Waiting for Baby Number Three

It’s a strange time when you’re nearing the end of a pregnancy. It’s like straddling two worlds. Two different realities.

There’s the current reality: I’m sitting on my fit ball, it’s the only place I can get some relief from the pain in my pelvis and back. Third time around and I didn’t know until now just how painful pregnancy can be. But I’m not alone. Mr 3 finds his ball and quietly bounces beside me. The pain ranges from a dull ache to feeling like my body is going to split in half and yet, I’m happy. I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to carry and grow another baby. To give birth one more time and raise the child that will complete our family.

And there’s the reality that is just on the other side of this. The one with a new baby. A totally new way of being for our family. The sore boobs and broken sleep and countless hours of committing every detail of their little face to memory. This new reality is exciting and petrifying and monotonous and glorious. It’s oddly close but far away at the same time.

And then there’s the chasm in the middle. The unknown. The wondering. How long will this limbo last for? How much time have I got left to soak in every last moment of being pregnant (aching vagina and all)? When will we meet our final, beautiful piece to our puzzle? Boy or girl? Holy shit, we don’t have a name yet. And don’t even get me started on the impending birth. I love giving birth. Like, love it. But as I feel those waves start to build low in my belly and then subside I’m suddenly reminded of just what I’m about to go through. It’s a terrifying yet exhilarating privilege.

It’s a strange time when you’re nearing the end of a pregnancy. And knowing it’s the last time (no, seriously) adds an extra bittersweetness to it.

My third child, we look forward to meeting you in all of your divine timing and beauty.

Waiting for Baby Barton Number Two

A little under two years ago we published our first blog Waiting for Baby Barton . After a fairly lengthy TTC process, I was 37 weeks pregnant with our first baby and we were eagerly anticipating baby’s arrival.

Now that sweet baby boy is a cheeky toddler, two months shy of his second birthday and soon to be a big brother. And I am again 37 weeks pregnant.

It all seems so surreal. Some days I still can’t quite believe that within the next few weeks we will be a family of four and will have a tiny newborn again.

But then my giant belly, constant braxton hicks, aching back and constipation reminds me that it is in fact real! Oh the joys of the final month of pregnancy. When simple tasks of rolling over in bed, putting shoes on or bathing the toddler are like doing a workout. I love it though, and try to never take the blessing of pregnancy for granted.

It’s funny, it feels like so much has changed since last time and yet it’s so familiar too. Again wondering what will our baby look like? Will it be a boy or a girl? How and when will I go into labour? Will I be a good mum?

I guess it’s always the same questions no matter how many children you have.

But, the bassinet is ready and the baby clothes are washed and folded. The hospital bags are in various stages of packed and the car seat ready to be installed. Dad is counting down the days to his parental leave and keeping fingers crossed baby stays in until then. While Mum is savouring these last weeks of pregnancy and preparing mind and body for birth. All the while big brother is blissfully unaware of what’s to come.

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To you my big boy, mummy loves you so much. You will be the most wonderful big brother. It is a big responsibility being the eldest but I know you will take it all in your stride and continue to be the funny, loving, cheeky boy that you are.

And to my second little love curled up safely in my tummy, it will soon be time to come and meet us my precious one. Scary I know, but I promise it will all be okay and we will all be together soon.

Until then….we wait…

Waiting for Baby Barton

A pregnancy is nine months.  But our wait for Baby Barton has been a little longer than that.

While trying to fall pregnant (which we kept private) I was asked by a friend whether I thought I was born to be a mother.  My answer was unequivocally “No.  No I don’t.”

I always presumed I would be someday.  But I never thought that being a parent would be the one thing that defined who I am or brought purpose to my life.  I believe that all my roles in life are important; wife, big sister, daughter, friend, they all help shape the woman I am and are becoming.

Around this same time I read an interview with Kate Ritchie in Who Magazine.  She was expecting her first child and her words really summed up exactly how I felt then and still feel now.

“The gift of being able to carry a child is beautiful.  It’s happened at the right time.  Becoming a mother will be a wonderful bonus to who I already am.”

This may sound selfish to some.  But, after experiencing the thought that I may not be able to have a baby, I would hate for any woman to feel that she is less worthy or valuable if she doesn’t have children.  Whether that be by choice or a twist of fate from nature.

Our Journey to Conception

Starting a family was not something we ever saw as a ‘logical next step’ or ‘just what married people do’.  For us it was always carefully considered.

Once we had made the decision we were so excited.  We quickly started dreaming up ways we would tell our loved ones once we were pregnant, discussing our values and thoughts on the kind of parents we wanted to be.  But as time went on the conversation died down.  And, while I am absolutely aware that our story doesn’t compare in the slightest to some people’s struggles, it was still hard at times.

3/10/2013

How can you mourn the loss of something you never had?  Something that never even existed except in the quiet depths of your hopeful imagination.  How can you want something so much but have so little control over whether or not you get it?  How can your life feel so full yet so empty at the same time?

4/11/2013

And so the roller coaster ride continues.  The hopeful highs, the disappointing lows and the loops and twists in between.  The “I think this is our month!” followed by the “I’ll give it one more shot and then I’m out!”

And amongst all of that the doubt starts to creep in.  Is this even what I want? Or am I now just consumed with the goal?

Feeling like slapping every woman that says “oh and we weren’t even trying” whilst filling my Facebook newsfeed with bump shots.

And then we saw it.  Two lines.  Two lovely pink lines.  And we are in a daze of happiness, relief and freak out all at the same time.

A Rocky Start

28/10/2014

Heartbeat. A beautiful flicker on the screen confirms that this is real.  You are real.

Heartbreak.  Uncontrollable sobs as I discover there could be complications.  We wait.  A different kind of two week wait.

And then we see it again, that beautiful little flicker.

Here we go….

4/12/2014

After 3 months of uncertainty it is finally feeling real.  And we were delighted to spread the news.  I heard your heartbeat yesterday and it was one of the sweetest sounds my ears have heard.

After a few weeks of wondering if this was actually happening, if you are really in there; it’s finally dawning on me that it is, you are.

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Arrival is Immanent

And so now we are only weeks away from meeting our little one.  The one that will take our twosome and make us a family of three.

