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  • How I’ve started doing shadow work (and why it matters)

    shadow work for money and life

     

    What is shadow work and why the hell should I care?

    This, along with reparenting, is pretty new to my lexicon.

    It’s all part of healing. Moving forward in life despite your baggage. And it pays off in improvements to your self-esteem, relationships, finances, LIFE.

    You know that feeling that you’re just playing at being an adult? It’s because really most of us are just children running around in adult bodies. We’re reacting and behaving instinctively and not in a particularly conscious way. These deep beliefs and instincts sprung up in childhood and are often based on something that might seem really trivial, once you trace it back to its origin. Often, they actually wind up sabotaging us.

    Until we wake up to this, we go around operating from/focusing on our conscious awareness, and that’s only part of the picture.

    Shadow work: a definition

    We all have flaws. There are parts of ourselves we don’t like. Some we don’t even acknowledge.

    Psychologist Carl Jung conceptualized our disowned parts, our ‘dark side’ and repressed desires as ‘the shadow’.

    Unfortunately, many of us do not know what is in our shadow — and these disowned parts may still be driving the show in creating our reality.

    – Thought Catalog

    Shadow work is about bringing those out into the open. Facing them. Accepting them. Uniting with them. Becoming your full, whole, true self.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a strong sense of self. It’s a product of various things, but the main two in my upbringing were:

    1. my parents and how they held their own perceptions/projections of who I was
    2. moving countries and feeling totally adrift, then trying to desperately fit in

    Facing your demons isn’t for the faint of heart. You may not be ready yet. I know I wasn’t, 10 years ago. Not even 5, or 3.

    Anyway, that’s all really fluffy sounding shit. What, exactly, does this process involve?

    Broadly, it starts with awareness. Then this allows you to start observing yourself in the moment. And eventually you’re able to choose a different path, a different thought, a different action. You’re taking control and acting consciously.

    In bringing in our shadow, we shine light on it and diminish its power over us. We learn to coexist with it and to gain control over it.

    Once you’ve got the awareness, then you can start to take action in the real world with tangible results.

    How I’ve been doing shadow work

    You guessed it. Writing. Journalling about things like:

    • Some of the things I believe
    • Why I have those beliefs
    • What results that’s gotten me
    • What other beliefs I could adopt
    • What emotions I was discouraged from expressing
    • What common excuses I use
    • How I sabotage myself
    • How I judge others

    That’s where the awareness begins. Then it’s about applying awareness in real life situations.

    Practicing awareness

    In a challenging or confronting moment, pause and breathe. What emotions are coming up? I try to walk toward the feelings. Acknowledge them. Name the sensations.

    For example: Spud is screaming in the middle of the night. I’m feeling ragey. I need sleep! Guilt. Was it the ice cream he begged for this afternoon – was that too much dairy for his system? Oh my god, why haven’t I learned? Worry. Can the neighbours hear and what will they think? Empathy. Poor thing. He must be having a horrible time right now. 

    I’m feeling hot, throbby, and having flashbacks to previous nights when he was younger and screamed his way through countless night wakings.

    Another example: Someone’s come to me with an inquiry about a project and I’m not sure how to charge. I’m feeling uncertain. Anxious. How can I scope this out?! It’s gonna take so much time – I’m already so busy! How can I make sure I make it worth my time? Will I scare them away? What’s the right answer here?

    I’m feeling panicky, with all those imposter syndrome vibes rushing up, my old beliefs that I need to work hard for money, that I’m not worthy of charging high rates (anchored in my old career and in early experiences knowing my parents’ hourly rates) and general scarcity mindset.

    Taking action

    Then I decide what to do, from a deliberate and unrushed place.

    There’s not much to be done with a screaming Spud. Hold him if he wants. Lie down with him, if he will. Offer milk, and add a few gas drops to it if he wants some. Refrain from self-blame.

    I think about what I feel is a fair project fee. I might Google to get an idea of what others charge for this kind of work, and what tiers there are. I take the time to thoroughly review the material, if applicable, and might spend a few minutes working up a sample for myself to get a feel for how long it would realistically take.

