In the Middle Ages, almond milk was known in both the Islamic world and Christendom, where its vegetable composition— being a nut that is the seed of a fruit of a plant — made it suitable for consumption during Lent. Almond milk was also a staple of medieval kitchens because cow’s milk would not keep for long without spoiling.
Today one of our readers has offered us a very intimate and powerful true story.
Please note this piece contains graphic content and sensitive material.
- Daisy & Zelda
I was 9 weeks pregnant three years ago when I miscarried my first ever pregnancy. The dating scan showed a 6 week foetus with a weak heartbeat. I started bleeding, I went to the hospital, had a drug to take to induce the miscarriage, and after some cramping and painkillers, I passed the foetus into the toilet. I took it out and buried it and my husband and I moved on. My next pregnancy was morning sickness for what seemed like months and resulted in the most beautiful, amazing, happy, smiling, intelligent and fabulous just-turned-one-year-old anyone could ever wish for.
My third pregnancy was a treasure. It was the week after Christmas, and a test confirmed what I thought: that I was 8 weeks pregnant. My husband and I were elated. Our daughter would have a sibling 19 months younger than her, and next Christmastime we would have two beautiful children to dote on. The following weeks were shrouded in secrecy. Of course no one tells anybody they are pregnant until after the 12-week scan, but together we planned, prepared, dreamed, glowed over the soon to be addition to our wonderful family. We asked a friend or two here or there for advice on breastfeeding and nutrition, and told friends from overseas whose wedding was held in New Zealand. How else could I get away with not drinking all that lovely wine and champagne on offer? I was glowing, hubby was glowing, our daughter was glowing, life was perfect.
At 11 weeks we went for a scan, cheekily to ‘date’ how old the foetus was (it was a bit up in the air the exact date but I really knew I was 8 weeks), but mainly because I wanted confirmation of a living heart beating 11 week old before I told my entire group of family and friends, many of whom I was seeing at a birthday party the coming weekend. I had no reason at all to doubt.
I was brimming with excitement as I lay on the ultrasound table and hardly heard the woman say ‘Firstly we will see if there is a baby inside, and then check if everything is okay’. Pfft… of course it would be, why wouldn’t it be?? I have a healthy baby already; nothing is going to prevent number two coming along.
As soon as the jelly and the probe hit my belly, expectantly looking up at the screen, my world fell apart. I could see the yolk sac; I could see a tiny foetus. I could see no heartbeat.
My own heart broke. The woman was still scanning my abdomen. My husband, holding my child, was still smiling at me with joy, because he hadn’t yet realised the news. He didn’t know what an 11-week foetus is meant to look like on a screen. I did, and I knew.
My baby was dead. My daughter’s sibling was not to be. There was to be no second child at Christmas. The future we had been planning, with extra cots and buggies and two tiny ones, was gone. My husband, holding our daughter on his lap, was still smiling at me encouragingly. The woman told us what she (I) saw, and attempted to leave us with a glimmer of hope; the date could be wrong, it could still be early enough that its heart had not yet started. She told us to go to my doctor for confirmation of the scan images plus what my blood tests had shown. While I felt that this ‘hope’ was being held solidly by my husband, I knew it was futile. Something inside a woman’s body is capable of telling her what she knows; regardless if she chooses to believe it or not.
The night before, I had experienced a spot of blood. My heart had dropped at that point but I managed, somehow, to convince myself that one spot of blood does not a miscarriage make. I chose to believe that I knew people who had bled before a scan, and carried on bleeding throughout a pregnancy to full term. And I pulled a Goddess card from a tarot pack: Ostara, Goddess of Fertility. Therefore, my mind told myself, I had not yet miscarried. I was carrying a baby. I slept well that night.
We left the hospital in a daze. I made a doctor’s appointment for later that day and then at midday I started bleeding, profusely. It had started. My experience of my previous miscarriage was that bleeding, followed by cramps, passing a foetus, burial, mourning, tears, confusion, grief, moving on. The doctor was empathetical and encouraging: there was not something wrong with me, but the body has a quality control system, and a chromosome here or there could have been wrong. At least I know I can carry a baby to full term. A lot of women who miscarry don’t have that good fortune.
There is a big difference between miscarrying between baby numbers 1 and 2, and miscarrying between none and 1. I am lucky I have baby number 1.
