Two weeks later

And here we are two weeks later and it feels like he’s always been with us.

 

We really hit the ground running, with an eventful week leading up to the birth, and there’s still a lot happening. The due date came and went…I spent some of the day out with Sam trying to distract myself from the fact that I was still pregnant.

 The Friday was Emma’s birthday and we spent the day at the pools with cousins and Uncle, and finished off with cheesecake. The following day she was treated to see the Russian ballet perform Swan Lake and went to that with her Aunty and cousin. I wished I could have joined them, but as it turns out I went into labour late that night so rather glad I didn’t. Especially since it was in Tanunda, about an hour or more drive away.

So this brings us to the early hours of Sunday morning. In labour –  contractions are sore enough not to sleep anymore, but not so bad I couldn’t take bad self portraits.

At 6am he was born with my family there and my excellent Gaskin-esque midwife offering support from the sidelines.(Ina May Gaskin is a new hero of mine – I will be telling every pregnant woman I know to read/watch as much of her material as possible) Doug delivered him straight into my arms and all was well. I have difficulty already remembering the pain, except that I do know that it was really really painful. For those interested in such things, like Ryan (my third born), he was a star gazer, meaning that although he was head down, he was facing the front which is the opposite to the ideal. In my experience it’s a more painful second stage, and the pain feels more scary or out of control and I’m really grateful for the encouragement and support of Doug and the midwives.

About an hour later and we were tucked up in bed where the two of us stayed for the rest of the day and most of the next two.

Two days later Ben’s birthday. He spent the day sliding down hills on ice blocks with the home schooling crowd, had Hungry Jacks for lunch and again, finished off with cheesecake at home. He had a party on Sunday at ten pin bowling.

Sunday night heralded the start of a gastro that swept through most of our family. Fortunately Joel and I escaped and didn’t get sick. but everyone else had their turn over a period of 48 hours, one night we had two boys taking turns vomiting through the night interspersed only by a baby waking for feeds. Wow, that was a fun way to spend the wee hours.

It left as quickly as it started though and by Tuesday we were all back on track, just in time for Doug to start work – an orientation day. My first day with all 5 children by myself, and by then we were all suffering a severe case of cabin fever. For me it was 9 days straight inside the house. So we headed out to the playground, Joel’s first outing at the park. It was a really hot day, the older kids played under the sprinklers at the playground and begged to swim at the beach, but I wasn’t quite ready to deal with 4 wet kids and a car full of sand.

Since then we’ve been busy with ballet rehearsals for Emma’s end of year show, and some children have been getting messy with food.

And what else?  Making the most of every moment and trying to savour these newborn things that don’t last very long at all – like fuzzy hair and brand new feet that have never been used.

As predicted, the baby did arrive

Here he is. Meet Joel. He arrived on the 11th November, at home with my family and with the help of an excellent midwife. He weighed 9lb 3oz, or 4.1kg. It’s so good to finally hold him, and we are all so happy.

The build up to labour

It’s a sunny 29 degrees here in Adelaide today. Ryan is outside playing in the sprinkler, something that we used to do as kids and is a novelty for our children. I don’t recall ever having to water the lawn in New Zealand. Here already the grasses are looking dry and we haven’t even hit summer yet.

Due to the warmer temperature and the imminent due date of this baby, I am rather puffy. My ankles disappear on hot days and my toes are like little sausages. In addition to this minor complaint, I have felt a steady and powerful build up of anticipation and  hormones. It feels a bit like the build up to a monsoon. Each day gets more intense, but you’re never sure if you’re right on the brink or if you still have days or weeks to go. Not my favourite experience. Anyway, I have compiled a list of things that every day become more evident as the birth approaches. Here’s hoping labour is just around the corner.

 

Insomnia

As evening approaches, I feel increasingly tired. I get ready for bed as usual, wind down with a book, tuck in to sleep and then it begins. Overwhelming and persistent restlessness.

It starts with wriggling to try to get comfortable with the gargantuan baby bump in the way. There are only two sleeping positions remaining. Left side or right side. Right side is generally out because I have the increasing need for feeling space in front of me and the claustrophobia of facing the middle of the bed forces me back onto my left side.