I have loved being pregnant and am not quite ready for it to be over just yet so I am savouring every delicious moment of the coming weeks.

But as the arrival looms my thoughts turn to this new little human and the next chapter of our lives.

What will our baby look like?  Will it be a boy or a girl?  How and when will I go into labour?  Will the hypnobirthing album I bought off iTunes be of any help at all?  Will I be a good mum?

I am nervous I guess but mostly I just feel calm and ready.

I know that no matter what challenges come our way, we will face them together and delight in them.

Count it all joy.

So Baby Barton, thank you for choosing us to be your Mummy and Daddy.  We look forward to seeing you soon.

Our Birth Story Vol II: Meeting Jasper James

I remember the day I became a mother like it was yesterday. Though some days it feels like a lifetime ago as I try to recall the person I was before. And on other days I still can’t quite believe that I have created a human being. Two in fact. It’s been a busy few years!

It took me a whole year to write my birth story for Jesse, I shared it on his first birthday. With Jasper having recently reached six months old, it feels like the right time to delve back to the day he was born. Again I remember it vividly and it is so unbelievable to me that he has been earth side for half a year already.

So here goes….

Those last few weeks of pregnancy

Having experienced giving birth before, I think I was more nervous this time. Partly because I knew what I was in for but also because I was worried this time wouldn’t be able to live up to the amazing and positive experience I was blessed to have with my first.

I’m not sure why but I was absolutely convinced that the baby would arrive early. Jesse was born 8 days before his due date and I just had in my head this baby would be an early arrival too.

From 38 weeks my Braxton Hicks were getting more and more intense. Some days I’d have four or five in an hour. Every night around 1am I’d have contractions on and off for several hours, enough to keep me from sleeping. But every morning they would stop.

At first I was excited because I knew that it was all positive signs that labour was imminent. But as I hit 39 weeks and still labour wouldn’t establish, I was starting to get frustrated and uncomfortable. I was losing more and more sleep each night (as if sleeping at full term wasn’t hard enough). I was in pre-labour for 24 hours with Jesse but two weeks!? It was getting a bit ridiculous!

Tuesday, 18th April 2017

Despite my frustration and increasing exhaustion, I tried my best to savour the last days of pregnancy and trust that both my baby and my body would know when the time was right. In saying that, I also felt like there was a ticking clock hanging over me.

As I lay in bed on the eve of my due date I couldn’t help but cry; actually I sobbed. My sister was leaving for America in less than 48 hours and I so badly wanted her to be with me for the birth. If I didn’t have this baby the next day she would miss it. Not only would she not be there to support me through the birth but she would not get to meet bub for 6 weeks. I was so worried that she wouldn’t bond with this baby in the same way she had with Jesse. I prayed my little heart out as I cried into the darkness hoping not to wake the two sleeping bodies beside me.

Right on schedule my contractions kicked in again but I tried not to let my brain get too carried away as they would likely go away anyway.

Wednesday, 19th April 2017 (Due Date)

I was in complete shock that I had made it to 40 weeks. I fully expected to have a baby in my arms by now.

As I got out of bed and started going about my day I was aware that I still had some slight cramping hanging around but again the intensity had lessened. I was a bit disheartened  but felt strangely confident that this might be the day.

So much so that I washed and straigtened my hair and put on some make up (no harm in looking nice for the big event, right). As I did I found myself having to stop and breathe through some contractions. Could they be coming back on strong?

Kaine took some photos to document my 40 week belly and again I was breathing through some bigger surges. I hadn’t really said much about it at this point. I didn’t want to scare them off! But I was quietly getting more and more convinced that this might be the day.

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Around 10.45am I decided to start the contraction timer. They were ranging between three and six minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. It was around this time that I notified my student midwife and my sister and asked Mum and Dad to collect Jesse. I was nervous about putting everyone on high alert prematurely but with each contraction gaining momentum it felt like the right thing to do.

It was around about 11.30am when my parents arrived to take Jesse. I was having contractions about every three minutes. This would usually be the time to make a move to the hospital but then I’d have a few that were further apart. So I thought I would just get comfortable in my now quite home and see how things progressed. I popped the birth play list on and bounced on my fit ball through a few contractions. In between I felt great. Happy, excited and strong.

Shortly after my student midwife suggested I phone the birth suite. Good idea! Just around this time the contractions started to get more intense and I was finally ready to admit that this was probably the real deal. The voice on the other end of the phone told me to come in and be checked out. “We can always send you home again”, she said. I knew that wasn’t going to happen!

In between contractions we scrambled for the hospital bags which had been sitting packed for about two weeks now. I was filled with elation and felt giddy with excitement. It’s happening! And my prayers have been answered, Lia will be here to meet my second baby.

Next up, the car ride. Shit! It was 12.15pm and we were pulling out the drive way. I texted Mum, my sister and a couple of close friends to tell them it was all systems go. At first I told mum that we would arrive at the hospital, get checked out and then give her the thumbs up to meet us there. One car contraction later and I sent another text “Leave now!”

As we approached the highway on-ramp I said to Kaine “Once you get passed the speed camera, gun it”. I knew this baby wasn’t far away but I didn’t want to panic so I tried to block that thought out and just face each contraction as it came. It seemed like things had gone from 0-100 now that we were on our way to the hospital.

I think I had about 4 contractions during the 15 minute drive and they were intense. I breathed heavily and winced and moaned throughout each one gripping onto the seat and door of the car. I felt a lot of pressure on my pubic bone but it was just too scary to think that baby’s head might be wanting out whilst we’re booking it down the Bruce Highway!

As we pulled into the car park I said to Kaine that I thought I was about 6-7cm dilated. I knew he didn’t believe me.

We managed to find a park relatively quickly but it was a fair walk to the hospital entrance. I basically climbed out of the car and started walking immediately leaving Kaine for dust as he grabbed the bags. I was repeating to myself “I am calm, centered and in control” as I walked briskly but cautiously through the carpark. For some reason this was the one line from hypnobirthing that stuck with me.

Making record time (for a 40 week pregnant woman in the throws of labour!) through the car park I felt another wave start to build. There was a park bench up ahead and I just focused on making it to that so I had something to brace myself on. Though I couldn’t help but worry I was scaring two small children with my moaning and groaning as their mother gently ushered them off the path and out of my way.  I leaned over the bench breathing and moaning heavily as I rocked backwards and forwards.