Stuff the empathy. Why did my heart feel like splitting into a million pieces and why was my stomach turning itself inside out into a huge hollow? I couldn’t bear to look at my daughter, pick her up, hug her, smile at her and be blessed that I had this beauty. Her life carried on. She smiled, laughed, giggled, pooed, farted, slept, ate, cried, just as she had done every day up until now. I needed to be her mother. I needed to feed her and change her, and love her, and sing to her, and play with her. Aside from all the crying, my robotic self just carried on going, as any good mother should in the face of adversity. She truly lives in her moments, and they pulled me back from any brink I found myself, luckily.
Nothing prepared me for my miscarriage. I mean, all this had happened, and I had not yet miscarried my baby. It was still inside me, dead: bleeding, but staying inside me. A day passed, I bled, the baby had not passed. I had cramping, like a heavy period. I took painkillers; the cramping eased; nothing passed.
A second day arrived. I had cramping. My husband went to work; a friend came round to ‘look after me’, play with my baby, make me food, let me rest.
NOTHING prepared me for the pain of this baby passing. I had not endured any form of labour with my daughter, having had an emergency caesarean section due to turning breech.
As my stomach cramps increased in intensity, my poor daughter wanted milk and needed sleep. When she suckled, my nipples felt raw, like she was extracting needles through each pore of my skin. I pulled her away in agony. She screamed and cried; she was hungry, plus she felt the pain too. She is so empathetic. She looked up to me with her eyes saying ‘What’s wrong mummy??…’ and I could hardly bend to hug her. She clung to my legs and I had to let her be. She cried. As if I wasn’t hurting enough at losing one baby, I was pushing the other one away. All she wanted was to be close, but I couldn’t have her near my skin.
My pain was reaching a crescendo. ‘This is it.’ So I thought. Paracetamol, then Nurofen, then various homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture needles, a hot water bottle. They did nothing. The pain got bigger and bigger until the house wasn’t big enough to hold it.
In the end it was a mattress on the floor of a spare room at the far end of the house and a pillow to scream into.
“Leave her with me; she may cry, but she won’t be alone” are the last words I remember before isolating myself, pushing myself between the floor and the wall in the corner of the room hoping that this was ‘normal’. I had never, ever, EVER experienced pain like it. I had sobbed to my friend; “Is this what labour is like??” “No.” was her reply “This is not like the pain of labour: with that, you get it like this for a minute, then you get a rest”. I had no rest. I had exquisite, blinding, agonising retching pain deep inside my abdomen for minutes at a time: twenty minutes, half an hour or more I seem to remember. I was groaning like a banshee, sobbing and breathing through the pillow to deafen the sound. I rocked my pelvis back and forth like I had read to do countless time in active birthing manuals, except I wasn’t birthing life; I was losing it. I held the pillow up to my face and screamed and chewed it and hit my face on the floor with it. All the while I knew ‘this too shall pass’: which was the only thing that kept me going.
Then at a point, the rocking, shaking and writhing stopped. I could get onto all fours, then gradually walk again. I heard my baby’s cry and went back into the room she was in. She looked up at me like I the way I had felt, terrified, and I sobbed. My husband arrived twenty minutes or so later. While the huge force of pain had passed, a dull sobbing ache rose up within me, and my friend, with all her acupressure/acupuncture/homeopathic knowledge, put pressure on my points and eased me back to a stable normality.
I felt so sorry for myself, but so grateful for the love of those people. I know I could have called upon any number of friends to come over, but I recognised the primal instincts of wanting to seclude myself and be alone. The two people there, my husband and friend, knew to leave me be, and be in view if I needed them.
That dramatic pain just passed; it was almost gone. I couldn’t quite believe I had gone through it. There were moments I was lying on that floor actually thinking I could die from the pain; that I would stop breathing because it just hurt so much. Of course, no one dies from pain (do they?) but boy can we cope with a lot.
