Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on the year gone past...

Well, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on what has happened this year (seeing as we are spending new years at home with the two kids tucked up in bed already :) ) It has been a HUGE year but I feel truly blessed by all that has happened. I am so happy with my life, with my two gorgeous kids and my wonderful husband (love you Chris :) )

The year started off with me being pregnant and early in January we made the decision to have a homebirth (with a little help from some wonderful friends) and so began our journey. We decided on a wonderful midwife and GP to guide us on our journey and in August I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, completely intervention free, at home. Her birth has probably been the most amazing, beautiful, empowering experiences of my life thus far! I hope one day we can repeat the experience (although maybe a couple more years down the track ;) )

So began our transition to life as a family as four! The first 5 weeks or so of having Esme were very, very intense and we all struggled to make the adjustment. Esme took some time to transition to life on the outside and was pretty unsettled for these first few weeks. Days of constant screaming and little sleep (not to mention the nights!) were on the cards for awhile. Even carrying her in the sling or feeding her could not ease her discomfort at times. I think I struggled the most as I had to let household tasks fall by the wayside and learn to live in a messy, disorganised house for awhile! Luckily we had a lot of support from family and friends for which I am very grateful! Jacob also struggled during this time, he was absolutely gorgeous and so gentle with his little sister but we bore the brunt of his frustrations by way of some very challenging and clingy behaviour as well as some more very unsettled nights (and his nights weren't that great before Esme was born either!) Gradually though Esme settled down and life started to return to some sort of normality. Now she is absolutely gorgeous, such a happy, smiling, active girl! Not at all a little baby anymore and definately not at all like the distressed little baby we had! She still doesn't sleep much during the day but that's ok :) She is easy to settle at night even if she does wake a few times, a quick feed and then she settles herself to sleep again. We are parenting in a very different way second time round and following our instincts more. We co-sleep, breastfeed on demand, wear her in the sling and even do some elimination communication with her! I really think this has a lot to do with the happy little girl she is becoming (along with her gentle birth). It feels so much more natural (not to mention us getting more sleep!) to follow our instincts.

Jacob has changed so much this year too! Suddenly he is a real 'little' boy! I can't believe that at this time last year he had just started walking!! Seems so long ago now. He has been going through a word explosion phase these past few months which has eased a LOT of his frustrations. He is now saying whole sentences and coming out with the cutest things. He 'gets' jokes these days and often comes out with things that he knows are quite silly like 'eat the bunnies'! And finally, after 2.5 years, I think we can say that he is sleeping through the night!!! Just shows that patience is a virtue ;) He has always been a absolutely shocking sleeper (from about 4 months to 8 months he was waking every 45 minutes at night!!) but it's nice to know that sleep does settle down eventually LOL. Jacob absolutely adores being outside and loves his bunnies and the chooks we just got!

What else to say? I started training as an ABA breastfeeding counsellor this year and have enjoyed doing more for our local group. Don't quite know when I will finish my training but I'm sure it will be sometime in the next few years LOL. I should also mention our car dramas this year! Early in the year we got a car from the auctions that Chris' dad was going to fix up for us (so we could finally get rid of the old blue Camry!) The time came when the rego for the Camry was due but we neglected to pay it because we thought the car would be finished soon. Anyway, the police decided to have a big blitz in our area so at 32 weeks pregnant I was pulled over and the plates were removed from the Camry and I had to find my own way home with Jacob. Luckily Mum could come and pick us up but sad to say that the police had no compassion whatsoever :( After this Mum and Dad offered to lend us their car which they were going to trade in in August. We ended up having a car accident in it, not a bad one but we were quite worried that the car was going to be a write-off and they wouldn't be able to trade it in. Of course, we were also a bit worried about me given that I was 34 weeks pregnant! It all ended up ok though, the car was able to be repaired and I (and Esme :) ) were fine. We had to make do without a car for a few weeks though while our new one was being fixed up, very hard to do when you are very pregnant and live in an area with hills! We got the car a couple of weeks before Esme arrived (lucky she was 9 days late!) I'm looking forward to welcoming in the new year and seeing my family grow together but also kind of sad that this year and all it's wonderful things are coming to a close.

