Now you are now, right this minute, three months old. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to watch you learn and grow, and it’s hard to believe you’ve only been here 3 short, but long, months. We thought you were a delight at 2 months, but the last month has seen you develop your sweet personality even more. You are so sweet, demanding, determined and, as I’m sure I’ve said before, feisty!
This month you started to recognise your Dad as a familiar and trusted person. When he gets home your face brightens and you love to chat to him about what you’ve been up to. You earnestly ooooh and aaaah at him, grinning when he responds to you. I enjoy watching these interactions almost more than when you chat to me in the same way. You are so close to rolling over from back to front, you might even do it tonight, after this post has been drafted for your birth minute.
This week you discovered how to use your hands. You knew they were there before, but now you know how to make them do things! Some of the time, anyway. You bat the mushroom on your bouncy chair, grinning as it makes the owl swing. You’ve also worked out how to use them to shove things in your gob. Everything you grasp onto gets a good dose of slobber, including toys, our hands, clothes and a leaf. I know this is just the beginning, I’m sure I’ll be fishing things out of your mouth for a long time to come. I just hope you don’t take after your Auntie Lucie, she once ate a snail and your poor Granny had to scoop it out.
Your favourite place to sleep is where you are as I type this, with your face against my chest or over my shoulder, your body stretched down mine, your teeny toes resting on my thigh. Sometimes I wrangle you into a wrap so I can have two hands to type while you sleep, but sometimes, well, most of the time, I just breathe you in. I know this time is fleeting, so I savour every moment.
Your 4th month might see your Mumma a little frazzled, but I think that you will be my saving grace. You see, you, me, your Dad, and your 3 fur-sisters are moving! We’re moving so far away, to Canberra from Perth, and I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of packing and planning that has to be done. We might not leave until after your 4th month birthday, but so much has to be done before then. The good thing is that it will be a new start for our little family. Your Dad won’t have to work 7 days a week, he’ll be home with us every weekend. We’ll get to explore a new area, make new friends, and settle into a nice routine. So I’m sorry if the house is a disaster, that we’ll have to temporarily stay in strange places, and if I’m grumpy or stressed. I promise I’ll never take it out on you, and it really is for the better.
I hope you’re ready for our next adventure, my love, it’s going to both exciting and scary!
My Mum went home last week. She lives on the other side of the country, so we were so lucky that she was able to stay with us for 11 weeks! In the first few weeks, when June wasn’t feeding well and I wasn’t healing well, it was Mum who kept the house going. Matt is totally hands on with Juniper, in the first few weeks at home he did most of the feeding while I expressed milk for the next feed, so we were equally exhausted. Mum wasn’t here to help with June, she was here to help with me, and that’s exactly what you need when you have a baby. She wasn’t here to change nappies or give baths or give me advice on how to be a mother, she just provided us with support to keep things afloat. Clean dishes appeared when we needed them, loads of washing appeared on the washing line, healthy food materialised in front of me, and when I was at my lowest points and needed to cry, she was there to rub my back or hold the baby so I could go and cry in the shower.
After we were settled she was just here for a holiday, with the perk of hanging out with her granddaughter! I’m not sure she’s ever been on a real holiday before, and I think she needed the time away from ‘real life,’ as much as I needed her here. She took over my sewing room, putting it to better use than I had for months, churning out wonderful outfits for June. Once I have the time I’ll teach myself to also sew baby clothes and I hope that we can sell things together at a market one day.
I really admire my Mum, I hope that I can follow her example as a mother. She knows when to be a mother, and when to be a friend. She knows when to let her children go, and when to give advice. She’s creative, empathetic, intelligent and kind.
I think that one day we will have a granny flat in the bottom of the garden, a little place perfect for June’s Granny.
Juniper has been here for 11 weeks, and we spent the first 5-6 struggling to breastfeed. It’s not unusual for breastfeeding to take several weeks to establish, but not many people talk about their struggles. It may be that at the time you have no time to talk about it, and in hindsight it didn’t seem that bad, or it may be that it is perceived as a failure and something to be ashamed of. Whatever the reason, when it seems like everyone else has a wonderful and easy time with it, it’s natural to wonder what is wrong with you. Chances are there’s nothing wrong with you, it just might take some time!
