31 December 2013

See ya, 2013!

2013 was a bit of a crazy year for our family. I am happy to chalk it all up to experience, but I'm also happy to have a fresh start that the beginning of a new year seems to bring.

The most notable things to happen were Hayden's bike accident and subsequent head injury, the arrival of precious Gryffen, and the beginning of contact with my wonderful birth mother, B. (Stay tuned for another update soon, by the way.)

Beach babe - sister's towel for a mattress, brother's towel for a swaddle, under the shade of the big monkey-tail tree.

We enjoyed our holiday to Papamoa before Christmas (as above), particularly as we got to welcome my sister home for a visit from the UK, where she's been for 3 years now! We're looking forward to a few more foray's into summer holidaying. It's so great having a husband who's a school teacher that gets 7 weeks of summer holidays too!

So, my friends and loyal readers, see you on the other side! Happy New year to you and yours, love from me and mine.

10 December 2013

Let's Catch Up

A bullet point-ed post for today.

- I am thoroughly enjoying listening to LOTS Christmas music this year. On my playlist at the moment is Michael Buble's Christmas, Pentatonix' PTXMAS and Chris Tomlin's Glory In The Highest. I listen via Grooveshark to be able to hear lots of different albums.

I'm getting pretty good at the Baby-Mama-selfie now

- My baby is growing up. I'll admit to some sadness when Gryffen outgrew his 000 clothes and moved into 00 (3-6mo). But of course he's just as cute and bright eyed as ever. Last weekend he was a bit fevered and came up in a viral rash - we raced to the doctor in a bit of a panic - but it was harmless and he's fine again. He's such a delight. Being his Mama is so easy; I'm enjoying it so much. Long may it stay that way!!

Excuse Hayden's big yawn!

- Elliot is just about finished school for the year. In 20 minutes (!!!) I get not only my oldest son back, but my husband too! For 7 whole weeks! I'll admit to being very pleased that homework is already stopped for the year. It's nice for Elliot to come home and just be able to play until dinner time, instead of having to force him to sit down and do his work = worst part of the day! I'm so looking forward to the months ahead; we've got some lovely holidays planned.

- I'm loving seeing my curls come out in my children. Tristan has a gorgeous golden curly mop. I'm glad he sleeps mostly on his tummy so I don't have to torture my childcomb the knots out every morning - a certain daughter's least favourite activity.

- I'm enjoying making smoothies for breakfast. I'd been - unintentionally - skipping breakfast by running out of time and then getting busy (small children will do that to you). Of course, I make time for my coffee first though... In my smoothie I add 1c milk, half a banana, some strawberries and raspberries, pear or mango, and some chia seeds. I feel awesome in the morning now.

- We've been enjoying the warmer weather (except for this rain we've had lately). It's so great to be in t-shirts and shorts - and to be able to send the kids outside to run off all their excess energy! We've even indulged in some simple water play which results in happily entertained children, so this Mama can put her feet up for a while.

- We enjoyed celebrating Mum's birthday a few weeks ago. Considering that 35 years ago, her oncologist gave her a 5% chance of survival, we feel pretty thankful for every special day we get to hang out with her.

Roll on Summer Holidays! We are going to enjoy you!

05 December 2013

Renovations reveal: Rosie's room

Finally I can show you some of our finished renovations! Rosie's room is my favourite part. If you remember back in this post about our renovation plans, I explained how we planned to rearrange things to make space for an extra room. At first it was going to be for Baby Four (since revealed to be Gryffen!), but along they way we changed our minds and decided to make a special space for Rosie-girl.

We took extra space from the laundry, hot water cupboard and shower and turned it into a small but lovely bedroom.

Please excuse my sub-par photos...
Before and During:

L: The shower room R: The old laundry, pre-demolition. I've marked where to new wall for Rosie's room will go, see?

L: Walls come down! R: Looking through to the laundry. I've marked the framing for the new wall.

Hayden painstakingly scraped up all the old vinyl off the floor.

Shower in your room, Rosie?


L: Dry-walled and plastered ready for painting... R: Painted and curtained!

L: Pink wall! R: Small-ish in size...

For interest's sake, a comparison of before and after:

A brand new GIRL room! Pretty exciting.

