” I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”

“I wonder,” said Frodo, “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”

Frodo Baggins. The Lord of the Rings.

Wow…. so it’s been a HOT MINUTE since I have written anything on this blog. Dear readers, I am deeply sorry. It’s been quite the journey since I last posted in May 2020 when I announced the presence of little ‘Yumble’ who, at that time, was only 6 months along in my pregnancy. Let’s quickly cut to the chase and report that she is here, in the flesh, our rainbow girl arrived during Stage 4 Lockdown in Melbourne, Australia on the 31st of August 2020 via elective C-section. I am pleased to report that she is a happy and healthy 9.5 month old and is sleeping (thank goodness!) as I write. I feel like it’s best just to pop that out there before I begin the mammoth task of trying to figure out how to tackle my lack of writing. Originally I started this blog to assist with my anxiety and mental state after 3 miscarriages in a row in 2019… now I stand here, with our much longed for little girl, and face a different path and a new journey. This journey is still fraught with all sorts of dark caverns, treacherous terrain and difficult mountains to climb. All paths in life are.

She is here though. So there is always a smile, a laugh, a new skill or a moment of wonder to cut the dark times with light.

I feel like my journey is still ongoing. Anxiety is still a strong feature in this story, as is stress. To this tale we add in self worth, trust, faith (not in the religious sense), hope, heartbreak and growth. So I guess lets kick this off with Pandemic Birth Story number 1,098,365 (or however many other women in the world have their own tales to tell…).

After all we had been through, COVID-19 just seemed like a bit of a cruel joke really. A bit like “Here’s your rainbow child….OH…. but you can’t see your family overseas, you have to give birth in lockdown with curfews and no visitors AND you have to isolate for the first 2 -3 months of your daughters life so no ‘village’ for you!”

See….. cruel joke right?

My pregnancy was fairly straight forward. Morning sickness (mainly nausea but no vomiting) until 13 weeks, wicked acid reflux for 38 weeks, tiredness with spurts of energy, occasional plantar fasciitis, mild SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction), moderate back pain. I originally planned to work until 34-35 weeks (being a Physio, our job is a lot tougher when you have a GIANT belly!). Covid, however, had other plans and I was forced to take leave from work when Melbourne went into their second wave lockdown (the big one!) and it was too risky for me to continue. At that point, I had also been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (just like Mum!) and was testing my bloods 4 x per day and on a strict diet regime. I was lucky in the sense that my fasting levels (the first blood in early morning) was my issue and, with the diet, all my meals were completely fine! It became impossible with the PPD required to be COVID-safe for me to work, attend to my Diabetes diet of snacking and meals every 2 – 3 hours as well as testing bloods and drinking water every 5 seconds with back to back patients and a risky 1:1 work environment.

So I spent the final 6 weeks of my pregnancy at home alone with my husband working online and quietly binge watching Netflix until Yumble was here. My husband was no longer able to accompany me to my OBGYN appointments which was hard but at least with private ultrasounds he was able to be with me for our scans. At 36 weeks, our precious girl had a head circumference measuring full term and it was advised that I have a c-section at 38 weeks on the dot to deliver her safely (more on that later!).

I felt a bit cheated. With the diabetes I mean. You get this image of being able to eat icecream at 2am in your final stages of pregnancy but I wasn’t allowed ANY sugar or anything considered bad food from 28 weeks until Yumble arrived at 38.

Again with the woe is me. But I digress.

So here’s the deal.

You will find that the internet and social media is actually one of the WORST things to happen to new mothers (well any mother for that matter). It seems like anything you do or say can be supported or fiercely challenged and critiqued. Mum shaming is a thing and it starts when you are pregnant (hell in my case it started even BEFORE I was pregnant!). Having a c-section isn’t a real birth apparantley to some women out there. I am inferior to their struggles because I didnt push a watermelon out of a hole the size of a lemon. I did not labour therefore I did not ‘give birth’, therefore I can’t complain about anything.

Lets just get one thing straight here. A C-section is MAJOR abdominal surgery. My daughter was cut out of me. I don’t think anyone gets to tell you that you had the ‘easy route’. Birth is birth. In my mind, if both myself and my baby are safe then that’s the best option for me.

So, at 38 weeks on the dot we were booked into Hospital (under stage 4 restrictions!) to welcome Yumble into the world. I was injecting insulin every night by this point and my legs looked like they’d been pelted with bb gun bullets (throwback to childhood ‘fun’ times with my brother and his collection of bb guns and slingshots).

