I survived

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So it turns out I am perfectly capable of living a normal life outside of social media, without turning into Gollum searching for The Ring. After the first few days, I actually didn’t miss it at all!

The other day I downloaded Instagram onto my phone again. I’ve clicked the app maybe five times in the last three or four days, as opposed to five times in an hour that I was capable of previously.

I can now sit down and think, my mind feels clear, my feet are on the ground.

I was sitting at the traffic lights during the week and I looked into the window of the car next to me. I saw a two year old in his seat, tapping away eagerly on a screen of some sort. This time spent away from social media has really made me think (again) about the place screens play in our lives. How seamlessly they slip, unassuming, into the fabric of our homes.

We bought an iPad last Christmas for KB’s work. I have used it a handful of times and actually forgot we had it until about six weeks ago, when the girls asked if they could watch ABC KIDS on it. They sometimes have a go on one at their Nan and Pa’s place, and surprisingly (or not?) they knew how to use it better than I did. Since that day they have asked to use it constantly, and being so bedraggled I started to say yes. Before I knew it they were having iPad time every afternoon and started to cry if I said no.

What have I done!?

I think it’s unrealistic while I’ve got such a small baby that I ban screens altogether (I’m actually just not willing to put myself through that right now… for better or worse) but I am so conscious and conflicted as their world is saturated with technology, unlike my own childhood… it just doesn’t feel right.

We’ve got some thinking to do, that’s for certain.

a moderate case of de ja vu

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I had a visit from a lactation consultant today. Cue audible sigh. I booked it earlier in the week when I had the funny feeling that things were becoming a little pear shaped when Pearl was trying to feed. A clicking noise here, a bit of breast refusal there… it all started to accumulate until one day I had trouble feeding her at all. It’s funny how these things creep up when you’re in the thick of it. Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to be able to notice things that are happening right in front of you.

While little P is nothing like the Pixie in the breastfeeding stakes, I was getting a few warning bells over the past few weeks. Apparently things can go a little awry at the six week mark, which is precisely when I started to wonder if she was feeding as well as I thought she was.

Today confirmed it: a posterior tongue tie, a high palette, a shallow latch and a severe case of Overzealous Let Down and Spraying Boob (self-diagnosis those last two). But also: a darling baby who is trying very hard to make it all work.

It’s not panic stations by any means. At least now I know why I had that little persistent voice in the back of my head and I wasn’t making it all up due to past experience (because I have to admit that I do tend to hit the panic button when she so much as looks at my breast the wrong way). I admitted to the LC today that I thought perhaps she would think I was silly for booking her, given I’m sure she sees situations that are a lot more dire. She assured me that one of the mottos she lives by is “always listen to the mother”, because the mother usually knows best when it comes to these intricate matters.

And just how ridiculously intricate is breastfeeding?!

I never would have known it.

Or guessed it.

I often wonder what would have happened in the cave days… would another woman have breastfed our child if we had trouble ourselves? Are there more problems now than previously? Do all our rules and regulations about nipple angles and latch and positioning pay off or cause us more trouble?

Cue second audible sigh. Sigh.

I don’t know the answer.

But my girl is thriving is every other possible way, so we will continue to iron out these things together.

time without

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It’s been almost a week since I deleted Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from my phone and decided to take a break from the noisy world of social media. I’ve been monitoring myself and my behaviour which I’m pleased to say has changed over the past six days. Countless times initially I went to pick up my phone to check Instagram, or I thought of something I could take a picture of to post, or someone’s account I should go and look at. None of these actions or thoughts seem particularly sinister, but when I’m having them in the middle of doing something else (cooking dinner, eating, playing with the girls, doing the washing…) and would normally interrupt myself to act on them, I have realised what a disruptive role it is playing in my life.

On Sunday I was home alone with Pearl. I sat on the couch to feed her and watched the entire sunset through the window. It made me feel grounded, real. It made me realise how being attached to screens all the time makes me feel flimsy and disconnected.