L: These pictures hung in my room when I was little. R: Rosie's 'baby animals' and some of my old special nik-naks on the shelf my Opa made for me one Christmas when I was young.

It's pretty exciting to be nearly finished. I will be very glad to have it all done and dusted! Next up on the blog will be the bathroom reveal!

04 December 2013

Kiwi Mummy Blog review: Breastmates Dress

Friends, I have to tell you about this incredible dress. Franny at Breastmates teamed up with Kiwi Mummy Blogs to send me her Grace Short Dress to review for you - which I can tell you: not a hardship at all! I would go so far as to say this is just about the perfect dress.

Suprise! The glamorous blonde is not me. Pics from Breastmates.

The Grace dress is from Franny's Bump and Boob range, and is designed by her. It is so easy to wear - stretchy and not clingy, cool and comfortable. And - importantly - it is easy to breastfeed in. It did take me a few days of wearing it to really get the hang of how to feed my little guy without exposing myself, but now that I've got the knack, it's super simple.

I know I'll live in this dress over Summer because I don't have to wear any other layers to be completely decent. Tummy covered? Check! Boob covered? Check! In fact, a friend said to me the other morning, "Did I just see you feeding AND wearing the dress?!" Can I get a resounding "woo hoo!" for not overheating by breastfeeding in Summer?!

The length is perfect - I can run around after my gaggle of children, get down on the floor to change a nappy and reach into the back seat to do up a seatbelt buckle, all without flashing my knickers. A pretty important feature, I think! And speaking of important features: it's easy to wash and dry. I know this because I've had to do this two times already. Each time I wore the dress, my Gryffen spit up or dribbled milk over me - the hazards of my occupation! Hassle-free washing is important, and the Grace Dress delivers.

I just love that the super-stretchy, easy-wearing knit fabric makes this the perfect dress for every day wear, while still being beautiful enough to wear for special occasions. Wear it on the school run with flats and a sun hat, then wear it out to dinner with heels and a sparkly necklace. I'm already looking forward to wearing it to my cousin's wedding in a few weeks and know I'll be incredibly comfortable AND oh-so-glam.

If you're looking to invest in a piece of breastfeeding-friendly clothing I wholeheartedly recommend the Grace Short Dress from Breastmates. Perfectly versatile, flattering on all body types - I am what you could loosely describe as a curvy girl (read: still trying to lose that baby weight from four babies ago...) and this dress makes me feel beautiful. Go on, you won't regret it.

Buying from Breastmates is so easy - and quick! I bought a top on Monday morning and it arrived on Tuesday morning! Breastmates also have a no fuss returns policy to combat the occasional uncertainty of buying online. Go and have a look; you're sure to see something you like. Find Franny on Facebook too!

Kiwi Mummy Blogs

**Breastmates and KMB sent me this dress to review for you, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!**

21 November 2013

Gryffen: Birth Story #4

My Gryffen is 3 months old today. 3 lovely months of getting to know this sweet little boy. I decided that it was finally time for me to sit down and write his birth story - before I forget it all!

I have just finished reading, for the second time, an amazing book called Baby Catcher, by Peggy Vincent. Peggy was a nurse midwife in San Fransisco in the 70's through 90's. It's an incredible book, I must tell you more about the epiphany I had when I read it the first time. Anyway, in the back, there is a page of Peggy's Pearls of Wisdom. This one made me smile: "Slow starters are usually fast finishers." That was certainly true for me on the 21st of August!

If we rewind back to Monday, the 12th of August, 40w+3, I woke up with some light contractions. Yes! Finally! Hayden sticks around home, Sarah my fabulous sister-in-law and midwife-in-training heads down (see my birth pun?) for the hour drive to our place. By the time she got here, my contractions had all but fizzled out, and we spent a frustrating day walking up and down the shopping mall trying to get things going. No luck. Sarah insisted it was still a lovely day spent together (which of course it was), but I still felt so dumb that she came all the way down and there was no baby at the end of the day!

Cue long, frustrating 'overdue' days.

We arrive at Wednesday the 21st of August. Again, I wake up with contractions. I felt the first one just before the kids woke up and came in to our room, around 6:45am. 10 minutes apart, not painful. Definitely something different to 9 days ago. Hayden goes off to school - because we know what happened last time we mobilised everyone! I call Sarah but tell her to carry on with her morning. Same to my midwife. Half an hour after Hayden left, he walks back down the driveway, holding the back wheel of his bike in his hand, hopelessly bent.