Here’s the great part – to cut a long story short. This was the best (and so far the easiest) process to date. Our little girl was born with no complications, a happy and healthy 3670g and, like now, she came out screaming and asserting her dominance! Mum and Bub did extremely well and were blessed with 5 days of family bonding time as there were no visitors allowed to hospitals. We were lucky enough to be able to have my husband stay the whole time! Other friends of mine who also had pandemic babies were not so lucky with their partners and visitations. It’s a cruel time in the world at the moment.

It dawned on me on the last day in hospital that I had done this whole pregnancy essentially alone (apart from hubby). No family, no baby showers, no leaving work celebrations. My family didn’t ever see me pregnant and who knows when they will meet my baby (they are in NZ). At that point, it had been a year almost since I had seen them… and I thought (naively) that that was a long time. Pfffft what an idiot (currently 2 years and counting thanks COVID). After such a horrible journey to become pregnant and have a baby it seemed like a cruel joke that a global pandemic should appear and further squash any chance I had at a normal, happy and supportive pregnancy experience. I will say though that it was nice not having to have the awkward “please don’t visit us as we are too tired” conversation. Introverts dream!

I’m angry to be honest. Angry that I didn’t get the journey that I hoped for and angry that things became even more complicated than I could have imagined. I mean … no one expects a global pandemic!

NO ONE EXPECTS THE GOBAL PANDEMIC!

I don’t know why, but I thought that this was the culmination of my troubles.

Me: “Surely this is it… it’s all come down to this moment, she is here and this is the end of my years of woe and heartbreak and troubles”

Universe: “F*** YOU LADY!” *middle finger*

I would love to tell you that I am happy, healthy, adjusted to motherhood and just, well, plain old joyful.

But that would be lying.

I feel like this post will be WAY too long if I start down that path tonight so I shall leave it where it lies for the time being.

However, dear reader, please note that you are submerged deep in the ocean of a Mother who has endured more than a new mother should have. A mother who suffered with pre-natal anxiety and now suffers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Post Natal Anxiety and … the newcomer to the mix… Post Natal Depression.

I am grateful for the happy, healthy little girl that is in my life. I love her deeply and with a connection I have never known before. She is our rainbow girl and always will be.

But….

I feel a lot of feelings and then I don’t feel much at all. It’s a cruel thing… life. It gives wonderful gifts but it also takes a lot and it’s hard for me to see whether there is much more of me left for it to take.

I feel like this blog used to offer me some therapeutic assistance during the dark times of trying to conceive. So I call on it now to help guide me down this new path.

I say this all before posting further because I want the world to know that I am grateful for her. That I am grateful for a lot. But things aren’t always easy to see when you’re surrounded by storms. I feel like Frodo when he had been captured by Shelob…. numb…..

You have to understand, if you haven’t been there yourself, that you begin to exist in a parallel universe to the one in which you actually live. It’s a horrible place between sanity and complete destruction.

I shall try and explain in coming posts as best as I can, but for now this will have to do. My brain doesn’t compute as well as it did when I started this blog (and I thought I was brain dead then!) so apologies if my writing is not unlike the state of my life… chaotic.

There’s a scene when Frodo and Sam and Gollum are on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol. Frodo has, at this time, become nearly completely consumed by the darkness of The Ring and it has left him susceptible to any manner of whisperings and manipulations. Gollum frames Sam for the loss of the precious Elven Lembas bread and Sam stumbles into the trap of offering to ‘bear the burden’ of the ring himself.

Frodo’s response?

“Go home Sam”

(*cue heartbreak in every lounge room and theatre!)

Frodo suddenly becomes a ‘dick’ and his likeability immediately starts on a downward spiral. Sam, knows he is innocent but, in his meekness, goes along with Frodo even if it means breaking his promise. I should add that this doesn’t exist in the books… only in the movies (purely I think to highlight Sam’s triumphant return!) but it’s relevant nonetheless. Sometimes the power of the ring that we bear makes us do terrible things to ourselves and the people we love. It’s a trap and a burden to carry such things alone, but we feel that that is the way it must be done.

I feel unlikeable like Frodo most days of my life. I feel like my Samwise has become meeker in my dark shadow. I feel whispers in my ear telling me that I’m not good enough and that I’m making wrong decisions. It’s hard to admit and a dark place to be. I have already shot myself in the foot by being public with my miscarriage journey so I may as well be public with this too…. I don’t have any more to lose at this point.

Be kind.

Listen.

You don’t have to understand. But I urge you to listen.

See you soon…..

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