Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What It's Like Here

I've been in this special hospital ward for mothers and babies for almost four weeks now, and I'm pleased to say it looks like I'll finally be discharged this Friday.

It has been a turbulent past few weeks.  I entered this place at a very low point and Flynn was the most unsettled he'd ever been.  He screamed so much the first night I was in a strange place of feeling glad the nurses were handling him, yet yearning to go to him at the same time.  For most of our stay, he's been sleeping in the nursery at night, with the night staff bringing him in to me for feeds.  Now he's in my room as I prepare for home.  He was in our room at home for the first five weeks of his life as I felt I needed him near me.  Duncan wasn't too happy about this as he is a light sleeper, but he agreed because it was easier for me.  Now I can't wait to get home and get Flynn settled in his own room.  Every snort and snuffle keeps me awake!

At times it has felt like one step forward, three steps back.  My thoughts have descended to some very dark places as my relationship with Flynn deteriorated at times.  The anger and frustration at his lack of sleeping was like a volcano threatening to erupt and I'm thankful for staff who have stepped in to help.  Thankfully I am feeling much more settled, and Flynn is now on medication for reflux and is starting to sleep a bit more (it's still a challenge though).  I now have mandatory naps in the afternoon and the staff watch Flynn for me as they noticed I find the afternoons a real challenge with sleep deprivation.

The staff and patients are lovely and I will never forget the love and support they have shown me.   have formed good friendships with the other ladies here (we even have our own secret Facebook group) and we plan to keep in touch after discharge.  I have refused visitors a lot as I need to focus on my recovery and I really haven't felt like talking.  Some people don't get it; they think it's going to be like visiting someone in hospital with a broken leg or something.  I don't have time for people who expect me to be my old self.

So, now I prepare for home.

I want to go home.  I want to be with Rory.  It has been really hard on him.

But I'm scared.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bible Verse of the Day

Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me LORD, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish, how long, LORD, how long?
Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love.
Among the dead no-one proclaims Your name,
Who praises You from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears
Psalm 6:2-6

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How it Happened

How did I end up here again?

I felt so good after having Flynn.  When I had Rory, the 'love button' switched off on Day 3 and I struggled to feel warm fuzzies for him.  With Flynn, it continued and, despite a few teary days from tiredness, I felt well.  I had a good experience in the Albany hospital.  Despite being short-staffed and under the pump, the midwives were lovely and professional.  Yet I still wanted to be discharged three days after giving birth.  The hospital environment was much too noisy, and I missed Duncan and Rory.

Since I felt like I missed out on enjoying Rory's newborn days, I was determined to relish the cuddles with Flynn.  On Day 1 he mostly slept.  Day 2 was a different story.  He wanted to feed constantly and wouldn't settle when I tried to put him in the bassinet.  That was fine with me.  I enjoyed having him in my arms and holding him close.  I even co-slept with him, despite it being against hospital policy.  Too bad, I thought.  The midwives were too busy to help me sometimes and I'd be waiting for ages.  Plus, I couldn't get out of bed all the time after my c-section.  Flynn just wanted to be nestled in my arms, so we made it work.  I told myself it wouldn't last forever.

When we went back to my parents' house, Flynn continued to want to sleep in my arms and would wake immediately if I attempted to put him down.  Sleep deprivation started to take its toll, but I thought I was still coping well.  My huge stomach was slowly shrinking and I was in good spirits compared to when Rory was born.

After we went home to the farm, Flynn's pattern of only sleeping when held continued.  His cries broke my heart and I didn't want him to feel abandoned.  I just wanted to protect him.  As the weeks went by, I realised I had not slept longer than two hours at a time for a fair while.  But still we were back at church when Flynn was 11 days old and the week after that I even did mission news.  I couldn't wait to get out and about and show Flynn off, even though there was a lot more organisation involved with getting out of the house with two kids.

Gradually old patterns of thinking began to take hold.  I was frustrated with the restrictions placed on me after my c-section.  I felt like I was stuck in Groundhog Day.  My mum came to stay after Duncan went back to work and despite our good relationship this time, it was hard on both of us.  Rory was tiring my mum out.  We played pass the baby as Flynn still wouldn't sleep in his bassinet.  I missed spending time with Rory.  I rarely went outside.  It annoyed me that I didn't to have a shower until midday, if at all.  I felt Duncan and my mum were getting tired of doing a lot of things for me.  I was getting very little sleep at night and no chance to nap during the day.  I started to shut myself off, refusing visitors and no longer looked forward to going out.  I was starting to get fed up with Flynn's refusal to sleep on his own.

