Sunday, October 17, 2010

Baby Steps

Today my baby girl took her first ever steps! Can I just say that the only thing as exciting as seeing that, was the fact that I was actually there to witness it.  Being away from her so often, I was contemplating telling the girls at daycare not to tell me if she took her first steps - as I think it would have devastated me.  

Having said that, I was there... and it invoked a feeling I cannot explain. All at once I felt overwhelmed with happiness - I felt proud, excited, giddy enough to run around in circles screaming.  At the same time I felt an underlying sense of sadness, that my baby was making the transition to a little toddler - and I was losing this precious time with her as a baby forever.  I swear this moment in itself was enough to make me want to have another baby.  Actually, lets be realistic - I'm sure if I had a husband I'd use her first spoon of solids as an excuse to have another one! And yes, that's a joke. I'm sure I'd stop at 15 kids... or maybe 4. *sigh*

The point is, my baby is no longer a baby.  And although this was one of the most exciting, exhilarating moments I have ever experienced - it brings with it great sadness.  For as new stages are discovered, old ones are no more - and those times become memories only.  I fear I will forever live in her past, clinging onto the "good old days" in the hope that my clinging will freeze her growth.  I suppose this is all part of parenting though, and although it's tough.... really tough sometimes, watching them grow up - it's also amazing.

As she took those 3 small, wobbly steps - her legs shaking a little and her arms outstretched... I think I took a few small steps too.  I have to grow with her, and with each stage learn to let her go just a little bit more.  One day this tiny, teetering little baby-slash-toddler is going to be walking down the aisle to start her own life with the man she has fallen in love with.  One day she is going to have her arms outstretched to catch her own little baby-slash-toddler.  She will make her own decisions, make her own mistakes, and live her own life... and it's something I'm going to have to be ready for. 

So as she takes baby steps, so do I.  I pray that she grows up super slowly - but I know that's wishful thinking.  For now, I'm treasuring every moment with her as she does that thing she does so well - being my little princess. 

Till the next few steps.....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Found Love

So, I was looking back over my old MySpace page tonight.  Seems everyone has migrated to Facebook these days, so it's always interesting to go back and have a look at the old, preserved memories captured within MySpace.

Within my blogs, I found one from when I was pregnant.  I had been listening to the song "Ave Maria" (a remake) by Beyonce.   I wrote the following:

I Found Love
Mood:  In Love

"I found heaven on earth
You were my last, my first
And then I hear this voice inside
Ave Maria"

I didn't think it was possible to love somebody so much...
...when you haven't even met them yet.

"She was lost...
In so many different ways...
Out in the darkness with no guide.
I know the cost ...of a losing hand.
Never thought the grace of God would go so high..."

I can't wait for you.
I love everything about you already.
You're my gift from God...
His grace for me... when I was so lost.

Life is the fruit she longs to hand you,
Ripe on a plate.
And while you live,
Relentlessly she understands you.
~Phyllis McGinley

Monday, October 11, 2010

That thing she does...

So I'm sitting here staring at the computer like a zombie.

I'm so tired it's difficult for me to stay awake, but somehow I still am.  Don't ask me how, I'm somehow in that in-between state and it is RANDOM!  I was going to write a post tomorrow, but I thought I may as well do it now and force myself to be semi-productive... seeing as staying up late doing nothing results in waves of regret washing over me in the morning, as my dream of a sleep-in dies with my daughters early  crying/screaming/singing/yelling.  

We went to visit the family today - first dad and fiancĂ©e, and then mum and partner (with grandma currently visiting).  I love visiting the family, even though it does take two visits every time. Weirdly, mum and dad ended up living on the same street with their new respective partners... and (yes, it gets better) its a dead-end street, so you can't just drive out the other end. Long story that one, and I'll save it for another, much rainier day, but the point is - I can't visit one without visiting the other.  Otherwise, there's phone calls and angry conversations that follow.

So today we visited Dad first, and my beautiful, vivacious, cheeky daughter became a shy, withdrawn, almost terrified little creature, who clings onto me like her life depends on it.  Here's the thing - she does this all the time.  Sometimes, she'll 'select' someone who she seems to think is worthy of her real personality, and that person gets a shining look at her smile, a big confident wave and lots of giggles to ensure she gets free food.  But most of the time, she just freaks out that people want to look at her. My poor grandma just said "I don't think she remembers me holding her when she was 3 weeks old. Hehehe".  That was probably one of the moments when I just wanted to tell my daughter to pull her 10-month-old head in and be a good great-granddaughter, but of course I just had to laugh and say 'oh she always does that'. (Yes, she really does, but I still feel terrible!)

