Baby Bump

Jennifer Garner is my new hero. In case you missed it, she confirmed her baby bump on Ellen recently. You can watch it here. I too have a baby bump.

Back in July, I was asked twice in two days if I was pregnant, by nurses no less. Now, I am the first to admit that I have a belly. Four kids, including twins with a combined birth weight of 6.3kgs will do that to you. 117 weeks of pregnancy and 14.06kg of babies. The only way my stomach will ever be flat again is if I have a tummy tuck. Society seems to have this expectation that women’s bodys return to their pre-pregnancy state within in months of giving birth, that having a belly must mean you’re pregnant. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish my stomach was flatter, it’s hard to keep the media’s voice of what beauty is, out of your head some days. But I’m also proud of my belly. It housed two decent sized singleton babies until they decided to make their entrance, and then ‘big for twins’ until 38 weeks and 1 day.

The expectations on how we look seem to sneak their way in without us noticing, and at such young ages. My daughter has asked me a few times why my tummy is still fat. And while she accepts my explanations on separated muscles and stretched skin, I don’t know how long it will last. Recently, she came home from school saying she wanted to be skinny because one of her friends told her that you have to be skinny to be pretty. She turns 6 at the end of this week. Six. Besides the fact that she’s a bean pole, and is pretty, I don’t want her to focus on these things. I want her to love her body because it’s healthy, because she can run and jump and dance and swim. And I want her to love doing those things because they are fun and they make her strong, fit and healthy. I want her to be proud of herself for trying, and mastering tasks she thought she couldn’t, for reading and writing and drawing. I want her to know that her beauty comes from the way she treats people, for running to get a teacher’s help when her friend fell of the monkey bars and broke her arm, for comforting her baby brothers when they are upset, for wanting to help those less fortunate than we are. I want her to believe that in a society where image seems to be everything, our image is not who we are, is not what’s important.

This will start with me. I have a baby bump that’s not going anywhere because its name is Dylan, Mahalia, Harry, and Zach. I’m learning to love my baby bump, because without it, I wouldn’t be me.

A letter to harry and Zach: 12 months.

Dear Harry and Zach,

12 months.

A year.

A whole year you’ve been here. It feels like it’s passed in a blink of any eye, yet I feel as if I’ve lived a lifetime in the past twelve months. I knew from having Dylan, that when you have a child, your heart grows immeasurably. I knew from having Mahalia that when you have another child, your heart grows again. I was not prepared for how much my heart would grow, the depth of my love that came with your arrival.

Harry and Zach-26

I was terrified while I was pregnant with the two of you. Caring for one baby is hard, how the hell was I going to manage two? But here we are, we’ve survived our first year together, with more laughs than with tears. The past year has not only been about discovering you, watching you learn and grow, but I’ve discovered myself too, I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin.

Who you are and what you do:

Favourite food: For both of you, it’s weetbix, spaghetti bolognaise and yoghurt (but not together).
Least favourite food: Harry – porridge, Zach – I don’t think I’ve seen you turn your nose up at anything yet.
Song: ‘Three little fishies’.
Doing: Waving, clapping, crawling and pulling up on furniture. You’re both so close to cruising.
Saying: Mama, Dada and buba.
Sleeping: Sometimes.
Teeth: Harry – two all the way through, and cutting another two, Zach – one all the way through, two have just come through your gums, and one more cutting.
Favourite toys: Zach – blocks and musical instruments, Harry – anything Zach has in his hands.
Favourite activity: bath time.
Who makes you laugh: each other.
Favourite person: each other.

We’ve had so much fun this past year. You bring joy to so many lives, and all who meet you adore you . It’s amazing see ing the bond between the two of you. You have such different personalities, Harry you are still so relaxed about everything, whereas Zach you are constantly on the go and trying new things, yet there seems to be an invisible thread that always draws you back together. You crawl around the house together, you crawl over each other in the bath, explore each other’s faces, try and cheer each other up, and make the other one laugh. You are so incredibly lucky to have each other, and we are so incredibly lucky to have you in our lives.