A car had just pulled in front of him, causing him to swerve up onto the curb out of the way, where he promptly flipped over his handlebars, flew through the air and - Praise God - landed on the grass. Not even a scratch. So then we jump in the car (well, I clambered unelegantly) and took Hayden to school.

Contractions are still chugging along. 10 minutes apart, not painful. I update Sarah again and decide to go to Ladies' Bible study to keep myself distracted. I didn't want to just sit at home and wait. Things dropped off while we were there, only having three contractions in a bit over an hour. As soon as we got in the car for home they jumped to 8 minutes.

I could feel myself getting short with Rosie and Tristan. I just wanted to focus on what was going on, beginning to retreat to that strange place that is Labour Land, so I called Mum to come and pick up the kids, and arranged for her to collect Elliot from school at 3:15pm too. Ah, peace and quiet. Good.

I really felt quite mentally-thrown by all these day time contractions! You see, my previous three births have all been night time births. #2 and #3 I woke up in the wee hours of the morning contracting hard and well and Baby was born a few hours later. I was fully expecting this baby to rocket out in a hurry at some point during the night. In fact, during this pregnancy I spent quite a lot of time worrying that no-one would get to us in time! Now I see the Grace we were given by having a long, drawn-out early labour to give my birth attendants plenty of time to get to me. Nearly, anyway...

At 12:45pm I call the lovely Talia. After her own incredible birth of second daughter Margaret, I impulsively said to her, "Why don't you come to my home birth and see what it's like birthing at home?!" It wasn't until afterwards that I thought about how that meant my friend would be seeing me at my most glamorous... I put it out of my mind and focused on how awesome it would be to have another set of hands - especially ones that are so good at taking pictures! Talia dropped off her older daughter and headed over to my place to keep me company. We kept monitoring my contractions and they were holding pretty steady at 10 minutes, slowly getting to 9, to 8. By 3pm-ish, I was beginning to need to focus a little more and Talia was applying pressure to my lower back, which was great. She was a super-duper juggling mama, with Margaret in one arm and me in the other!

Sarah arrived around 3pm and then my Mum dropped Hayden off on her way home from getting Elliot from school (broken bike, remember?). The kids were pretty excited to A) be staying at Oma's house, and B) know that the baby was going to be here soon. From what I recall, we all just hung out for a bit, drinking hot drinks and chatting while I bounced on the swiss ball or leaned over it during a contraction. I was generous enough to let everybody have a turn applying pressure to my lower back. I didn't discriminate; if you were closest, you got to do it.

Some time around 5:30pm (my time recall is a bit fuzzy) Sarah zipped out to pick up some Noodle Box for dinner. I wasn't really hungry, but I thought if it was yummy enough I might eat some. It was nice to sit around the table with Hayden, Sarah and Talia. I ate a little, but was losing my appetite fast. Before dinner was over I had installed myself at the kitchen bench and I wasn't going anywhere. Swaying and breathing deeply through each contraction. They were getting more intense. Calling Hayden to get up and press on my back each time one hit. Poor guy. It's a wonder he digested his food at all with all that up and down-ing. I'm not sure if dinner got finished before we realised things were heating up pretty fast.

I think after 5:30pm we were moving quickly through the times for contractions: 6 minutes, 5 minutes, 4. At 6:30pm (I'm pretty sure dinner was either finished or abandoned) I rang my midwife to ask her to come. At that point contractions were 4 minutes apart and strong. In my labour with Tristan, I woke up at 2:45am with contractions every 5 minutes, and we had two hours until he was born. That was my logic this time too: 4-5 minutes, time to come. Well. Actually, little did I know, my midwife was running out of time.

The last contraction I wrote down was 6:42pm. I clearly remember tossing my pen onto the bench with total abandon. At this point it's a fully-fledged Active Labour Spectacle. Hayden is trying to get the water for the birth pool going, I am beginning to inhabit my own personal labour space - mentally and physically - and of course that was in a place most inconvenient to everyone else: the narrowest point in my kitchen. Because, of course.