    I contemplate the true worth of the project. It may not be hugely profitable for the client – but that’s not the goal. The aim of this piece of work is to help them convert more clients as a result, to establish their expertise through valuable content. I think about all the other clients I’ve already helped and how they raved about the end product. I encourage myself to raise that number a bit from my original estimate.

    The result

    I’m a calmer, steadier parent, no longer sending off vibes of panic, guilt, and stress. Better for me, better for Spud.

    I’m quoting from a place of confidence and wholeness, trusting myself as an expert. Showing up with a different energy. I’m okay with hearing no; I’m not desperate for this. I remind myself that I don’t want to wind up resentful for quoting too low. My rate needs to be one that I’m happy to work for. I’m even making more than I ever have before. I’m enjoying it more, and honestly, I think I’m doing better work because of that! What a result.

    For me, the core of it boils down to: respond, don’t react.

    Acknowledge memories it’s brought up. Question the story I’m telling myself. Is this true? Be kinder to myself; start with empathy not shame, and extend the same to others. It’s a new and gentler, more conscious approach to everything in life. I’m liking the results, and the more I do it, the better it gets.

     

  • Lockdown silver linings? In which I try to find some meaning in 2020

    Oh, 2020. What is there to say?

    Were there pros to the pandemic? Silver linings in the lockdowns?

    The one that first comes to mind is work flexibility. The dream! May it last.

    The second is time with Spud, albeit with wayyyy too much screen time.

    And with the dogs.

    The reduced cost/time of commuting is great. On in-office days, it still provides a nice buffer in the morning and evening to myself to switch gears and get into the right mindset.

    How did I ever manage laundry working FT in the city?

    Being able to do more daycare dropoff and pickup – connect with parents and teachers, which I couldn’t really do before.

    Appreciation for my neighbourhood – easily walkable to greenery, cycleways, parks, playgrounds, the local horse farm. Shops, transport, pool and other amenities not far away. Having my own house and yard to quarantine in.

    Being stretched and finding new depths of resilience, patience, and awareness as a parent and a person.

    Not gonna lie, though. It was an effing horrendous year that nearly broke me.

    Going into 2021…

    Upgrade is my word of the year. My mindset, and my results.

    I’ve written a bit about conscious parenting and soon I’ll be delving into intentionality and consciousness around money. Bringing this mindful approach into all areas of life. Woo as it sounds, I now know it’s the key to levelling up and creating a new reality.

  • What I learned from my kid’s disappointment in a crappy Christmas present

    CHRISTMAS GIFT ENVY IN KIDS

     

    As a rule follower, I shouldn’t be surprised by now when other people don’t play by the rules.

    Especially in this case. Gifts for kids are fraught!

    The daycare Christmas party had Santa handing out presents to every child, with each parent responsible for buying a gift for $10 or less for their own offspring.

    I personally didn’t expect whatever I chose for Spud to even make it back home from daycare – even more reason, in my mind, to keep it simple.

    But as it turns out, we had a massive outage at work that morning, and so with nothing to do … I nipped up the road to daycare to attend the Santa visit and witness the gift exchange.

    As some kids unwrapped big, cool trucks and whatnot, others (including Spud) quickly got Christmas gift envy. Longing stares and subtle drifts towards the coveted toys started to converge from all directions. Spud even threw his tiny toy on the floor and declared that he didn’t want it.

    This was a major trigger for me. We didn’t do presents in my household growing up (Not a money thing.) I still have issues around lack, scarcity, comparison and envy of other people’s stuff.

    My first instinct? SCREW IT! NEXT YEAR WE’RE GOING BIG! Forget the budget limit, clearly others totally ignored it!

    But I eventually came to see the real lesson here. A life lesson for my kid.

    Some people will have more than you. Some people will have less.

    It would be silly and futile to bend over backwards to spare him disappointment. That’s not how life works.

    I acknowledged that he wanted those other trucks. That maybe the others would share and they could all play together – but ultimately, that would be up to them.

    It was a lesson for me, too. To let him feel and express those feelings. To be his teacher and to steer him through the ups and downs of being human. If one thing is for sure, it’s that there will be countless more to come.

    Have you ever had to deal with Christmas gift envy?

  • You can be grateful for what you have … AND strive for more

    gratitude vs ASPIRATION

     

    Let me guess. Everything you’ve heard or read about getting through this goddamn pandemic involves practicing GRATITUDE.