HandZ1yo

Happy birthday my babies, and thank you for picking me to be your mama. xx

A letter to Harry and Zach: Six Months

A letter to Harry and Zach: six monthsMy two precious boys, I can’t believe another month has passed us by already. You don’t get to turn six months, being born on 29th August. Yesterday you were five months and thirty one days, today you are six months and one day.

Everyday you make me smile, everyday you make me laugh. You are experimenting with your voices more and more, Zachy, you especially love the sound of your own voice. You often have me giggling with the noises you make. Harry, your conversations aren’t as animated as your little brother’s, they’re much more laid back and relaxed, just like the rest of your personality.

The end of last month saw the introduction of supplementing your feeds with formula. The beginning of this month, we saw a lactation consultant worth her weight in gold. She managed to pick up what so many before had missed: tongue-tie, upper lip-tie, and high palates, all which result in poor attachment and milk transferral. Had these issues been picked up before you turned 3 months, you could have had the ties layered, and prevented feeding issues. Unfortunately, after 3 months, there’s no guarantees that the treatment would make any difference. We have managed to get rid of the formula though, topping you up with expressed milk, and on the lovely lactation consultant’s advice we’ve stopped weighing you. Instead of reading a book, we’re reading you. And you two are happy.

Your current favourite person is your Papa. As soon as I put you on my shoulders for burping after a feed, you immediately look around for your Daddy, your faces breaking out in huge smile when you see him, bouncing up and down on my lap until he comes and picks you up. You love having stories read to you, peek-a-boo makes you laugh, and you somehow don’t seem to mind my singing. You have your older brother and sister wrapped around your fingers; Mahalia is always asking to hold one of you, and Dylan has become your chief entertainer, playing ’round and round the garden’ on your little hands while you chuckle away.

Crawling practice is still a regular occurrence at bed time, bouncing around the cot like bunny rabbits up on arms and knees. How you don’t disturb each other, I don’t know. We’ve decided to leave you together in your cot for the time being. You sleep so well together, and I don’t want to risk ruining your sleeping patterns by separating you.

Today brings your first taste of solids, a day I’ve been in denial about for a long time. My babies are growing up. While I’m loving seeing your grow and develop, seeing your personalities emerge a little more each day, I want to savour each moment, I want your babyhood to last for longer. I can’t believe you’ve been in my arms for six months, half a year; soon you will have been in my arms longer than you were in my belly. Could you just slow down a little bit?

Happy six months my baby bears. As always,
Mama loves you. xx

Grateful

On the first day of the year, a friend shared the 365 Grateful Project on Facebook. At the last moment, I decided to join in.

A conversation over breakfast with my older children the other morning prompted me to take the following photo:

Image

Now, there’s nothing special about this photo, it’s just an image of food in a pantry. What’s special, is that we HAVE food in our pantry. It is never empty.

My eldest son, and my daughter were discussing all the different meals of the day when Dylan asked me whether everyone has breakfast, lunch and dinner. I replied that no they didn’t. Some people didn’t have enough money for breakfast, lunch and dinner, some people don’t have enough money for one meal a day.

Dylan thought about this for a minute, then surmised that people who couldn’t afford food must have bought a house that was too big and had no money left for food. I told hime that there are a lot of people who can’t afford anywhere to live, as well as not being able to afford food. Both Dylan and Mahalia were quite concerned when I said that people without homes sleep on park benches, shop doorways, or anywhere they can find that provides some sort of shelter.

“But that only happens in poor countries doesn’t it mum”?

“No buddy, it happens in all over the world. It happens in Australia”.

He understands quite a lot, my boy. But I’m not sure he’s managed to get his head around the fact that in his country, which he considers to be rich, there are people without enough money to afford food and housing. I’m not sure I can get around it either.

*****

Both Dylan and Mahalia know that our family sponsors a child in Zimbabwe, and that we donate to charities when we have extra funds. They know how luck we are.