Every time I went to the toilet I wanted IT to pass. I wanted to have IT out of me then. IT wasn’t my baby, it was an IT. I got frustrated … ‘STOP bleeding and PASS the bloody thing!!! Get IT OUT.’ Still, lots of blood, no foetus. What was wrong with me?…
Then it passed. And yes, I put my hands into the bloody water in that toilet bowl and picked it up. It was a mess. It wasn’t the dainty egg sac I’d seen at my previous miscarriage. The perfect little vessel holding a would-be life that didn’t live any longer. No, this was a gnarly, white, twisted piece of tissue, and when I rinsed it under the tap, the realisation of what I was seeing hit me. This piece of tissue was the exact size, shape and dimensions of my uterus. The placenta had not attached to a piece of my uterus, and had to pull away; it was attached at every wall. By the looks of things, parts of it went down my fallopian tubes. I held in my hand the entire inside of my uterus, containing a tiny yolk sac. Not one to be squeamish, I wanted to know further. I pushed that tissue aside and looked at the sac, and then I saw it. Slightly larger than half a centimetre: a tiny tadpole, with two tiny dot eyes staring at me. This miniscule not even completed being … was just looking at me. I felt a dramatic sense of peace, and then I realised what a complicated job becoming a baby is.
I held my one year old, and wondered at her journey. She too had been that small. She too had been that zygote inside that dark alien place, cell division by cell division, growing limbs, organs, growing, rapidly, while I just plodded about on the outside, eating, drinking and trying not to throw up my gingernuts and lemon and ginger tea. When she crawls towards me now, shaking her head from side to side, and brings herself to standing – waves and babbles in a language only she knows – I wonder at what physical and magical power brought her to me.
To create a child, complete with personality, is an awe-inspiring feat, and one that should not be taken lightly. What a miracle life really is.
With these thoughts I found peace in my miscarriage; better that something that was wrong with a chromosome here or there be found out at the quality control stage than later on in life; for a child to grow into an adult with some debilitating illness or disability that affected their quality of life. Or that the very implantation of the placenta in the ‘wrong’ place could have ended its or my life in a very different way.
There was my peace: something was ‘physically’ wrong with the foetus, and it ‘easily’ was rejected from my body.
When I think to the ethereal, I am aware of how sophisticated and complicated creating a human life is. When I think to the emotional, I realise all those thoughts and plans and hopes that can crumble easily are real, to be ‘real’ised, to be grieved, and not forgotten. When I think to the physical, NOTHING prepared me for enduring such agony physically.
I never read or heard of someone detailing their ‘middle child’ miscarriage, although I know many mothers who have miscarried between baby number 1 and number 2. These people explain away the big(?) difference in ages between their children with ‘Oh I miscarried between X and Y’.
In the meantime, I deliberate what to do with the foetus that is downstairs in my freezer. Do I give it a proper burial with my husband present, or do I give it to science to find out what the fuck happened inside there?
So why does no-one talk about it? Why did I not know or, at the very least, expect it to happen? And by GOD why did no one tell me how fucking painful it would be?
Two weeks on, and the physical pain has almost left me. I no longer have cramps and my bleeding stopped a week ago. I can commence taking folic acid and maintaining a ‘normal’ life again. I have been given contradictory advice about whether to start trying again straight away or wait three menstrual cycles. But I need to rest. I have suffered a trauma, and as with all traumas to the body, it needs to heal, on all levels. And while being a mum to a very active baby is tiring, it is not half as tiring as having to rebuild yourself inside out at the same time.
Over time, the grief is passing. Each new day brings new developments in my daughter, like walking and talking. And the pain is a distant memory; in fact the body has no memory of it. If I am blessed with child number two, I will make certain I don’t hide would-have-been-child-number-two in some facet of my memory.
My emotions do have a memory though, and the fear and physical resilience of my body will never leave me.
So next time you hear of a friend’s miscarriage, be very aware of the emotional loss the person has experienced, but be aware that they had a very real and very physical trauma to their body too. They may not have even been prepared for it themselves; I know I wasn’t.
And so, the healing continues.
What is better than climbing one mountain over summer? Climbing two of course! After conquering Mt Taranaki on Boxing Day I was sure the hike over Tongariro would be a breeze. My climbing ego must have been bigger than my climbing talent.
I am surprised at the confidence of young Glow-bug. Bye bye she said while waving as we hoped in the car. Almost to say… piss off parents I’m hanging with nanna and poppa … of you go… I already said bye-BYE.