It’s interesting to sit back and observe sometimes. And funny that today I barely gave Instagram a thought. I do miss it, but I want to be able to enjoy it without the compulsion to be on it constantly. I hope that I can reflect on all this and decide how I want my relationship with social media and my phone to move forward. There is so much more I want to say on this topic but I am typing left handed in bed with a baby sleeping (finally!) on my chest…

On another note I’ve got the dreaded cough/cold large (again) and have this sitting on my kitchen bench. It will be ready tomorrow morning and I really hope it works! I’m also sipping away on ginger, turmeric, lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey tea. I pour it into my drink bottle to sip while I’m out and about. Any other (breastfeeding friendly) tried and true home remedies for me? I always like to add new ones to my list.

bon voyage social media

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My thumb hurts.

I looked down at Pearl today and saw she was smiling at me. I nearly missed it because I was too busy scrolling. Mindlessly scrolling through the depths of Instagram.

I couldn’t tell you what I was looking at. It was just one image after another, scroll, scroll, scroll, pause… like… scroll, scroll… then suddenly a movement on my lap caught my eye and there she was looking up at me, gums and dimples and all.

Then and there I decided to follow in the footsteps of some other friends on Instagram and take a break.

I used to take every January off Facebook in the days when I was quite addicted to it. It was amazing how quickly I forgot all about it, how quickly it was replaced by real live things: books, the newspaper, phone calls, conversation, writing. Thoughts that didn’t automatically translate into status updates. But sure enough February would come around and the habit would begin again.

I like Instagram a lot more than Facebook which is both good and bad at the same time. Good because I am engaging in things and people that truly interest me. I’ve connected with some wonderful people that I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise. I’ve had windows opened towards me into other people’s lives. When you’re home with small children it can make you feel less alone to have a peek through those windows, to see what other people are up to. I’ve been inspired by creative people and learned things from other mothers.

But it can also take away from real life, if you let it. Just like it did today, when I almost missed the sweet and fleeting smile of my baby. I’ve misheard questions and comments from Birdie and the Pixie because I’ve been on my phone, ignoring them and not being present. I don’t like the example I am setting them, losing myself in cyber space while I should be reading them a book or listening to their ideas, or just observing, thinking, watching, sitting. I find my attention span is becoming more and more limited as my thumb flicks from here to there, not fully engaging… and it’s not just Instagram, it’s my phone in its entirety. I remember the days I used to scoff when I heard people talking about phones that had cameras on them. I have a camera thank you very much. Ha!

So bye bye Instagram, and while I’m at it: Twitter and Facebook too… I’m off on hiatus for a week or so. Destination: Real Life.

If you’re thinking about it too, check out this video, it might give you the motivation you need!

ten things I can do with one hand, thanks to motherhood

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When you’re carrying a baby around for what feels like 99% of your day, and you’re very lazy/stubborn when it comes to putting on your sling, you get pretty nifty doing things with one hand. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to do with one hand thanks to my babies. High five to motherhood skills!

  1. Chop vegetables. Albeit a bit chunky, but chopped nonetheless.
  2. Put jackets on bigger kids. With a bit of yanking.
  3. Make cups of tea. Including a slightly risky manoeuvre in order to get the stove lit.
  4. Go to the toilet, pants down, pants up, etc. Yeah! (Skinny jeans = an extra ten points.)
  5. Type, write blog posts, reply to emails, and so on (eg. this post right now).
  6. Bark commands at anyone within a 500 metre radius. Just kidding, I can bark commands with or without one or two handed gesticulation. I’m very talented like that.
  7. Wash dishes. Ok they aren’t great, but useable. If it is the difference between eating and not eating…
  8. Put loads of washing on. This one is not much fun as it also requires a deep squat to get down to my machine. That combined with seemingly dissolved pelvic floor muscles and an extra 5kg is a no brainer: avoid if possible. (Avoiding washing is always possible.)
  9. Open packets of m and ms and eat them.
  10. Eat double cream by the spoonful out of the container… I’m not going to lie, this is something I excel at.