    Gratitude is great

    Yes, there’s a lot to be said about taking the time to consciously feel grateful and appreciate what you have. Especially in these COVID times.

    Even when it feels like it’s setting the bar pretty damn low to be grateful for fresh air and sunshine.

    Sure, I have been taking time to appreciate the small things…

    Sunny days, spring blossoms, being able to hold a conversation with Spud (game changer!) and see horses every day if I want. The pony club is a 5-minute walk away and it’s always a thrill to see the horses calmly grazing … or occasionally, out on the cycleway or on the road! The perks of living close to the countryside!

    To find the silver linings…

    Resources are being slashed, but I still have work, that I can do remotely, with the best team ever.

    I’m under an immense amount of pressure, but I am a warrior.

    These are all helpful actions to ground me and keep me from completely losing the plot.

    AND I am striving for more at the same time

    I have so much and I’m very grateful for it. And I also want more. I know that I deserve more.

    I won’t get into details here, but there’s a huge area marked NEEDS IMPROVEMENT in my life. I get to set standards and I do not have to be satisfied with crumbs. I’m working to change that.

    Gratitude alone won’t sustain us. You don’t have to be content with what you have now. You can still be grateful, and be working towards something better.

    It doesn’t mean that you have to settle. You  don’t have to live with this forever. The status quo does not have to suffice if it is actually not enough.

    You can still strive for more. You get to make that call.

    Gratitude and striving for more are not incompatible.

  • When there’s no substitute for doing the work

    I’m often bemused at what people expect from technology.

    Nothing works perfectly 100% of the time. Yes, I work in digital. No, I don’t know why that email isn’t rendering for this one individual, or why this YouTube view count is stuck right now.

    Why does Word crash sometimes? Why does Excel freeze? These things just happen, and there’s not always a tidy explanation.

    And tools can only do so much and take you so far.

    I think T had some unrealistic expectations about exactly what accounting software could do for him. It’s a programme/platform, not your personal CFO/accountant/banker/debt collector/analyst/money minion! And definitely around the effort involved in setting things up to begin with, in terms of configuring settings for business finances and all that jazz.

    There was a period of time at a previous job where I found myself having to constantly explain to people that [insert tech here] is not their silver bullet. Sure, there’s that lovely long list of dazzling features and benefits that promise to solve all your problems. But how well that can actually be applied to your circumstances and requirements is a different thing altogether.

    Sometimes it’s a manual process, to varying degrees. Sometimes there’s nothing else but to get hands-on and stuck in. Some things you’ve just gotta do things the good old fashioned way.

    Just like there’s only so far that visualisation, mindset and flow can take you, ultimately you’ve got to get yourself over the finish line.

  • What it REALLY takes to dismantle a lifetime of childhood baggage

    Right now, I feel like a hot mess.

    I have a bunch of childhood memories that I’ve held, but never connected to who I am today and how they shaped and influenced me.

    In going to therapy I started to realise just how deep a lot of this stuff ran. How family dynamics affected me and continue to affect me. How much healing my wounded inner child has left to do.

    Kids are sponges, soaking up everything around them. What’s explicitly said and what’s implicitly modelled. They pick up on the smallest of things, often subconsciously. And even throwaway remarks can resonate for a lifetime.

    Clarity comes with time, and I’m finally beginning to come to terms with my childhood baggage and try to dismantle those unhealthy patterns.

    Becoming more comfortable in my own skin

    I feel like I’ve had self-consciousness and self-esteem issues since about age 8 or so. Part of that is no doubt linked to the challenge of moving to a new country and being an outsider. But part of this also ties back to messages I received about my looks and talents.

    For example, I’m never going to forget being told that I wouldn’t be “pretty anymore” once I got glasses. Or all the commentary on my classmates’ looks, or celebrities’ looks, and especially in regard to certain Asian features.

    I think it’s fair to say I may also have had a love/hate thing going on with femininity. It still makes my blood boil to recall being told that “girls don’t play soccer”, but perhaps subconsciously this may have influenced my rejection of certain “girly” things. I used to take great pride in not learning to cook. In identifying with being a guitar player and listening to rock bands and avoiding chick flicks/lit/pop music. This has swung back a lot in recent years and now I fully embrace whatever I like, regardless 🙂

    Learning to speak up

    I couldn’t tell you why, exactly, but I never felt I could contradict my parents. On the rare occasion that I did, it didn’t land well. On the last occasion, it led to me moving out at age 17.