It was a charming 4hour drive through the king country to our accommodation in Ohakune. In preparation for the walk it was essential to fuel our bodies. Mr S went out to hunt and gather takeaways. Unfortunately the only option was fried chicken and chips. Not ideal, on a normal day, like Elvis and Hef, I would have been as I normally adore the fatty goodness of deep fried chicken. But not tonight… I take a bite…. EWWWWW I spit… I feel like my mouth has been violated. This chicken must have been out all day. Food poisoning is not so good on a hike. I throw out the meal in an instant. Still hungry and unsatisfied and I chew on the horrible salty cold chips. This is not a good start to the journey.
Up at 4.45am pack the sandwiches, quick sip of coffee and off we go. It’s breathtaking to see the incredibly vibrant colours explode over the mountain range at sunrise. We make it to Ketetahi car park by 5.58am with just 2 minutes to spare before our shuttle leaves! We are greeted by a very good looking chap from New York. We wait as his equally stunning wife swans across the car park breastfeeding her 8month old baby with one arm. These two are doing this hike with their baby – what freaking legends! I feel guilty for a moment… maybe we should have brought the lil bug… hmmm… naaaaa.
The crossing starts at Mangatepopo car park. It is very easy and pleasant 1hour walk to Soda Springs. Its only 8am the sun is still on the other side of the mountain, my hands are freezing. I wrap them up in my merino jumper and tuck them into my armpits. Idiot I tell myself. The legendary New Yorkers over take us. Darn it you awesome super humans. Mr S reminds me that it is not a race.
Farewell tranquil Soda Springs – hello The Devil’s Staircase. What the… I thought this was supposed to be an easy climb. My gluts and calves ache and I am panting like a puppy. We climb from 1400 up to 1600 metres above sea level. It’s a crisp clear day looking towards the west we see astonishing views of Mt Taranaki in the distance.
After for another hour of bottom busting we approach the glorious south creator whic sits at the bottom of Ngauruhoe. Wooohooo, a plateau! I am so happy I have a burst of energy and start jogging and pretending to be Zooey Deschanel’s character in The Yes Man running past Mr S annoying him with my motion photo taking. We bump into the New Yorkers; all is well, their darling baby has slept through the first portion of the track. They wave as they soldier on ahead of us.
Just above south crater we stop to refuel with bumper bars and ham rolls. We are about to advance towards the steepest part of the climb. The ridge from south crater to red crater is a short and very slippery climb over scoria. We are also also completely exposed as the wind starts to pick up – I am not feeling well.
We are now 1,900meters above sea level. We experience magnificent 360 degree views that gaze upon the volcanic moonscape of Oturere Valley. To the south east the dessert road cuts through the Rangipo Desert surrounded by the vast Kaimanawa Ranges. Facing to the north the emerald lakes seems deceptively inviting with their aquamarine glow. Mr S is keen to visit Tongariro’s summit. I begrudgingly agree, although I am still not feeling quite right.
We commence yet another sharp incline en route to the summit. 15minsutes in, I am extremely dizzy and my vision has become distorted. I feel tremendously nauseous and desperately need to pee. I am erratic and irritable. What the hell… am I pregnant… have I just been on a rollercoaster ride… what the hell is going on. There is nowhere to hide. I decide to relieve myself quickly behind the largest rock available. The eggy sulphuric molecules cram my nose, my stomach flips, I have vertigo, yet I feel trapped. Everything is bouncing and spinning… I am going to be sick, shit.
I disgrace myself and vomit in front of 50 or so trampers. This aint no baby, this is a migraine. Mr S shuffles through our first aid kit. Oh dear, guess who left her medication in the car. Shit shit shit. I want to cry I want to die. Somebody please take a chainsaw to my head and chop this pain out. Why the hell am I on this stupid mountain? Mr S barters some pain killers from a kind family. They are convinced I am suffering from altitude sickness. They are so sweet that Mr S doesn’t have the heart to inform them that it only happens above 2,400 meters.
I very quickly realise that regardless of the throbbing and nausea there is no easy way out. We are half way; I must move forward. I can’t get off this mountain ridge fast enough. Even though I am in immense pain I don’t care. I sprint, fall, slip, down the loose scoria like there is no tomorrow. The sulphurous stench is becoming more and more potent. Fortunately we had tackled the nastiest portion of the hike and I start to regain my balance as the drugs dampen the screaming beast inside my head.
The emerald lakes are well worth the trip, towards the Blue Lake its a long pleasant flat walk alongside an old lava flow. Once you make a short scramble up the side of central crater you find yourself next to the astonishing Blue Lake. We saw many trampers enjoy their picnic lunch here; blissfully unaware that Blue Lake is tapu (sacred) it is considered disrespectful to eat or drink around its shores.
