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  • Falling in Love again... Falling in Love again...

    4 comments / Posted on by Elizabeth Sebesfi

     

    Three weeks after the two pink lines, we drove Chloe’s dad to the airport.

    She was so close to walking.

    “I love you more”, he promised. He would see her soon.

    I didn’t cry until we got to the car. I clicked her into her car seat, kissed her on the forehead, then shut the door and let myself cry. But only from the passenger side to the drivers seat. Then I sat down, winked at her in the rear view mirror, and began reciting The Very Brave Bear.

    I love you more…

     

    When Chloe dances she really commits. She points her fingers and bounces up and down, shakes her head and taps her feet. It's adorable and dorky and perfect and just, breathtakingly, Chloe. When music starts she smiles a toothy, pink cheeked grin and her eyes latch onto mine, full of excitement and overwhelming happiness. They look bluer like this. Brighter.

    For six months, Chloe and I were an us. We were a complete sentence. I would wake up in the morning to her calls from the nursery; our meals were a bite for you a bite for me. We had favourite books and parks and outfits. We bought too many shoes. We sang “Three Jellyfish” every bath time.

    At night, we would cuddle in her room and play podcasts – the same ones her Dad listened to. In those moments, with a million miles between us, we wouldn’t feel so separate. As we listened to scientists and mathematicians weave mind bending riddles about a world of infinite infinites, where some infinities could be even bigger than others, I found calm and solace with Chloe in my arms.

     

    Months passed, and our little rocking chair began to feel a little cramped. On Chloe’s first birthday, I was four months pregnant and visibly ‘bumpy’. By six months, we were kissing ‘our baby bump’ each night before bed.

    I was happy. Of course I was. I had wanted a second baby from the day I carried Chloe out of the hospital. I was over the moon, and not afraid to tell people.

    I just wasn’t sure that was ok.

     

    As I progressed further and further through my second pregnancy, I began to wonder, as so many second time mums do, how could I ever love anyone else like this? How could I be expected, even for an instant, to love this coming baby with half the honesty, dedication and devotion that I felt for Chloe. 

    To Matt, loving our second baby would be easy, because there was a precedent for success.

    To me it made no sense. How could I suddenly ration a love that was infinite? 

    When I learned that my baby was a girl, that niggling uncertainty became full blown terror. How could I betray Chloe, not only loving another baby, but loving another daughter? How could I be any type of decent mother to this child when I already had my perfect girl? 

     

    I tried everything I could to "create" space in my heart for the baby. We named her Mia. We planned her room. We kissed her scan photos and traced her face with our fingers. We felt her kick and played her music. Any mention of baby would warrant a pat on the tummy.

    The guilt kept growing. I was so torn. In my heart I felt like all these preparations were only for Chloe, and they still wouldn’t be enough. I wondered if she knew that someone new was about to arrive and take me away – to change everything.

     

    I was absolutely disgusted with myself. I knew I wasn't giving the baby a chance so I spoke to more experienced mothers about how they coped, and how they came to love their second born.

    "You don’t come to love them, you just love them", my own mother responded. I should mention here that I AM her second born, but I was still mortified. Did she just start loving my brother less? Did the love she felt change? Did John just forget that once upon a time she had been his, and he had been her world, and did I just kind of redefine normal?

    I began to hug Chloe a little tighter. I would tell her every day, multiple times a day, that she was my baby girl, and she would always be my baby girl, and I would love her no matter what, and nothing would ever change that.

    Then in the third trimester, I wondered if I was ready at all. 

     

    At night, I'd tell my husband every minute detail of Chloe's day. How she made me laugh, or how she shared at the park, or danced with Aunty Becca or found where Nanna kept the stash of Easter eggs. Her new words, her smile, and the way I could see her mind changing and developing. He'd tell me how excited he was to be home and how he couldn't wait to become best friends with Chloe so that I could focus on the "little one".

    I could never tell him how much I didn't want that to happen.

    Then in week 35, with Matt overseas, Mia decided it was time. With no family, no husband and no plan in place, I went into labour. 

     

    Chloe couldn't be with me. My angel of a best friend, Zoe, took Chloe home and I spent the hardest night of my life away from my daughter. 

    A day passed. The baby was coming, but to slow the process I couldn't breastfeed Chloe. She would look at me and scream, wondering why I suddenly refused to hold her, cuddle her, comfort her... She became increasingly hysterical, and only Zoe could settle her.

    This baby was taking my daughter away from me. 

     

    Chloe became increasingly distressed. There was nothing I could do. The doctors had asked me to put the baby's wellbeing ahead of my daughters. I was so angry.

    My brother John flew up to be with me, and all I could do was cry. Zoe took Chloe for a walk and I sat with John on the bed and confided everything to him. The fear, the guilt, the panic and the anger. I was so ashamed and so frightened. I was failing Chloe by protecting the baby; I was failing the baby by resenting her for it.

    Johnny doesn’t have kids, but he should.

    Kneeling beside me, he waited for me to finish. He shrugged his shoulders and reassured me that as a first child he thought having siblings wasn’t such a bad thing, and that after 30 years he was close to forgiving Mum for bringing me home.

    I smiled, but in my head it plagued me that neither of us knew what Mum really felt.

    As if he had read my mind, John put his hand on my arm and said quietly, “I have never doubted you”.

    “Everything you’ve done has been for your daughter, and soon it will be for your daughters”.

