Friday, August 26, 2016

Letter to Bobbin - three years old

With your milestone photo doll. Not shown: the black paint on her back when you got "creative".
To read previous birthday and milestone posts click here.

Oh hey there, Bobbin!

Happy THIRD birthday! Three is a wonderful number, my favourite in fact, so I am going to assume that three is going to be a wonderful age. *shifty eyes* You're going to be three-rific, OK? No threenagers here!

No one can make me laugh quite like you can. Your comedic timing is perfect, albeit accidental since you know, you're a toddler.

"You're funny"
"No I'm not, I'm Bobbin" you reply, deadly serious. We can call you Bobbin, and only Bobbin or you tell us off. You tell us off for lots of things, actually. It is very hard not to laugh at your cranky face.

You have an answer for everything, too.

"What's that?" you ask, pointing to my wedding ring.
"It's my wedding ring, it says I'm married to dad." I tell her.
"No it doesn't. It doesn't talk. It doesn't have a talking bit." you state.
"That's rich coming from someone who forgot the word for mouth."

Previously when you woke up in the middle of the night you would always call out for Dad, which was more than fine by me, but lately you want just me. Which you make blatantly obvious by calling out "NOT YOU DAD!" instead of the standard "Mum". I suppose it gets your point across, but dude, you gotta work on your tact a bit. Your poor Dad feels a little rejected, but he gets to sleep so he's not that phased.

You started day care in March and you absolutely love it. You started in the toddler room but because of your language skills and confidence you moved up to the three year old kindy room within a few weeks. You've managed to wrap all the carers around your finger - no surprise there. Most day care days you still get a little unsure, and sometimes you will even have a few tears, but you wipe them away and say "I'll see you when you come back, Mum" and blow me a kiss. You seem so grown up, I can't believe you are only turning three today.

You are super independent, to the point where it takes us a while to get anywhere because you have to do everything yourself and if we help you, you get upset and have to start again. So it's easier to just let you do it yourself. We have a lot of fun going out together, but we can 'butt heads' if we are stuck at home. I'm stubborn and feisty, and you're a mini me.

Your dress sense is very eclectic. Sometimes you will come out in the cutest, super funky outfits, and other times in what can only be described as "homeless chic". Most days you have to have something yellow in your outfit because it's your favourite colour ever. I know this because you tell me at least six times per day.

You are loving and cuddly when you're happy, but like to handle things solo at other times, refusing cuddles if you are upset or injured, even to the point of saying "I'm not going to cry". I don't know where that comes from, your brother and I are all for the cathartic cry!

Meltdowns are pretty huge around these parts lately, and I'm surprised the neighbours haven't commented yet. You can scream like a banshee! Once I tried to match your pitch to see if I could distract you out of it... it worked, but made Tricky cry because he'd never heard me scream before. Oops. Mother of the year, here!

You have an Alice in Wonderland party coming up this weekend, but you are actually more in to The Boxtrolls and The Little Prince right now - perhaps I shouldn't have shown you them before your birthday? Oh well, the party is kinda for me because I like themes!

Have a brilliant birthday, my clever cookie, I love you so much.

Mama x

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Goodbye, breastfeeding

It's World Breastfeeding Week and Bobbin has chosen this time to self wean. The irony is not lost on me.

She has been in the process of weaning for many months now, at times going a full week without a feed. But this time we are at two weeks, and it feels like it is forever.

I've been pregnant, breastfeeding or both for seven years straight.

I could see our breastfeeding journey was coming to an end soon, or, more accurately, I could feel it was nearly over.

Bobbin's latch has been changing. Some days she would be fine and other days she would treat my nipple like a straw and not surprisingly, would get very little milk as a result. If it had been a few days between feeds, she would take a few tries to get her latch right, as if she was forgetting how to do it.

We have been down to one feed a day, just first thing in the morning to allow us all to sleep a little longer, for a long time now. There's been a few random day time feeds when she has been sick or upset, but it's not her go-to.

I'm surprised how similar the two weanings have been despite the different circumstances. Tricky weaned at around two and a half years because when I got pregnant my minimal supply dropped off and it freakin' hurt every time he latched, so I started refusing some feeds and he would shrug his shoulders and have a drink of water instead. Then he just stopped asking. It was all very painless, at least for him. I, on the other hand, felt like someone was slicing my nipples off with razor blades for those last months when pregnancy made them so sensitive.

Bobbin is just shy of three, so she has fed a few months longer than her brother, but the gradual, no fuss weaning has been almost identical. When she would hurt me with the incorrect latch I'd take her off and she'd quite happily take water, "Bobbin's milk" (soy in a bottle), or go and play. Then she stopped asking all together.

I'm glad they have both pretty much weaned in their own time, with only slight encouragement from me. It's been a gentle process and we've all adjusted well.