Then I get hot feet, so I stick them out the side. Then my legs get cold. Then I get restless leg syndrome and simply can’t keep still. Then inevitably, the baby starts wriggling uncomfortably. Or I get heart burn. Or thirsty. Or need to pee. And so it goes on. I get up and try all manner of things. Have a drink, go to the toilet, change clothes, have a shower, read a book, listen to music. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, nothing settles me. It seems as though my body is simply determined and it WILL NOT SLEEP until the clock ticks around to approximately 1am.

Last night it was 1:45am…I climbed back into bed after a middle of the night shower and finally drifted off to sleep. This of course is all perfect preparation for the nights when I’ll be up with a baby who also simply WILL NOT SLEEP.

The Belly. How I see it.

Mood swings

One minute I’m feeling happy, energetic, motivated and positive about the birth. Then a family member happens to leave crumbs on the counter, or drips water on the clean floor, or leaves toys scattered about under my feet then beware of Hulk Mum. Screeching scoldings follow, and rants about having ‘Just cleaned this house!’ and “FIVE minutes! Can’t it just stay tidy for FIVE minutes?!” The tone of voice is piercingly unpleasant and whiney, the facial expression is dark and scary. 

Hell hath no fury.

But wait…only a few moments after the Hulk attack, scary Mum dissolves into a puddle of tears and slumps down on a chair and weeps out apologies for the rage. I feel like a terrible mother and wonder what I am doing with all these children and how on earth I am going to cope with another. I sniffle away for a while. The children are getting used to it and offer hugs or just quietly walk past and tell their Dad matter-of-factly “When I walked past Mum she was crying”. Which leads me to the next two.

 

Weeping

I think I have cried every day for the last 7-10 days. Under normal circumstances, I’m not a frequent crier. But wow. Various things can set me off at the moment.

At our trip to the beach last weekend, I cried because I wanted to swim, but it was a bit cold for me, so I cried in the hot sun for about 25 minutes at my own pathetic-ness.

The other day I cried because Ben was catching flies with his bare hands, and put one it a jar. It died and spawned all it’s disgusting little larvae out into the jar and the kids showed me. I cried because it was repulsive to me “Get it out! Get it out of the house, it’s disgusting!” I said as I burst into tears at the sheer yuckiness.

I cry when I realise how moody and difficult I am and how kind my husband and family are to put up with me so patiently.

I cry when I feel overwhelmed at all the things that are on over the next 2 months. Birthday (four of them), end of year events, Christmas, and of course a birth.

And when it all gets too much, I cry because I’m so tired of crying all the time. Yes. I know.

 

Nesting

Today I woke up feeling tired from lack of sleep, and could quite happily have spent the day in bed. However, around mid-morning, an overwhelming desire to have a clean and tidy house came over me and I found myself cleaning, sorting and tidying obsessively. Again, under normal circumstance, while I like clean and tidy, I’m not a clean freak. Today however, I want to rid my house of every grain of dirt, every dust bunny under the beds, and every grubby mark on the walls. I’ve wiped and swept and tidied random items away. I couldn’t wait a moment longer, and set up the birth pool, laid out towels and sheets and blankets and prepared baby clothes. The family are all well aware that the house has to stay tidy at all times because (and I quote Hulk Mum verbatim) :

“The labour will only start when everything is ready, so the house has to stay tidy all the time or the baby will NEVER come!”

And Hulk Mum believes that implicitly.

 

Tricky imposter contractions and twinges

By this I mean any of the following sneaky little things that make you feel like labour might actually be starting.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Sharp jabs and pains in the cervix (sorry)
  • Lower back ache

These come and make themselves known, and just when you start to have a flicker of hope that Operation Deliver Baby is “Go for Launch” they all stop immediately and snicker away delighted that they have fooled you yet again. It’s worse now that it’s my 5th pregnancy and those sneaky little buggers STILL get me. Every. Single. Time.

Preoccupation with labour

Bet you can’t guess what I’m thinking about?

99% of the time I am thinking about the birth. The baby. The labour. The signs of labour.

Is everything ready? Will everything go smoothly? What time will it all happen? Will the children be good and happy throughout? Will the baby be in a good position? Will I bleed to death? Will I cope with the pain? Will the baby be normal? Will the midwife respect my wishes? Will I freak out or have a Hulk Mum attack during the labour? Will I ever go into labour? Will I be pregnant forever? Will the baby be ok? Will I deliver naturally? Is that a contraction I am feeling? Is it going to be today?

Etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Hence this post.