Kaine had caught up to me by this time. It was now 12.50pm. As the contraction started to subside I picked up the pace again and headed for the hospital door. I’ve just got to make it to the birth suite I kept telling myself. It felt like forever but a few minutes later we were heading through the birth suite doors. One look at me and the staff knew I wasn’t going to be sent home. This baby was coming!

I headed for the railing against the wall to lean on and was greeted by a midwife. She says they are waiting for a room to be cleaned. Faarrrrk! I’m going to have my baby right here in the hallway. I see my beautiful student midwife walking towards me and I just lost it. Or maybe I was already crying, I can’t be sure.

We hug like long lost friends and I apologise for being a blubbering mess. I think we joked about how quickly things had progressed and how lucky I was that we left home when we did. True. But here I am trying to stop a baby from being born in the hospital hallway. I don’t care if the room is ‘dirty’ just let me in there! The midwife has a stern word with the cleaner and suddenly I’m ushered into the room. Thank God! I realise now that I was probably in transition, arguably the most painful and scary part of labour, whilst waiting for a fricken room to be cleaned!

I barely had the chance to take in my surroundings as we walked into the room. They needed to examine me. I leaned over the bed and said “Do I take my pants off?” I knew it was an incredibly stupid question but it felt weird to just walk in and drop my dacks! She responds “Yup, bit hard to have a baby with them on!”

I started whimpering, “Please don’t make me go on my back”, I begged. But they needed to see what they were working with. And as it turns out I was 9-10cm. It was time to have a baby.

Knowing I didn’t want to be on my back and that I’ve laboured before, I was encouraged to move into whatever position I wanted.  I instinctively asked for the back of the bed to be put up and I went on to all fours with my arms draped up over the back of the bed. They gave me the gas and air tube. I took it though I knew in my head that I was way past the point of it being any help. I was in so much pain and I was feeling overwhelmed by how fast the labour was progressing. I gripped the mattress as hard as I could and let out low primal growls. I’d be meeting my baby very soon.

“Where’s Mum?”, I asked in a panic.

Kaine tells me she’s almost there. I knew I could have started pushing. Heck, I could have pushed out in that hallway. But I needed my Mum. And my sister. I hear the student whisper to the midwife “I think she’s waiting for Mum”. Bah, they’re on to me.

And then there they were. Lia came around to my left hand side and I leaned my head into her and sobbed. Like ugly, snot coming out of my nose, sobbed.

Contractions were the most intense now but further apart. In between them we chat and laugh. Everyone commends baby on deciding to come on it’s due date and how great it is that Lia can be there before going overseas. I join in where I can and then wait quietly as the next surge builds.

Things feel calmer now. I feel calmer now. The room feels cosy. We’re a team, even though some of us had only just met, and I know that everyone feels like they are part of something special.

As the next one comes I bear down, squeeze Kaine’s hand with everything I’ve got and push. A groan turning into a squeal. It passes and I apologise to Kaine for almost breaking his hand. Again we chat, have a giggle and wait for the next contraction. With my head down and my eyes closed I let the soft music (currently Janet Jackson’s I Get Lonely) take me away as I rest for a moment.

I squeezed Kaine’s hand again, with both hands this time and said “Don’t leave me”. Not sure where I thought he might go at such a time. Important appointment perhaps? He assures me he’s not going anywhere.

My waters still hadn’t broken and I heard the midwives talking and saying that they were bulging. Perhaps stopping baby’s head from coming. But they listen to baby and all seems well so they decide to leave membranes intact. I started to feel really excited about meeting my baby. Or maybe the labour being over. Probably both.

Two more contractions. More pushing. And groaning. I surprised myself with how vocal I was. They tell me to do three good pushes with the next one. “You’ll tell me when to stop pushing won’t you?”, I asked. Clearly still terrified of tearing as I recall 33 years of hearing mum tell me about my birth! They comforted me and it was time to go again. Three good pushes. I hardly made a sound this time. Push…..breathe, breathe, breathe….push…..

The midwife decided to break my buldging waters to avoid Bubby getting distressed. I let out a little shriek with the shock of the pop. “Oh baby, my baby”, I say over and over as I rock my hips back and forth, as if to entice it out.

I push again and then hear them tell me little breaths. Right, that’s my cue. Not needing to be told twice I stopped pushing and instead breathed little puffy breaths quietly. I hear voices start to discuss cord and maneuvering shoulders. I hear Mum and Lia say they can see it.

“It’s got brown hair”.

“Your baby has kissy lips”.

I guess that means the head is out? My eyes are shut and I just keep puffing away.

The excitement builds and discussion about the sex of the baby has everyone bubbling over. I say to Kaine that I want him to be the one to tell me what it is. This whole time he has been my rock. Holding my hand and encouraging me with each surge.

And then all of a sudden its time. I felt every bit of this baby being maneuvered out of me. Completely different to Jesse when, after his head was out, it felt like the rest of his tiny, slippery body just slipped out. I remember being very loud and even actually squealing at one point. And then long loud sighs of relief as I felt baby finally release from my body. It was 1.32pm.

“Lean back and meet your baby”. I look down and scoop up another slippery bundle in my arms, just like I did with Jesse. It seemed so surreal as the sweet relief and the enormity of what has just happened starts to hit me. It was pretty awkward in this position because the umbilical cord was really short.

“What have you got?”

Kaine and I saw at the same time that we had another little boy. We looked at each other and beamed happily.

By this time he had started to cry and I just couldn’t stop looking at him. Taking in every feature and committing this moment to memory. Unfortunately, due to the super short cord, it had to be cut pretty much straight away. Kaine proudly did the honours. I could now roll over and give my boy a proper cuddle. We stayed like this, skin to skin and undisturbed for over an hour.

When I say undisturbed I mean there was still the small task of birthing the placenta to do and there was lots of excited chatter as we all marveled at this beautiful boy. But he remained on my chest the whole time.

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He had his first breastfeed and his latch and suck were impeccable. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe the after birth pains! They’re not kidding when they say they are worse the second time round. Panadol became my friend pretty quickly.