Then there's the people in her life that look vastly different.  These people get the extended version of her terror. The majority of the time, these people are my Dad (her grandad), and her Dad.  My Dad is Maori, and her Dad is Samoan.  When she sees either of them, she will watch them with eyes the size of saucers, until they try to pick her up, and all hell breaks loose.  She then begins a very dramatic scene, full of terrified screaming and kicking, followed by her clawing me and attempting to climb onto my face, where apparently she is counted as being even more secure and safe.  

That's her thing though.  I was puzzled when she started doing it, as it happened very suddenly.  One second, she was the life of the party, and there were people she saw regularly that she loved.  My family, my friends, her Dad, my Dad, the babysitters.... even the girls at daycare.  She was cruising through life like a little princess, loving the attention and wrapping everyone around her little hand.  Then almost overnight, it was like she knew no-one.  One of my friends came to visit, like she always does - usually getting happy giggles.  She screams.  Her Dad comes to visit - usually getting happy smiles and cuddles.  She screams.  I drop her to daycare - usually get nonchalant playing with toys.  She screams and tries to follow me.  I can see her being the little girl that hides behind my leg when someone tries to say hello in the future.  But that seems to be her thing.

At home, she is loud, crazy, reckless, and all-in-all hilarious.  I can sit there playing with her for hours, laughing at her facial expressions and endless energy as she tries to hide from me, secretly steal my bag, get into the bathroom drawer, bang on the computer keyboard, and dance to the tiniest smidgen of music she may hear.  In public, however, she is very very quiet.  She observes, watching the world around her and simply looking at the various faces that come up and try to coax some form of a response from her.... often burying her face in my neck if she doesn't want to look at them any more. And that's her thing.  It may be too early to make a call, as I've had a fair few people tell me it's just a phase... but I know that was always a personality trait of mine.  (By the way, please forgive me if you find that I bring personality types and the like into this, but studying Psychology does cause you to think in a rather analytic form when it comes to people's behaviour in general.)    I was always loud and energetic at home, then quiet and reserved in public.  I am still usually more withdrawn unless I know people well.  And seeing the way her personality is slowly forming, I wouldn't be surprised if she is the same.

It's interesting watching all different aspects of her personality unfold.  Each day, she comes up with a new little quirky thing, and I love watching it.  In some ways, I do hope that this 'being terrified of the world' is a phase. I feel terrible when people make time to visit her and she refuses to leave my side, or come and babysit her so I can work, and she screams uncontrollably when they try to pick her up.  So far, I've found that if I give her time, she warms up to people.  Eventually, she wants to play with the babysitter, or wave to the girls at daycare, or crawl over to the scary looking guy known as Dad/Grandad, and watch him with a little smile, while eating her Arrowroot biscuit.  Sometimes, she won't have to wait an hour to warm up to people anymore.  I love her little quirks, and I'm so proud of her.  It's a big, scary world out there... and I'm sure that sometimes she just wants Mummy.   

And she should know that I will always be here, so that she can climb onto my face and scream in terror whenever she feels the need.  That's what I'm here for.  Because I love all of her, even that thing she does.....


Friday, October 8, 2010

The Night my Heart Stopped

I had the scariest experience of my life last night.

After picking baby up from daycare, I was driving home when she began to get very restless.  She was already overtired when I picked her up, and I have learnt over the last few months that very little can be done to pacify an over-tired child.  Usually when she's tired and grumpy in the car, a small snack will keep her occupied when a dummy doesn't.  So I broke one of her muesli bars (which she loves) in half, and handed it to her.

She proceeded to dig into it, still whimpering every now and again (which was an indication that she was beyond tired, she was ready to crash), and continued the drive in some form of peace and quiet.  I should point out that traffic was in the usual post-peak hour condition - bumper to bumper but moving at a relatively normal pace.  