    I’m ashamed to say that it took me until my late teens to realise how lucky I am to have a big brother. Growing up, I compared myself to him constantly so we fought. A lot. He’s taller and stronger and infinitely better at map reading… Turns out he’s not too bad with pep talks either.

    I hope one day Chloe can give that same reassurance to her sister.

     

    Mia was kind enough to wait another 24 hours, long enough for her Dad to fly home, before entering the world in a hurry.

    Chloe’s birth bought the unknown. Mia bought the unexpected! She was tiny, dark haired and smiling serenely. She opened her eyes and in a split second, everything changed. Mia was our baby, but she was Chloe’s sister. They would be an ‘Us’, just like we were.

    I crash landed in love with Mia. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

     

    When Zoe and John bought Chloe back to the hospital there was more than enough room for the four of us on that tiny bed. Chloe climbed up beside me and everything just made sense.

     

    Some people might worry that Mia will be hurt if she reads this one day. Please don’t.

    One day I will show it to her myself.

    I hope when she reads it she realises just how incredible it is that in a heartbeat, she was able to change boundless, infinite love into something infinitely more.

     

     

    Three weeks after the two pink lines, we drove Chloe’s dad to the airport.

    She was so close to walking.

    “I love you more”, he promised. He would see her soon.

    I didn’t cry until we got to the car. I clicked her into her car seat, kissed her on the forehead, then shut the door and let myself cry. But only from the passenger side to the drivers seat. Then I sat down, winked at her in the rear view mirror, and began reciting The Very Brave Bear.

    I love you more…

     

    When Chloe dances she really commits. She points her fingers and bounces up and down, shakes her head and taps her feet. It's adorable and dorky and perfect and just, breathtakingly, Chloe. When music starts she smiles a toothy, pink cheeked grin and her eyes latch onto mine, full of excitement and overwhelming happiness. They look bluer like this. Brighter.

    For six months, Chloe and I were an us. We were a complete sentence. I would wake up in the morning to her calls from the nursery; our meals were a bite for you a bite for me. We had favourite books and parks and outfits. We bought too many shoes. We sang “Three Jellyfish” every bath time.

    At night, we would cuddle in her room and play podcasts – the same ones her Dad listened to. In those moments, with a million miles between us, we wouldn’t feel so separate. As we listened to scientists and mathematicians weave mind bending riddles about a world of infinite infinites, where some infinities could be even bigger than others, I found calm and solace with Chloe in my arms.

     

    Months passed, and our little rocking chair began to feel a little cramped. On Chloe’s first birthday, I was four months pregnant and visibly ‘bumpy’. By six months, we were kissing ‘our baby bump’ each night before bed.

    I was happy. Of course I was. I had wanted a second baby from the day I carried Chloe out of the hospital. I was over the moon, and not afraid to tell people.

    I just wasn’t sure that was ok.

     

    As I progressed further and further through my second pregnancy, I began to wonder, as so many second time mums do, how could I ever love anyone else like this? How could I be expected, even for an instant, to love this coming baby with half the honesty, dedication and devotion that I felt for Chloe. 

    To Matt, loving our second baby would be easy, because there was a precedent for success.

    To me it made no sense. How could I suddenly ration a love that was infinite? 

    When I learned that my baby was a girl, that niggling uncertainty became full blown terror. How could I betray Chloe, not only loving another baby, but loving another daughter? How could I be any type of decent mother to this child when I already had my perfect girl? 

     

    I tried everything I could to "create" space in my heart for the baby. We named her Mia. We planned her room. We kissed her scan photos and traced her face with our fingers. We felt her kick and played her music. Any mention of baby would warrant a pat on the tummy.

    The guilt kept growing. I was so torn. In my heart I felt like all these preparations were only for Chloe, and they still wouldn’t be enough. I wondered if she knew that someone new was about to arrive and take me away – to change everything.

     

    I was absolutely disgusted with myself. I knew I wasn't giving the baby a chance so I spoke to more experienced mothers about how they coped, and how they came to love their second born.

    "You don’t come to love them, you just love them", my own mother responded. I should mention here that I AM her second born, but I was still mortified. Did she just start loving my brother less? Did the love she felt change? Did John just forget that once upon a time she had been his, and he had been her world, and did I just kind of redefine normal?

    I began to hug Chloe a little tighter. I would tell her every day, multiple times a day, that she was my baby girl, and she would always be my baby girl, and I would love her no matter what, and nothing would ever change that.

    Then in the third trimester, I wondered if I was ready at all. 

     

    At night, I'd tell my husband every minute detail of Chloe's day. How she made me laugh, or how she shared at the park, or danced with Aunty Becca or found where Nanna kept the stash of Easter eggs. Her new words, her smile, and the way I could see her mind changing and developing. He'd tell me how excited he was to be home and how he couldn't wait to become best friends with Chloe so that I could focus on the "little one".

    I could never tell him how much I didn't want that to happen.

    Then in week 35, with Matt overseas, Mia decided it was time. With no family, no husband and no plan in place, I went into labour. 

     

    Chloe couldn't be with me. My angel of a best friend, Zoe, took Chloe home and I spent the hardest night of my life away from my daughter. 

    A day passed. The baby was coming, but to slow the process I couldn't breastfeed Chloe. She would look at me and scream, wondering why I suddenly refused to hold her, cuddle her, comfort her... She became increasingly hysterical, and only Zoe could settle her.