I found out my Dad was waiting outside with Jesse. He must have come to the hospital when Mum did with the expectation that it wouldn’t be a long wait. So at less than an hour old, Jesse met his little baby brother for the first time. He was very unsure of the hospital environment and clearly very tired but it was a special moment.

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It was now nearly 3pm, Mum, Dad, Lia and Jesse all left the room so the three of us could have some time together. It was time to weigh baby, get him cleaned up and have his first cuddles with Daddy.

Earlier, we had all started putting our guesses in for baby’s weight. It was clear that he was bigger than Jesse was but we were in total shock when he came in at a whopping 8lb 6oz (3.9kg). Over a kilo heavier than Jesse’s birth weight. I could not believe it. But totally explains why I felt every bit of that almost 4kg body coming out!

I pretty much knew straight away what I thought we would name him. It was the only name we had actually really loved so thank goodness he turned out to be a boy. But we didn’t lock it in straight away. After we discussed it and agreed, Kaine started making some calls and letting people know the news of the arrival of Jasper James Barton.

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And it was time for me to have a shower….finally! Don’t forget my waters had broken on the bed right before the birth. Not to mention all the other gunk and Jasper christened me with his first poo during our lovely skin-to-skin time! There is nothing quite like the joy of that first shower after birth (ok, showering after camping is a close second!). Your tummy is deflated, every muscle in your body is sore and tender but the elation you feel is second to none.

At around 4.30pm we were moved to the ward and for the next couple of hours we baby gazed and showed him off to a few close family members and friends that came to visit. Including my best friend whom Jasper now shares a birthday with. And he is a part of the 4% of babies that are born on the their due date.

By lunch time the following day, just shy of 24 hours after his birth, we headed home with Jasper to begin our new life as a family of four.

I feel so incredibly lucky to be blessed with another amazing birth experience. Both labours have pushed me to my limits and beyond and made me feel empowered in a way nothing else could.

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Jasper James Barton

Born on Wednesday, 19th April 2017

1.32pm / 8lb 6oz

 

 

 

Our Birth Story Volume II: A Dad’s Perspective

Last year, both Renee and I wrote blog posts called ‘Our Birth Story: A Mum’s/Dad’s Perspective. It was our way of both celebrating and remembering our journey through to the birth of Jesse.

Well, Baby Barton #2 has since arrived on the scene in the form of a chubby little boy named Jasper who at 12 weeks old, is bigger than Jesse was at 12 months old (this might be a slight exaggeration, but I’m not kidding when I say that he is a MONSTER).

So, as we did for Jesse, we thought it might be good to share our own perspectives on Jasper’s birth story as he clocks in for his 3 Month Milestone. Because if these is one thing we do know for sure, it’s that this time around, the birth story is a lot different!

The last weeks

The last weeks were a lot different from when we were waiting on the arrival of Jesse. The biggest change being that Renee actually went full term this time around. And when I say full term, I mean she had Jasper smack bang right on the due date! With Jesse, she went into labour just over a week early.

In those last few weeks though, Renee was getting more and more uncomfortable… and more and more miserable. Hahaha… nah, she was okay. I mean, there were definitely moments of complete and utter despair at the fact that she was becoming less and less mobile, but it certainly didn’t stop her from getting on with things.


Conveniently, I had started my leave early due to the fact there was a good chance that Baby Barton #2 would be born early like Jesse was. That meant that we got to spend some quality time at home as a family of three, before the new addition decided to grace us with it’s presence. Throughout this time at home though, I was persistent at letting Renee know that she should hurry up and go into labour and have the baby already, because I didn’t want to waste all of my leave sitting around waiting for the baby to come. I did eventually learn to cut it out with the joking however, because for some reason, a certain someone who was almost 40 weeks pregnant wasn’t really in the mood for my jokes most of the time.

So the countdown continued, as we slowly (and in Renee’s case, time appeared to stop altogether) got closer and closer to the due date of Baby Barton #2.

The day before

I actually don’t remember much of what we did the day before. I remember that we were constantly talking about how funny it would be if Baby Barton #2 came on the due date. But we never really expected it to happen given how unlikely that is (I think it’s something like 4% of babies are born on their due date).

What I do remember however, is that Renee had been experiencing some pretty heavy contractions on and off for a few days. So much so that there were a few touch and go situation where we thought it might be necessary to call the hospital to tell them we were coming in. But then, the contractions would slow back down, and it would seem like we were back to playing the waiting game.

We did put Renee’s parents on notice however, as they were going to take Jesse home with them for the night when they got the call that we were heading to the hospital. Little did we know it would be the next day that we called them to come and pick Jesse up.


And as we went to bed that night, we again joked about how it would be funny if Baby Barton #2 came tomorrow… On its due date…

D-Day

It’s D-Day, but neither of us knew for certain it was actually going to be D-Day at first. Although we both had an inkling that it was going to be.

Throughout the course of the morning, Renee was regularly getting contractions. However, there was no consistency to them and as such, we were still in two minds about ringing the hospital. From early on in the pregnancy, it’s drilled into you to not call the hospital until contractions are 3 minutes apart. And Renee was all over the shop, with some falling 2 minutes apart, but others falling 6, 7, 8 minutes apart.

In the end, we decided it was best to check in with the hospital, just to be on the safe side.

First, we touched base with Renee’s parents and had them come to pick Jesse up just in case. I think we both kind of knew that Jesse had a feeling that something was up. He wasn’t quite himself. I believe from memory, he was also hesitant about leaving us to go with Nanny and Poppy for a sleepover… and he never hesitates when Nanny and Poppy offer to take him for a sleepover! In fact, in some cases, Nanny can’t even get all the way through the door and into our kitchen before Jesse has taken her hand, grabbed his bag and is heading to the front door to leave!

But not too long after Jesse left with Nanny and Poppy, we made the call. The birthing suite answered, and right in the middle of the discussion, Renee stopped as another wave of contractions hit her. “Yea, but the sounds of how much pain you’re in, I think it’s probably best to come on in so we can check you out…” the voice at the other end of the line said. “We can always just send you home again if it’s too early…” she said. We hung up the phone and laughed at the prospect of being sent home, as we both knew now, that things were ramping up.