It's worth noting that my head space was not where I hoped it would be. I was so mentally thrown by this all day daytime labour that it almost didn't feel real. If I could paint you a cheesey image, it was like the Labour Train had pulled out of the station and I was hanging on to the handle at the back of the last carriage shouting, "Hey! This isn't how it was supposed to go!", and I was running as fast as I could but I was just slightly off balance, just so close to being pulled over. I wanted to be in control and really own the work my body was doing but I just felt like I couldn't catch up. I needed to tell myself to relax every contraction. I probably told Talia to tell me to relax every contraction! I almost felt on the verge of panic.

Very soon, we're talking minutes here, folks, it was apparent that this baby was coming NOW. Sarah had just been upgraded to Lead Maternity Carer. We realise there's no way the pool will be ready; there's 30cm of cold water in it. They abandon all efforts at filling it, leaving the tap/hose set-up running in the background. This will be a land birth. I have a bit of a moan that I want the water, all the while knowing it's not going to happen because I'm about to start pushing. The thought runs through my head that this is going really fast! To console me, I am given a drink bottle of water. One lucid memory I have is this conversation:

Me: I want the poooooooooool!
Sarah or Talia (I can't remember which): It's not going to be ready, Jess.
Me: Oh {sob}, oooooooh {moan} (Or something.)
Sarah or Talia: What about hopping in the shower?
Me: No! I don't want a shower.
Sarah or Talia: Do you want a drink of water instead?
Me: ((Thinks) What a crappy replacement.) Yes.
(I was sure I was polite, but Talia told me later that I practically shouted that, so oopsies!)

Sarah called my midwife at 7:06pm to say I was getting ready to push now. I remember that conversation happening but I don't remember what was said now. Sarah's Midwife In Control voice comes on. Pants come off (mine). Here's the part I was thinking would be awkward with one of my close friends in the room: Totally didn't care. Sarah: Jess, you have to move. I need to be able to see to be able to help you. [Nothing from me.] Jess! You have to move! I think I must have been responding in my head and forgetting to reply out loud because I was totally happy to move. I wanted her to be able to see to help! We move over to the dining room table. I know, that sounds weird. {shrugs} Home birth. I'd showed Talia earlier where the towel cupboard and other supplies were, and now she morphs into Midwife Helper Extraordinaire, laying down the mats, finding a torch, being generally completely awesome.

My legs start shaking like jelly so my team helps me down to kneel on the floor next to the table, with my chest/shoulders/face resting on the swiss ball. Here is where I'm super glad for the fence and trees between our property and the neighbors, and incredibly grateful that no-one decided to pop in for a visit that evening. Our dining room table is right next to our front door. What a wonderful sight would have been ready to welcome you into my home. Ha. SO glad that didn't happen.

I'm vaguely aware of Hayden above me with his hands on my back, Talia running backwards and forwards between getting warm towels and giving light to Sarah, and Sarah just about face on the floor ready to catch this little guy. Just as we had walked to the table is where I let it slip - for the first and only time! - that we were about to have a boy. I had known, but Hayden didn't want to, so I tried to keep Baby's gender a secret. I have absolutely no recollection of saying it, but three people heard me say, "Let's get this boy out!", so I must have! Gutted.

I think I could count my pushes on one hand. Recap: called midwife at 6:30pm to come; at 7:06pm to say I'm going to start pushing. At the glorious time of 7:17pm on the 21st of August, our son slipped out into the world. So quickly and simply that at first I didn't realise his head had just been born, a minute or two before the rest of him. "Enjoy the rest," said Sarah. "I am," said me, in that moment between nearly born and not-quite-yet. He was a bit stunned at his abrupt arrival and was floppy and a teeny bit blue. In my haze of oh-my-goodness-my-baby-was-just-born-he's-so-amazing-i'm-so-amazing-the-world-is-so-amazing-look-at-that-sweet-little-bundle-of-beautiful-baby-ness, I was aware of Sarah's sharp focus as she grabbed a towel and rubbed him down, then blew in his face to get him to take his first breath. She lifted him up to me, as I was still kneeling next to him, and just as I pulled him close he took a huge breath and started to cry. Best noise ever. I know it was less than a minute, but I think it felt quite long. Sarah told me later that her heart was in her mouth because she knew she had nothing with her to help us but her wits - not even a pair of gloves! Talia told me later that she had 111 keyed in on her phone and her finger on the call button! Very thankful that nothing was needed.