    This baby was taking my daughter away from me. 

     

    Chloe became increasingly distressed. There was nothing I could do. The doctors had asked me to put the baby's wellbeing ahead of my daughters. I was so angry.

    My brother John flew up to be with me, and all I could do was cry. Zoe took Chloe for a walk and I sat with John on the bed and confided everything to him. The fear, the guilt, the panic and the anger. I was so ashamed and so frightened. I was failing Chloe by protecting the baby; I was failing the baby by resenting her for it.

    Johnny doesn’t have kids, but he should.

    Kneeling beside me, he waited for me to finish. He shrugged his shoulders and reassured me that as a first child he thought having siblings wasn’t such a bad thing, and that after 30 years he was close to forgiving Mum for bringing me home.

    I smiled, but in my head it plagued me that neither of us knew what Mum really felt.

    As if he had read my mind, John put his hand on my arm and said quietly, “I have never doubted you”.

    “Everything you’ve done has been for your daughter, and soon it will be for your daughters”.

    I’m ashamed to say that it took me until my late teens to realise how lucky I am to have a big brother. Growing up, I compared myself to him constantly so we fought. A lot. He’s taller and stronger and infinitely better at map reading… Turns out he’s not too bad with pep talks either.

    I hope one day Chloe can give that same reassurance to her sister.

     

    Mia was kind enough to wait another 24 hours, long enough for her Dad to fly home, before entering the world in a hurry.

    Chloe’s birth bought the unknown. Mia bought the unexpected! She was tiny, dark haired and smiling serenely. She opened her eyes and in a split second, everything changed. Mia was our baby, but she was Chloe’s sister. They would be an ‘Us’, just like we were.

    I crash landed in love with Mia. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

     

    When Zoe and John bought Chloe back to the hospital there was more than enough room for the four of us on that tiny bed. Chloe climbed up beside me and everything just made sense.

     

    Some people might worry that Mia will be hurt if she reads this one day. Please don’t.

    One day I will show it to her myself.

    I hope when she reads it she realises just how incredible it is that in a heartbeat, she was able to change boundless, infinite love into something infinitely more.

     

    Read more

  • My Imperfect Pregnancy, Part 2 My Imperfect Pregnancy, Part 2

    6 comments / Posted on by Elizabeth Sebesfi

     

    I cannot begin to describe what it felt like to meet my daughter for the first time. As I bluffed my way through the final stages of labour (was this pushing or was I just crying and gritting my teeth super tight to keep from swearing and making it look like I was doing something?) a tiny voice in my head that had to that point remained relatively quiet, suddenly decided to scream.

    “This is a very very VERY bad idea!”

    Seemingly from nowhere, my obstetrician calmly said (as if it were the most simple thing in the world), “alright, come and meet your parents”.

    Seconds later, she was in my arms.

    I began saying all the things I knew I should say. She’s so beautiful! Isn’t she amazing! I can’t believe she’s here!

    I held her and looked at her tiny body. Her cranky expression. Her long limbs. Her soft skin. Her shock of blonde hair. She had her father’s nose. She had her father’s eyes. She had her father’s chin.

    She had her father’s appetite.

    The midwife helped me to begin feeding her. She latched perfectly.

    My husband gushed, stroking her forehead and kissing mine. He echoed my words, “she’s perfect… she’s so beautiful”…

    I looked to him for my cue. It suddenly struck me, as the midwife went about her work and the obstetrician left the room, that we were responsible for this tiny human. We were on our own.

    I didn’t know what to do.

    This was supposed to be easy. Every day from the age of 17 I had dedicated study and professional endeavour towards understanding children, educating them and advocating for them. I told people that I was particularly passionate about family centred practice. I thought I specialised in this. I thought this was supposed to come naturally. I thought this was supposed to make sense! Even the tiniest bit of sense!

    Within the hour, family had arrived to cuddle and coo and offer words of support. My friends began texting me. Congratulations! What a beautiful baby! How lucky is she to have parents like us! Bet we’ve got it all figured out! Bet we’ll be home from hospital by tomorrow!

    The day was hectic and a whirlwind of voices and support and encouragement. I couldn’t have asked for a more loving environment for this little one to enter into.

    That night, when everyone left, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

    From a place I felt no control of, apologies were flooding out. I muttered “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” in a dark room on cold tiles while my husband slept peacefully beside my daughter next door.

    This wasn’t right. I wasn’t feeling the things I should be feeling. I wasn’t giddy and snuggly and certain. I didn’t feel my “mothing instinct” kick in and tell me what to do. My stitches hurt and breastfeeding hurt and I was so tired and this baby didn’t look like me and I was still super fat and for heaven’s sake… I had left my baby so that I could go and cry on the floor! I sucked at mothering!

    My phone vibrated, letting me know it was time to feed Chloe again. I tried for an hour then hopped back into bed to put myself to sleep. This time I was so exhausted that it worked.

    During pregnancy, I was under the impression that women either “got it”, or they had Post Natal Depression.

    I also believed that some invisible Tinkerbelle style wonder fairy would fly around the room shortly after birth sprinkling magical love dust everywhere and making all the pain go away.

    I was pretty sure that my baby would look like me. Especially when I had gone to all the effort of, you know, gestating. Haematomas. Vomiting. Cellulite. Nine months without coffee.