All of a sudden she started coughing.  She gets colds fairly regularly, as most children that attend daycare do (it's almost completely unavoidable the way any kind of infection/bug/virus circulates within the nursery), so I wasn't too alarmed.  Keep in mind, she loves these muesli bars, eats them all the time, has most of her teeth, and has no trouble eating the majority of solid food she is given.  But then the coughing turned into spluttering, and I looked around in alarm as the spluttering turned into choking.  Serious choking.

In that instant, I literally felt like my veins had turned to ice, and my heart was in my throat.  I screamed out her name and tried to reach back to her and push her tummy, but I knew it wouldn't work.  By this stage, I was sure I had stopped breathing too.  And this is what made it so scary.  If we were at home, I would grab her, pat her back vigorously, and stick my fingers down her throat if I needed to.  To my horror, I realised straight away that I could barely reach her, let alone pat her back, and we were in bumper to bumper traffic on a main road that I could not pull over on.  

She started going going red and gagging... choking so badly she was losing air.  I hit the accelerator, swerving around the car in front and over the kerb into the side street - screeching to a halt and jumping out of the car to run around the back and stick my fingers down my baby's throat to clear it and let her breathe. It sounds like a long story, but this all happened in about 20 seconds, and I've never been so terrified in my whole life.  As soon as she spewed a bit and gasped in a lungful of air, I slumped to the ground beside the car and cried and cried and cried.... I was shaking so hard I couldn't stand up.

I have never been so frightened in my entire life.  My heart literally stopped, I cannot explain the feeling of blind despair and horror that gripped me in that instant.  A parent should never outlive their child.  I think I experienced the tiniest glimpse, last night, of the horrific trauma a mother experiences when she loses her son or daughter.  I could never and would never claim to understand it, but it highlighted to me again last night exactly how much of my life she is.  Not only is a part of me walking around in the world, but if something were to happen to her, it would happen to me too.  If she died, that part of me would die.

I didn't make her stay in her cot to sleep last night.  When she woke up in the night, like she usually does occasionally.... I picked her up instead of laying her back down, and brought her into bed with mummy instead of patting her back to sleep. It was like she knew.  I hugged her and she clung tightly onto me until we both felt asleep.  I love my daughter so much, I could not even begin to imagine life without her.  And last night, I just wanted to hold her, counting every moment I had with her as a gift, to never ever let her go.  I will surely endeavour to never again take a moment with her for granted.  I am blessed to have been given a gift as wonderful, amazing and beautiful as my little girl - and honoured to be entrusted with raising her. 

Every day is a gift!

*today's entry written by the Luckiest Girl in the World*

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Love my Little Broken Family

First of all.... my apologies to everyone, I haven't written a blog for awhile as I've taken some time out.  I'm back  now though, and will hopefully be putting up posts regularly again.

I've been thinking a lot lately about family.  I grew up in the typical "nuclear family"... Mum, Dad, and the four kids (myself being the oldest, and hence the one with the most expectations on my shoulders).  Childhood for me holds a certain nostalgia... even the fights, scrapes, and discipline reminds me of  a time when life was carefree and simple.  My dream was to be able to provide this kind of safe, secure family life for my children.  Yes, I was one of those annoyingly boring people who wanted a husband, children and white picket fence.  

My life played out accordingly.  I was a good girl, didn't get involved with boys and focused on school.  Worked on making myself a better person and thinking about where was best for me to be in my life. Then along came a boy.  

Fast-forward to my thought process this week, and I've been sitting here wondering how I'm going to tackle this.  I was listening to a song by Israel & New Breed tonight, and at the beginning he was saying that every season we go through is preparing us for something. Not every season we will enjoy, but either way, God has a plan for us in each trial that comes our way.  I know this, I've heard this before, but something about hearing it this time really hit home.  This may not be the greatest "season" of my life - I'm beginning to get sick of being a single mum (not a mum........... just a single one) - but there is still something in this, whether I see it now or not. And my daughter's family story is her own, and one that God knows all about.

So in the meantime.... where do I go from here? I often feel like I'm wandering around lost in the forest when faced with my own situation.  I didn't grow up in this, doing the one parent thing is a completely foreign concept to me. I feel like I'm running blind, and there's really no manual to tell me how to do this.  Please understand, this blog is not one of heartbreak or sadness - this is confusion!

I know some things, however, that I do want.