Then the interesting part of this whole day came. And that was the car ride to the hospital. It was the one thing that Renee was not looking forward to after the memories of the trip to the hospital for Jesse’s birth. Apparently car rides are excruciatingly painful when you’re 40 weeks pregnant and are experiencing contractions… who knew right?!?! And as I drove (as quickly but as lawfully as I could) to the hospital, all I could do was keep reassuring Renee that we were almost there. Not long to go. You’re doing great. But geez she looked like she was in a lot of pain!

In the birthing suite

So that takes us through to our arrival at the hospital, and our entry into the birthing suite. Well, this is a story all on its own, because let me tell you this… we almost didn’t make it into the birthing suite!

After a very slow walk through the hospital carpark (also surprisingly, when your 40 weeks pregnant and pretty much in the throes of labour, walking is apparently very difficult), we finally managed to make our way up to level 2 of the hospital, and through the doors to the reception area of the birthing suite. And once we got to the reception area, we were met with the news that there was currently no available birthing suites! However, the good news was, that one was just being cleaned and should be ready any minute.

Oh no… that was not the news that Renee wanted to hear. So here we were, in all our glory, waiting in the halls at the reception area. Me surrounded by all the bags we had to bring, Renee starting to get louder and louder as she was bent over a railing in labour. Renee also screaming at me to call her mum and sister to get to the hospital ASAP. The midwifes trying to calm Renee and reassure her that the birthing suite is almost ready to go. And I felt like laughing. Because surely this only happens in the movies? I mean, it was touch and go there for a while… we honestly thought there was a good possibility that Renee was going to have Baby Barton #2 in the hallway!

What did actually end up only being minutes later (although it must have felt like an eternity for Renee) we were finally let into the newly cleaned birthing suite. Shortly after, Renee’s mum and sister arrived… and shortly after that, Jasper Barton arrived.


Like, literally, I think from memory we arrived at the hospital sometime after 12pm, by 1:30pm, Jasper was born! How quick was that labour!!! I mean the labour for Jesse’s birth wasn’t extremely long either, but this was super quick. That said, we think Renee had officially been in labour from the day before, but you know… it still seemed quick to us.

After Jasper was born, we did take a little longer to name him than we did with Jesse. We had some names picked out, but we still weren’t 100% decided on a name. We thought about it for a little while longer, and eventually came to decision to name him Jasper James Barton. One of our choicies, and the choice that definitely seemed to fit this new little bundle of joy we had in our arms.

Wow, what an experience birth number two was. I actually can’t believe how different it was to the first time. So much so that it was like the first time all over again!

And even though we realized at the time when we named him, the funny thing is we ended up with two boys, both of whom have the initials J.J.B., and both of whom were born on a Wednesday. Like seriously, that can’t happen… can it?!?!

Happy 3 Month Milestone Jasper!!! You chubby little monster you…

Are we bad parents?

Just recently, there seems to be a lot of chatter in the news about children and screen time on electronic devices such as tablets, smart phones and even television.

Now I know that this topic isn’t exactly a new one by any means. But because this hot topic has hit the news outlets again, it got me thinking about how we do things in our house. Are we ‘Pro’ or ‘Anti’ screen time? Are we doing right by Jesse when it comes screen time? And are we bad parents if we let Jesse have screen time?

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Photo: Getty Images
Now there are two recent articles that I stumbled across on this subject, that I found quite interesting.

The first, an article by the New York Post titled It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies. This article talks about how screen time can be extremely detrimental to kids development and even uses a real life example of a mother who found her 6 year old son in a trance from having too much time on his iPad playing Minecraft.

The second, an article titled ‘Lisa Wilkinson says parents who let kids under five use screens are ‘crazy’. An article (and associated video) about how one of Australia’s most well-known morning presenters thinks parents who let their children have access to screens before they are five years old are “crazy” and that this lack of discipline will “come back to bite”.

So after reading these articles, I decided to do a little googling to see if I could find any common ground regarding if, and how much screen time should kids be having.

At this point I will say this, we are well aware that when it comes to kids development, nothing can replace the amazing benefits of active and outdoor play, reading books, educational toys etc etc. And these are all definitely activities we encourage Jesse to participate in everyday.

But, on the other hand, we do allow Jesse to have some screen time. It’s not a lot, but after these latest articles, we are again wondering if we are doing the right thing in letting him have this screen time.

So what does google say? Well it appears that the general consensus on many Government websites relating to parenting is, that children under two should simply steer clear of the screen altogether. Further to this, children aged 2-5 should have no more than an hour a day, and children aged 5-18 should have no more than two hours a day.

Now in response to this I say good luck getting a teenager to have no more than 2 hours a day of screen time. I will also say that many people believe that screens are just part of modern day parenting.

But after this google search my biggest concern now, is are we bad parents? Jesse is only 16 months old and we let him have screen time. And not only that, are we creating lifelong bad habits with Jesse by letting him have this screen time?

Now I will say that having an iPad in the car was a saving grace for us when Jesse was younger due to the fact he absolutely HATED the car. The only way we could get him to settle and not cry the whole drive, was to hang the iPad on the back of the chair with some Peppa Pig or The Wiggles playing. It would instantly settle him and stop him crying.

But now, Jesse has gotten into the habit of grabbing our phones, climbing onto our lap and waiting for episodes of Peppa Pig to watch. And while it’s incredibly cute, it’s a little worrying that maybe he is starting to expect screen time.

However, while he loves his Peppa Pig, he also loves to grab our hands and lead us directly to either the front or back door so he can go outside and play. He LOVES being outside, so much so that there has often been tantrums thrown because he couldn’t go outside when it was dark out.

Back onto screen time though, I have to admit that we also almost constantly have the television on of an evening and night. And while it’s mostly ABC Kids, again I am starting to wonder if the television should be turned off in favour of play and story time before he goes to bed.

With all this said however, it will be interesting to hear what everyone else’s thoughts on this topic are.

Do you let your children have screen time?

If so, how much screen time do you allow them to have?

If these recent articles have taught me anything, its that I need to be a little more proactive when it comes to Jesse and his screen time, versus having active and outdoor play, reading books and playing with toys.

In the end, both Renee and I know how we want to raise Jesse. But it is good to get a reminder about things like the negative impacts screen time can have.