I always pictured myself breastfeeding my children, but at the beginning I never saw myself as a full term feeder. I guess because I'd never seen it before. It was only the blog world and the interwebs that taught me it was even a thing, and when my kids hit twelve months and were still very reliant on their "mum cuddles" (Tricky) and "mum milkies" (Bobbin) the idea of forcing them to switch to the milk of a different mammal seemed bizarre. So they kept nursing and I just went with what they wanted.

I'm not sad that it's over, though. I don't pine for those moments, though I look back on them with such fondness. Tiny hands grabbing at my shirt, little fingers exploring my face, that milk drunk face. Then as they got older, that immediate calm that would come over them when they fed, no matter what was happening around them - immunisations, blood tests and even removal of stitches. They were super boobs and could solve any problem.

It has been the cliche honour and privilege to be able to breastfeed my children and donate milk to premature babies. It hasn't been easy (nipple staph infection anyone?) but it has been worth it for us.

But I'm done. And I'm happy.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Six Months Alcohol Free

Just before Christmas 2015 I bought a bottle of Baileys. It had been such a long time since I'd had it, normally opting for whichever wine was on special (oh, $5 cleanskins, thankyouverymuch) as I was less concerned about matching alcohol to food as I was to mood. Rough week? Wine. Shit of a week? Bourbon.

So I grabbed this bottle of Baileys and had myself a glass of the stuff on ice. Oh it was good. So I had another and I forced myself to watch as the creamy liquid swirled between the iceblocks and coated them, rather than just gulping it down. It's so hard to go slow when it tastes like a heaven flavoured milkshake. 

It took a week for me to finish the bottle. Now, there are only 9.4 standard drinks in a bottle of Baileys (compared to a bottle of bourbon which has around 20) so it wasn't like I'd been binge drinking every night, but the idea of having finished a bottle of spirits to myself in a week really put me off.

I'd been feeling a little low in recent times (a huge event in November was the very start of what became my downhill freefall earlier this year) and the combination of feeling down and finishing a bottle of Baileys sent alarm bells going off in my head. 

There are a few alcoholics in my family. And a few who aren't technically alcoholic but drink more than is healthy. 

I looked at the empty bottle and wondered if this was where it all started? Would feeling a little down and having a few festive drinks turn in to feeling down and having a few New Years drinks? Then continue on to be feeling a little down and having a few too many drinking for drinking sake drinks?

I didn't want that to be me. 

So on the 30th of December I decided to set a personal goal of twelve months alcohol free. Starting immediately.  

I can't tell you why I chose twelve months, it just seemed like a good number at the time and I sure as hell can't explain why I decided two days before New Years would be a good time, having to test my resolve straight off the bat.

Today marks six months and I've not had a drop of alcohol in that time. I know, I'm just as shocked as you are.

I've still been to parties and pubs, but I've stuck to water or diet cola. I tell ya, you don't realise how much drinking is a part of our culture until you're the only one (or one of only a few) not drinking. I have a new appreciation of people who choose not to drink and a helluva lot of respect for recovering alcoholics surrounded by their demons seemingly wherever they go.

Most people are surprised to hear I'm doing it. Even though I was never a massive drinker, I was partial to a few glasses of wine once a week, especially if there was cheese and crackers on offer too. And let's not forget that on a rare night out with friends sans kids I would be very economical with my drinking - a glass is $7.60? Buy the bottle for $20, it's better value! Shall we split another one? Why not, we never go out! 

It hasn't actually been that hard and I honestly can't say I miss it all that much. I do miss the sense of relaxation though, and have had to find new ways to unwind. Unfortunately my go to anti anxiety tool right now is to eat my worries away, so hello muffin top and hello #glowgetsFAT. But my weight is not a priority right now, my mental state is.

I don't think I'm particularly healthier for having done this for six months, particularly given the whole eating my feelings thing (FYI they taste like chocolate), and I don't predict to be a beacon of health at the end of twelve months, but I feel great that I've stuck to something for half a year. I feel even better for sticking to it during what has probably been the most challenging few months of my life, complete with nervous breakdown

So I've succeeded for six months, let's see if I can go another six months. 

Have you given up anything? How long did you last? What did you do instead?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Is compassion a mental illness?

I was at the doctor's office the other day getting checked out for my unrelenting phone-sex-voice-inducing laryngitis. I usually don't go to the doctor for physical things so it wasn't surprising for my doc to move on to my mental health after she'd checked out my throat.

"How is your mood going?" she asked.

"It's pretty good, I've been having some really good days!" I replied excitedly. "But when I do have the awesome days, the effort I put in to seeming normal is exhausting and I'll often sleep all day after to recover, but on the whole, I'm soooo far from where I was!"

"Well that's moving in the right direction. What about your anxiety?" she added.

"It's not great. But my anxiety is mostly about actual things and it doesn't stop me doing things."


"Well, the federal election, Brexit, Trump, violence toward the LGBT community. The world seems to be in such a state of upheaval and it worries me what is going to happen next."