I feel like I have learnt so much this year. My kids have taught me patience (in a big way and I feel like I have learnt to have even more patience from having two kids!!), to appreciate the smaller things in life (like Jacob pointing out bugs and other stuff that I just wouldn't normally notice!), to TAKE THINGS SLOWER, that it doesn't matter if we have a messy house, compassion, empathy but most of all unconditional LOVE.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Four months ALREADY?!

I can't quite believe how quickly time goes by with a second child....Esme is four months old already!! With Jacob things seemed to go so much slower and we were constantly watching and waiting for him to reach milestones (and thus he seemed to achieve his milestones so much slower - like not crawling until 10.5 months and not walking until nearly 19 months!!) We are appreciating each stage that Esme is going through and living in the moment with her. But she is just doing things too darn quick, why can't she stay a baby just a little longer?! She has been rolling both ways since she was just over 3 months and just got her first two teeth a week ago! She is already looking like she wants to get moving (perhaps to catch up to her big brother who she just adores, she has already been attempting to play with some of his toys :) ) and doing the 'airplane' thing while on her tummy. She is such a happy girl and we are delighting in her gorgeous smiles and chuckles. She loves to play rough already, that's when we get the biggest smiles and laughs from her. Still not much of a day sleeper, but hey, you can't have everything ;)

Some pics we took today of our gorgeous four month old daughter!

We finally have chooks!

I can't quite believe that the chook house is finally built and that we actually have chooks living in there!! This was my present from Chris' family for Christmas last year. Yes, last year!!! :D It has taken this long to get it all built but it looks great! I personally think it looks like a chook funhouse with ramps running everwhere, perches, nestboxes and covered areas but the chooks seem to appreciate it!

Chris and Jacob went with 'Pa' this morning to choose the chooks. Apparently Jacob was so excited seeing all the chooks, especially the little chickens (maybe one day we will get some chickens ;) ) So we now have four brown chooks and I am really looking forward to having our own supply of yummy free range eggs :D

The frame goes up! Nice to see everyone hard at work (Jacob included!!)

More bits are added...

The completed chook house!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It was so exciting to share our first christmas as a family of four this year! Jacob is just starting to understand all about Santa and presents this year and it was wonderful sharing in his excitement. We had been talking about Santa for quite awhile beforehand and the weekend before Christmas we took Jacob to see Santa on the fire truck when they came around. He was so excited and kept talking about it for the next few days, 'Santa, fire truck, lollies' (Santa was handing out packets of lollies lol).

The actual day started off at the quite civilized time of 8am. Esme and Jacob came downstairs and Jacob opened the presents under the christmas tree. I think he was almost more excited to be opening the presents than what was actually inside them though. After he opened one he would toss it aside and reach for the next one saying 'another one'. But he was very good handing out presents for other people and understanding that they were for someone else. Jacob and Esme's main present from Santa was two baby bunnies. We had put them in a box and placed wrapping paper over the top and you should have seen Jacob's face when he saw his bunnies. He was soooo excited!

We headed off to Chris' parents to open presents after this and then to Chris' family xmas lunch at Helen and Trevor's where Jacob and Esme were inundated with even MORE presents (we're still wondering where we're going to store them all!!) After this we headed home and Mum and Dad came over for more presents. Jacob was pretty pleased with his Thomas train track but frustrations and tiredness from the day ended up with a total meltdown from him! We managed to get him out of the house and over to my Aunt and Uncle's farm. He calmed down there, ate a second lot of dinner! and enjoyed running around and chasing chooks.

We were all pretty exhausted by the time we left home and Jacob fell asleep in the car and Chris was able to carry him into bed still asleep (a pretty rare event for Jacob!) Esme went to sleep pretty quickly with a feed.

Our 2008 Christmas card!

Nudey santa

Jacob admiring the christmas tree

'Look at my new car!'