  • Firstly, I do know for sure that my daughter is part of a family - we are a family.  We are a broken one, but we are a family, and I know that I want her to grow up knowing that.  
  • Secondly, I want her to know that she is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.  I don't want her to make the same mistakes I did, but she is not a mistake.  If anything, she saved my life.... but that's another story for another day. 
  • Thirdly, I want her to feel secure and safe.  I don't want her to grow up before she absolutely has to, or to worry about anything, because she'll know that Mum and Dad have got it.  
  • I want her to grow up without a chip on her shoulder. I never want her to feel that she missed out on something, or her life wasn't complete... I don't want her to feel angry at the world.  
  • I want her to grow up with a strong, godly man in her life, that shows her how a real man should be, so she doesn't fall for the lies and flattery of men that only want to use her.  I want that to be her Dad, and I know that he has it in him to be the best Dad ever... but I want her to be able to follow him too, and respect and learn from him.  I hope that one day that is possible. 
Either way, I cannot know the future.  I entrusted my little girl into the hands of God, and I trust that he knows the plans he has for her.  Her story will be different from mine.  At some point, I have had to let go of the dream I had for my life, and my daughter's, and wing it in this new way of living that I have absolutely no clue about.  It stings, but only when I'm thinking from the perspective of the dream I had for the future.  That future is gone (for now anyway), and my future is now.  This is my family, this is my life.  

My baby girl, her dad, and I are a family.  And yes, we are a broken family.  But this is my family, and this is my story now, and it's my time to own it.  I trust that God will carry me in the times that I cannot carry myself any longer, and I know that this season is preparation for another. I may not see it now, and I may honestly sometimes feel that I am lost in maze, but I choose to love every moment.  Yes it sucks being single, but I'm sure there's many girls without children who get sick of being single.  Yes it's tough doing it alone, but I'm sure it's also quite tough for kids in Africa who have to walk for two days to get dirty drinking water.  Yes I am lost in the woods on this one, but there are people in far worse situations than mine who would never in their wildest nightmare have prepared for it.  

So I love my little broken family.  God has a plan, he's got this. 
And I'm happy :)


Monday, September 20, 2010

On a "not-so-strong" Day...

So most of the time I'm really happy that I have my baby girl, and my unique and interesting job, and my course, and my wonderful friends, and a God to trust it all with.  But I have my not-so-strong days.... when the "single" part of this really stings.

If I could give any advice, I'd say don't have sex. Ever. Lol. Just kidding. Wait till marriage. Really.  Because these days, you really don't know who will be true and who won't.  I thought I had a catch.... he was sweet, loving, he promised to wait and he asked my parents for permission before dating me.  5 years of a relationship later, countless broken promises, and I eventually wound up in that category I previously wouldn't touch with a ten-foot-pole - the "Single Mum".  

I had one of those days today... the "why me", the "this hurts too much" day. It's on these days that I find myself listening to love songs with nothing but anger (ie. "LIAR!" every time a lyric contains a sweet promise). See, I fall into the even more unique category of being single from not even halfway into my pregnancy.  And that's when all the clichĂ©'s really start flowing:

"Once your baby arrives, nothing else will matter."
"Trust me, it'll all be worth it when she gets here."
"It's the most amazing thing... this hurt will feel like nothing when  you see her for the first time."

....and so the list goes on.

I disagree with all of those statements.  I've talked to a few girls in this situation - and I try to avoid those statements when they ask me for advice.  Because it ends up being nothing more than a band-aid over a wound, that just gets ripped off down the track.  Yes, the birth of my daughter was amazing and nothing will ever compare to the experience of her being born - she has changed my life forever. 


It still hurt that he never got to feel her kick.
It still hurt that he never saw an ultrasound, or came to an appointment.
It was still hard working while pregnant.
It was still hard having to explain to every doctor, nurse and stranger I met that no, Dad isn't just as excited as me.
It still felt very lonely setting up her nursery by myself.
It still hurt like hell that he wouldn't come to the hospital - and it made the pain of labour emotional as well as physical.
.....And my tears when she was finally born were I'm sure a mixture of happiness and pain.

This pain doesn't go away just because she arrived. What I found was that her arrival rearranged my priorities.  All of a sudden, she became the most important thing in my life whereas my relationship could easily take precedence previously.  And I very quickly realized that I had never - nor would I ever - love somebody as much as I loved her. And it seemed to grow by the day.  As she grew, so did my love for her.  Just when I'd think that it wasn't possible to love her any more than I already did, I'd realize that I loved her even more.

