There is always cake.

I am a big birthday person. I LOVE them. Like really love them. They are full of happiness, kindness, excitement and just really damn special. I’ve always tried to have things planned (mostly the food) and the more people you can share it with the better. Which is lucky because my husband is one of those miserable about being a year older kind of birthday people and his is the day before mine. Someone has to make that week fun!!! 
For a birthday enjoyer to be honest I’ve had my fair share of crappy birthdays. There was that one at primary school when I had a raging pneumonia. Then the one at intermediate where I was literally DYING of tonsillitis, in fact I’m pretty sure there have been at least three tonsillitis birthdays (don’t worry, those bad boys have been removed, life is so much better but that’s a story for another day). My dad passed away two days before my 20th birthday, so I was pretty keen for birthdays not to exist that year. And to be honest ever since then they have had this shadow over them that is hard to shake. 

This year although I still made sure my birthday had some excellent food and a little fun it wasn’t the most significant birthday in my mind anymore. It’s amazing (and everyone tells you this but you still don’t quite get it) how everything that was important in your life before children really doesn’t matter once you have them. Now, the only birthday of true significance is Charlie and Oliver’s. 

I know a lot of people struggle with our approach sometimes, we do tend to focus on the hard stuff, the sad stuff, the stuff that tears you apart. And so when we decided to take this first birthday as our day to fall apart I was reminded by so many people to celebrate the year milestone and the good things and how well Oliver is doing. But honestly, that isn’t what I wanted or needed to do. I want to do that for every single birthday he has after this one. I want there to be parties and friends, family, food and fun. I don’t want shadows on Oliver’s day because that’s not fair. But to do that we needed to have one big dark shadowy birthday. So that next year when the 29th of May comes around we know we have mourned the day and we can let the light in.   

So thank you for letting us do yet another thing our way. Thank you for missing us while we are away and for giving us the space to just be. And thank you, massive massive thank you, to everyone who popped a little something into Oliver’s NICU birthday present. We are off to a fantastic start!! 
https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/charlieandoliver


 

A moment shared. 

Mumma’s taking a back seat today. 

From Charlie and Oliver’s Dad, on a hilltop. 

“A moment shared 
I had a little moment today, a couple of days away from when our boys were born this time last year. I wish I was writing that the moment was happy, but it wasn’t truly. That day was my most fearful, most confused day of my life. No excitement, no anticipation, no relief but still a grain of hope though; it’s amazing what human hope can survive – where there seems to be nothing sustainable for anything good it stills pushes through like life in dead earth, but it was the wrong hope. 

A medical team, calm but rushing, Rebecca being moved and examined, hooked up to last minute meds as just a vector for the twins, she convulsed, passed out then woke up, scared, vomiting.

I don’t know what my first act as dad was meant to be, but in keeping my boys safe I felt I had failed, this was the feeling I was eventually left with and still live with, for both of them but Charlie most.

When Charlie died we found out that we could have casts of his hands and feet made. We took him home and we slept with him between us, I would wake through the night and nuzzle him or stroke him, he was cold but it gave me comfort. I’m grateful for this part of Charlie, but it’s strange to think now that the memory of Charlie I hold in my hands is a dental polymer, it’s such a confusing thought to try and reconcile – instead of holding and stroking his pink soft feet, we hang on to this.

In the past year I have cried a lot, wracking, heaving sobs for my boys and if it was practical I probably still would be. And so today, I had a moment. It struck me, not like a revelation but more a blow to my knees, that I wasn’t going to have a boy hang off each leg as I tried to walk around the house, that I was never going to get another moment for my first child, that our year with Oliver will have changed being a parent for me forever.

So on Sunday we will celebrate Our boys, we will miss Charlie, play with Oliver, cry for loss and get through the day. 

And I will carry Charlie with me”.

I was grumpy yesterday, sorry.