When Flynn was two weeks old, I discovered he had thrush in his mouth and I ended up having to be treated for it, too.  Then I suspected he had reflux, but when I raised this with health professionals, they just fobbed me off, saying lots of babies were windy and vomit etc.  But my gut instincts told me it was more than that.  I'd seen it with Rory, but it was worse with Flynn.  It explained when he liked to sleep held upright.  We tilted up his bed, but it didn't make a lot of difference.  He appeared to be in pain when lying flat, gulping, burping, farting and vomiting.  His nose was congested, like he had a bad cold, but I knew it was the reflux getting into his nose.  Flynn spent many nights sleeping on Duncan's chest as it was the only way we could get any sleep, but Duncan still wasn't getting much sleep.

On Wednesday 28th October, I finally crashed.  I had an argument with my mum and she said some things that hurt me deeply.  Rory was having a tantrum, Flynn was crying, I was crying and just couldn't cope anymore.  I called the PANDA Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Australia helpline because some dark images had started to come into my mind and I wanted to end my life.  They called Duncan and he came back from Perth as fast as he could (he'd gone up just for the day for an appointment).  A lovely friend from church came over to help.  I spent that night in our little local hospital where I could be kept safe and get some sleep.

They wanted to get me a bed in a Mother Baby Unit, but I didn't want to go.  I didn't want to be away from Rory as I was already feeling guilty that Flynn took up so much of my time.  When I was in the MBU with Rory, there was only one with eight beds.  Now there was a second one (also with eight beds) at Perth's newest hospital.  That one had a bed available and I eventually agreed I needed to go.  I was angry at myself for 'failing', that I hadn't learnt anything from last time, that I'd slipped back into old ways of thinking.  Like last time, the staff and patients are lovely and supportive.

So, here I am.

Monday, November 09, 2015

It's Happened Again

I thought I'd beaten it this time.

I thought I was doing well.

Maybe I was fooling myself.

I'm back in the Mother Baby Unit with Flynn - a different one this time - after relapsing with postnatal depression and anxiety. I've been here for 11 days so far and discharge seems like a long way away.

I'm reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges at the moment because it's a fight to trust God when I feel so angry and I don't understand why He's allowed this to happen again.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Flynn's Birth Story

The second child always seems to get less than the first child.  Less hype surrounding their birth, less photos, less recording of milestones, less presents (and more hand-me-downs).  I've been determined to blog Flynn's birth story - like I did Rory's.

Rory and I headed to Albany on Monday 21st September to start my 'countdown' (five days before my due date).  Having been induced on my due date with Rory, I had no idea whether the baby would be early or late.  I was leaning towards late and therefore was a bit laissez-faire about heading down too early.  I didn't want to be sitting around in my parents' house for up to two weeks.  My doctor insisted she would like me down at least five days before, so I complied.

On Tuesday 22nd September, Rory and I were meant to be meeting up with a friend and her son at the beach for coffee, but she messaged me that morning to say she was sick and couldn't make it.  I took Rory for a play at another playground instead (enduring a lot of stares from people at the cafe nearby).  At 39 weeks and three days pregnant, taking a toddler to the park feels like a major gym workout, but we had a lot of fun.

That afternoon, I went to lie down while Rory was napping, but I couldn't sleep.  I started to feel quite nauseous.  Eventually it passed.

In the evening, I sat down to watch the new Aussie drama 800 Words when what felt like contractions started.  I brushed them off as Braxton Hicks, but they kept going.  I gritted my teeth through it, kept quiet so as not to alarm my parents unnecessarily, and timed the contractions.  They were roughly 10 minutes apart and lasted for about 45 seconds each.

By the time I went to bed, they were about five minutes apart and intensifying.  I couldn't sleep and was thrashing around in bed with the pain, trying not to wake Rory with my moaning.  I seriously don't know how Scientologists expect women to be quiet in labour.  Obviously a man must have made up that rule!

At 12:30am, I let my parents know I thought I was in labour and rang the hospital for advice.  I didn't want to ring Duncan unless I was definitely in labour.  A midwife advised me to wait a bit and see if the contractions got closer together.  The only thing I could think of to help with the pain was a bath.  I knew I wasn't going to be allowed to have a water birth at the hospital because I'd had a c-section with Rory, and they need to monitor me with a CTG belt.  Warm baths and showers have helped with my arthritis in the past, but, this time, the bath was no help at all.  I got out after about 10 minutes, in more pain than ever, with contractions now only a couple of minutes apart.  The pain was so bad I couldn't possibly keep quiet.  My dad rang the hospital and they advised me to come in.  He then rang Duncan who immediately begun the one and a half hour drive from the farm to Albany.