A Mother’s Promise

I read a story recently that has continued to impact on me and challenge me since reading it.

The story was of one mum’s promise to go to her baby when he cried for her no matter how tired or touched out she was, as the result of learning a heartbreaking reality for babies in an African orphanage.

She recounted the experience of a friend who had visited an orphanage and had been struck by how quiet one of the rooms was despite having over 100 babies in it. When they asked how so many babies could be so quiet the response was that they’ve realised no one is coming for them when they cry so they just don’t any more.

Uh. Cue heart break.

Straight away I related to this woman’s promise to her baby to go to him. That’s the kind of mum I want to be I thought to myself. I felt so sad at the thought of a little baby crying for their mother that would never come to them.

That night as I heard Jesse stir through the monitor for the fourth time since putting him down I threw back the covers and whispered into the darkness “damn it, Jesse”.

Doesn’t he know I’m tired? Doesn’t he know that I can’t take many more nights like this?

As I stepped into the hallway hearing his cry getting more desperate, I felt a pang of guilt and the story came flooding back to me.

No. He doesn’t know I’m in the other room praying for more than a couple of hours of sleep in a row. All he knows is its dark, he’s alone and he wants me to comfort him.

The same battle plays out through the day as he constantly climbs up my leg begging to be cuddled only to want to be put down again moments later. And then up again. And then down again.

My patience wears thin. But what about that promise to go to him no matter what? What about those silent babies who’ve given up on waiting for someone to come to them.

Goodness me. Being a parent really is a mind f*** isn’t it!

I was going to finish the post there feeling there wasn’t much else left to say when something beautiful happened.

I scooped up a begging Jesse into my arms for the hundredth time and read back this post aloud the way I always do before publishing it. And almost as if he knew what I needed, Jesse reached out, turned my face towards his and pressed his open mouth against mine. I was expecting an enthusiastic poke in the eye or finger shoved in my mouth but this was so much better. So gentle, so loving.

And just like that my love tank is full again.

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Guest Blogger: Sam Goodwin with ‘6 months in, 6 months out’.

We recently read an inspirational birth story from a mum who delivered premature twins. It was such a touching story that we felt we had to reach out and let her know how moved we were by it. Well, one thing led to another and we asked if she would like to be a guest blogger on NSSLOU and share her story with our audience.

So we now have the absolute pleasure to introduce our first guest blogger, Sam Goodwin, with her inspirational story about the birth of her twin boys Kalani and Keanu. So please show Sam some love for the bravery to share her story publicly, and maybe we can convince her to return as a guest blogger in the future to share an update when the twins are 12 months old.

You can find Sam on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

‘6 months in, 6 months out’ by Sam Goodwin

“It was March 2015 when I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was reading a positive pregnancy test. I was just short of 21 years old and had only just developed a recent relationship with my soon to be child’s father.

4 weeks along my doctor confirmed it… I was expecting a new bundle of joy! I didn’t know how to feel at that stage, so I called it a bundle of ‘what am I meant to do now?’

To my surprise at my 7 week dating scan, I wasn’t expecting just one baby. But two! Twins! At this stage, I almost fell off my chair in disbelief! Me? Two babies? What! I could hardly get my head around one, but two humans in my belly? That I will give birth to and nurture and raise… two babies!?

As the weeks went on I was trying to get my head around it. I was attending antenatal appointments, scans and blood tests, and at two different hospitals. This was because I was informed there were a lot of risks involving the type of twins I was carrying. The doctors had explained the sorts of risks that would involve preterm labour such as TWIN-TWIN transfusion, which was one of their main concerns. They forgot to mention the risks that this pregnancy would have on myself and my body.

At the 20 week scan the ultrasound technician had noticed my cervix had shortened quite a significant amount and for precaution, I was sent to the birthing suite to be examined. Later it was confirmed that I was at risk of very preterm labour. It was right then and there that I was booked in at 21 weeks to have a cerclage stitch put in my cervix to help prevent the babies from coming preterm. There was still a risk the babies would come, but we could only hope the stitch would hold them in. If they were born before 24 weeks, the doctors would not resuscitate and I would birth still-born babies.

Before being discharged from the hospital, the doctor had explained to me that I would now have to give up work and be on total bed rest at home for the remainder of my pregnancy. If my cervix shortened any more, I’d have to be admitted to maternity at Royal Brisbane hospital until my babies were born.

At 24+4 weeks I had a routine check-up at the Royal Brisbane. My cervix had shortened again and I was now dilating by 3 centimetres. There I was, being given steroid shots and magnesium to help my babies lungs, brain and organs for a preterm birth.

I was admitted to the maternity ward that afternoon and spent a total of 4 hours lying in bed until I started to have contractions.

I was then taken to the birthing suite and the midwifes, nurses as doctors did all they could to slow down my labour. But by the time the next day came, there wasn’t much more they could do for me, or my two babies, and they would be born extremely premature at just 24+5 weeks gestation.

I was given the option to have a natural birth, but I made up my mind of having a C-Section as it was the safest option. Twin number two was in breach.

I was wheeled into theatre to have an emergency Caesarean, early afternoon on Tuesday 15th September.

As I laid in the operating theatre, in a state of panic, nervousness and sadness, with no movement from my chest down from the epidural that had leaked into my spine, I heard the doctor yell “twin one out”… It all seemed so surreal. It happened so quickly and it was all a blur.

I couldn’t see over the sheet that had been across the top half of my body but I frantically looked from side to side trying to catch a glimpse, and although I couldn’t see him, I was hoping he would be okay. They immediately started working on him to keep him alive at the bottom of the bed where I lay. Twin two was then taken out and I could briefly see him to the right of me with neonatal teams working on him pumping his little chest and hooking wires into him. Laying there with my stomach cut open, with a million thoughts running through my head and tears flowing down my face, a doctor approached the top half of my body. He told me that they are trying the best they can but they can’t get twin one to respond to resuscitation and they may have to let him go. I howled with tears and squeezed my mums hand as tight as I could. I felt helpless and scared… I cried out “don’t let my baby die”. I was so unsure if he would make it out alive while I was helplessly laying on the operating table, cut open while people were moving my guts around like they were doing the dishes in my stomach.