Esme and Daddy

Unwrapping MORE presents!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ABA fundraising BBQ

Whew! What a busy day we have had cooking sausages (well, Chris has had actually!) Today was our first ever ABA fundraising BBQ at Bunnings Fountain Gate so we headed over with the kids to do our bit this afternoon. Chris manned the BBQ with Donna and Kate and Anna were there to do the other stuff :) I ended up taking Jacob and Esme to the playground and then the shops because Jacob wasn't too happy about standing round there (surprisingly enough!!) while Chris did all the hard work cooking! It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day (a bit too warm actually - we had all come in jumpers expecting it to be cool) and it was really busy. I couldn't believe the amount of people who bought sausages!!! We ended up raising about $1800 - wow! That goes towards sending some of us trainee counsellors and counsellors to conference next year!
It was well worth crying over all the onions we had to chop this morning after all ;)

The afternoon crew from L-R: Kate, Anna, Donna and Chris

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Great grandparents are special!

We made the trip up to Mt Martha on Saturday to see my grandparents. This was the first time we've been able to catch up with them since Esme's birth. Granddad has recently had a stroke which has made us realise just how blessed we are to have them in our lives (thankfully he is ok!) Jacob had a great time, playing with all of the wooden toys that his great granddad has made for the children and Esme charmed them both with her gorgeous smile. We really do think that Jacob and Esme are so fortunate to have such special great grandparents in their lives and hope that they are able to spend some special times with them in the future as they grow up...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome to the world, beautiful baby girl!

On the 27th of August, we welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Esme Joy, into our lives. We were so pleased to finally meet her after waiting so long (she decided to join us 9 days past her EDD) She was born at 6.48pm weighing 10pd5oz (and possibly even more considering she was weighed the following day!) Jacob was a very proud big brother!! We were fortunate enough to be blessed with a truly amazing birth homebirth, an experience that will be with us always (and one I hope to repeat sometime in the not too distant future hehe) Here is Esme's birth story...


Tuesday, 40+1 weeks

My midwife, Jan, came to visit me at home. It had been a couple of weeks since I last saw her and she did a check of my tummy. She couldn’t feel the baby’s head and thought that the baby was either breech or its head was down really low in my pelvis. We agreed that she would do an internal and it turned out that the baby’s head was really low. She also discovered that the baby was posterior as when she went to check how ready my cervix was she couldn’t find the opening due to the baby’s position. I panicked a bit when she told me that the baby was posterior as I had heard that it would make labour more painful but she reassured me that it wasn’t an issue with second babies, that it might just mean a longer pushing stage (Jacob had come out in only a few pushes!) Jan told me that she was going away on Saturday night but said that she expected the baby to arrive in the next 5 days anyway given it’s position and the fact that Jacob was born at 39+5 days (well, I think that was more my thinking!)

Thursday, 40+3 weeks

I was starting to get a bit concerned that baby hadn’t come especially as Jacob would have well and truly been born by this stage of pregnancy last time! I was also concerned that it would all happen the one night Jan was away! We had a bit of swapping and changing of caregivers during the pregnancy. I was originally going to have a homebirth GP and Jan attending but the GP had gone overseas and wouldn’t be back in action until the Sunday and now Jan was also going to be away!! Which meant that should I give birth on the Saturday night I would be attended by the back up midwife (who I had met briefly and felt comfortable with) and also another midwife I hadn’t met before! This really worried me, along with some information I had read about posterior babies. Luckily, Jan was able to reassure me about everything when I called her.

Monday, 41 weeks

By this stage I was getting really antsy and wondering if this baby would every come! I was over being pregnant by this stage (something that I didn’t feel last time!) and beginning to doubt my bodies ability to go into labour on it’s own (quite ridiculous really when I knew it had done it so well by itself last time). I don’t know whether it was today or the next day that mum told me that the girls in the family had all been born well past their EDD (my mum was born at 42+4 weeks and I was induced at 42 weeks). I started to think well, ok, maybe this baby is a girl and THAT’S why she is taking her time!

