It’s been a long week… and it’s only Wednesday

There is always someone crying in our house. If it isn’t Max, it’s Ava. If it isn’t Ava, it’s Max. And well, if it isn’t either of them it’s probably me.
Ava has been so clingy lately. I don’t know if thats just her age, her teeth, or maybe just a girl thing. I put her down, she cries. She tries to fling herself around (trust me, shes fast) and clings onto me for dare life so I don’t walk away from her. If I do manage to get away, she follows me and doesn’t stop crying until shes clawed her way up my leg and I give in and pick her up. It’s proving to be very difficult to do things.
Max, on the other hand, is so fiercely independent and his tears and tantrums are caused by frustration of not being able to do things. He tries to put on his shoes and after 2 minutes throws himself backwards and screams his head off. The kid is determined, though, I have to hand it to him. He has a quick breather and then gets right back to it – tears streaming down his face but he will not give up! I offer him my help and he just yells at me that “Maxie do it!”
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Mornings have been a total nightmare.
Ava gets super tired and grumpy right after breakfast. She wakes up at 7am and by 8am shes pretty much ready to go back to bed.
If we have no plans for the day, most of the time I keep Max in his pajamas. It’s not worth it. He wont like the clothes that I chose for him and cry that he doesn’t want to wear that Thomas t-shirt. I let him go and pick his own clothes… and he comes back with a different Thomas t-shirt. (Duh, mom)
Then there is the battle of getting Max into those clothes. I change his nappy and half the time I have to give him a wipe as well so that he can do it, too. I try and put his pants on but he runs away with the pants, “Maxie do it!” He hasn’t yet got the t-shirt figured out, he tries to put his legs through it and gets really angry when his legs end up getting stuck.
Anyway, if i got him dressed in the morning it would be a total waste of time, when lunch time comes around he has to do all of that himself as well. His clothes will end up covered in marmite because he opens his sandwiches and eats them from the inside out. They will be covered in yoghurt because he freaks out when his hands are dirty and will start yelling at me to get him a wipe and accidentally drop all the yoghurt thats on his spoon onto his top.
Play time always turns into fight time. Max wants whatever Ava is playing with… and vice versa. Ava will be playing with a toy and Max will go and try grab it off her. Ava starts crying, I have to tell Max to give it back. Max starts crying and repeating “Max’s turn! Max’s turn!” He finally gives up and goes to play with his cars. Uh oh, Ava doesn’t like this. She wants to play with Max’s cars as well!
Poor Max is lining them all up, like a train of cars, and Ava swoops in to grab the yellow one right in the middle. And the crying begins again.
They finally go down for a nap at the same time and I can now clean in peace. I clean up the toys, I hang out the washing, I make myself a coffee…. and Ava is awake.
It’s just back and forth between the two of them.
Luckily, Mike came home early today and told me to go and do something because just looking at me was stressing him out (thanks, i think?)
I went and had a nice hot shower until the water ran cold, and then I thought I would treat myself and do a face mask.
My skin now feels super smooth, both the kids went down easy and are fast asleep, I’m clean and I am ready to go to bed and prepare myself for another day of this tomorrow.
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ALL’S WELL THAT’S UNWELL

There is one thing I miss about life before kids that you don’t necessarily think of until it happens to you, and that’s being sick.

Being sick pre-kids still sucks but it’s generally a lot less sucky.
Me being sick pre-kids went a bit like this:
Wake up to my alarm and feeling like absolute crap, I call in sick to work. I might have something quick to eat, and then jump back into bed to try and ‘sleep it off’. Wake up around 11am. Stay in bed and read for maybe an hour, or until I start getting hungry again.
Get up, get some food, and trade in my bed for the couch. It is there I spend the rest of my day, curled up in my blankets,  watching trash TV, cold and flu medication on the coffee table and a pile of tissues on the floor.
9 times out of 10, I’d have an early night so I get as much sleep as possible, and by the next morning I’m either feeling considerably better and go back to work, or repeat the previous day one more time.
Being sick when you have little kids is a whole new ball game. Add them being sick as well and … let’s just say it goes something like this:
Wake up in the morning to the kids being noisy, I feel like absolute crap but I get up anyway because the kids will lose it if I make them stay in bed. I change nappies, make Max breakfast and then give Ava a bottle. I make myself a coffee but I already know I’m not going to get around to finishing it. I have to throw away my tissues straight away to avoid little hands getting into them. Speaking of tissues, I have 3 times as many to clean up because I’m constantly wiping both Max and Ava’s noses.
Max has a meltdown because he feels like crap and just wants to be cuddled.
Ava starts coughing and crying because she doesn’t know what’s happening to her and she’s got major snot bubbles going on.
I finally calm them down and get them to sleep. Now I can eat breakfast.
Max wakes up after 20 minutes because he has a coughing fit and starts gagging. I’m crossing my fingers that he doesn’t throw up because the last thing I want to do while feeling this bad is clean up vomit.
My day is on and off like this, wanting so badly to just laze around and feel sorry for myself, but having to put my two sick, clingy children’s needs first.
Night time is another story. I already know I’m not going to wake up feeling considerably better. Between the two kids, I get up 7 times. At 3.30am I’m up for an hour with Max. I jump back into bed and not even 10 minutes later I’m up again with Ava. 6am rolls around and both kids are crying, I’m also on the verge of crying. I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!
But then, in the midst of all the coughing and chaos, special moments happen. Like your daughter laughing at your son who is goofing around, causing him to laugh, and then they just laugh and laugh at each other.
Like all the extra cuddles you get – yeah they might be ‘clingy’ but sometimes sitting on the couch with both your kids almost falling asleep on you is just what you didn’t even know you really needed… and it gives you a little bit of time to watch the trash TV you’ve been so desperate to watch.
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P.S. Max did throw up. All over the carpet in the hallway. Sigh.