    I also have serious issues opening up and talking about problems. My family would either not talk about things at all, or talk about things like marital problems that they shouldn’t have revealed to their child. I think this feeds my instinct to clam up and my default is just not to talk about any issues EVER, I struggle so hard to literally get the words out, and in tough times I just become a waterfall of tears.

    In trying to analyse this, I’ve realised that I’m reluctant to say anything if it may hurt someone and if I don’t see any possible positive outcome coming out of it.

    In a work context, I struggle to voice my opinion, fearing I’ll sound stupid and that my thoughts aren’t valid. Yet over and over I get beaten to the punch by other people and I’m trying to just bite the bullet and get in early. I also have a deep belief that I’m not an ideas person – where that came from I don’t know exactly, but it must stem from somewhere.

    Feeling responsible for anyone and everyone

    Being on the receiving end of info I shouldn’t have been told was a burden. Hearing things I shouldn’t have been privy taught me to take other people’s crap on as well as my own, and be overresponsible. I felt helpless as I couldn’t do anything about those things as a child. And now as an adult I’ve been overcompensating and going overboard in the other extreme direction. I couldn’t fix those things for my parents and now I suppose I’m making up for it by taking on and fixing every issue that comes into my orbit.

    I have a pretty bitter memory of an afternoon where I was made to lie still and quiet in bed for what felt like forever, with mum and my baby brother, because he wouldn’t nap otherwise. I was 8 or 9 and resented every second but didn’t dare move. We lived in a shoebox, basically, and anything I did anywhere in the house would’ve been too loud. Little things like this stick with you, teach you things about the way you’re supposed to be.

    My chronic indecision

    I didn’t ever try to trace this back to anything, until I recalled to my counsellor a period in time where I regularly accompanied my dad to various religious groups/meetings etc as he looked to figure things out and find his tribe.

    “That must have been so confusing for you,” she said, “not knowing what to believe.”

    While I’d never thought of it that way, I can’t argue with that. Therapy’s been awesome for shedding light on things, giving me perspective, and making connections I never would have otherwise.

    Since then, I’ve made another connection: to the time I was told “Decide who you want to live with, because tomorrow we’re getting a divorce.” What an impossible choice for a 7-year-old.

    Now what?

    Not withstanding, I still love them, seek their approval, know they did their best, pity them in some ways. I know they’ve only ever wanted the best for me and would never mean to hurt me.

    They moved our entire family to another country and built a new life here. That takes incredible strength.

    I have to learn to see them as complex humans, who are right about some things and wrong about others, with strengths and flaws … learn when to listen to them and when to listen to myself … and how to reconcile the best and worst of them, with the best and worst within me.

    Now it’s up to me to learn to identify and state my needs, to set boundaries, to focus on myself and do my best to model healthy behaviours for my kid. To literally and figuratively look in the mirror more often and more closely. To feel, process, and release all the baggage stored in the mind and body. however long that takes. I’m making that commitment now and for the rest of my life.

  • Here’s how much my maternity leave cost me

    how much my maternity leave cost me

    Can you imagine a guy telling his colleagues that the thing he’s most looking forward to in the new year is starting a family?

    I’ve seen this happen (incidentally, he a) left for another company early not long after, and b) is now expecting a baby too – but that’s by the by) and you know what, that really stunned me.

    I cannot ever, EVER imagine saying the same thing as a woman. It seems too great of a risk.

    I saw a tweet ages ago that went something like ‘in the old days, men could say they needed a raise so they could start a family”.

    I suspect if a woman were to pull that the reaction would be quite different. Even though if she was the breadwinner, she would need that raise WAY more than any dude in the equivalent situation.

    Who earns what matters. Here’s why

    For those who say it doesn’t who matter who makes more…

    • Let’s say he makes $40k.
    • She makes $80k.
    • The time she takes off results in a loss of 2/3 of the household income.

    If we reverse that….

