- 7 months ago
Feed. Change nappies. Coax baby to sleep. Repeat.
One of the great contradictions about the first weeks of being a parent was that while it was one of the most joyful times of my life, it also felt a bit like being on a hamster wheel of routine, with very little chance of taking a break to get some perspective.
So when one of the women from my antenatal class at TheBumpWA encouraged me to sign up for the “Early Days” course, which started when my son was eight weeks old, I thought of it as a way of making sure we got out of the house, got a break, and met a few other mums.
It turned out to be all of that, and more.
On the first day, the facilitator asked us to break into groups and share something about ourselves that in no way related to our babies, pregnancy, or parenting.
I was at a loss. Everything that popped to mind was baby-related. The other women in the group seemed to be having the same problem. We all eventually scrounged up something to share, but it was a good way of jolting us back into ourselves. It was a gentle reminder that while my son was my new top priority, if I was going to be a good parent, I needed to take care of myself too.
This seemingly basic icebreaker was much like the rest of the class– no heavy-handed parenting advice, just a little help in getting conversations started… and once we started talking, it was hard to put on the brakes. Many of the mums often stayed over an hour after the class wrapped up.
With nine mothers whose babies were around the same age, the class was small enough to allow us all to get to know each other well and felt safe enough to be honest about our experiences. It was reassuring to hear that other mothers were having the same struggles as me. Waking up every two hours at night? I wasn’t alone. A baby that hates tummytime? Join the club.
The most valuable part of the course didn’t have to do with what we discussed as much as it did with how we discussed. Conversations about parenting can sometimes feel like navigating a minefield, with deeply held beliefs about what is best for children making it difficult to listen to other points of view.
The ground rule for the class was to be encouraging rather than judgmental– to resist the temptation to be smug when things were going well for us, and to ask for help when there were bumps in the road rather than being insecure and self-pitying.
And perhaps most importantly, to bring a sense of humour and have fun.
Sure, we aired a lot of frustrations– there was a lot of lamenting about sleepless nights!– but we were also able to laugh at our foibles and delight in others’ successes.
During the course of only a few weeks, we watched each others’ children grow bigger, develop the same behaviours, like suddenly discovering that they could roll over, begin to interact with one another, and show us glimpses of their personalities.
Thefacilitators fostered a sense of community that helped me make it every week, when my son was being fussy. It helped that refreshments were served, including the best clotted cream scones I have ever tasted!
Our group represented relatively diverse parenting decisions on everything from whether to use cloth nappies or disposables to co-sleeping to vaccinations, differences that often helped fuel learning rather than tension. One mum was practising “elimination communication”– a form of early toilet training– something that a number of us had been curious about, but didn’t know much about.
The facilitators often had research and anecdotes from years of experiences at the ready, but we also learned to tap into each other’s’ parenting wisdom. As a group, we had a wealth of knowledge on everything from baby swimming classes to chiropractors to how to keep a dummy in a baby’s mouth.
The ground rules for the class have affected the way I approach conversations on parenting generally. It’s helped me with the delicate balance between being secure and confident in my parenting decisions, and being open to new ideas.
Category archives: Birth Stories
- 2 years ago
On the 24th April, our beautiful baby girl, Felicity was born via a successful VBAC at 13:27pm in Joondalup Private Hospital. A tiny 3.08 kg and 50 cm long.
So here is how the birthing experience went…
I was 1.5cm dilated on Thursday evening when Margo examined me. She performed a stretch which got me to 2.5cm. She didn’t do a sweep because she thought I wasn’t ready enough. A stretch and sweep was scheduled for Tuesday the following week instead. She had said the baby probably wouldn’t arrive over the weekend and also she was off duty as well.
By 2:00am Friday morning contractions had started and I went into hospital at 7:00am when I felt I needed more support. I tried the gas and air and the bath initially for the first couple of hours but it got quite painful as she was posterior though once they did an examination she managed to turn easily. I was given the choice to have an epidural as I had gotten to 4 cm and was told I probably had another 6 hours or more left of that intensity of pain so I took it and it helped me to rest and relax a bit.
Once I had the epidural though I dilated really quickly and was ready to push a few hours later. Margo was there with me when I got the epidural and when I was pushing which was a great support. They needed to put an internal monitor on her head because they wanted to make sure she was safe as they couldn’t pick up her heart beat consistently on the wireless monitor.
They stopped the epidural when i was ready to push so I could feel the sensation but everything was still quite numb. I got to watch her being born with the aid of a big mirror and I only got a second degree tear which occurred naturally. I got to feel her crowning and felt her head. Andrew helped pull her out and I got to hold her and feed her and we also got to do delayed cord clamping.
Weighing and measuring got done later in our room after we both had cuddles.
I was on cloud nine!
Everything went so well and without any complications. Most importantly I asked questions when I was scared or unsure of something and everyone listened to me and respected my birth wishes. The recovery was a bit painful at first but quick. And as a bonus I got to go home after a couple of days.
Felicity does have a tongue tie so breastfeeding has been difficult but that is getting snipped.
Margo even visited me to offer her congratulations and see how I was the following day when she said she was going to be off duty. That made me so happy and grateful. And something that completely blew me away was that the midwife I had (and this time I only had 1 instead of 3) was the midwife that was with me when I was having my son Hudson at Glengarry 2 years ago. So it helped having a familiar face. Andrew and I are so happy things happened naturally and successfully and we have a healthy mum and baby. Now I just have to work on my poor pelvic floor muscles!
Special Message to Mary Lou (Midwife / Childbirth Educator) You were a great support to me and my husband in the planning and preparation of our birth wishes. Thank you! You helped empower us with knowledge and choice – two of the most important things!
For more information or to book onto one of our VBAC classes call the office on 94986033 or Vaginal Birth After Caesarean