After what felt like a lifetime, the same doctor approached me again. I had prepared myself as much as I could to hear the worst news. And then he told me they ‘got him’. Relief rushed through me but I knew it would not be the end. They wheeled my babies to the neonatal intensive care unit where they would remain.

After I spent between 1-2 hours in recovery, I was now allowed to be taken in to see my babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There I met my identical twin sons.

Twin one, Kalani Archer born 766 grams (1 lb 68 oz) and twin two, Keanu Elijah born 742 grams (1 lb 63 oz).

Locked away in an isolate. Small, fragile and hooked to machines barely clinging to life.

Though you know your baby would be preemie… There is nothing that could ever prepare you for what you’re about witness.

Every night and day I’d sit at my babies bedsides trying to hold myself together. Scared to touch them or even look at them. I thought If I loved my babies it would be harder to say goodbye. I remained there but I also kept my distance. I was still in major shock and I would find myself wandering around the hospital ward wondering if I was having a nightmare.

Motherhood was new to me, but this was a different type of motherhood than the norm. The one thing that shocked me was the way I had to feed my babies. My babies would be fed by tube through their mouth to their stomach, I’d hold the tube above them and let the milk drip down. At this point they were tolerating just 1ml of milk/colostrum.

On day 4 I was taken into the room on the NICU ward where a doctor had told me that Keanu had a perforated bowel, which is common in micro-preemies born at his gestation. Their organs have not completely developed and many issues could evolve because of that. As I sat staring at the x-ray of my poor darlings belly, they were preparing to take him to the children’s hospital for bowel surgery. It was not even 6 hours after Keanu that Kalani also perforated his bowel, and was transferred to the children’s hospital to have surgery as well.

It occurred to us that maybe if one twin does something, the other soon would follow. And that’s what happened on a few occasions. Keanu had a stoma placed, and Kalani had his bowel reversed back in. I was still in shock at having such small babies and my life completely turned upside down, that I didn’t understand how severe their condition or operation was. I sat by their bedside for hours upon days talking to them, wiping away tears and trying to look after myself in recovering from a C-section and expressing milk every 3 hours to feed my sons.

Both my babies were sick and recovering as much as they could and were clinging onto dear life when Kalani perforated his bowel again at 10 days old. The surgeons had told me that it was now that I should pray for my baby, as there is a very low survival rate for how sick he is and that he will most likely die during his operation.

I knew I’d be naive if I didn’t prepare myself for the worst. I knew my baby was going to die. He was little, sick, fragile and he had already gone through one surgery.

We had a photographer come in to take photos of Kalani for safe keep.

Their father and I were taken into a room to discuss the twins survival rate which was below 50% before the operations, and now 25% given how sick they had gotten.

We waited for what felt like hours for that call. And then it came. I wanted to answer it but I didn’t want to know my baby had passed away. The surgeon told me that he made it through the surgery and he now has a stoma like his brother Keanu. I was told that he’s okay, but for the next 24 hours he could still be at danger.

If one twin did something the other would too. So I still felt uneasy about Keanu doing the same thing as his brother, so we watched him carefully.

Kalani proved to be fighting through and both the surgeons and the doctors were stunned that he proved them all wrong. He survived surgery number 2!

On day 17 I got to hold one of my babies for the first time. Keanu was placed on my chest as I let go a sigh of happiness. It was such a heartfelt moment for me and one that I’ll never forget. One of my many dreams of childbirth was holding my baby for the first time. For mums of full term babies, this happens so soon after birth and it’s one of the things that makes the mother feel complete. I felt robbed of that.

We had spent a total of 2 weeks in the Mater Mothers intensive care before returning to NICU at the Royal Brisbane. I was living at Ronald McDonald house across the road to be closer to my sons.

On October 14th I got to have my first cuddle of my babies at the same time. One month after their birth. I felt completely overwhelmed with joy. All of us, together again. You see, my babies were born together but were now cared for separately, so they’ve never touched or felt one another since being in the womb. It was such a wonderful moment for all of us, to be close again.

As time went on we gained so much.

They were 30 weeks gestational age and both babies reached 1kg. They were improving but then… Kalani took a turn for the worst as his body wasn’t responding to his stoma as well as we hoped.

Because of where the stoma was placed, all of his food that was meant to be digesting was coming out without digesting completely, causing him to have to be fed every hour and on TPN supplements to give him the nutrients he was lacking. The doctors recommended we put them on formula milk to try and help him absorb nutrients as my breastmilk was too thin to keep, but it was no use.

Kalani was slowly but surely fading. He was getting sicker and sicker and we now had to have another surgery to reverse his stoma back into his tummy. Great, another surgery. The sadness, the fear and the uncertainty. Again. For the 3rd time.

It felt as though it would never end and there was no hope for my sick babies. Despite that, I stayed strong for my sons and kept my head high, even if I wanted to just put it in my hands and cry (which I did as soon as I left the hospital every day).

We were booked in for neorescue to come retrieve Kalani and take him to the children’s hospital for his surgery on a Friday. We had time to prepare, and knew what was to be expected. Which did kind of make things a little easier. Two nights before we were off to see Kalani for surgery, Keanu’s stoma prolapsed spontaneously. It happened at 9pm on a Wednesday night.

I was staying at Ronald McDonald house a majority of the time but would go home (a one hour drive away) every now and then to see my dog Charlie, eat a nice meal and sleep in my own bed.

The night I decided to do this, I got the sickening phone call. Every time I got a phone call I’d think the worst. That someone on the other line would tell me my baby had died. It was 12am and the surgeon on the other line had told me that Keanu had prolapsed and will need to have emergency surgery tonight at the children’s hospital. Half asleep I asked “Keanu… What? Kalani is booked in for Friday!” It was like Keanu said ‘no way is Kalani going for surgery first!’

In a state of panic I got dressed out of my pyjamas as fast as I could and we drove the one hour drive to the children’s hospital to meet the team with my baby boy to say goodbye and give him a kiss and wish him good luck. I was so mad at the thought I already had one twin going for surgery on Friday, and then his brother had to put more emotional strain on us all. But at this stage, I was deeply in love with my babies and could not see life without them and just prayed for it all to be over.