    I don’t know why we don’t talk about the middle ground. We talk about the nerves and anxiety, we talk about the pain of labour and we know about pushing and c-sections and possible complications…

    Why don’t we talk about the fact that when everything goes right, we may still feel completely lost, and certain that we have failed?

    On the third day in hospital, I buzzed my midwife for assistance.

    She seemed bemused by me. “You’re a nurse, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

    I told her what I do for a living.

    She nodded. “Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. The baby is ok. No one expects you to know everything”.

    It was the first time that someone, knowing my credentials, acknowledged that I was basically flying blind.

    It wasn’t as if everything suddenly fell into place after that. I don’t think it’s supposed to. As parents we become responsible for another human being with their own needs, rights, thoughts, feelings, attitudes and personality. If we had nothing to learn, we’d be suggesting that they have nothing to teach us.

    And I had so much to learn.

    After a couple of weeks, it all stopped hurting. The exhaustion began to subside as I became more aware of Chloe’s natural routine.

    She was a beautiful baby, and is a beautiful one year old. She has her father’s smile. She has my eyes – but they’re blue like his. She has my stubborn streak, my love of music, but thankfully her father’s coordination.

    Some days, I am so in love with her that I feel breathless. Her laugh is so pure, her cuddles are so genuine, her eyes are so bright. My natural response when people tell me she is beautiful is “Yep”, because there was never a truer word spoken.

    She has a knack for communication. She lights up when she sees other children. She is a very advanced peek a booer if I do say so myself. We’re… ‘working on’ sharing.  

    I love being a mother, and I love my daughter.

    And I still have no idea what I’m doing.

     

    I cannot begin to describe what it felt like to meet my daughter for the first time. As I bluffed my way through the final stages of labour (was this pushing or was I just crying and gritting my teeth super tight to keep from swearing and making it look like I was doing something?) a tiny voice in my head that had to that point remained relatively quiet, suddenly decided to scream.

    “This is a very very VERY bad idea!”

    Seemingly from nowhere, my obstetrician calmly said (as if it were the most simple thing in the world), “alright, come and meet your parents”.

    Seconds later, she was in my arms.

    I began saying all the things I knew I should say. She’s so beautiful! Isn’t she amazing! I can’t believe she’s here!

    I held her and looked at her tiny body. Her cranky expression. Her long limbs. Her soft skin. Her shock of blonde hair. She had her father’s nose. She had her father’s eyes. She had her father’s chin.

    She had her father’s appetite.

    The midwife helped me to begin feeding her. She latched perfectly.

    My husband gushed, stroking her forehead and kissing mine. He echoed my words, “she’s perfect… she’s so beautiful”…

    I looked to him for my cue. It suddenly struck me, as the midwife went about her work and the obstetrician left the room, that we were responsible for this tiny human. We were on our own.

    I didn’t know what to do.

    This was supposed to be easy. Every day from the age of 17 I had dedicated study and professional endeavour towards understanding children, educating them and advocating for them. I told people that I was particularly passionate about family centred practice. I thought I specialised in this. I thought this was supposed to come naturally. I thought this was supposed to make sense! Even the tiniest bit of sense!

    Within the hour, family had arrived to cuddle and coo and offer words of support. My friends began texting me. Congratulations! What a beautiful baby! How lucky is she to have parents like us! Bet we’ve got it all figured out! Bet we’ll be home from hospital by tomorrow!

    The day was hectic and a whirlwind of voices and support and encouragement. I couldn’t have asked for a more loving environment for this little one to enter into.

    That night, when everyone left, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

    From a place I felt no control of, apologies were flooding out. I muttered “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” in a dark room on cold tiles while my husband slept peacefully beside my daughter next door.

    This wasn’t right. I wasn’t feeling the things I should be feeling. I wasn’t giddy and snuggly and certain. I didn’t feel my “mothing instinct” kick in and tell me what to do. My stitches hurt and breastfeeding hurt and I was so tired and this baby didn’t look like me and I was still super fat and for heaven’s sake… I had left my baby so that I could go and cry on the floor! I sucked at mothering!

    My phone vibrated, letting me know it was time to feed Chloe again. I tried for an hour then hopped back into bed to put myself to sleep. This time I was so exhausted that it worked.

    During pregnancy, I was under the impression that women either “got it”, or they had Post Natal Depression.

    I also believed that some invisible Tinkerbelle style wonder fairy would fly around the room shortly after birth sprinkling magical love dust everywhere and making all the pain go away.

    I was pretty sure that my baby would look like me. Especially when I had gone to all the effort of, you know, gestating. Haematomas. Vomiting. Cellulite. Nine months without coffee.

    I don’t know why we don’t talk about the middle ground. We talk about the nerves and anxiety, we talk about the pain of labour and we know about pushing and c-sections and possible complications…

    Why don’t we talk about the fact that when everything goes right, we may still feel completely lost, and certain that we have failed?

    On the third day in hospital, I buzzed my midwife for assistance.

    She seemed bemused by me. “You’re a nurse, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

    I told her what I do for a living.

    She nodded. “Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. The baby is ok. No one expects you to know everything”.

    It was the first time that someone, knowing my credentials, acknowledged that I was basically flying blind.

    It wasn’t as if everything suddenly fell into place after that. I don’t think it’s supposed to. As parents we become responsible for another human being with their own needs, rights, thoughts, feelings, attitudes and personality. If we had nothing to learn, we’d be suggesting that they have nothing to teach us.

    And I had so much to learn.

