We have been a family of four for five months now. We were a family of six for a short while when we had Eeny and Meeny our chooks, but we freecycled them and their home a couple months back as we couldn’t tolerate the endless poop and the flies it attracted. Keeping them in their coop wasn’t an option- I just can’t agree with keeping anything live in an enclosed space. Having to stress about shoes because of the squishy hazard wasn’t much fun either. I miss the eggs but it was essentially just an extra responsibility which we weren’t all that into. & some days we found we were just eating eggs because there were so many- we’re not usually huge egg-eaters.
So they say that with the first child life becomes chaos and with the second, total chaos. When you throw in the stress of owning your own home, that certainly seems to fit for us! We’re in this endless cycle of cleaning and feeding, wiping noses, mopping up milky spills, emptying rubbish bins…we’re just dealing with continual mess. & through winter that is all it seems when you don’t get much chance to get outside due to the cold and rainy weather. But in saying that, this morning I looked outside to sunshine on our deck and blue sky, so it’s not always bleak.
For Naia’s first few weeks we were a family of eight when Granny Carolyn and Poppa Michael were staying too. Carolyn returned from Port Vila the day after Naia was born- she would’ve arrived the day of her birth but the aeroplane wasn’t fit to fly on the day. It took awhile to find our rhythm together, but the adjustment has been made easier with the support of our families. For our first two weeks back home, Carolyn took over laundry duties and Michael kept the kitchen clean and our bellies full. They were both a tremendous help with caring for Faeryn, allowing Bo and I to focus on Naia.
Naia’s arrival was a huge surprise. The day after posting the previous blog, I was absolutely certain I would go into labour- I had Sarah Woodgate’s prediction, the full moon on my side, and surely Naia couldn’t be born so close to Fae’s birthday or on the same day Carolyn arrived back from Port Vila, Vanuatu! I had a consistent uneasy feeling all day- felt crampy and off my food again and thought this was due to a hormonal dump in preparation for the work ahead. But I got through that day and night without any twinges. Then it was Tuesday, day of the scan. I kept myself busy in the morning running errands and getting things ready for Faeryn’s birthday, blowing up balloons and shopping for gifts- I even went out and bought a 10kg bag of chicken feed, which I carried myself. I’ve felt pretty strong and vital throughout this pregnancy.
I really thought I wouldn’t have to go through with the scan, but the afternoon arrived and still no sign of labour. Michelle and Mum watched over Faeryn while Bo and I went for the appointment. I prepared myself for the scan as if it was just a matter of formality, so I was hugely shocked when the scanner told us Naia was estimated to be 4.7kg and presenting in the breech position. Of course, I was completely freaked out- Faeryn was 2.990kg at birth so this possibility that Naia was much larger, made me realise it wouldn’t be an easy birth. Certainly not one where we’d be safe for a home birth.
I didn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation, so after the appointment we headed to Pak ‘n’ Save to grab a few bottles of spirulina smoothie. My solution to our problem at that moment was to get home and spend the next while crawling around and adopting any recommended positions for shifting Naia back to head down, and also to scull back as much spirulina as I could- my midwife had told me it was good for improving the integrity of your muscular tissue and had put this forward as a suggestion to avoid getting a tear again. I needed a lot more spirulina than I had been taking if Naia would prove to be as huge as the scan indicated!
I called my sister to share the news and she told me to call my midwife- I’d missed her call as I had left my phone at home. We then headed to Waitakere Hospital to meet with Gail, and talked to an Obstetrician there. Suddenly our plans for Naia’s arrival were swept away by a tidal wave of the unexpected, and we had to make a decision. The scanner had told us there was an error of 15% either side of the estimation so Naia could even be as big as 5.405kg. The Obstetrician, Dr Raj, was one of the few Gail knew who would support a vaginal delivery for a breech presentation, but I’d have to deliver in hospital. Anyone who knows me understands how much this goes against the grain of who I am. I’m absolutely fearful of any form of medical intervention in this context, as it seems you start off with one thing and then end up with the whole lot. I was so angry and filled with dread, but then it became clear to me that the best choice was to go for a c-section. Whatever way I would birth Naia, I wasn’t going to get out of it pain nor scar free, so it made sense to go for the caesarian in terms of safety and efficiency. So, through bitter tears of grief and rage, it was agreed and arranged for the following morning. Not much time to prepare mentally for such a u-turn. Silly me for saying to friends who had visited us in our new home- “That’s where I’ll be giving birth to Naia,” as I pointed out one corner of our lounge.