MOM GUILT

Mum guilt is a real thing. It’s not just a little ‘oh I feel a bit guilty about this’ thing, but a real, ‘deep in the bottom of your gut’ guilt.

When you think about having another child, or are pregnant with another child, you do start experiencing some of this mum guilt, you worry that baby number 1 might feel left out, get jealous, be upset… did you do the right thing? Maybe I should have waited until he was older and I could explain to him that no one was replacing him?
What nobody told me, however, was there’s a chance your mum guilt might not go that way. It’ll go in the opposite direction.
In my case, you’ll feel guilty for baby number 2.
Guilty for not spending the time with her that I got to spend with Max.
Guilty that every day she spends a whole lot of time by herself on the floor because I’m running around after Max, sorting out food for him, cleaning up his mess, making sure he’s not doing things he isn’t supposed to be doing.
I feel guilty that I don’t play with her as much, teach her things like I could with Max, and oh god the guilt is most definitely that ‘deep in the bottom of my gut’ guilt.
Last night, she fell asleep on Michael while he was cuddling her and that guilt crept back up, I could feel it in the back of my throat. I told Mike that I felt a bit sad about the fact that I just don’t have the time anymore. I don’t have the time to sit and cuddle my baby girl until she falls asleep. I’m too busy being a toddler mum. And I feel so guilty for it!
Michael handed her over to me, and she stayed sleeping. As I watched her sleep on my chest, I started crying. And I couldn’t stop.
Even writing this now, I’m trying to fight back my tears.
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My gorgeous girl, please don’t ever think that I don’t love you as much as I love your brother. I am so sorry that I haven’t spent more time with you, and I promise to start making a conscious effort to do so. Every chance I get to cuddle you until you fall asleep, I will take it. I will always be there for you, I will help you, I will teach you, I will love you.
Please never ever forget.

HALFWAY TO ONE: For my baby girl

WOW! 6 months already! 

These past 6 months with you have been amazing. You found your place in our little family so quickly, it almost feels like there was never a time without you.
I can’t wait to see you grow even more and I can’t wait to get to know you better.
It’s been so fun watching you learn. The shock and happiness on your face when you rolled over and weren’t expecting it. It was fun, right?! Because you kept doing it and you always ALWAYS had a massive smile on your face.

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 In fact, you’ve always got that massive smile on your face. You are such a happy baby. I thought Max was a happy baby, and he was, but you are on a whole new happiness level. I just have to make eye contact with you and you start squealing and doing your big gummy smile. I’m going to miss that when your teeth start coming through!
I love the weird dolphin noises you make when you’re happy and excited.  It’s so cute watching you reach for a toy and grabbing it, then laughing when the strange noise comes out of your mouth.
We’ve had some super special moments already. Like a couple of weeks ago when you fell asleep on my chest just to wake up 10 minutes later, lift your head to look at me and smile, then put your head back down and fall back to sleep. Or like tonight, when we were having cuddles and then you just started playing with my hair that had fallen across my face. Not pulling it, but gently lifting it up and letting it fall through your fingers.
You are so observant and so smart. You are more than happy to sit there and watch the world go by. You are in no rush to grow up fast but that’s okay because neither am I.
It was sad seeing all your thick, almost black hair fall out, but its exciting seeing it slowly grow back blonde (even if it does stick up in every direction).