 

So who knows? It could be today, tomorrow or next week. These bizarre behaviours will continue to increase (God help us) and the intensity will build and build and I will cry and tantrum. But then suddenly it will be all happening and then it will be over and I’ll come back here all serene and euphoric and maternal, and tell you all about it.

The Shack

So while in the vicinity of Wallaroo, we also visited The Shack. This has belonged to my family for some years…don’t really know how many but more than 35. Over the years it has been used for countless holidays and fishing trips. It’s takes a lot of work to maintain and hasn’t been used for several years now, so we went to see what sort of condition it was in.

Here’s some pics of the day.

Lovely to see my kids playing among the same rocks I spent hours of my childhood…looking for tiny rock crabs, hiding from everyone else, and day dreaming looking out to sea.

As you can see, it’s a picture of absolute serenity, disturbed only by the near perpetual howling wind and thousands of sticky persistant flies, one of whom found itself in the right place at the right time. Probably because they are so highly skilled at always being right in front of your face.

On our way back we spotted two Sleepy Lizards (ironically both moved away before we could get the camera) and two snakes. Here’s a blurry picture of one of them. It’s not clear enough to be sure but I think it might be an Eastern Brown Snake. It was around a metre long, not very fat, and brownish greenish -ish. Or something.

This isn’t the lizard we saw on the road, this is the one of about 3 that we have seen living at our house. Here he is jammed in between the rubbish bin and the fence. It’s a Blue-tongued lizard, often called a Sleepy Lizard.

 

A few days in Wallaroo

A last minute decision to get out of the house for a few days resulted in a two night get away to Wallaroo, which is about 160km north-west-ish of Adelaide. I was born there and spent a fair chunk of my childhood there. There are a thousand memories.

We stayed in a caravan park in a cabin that we splurged on a bit, but it was worth it for the ease and comfort of a late planned trip. We were right on the beach front and not being school holidays the beach was pretty empty. We arrived Sunday afternoon and left on Tuesday, so mostly avoided the weekender visitors too, and really appreciated the space.

The weather was beautiful…sunny and warm to hot with not much wind, and the kids spent heaps of time at the beach. Here’s some of the many pictures.

This enclosure next to the main jetty is the Wallaroo Pool and is where I learned to swim as a child. It used to have a net, presumably to keep sharks out (or perhaps to keep the children in?) but now only the cable remains. The first time I ever jumped off a jetty was here, and only did it so I wouldn’t get caught in a game of ‘chasey‘ (tag) and I remember screaming to my cousin “Push me!” because I was too chicken to actually take the leap. She did it.

And looking back the other way towards the silos.

Ben jumped from the little platform by himself.

The main Wallaroo jetty with grain conveyer to the left.

We stopped at the bakery for Cornish Pasties for lunch, but despite it being the busy lunch hour, they weren’t ready yet, so we had to settle for regular ones. Sheesh…drive all the way to Wallaroo for a Cornish Pasty and they don’t have any.

This is my late Nanna’s house which we discovered is for sale again. It’s a weird feeling to look at it now that someone else owns it. The fig tree that all the grandchildren played in as children is still there in the backyard (I peeked). So familiar that I wanted to wander on in, and yet it belongs to someone else. Very strange.

There is a lot of new development on the north side of town, and as we drove out that way I was trying to show the family where my Nanna grew up. I was disorientated due to the new developments and roads and couldn’t place it. Later on our way home we spotted this brand new road by chance. My grandmother’s maiden name was Hopgood, and she grew up with her 9 siblings on a farm in this area. It’s pretty cool to see that the town planners considered the local history when naming the new roads. I’m still not sure of the exact location of the original property, but perhaps it’s right here.

Back to the beach after exploring the town with heaps of space to run free.

Good night. We also visited the family shack for a quick look which is sort of like our family’s very own Bonnie Doon. More on that, as well as some snakes tomorrow.

Mid-October Paddlings

Just a couple of pics of us last week at the beach. This was a must-get-psychotic-pregnant-woman-out-of-the-house emergency outing late in the afternoon. It was pretty warm even though it doesn’t look like it. We were not prepared with togs/bathers or towels so the kids just got their clothes wet.

Given that we are heading into a hot summer that we’re not used to, I think we’re going to see a lot more of this.

(This post is also an opportunity document for posterity and for friends far away my rather large belly at 37 weeks. It’s now a whole 5 days since these photos were taken and I am sure I’m noticeably bigger, puffier and more uncomfortable.)