We made our way home, I tried to focus on Faeryn and enjoy these last few minutes where I had her all to myself, but my mind was on getting my bags packed and making sure everything was ready for tomorrow, and trying to push away the tears. Michelle had agreed to watch Faeryn while we were in hospital for the surgery, and Mum would collect her in the afternoon and keep her until we were out of the hospital. It took me ages to get my things together- I couldn’t think clearly about what was needed as my anxiety kept swirling around me. I managed to get a few hours of sleep in the night and thankfully didn’t go into labour. That would have been a worse situation- having to rush into hospital and go through the pains of contractions, only to have Naia pulled out of me after being cut open.
Gail was at the hospital for us and supported us the entire way through the surgery, which isn’t her usual role. The whole process was super stressful even with her there guiding us along. In the next hour or so, I had all these different people come in and talk to me, the surgeon, anaesthetist, a variety of hospital midwives… I didn’t follow much of what was being said, except to adamantly refuse the presence of student surgeons. That didn’t impress the main surgeon and she let her disapproval be known. But screw her opinion right? It was the only thing I truly got to decide for myself. I guess I felt a bit guilty afterwards, as these experiences teach them what they need to know, but I was already so overwhelmed with all these extra people around me… and in such a state of shock. In my head, Naia’s birth was always going to be to the sounds of the birds waking in the dawn and Faeryn padding into the room, bleary-eyed clutching Madilla, with Bo, Gail and my sister to witness it all. But here I was on a hospital bed, with messy hair and tears streaming down my cheeks. I was given the hospital robe to wear and the dvt socks, hair net, shaven (TMI? made me feel like I was some kind of test animal), IV thingo inserted… I was given my own room which I didn’t have when we were in the UK, so that was a wee blessing. Then I was being led into the operating room.
I was pretty much crying the whole way. For me, this was a completely traumatic situation, and I just can’t comprehend that some women would elect for this to happen to them, and are able to smile and laugh their way through it. I had seen a few of these scenarios play out on “One Born Every Minute”, but I just couldn’t put myself in that welcoming head space. Bo had been trying to get me to focus on the very fact that soon we would have Naia here in our arms, but all I could see was the fact that I was being operated on. Opened up. It’s just horrific. The Anaesthetist had glasses, so I could see a reflection of what was happening in her lenses. I tried not to look. My mind kept thinking about those stories you hear where someone gets operated on and then the surgeons leave something inside, like scissors or a cellphone… and even with all the drugs to keep me from feeling, I could still feel. My body being moved about, me having no control of it whatsoever, like it is turned off and inaccessible to me. It really is a ghastly space.
Anyway, it was 9:37 am on Wednesday February 27th that Naia was brought into our arms, a healthy, beautiful baby girl. 4.13kg so not as large as predicted but still larger than Faeryn. Bodra was by my side the whole time, aside from when he had to get his gown put on. What a different world we live in where you can have your partner support you the whole way- he even managed to take a couple pictures when Naia emerged. Very brave!
The Dr (Nelly?) did a remarkable job sewing me back up and I won’t have much of a scar. It still hurts a little now and then, like sunburn, but I only took pain relief in the first two weeks. I was on a morphine drip in the hospital- I could press a button to give myself more which was pretty awesome. It was very tender initially, and when I started to breastfeed Naia it became worse, as that sets off the uterus contracting back to the normal size. The midwife had only just checked on me a few minutes before, asking for a pain rating between 1 and 10, and I had said, “yeah it’s fine, about a 3 for pain”. Five minutes later I called for her as I was in tears for the pain which had suddenly gone to a 10. It was quite scary knowing that things could change so rapidly. I really feel for people who have to experience pain in this way without any gradual build up to help create a sense of tolerance.