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You are such a beautiful little girl. I can’t wait to see what colour your eyes are going to end up, I can’t wait to see you crawling and walking, I can’t want to hear you say mama for the first time and then every single time there after.
You and your brother are absolute chalk and cheese, and it makes it that much more exciting. I never think ‘oh I’ve done this before’ when it comes to you, because you are the polar opposite of Max and what worked with him doesn’t with you.
You’re the little girl I never thought I would need in my life, but I could never ever imagine a life without you. I’ll admit, I was absolutely terrified to have a girl. In some ways I still am, but not in the same ways as before. I’m terrified because in my eyes you could never do any wrong. I have so much patience with you, more than I have with Max. Maybe it’s because you’re sensitive and you need me to be more patient and understanding with you, or maybe it’s because you’re a girl and we just have this unspoken girl bond.

Before you were born I was worried that I could never love another baby the way I love Max. But the second I saw you, any doubt was gone. Just like he will always be my baby boy, you will always be my baby girl.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mama. I am so so lucky.

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27 REASONS TO CRY (according to an 18 month old)

Max has been having a bit of a ‘moment’ recently. He’s not quite himself. I’m putting it down to a mix of the 18 month sleep regression and teething – and possibly the fact hes approaching that dreaded age – the terrible twos. He’s been waking up every 2-3 hours in the night which is NOT like him at all (hes been an all night sleeper since 6 weeks old), and then is a stroppy, tired mess throughout the day.
And do you know what I find stressful? Having a stroppy, tired mess of a toddler.

 These are the reasons why Max cried today.
(I mean actually cried. Real tears. All other grizzles, fake cries and grumpy faces are not included in this list.)

I told him to go back to bed at 4.30am.
– He didn’t want to eat his toast.
– He wanted to go back to bed at 8am.
– He didn’t want to get into bed.
– He put his wuddles* in the drawer and couldn’t get it back out.
– He wanted to read a book.
– He didn’t want ME to read the book.
– I changed his nappy.
– The pants I put on him when I got him dressed didn’t have pockets.
– He wanted my toast.
– Wreck it Ralph finished.
– I wanted to take a photo with him.

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 – His gumboots got wet after he jumped in a puddle.
– I wouldn’t let him go back outside after we had just come inside to dry his gumboots.
– He wanted my biscuit even though he had his own biscuit.
– My biscuit had a bite out of it.
– He finished his biscuit.
– Michael rang and it wasn’t nana on the phone.
– I hung up before he could say bye.
– I had to change his nappy again.
– I told him he had to sit down while in his highchair.
– He had to get in his pajamas.
– We watched normal TV instead of Wreck it Ralph.
– The Harry Styles song finished.
– It was bedtime.
– He wanted another bottle at 9.30pm.
– He wanted another bottle at 11pm.

 All I can literally think is oh my god what have I got myself into? Ava is going to hit this age soon enough and then what?! She is already Miss Sensitive! Not to mention she holds grudges! When she’s this age, Max is going to be right in the middle of those terrible twos. When Ava hits the terrible twos Max will be a threenager. Oh my god what have we done.
No wonder you always hear about mums drinking wine every night!

 *Wuddles: His ratty old cuddly toy hes had since birth and carries around everywhere. Will not sleep without it. Wuddles is his best friend.

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12 THINGS I WOULD TELL MY YOUNGER SELF

What would you say to a younger version of yourself?

 First off, I would say thank you for not giving up. There have been moments in my life where things have been pretty bad. There were multiple days where I called up sick from work just because I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. Nights of uncontrollable crying, violent shaking and thoughts no one really wants to have. I was tired of feeling alone and disconnected from everyone and everything. I had no meaning in my life, and I didn’t really feel like living. But some part of me kept telling myself to keep my head up and that things would eventually get better.

 I would tell myself that its okay to be honest with myself, and with my feelings. It would have saved a lot of time and possible hurt in the future.

 I would tell myself that my parents are not out to ruin my life, that they’ve been in my angsty teenage shoes before and ultimately, they‘re right. They aren’t trying to control your life, they’re just looking out for you, because they were once just like you.

 I’d tell myself to not get caught up in high school drama and focus on school work. You were once so bright and top of the class but you let what others think of you take over and then you started falling behind.

 Don’t take everything so personally. I’ll admit, I still do this now, but I am working on it. Just because your cousin got to live with your grandparents didn’t actually mean they didn’t love you enough to ask you to live with them too. It wasn’t your fault that the cat ran out on the road and got hit by a car, and the cat certainly didn’t do it in spite of you. It also wasn’t your fault that your parents split up. That’s just what people do.

