“My baby is a great sleeper”…said no-one, ever.

There’s that one day during the first year of your child’s life that you sit down with your cup of hot tea and your novel and you think something’s very, very wrong, why is he asleep, I should check him, he’s probably not breathing, like the only reason he could possible sleep this long is if he’s dead right, this tea is too hot, this cannot be real. Then there are the other 364 days of that year that you stand by the cot rocking him a little tiny bit too vigorously praying to anyone and everyone that he will just close his eyes. I spend a lot of time talking/crying with other parents about babies and sleep. For a little human being that needs a great deal of rest they sure don’t want it!?!

Here is a little list of things that can reduce a grown adult to tears, hopefully of laughter as you read, but remember that parents cry real-exasperated-I-give-up tears as a reaction to these evil, evil, evil things. 

1. Other people’s children. Do children even go to school at all these days?! It seems like there is always a child outside your window crying/playing/screeching like a banshee. Where are the truancy officers, it cannot be school holidays AGAIN?!! And shouldn’t these kids be inside on the Xbox anyway? MY child will not be like that, he will play quietly and gently in the garden respecting all other parents and their wide awake despite four hours of rocking/jiggling/singing (if you can call it that) babies.

2. Rubbish day. We dread rubbish day. It’s once a week, why is it every single week? And why the heck hasn’t someone invented silent trucks yet? And why wouldn’t the nice recycling man not be open to my fabulous suggestion of please placing each jar and tin and bottle individually and gently into the truck?! And perhaps if you could park the truck at the end of the road and just walk down to get the bins thanks? That would be great, much appreciated. 

3. Grass. More specifically, growing grass. Another machine that would be immediately embraced by the parenting community would be silent lawnmowers. Mrs next door I swear to god you mowed that lawn yesterday!!!!!! As for you Mr diagonally opposite, you were definitely out there mowing this morning and you’re out there mowing again this afternoon. And honestly both of your lawns put together aren’t as long as our lawn which hasn’t seen a mower in the last 6 months (who am I kidding? Twelve months). 

4. Car doors. Seriously we have soft close kitchen cabinets and I’ve definitely used one of those fancy soft close toilet seats, where the hell are the soft close car doors??? And you definitely weren’t hiding a soccer team in that family wagon, so how do four of you possible need to open and close the doors 49 times before you make it inside the house?Don’t come home in your car during the day, or at night actually, just don’t come home. In fact probably best if you move away. Far away. 

5. Cots/bassinets/Moses baskets/Pepi-pods/any baby sleep receptacle: how is it that babies are allergic to the very thing that was specifically designed for them to sleep in? It doesn’t matter how long they have been blissfully asleep in your arms for, doesn’t matter how many times you’ve coughed, or jiggled to test the depth of sleep, the second they feel their head touch their bed it’s like panic stations as those eyes whip open and stare at you, ‘you think I don’t know what you’re doing woman?! Nice try, now pick me up out of this snuggly, warm, perfectly made cot of HELL and get me back in your arms, you’re not DOING anything today, how many times do I have to tell you?”

And finally…

6. The most evil disturber of sleep ever invented that half of us can’t live without, the pacifier. Oh you trickster, you bringer of false sleep, you magical comforter turned sleep destroyer!!! They want it, they blissfully suck it, they fall beautifully asleep, right? Deeply, soundly asleep, like we do the second our heads hit the pillow these days. It lolls out of their mouth and you let it sit there because you’re too scared to move, they roll their head over and it falls out. Still asleep? *sigh*. The relief. It’s done. Magic. 

Then BAM, crisis-mum-it-fell-out-of-my-mouth, where is it where is it WHERE IS IT!?!!!! 

Don’t fight it parents. Sit down with a hand towel (a flannel is not enough, trust me) and cry. He’s not asleep anyway, so you can sob as loud as you like, while you dream of the day he’s a teenager and he won’t STOP sleeping. 

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The Birthday Series: Part Three.

For Oliver.

There is a joke that goes around amongst NICU families that we each have ourselves a million-dollar-baby. And while it’s generally lighthearted there is an element of truth in this, as these babies require extremely expensive equipment and medical supplies to keep them alive and well while they are growing in hospital. While Waikato NICU is high class and has phenomenal equipment they are also restricted by funding and rely on the generous donations of things like The Countdown Kids Appeal, which they share with the entire Waikids unit. Right now on their Wishlist they have a cardiac monitor, to keep an eye on the tiny beating hearts of these miracles, and an EEG machine to measure the electrical activity of their little brains as they grow and develop.
What does this have to do with the 29th of May? We are not having a party for our boy this year, as I’ve already touched on. However we still wanted to get him a gift. So we have decided to use the money we would have spent on his celebrations and gifts to start off the collections for a cardiac monitor and an EEG machine. We also have a couple of plans up our sleeves to get some larger fundraising happening, as we are aiming for roughly $35,000. But we wanted to let you know that if you had wanted to get Oliver something for his first birthday we would greatly appreciate it if you put a little drop into our pool. 
For william and myself, it is a small way that we can say thank you to the magical unit that saved our boys and set them free, by providing them with the equipment that could do the same for so many more children to come. This is something that is very important to us, but we understand that it is not the same for everyone else, so we do not expect you to donate if it isn’t something you are happy with, and we also understand that money can be tight, so please do not worry if it’s not possible for you right now. 

If you would like to ‘get Oliver a gift’ or you know anyone who would be interested in helping us help these little babies then please stay tuned here for a link to our give-a-little page. We are just awaiting some paperwork from the hospital and then we can get underway! 