    • He makes $80k.
    • She makes $40k.
    • The time she takes off results in a loss of 1/3 of the household income.

    I’m terrible at maths but even I can immediately see that’s there’s a huge, gaping difference there.

    Because yes, she’s going to need SOME time off to push a mini human out of her body and recover from that process … even if they elect for him to be the primary caregiver.

    I guess ironically, at some income levels this matters less. If you’re making a much higher income, your surplus makes it easier to save large amounts to cover those months you won’t be earning for.

    But for your average middle class couple, this is a pretty major consideration.

    How much my maternity leave cost me

    I was uber fortunate to have a very generous employer – the company I worked for while pregnant offers 3 months of leave at full pay.  (I’d still be there were it not for the mass layoffs that took place shortly before I was due to return to work.) That’s super rare, and they were definitely a market leader in regard to this benefit. Very few companies here offer any paid parental leave at all, much less at full pay and for that long. Most people only get the 22 weeks worth of paid government leave that clocks in at something like $480 a week post-tax, maximum.

    I wound up taking about 7.5 months off, which included the 3 months of paid parental leave, and another month of annual leave that I’d saved up.

    That meant 3.5 months of lost income from my day job, which adds up to over $15k of takehome income.

    Add to that over $3.5k in missed superannuation contributions (between my contributions and employer contributions – again, my old employer was very generous on that front) plus any gains that amount would have made in the market.

    All up, my brief (by NZ standards) parental leave meant I lost out on nearly $20k. And if I’d worked almost anywhere else, that amount would have probably doubled, as I wouldn’t have benefited from any fully-paid leave. Straight up, I wouldn’t have been able to take that much time off to stay home with Spud.

  • Breadwinning while pregnant: gripes and grumbles

    via GIPHY

    Q: What do you get when two pregnant, breadwinning coworkers are on the train home together?

    A: Slightly snarky (okay, envious) conversation about another colleague who’s living an Insta-perfect life on maternity leave with her baby, a husband who makes all the money AND does the cooking (score!).

    But look, we all have our own problems (like a fairly horrendous pregnancy in that person’s case and I’m sure there are others) – it was just nice to vent honestly to each other knowing we’re in the same boat and not going to judge each other for our feelings. That it would be nice to have the option to stay home for however long we wanted. To not be the one responsible for incubating our children AND bearing the financial load to boot. Options, I’m all about options.

    And I know we’re not alone. Just check out Google’s suggested related searches for the phrase ‘female breadwinner’:

    Searches related to female breadwinner

    All of that, I think, gets exacerbated in pregnancy. I had a fairly easy one. And I was still SO DONE by 8 months. Even taking it a day at a time was slightly torturous. No, pregnancy is not a disability … but I was definitely nowhere near 100%. And thanks to my extra lame immune system, I just kept getting sick what seemed like every month.

    Don’t get me wrong; I was thankful to have made it that far and that healthy. I mean, nobody wants to experience pregnancy complications, but when your income is what keeps the household afloat, being put on early rest is going to be a huge financial blow (unless perhaps you shorten your maternity leave by the same amount of time, and get less time with the baby post-birth. Yay.)

    I had to book in my leave plans at the 6 month mark, which was a bit tough. On the one hand, I had no idea how I would physically feel in those final weeks.  People kept telling me how hard it was going to get and how I wouldn’t want to work up to 38 or 39 weeks, to which I clenched my teeth and smiled and nodded.

    Because on the other hand, I didn’t want to fritter away my leave days. Simply put, every week I’m off pre-delivery means a week less post-birth to spend with baby. It’s a gamble – baby might come early, robbing you of that precious downtime at the end. But then again, baby might be late and leave you sitting around waiting! There’s just no telling. I’d rather err on the side of not wasting too much precious leave beforehand.

    So in the end, I was planning to work up until 38 weeks and hoping to get a couple of lazy weeks in at home. (I was counting on the fact that first-time mothers are usually late … but then I read that Asian women often give birth early?!) And that seems to be quite late by usual standards around here, it seems more common to finish up a month before you’re due or sometimes even earlier. And I totally get it, pregnancy gets so more uncomfortable in the third trimester! The fatigue, the fogginess, and holy shit the reflux.