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Stay true to yourself. Yeah, pretending to be someone you’re not might win you some temporary friends but I can promise you they wont still be there in 5 years time.

 Be smart with your money. Don’t spend it on stupid stuff, and don’t spend it all on alcohol. Save. You’ll need it. Don’t get out a $20,000 loan when you’re 19, because you’ll still be paying it when you’re married with kids. Actually, don’t get any loans at all. If you want something, save your money and pay for it yourself.

 Not everyone you meet will be as nice as you.

 Trust yourself. Trust your intuition. That guy you have a weird feeling about? Yeah, he is a creep. And that thing that you had a bad feeling about but still did it anyway? Lets just say that you should have listened to your gut on that one.

 Ignore those judgemental people. 9 times out of 10 you have something they want.

 If he doesn’t feel the same way about you, it doesn’t mean you are not good enough. Don’t be so hard on yourself, in hindsight you were spared.

 Lastly, I would tell myself that it will all be okay. It might not feel like it sometimes, but it will be. Life will always be full of ups and downs, but remember that after the rain comes a rainbow and you will be okay.

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BIRTH STORIES: The good, the bad, and the ugly

[Before I write Max’s birth story, I’d just like to point out that it was an extremely drawn out process. I spent 2 nights in hospital at 34 weeks because I started having contractions and they had to monitor both Max and myself. Once they finally discharged me, I was put on temporary bed rest until 37 weeks when I entered the ‘safe zone’. Everyone was surprised that I even made it to my due date without giving birth, let alone going as overdue as I did.]

October 17th, 2015
Michael and my dads birthday. I woke up at 6am and called ahead to Rotorua Hospital to let them know we were about to make the hour journey over. I had done this for the past 3 days, each day they told me not to come, they didn’t have room for me and to try again tomorrow.
Once again, they told me to try again the next day as there still wasn’t room for me. Holding back tears, I told them I was two weeks overdue, I had to come today. Poor lady, she had to speak to her supervisor to make sure it was okay if I went over. Her supervisor, however, had the nerve to ask why I hadn’t called earlier and I shouldn’t have left it until I was exactly two weeks overdue.
I should have known that was the start of a horrible, long day.

At 10am, they did an internal to decide which route of induction I needed to go down. I was nearly 5cm although not in labour, so they decided to break my waters and see how it goes from there. Unfortunately, that threw my birth plan completely out the window – I was hoping for a water birth but discovered there was meconium in my waters so instead Max had to be monitored constantly via a wire they screwed into his head and taped to my thigh. Within 10 minutes, the contractions came on thick and fast. I wasn’t expecting that, if I’m being honest. You always hear stories on how you start feeling niggles and then you start timing your contractions to see if they’re close enough to be considered ‘labour’. It wasn’t like that at all. It was knock-you-to-your-knees contractions from the outset.
After a couple of hours, I requested the gas and air for some pain relief. More hours went past, and by 4pm I felt I was ready to start pushing.
They let me get off the bed and squat down next to it. I was there for maybe 20 minutes but that got too hard. So I moved to the toilet. My midwife had told me that it was really common to give birth on the toilet, you’re in a more comfortable position and your body naturally opens up more. Still no luck.
By about 8pm I was exhausted. It had been 4 hours since I started pushing and I was in so much pain. I think I had been asking for an epidural for a while now, my gas had run out and I had been waiting a good hour for a refill and I just needed a break from the constant contractions.

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They eventually let me have Remifentanil, which was a experience in itself. One of the side effects is it lowers the levels of oxygen in your blood, so you have to be monitored constantly. When your levels drop, an alarm on the machine goes off and generally whoever is around has to give you a bit of a slap and tell you to breathe. Or maybe the slap part was just something Michael enjoyed doing?
At about 10pm, they hooked me up to pitocin as I wasn’t quite fully dilated. By that stage, they had taken the Remifentanil off me, as I kept falling asleep and not doing what my body was telling me to. There were two midwives in the room, trying to get me to push, but I was too exhausted. I started sleeping through contractions, and I completely lost the urge to push. Most of this time is a blur to me – a blur of people yelling at me, telling me I wasn’t doing it right, threatening to get a surgeon in (which by this stage, was all I wanted.)
I ended up having to be in stirrups which is by far the worst position to be in while in labour. There was so much pain in my back and my anxiety was through the roof. I felt trapped, so I tried to pull my feet down and put them back on the bed. The next thing I knew, my entire body felt like it was on fire, and then I felt cold – if you could feel colours, I felt white. I would later learn that this was the moment I most likely fractured my tailbone.