I’m super positive and encouraging and I tell Oliver 20 million times a day how proud of him I am, and how well we think he’s doing. But damnit some days I’m sick of it. 
I’m sick of the positive attitude and the ‘it’ll get better soon’ mentality. Im sick of the feeding pump alarm, and rinsing the giving sets. I’m sick of the medications that need to be before his feeds, but not too close or he will just throw it and all of the milk straight back up again. I’m sick of leaping out of bed every single morning to clean up his vomit, and then catch the next three while I hold him and try to convince him it’s okay to sleep again. I’m sick of rocking him to sleep because he can’t settle himself because there’s always milk filling his belly and he hates it. I’m sick of throwing away piles of food because he won’t or can’t eat it. I’m sick of trying 10 different spoons every meal to convince him to open his mouth. I’m sick of getting my hopes up yesterday because he ate 30g of food and then being bitterly disappointed today because I couldn’t convince him to eat 3g of food. I’m sick of being scared when he is eating that we will go too far and he will just throw it up anyway. I’m sick of trying to keep him happy and distracted because he’s so tired all day long because he doesn’t get enough energy from his meals. I’m sick of having to keep him awake when all he wants is to sleep because it’s not a feed time and if he sleeps now and not with the feed then I’ve gotta hold him for the hour feed and stand on a towel for when he throws it all up. I’m sick of having to time every single second of our lives around his feeding. I’m sick of crying after I put a new NG tube down his nose, because he looked at me through his tear stained eyes as I did it and I knew he hated it. I’m sick of retaping his face knowing every time it makes him more and more adverse to people touching his face. I’m sick of forcing him to do his exercises for fear of him becoming developmentally delayed. I’m sick of hoping someone will give us an answer and never, ever getting one. And I’m completely and utterly sick of getting frustrated at Oliver when I know that not one single thing in this big horrible list is his fault. 

He’s doing his complete, absolute best. And I’m even sick of that. I’m sick of him having to do his best when he should just be able to do what he wants and that’s all that should matter. 

One day this won’t be how we live, I know that. But right now it’s all day, everyday. So I’m just taking a moment to tell the world how sick of it I am. And it’s okay to be sick of it. It doesn’t mean I don’t love Oliver or that I want to give up. In fact I think it means I love him so much I want everything to be different for him, he deserves better. So we breathe in, and out. And we make it as good as we can for him, as often as we can. And some days we breeze through. And some we don’t. And ain’t that just life? 

Poor boobies.

This is it. I’m sitting down (and for once I’ve remembered to bring water with me and if you’ve been with me when I’ve pumped you’ll know how rarely that happens!!), and I’m pumping. For the absolute very last time. 

I’m three weeks away from having expressed breast milk for an entire year. It seems silly to stop when you’re just three weeks away, but I’m determined to have a proper holiday. No pump, no watching the clock, no finding the time, no hoping he sleeps a little longer so I can finish. I’ve slowly weaned down over the last few weeks and we have been transitioning Oliver to formula over the last two months. 

You start pumping because you tell yourself you want the milk to be there for when you start to breastfeed. And the hardest part about stopping is the realisation that there’s no breastfeeding. There won’t ever be. That ship has sailed. It’s been blown through a storm. And it’s been well and truly sunk. 

I’m sad. Sad for the loss of it, and the knowledge that once it’s gone it can’t come back. But as I sit here and look at that machine I’m sad that I won’t use it again, that I’ll clean this equipment after this and that’ll be something ridiculous like the 2,065th time that I’ll have cleaned it (yup…I calculated) and I won’t clean it again. 

I’m also sad that my breasts are going back to just being breasts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also extremely bloody happy about this, and trying not to get too depressed about the fact that they are now, and will forevermore be saggy deflated balloons…but I’m sad that they won’t provide anymore. They are just regular old boobies, not life sustaining boobies. Poor boobies. 

I’m also sad because I’m leaving a big part of the NICU behind me now. I spent hours in that pump room, I’ve talked to so many mum’s about pumping, and we have all drawn closer together because of it. And now I’m not in that group anymore. 

Oh and obviously there’s the milk guilt of course. You know, because it’s important as a mother to punish yourself no matter how you do something, or which choice you make. So there’s that. Oliver will end up an axe murderer because I stopped pumping three weeks too early. Oliver will end up an axe murderer because we are giving him regular formula and not goats milk. Oliver will end up an axe murderer because I didn’t keep providing breast milk for him until he went to high school. 

I’ve been practicing a daily mantra, and to every single mum out there who has struggled to pump, struggled to breastfeed, struggled to make milk, I’d recommend it. It’s simple and short, but it’s true. 

“You did well, he had some of your milk, it’s okay to stop”. 

Silly. But I’ve said it to myself every day, multiple times a day for the last two months because other people can yell that at you continuously and it means nothing until you believe it yourself. 

You did well. He had some of your milk. It’s okay to stop. 

So tomorrow I’ll twiddle my thumbs while Oliver sleeps (ha!), I’ll have a huge glass of wine and I’ll wear a normal SUPPORTIVE UNDERWIRE bra during the day and NO BRA at night and it will be sadness and relief and exhilaration all at the same time. 

Mumma’s, you did well. He had some of your milk. It’s okay to stop.