    After a couple of weeks, it all stopped hurting. The exhaustion began to subside as I became more aware of Chloe’s natural routine.

    She was a beautiful baby, and is a beautiful one year old. She has her father’s smile. She has my eyes – but they’re blue like his. She has my stubborn streak, my love of music, but thankfully her father’s coordination.

    Some days, I am so in love with her that I feel breathless. Her laugh is so pure, her cuddles are so genuine, her eyes are so bright. My natural response when people tell me she is beautiful is “Yep”, because there was never a truer word spoken.

    She has a knack for communication. She lights up when she sees other children. She is a very advanced peek a booer if I do say so myself. We’re… ‘working on’ sharing.  

    I love being a mother, and I love my daughter.

    And I still have no idea what I’m doing.

    Read more

  • My Imperfect Pregnancy My Imperfect Pregnancy

    0 comments / Posted on by Elizabeth Sebesfi

    In a tiny hotel room in Toowoomba I found myself lying on sickly scented starchy sheets listening to the drum of a hailstorm, one hand on my third trimester belly, the other holding my hair off my face. My phone lay close to my head and I waited for it to ring, signalling a brief moment of closeness with my husband on the other end of the line. I missed him.

    We both travelled regularly for work, it was nothing new, but at thirty two weeks pregnant, twelve kilos heavier, two hours from home, I was becoming painfully aware of just how far away he was.

    Every now and then I would wonder what he was thinking. Did he really love my mashed potatoes that much? Did he really not mind my complete hopelessness in all feats laundry related?

    Was he really excited about this baby?

    We all know the saying about a father becoming a Dad when he holds his child, and I was well aware of the fact that I should be giving my (amazing) husband far more credit than I was. For this exact reason, I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone how incredibly frightened I was.

    Pregnancy, like most good fairy tales, is riddled with clichés. “You’ll know what to do”, “As soon as you see your baby, you’ll get it”, “It’s the most wonderful time of your life, don’t wish it away!”. These catchy little mantras flow through support groups, baby books, and from the mouths of well-meaning relatives from plus sign to push, reassuring, reaffirming, and creating a level of expectation which is not always reasonable.

    My husband is the best kind of cliché. The perfect knight in shining armour kind of guy who gets my heart racing and makes my knees weak. I knew, from the minute we said we were ready, that he would be everything I could ever hope for in a father for my children.

    We would paint the nursery and build baby furniture and hold hands in scans and eat pickles and peanut butter together while crying over chick flicks through forty weeks of loved up bliss.

    In week seven, I picked a room to be the nursery.

    “No”, he contested, “I need that room for storage”.

    In week thirteen, I emptied the spare room and built the cot listening to a Dr Karl podcast, because my husband was away for work.

    In week seventeen, I was reminded that you can’t paint a rental property - It looks fine as is.

    In week twenty three, I fell ill while interstate for work. It made no sense to worry him by calling – I waited until I knew everything was ok, then let him know I was fine.

    I wanted to pore over ultrasound images and constantly talk baby names. I could (and did), but he would normally smile happily while going about his day.

    My excitement was making me feel lonely, and that loneliness, just like fourteen hour work days and twice a week plane trips, was not supposed to be a part of my perfect pregnancy.

    That awful afternoon, in that smelly hotel, my phone rang.

    He had just arrived home and had walked the dogs and he asked how I was feeling.

    He had done the washing I had left on the bed, and he asked, how was work?

    He wondered where the hospital bag had gone, and I realised he’d noticed it was missing.

    He said he’d driven home via the hospital and it had taken seventeen minutes.

    He had spoken to Shaun, and he said we might need a second packet of newborn nappies.

    In that phone call, full of logic and reason and timings and reconnaissance, I was speaking to my daughters Dad.

    He was measured and rational, calm and reassuring, and he would be an amazing father.  

    Pregnancy is hard and long and stressful and scary. The pressures we face to be absolutely perfect are very real, but they often come from a place within ourselves. Clichés survive for a reason; often they are true, but their colourful word plays veil concepts that are often black or white.

    A father doesn’t become a Dad when he holds his baby. He goes on a journey, just like we do, in his own head or with friends or rationally or emotionally, with support from family, journal articles, baby books or sporadic midnight google searches.

    When my daughter arrived three weeks early, tiny and blonde, my husband knew exactly what to do. Then, after he cut the cord and sat with her in his arms, kissing her cheeks, holding my hand… he was the first person in the world to tell her that she was loved.

     

    In a tiny hotel room in Toowoomba I found myself lying on sickly scented starchy sheets listening to the drum of a hailstorm, one hand on my third trimester belly, the other holding my hair off my face. My phone lay close to my head and I waited for it to ring, signalling a brief moment of closeness with my husband on the other end of the line. I missed him.

    We both travelled regularly for work, it was nothing new, but at thirty two weeks pregnant, twelve kilos heavier, two hours from home, I was becoming painfully aware of just how far away he was.

    Every now and then I would wonder what he was thinking. Did he really love my mashed potatoes that much? Did he really not mind my complete hopelessness in all feats laundry related?

    Was he really excited about this baby?

    We all know the saying about a father becoming a Dad when he holds his child, and I was well aware of the fact that I should be giving my (amazing) husband far more credit than I was. For this exact reason, I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone how incredibly frightened I was.