"That shows me your state of mind is still out of whack. You live in Australia but are worried about shootings in America and xenophobia in England, it doesn't make sense.

I left feeling really strange. I quite like this doctor, she's been very helpful and gone above and beyond trying to help me through my recent breakdown. She's smart, caring, non judgemental, and genuinely kind. But I respectfully disagree with her on this one.

I don't think feeling upset over the state of the world is a sign of mental illness. It isn't stopping me going about my day at all, it doesn't negatively influence how I act, but it is on my mind.

We are global citizens. What happens overseas impacts Australians. It impacts my life and the lives of my children.

The flux of racial hatred from some pea brains in the UK who hadn't thought to read what Brexit actually was and assumed it was about shutting down borders and tossing out immigrants, gave power to others who share the same small-minded thoughts on immigration and refugees. Just look at #postrefracism on twitter for truly horrifying examples. And the amount of Australians who said we should be next was staggering.

The overseas cheers and congratulations from the homophobes after the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub spurred an outpouring of love worldwide, but not enough to drown out the cascade of hate. Overhearing people at my local shops condoning the attacks because of the sexual orientation of the deceased filled me with disgust.

It hurts my heart to see so much hatred. So much fear. And I have genuine concern for the world my children are going to inherit. I don't think that makes me mentally ill. It influences my vote, who I am friends with, who I choose to spend time with, what charities I support, and how I raise my kids, but it doesn't make me huddle in a ball afraid to leave the house. However I am a person with mental illness so perhaps I'm not the one to make the call on what is or isn't bat shit crazy.

When did caring what happens to other people, being compassionate, wanting for a better world, become mental illness? 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Letter to Tricky - Six years old

Happy birthday, Buddy!!!

Little dude, you are six years old today. SIX.

You are in year one and loving every minute of it. You're the youngest in your class but have managed to get in the top numeracy and literacy groups. The nerd lyf chose you it seems.

I love all the notes you write and watching you figure out how to spell things is fascinating. Like the time you tried to spell Mercedes and wrote "msady's". Sah cute! You label everything you draw, a trait that means I will keep the label maker away from you or I'm sure to come home to you having labelled the dog.

Boundary pushing and selective listening are two of your favourite hobbies it would seem. I'm told it's normal for your age, but geez where did my lovely, reasonable boy go? You're growing up and asserting your independence, and I do love that, but sometimes I find it hard when getting ready for school takes seventeen reminders, a chart, and threatening to leave without you before you'll put your bloody shoes on. It's OK though, you'll figure it out... won't you?

Scooting at the skate park is high on your list of awesome things to do, and you got a new scooter and helmet this morning so I'm sure we'll be back at the ramps very soon to christen them. You can manage a few jumps and apparently they have cool names but I don't know what they are.

You started Auskick last month and you freakin' LOVE it. I wasn't sure how you'd go because previously you've considered yourself a master at any given sport after two minutes and then refused to play any more. But your team is almost exclusively made up of your school friends, and you all play together really well.

Every day after school you and your mates kick the ball around, and then when we get home you want to practise more, so lately you're out in the yard until it gets chilly, kicking over and over again. You're not what I'd call a natural athlete, but the effort you put in is amazing and you have come so far from not being able to do anything to having a pretty nice kick for a newbie.

You've kicked two points - the first time because you didn't know that the goal was the middle part (oops, my bad) and the second time because there were people in front of the goal and you didn't want to hurt them.

You are still a sweet, sensitive little man and will often tear up in movies, even crying at happy endings because you're so pleased it all worked out. Your level of empathy is astounding and it has helped you understand what has been going on with me lately.

Recently you wrote me a note saying you were glad I was getting my 'joy' back and it was so touching. I've explained my depression to you using Pixar's Inside Out as a starting point and you seem to understand it really well. I let you know that I take medicine to help my brain, the way you take medicine to help your lungs, and I'm hoping being open and age-appropriately honest with you will mean you never stigmatize someone with mental illness or abilities different to your own. I've hidden a lot from you, my boy, but I know you can feel what is going on and I'm so proud of you for how you've handled it.

We went camping for the first time as a family recently and it was so great so we'll be going again soon. You loved it so much and haven't stopped talking about it. You rode your bike from sun up to sun down and pretty much only came back to the tent when you were hungry. You had a massive stack and got blood everywhere which you thought was pretty cool after it had stopped hurting. It was wonderful to see you talking to new people and you declared that making friends was the best bit about the whole trip. There may have been something in my eye after you said it.

You had a disco party last night and you declared it the best party ever. Probably because dancing to loud music with the coloured lights flashing in the darkness at what should be bed time is so out of the norm. You had some lovely friends over and were very lucky to receive some amazingly thoughtful gifts.

It's gonna be another great year, dude, I can feel it. Your confidence is developing so much and I can't wait to see what happens. I promise we'll wag a school afternoon again soon and get up to mischief together.

Love Mum xxx


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