Conversation with Kids

A collection of  comments made by Ryan over the past few weeks in our house.

Over afternoon tea with Great Uncle Geoff:

Ryan: “I think the English (Breakfast) Tea is for when you are drinking it, it makes you speak English.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

When discussing plans for the day. It wasn’t Tuesday as far as I can remember:

Ryan: “I know why they call it Tuesday….I think it is because you get to choose what you do on ‘Choose-day'”

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Ryan excitedly: “Mum! I know why you don’t have nuts! It’s because when the baby comes out, if you had a nut bag, one nut would go like this… ”  he gestured far left with one hand, “and one nut would go like this…”  gesturing far right with his other hand, “and it would REALLY, REALLY hurt. That’s why you don’t have nuts”.

I would like to point out that as far as I can remember, we have never referred to that particular part of the anatomy as a “nut bag“.

A lesson on belly buttons

 

After dinner conversation some weeks ago lead to a discussion of babies and placentas, and belly buttons. I’ve noticed that children often assume that the food a pregnant mother eats is directly channeled in some way to the baby’s stomach or mouth. So, they seem to think that if I eat a vegemite sandwich, then the baby gets some vegemite sandwich too. In a way it’s true, but if they followed their logic a little further, then the problem of having no onboard baby toilet becomes evident and something they hadn’t thought of.

Anyway, I started to explain what an umbilical cord was, and how it delivered nutrients in the blood right into the baby’s circulation, not to the stomach. It was a little tricky to understand so we drew some pictures to explain it all. This lead to quite an in-depth chat, and some rather funny pictures.

This one to show the children what the baby will look like immediately after birth, showing the cord being clamped and scissors at the ready. Nice little egg-shaped placenta, and you’ll note a very happy, rather broad shouldered baby.

This one showing baby waiting to be born, with the placenta and cord, and a little baby heart and aorta, and a carotid and brain. And a beak.

And finally, this one to show the baby in the context of the big tummy the kids see on the outside. This was originally a reasonably simple line drawing of the outline of a pregnant woman. Certain giggling children embellished some details and added the labels.

 

To Not Forget These Days

 

Some rather average phone pics just so I don’t forget these lovely days in the sun. This was how we spent our Monday morning.

It was sunny, but with a fairly cold onshore breeze.

A lady walking her dog asked me “Are these all your children?”

 “Yes” I said.

She stopped, glanced around and counted them off . “One, two, three, four, and one on the way I see”.

“That’s right”

“Well you have your hands full”

It’s true, I do. But they are nice all the same.

After the beach we stopped at the shop on the way to buy some Frog Cakes. These are an iconic South Australian treat, which are in fact listed as a South Australian Heritage Icon by the National Trust. They are rather pricey at $4.30 each, but I had to introduce them to the children now that we’re living here.

A set of three frog cakes from Balfours

A set of three frog cakes from Balfours (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Kuitpo Forest

Yesterday a group of home schoolers met up at the Chookarloo Campground within Kuitpo forest, which is a plantation forest in the Mt Lofty ranges about a half hour drive from Adelaide.

“Established in 1898, Kuitpo was the first of a number of forest plantations in the Mt Lofty ranges to ensure a sustainable timber resource for South Australia.
Today, Kuitpo covers and area of some 3,600 hectares, of which 60% is softwood plantation.Kuitpo’s plantations yield some 25,000 cubic metres of timber each year, valued in excess of $1.5 million.
Kuitpo is modelled as a community forest, managed for sustainable commercial forestry, while providing for the conservation of native flora and fauna and community use for recreation.” 
~ Forestry SA pamphlet

There are great places to camp, so we hope to head back that way when we’re ready to travel.

We had a campfire and some of the families cooked lunch in the coals. We discovered that throwing dry eucalypts leaves on the fire was quite spectacular which lead to us chatting about  wind, heat, fire safety and bush fires.

Of course we toasted marshmallows, set a few on fire and got pretty smoky and sticky.

Certain children (all four of mine and 2 others) had fun making a mud slide into the little creek. We’d come prepared with a change of clothes, which was a good thing because they were needed. It was lovely to spend some time chatting and playing and we’re gradually making new friends, which is something that isn’t always easy and does take some time.

I always say that the dirtiest child is usually the one who had the most fun. This time the fun factor was rather high. Everyone needed a shower when we got home and we were all nicely tired and ready to sleep at bedtime.