    Pregnancy, like most good fairy tales, is riddled with clichés. “You’ll know what to do”, “As soon as you see your baby, you’ll get it”, “It’s the most wonderful time of your life, don’t wish it away!”. These catchy little mantras flow through support groups, baby books, and from the mouths of well-meaning relatives from plus sign to push, reassuring, reaffirming, and creating a level of expectation which is not always reasonable.

    My husband is the best kind of cliché. The perfect knight in shining armour kind of guy who gets my heart racing and makes my knees weak. I knew, from the minute we said we were ready, that he would be everything I could ever hope for in a father for my children.

    We would paint the nursery and build baby furniture and hold hands in scans and eat pickles and peanut butter together while crying over chick flicks through forty weeks of loved up bliss.

    In week seven, I picked a room to be the nursery.

    “No”, he contested, “I need that room for storage”.

    In week thirteen, I emptied the spare room and built the cot listening to a Dr Karl podcast, because my husband was away for work.

    In week seventeen, I was reminded that you can’t paint a rental property - It looks fine as is.

    In week twenty three, I fell ill while interstate for work. It made no sense to worry him by calling – I waited until I knew everything was ok, then let him know I was fine.

    I wanted to pore over ultrasound images and constantly talk baby names. I could (and did), but he would normally smile happily while going about his day.

    My excitement was making me feel lonely, and that loneliness, just like fourteen hour work days and twice a week plane trips, was not supposed to be a part of my perfect pregnancy.

    That awful afternoon, in that smelly hotel, my phone rang.

    He had just arrived home and had walked the dogs and he asked how I was feeling.

    He had done the washing I had left on the bed, and he asked, how was work?

    He wondered where the hospital bag had gone, and I realised he’d noticed it was missing.

    He said he’d driven home via the hospital and it had taken seventeen minutes.

    He had spoken to Shaun, and he said we might need a second packet of newborn nappies.

    In that phone call, full of logic and reason and timings and reconnaissance, I was speaking to my daughters Dad.

    He was measured and rational, calm and reassuring, and he would be an amazing father.  

    Pregnancy is hard and long and stressful and scary. The pressures we face to be absolutely perfect are very real, but they often come from a place within ourselves. Clichés survive for a reason; often they are true, but their colourful word plays veil concepts that are often black or white.

    A father doesn’t become a Dad when he holds his baby. He goes on a journey, just like we do, in his own head or with friends or rationally or emotionally, with support from family, journal articles, baby books or sporadic midnight google searches.

    When my daughter arrived three weeks early, tiny and blonde, my husband knew exactly what to do. Then, after he cut the cord and sat with her in his arms, kissing her cheeks, holding my hand… he was the first person in the world to tell her that she was loved.

     

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  • Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are?

    2 comments / Posted on by Elizabeth Sebesfi

    Political correctness is a pain in the butt.

    I’m sure everyone heard that Target in the US had decided to remove the divisive labels of “Boys” and “Girls” toys from the shelves. The uproar was incredible!

    Gender is a tricky thing. I bake, I draw, I sing, I love babies; I like sparkly things and the colour pink. I cry in Nicholas Sparks’ movies. I’m what you might call a girly girl.

    However. I am terrible at housework. I love building things. As a child I would rather play with blocks than dolls, I usually had scraped knees and mud on my hands, I love computers and technology and I would climb anything I could get traction on.

    My understanding of what it means to be female includes all of those things. I know who I am, and I know I have the right to decide what I like and what I don’t.

    When we try to put gender into boxes, or aisles in a toy store, we are removing a child’s right to construct their own gender identity, and telling them ‘this is what you should be’.

    It becomes particularly complicated when we think about the fact that it is also telling children that this is what all girls, or all boys, should be.

    In an Early Learning Service, children develop an enormous breadth of skills; some academic, some social, some intrapersonal. One of the many ways children decide how to treat others, is with a kind of currency called “Social Capital”,

    Social Capital, as it relates to children, refers to the skills, knowledge and attributes that make it easier to make friends, build social networks and be accepted into groups.

    In early childhood, children are likely to form friendships based on opportunity (they’re in the same class), and similarity (Oh you like ice cream? Me too!). Children are drawn to children of similar age, race, gender or with similar skills and interests.

    So a child who is really good at “being a girl” might be seen to have a lot of this Social Capital “currency”.

    If all of the girls are playing with dolls, that’s great!

    If all of the boys are playing with trucks, awesome!

    What about the little boy doing laundry in the corner, calling himself Iron Man?

    When we tell children that gender is a certain way, we are also telling them what it is not. Amy, with short hair, is not girly. Axel, who likes the pink play dough, isn’t a boy. So where do they fit?

    The answer is, they might not.

    This harmless “boys will be boys” mantra, that so many defend wholeheartedly is incredibly confusing, isolating and dangerous.

    Children have a right to an identity. They have a right to understand fairness, to develop empathy, to understand different perspectives and to welcome and embrace diversity.

    Why then do we as adults have the right to enforce strict limitations on the meaning of gender, to tell children to reject what is different and to encourage them to develop a narrow understanding of what is ok?

    A sign in Target is a sign in Target. However, I wonder, would we have so many objections to taking these signs away if we hadn’t grown up ourselves with these same signs, these same limitations around “boy” and “girl”?

    There are some things about my daughter’s nursery that are classically girly. Clothes are my guilty pleasure. Chloe’s mobile, a silver foiled foliage of string lights across her change table, is delicate and pretty.

    It’s ok to decorate, to offer toys that might traditionally fit with the social construct of a certain gender. It’s ok to be girly.