As I stood up with Gryffen in my arms, the phone rang. Mum! She was just calling to check how things were going, knowing I was in labour, not expecting to hear that her newest grandson had literally just been born! First and only time I'll ever say to my mother, "I have to go Mum, I need to deliver the placenta."

When my midwife (and her back-up whom she'd mobilised with an emergency-get-there-as-fast-as-you-can phone call on her way over) arrived, I was sitting on the couch all tucked up with my boy; his placenta in an ice-cream container, already delivered. I think I might even have had a milo in my hand!

Wow. That was awesome. Even though the whole time I didn't feel in control, that post-birth glow covers all things in its benevolence. It's incredible. I want to spend my whole life in those moments.

So there he was. My Gryffen. I knew it was him for nearly 42 weeks and it was so good to meet him face to face. I've written before how we spent some time just looking into each other's eyes. Bliss. Of course we indulged in our little post-birth ritual: Milos and Mars bars for all! Then phone calls to family, and a quick picture texted to my sister in London. Mum cried when we told her Gryffen Gerry was named for her. A hot shower, clean pyjamas, my comfy bed with my 8lb 8oz bundle of cuteness.

In the end, Baby Four WAS my curve-ball, like I thought he might be. Slow to start, a race to the finish. Technically no midwife, though Sarah is pretty much the real deal already. A land birth, no water in sight. (Unless you count the cold pool 3 metres away.) Surprisingly, that wasn't as big of an issue as I thought it might be. I only really noticed the difference when he began crowning, and then a hot cloth helped immensely and there were no other snags. I would still choose water birth over land birth, but I was pleasantly surprised by it.

I'll always remember Talia's voice when we were talking later, I think we were talking to someone at church, as we chatted about how she was still buzzing weeks later and she said so excitedly, "Your waters broke on me!" I'm giggling now as I type it. Add that to the list of funny things friends say!

I think it's pretty special that Gryffen was Sarah's first solo birth. Her nephew. I'm pretty sure she doesn't hold it against me that my blood splashed on her face... She said it was reassuring to know that, without the presence of another midwife to double check with, all the knowledge she needed was in her head. And she now always carries a pair of gloves in her handbag!

Gryffen Gerry

Born 7:17pm, 21 August, 2013
8lb 8oz (3870g)

A deeply loved treasure and incredible gift from God.

All photos (except bike): Talia Christine

12 November 2013

I'm Tired Today

I really want to fold my washing pile mountain - it's so messy! - but I also really don't. Like the title says, I'm tired today, so the Don't Want is winning over the Do Want. Only just.

My little sweetie is sleeping well, so it's not his fault. Saturday night he slept from 8pm and refused to wake up for a 10:30pm dream feed (which, of course, I'd waited up for - wasting my sleep time!) then kept right on sleeping until 6:30am!! Wasn't expecting that! But then you can be sure I woke up at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep.

Beautiful, precious onesie by the ever lovely Miriam.

We had one of those lovely-busy weekends: birthday parties with wonderful friends and fabulous family. Meaning we all start our week happy, but tired. Which, in small people, quickly translates to less happy, more grumpy. I have a feeling I shall be enforcing naps this afternoon. I'll start preparing for Rosie's screaming fit now...

***Regarding changing the kids names, I've decided not to. I know, just make a decision Jess! I've removed our surname as much as possible and that makes them much harder to find. There are a few posts that come up on Google no matter how much I change, so it's a bit too late.***

11 November 2013

New Togs

With the arrival of school swimming lessons for Elliot last week, I put out a call to other mothers-of-boys, wondering what y'all had them wear in the water. We had a rash shirt for him, but I wasn't sure what he should be wearing on the bottom half, especially now that he's not a toddler anymore. Boardies? Tog undies? Both?

In the end, we went to The Warehouse and found some great little boyleg shorts to go with his rash shirt. He chose to wear them without boardies, and I think he looks pretty cute!

We also chose some togs for Rosie and Tristan as they both needed new ones too. Rosie was so excited! They tried them on and were so happy they even agreed to stand still(ish) for some photos.

Also, how cute is a baby with short sleeves?! Loving this warmer weather. (Even if it's only warm enough for him for part of the day.)