    Of course, that was all a moot point when I went into labour at 36 weeks. September was always meant to be our month to get things properly ready ahead of Spud’s arrival, but that did not happen at all. His arrival in early (instead of late) October meant a mad scramble to take care of stuff – thank goodness for family chipping in to help a little bit, bringing food, helping clean up the house, going out to look for baby clothes in preemie sizes. I had no time off at all to myself and never got to wrap things up at work in the way I’d planned.

    I’m over halfway through my maternity leave now, which is crazy. Financially, it’s been way more stressful than expected (a long story for another post, another time). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t battling a lot of resentment, given I’d done my part with planning and budgeting and carried all that out. It’s definitely put a bit of a damper on things.

    That said, I’ve enjoyed being able to stay home and watch Spud grow. It’s also really fucking hard work sometimes, and I’m looking forward to sending him to daycare – I think he’s going to thrive on the stimulation. While, as I’ve said before, it’d be really nice to have the option to take a year off … personally, I don’t think I’d be cut out for it anyway. Lucky, that!

  • Month two of parenthood: Learning to trust my gut, and way too many bodily fluids

    via GIPHY

    Things kicked up a notch this month!

    I learned to start trusting my instincts and Spud got both harder and more rewarding to deal with.

    Formula to the rescue

    We started doing more formula top ups, more regularly. I remember one afternoon when he wouldn’t stop crying even after feeding for hours. I decided to try making up a bottle and offered it to him – magic! Most nights we do a last bottle before bed (though it doesn’t always get finished or sometimes is barely touched) and sometimes when he gets hungry later in the day and I seem to have dried up, we’ll top him up.

    The sleep struggle

    Speaking of trying things, another time along with the fussing he was showing early signs of tiredness so I popped him into the pram, fully prepared to rock him for awhile. He went to sleep in minutes though and I felt like a rockstar! Naps now take work, sadly. They don’t just happen automatically anymore…

    We set new nighttime sleep records almost every weekend. I suspect our Thursday osteo appointments may have helped. On his two month anniversary I woke up amazed that he’d slept through – over 7 hours! A feat yet to be repeated, sadly.

    The osteo showed me how to get him to take a dummy by tapping it while in his mouth. But that was a onetime thing; I could never get it to work again after that…

    D-MER no more

    I had sometimes been feeling a weird wave of emotion at the start of each feeding. Like an overwhelming sense of frustration. That went away this month, and I think it was a bout of dysphoric milk ejection. The things you learn when endlessly scrolling FB and Reddit…

    Our escape artist (thank god for structured industrial strength swaddles)

    People say he’s the wriggliest baby ever. I have nothing else to compare him to but I do feel validated…he never stays still! Head butts while holding him upright for burps or fun – just a daily hazard of the job. And muslins weren’t cutting it as swaddles anymore as he’d break free right away. I bought a few straightjacket-like swaddles and they were a godsend.

    Interactivity

    Smiles! Real smiles. So many! And he started to spend more time awake after feeding, making playtime A Thing at last.

    Excretions

    I have poo envy. Seriously. Between this kid’s explosive poops (sounds like a drain emptying ferociously) and T spending forever in the toilet, it seems just silly that I’m more clogged up than I was while pregnant.

    That said, this poop machine dialed it back a bit especially overnight, until most nights he would only have wet (not dirty) diapers. Although he outgrew size one in Huggies he didn’t fit the next size up. Thank goodness for Japanese brands! A subject for another post… While he still isn’t big enough for my OSFM reusables, we have two newborn cloth nappies that are getting some use. But I’m baffled as to how we’re supposed to get a good fit with domes/snaps; Velcro seems like the only way to go. Still can’t quite get them sitting right, as in not too loose or too tight.

    I accepted that spews and spills were just going to be our new normal and that he was going to be a refluxy baby. Stuff coming out both ends while up on the change table? Just another day in our lives…

    Getting out of the house

    I became a baby wearing fan. The first time I had him in the front pack snuggled up to me, it felt so much like being pregnant again. His squirming around was just like the movements he used to make in utero.

    We went out on our first solo walk. It. Felt. Amazing! We ventured down the local cycleway to the pony farm and back. Sadly I can’t wrangle both a pram and a dog, let alone two. Any dog walks are done one at a time and only while I’m babywearing.