Tuesday evening, 41+1 week

While I was feeding Jacob tonight I started getting really strong and painful Braxton Hicks contractions. I started to think that things were going to start happening but the Braxton Hicks continued every 5-10 minutes for a couple of hours and then stopped…

Wednesday, 41+2 weeks

While feeding Jacob this morning, I started having some painful contractions. I felt about three during the 30 minute feed Jacob had. We got up and I got breakfast for myself and Jacob. Contractions started coming roughly every 10 minutes apart from then on. Although I wasn’t sure if things were ‘serious’ or not, I thought it might be time to call Chris to get him to come home from work (he works an hour away from home) It was about 10am by this stage and he said he’d be on the 10.30am train.

In the meantime I went and had a shower. Contractions were still pretty regular but quite manageable and I was still able to look after Jacob. By the time Chris got home at 11.30am I was having a bit more trouble entertaining Jacob when a contraction hit. Chris arrived home and was pretty excited that things were finally happening. I was still a bit apprehensive about how it would all unfold and what I still had to get through!! It was such a relief to have Chris home though and to have him with me when each contraction came. I found that having him massage my back and stand with me when each wave came helped a lot. It was so different to last time when I just wanted to be left alone and hated being touched.

Chris ended up ringing Jan then and just letting her know that labour had started, although I was sure that we still had a long way to go given contractions were staying much the same intensity and frequency. I felt safe to tell Jan that we might not need her till later that night. Chris made a fire and we spent some final time together as a family of three and I managed to eat some lunch…

About 2ish I got a text from my support person, Donna. I told her that I thought things were happening but pretty slowly and we’d give her a call when we needed her. I headed off to bed to read and rest for what was to come! I had only been lying down for a little while when my mum arrived (she was to be Jacob’s support person, we had rung her earlier at work). I got up and spent some time talking to her. We told her it would probably be ok for her to go home and come back later (luckily she decided to stay anyway as things got intense so quickly that we wouldn’t have had time for her to get here in time).

Contractions started getting a bit sharper during the time that mum was here and I started needing Chris to be with me as each one hit. By the time 5pm came around contractions had started happening close together, every few minutes and becoming so painful (especially in my back) that I needed to cry out as each one happened. I said to Chris you’d better ring people so he rang Donna first and then Jan. Both were on their way straight away. I was really surprised at how quickly the contractions had changed and how they had gone from being so manageable to so intense in such a short space of time. As each one hit, sometimes one after the other I remember thinking ‘no, not another one’ and ‘I can’t do this!’ At 5.30pm we told Mum that Jacob would need dinner, I was still trying to instruct Mum about what to give him for dinner and get stuff out of the fridge between contractions at this stage!! Donna arrived at about 5.50pm and by this stage I was on my hands and knees on the couch with Chris rubbing my back through each contraction. I remember being relieved that there was someone else there to help Chris and give him suggestions about what might help me. I could hear all that was going on around me at that stage but I just couldn’t respond to anything! Jacob was making some concerned comments about me while he was eating dinner and Mum was reassuring him that I was ok. He was also saying some things that were making the others laugh but I only heard snippets. Donna put a heat pack on my back and I remember it feeling better. I was really struggling with the back pain at this stage and feeling like my back was going to break in half…

About this time, I started moaning as each contraction hit, my voice rising and falling as each contraction came and went. With Jacob’s birth I didn’t make any noise whatsoever and now I’m not sure how I quite managed that, crying out really helped deal with each wave of contractions as they came and kept me focused on the job at hand.

Everything is a bit of blur from then onwards, I remember having a strong contraction and feeling a vague sensation of needing to push. I was really surprised, it all seemed to happen so suddenly and Jan hadn’t even arrived. I said to Chris and Donna, ‘I needed to push with that contraction’. I felt calm about things even though Jan wasn’t there. About 5 minutes later at 6.20pm, Jan arrived. I was glad she was there but couldn’t really talk much through the pain. I remember her saying ‘be happy, you’re going to have a baby tonight’ and trying to smile! Somewhere around this time, I remember getting down on my hands and knees on the floor. Jan asked me if I felt like pushing and I said yes. She told me I needed to get my pants off. By this stage I was finding it hard to do anything during and between contractions. I tried to tell her that I would do it and trying to get them off but not quite being able to voice my thoughts! She thought I just wasn’t going to do, and said to me a few days after the birth that she had her scissors ready to cut them off me if necessary. It was suggested at this time Chris sat on the chest we had in the room and for me to lean against him while on my knees. I remember everyone moving around and when a bad contraction hit searching for and needing Chris who had moved for that one moment. I remember pushing everyone else out of the one and searching for him blindly. Meanwhile, Donna was bucketing cold water out of the birthing pool as we had discovered when Mum went to run Jacob’s bath that the hot water had run out! Although we had planned on having a waterbirth, I just felt I couldn’t move from the position I was in. I felt like I needed Chris to be with me and support me and I couldn’t get that from being in the pool.