Mum, Dad, Michelle and Faeryn came to visit in the afternoon. I was in a bit of a morphine haze so didn’t really know what to do with the gifts presented, and felt an emotional wreck so couldn’t really work out what to say or even to process what was being said to me nor around me. I was also spinning as, upon seeing Faeryn I was beset with a deep feeling of loss and grief. I recognised that she was no longer my baby- she was instantly transformed into a little girl.
I had to spend one night in Waitakere Hospital, without Bodra, and in comparison to the RBH, we have got it so good in NZ. I didn’t have the stress of having to listen to women giving birth right through the paper thin walls like I did in the UK, so I was well rested through the night- one of the midwives took Naia for a few hours in the night so I could just relax. It’s a bit weird being on morphine as I kept having these strange visions of a spider creeping across the floor, even though my eyes were closed.
Bo was back with us at 7am I think, and we got on with getting me prepared to leave the hospital. I had the catheter removed and managed to use the toilet, passed some wind which is a good sign to help you demonstrate you are ready to leave (hooray for farts!). I had a shower without any assistance, and felt able to move around without too much pain. By mid-day we were out of the hospital and on our way to the Helensville Birthing Centre, via Hells Pizza for lunch. The midwives gave me some tramadol for the journey which must’ve helped as I didn’t feel much pain during the drive along those winding roads.
Again, we had a room to ourselves, but this time Bo was allowed to stay the night. We also had food being prepared and delivered for me, all really tasty dishes. All I had to do was relax and nurse Naia. It would’ve been more relaxing if the mattress was more supportive and less springy- by the end of our second sleep there I was ready to head home. I’m still very much the Princess and the Pea, but I also had a deep yearning for Faeryn. I felt so guilty being away from her.
Our families came to visit us at Helensville- my sister Michelle, came the first day with Faeryn, Mum and Dad. Kim also visited that evening and gave Bodra her sushi for dinner. The following day was Faeryn’s second birthday, but we decided to postpone until I was back home and a little better. Carolyn and Michael visited with Faeryn, and Gail the midwife also visited.
The staff at the Helensville Birthing Centre were all pretty terrific, giving me lots of support and encouragement when I was nursing Naia. It was really the perfect place to begin this journey, but I don’t think I appreciated it at the time. I just wanted to be home and with Faeryn.
I managed to have a symbolic birthing experience at Helensville during my first night there when I made my first proper bowel motion (ahem!). This isn’t commentary on how I feel towards my children, but anyone who has been through surgery will relate to the nervousness I felt towards this event- will it happen? When? Will I come out unscathed? I felt quite disconnected from the lower part of my body, being able to feel the muscles and communicate with them was like stumbling around in the dark after being spun around- completely disorientating. So I really celebrated when it happened, but then was flooded with anguish that this was all I had to birth.
We got home on Saturday morning. Carolyn, Michael and Faeryn were there to greet us, and my sister and her boys visited soon after we arrived. It felt so good to be reacquainted with home, and I was so pleased with the sense of home we had created so quickly.
We celebrated Faeryn’s second birthday on Monday in the afternoon. All grandparents were present, along with Uncle Shannon and Aunty Michelle, and Paul popped by with Ryan too. I was in quite a hormonal spin and very stressed that Fae wouldn’t enjoy herself- silly me, but I felt so terrible that we had delayed her special day. I still can’t believe our two little girls have their birthdays so close together!