After pulling an all-nighter at the children’s hospital, sleeping in armchairs waiting for Keanu to come out of surgery, the surgeon finally rang to say he’s out of surgery and we can come and see him. It was 5am and I remember being dressed in horrible clothing, with crazy hair, bags under my eyes standing over my babies cot whispering how much I loved him and how well he’s done. As soon as I felt I knew he was okay I made the one hour trip back home at the break of dawn to catch up on sleep before I made the trek back to the hospital to be by my babies sides.

As Friday came around it was time for Kalani to have surgery. The Mater didn’t have enough bed space for him so we had to wait until Saturday for the surgery.

I was sitting next to Keanu’s cot when they wheeled in Kalani to be placed in the same room for prepping for surgery. I gave Keanu a kiss on the forehead and told him I’d be back soon. I walked with Kalani to the children’s hospital to see him off. I held his tiny hand and kissed him so gently. I told him I loved him and I’d be waiting for him. I told him to be strong and that I’d see him soon.

The most hardest part about having my sons go for operations is not knowing the outcome until it’s too late. To have their life in the palm of someone else’s hands. Having no control and no voice for my babies. I can’t scream out for them “save them!”, “don’t let my baby die”. As a mum you do everything in your power to protect your children from harm so when it is out of your control, you feel inadequate.

I felt as though it was just another life lost for the doctors, but for me it would be so much more. He’s my hope and dream, my true love, my life. Kalani had survived surgery number 3. You’d think by now it wouldn’t worry me as much, that it would be easier. But it definitely didn’t worry me less. I felt sick every time they needed an operation. I could only hope it was the last one. I told both of my boys “that’s it! No more!”

Doctors would make continuous jokes about how much grey hair the boys would give me. There was not a nurse, doctor or surgeon in Brisbane that didn’t know the famous Goodwin twins because of how courageous and brave they were. To have so many battles and still come out fighting.

Days had gone by and there were talks of transferring back to the Royal Brisbane. They decided to send back Kalani first, but wanted to keep Keanu for observation as his tummy was still so distended.

I felt so torn having two babies in two different hospitals, it was time consuming and exhausting. I couldn’t not see one or the other each day and night. I had to work around it the best I could. Keanu had been transferred back to the Royal and he was improving so well they sent him to special care. I could finally bath him, hold him when I wanted and tried him on his first bottle. Then things spiralled downwards…

An x-ray showed that Keanu had another perforated bowel.

We were sent back to the children’s hospital for surgery number 3.

In this moment I felt angry. I kept questioning why did this keep happening and will it ever stop!?

Torn between two hospitals again (let me just say that paying for parking is outrageous!! Especially when visiting two hospitals!!!)

As soon as we started heading up hill, we would tumble straight back down again.

The expression ‘having a preemie baby is a roller coaster’ was definitely an understatement for me. I was thrown in all different directions.

Keanu had surgery number 3 and soon recovered as we all hoped he would. At this point, I was suffering major depression. I felt like the only way I’d ever be happy again is if I got my babies HOME. I knew they were in the best hands, but I just wanted it all to be over. For good.

We started to see improvements. We were having eye tests every 2 weeks, feeding orally, keeping body temperature and then… Both of my babies got rotavirus.

NICU was now closed off.

I was so angry at the thought that such a sickening bug could get into the walls of NICU and affect my babies who just previously had bowel issues! As bubs grew bigger, both we’re in special care, having baths, bottles and lots of cuddles all day. We were free of wires and monitors and we had plans to transfer back to our hospital closer to home. The last step. Closer to home. I was hoping we could get home before Christmas. I couldn’t fall asleep most nights from excitement. I packed and repacked our hospital bags 100 times!

It was a Wednesday when we all transferred to Caboolture hospital special care nursery. As soon as I walked in, I let them know who was boss. Gosh I had been doing this for 3 months! I put my foot down a lot and I spent all my days there for about 4 days. Every feed, every bath. No one and I mean NO ONE, would do anything for me, I felt I had to prove that it was time for me to take my angels home.

Christmas Day came around and I was so bummed we hadn’t gone home yet. The paediatrician talked to me and asked me if I would like to room-in with my babes on Monday, spend two nights and then we can go home. I negotiated with them and said I’d prefer one night. After they ummed and ahhed, they said it could be a possibility. At that stage I was going to get my own way. I knew what I was doing and knew what I wanted. I just needed to take my babies home! I had had enough. My babies were as healthy as they could be and they were ready… I was ready!

On Christmas night, I came in to feed bubs and then got offered to room-in that night. I took it. We were taken to maternity ward where I spent one night with my babies alone, and then on Boxing Day we had the all clear to go home. One week before our due date, it all came to an end. I felt more relieved than ever… I was over the moon!

My babies were happy, healthy (as much as they could be) and thriving. With a little persistence with feeds and Kalani’s jaundice, we successfully settled in at home.

102 days in hospital and 2.2kg later.

It now seems like a distant memory.

All we have to remember it by, are the hospital safe keeps we took home and our battle scars… The ones we can see on the outside and the ones we can’t.

They are now 6 months old (2.5 months corrected age) and are doing amazingly well. We have hospital appointments every other week for check-ups, but my babies are as happy and as healthy as they could be.

Born September 15 2015 – Home December 26 2015 – Due date December 31 2015

Miracle babies.”

Goodwin Twins

 

The Four Gift Rule

This Christmas, is our first as parents.

This Christmas, is Jesse’s first.

This Christmas, is not going to be like any other Christmas’ we have ever had before… and we can’t wait!

Christmas with children is fun. We’ve seen the movies! And we remember what Christmas was like when we we’re kids. It was the best time of year! Waking up to find all the presents Santa had delivered, under the Christmas tree waiting for us to open them.

And even spending time with some of our family who have kids. Just seeing the absolute joy on their faces at Christmas time when they get to open Christmas gifts from Santa and loved ones.

But how much is too much? How do you not go too overboard when getting gifts for your children.

I was recently talking to my sister-in-law who told me about this great tradition that they’ve implemented for gift giving at Christmas. The four gift rule.

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When we were talking about it, I absolutely loved the idea of the four gift rule. For a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s a simple tradition that we can start this Christmas, and keep for many more Christmas’ to come!

So what are your favourite Christmas traditions?

We would love to hear all about how other families spend Christmas and any traditions you have.