    What’s not ok is to close yourself off to the idea of something different. Uniqueness is a gift, and an asset.

    Gender is a fluid construct. Strength and compassion, intelligence and beauty, creativity and ingenuity are not gender specific skills. I personally want all these things for my daughter, and I don’t want anyone telling her to limit herself because of what has always been done.

    The next time you think about gender, and the silliness of politically correct society, I implore you to think about how you want your child to treat the other children who don’t quite fit the mould.

    My hope is that Chloe will grow up in a world where children don't look for labels to tell them what is ok. Personally, I am thrilled that someone with a voice as loud as Target is putting their hand up to say OK boys and girls... it's up to you.

    Political correctness is a pain in the butt.

    I’m sure everyone heard that Target in the US had decided to remove the divisive labels of “Boys” and “Girls” toys from the shelves. The uproar was incredible!

    Gender is a tricky thing. I bake, I draw, I sing, I love babies; I like sparkly things and the colour pink. I cry in Nicholas Sparks’ movies. I’m what you might call a girly girl.

    However. I am terrible at housework. I love building things. As a child I would rather play with blocks than dolls, I usually had scraped knees and mud on my hands, I love computers and technology and I would climb anything I could get traction on.

    My understanding of what it means to be female includes all of those things. I know who I am, and I know I have the right to decide what I like and what I don’t.

    When we try to put gender into boxes, or aisles in a toy store, we are removing a child’s right to construct their own gender identity, and telling them ‘this is what you should be’.

    It becomes particularly complicated when we think about the fact that it is also telling children that this is what all girls, or all boys, should be.

    In an Early Learning Service, children develop an enormous breadth of skills; some academic, some social, some intrapersonal. One of the many ways children decide how to treat others, is with a kind of currency called “Social Capital”,

    Social Capital, as it relates to children, refers to the skills, knowledge and attributes that make it easier to make friends, build social networks and be accepted into groups.

    In early childhood, children are likely to form friendships based on opportunity (they’re in the same class), and similarity (Oh you like ice cream? Me too!). Children are drawn to children of similar age, race, gender or with similar skills and interests.

    So a child who is really good at “being a girl” might be seen to have a lot of this Social Capital “currency”.

    If all of the girls are playing with dolls, that’s great!

    If all of the boys are playing with trucks, awesome!

    What about the little boy doing laundry in the corner, calling himself Iron Man?

    When we tell children that gender is a certain way, we are also telling them what it is not. Amy, with short hair, is not girly. Axel, who likes the pink play dough, isn’t a boy. So where do they fit?

    The answer is, they might not.

    This harmless “boys will be boys” mantra, that so many defend wholeheartedly is incredibly confusing, isolating and dangerous.

    Children have a right to an identity. They have a right to understand fairness, to develop empathy, to understand different perspectives and to welcome and embrace diversity.

    Why then do we as adults have the right to enforce strict limitations on the meaning of gender, to tell children to reject what is different and to encourage them to develop a narrow understanding of what is ok?

    A sign in Target is a sign in Target. However, I wonder, would we have so many objections to taking these signs away if we hadn’t grown up ourselves with these same signs, these same limitations around “boy” and “girl”?

    There are some things about my daughter’s nursery that are classically girly. Clothes are my guilty pleasure. Chloe’s mobile, a silver foiled foliage of string lights across her change table, is delicate and pretty.

    It’s ok to decorate, to offer toys that might traditionally fit with the social construct of a certain gender. It’s ok to be girly.

    What’s not ok is to close yourself off to the idea of something different. Uniqueness is a gift, and an asset.

    Gender is a fluid construct. Strength and compassion, intelligence and beauty, creativity and ingenuity are not gender specific skills. I personally want all these things for my daughter, and I don’t want anyone telling her to limit herself because of what has always been done.

    The next time you think about gender, and the silliness of politically correct society, I implore you to think about how you want your child to treat the other children who don’t quite fit the mould.

    My hope is that Chloe will grow up in a world where children don't look for labels to tell them what is ok. Personally, I am thrilled that someone with a voice as loud as Target is putting their hand up to say OK boys and girls... it's up to you.

    Read more

  • Ten Practical tips for travelling with a baby. Ten Practical tips for travelling with a baby.

    0 comments / Posted on by Elizabeth Sebesfi

    Chloe is now eight months old, and on Friday we will be taking our sixteenth flight together. We have flown with a number of airlines on packed and mostly empty planes. We have made plenty of friends (what can I say, my daughter is a charmer) and some very dumb decisions (NEVER forget Sophie!). Here is what I've learned through those experiences. 

