And at 38 weeks pregnant, I'm on the homerun and finally sliding into rest, nap and birth preparator mode after what's been a bloody exhausting third trimester full of ups and downs...
As I grew bigger and slower in this pregnancy I would get Andreas to accompany us if ever we wanted to walk anywhere further than our little cul de sac, just so I had someone quick and agile to quickly grab Archie in the event someone was being a dickhead in their car.
I never thought I'd actually need Andreas to do just that. But I did. And he did. And even though Archie was totally ok and according to Andreas, not that close to being hit by the car (remotely close is way too close in my opinion), it was FAR too close for comfort.
I won't go into the details here but basically it had been an ongoing problem that I had concerns about for about a year prior to this incident which was simply the last straw.
Oh, and it was scary as fuck.
I saw the whole horrible event unfold before my eyes and at one point I was certain I was about to see my only child killed in front of me. As the single most terrifying thing I have ever seen, a near miss with a speeding car is something no parent ever wants to even think about.
The worst thing is that the person who was speeding (going about 40km/hr in a shared 10/km/hour zone) stopped at the last minute due to some frantic arm waving from Andreas, looked annoyed, then sped off just as quickly as they'd approached us while I was left in a trembling pile after screaming in terror.
Once I'd collected my stomach off the ground, I told Andreas - in my most serious "don't fuck with me" voice - that we were moving. No negotiating. No compromise. We were moving.
At first he was resistant, as he had been every other time I'd suggested moving in the past year. He's a Taurean and hates moving, whereas I rarely get attached to any place I live and moving excites me.
But this was a case of needing, rather than wanting to move. After a few days of not negotiating (and staying in "don't fuck with me" protective mama bear mode), he agreed. It was time to move.
And at the top of our "must have" list for our new home was a fenced f%$&@*g yard.
Given we're about to become a family of four, we also needed somewhere with more than the two bedrooms we had grown accustomed to in Elanora. Our only affordable option was the northern Gold Coast. I'm writing this from our new house (which I've nested the shit out of so it finally feels like home and I LOVE!) in Coomera!
What followed were several weeks of house-hunting, inspections, being approved for a suitable place, saying yes to it before finding out two hours later that we were approved for a much better and cheaper one, having to get out of the first one (a miracle we did but we took it as a sign the second home was meant for us), and then of course packing, moving, cleaning, and unpacking.
By the way, I don't recommend moving house in third trimester pregnancy.
It was as exhausting as moving always is, times five. November is now affectionately referred to as hell month.
But the week or so after the move was by far the worst. Being 30-something weeks pregnant and unpacking a house whilst caring for a toddler alone (Andreas was cleaning the old place and working) for a week very nearly killed me. Although I now love our new home and the freedom it affords us (fenced yard, plenty of space, lots of playgrounds and parks around) I cried a lot that week and felt utterly alone, exhausted and sleep deprived.
Although a sense of normality eventually returned as we grew used to the rhythm of our new northern Gold Coast life, the tiredness only continued even after we'd mostly unpacked. It was so engulfing that I had to cancel my last couple of Skype consults with a some beautiful clients who I adore working with, so impaired was my capacity to get myself resembling human state above the neck. It seemed the fright with the speeding car, and the move sucked the last physical and emotional reserves I had in me, and I hit an all time energy low.
But I can't because my toddler literally will jump on my belly or kick me in the face or ask for boob the second I lie down. And if I don't respond, he will cry and tantrum because he doesn't give a shit how tired I am, only that he needs something or wants to play with mummy.
And he only takes a 40-60 minute nap once a day in the afternoon (if that - some days he's started skipping his day sleep altogether), far past the point of exhaustion for me. By which time I'm overtired and running on adrenaline and can't sleep even once he finally goes down.
And there's no one else to look after him because I am the primary carer so it's my job to look after him all day, every day, alone. Even if I feel like my tiredness is making me want to scream and cry and throw him across the room, I have to take it.
Therefore my life sucks."
This is the story I found myself reciting over the past two months, up until about a week ago.
I stopped seeing clients in person at 32 1/2 weeks and feel like I've been pretty disciplined with myself re. not doing stuff every waking second I have. But still, that third trimester tiredness...
It's true that I was - and am - extremely physically tired if I don't get a daytime nap. These last few weeks of the pregnancy are maximal baby-building time. At this stage in my first pregnancy I was sleeping up to 15 hours a day; at the moment I'm lucky if I get half of that. Thank God Archie is at least sleeping through the night now! Not that I am... thanks bladder that's being squashed by a very engaged baby's head.
Oh and in that time we also unexpectedly moved house, I sat end of semester uni exams and have done my best to wrap up work (work is never clearly "done" when you work for yourself, especially for someone like me who is pretty passionate about what I do and can sometimes get pulled in too deep by it).
Baby is taking all my resources and energy, my toddler gets whatever else he can squeeze out of me, and my husband and I get the leftovers.
And there are no leftovers.
The problem with this narrative, is that it makes my life shit. It wrecks my mood, my relationship with my husband, my ability to be the kind of parent I want to be, and does no favours for my emotional wellbeing.