However, like I said earlier, it didn't detract from the pain that doing it by myself created.  It just put it into a different compartment in my heart.  And like every human being has from time to time - today I had a tough one.  And despite that, I still have to put that to the side, because my daughter wants kisses and cuddles and playtime.... plus food, bottles, sleep and nappy changes.  She's lucky I love her so much, and doesn't understand yet the times when mummy is upset.

Maybe it was just the weather today, but tomorrow is definitely a new day. 
Let's hope it's a good one!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The emptiness of giving birth

It's a touchy subject, abortion, and not one readily discussed.  I have often found that this is because there are so many girls who have had one - often girls you would never expect.  Now I would never, ever judge or condemn a girl who has had one... I wasn't there, I haven't walked in their shoes, and what's done is done.  But I personally am very much against it and all for adoption (should someone not be fit to raise their child). I believe in life, and I believe there is always a way... even if you yourself can't raise your child, no matter how tough circumstances may be.  I won't get into it too much though as I'm discussing it for the purpose of this blog.  It's a very deep and intense subject that I will perhaps discuss another day in another forum.

So I was discussing this subject with a close friend of mine today, and I was talking about the effects that I've seen on girls that I know who have made this choice.  I've met one or two girls who say they really don't care, but the majority of friends I've spoken to say that at times they think about it, wonder what their baby would have been like, how their life would be now... and then those who still sometimes cry and deeply regret it. One friend told me that she thinks it subconsciously messed her up, because she feels to this day like she destroyed a part of herself.

 It got me thinking about childbirth, and the similarities between those statements.  Because although I have never aborted a child, I know what it feels like to lose a part of you after giving birth. Please note that I am not nor would I ever pretend to know what someone who has an abortion goes through.  But there is something truly magical about having a life grow inside of you.  From the day that baby is conceived, things start to change.  I remember wondering if my boobs were bigger only weeks after falling pregnant (before I knew)!  By a few months into my pregnancy, I could put my hand on my stomach and instantly feel a connection, and a small flutter.  And towards the end... it was like she instinctively knew whenever my hand was on my stomach, and she kicked in recognition.

I cannot begin to describe the feeling.  She was a part of me yet her own being all at once.  I had one mother tell me that I would miss the feeling one day.... and I didn't pay much attention... until the day after I gave birth.  I'm starting to think that this is why we as mothers are so attached to our babies.  It literally only took me one day to miss the feeling of her in my belly.  It was like a piece of me had been ripped out, and I'm not talking pain-wise. (That's a whole different story!) I kept putting my hand on my stomach, waiting for a kick, recognition, something.  It took me a couple of months not to feel somewhat lost at that empty feeling.... it was like a piece of me was lying in the cot next to me, living and breathing its own life.

And really that's what it is at the end of the day.  As a mother, the 9 months our child spends inside of us makes us one and the same being.  And when we give birth, its like we are releasing that part of us into the world to live it's own life.  Our child is a piece of us - and it's the most important part of our body to ever separate from us.  We love that child, cherish it, maintain and care for it, gently scold and teach, clean up after it, sit up through endless nights of no sleep, put our own bodies and lives on the line.... because that child really is a part of us. Not to mention the mothers who have more than one child.  No wonder my mother, a mother of four, was a shining beacon and example of what sacrifice truly means.  

So to some degree, I do understand the emptiness when that piece of you is taken... I am just truly blessed to have that beautiful piece of me with me every day.  And I think that's why any mother would put her child before her own life.... because at the end of the day, that child was once a part of her own body, and in some ways... they share the same life. What can I say... the miracle of childbirth, the wonder of life... incredible. In so many ways.

There's a really beautiful psalm in the Bible that I have always loved:

"For you created my inmost being; 
       you knit me together in my mother's womb.

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
       your works are wonderful, 
       I know that full well.

 My frame was not hidden from you 
       when I was made in the secret place. 
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 your eyes saw my unformed body. 
       All the days ordained for me 
       were written in your book 
       before one of them came to be.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! 
       How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them, 
       they would outnumber the grains of sand. 
       When I awake, 
       I am still with you."
                                                              - Psalms 139:13-18

Till next time blog-land...!

Mummy DJ and Baby DJ go on an airplane...