     

    1. Pack for every eventuality! Make sure you are prepared for
      1. Sleep (Blankets, sleep suits, a bassinet cover for long flights)
      2. Constant feeding (nursing covers, extra bottles of formula)
      3. Ear ache (nose Frida, Panadol, tissues, something to chew)
      4. Poosplosion (Nappy wallet, plastic bags, terry towel, two changes of clothes)
    2. Fly virgin. They like babies, they WELCOME babies, they let babies board first, they hold babies while you get your bags sorted and coo over them when they wave. Chloe always gets extra sandwiches too. Just pay the extra money and fly virgin. A cheaper date isn't worth the extra stress!!
    3. Do your research before you go. When we fly we are able to take Chloe’s pram, bassinet and capsule. We take our portable high chair, the squashable washable tot seat, but some airlines do let you take a whole high chair.
    4. Ask for an aisle seat somewhere near the front of the plane. Ask if the middle seat can have a block put on it. Aisle seats have the luxury that you will know you can hop up at any time. You will have at least one arm rest, and if bub is particularly long and you need to feed them, their legs can hang over the side and you won't be bothering anyone. 
    5. Don’t schedule a nap until you have boarded the plane – you will need to take bub out of the pram/carrier to go through airport security. HOWEVER! You do NOT necessarily need to remove a baby from a fabric wrap if they are sleeping! After we had this experience we wrote to the national minister for infrastructure, Warren Truss, and received a response that said only structured wraps must be removed, and airport security “should use common sense” in all other cases. If you’d like, most airports will let you take the pram all the way to the gate.
    6. Let baby adjust! When you board, you’ll be given a security brief and an infant seatbelt to slip onto your own. Wait! Let bub jump around and chat to people and take it all in from your lap. Chloe loves to wave at people as they join the plane, and I would say 90% of people like to wave back. The other 10%... well they’ll be the ones that compliment your babies beautiful behaviour when you get through the flight like a pro.
    7. Focus on food. Wait until the last possible minute (so that’s AFTER they do the safety demo), then get ready to feed. We take a cover, but obviously it’s up to you.
    8. Give Baby your full attention. Don’t get your heart set on a movie. If bub is restless, go for a walk! If you want space to play, ask the cabin crew if you can hang in the galley. If they need a sleep, load that middle seat with blankets then feed, rock or sing to sleep.
    9. When it’s time to disembark, commit. Either decide to wait until everyone else is off the plane, or do as I do and put the carrier on, grab your bags and be ready to go before the cabin doors open. DON’T just stand up and expect everyone to wait for you, and DON’T hop up mid-way through disembarking and risk someone dropping a suitcase on bubs head.
    10. Finally, and maybe most importantly, NEVER apologise for your child! Our children are citizens with rights, among them, the right to be with their family. Do what you can to support them during the flight, and people will be impressed with how responsive you are as a parent, and well-adjusted your amazing child is – and that’s a much better message to send than “sorry we exist, here’s some fantails”.

    Chloe is now eight months old, and on Friday we will be taking our sixteenth flight together. We have flown with a number of airlines on packed and mostly empty planes. We have made plenty of friends (what can I say, my daughter is a charmer) and some very dumb decisions (NEVER forget Sophie!). Here is what I've learned through those experiences. 

     

    1. Pack for every eventuality! Make sure you are prepared for
      1. Sleep (Blankets, sleep suits, a bassinet cover for long flights)
      2. Constant feeding (nursing covers, extra bottles of formula)
      3. Ear ache (nose Frida, Panadol, tissues, something to chew)
      4. Poosplosion (Nappy wallet, plastic bags, terry towel, two changes of clothes)
    2. Fly virgin. They like babies, they WELCOME babies, they let babies board first, they hold babies while you get your bags sorted and coo over them when they wave. Chloe always gets extra sandwiches too. Just pay the extra money and fly virgin. A cheaper date isn't worth the extra stress!!
    3. Do your research before you go. When we fly we are able to take Chloe’s pram, bassinet and capsule. We take our portable high chair, the squashable washable tot seat, but some airlines do let you take a whole high chair.
    4. Ask for an aisle seat somewhere near the front of the plane. Ask if the middle seat can have a block put on it. Aisle seats have the luxury that you will know you can hop up at any time. You will have at least one arm rest, and if bub is particularly long and you need to feed them, their legs can hang over the side and you won't be bothering anyone. 
    5. Don’t schedule a nap until you have boarded the plane – you will need to take bub out of the pram/carrier to go through airport security. HOWEVER! You do NOT necessarily need to remove a baby from a fabric wrap if they are sleeping! After we had this experience we wrote to the national minister for infrastructure, Warren Truss, and received a response that said only structured wraps must be removed, and airport security “should use common sense” in all other cases. If you’d like, most airports will let you take the pram all the way to the gate.
    6. Let baby adjust! When you board, you’ll be given a security brief and an infant seatbelt to slip onto your own. Wait! Let bub jump around and chat to people and take it all in from your lap. Chloe loves to wave at people as they join the plane, and I would say 90% of people like to wave back. The other 10%... well they’ll be the ones that compliment your babies beautiful behaviour when you get through the flight like a pro.
    7. Focus on food. Wait until the last possible minute (so that’s AFTER they do the safety demo), then get ready to feed. We take a cover, but obviously it’s up to you.
    8. Give Baby your full attention. Don’t get your heart set on a movie. If bub is restless, go for a walk! If you want space to play, ask the cabin crew if you can hang in the galley. If they need a sleep, load that middle seat with blankets then feed, rock or sing to sleep.
    9. When it’s time to disembark, commit. Either decide to wait until everyone else is off the plane, or do as I do and put the carrier on, grab your bags and be ready to go before the cabin doors open. DON’T just stand up and expect everyone to wait for you, and DON’T hop up mid-way through disembarking and risk someone dropping a suitcase on bubs head.
    10. Finally, and maybe most importantly, NEVER apologise for your child! Our children are citizens with rights, among them, the right to be with their family. Do what you can to support them during the flight, and people will be impressed with how responsive you are as a parent, and well-adjusted your amazing child is – and that’s a much better message to send than “sorry we exist, here’s some fantails”.

    Read more