Thank you so much for being there with us over the last 12 months. We could not have survived without each and every one of you. As we enter the month of May and process a lot of the grief that comes with it we always come back to how amazingly supported we are. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Xx

The Birthday Series: Part Two

May 29, 2016.

Last year we did nothing. We were pregnant. Then we weren’t and we were surviving. We didn’t have fun or go away anywhere. Winter is usually a time that we escape to the South Island and we tramp in the hills and breathe the mountain air, and end up thigh deep in snow because it’s always ‘the biggest storm of the winter’ halfway through our walks! 

Last winter we sat next to incubators and hoped.

This year, although getting out of the house for an hour sometimes feels like an impossible task, we are going away. We need a break and a change of scenery. We need a positive outlook and a confidence boost. We need mountains and we need space. Personally, and I can’t speak for William, but I need to be miles away from our house on the 29th of May. We are sorry to all of the people who will miss us (who am I kidding, not us, Oliver!!) and we are not going as a way to get away from visitors entirely. We love how many people love our boy and how much joy he gets from seeing and having cuddles with you all. But this isn’t about you. It’s about us. Which is extremely selfish, but also necessary. This entire journey we have tried to stay true to ourselves, because if you’ve gotta walk through hell you should be able to do it your own way. 

So we are off! 

Doing the crazy, impossible and daunting (you should see my lists!! I have a list of my lists, that’s how intense the planning is). We are heading to Queenstown for five long glorious weeks. We will walk by the lake, stare at the mountains, do short bush walks and snuggle inside on the stormy days. And reflect. We will reflect on the last 12 months and how we have changed and grown. I also plan to take some time to try and let go of some of my anger. Anger at the world for shaking our lives to the very core. Anger at all the people who get to have what we didn’t and never will. And anger at myself for everything I wish I’d done differently. I’m hoping to come back a better person. A more supportive and positive person. A little bit more of the person I used to be. 

And the 29th? We will not eat spaghetti the night before (that’s how trauma works, you remember the stupid little things…), we will wake up and hold Oliver tight. We will talk about Charlie together. We will cry. And we will breathe as the day rolls over into a new year. A better year. 
  

The Birthday series: Part One

I had originally planned to write this as a single post, but I think it could end up a little long, so I’ve split it into three. Sorry. 
Part 1. May 29, 2015 

The 29th of May is creeping up fast and I’ve found I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I don’t talk too much about the labour, it was scary, devastating and a mess of drugs and people that is hard to process. There was no control, no happiness, just fear and regret. I wanted more than anything to go back in time, as I realised that day that the pain I had been having for weeks and weeks was not okay, it wasn’t normal, and although I had spoken to specialists about it I should have spoken louder. 

Our precious babies were taken from us the minute they arrived out into this world and they were brought back to life. If they hadn’t been intubated immediately they would have gently stopped the breathing that they had only just begun, if in fact they had been able to begin it on their own at all. Although I don’t wish it now, as i’m cuddled up with a sleeping boy in my arms, there have been and still will be days where I wonder if perhaps we should have held them in our arms that day and let them go. And if we ever do try for more children (that’s a post for another day) and they put us in the same position I’ll be speaking up to stop. To ask for a minute to just think. To decide if this is the road we go down. 

I think we did get asked that last year, but in the heat of it all I don’t remember the discussion. But with experience behind us now it would be considered differently.

Physically home is different now which is fantastic. We sleep in our bedroom, not the lounge, and the living area is completely renovated into a new, light space (okay not completely, but it’s almost there!!). This has become a focus point for me as it allows me to separate the memories. I can be in this house and not want to run for the hills as the memories rush past. But I’m still dreading it. I’m dreading the night of the 28th of May, knowing that that was when it started. I know this now. Dreading going to sleep wishing you’d made a million different choices. What if, what if, what if. Dreading waking up on the 29th knowing what that morning had in store for us. 

This year, because Oliver will be 8 months corrected and not aware that it’s his birthday we won’t be celebrating. There won’t be a birthday gathering or a fun filled day of birthday activities because to be honest we just need to survive the first one. This birthday is the one that we get to allocate to sadness. To crying and wallowing, for Oliver and for Charlie and for the parenting experiences that we will never get back. 

Next year we will party. There will be cake, and balloons, and guests and smiles. And Oliver will be beside himself with excitement. But to be able to do that we need to have this first one quietly.
  

Fall back. 

It’s completely the opposite of what I should be doing right now, it’s after midnight and I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because I’m a parent and the clocks change tonight. It’s our first one. So naturally we are crapping ourselves at the possibility of an extra, extra early wake up, because no one tells the kids that they can have an extra hours sleep and it’ll be heavenly. So while you’re all lying in your cosy beds and rejoicing over the ‘fall back’ of the clocks, and how much you’re going to absolutely make the most of that glorious extra hour, spare a seconds thought for all of the parents lying tensely in their beds, eyes tightly shut but sleep mysteriously absent, as they wait, anxious and terrified of the wake up they will receive at some truly ridiculous hour. 

And then take another second to think of all the parents of kids with feeding ‘issues’ and how we all sat down before bed tonight and tried to figure out the best way to transition the feeds into the new timing without starving our children, but also without changing everything so much that it would take days to crawl it back to the timing that works. 

I don’t even know if we have really figured it out, and I’m guessing Sunday is going to be a bit of a mess for a lot of mums and dads. It’s okay, don’t worry about a shower, in fact don’t even get dressed, just get through the day. 

Please let the coffee shops be open early, like, early early. 

In fact, maybe I should have one now, just to be prepared?