I will write out our breastfeeding journey in full, but for now, here is what got me through those weeks.
1. The magic of milk.
We all know ‘breast is best,’ but it pays to remember why. I’m not too sure about the idea that we were ‘designed’ for anything, but if God really got down to it he would have definitely been very busy in the kitchen, designing a recipe for the perfect nourishment for babies, because this stuff is magic! Easily digested, everything they need (except Vitamin D, oops), and what really sets it apart from its formula counterpart, antibodies! Magic and wonderful antibodies! They protect Juniper from illnesses that I’m exposed to, and that’s a pretty darn good reason to get it into her, any way I can!
The magic of milk was only a motivation to keep pumping though, at one point I had resigned myself to a few years of pumping and bottle feeding, but there were other factors which pushed me to keep trying her on the breast.
At the moment Juniper either sleeps next to my bed or in it, so night feeds only require me to point my nipple at her and wait for her to finish, then we both fall straight back to sleep. After the weeks of struggling, the ease of this still amazes me. Wherever I go, I’ve got her dinner on tap. There’s no waiting for formula to heat up, or breast milk to defrost, you just unclip the bra and you’re off!
Oh my goodness, I am lazy. Any shortcut I can make, I’ll be there. Spending weeks finger feeding with a tube, then feeding with a bottle, showed me that neither Matt nor I are cut out for bottle feeding, either with formula or expressed milk. Expressed milk is a little easier, you can feed it at room temperature and you don’t have to sterilise anything. But with both you still have to wash things, really well too! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
My milk is free! The most complete and best food Juniper could ever hope for, and it’s free. Amazing.
I’m not ashamed to say that there was an element of pride in my determination to get her feeding properly. I’ve read several books about the history of breastfeeding, and about breast milk in our culture. I’ve written essays about it, dammit! I was not giving up!
I haven’t written about it yet, but the birth of Juniper was a very difficult experience for me. I struggled with feeling like my body had failed me, both during the pregnancy and the delivery via emergency caesarean section. I needed to keep trying, I needed to feel like my body could do something right. Through our breastfeeding journey I’m relearning that my body is strong and capable.
7. It Feels Good.
Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, the ‘love hormone.’ It’s the same chemical which is released when we hug and kiss and *ahem* do other things. Breastfeeding makes you and your baby feel damn good! It didn’t in those first week, but I knew that if we could get it right that it would give us both a lot of joy.
These days the easiest way to turn a cranky June into a happy June is to stick her on the boob. She feeds when she’s hungry, she feeds when she’s upset, she feeds when she’s tired. It’s a fool-proof way to get her to sleep, and I really don’t care if the ‘experts’ want to tell me that’s wrong, that she’ll get dependent, that she’ll never sleep by herself. She’s a baby, she doesn’t need to learn how to self-soothe just yet; she needs her Mumma. Providing her with comfort now will help her to be a confident toddler, child, and adult, because she will always feel safe. In the meantime, solving all of Juniper’s problems with the ‘magic boob’ is almost too easy! When we were struggling to latch, and she would scream at the sight of my nipple, I thought about how much I wanted her to find comfort in my breast, and that thought is what pushed me to keep trying, night after night.
It’s strange that this struggle was only 5 weeks ago, it feels like a lifetime. In the midst of those weeks it felt like forever, it felt like my entire life had become a constant cycle of desperately trying to feed a screaming infant, feeding her expressed milk, pumping more milk for the next feed, and sleeping when I could. To make things more difficult I had complications with my wound, so I was also in a lot of pain. I felt blank and exhausted and helpless and frustrated. But there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. We both fought so hard to reach this point, and I really cherish our breastfeeding relationship now. I hope it continues for many many more months to come.
You are now, right this minute, two months old. I actually think that you believe yourself to be two years old. Or perhaps even twenty. You are feisty and determined, and clearly have things to do and places to be. I had to laugh when I was reading what to expect at three months, that you may be able to hold some of your weight when held on your feet. Well you, my love, clearly haven’t read the books. I hold you on your feet and you push up, your big round thighs holding you steady. You grin and wave your arms; you’re happiest on your feet, and I think this is because you are quite sure you’re not a baby. I almost feel like if I let you go you’d go trotting down the hallway, out the door, and off to university.