It was a difficult first week learning the new rhythm that Naia brought. Emotionally, I felt all out of sorts. I’d look at Naia, over there in the Moses basket, and felt this swirling of grief and regret. I didn’t feel connected to her. Yes, she was this beautiful, perfect being, healthy and vital. She needed me, but I felt so broken and lost. And then there was Faeryn, our baby who had suddenly transformed into a little girl after this event. Such an unfathomable distance now lay between us as I stared out the window and saw her playing in the yard with Granny and Poppa. I couldn’t pick her up, and someone else now needs me, more than her…
Learning to nurse Naia brought a much different challenge to what I had faced with Faeryn. Naia is such a keen feeder so in those initial days I was intensely sensitive and raw on my nipples, even cracking and bleeding. I was very ready to accept defeat and get Naia on formula, but thankfully no one else gave up. I took a few days off and just expressed, and slathered on the lanolin salve to heal up. That was all I needed and I’m still exclusively nursing Naia now with hardly any discomfort.
Naia is a robust, happy and mostly relaxed, super sweet baby. She has had a bit of an issue with spilling her feed and getting a lot of trapped wind which clearly distresses her. We’ve had her on Gaviscon for the spilling which seemed to help but then she’d get a bit blocked up. We’ve taken her to the Osteopath but after four or so treatments we didn’t notice any difference. Now we are taking her to an acupuncturist, so hopefully that will be beneficial. Of course, you never know for certain if these things actually help, or if it is just a passage of time.
Naia is saying Mumumumum now and paying a lot of attention to her hands. She is a digit sucker (not just her thumb) and I’m sure I noticed just a couple weeks back the appearance of a tooth on her lower jaw- just a little white dot on the gum. Naia is very much a drooly baby so I wouldn’t be surprised if her teeth appear earlier than Faeryn’s did.
I would never say that Faeryn was into Naia at all, she doesn’t seek Naia out and mostly only attends to her if I direct her to do so, although there have been the odd self-initiated kisses. One recent morning was a little tricky as I had Naia in the kitchen with me, sitting in her bouncy, and I asked Faeryn to get Naia a blanket. This became a game of covering Naia’s face with the blanket. Luckily Naia wasn’t distressed in this, but as soon as I uncovered Naia’s face, Faeryn was back quick as a flash to cover her again. I know their relationship will improve eventually, but the current situation does make me feel a bit guilty for changing Faeryn’s world so suddenly, whilst she herself is still a baby. I can’t help but wonder if the things I sometimes expect of Faeryn now are beyond her capabilities, am I harder on Faeryn now that Naia is here?
Naia has nothing but love for Faeryn. Pretty much as soon as Faeryn is in her vicinity, she’ll crane her head to look for her. It’s wonderful having such a large play area for them, so Naia can be on her activity mat right in the centre of all of Faeryn’s wild play. Of course there have been a few occasions where Faeryn has been quite rough with Naia, like when she grabbed the scrubbing brush from outside and decided to scrub Naia’s face- right after I had explained that the brush wasn’t for that purpose!
In these past few months we’ve achieved so much at Fort Knox, many of those things with the assistance of Bo’s parents- Michael is incredibly savvy when it comes to nearly any aspect of home renovation. We’ve had a new hot water cylinder put in the house to improve the water pressure (apparently the pipes under the house are configured like a rabbit warren) and also have hot water in the garage, where the laundry is located. We had a bad patch at the end of Summer where Faeryn was getting a continuous nappy rash, which the doctor put down to not washing her nappies in hot water, so that motivated us to get the hot water in.
We also had plumbers in to upgrade our kitchen faucet, which was a terrible experience- always ask for the hourly rate before the work begins! We’ve had electricians in a couple times to rewire the garage and recently to fix a tripped wire which took out all the power in the bedrooms. Carolyn paid for us to get some landscaping done so the pond has been turned into an area ready for planting- the mosquitoes were quite a problem during the warmer months so taking out the pond will improve that situation. The fireplace was also sorted out with a new flue and bricks and that has been keeping us a touch warmer these past few months.