Just before midnight they called a surgeon. He didn’t arrive until 1am. He took one look down there and the first thing he said was ‘this baby isn’t coming out on its own’. Like where the hell were you 6 hours ago?! By this stage I had been pushing for approximately 9 hours, I had all pain relief taken off me and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
I was told they were going to have to do an assisted delivery, and Max was going to have to be suctioned out. I was also told that it had to be done quickly, Max’s heart rate was doing crazy things and there were now more people in the room setting up and getting ready to take Max away. As the surgeon was getting all of this things prepared and I was preparing myself to FINALLY have my baby in a few short minutes, I had that white coloured feeling again. I looked at mum with wide eyes, asking what had happened. I saw she had tears in her eyes and she told me it was just the baby. I tried to look down and I saw scissors – they had cut me. Without being told, without having any form of pain relief, they performed an episiotomy. Before I could even get my head around what had just happened, the surgeon was telling me to push as hard as I could while he pulled.

 At 1.24am on the 18th of October – weighing an almighty 10pounds 5ounces, Max Jonathan James Louder was born.

 Recovery was horrible. I felt like I had been hit by a truck 50 times over. People were telling me to sit down and relax, but it hurt so bad to sit. All of my stitches healed after about a month. My back took until I was approximately 7 months pregnant with Ava to feel better. But, I got a beautiful baby boy out of it and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

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Ava’s birth story isn’t as full on (thank god).

When I was a couple of days past 37 weeks, I had my first stretch and sweep. Her weight and size had been closely monitored my whole pregnancy because Max was so big. I had multiple scans (which was extremely lucky as Ava was stubborn during the 20 week scan and wouldn’t show us if she was a boy or girl), and it was concluded that she was going to be a decent size baby. I had 3 sweeps all up, the last one being the day before she was born. My midwife (different midwife from my last, I must add) had told me to expect to have her either that night or the next day.
At 11pm I had a bit of a show, and started getting small niggles every now and then but I ignored it and went to bed.

23rd November 2016
Michael and I took Max for a long walk in the morning. He had taken the day off as well as my mum, since we pretty much knew today was going to be the day. While we were walking I was still having weird fluttering feelings but nothing bad. When we got home, Max went down for a nap and we played Mario Kart for a couple of hours. I started timing the feelings I was having as I noticed they were getting stronger. Just before lunch, my mum, nana and cousin came around with some food. I was enjoying my croissant while bouncing on my swiss ball and then I felt a small gush. I had sprung a leak. I text my midwife to let her know, and we planned to meet at the maternity ward at 1pm.
We left home and I stopped to have a chat with some other people staying in our apartment block, and they commented about how I looked like I was ready to pop. Their faces were priceless when I said I was actually in labour and on my way to the hospital! Then the most typical thing happened… we ran into road works. The road was closed so we had to go the long way. I *think* that’s when Michael started stressing a bit.
As I was getting out of the car, I had my first almighty leg-buckling contraction. From where we had parked to the doors of the maternity ward, I had 3 more strong contractions. The lovely midwives working there knew I was on my way and had the water running to fill the pool – I was going to be able to have the water birth I always wanted.
I got in to pool and used gas and air periodically during my contractions. The biggest thing that helped me was watching the ripples in the water as I breathed through them.

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The whole experience was amazing. Obviously I was in an insane amount of pain, but I kept my cool pretty well. It wasn’t invasive, it was just me in the pool, my mum was putting cold flannels on my face and Michael was holding the gas for me in case I wanted it. I will admit, I did cry when it was time to push. I think I was just so scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it like last time.

I pushed for half an hour and it was over.

 At 2.44pm, Ava June Louder made her swift entrance into the world, and I was able to grab her and pull her up to me. She weighed 9pounds 6ounces, a bit bigger than expected, but she was tiny in our eyes. She was born at 38 weeks 5 days which made her fall into the 100th percentile for her weight, which would usually mean she had to be monitored and tested for diabetes but because of my ‘history’ of big babies it was determined she was completely fine. I had a small tear on my episiotomy scar, but as long as I didn’t cross my legs or do yoga any time soon I could get away with no stitches.

I almost cried when Michael got to cut the cord – something he wasn’t able to do with Max. I almost cried again when an hour and a half later I walked to my room from the birthing suite without any help. I showered without any help. I was able to sit up, get up, move around and lay down without help.

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I went from giving birth in a room with bright lights, surgeons, and a team of people ready to take my baby away from me, to a dimly lit room, in a pool with my music playing and the closest people I felt I had next to me.

 Everyone’s birthing experience is different, and every birth is different. I went from one extreme to the other. Thinking I was literally going to die to thinking I could easily do that again.
…But I have no intentions of ever doing that again.