You do not like to be confined or wrapped at all. You’ve refused to be swaddled since you were two weeks old, and you hate being in your car seat. I can only wear you when you’re asleep, because when you wake you kick your legs, throw your head back, and demand to be free. It’s almost like you’re telling me that you spent months cooped up within me, and now you’re making up for lost time. I hope that in the coming weeks you enjoy being worn again, because I love to feel you so close, knowing you’re safe and secure.
I always feel a bit odd watching people hold you, they cradle you carefully, making sure your neck won’t drop. You’ve been taking care of that since you were two weeks old, when you could hold your head steady and stare at the bookcase for minutes at a time. I hope this love of books doesn’t fade, that your interest in the shapes and colours of the book spines translates to a love of words and pictures.
You first smiled at five weeks, and with those first grins and smirks my attitude changed. Once you were engaging with me nothing felt like a chore – you were not just a helpless slug needing attention but a person, telling me what you needed, grinning at the sight of my nipple, demanding your nappy be changed. It’s perhaps no coincidence that this was when we finally worked out how to breastfeed. You’re talking now, more and more every day. Nothing makes me happier than waking up with next to me, grinning and cooing, ready to tell me all about your plans for the day. I talk back and your eyes open wide with amazement at the range of sounds I can make. ‘Ba-ba-ba’ is your favourite today, you practically burst with glee as you intently watch my lips, trying to determine just how I’m producing the sounds.
You will always be my everything, but one thing you will never be is my ‘princess.’ Because what is a princess? Someone born into not-much-power? Or married into it. Someone needing to be rescued, waiting for her prince. Someone mild, delicate, and passive. But oh no, my dear, not you. You are already solid, strong, active and determined. You will be the one climbing down the tower, you will wake yourself from the slumber, and you will keep your voice, the most precious gift you have, and stay happily in the ocean.
As much as I delight in all that you can already do, I wouldn’t be so sad if you decided to slow down a little. You’re my baby after all, and there really is no rush. You have a lifetime to conquer the world, but for only so long will you need me like you do now.
I hope that you will always have such a fearless and adventurous spirit, but know that I will always be your safe haven.
About two months ago I had a baby. Her name is Juniper. If you follow me on twitter or instagram you will probably have already noticed this, but I thought I should officially update my woefully kept pregnancy log.
I will write her birth story at some point. It wasn’t a nice birth, or an empowering experience, but it has a happy ending.
Her full name is Juniper Hilda Susan Kennedy-Harris. She has many names, and we now know she has the feisty personality to handle them. Hilda is her Great-Great-Grandmother, on Matt’s side, and Susan is my mum. Juniper is inspired by the beautiful Juniper Pearl, from the movie Benny and Joon.
She was born at 9.22PM on the 9/9, and weighed a fairly hefty 4040g, or 8lb 15oz. She was 53cm long. She now weighs an even heftier 6kg, and is, mostly, an utter delight.
It feels like she’s been here for the blink of an eye and an eternity all at once.
She is perfection personified, of course.
Apparently I only post fortnightly now… I’m sure this will change when I get through my exams. I have 20 more days and it’s all over for the semester, and then I have to decide what to do next semester…
Blob is getting bigger and kickier, and I can’t wait to meet her/him/it! My favourite activity at the moment is to sit on the couch with my shirt pulled over my belly so I can see it jiggle and shudder as Blob tries to make an escape, alien style. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of how it feels! Even when I get a good punch/headbutt in the bladder, it’s still amazing.
I had another appointment at the hospital on Friday. It was awful again, but at least this time it was self-inflicted anxiety, not from any outside influence. I had the same doctor, and I think he must have actually my psych note, because I felt much more respected than the last visit.
I feel a little embarrassed writing about the anxiety attack I had, but this is what it’s like having an anxiety disorder. It’s irrational and sometimes ridiculous. And if it helps anyone reading to know that they’re not alone, then it’s worth some people thinking I’m a bit crazy.