Eventually there comes a point where I get over my bullshit narrative that everything and everyone sucks because I am tired but don't have the freedom to just sleep whenever I want, and I just do things that make me feel good anyway. In spite of the tiredness. Things like:
- Take an epsom salt bath with Archie
- Be a guest on a podcast I was invited onto even though the thought of sounding like an idiot (and a tired idiot at that) terrifies me
- Cuddle my husband and thank him for being patient with me even though I'm mostly a mega bitch to be around lately, courtesy of tiredness
- Ask for babysitting help from my in-laws
- Eat Lindt mint chocolate, the kind with the amazing creamy fake coloured filling as an energy substitute for sleep, and not give a shit
- Give Archie lots of loving encouragement, cuddles and praise whilst gently and patiently toilet training him, and applaud his efforts even if he poos on the floor because he missed the toilet and carries it in his hands to the kitchen to show me, or wees on the stereo because he forgot about toilets altogether
- Send Archie to family daycare so I can schedule pilates, chiropractic, acupuncture and massage... or just SLEEP... even if it means spending more money on childcare than on my appointments
- Do one restorative yoga pose, even if Archie comes and rolls around on me halfway through it
- GARDENING now that we have a fenced f%$&@*g yard! I am truly loving pulling weeds out along the fenceline.
- Go for a walk with Archie and breathe some fresh air whilst listening to anti-diet and feminist podcasts on my headphones. (Much to my delight, there are some wicked bush tracks around here!)
- Not really go for a walk because Archie would prefer to spend 20 minutes playing with a stick he found at the start of the track than walk and I'm now far too pregnant to carry him
- Be ok with letting Archie watch TV so I can get 5-10 minutes to myself (I heart Play School)
- Take 10 deep breaths, even if it's on the toilet
- Make and eat something I really love, usually involving copious amounts of cheese and pasta. Even if it takes an hour of interspersed cooking/ toddler play/wiping up pee or poo off the floor
- Brush my hair. This feels ultra luxurious nowadays! Shaving my legs is next level and something I got to do last week!!! :O :O :O
And yeah, I know this is probably nothing on what it's going to be like when I have TWO kids.
What's lovely is that in the last few days, my energy seems to be returning. Probably because thanks to being around family for Christmas I've had a couple of day naps which make me feel absolutely invincible, and as a result have had more energy to journal and do yoga, which leads to meditation, which all makes me feel more like a sane human and less like a ragged shell of a woman resembling a human after being tortured with two months of sleep deprivation and dipped in radioactive waste.
Having had a baby shower at the end of my first pregnancy and now a blessingway with this one, I can say both serve different purposes and both can be really beautiful, especially if you do tie-dye at your baby shower like I did! But there's something quite magical about a Blessingway...
This is how I felt after my Blessingway (Instagram is great for documenting in-the-moment stuff!) and I think it sums up why this kind of ceremony is so powerful:
"Feeling plugged in. Connected to my women and to all women. My trust in my body and in birth itself amplified. Ritual is powerful. Women are magical. Put them together and it's like an explosion of love and feminine strength coursing through your bones. Pretty fucking incredible. Thank you to each woman who was there, each bringing some thing unique and power-filled to the ceremony."
Whilst the women gathered to support and nurture me, Andreas and my brother in law baby- and toddler-sat before joining in at the end. After hell month it was indescribably good to see and feel the village come together.
I think it was at the time the Blessingway took place that I started switching from feeling not at all prepared for this birth, to how I feel now: ready, strong, and clear.
No reflux, constipation, urinary tract infections, and minimal fluid retention. A little bit of diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles at the midline) but nothing out of the ordinary for a second pregnancy. Far less back pain than in my first pregnancy. There's a little sacroiliac crankiness but it's really quite manageable, especially because I haven't been doing any silly yoga not appropriate to pregnancy (not a single inversion this pregnancy! And proud of it).
Even though there was a month where I was far too tired to do any exercise, it seems like I've come out the other end in surprisingly good nick.
I'm back to walking (slowly) for 30ish minutes most days, and doing yoga (and of course those all important squats) every second day or so. I've done self-perineal massage a couple of times but I'm a lazy bugger (plus I don't exactly enjoy it) so I haven't been as diligent as I was with my first pregnancy. I'm journalling and meditating daily and it's helped me reconnect to all the inside workings of my body and mind that I was too buggered to notice in hell month.
I'm incredibly grateful to my body for being so awesome whilst also building a human. Our bodies are just so cool!
Which reminds me, I did a podcast about how cool our pregnant and postpartum bodies are. And a firey rage with Untrapped podcaster Louise Adams against diet culture and the whole idea of "Baby After Body" and how bullshit it is that women are pressured to stay and become as small as possible, especially after having a baby. You can listen to it here.
(And I plan to write a blog to follow on from that interview "soon" i.e. whenever the hell I find the time, which could be anytime in the next six months. I plan to include some mean photos of my stretched and loose belly in the days immediately after baby is born to do my bit in blowing this bullshit about "perfect post baby bodies" to smitherines.)
At my last midwife checkup yesterday, baby is engaged - I mean really engaged, her head is so deep in my pelvis the midwife could barely feel it. Which explains why my bladder feels so very squashed.
She's in optimal position which is encouraging because at this stage in my first pregnancy, Archie's neck and head were slightly extended with one hand under his chin (as if he was looking up) and despite doing lots of weird high one-legged lunges to try to get him to move, it seemed he was still like that when labour started which may account for why that labour was so bloody long. This little girl seems to be doing all the right things so fingers crossed for a shorter labour and easier birth this time around!
Although she could come any day now, I'm feeling really comfortable in my body and quite happy for her to keep hanging out right where she is. I'm going to get as many day naps as I can in the meantime, eat lots of good food, and just look after myself as best I can. Which mostly means GET LOTS OF REST.
I know how hectic life is about to get (and how much sleep I'm about to be deprived of) so take your time, little girl! We will meet you soon and I can't wait, but I know she'll come when she's good and ready.
And I'll be ready when she is.
Read my first trimester blog here.
Read my second trimester blog here.