are a constant polka dot pattern of bruises.

The Monster & Me: Fingal Lighthouse

Lachlan you continue to challenge all that I know of patience and understanding. And teach me everyday about kindness and love.

You light up my world and I love you.

Mummy x


More Letters to Lachlan
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The Monster & Me: QLD Museum

The Monster & Me: QLD Museum

The Monster & Me: QLD Museum

1| The QLD Museum, South Bank
2| Big and little, going somewhere
3| Lawn sculptures and rain
4| The whale hall, complete with sounds
5| After I lead us in the completely wrong direction
6| “Look mummy, a PLANE”
7| They know how to do a good ceiling in public buildings like this

This week has been a blur of boxes and packing and moving house. But it is done and only three tiny boxes remain unpacked, hurrah!

Yesterday we absolutely HAD to get out, despite the teaming Brisbane rain. A dinosaur exhibition of sorts is on at the QLD museum, and really what two year old doesn’t love a dinosaur, so off we went, along with every other family of young children stuck for what to do on a very wet Saturday.

To our adult eyes the exhibition was borderline lame*, not that it mattered. The boy was happy to be out, and to be able to touch things without reprimand. Did I mention there was also a ‘dig site’ (sand pit)? Yep, you know where we hung out for a good twenty minutes.

How has your week been?

Linking up with the gorgeous Em.

*This isn’t why there aren’t any photos of said exhibition. Mostly it was because it was too dark. Okay and it was a little bit because a fakey Mc Fakerston dinosaur does not a pretty picture make.

The Monster & Me: GOMA silhouette

The Monster & Me: GOMA Paper crown making

The Monster & Me: GOMA installation

The Monster & Me: GOMA installation

The Monster & Me: GOMA installation

The Monster & Me: GOMA silhouette escalator

1| Post paper crown making session, the boy makes a break for it at GOMA.
2| The ‘making of’…
3| In the red room with my beautiful friend and the boy’s best friend for the day, Lauren.
4| The only way out
5| Another great kids installation, trains and tracks and so much awesomeness
6| Escalator riding was as exciting as the art!

Earlier this week my lovely friend Lauren came to visit. To say Lachie was taken with his new friend was a bit of an understatement. He was so enthusiastic in fact he was adamant not to let her sleep past 7am (sorry Loz!). On Tuesday we ventured to Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, an outing I am never disappointed with. It was such a great day, chatting, exploring, creating. Please come visit again soon Lauren. x

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