When you arrive at the antenatal clinic at the hospital you have to go and weigh yourself and do a urine test for glucose, protein and blood. Now, I know what it means to have glucose and/or protein in the urine, but I wasn’t sure what blood indicated. But it’s blood. It sounds bad. When I did my test the first two were negative, but it came back as very high positive for blood. Bad. Blood is bad, right? The awful thing about having us test ourselves is that afterwards we have to sit and wait to see a midwife and then a doctor. Within 20 minutes I had diagnosed myself with kidney failure, and decided I would probably have to have a c-section before I died. I KNOW. RIDICULOUS. But that was the reality in my mind, so I sat, shaking, for and hour and half, waiting for the midwife. I was so glad to have Matt there in retrospect, but at the time I just didn’t believe him when he said that everything would be fine.
When I did get called to the midwife she asked how I was, and I answered, voice stuttering, ‘well I’m a bit worried because I had positive for blood in my urine and I don’t know what that means and I’m a bit worried about that.’ *GULP*. ‘But the others were negative?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Ok.’ End of conversation. Until she took my blood pressure, I don’t know what it was, but I’m guessing it was HIGH. She gave me a few moments to calm down before taking it again. I was able to calm down by going to my mental happy place of sitting in my chair while doing some crochet, and the next reading was normal. There’s a few definitions of agoraphobia, but one of them is the fear of having a panic attack in public. That’s most definitely the variety I have. I’m able to mask my anxiety very well, only Matt can see when I’m on the verge of breaking down, but I think my blood pressure must have given me away to the midwife! After all that anxiety and stress in the waiting room the doctor didn’t even mention the blood in the urine, I had to ask him at the end of the visit. Apparently it’s pretty normal and common for pregnant women to have blood in their urine, and he said it it’s still positive next time then they’ll test for an infection.
It’s nothing. It’s common. I’m fine. Blob is fine.
I just feel like a bit of a dope.
Whoops, did you notice I skipped a week? No? Just both Blob’s grandmothers? Well then. (Hi Lesley and Mum!)
I think my brain needed a little break from thinking about being pregnant. It’s a weird thing, being pregnant. It’s not like it requires any real mental effort, it’s just something my body is doing all by itself. But it’s always there, taking up a little bit of brain power. Or a lot of brain power.
Thank you for all the supportive comments/tweets/emails after my last post, I really appreciate that you (and you and you and you) understood where I was coming from. The doctor didn’t touch me excessively or inappropriately, it was just that I had put a coping mechanism in place, well in advance, and it failed me. My next hospital visit is next week, and the first thing I will say to the doctor is, ‘have you read my psych care plan?’ And if they say no, I will tell them I will wait while they do.
I also think I’m going to drop a unit from Uni. It seems crazy to drop out when there’s only a couple of weeks left, but when I look at the amount of work I’m supposed to do in that time? It would be near impossible, nearly half a semester’s worth! If I was at my best, mentally and physically, then I could get the work done. But I’m not. And that won’t magically change. I find it very hard to differentiate between avoidance and stress management. Avoidance is my main coping strategy for my anxiety, and it works very well! The problem with avoidance is that you avoid this, that, and the other, until eventually you’re avoiding being alive. However, I think I’m just managing my stress levels. I’m not completely dropping out of Uni, just one unit. I think that’s ok considering my anxiety disorder and the fact that I was very very ill for much of the semester.
So, how have the Blob and I been? Well Blob has been busy building something. That’s all I can imagine it’s doing in there. Possibly some kind of escape hatch for the developing exit plan. I’ve been much the same, nauseous in the mornings, heartburn all the time, and spending way too much time doing nothing but sitting and feeling my belly. I’ll never get sick of the flips and flops and pokes and prods. I had my first intense food craving, I desperately needed canned tomato soup and crumpets, with the soup in a mug. It was so good, my belly was very happy!
I’m hoping that now that I have less on my uni plate, that I’ll be able to put something on my crafting plate! And then I’ll have something pretty to show you, instead of just my words.