    Other bits and bobs

    I came across the Dunstan baby cries theory and at first it was a game changer, then not so much. He basically has only two cries I can discern and hungry/tired are the same.

    We survived our first vaccinations! He was fussier in the following days and came up with a new sad whimpering cry, and also had a bit of diarrhoea, I think. But overall, could have been worse.

    Time truly is flying, and balancing today with tomorrow is still tough as ever…

  • Month 1 of parenthood: all the things that surprised me & a few confessions

    via GIPHY

    I barely had time to prep for labour, let alone baby’s first few weeks. And so it’s been a learning curve!

    The first couple of weeks were easy. He slept a lot and only fed for 10 mins at a time, going straight back to snoozing after. Cries were easily soothed by a feed or a nappy change! I managed to get in a bit of freelance work and house cleaning along with the daily dishes and laundry.

    Then he grew bigger, and more alert, and the trouble started. Right around his original due date in fact. We went from 3-4 hour sleeps to maybe 1-2 tops, constant crying, extended feeds and terrible gas! He spits up, burps and farts but none of it seems to come easy, so that’s what we spend ages trying to coax out of his tiny body. Routine has been totally thrown out the window … just as I was thinking I’d like to try to stick to more of a schedule going forward.

    via GIPHY

    The first week at home, with T
    Oh, you’re exhausted? Oh, you’re sick of loading the dishwasher? I’m the one who just gave birth and spent nearly a week in hospital!

    The second week at home, solo
    Oh, this is when you have to start to change their outfits constantly! Oh, this is what it’s like to get peed on, and watch him pee on his own face!

    The third week at home
    Oh, that’s what people mean when they say their baby is noisy at night! The sounds he makes in his sleep now are crazy.

    The fourth week at home
    Oh wow, how much wind is in this child? Each cycle is so much longer now that I have to try and get the gas out of him.

    Things that have surprised me so far

    No period for nine months = awesome. More than making up for that in the weeks post partum = ugh.

    The fact you can collect colostrum off your nips (and then syringe it into baby’s mouth). Not something I ever ever ever could have fathomed doing.

    How long it takes Spud to latch on sometimes. Watching him play with my nips is equal parts hilarious and frustrating.

    The first time I started leaking milk when I heard him cry. WTF.

    The cost of parking. Not that I ever imagined we’d be in hospital so long…

    How long adrenaline keeps you going. The hormones got me through those long nights the first couple of weeks (though during pregnancy I surprised myself with how well I managed on reduced sleep even then).

    So thirsty. All the time. Feeding another human is seriously draining!

    My belly is still pretty huge. And yet I DGAF.

    How many bibs this kid goes through in a day. So spitty.

    Time is flying. We just hit six weeks and took him for his first shots … Christmas ain’t far off and I feel like May (when I go back to work) is going to be here in no time…

    Confessions from the trenches

    I sometimes fall asleep during night feedings – I know, it’s terrible.

    Related: when he won’t settle after a night feed, I used to bring him into bed (I’ve stopped now).

    They say you’ll know… but I honestly couldn’t tell if I was in real labour. My contractions started 5 mins apart and stayed that way for over 12 hours. Up till the morning I was wondering if I should suck it up and go to work. Then I thought okay, I’ll stay home but T should go to work and I’ll call him if anything progresses. (Thankfully he decided to stay put in the end!)

    I was set on equal parenting and splitting duties evenly. The reality, especially to start, was nowhere near. The first couple nights I did all the night wake ups; he wasn’t managing the sleep deprivation well at all despite talking a big game. Not looking after himself while we were in hospital meant he was in worse shape than I was (thanks hormones) on the first night we finally came home.

    With him working and me breastfeeding (along with some expressing and the odd bottle of formula) the scales are still tipped pretty far towards moi. Throw in the fact Spud is feeding so often now (my friend with an even more prem baby finds the same) and for so much longer, and I’m spending literally hours and hours of the day attached to him.

    That said, when I’m at wits end or totally drained – usually at 3am – I’ll hand off once in awhile. And if T’s having an insomniac night, he’ll take the wheel – he’s given me a handful of full or part nights off, which have been glorious. I may have the milk, but he’s got the burping and swaddling magic.