Bo painted Naia’s room- I stripped off the hideous blue stripey wallpaper and then Bo did everything else. We used this fantastic deep warm purple called seance and then a turquoise colour called yabadabadoo! There’s still more I want to do in Naia’s room, like painting a golden sun and silver star design on the ceiling, and I’m absolutely itching to getting on with painting Faeryn’s room, but that will have to wait for now.
We had one major expense, getting most of our windows covered with Insulglaze- acrylic panels which go over the glass so they essentially become double glazed windows. Each morning we would wake to discover so much condensation on the windows, sheets of water basically, and that was in early Autumn. Mold was also appearing on our walls and ceiling. With Winter looming, Bo did some research and decided Insulglaze would be the best solution as it is also meant to make the home warmer and provide some sound-proofing. 14K or so later, we still get a bit of condensation but we only need to wipe the windows about once a week now. This is my first forray into having multiple credit cards, which doesn’t sit comfortably with me. We will have a huge celebration once that debt has been wiped clear.
Which may be some time away, or may be very soon. We had some pretty awful but not unexpected news on Thursday morning when Bo’s Manager called to make him redundant. It wasn’t due to anything Bo had or hadn’t done, just a big change within Symantec where his role can be taken on by another person. It seems crazy to me, because Bo has been working on developing this tool since early November, and Symantec won’t have anything to show for all that time. What a huge waste of money, but I’m grateful as it’s allowed him to work from home and be here for these difficult months with a newborn and a toddler, and support me through my exhausted, emotional, hormonal roller-coaster ride.
I just can’t believe that this happens to families though. That a company can be so brutal, taking away the income in two weeks time. How do you even begin to be prepared for that? So the future is somewhat daunting. Bo is incredibly upbeat about it all, he says he is highly skilled and highly employable and has already applied for half a dozen positions. We are hoping that he finds a job outside of Symantec soon, so that he can collect the redundancy payout and be earning a salary at the same time. Then our debt will be clear and a weight lifted off.
I know I’m going to struggle quite a bit initially trying to manage our girls on my own, and we’re trying to work out a plan so that it isn’t as huge a stress as I think it will be. It will be easier once Naia is sleeping through the night which surely is only a month or so away? I’m worried about having a timer on my nursing with Naia, as it is often the only time I get to make contact with her and I want to go at her pace so that she gets what she needs from me. But Fae will need me too and I don’t want to just plonk her down in front of the telly. I guess it’s all about making adjustments to our expectations, and trying not to feel too guilty in the process.
Once we have Naia’s digestive situation on track, I’ll be able to start her on some purees (or maybe I will be braver this time and go for the baby-led weaning approach). We usually wake her around 10pm (but she mostly wakes herself) for a change and feed, and then she wakes us usually once in the night after 3am for another feed. Sometimes it is very challenging to settle her back in the cot as she gets so distressed by the built up wind, her belly feels so bloated- as tight as the skin on a drum. It surprises me because she is such a farty baby. I don’t even remember Faeryn farting, but every one of Naia’s is a celebration as it means relief for her.
I know there is more from these five months that I’d love to share but I think this will do- it is the weekend after all and I should really go play with my family. I remember a lifetime ago when I used to celebrate the weekend. Friday night was so majickal, there was this sense of potential adventure and bountiful freedom and it was only ever a few days away. Now, every day is the same, and adventure comes in the shape of the new sounds Naia makes and the amazing sentences Faeryn springs on us to show how much she absorbs without us even realising. I just wish there was something I could take to keep the energy required cranked up so that I could do all the chores at warp speed and have more time to play with Fae and Naia. & that there was more time to do ‘just me’ things too. Highly unoriginal thoughts I’m sure, and as Michael says “This too shall pass. Just breathe in, and let it go.”
I kind of feel like I will finish the blog now, as it’s no longer about Bear and Butterfly travelling the world. I still want to share our beautiful girls and our lives with our friends and family, but that would be better done in person. So, whomever is out there reading this… come by and visit us!