Fortunately my parents live about two minutes drive from the hospital.  They grabbed my suitcase and shoved it in the car.  I got a little bit short with my dad for taking a while to get dressed and ready.  Hurry up, I'm in agony here!  I was taken from emergency up to the maternity ward in a wheelchair to be greeted by a nurse who immediately recognised my dad...and then me.  That's the downside about choosing to give birth in your hometown - there's bound to be someone who knows you and now I wasn't sure I wanted to be 'known' in such a vulnerable state.  I went to primary school and high school with this nurse's son.  She's a lovely person though and informed us that all of the birthing suites were full (it turned out every pregnant woman in the district had decided to give birth that week and the hospital was stretched to capacity).  I was taken to an ordinary room and was in so much pain, I couldn't lie still.  I rushed to the ensuite to vomit, but was only dry-retching.  A midwife examined me and told me I was 3-4cm dilated.  They were waiting for a birthing suite to become free.  I begged for pain relief and they brought me some gas.  It really didn't make a difference with the pain though, I just felt kinda out of it.  My doctor was already at the hospital with another patient and when she was free, she came to see me.  She thought my belly had changed shape since she saw me last (I had noticed that too and other friends had commented on it), so she did an ultrasound and discovered the bubba was posterior and had not engaged.  I had been determined to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) and my doctor was very supportive of this.  I'd been told beforehand that if I went into labour on my own, it would enhance my chances of a successful VBAC.  This had happened, but now other odds were stacked against me.  I felt so much relief when Duncan walked through the door.  The midwife gave me an injection of morphine and I was hopeful that this would make a dent in the pain.

Eventually I was taken into a birthing suite, sucking madly on the gas, even though it still felt like it was doing nothing.  I was so dizzy, it was like I was drunk, and I was guzzling water because my mouth was so dry from the gas.  The hours sped by.  I asked for an epidural and it was so hard to be still while it was done.  With Rory, I was given the epidural before I was induced, so it was no problem to sit still.  However, the epidural did nothing!  It didn't make even the slightest difference and had to be removed.  It was like I was immune to all forms of pain relief.  Eventually my doctor had to gently break it to me that due to the bubba's position, the labour was not progressing well.  I had got to 6cm dilated.  I was given the options of continuing on or having a c-section, but it was likely I would labour for hours and still end up having a c-section anyway.  My doctor assured me she would support me either way.  I opted for the c-section and Duncan was behind me all the way.  The thought of hours more of pain for the same result filled me with dread.  All through my pregnancy I had prepared myself that I might need another c-section.  This time I wasn't afraid.  I had had one with Rory and survived and healed.  The staff started to get me ready for surgery and that meant taking the gas away.  I didn't think it would make much of a difference anyway, but, boy, was I mistaken.  The pain was now excruciating, so the gas must have been helping a little bit.  Then they couldn't do the spinal block.  My back must be so munted from scoliosis and arthritis that they couldn't get it in the right place.  I was told that I'd need a general anaesthetic and this was a tremendous relief.  All I wanted was to go to sleep and the pain to end.

When I came to, it was the most pleasant feeling, like waking from a beautiful, refreshing sleep.  My throat felt very dry though.  Suddenly I remembered where I was and what had happened.  I'd had a baby!  I asked the midwife if it was a boy or a girl, and she told me I'd had a boy.  I was so excited to meet him and was surprised to see that he had red hair (which comes from family on both sides).  He'd spent close to an hour having skin-to-skin bonding time with his Daddy and was getting most frustrated that man boobs don't have milk.  The downside of having a general anaesthetic is that Duncan wasn't allowed into the operating theatre, so he'd had to wait outside.

We'd had three boys names on standby and I asked Duncan which one he wanted as I was happy with any of them.  He said that since the bubba had red hair we should choose Flynn after the fire engine on Thomas and Friends (Rory's favourite show, which first made me think of the name).

Many women have grand plans about how their labours will pan out, but I'm not one of them.  Still, it was far from what I'd expected.  I was just glad the whole thing was over.  Flynn was here, he was safe, and I was ok. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Another Day, Another Rejection

When there's mail for me, with the address in my own handwriting, I know it's not good.

Last Friday I received another rejection from an agent I sent my novel to a few weeks ago.  I had to send them a self-addressed stamped envelope so they could let me know the news.

I guess I've got to just keep trying...when I get the time.  This news, along with the sleep-deprivation that goes with having a newborn and a toddler, plus recovering from major surgery, has left me feeling a bit down.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Bridesmaids...Nine Years On

As I was preparing to cheer the Eagles to victory against Hawthorn last Saturday, I realised it was nine years since I had watched the Eagles in a Grand Final.

On the 30th September 2006, they were premiers.  That day was a special one.  A lot has happened in those past nine years.

I watched that game with a bunch of people from my church.  Nine years later that church has been closed for three and a half years.

Duncan was there.  At the time he was my love interest.  The day after the Grand Final, he moved to Buntine.  I came to the difficult realisation that nothing was ever going to happen between us and that I had to let my feelings go.  Nine years later we are married and have two beautiful sons.


Grand Final Day 2015 was a painful one, but I am proud of the Eagles.  Who could have imagined they would have made it that far.

Image from here