I remember being alone with Chris for the next few moments although I later found out that Donna and Jan were right behind me. Mum had taken Jacob to give him a bath. I gave a big push and all of a sudden my membranes ruptured. It felt like such a relief and I actually thought Esme’s head had come out in that push as it relieved so much pressure! I remember Chris saying to me, ‘you did it all by yourself’ as last time my membranes had been ruptured by the ob about an hour before Jacob was born and having that intervention last time was something I had struggled to accept for a very long time. Finally, it proved to me that my body could do this on my own! After this happened, I had a bit of a break between contractions. My body felt like it was resting and I had a chance to catch my breath. Then I felt that need to push again and intense searing pain that made me squeal. I remember being told, ‘keep your noise low’. All of a sudden Jan said ‘sit up Narelle’ quite urgently. I didn’t realise that in that push, Esme’s head had popped out and I was sitting on her! No one had been able to see her coming out because I was so close to the ground so it came as a bit of surprise! All of a sudden everything was a rush of activity, Esme came out completely and people were helping me to take my top off so I could put her on me. Someone helped me to reach down and pick her up and I cuddled her close to my tummy. I felt such happiness and relief at the same time because she was out. Chris said to me ‘would you like to know what it is’ and he said ‘it’s a girl’. I was so excited and happy because I had hoped for a girl but had thought it was a boy. I remember giving a huge smile and hugging Chris. I couldn’t believe the enormity of what my body had just done! I was helped to move to the couch to lie with Esme on my tummy and mum and Jacob, who had finished his bath, came down to see us. Jacob was so excited and kept saying ‘baby, baby’. Mum said they had heard her cry and came rushing down the hall to see us. I delivered the placenta not long after that (interesting that we had a natural third stage and it came out quicker than with Jacob where I had the injection to supposedly sped it up). It turned out that I had second degree tears which needed stitching but they were pretty superficial (and it actually turned out that I had torn last time and should have probably been stitched then too). We ended up waiting until after I had my stitches done to cut the cord as I wanted to make sure that Esme had received all the blood. Chris said to me after that he really noticed the difference between cutting Jacob’s cord and Esme’s cord. Jacob’s cord was cut soon after birth and still had some blood in it whereas Esme had obviously received all the blood from the cord. Esme cried a little bit when the cord was cut but as she was breastfeeding she soon stopped.

It has taken me a little while to process the birth and understand the magnitude of what I have done. Not only did Esme came out posterior and in only a couple of pushes, it later turned out that she was 10pd 5oz (and this was after being weighed the next day when she would have lost some weight). I had no pain relief during the birth and no interventions. The birth was such a natural and undisturbed process and most of it was spent with just us as a family until the last hour or so. I feel so empowered by the experience and am so proud of myself. I also feel like I have such a special bond with my beautiful little girl. I am so grateful for my wonderful team of people who helped me birth my daughter and know that things would not have been the same without them, I felt so supported and empowered by their energy. So, to my wonderful husband, Chris, my midwife Jan, my support person, Donna, and my Mum, who was Jacob’s support person, I say thank you with a heart full of gratitude. No words could ever be enough to say thank you…

39 weeks pregnant, Jacob getting 'Mr J' to give my tummy a kiss!

Almost 40 weeks pregnant, who was to know we still had more than 9 days to go!!

Being supported by Chris during the later stages of labour, what a wonderful support he was!!

I love this photo, thanks to Donna for capturing it, this was the exact moment I saw my daughter for the first time! I love the look of happiness on my face

Getting to know my beautiful daughter...

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