Close to midnight on June 19th 2017 we welcomed our gorgeous baby boy Noah into the world.
He arrived after much travail - an early rupture of membranes and his posterior position contributed to a long & arduous labour - but what a sweet surprise he was at the end of the day.
Our sweet Noah Lewis Campbell Batts, a medium-sized 7 pounds 3 ounces, arrived 3 weeks before due date by VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean). I was grateful to enter labour naturally, to experience a VBAC, and to welcome a well baby of average weight into the world. This was a very healing birth experience for me.
My first birth experience was a little traumatic for me, but I only realised it further down the track - when I got my perspective on life back - about 6 months after Emilia was born.
Emilia arrived early, like Noah, but it was because of an emergency rather than nature. She was termed "IUGR" (inter utero growth restriction) as at 37 weeks gestation her estimated size as sitting below the second centile. To put it in perspective, that means that out of 100 babies, Emilia was SMALLER than 98 of them, maybe even more. Her growth had tapered off throughout the third trimester and at 37 weeks gestation had finally come to a standstill. Urgent action was required, and Emilia was delivered by caesarean section on the 11th April 2015. For some unknown reason the placenta had stopped giving life to my baby. "Better out than in" they said - and they were right.
Mercifully, Emilia made immediate progress "earth side". I had blessedly boasted an abundant milk supply and was able to meet her needs in this way, but it was another arduous journey through her first few months of her life as we navigated difficulties usually associated with a preterm baby. Emilia was technically born "full term" at 37 weeks gestation, but her tiny size meant she was under-developed for her gestational age. The feeds were slow, long and frequent, she had difficulty digesting breastmilk (giving her tummy pains) and I difficulty getting her wind up (hard for bub, mum and dad). I think it took 4 months to get her fist fat roll. How we rejoiced at seeing the emergence of chubs on our precious girl!
And added to the mix of all of those practical challenges was the fact that I found it hard to adjust mentally/emotionally to motherhood. My hubby and I had just finished a year of travelling the globe when I gave birth. Not the easiest transition to go from young-free-globetrotter to stay-at-home mum of tiny baby. But more on that another day.
So as you can imagine - Noah's birth, while challenging, has been healing for me. To know that my body has the power to give birth naturally. that my hormones are doing their job, and that Noah is a well baby, has restored my vision of child birth and newborn babies. While both still present many challenges, they are - in fact - miraculous, and I am ecstatic to wear my scars, my wrinkles, my sleeplessness. I have my place in motherhood. I am a mum.
Support in a time of need
The support of friends and family have been crucial in me getting through the past almost two months with a busy, creative, clever, cheeky toddler and a new born. We have been lifted up by those around us. People have gladly shared their love, their time, their energy to support us through this taxing newborn phase. I can't thank these people enough. Gratitude wells up for my community. Thank you.
I have had my mum, my mother-in-law or my sister staying with me over the past few weeks to "co-parent" with me and run the house while we transition into functioning as family of four. In anticipating a week without Nathan (away for work) and without someone else staying, I bolstered my spirits and declared to my sister Libby (with forced confidence) "I can do this". I can do it all. I have what it takes.
My sister (bless her) reminded me that we were never meant to do it alone.
Humans always have been people of the village. Supported by each other. Living life in a very intertwined manner.
Sometimes circumstances mean that we will do it all on our own, by necessity. But it is normal to struggle through those times. It is normal and expected that doing it all in parenting is difficult. That two hands will do, but something will give.
So I want to encourage you, dear reader: build your community. Get alongside others so that you can do it all, together. Sharing the load and laughing along the way.
BELOW: PHOTOS OF EMILIA AT 2 WEEKS OLD. TINY!