So I have to say my skills have increased dramatically over the last five years. I’m not sure how helpful the above list will be on my CV though.

What do you do while wandering around with babe in arms?

it was you

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I look at this photo of myself from last summer and cannot comprehend it. It was you growing inside me. I watch a video that I took of my stomach bouncing and jostling as you kicked me, and now, knowing you as I do, I just can’t understand that it was you in there, doing that.

That you were so close all that time and I didn’t even know it. That you’re here now and that you were here all that time too.

It’s been seven weeks since Pearl was born. She’s a lovely, round, squishy, smiley baby. KB has gone back to work and friends and family have (almost) all had their first cuddles. It seems that real life has continued, as usual.

But here I am, still getting to know this tiny human. Still marvelling at her sounds, her smell. Still tired and up all night and finding my way. Still feeling like it’s new, but old, all at the same time. Still wondering how all this happens, and why.

Still amazed by the fact that we made three humans.

I can’t think of where else to go with this post beyond that. I made humans. The end.

loosely on the subject of birds and naivety and mindfulness

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I like birds. I really do. Their elegance, their freedom, their delicate skeletons. So much so that when I was in Perth last year I bought a badge that stated the fact: I like birds.

I wear it a lot. But then one day, at the first meeting of a new writing group, one of the men asked me if I was a lesbian. I didn’t really understand, until he pointed at my badge.

How naive I felt? Did this handmade hipster badge have a meaning that was totally lost on me? Was I that ridiculous that I missed it? Ha! I still don’t really know, but I do genuinely like birds…

The unfortunate fact is though, I often find myself feeling rather unworldly. I hardly ever watch the news and I rarely read the newspaper. I like science fiction and teenage drama series. Sometimes I listen to classical music and pretend I can remember the composers’ names. I’m rubbish at trivia and have always been horribly nervous if ever invited to attend (rarely in this life, occasionally in past life). If I didn’t watch so much David Attenborough lord only knows how I would keep up to date with the basic facts of life and death.

Ok, so I’m exaggerating a little, but honestly, I hear of friends travelling the world, getting promotions, going to parties and networking at “events”. (It’s even worse if they have children and seem to be doing all this. Green Face.) I see people’s lives through the windows of social media while I am wiping vegemite off chins and putting on *another* load of washing and sweeping the floor again. There is little time to read or learn or extend oneself when you have smalls. Once or twice I entertained the idea of listening to intelligent podcasts as a means of furthering myself, thinking I could do that hands free while doing all the other things I do, but the closest I get to a podcast around here is listening to Beatrix Potter audiobooks. So instead I play with my succulents, I cook, I clean, I whinge occasionally a fair bit and I memorise the words of the Frozen lyrics so I can sing them to my children.

Can we have it all? It seems that some people (mothers) have really got it together. I’m content now in the delicious mundaneness of this stay at home life. I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to do it. Although it is like a military mission trying to get the kids in and out of the car just to deliver one child to kindergarten – I wouldn’t change it for anything. But there is a part of me that craves knowledge and learning, and there are things I look forward to being able to do when the girls are bigger. I think about my career and what life will look like and what I need to do to make that happen. I have phases where I find it difficult to maintain the patience it takes to be here and now and enjoy this thing I have got. It frustrates me to no end that I struggle to make peace with it, without throwing myself into the future, into the what ifs and the whens and the hows. It’s a constant battle inside my head. I look outside and wonder how other people do it. I want to grab them individually in the street and say, How do you do this thing? Take me through your day – I want to hear it, minute by minute. What do you do? 

For now I’ll peer through the shop windows, knowing there will be a time in the future that I can do it/learn it/be it/try it/have it and that when that time comes I will long for these simple days of being needed – needed so deeply and wholeheartedly. I’ll yearn for it, I know it. I need to remember this.

I posted a photo of Pearl on instagram the other day and a comment about the washing. A friend replied: “I know I sound repetitive but BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE.” It’s good to get that reminder, because I have a feeling she is absolutely right.