I am so comforted to see the other side of the mountain. In the far-off you can see Lake Taupo, Lake Rotoaira and even the Ketetahi car park. The end is in sight now! Hold on a minute – the sign says 10kms to go are you freaking kidding.
The migraine is still lingering, the hot sun beats down on us as we zig zag our way down to Ketetehai Hut. At least it’s all downhill from here. My knees jar and toes press up against my shoes with every step. We see thermal steam billowing out from Keteahi Springs. I start singing to myself in the tune of lamb chops song… this is the track that doesn’t end, yes it goes on and on my friend…
We complete another 2hours descending down stairs and everlasting paths in the wide open tussock. Out of nowhere we hear a ney ney in the valley… could it be a Kaimanawa horse… was it a wild bore… Mr S steps off the track to investigate. No sign of anything. Have we both spent too long in the sun – did we both imagine this. Odd.
Finally we reach the concluding 3kms of the track. We are so thrilled to take shelter under native bush. A cool breeze blows across my face as the track moves down steeply towards the Mangatetipua Stream and lush vegetation. We hear gurgling, nope it’s not the river, it’s the fabulous New Yorkers and their delightful baby. We all cross the final leg together; 19.4kms – in 7 hours and 15 minutes! Not bad for a sick chick.
We made it, although I’m carrying next to nothing and have left poor Mr S looking like he’s my private Sherpa. I feel exhausted and am in desperate need of a dark cool room and more drugs. I take a momentary look at the New Yorkers; they are covered in sweat but are still looking just as handsome and lively as they were this morning. There are hundreds of people waiting for their shuttles in the blistering hot sun. These people are every day folk like you and me, tourists, grandparents, fathers’ mothers and children. All these people have all walked the crossing today– all these people are all true legends.
A special treat today, readers! my sister guest-blogs …
The bizarre week that a small Hungarian family moved into the top room of my Mt Cook flat
Learnt you can’t offer a bubba a cashew nut. Felt immense gratitude I’m not a bubba (nuts are my go-to snack).
Moved my seashell collection (so sharp and chokey!) up to the sideboard, then next time I looked Apa had rearranged the living room furniture to provide a jungle gym style ladder conveniently up to that very level. Now they’re on the next shelf up (with the rum). So far so good.
Became property manager/class rep type figure for the weird little group of us. I ring the lift repairman, I shimmy under the garage door when it (inevitably, mere hours into move-in-day) breaks, I replace plates, I have the only line of communication to the official landlord and I work tirelessly to hide the fact that an under-18 (way under) is living under my roof, outside of the lease.
Surrendered an entire jar of gherkins to the overriding cause of keeping the bubba quiet (though suspect the actual culprit was the tall guy with the accent).
Consequently gained access to a family sized block-a cheese, which usually I never let myself buy… “sorry she ate your gherkins… have some of our cheese!”. Good result – cheese beats gherkin as true as rock blunts scissors.
Woke up hungover this morning to the sound of screams and the clothes horse being scraped back and forth along the lino by (what I knew to be) determined, moody little hands.
Started opening the lift door very slowly in case there is a little curly person right there, busy with some un-interruptable agenda at floor level.
Made peace with my undies being toted round the living room for an audience, worn over a chubby little arm like a handbag.
Ditto my actual handbag, (afterwards I found two new alarms set on my phone).
And yes, confirmed my suspicions that I’m too OCD, tidy, rigidly organised, bone idle, self absorbed, social and fond of drink to ever have kids of my own.
But of course I’m very happy to be a live in aunty for two weeks
… which I genuinely forgot to spell out.
I was shocked and dismayed when my sister said she could imagine not having kids – but not per se! I was shocked and dismayed because:
I want to meet her kids!
I want to give her a HELLZ of a lot of advice on how to be a pregnant, and how to be a mum. (Note: It is inappropriate at all times to give other mummies advice. Unless the mummy concerned is your sister, amiright?)
I want to hand-me-down Miss Bee’s wardrobe.
I want to hand-me-down my maternity stuff – what remains of it, meagre as it is.
I want to throw her a baby shower.
I want to look after her while they’re really little.
I want to look at their little faces and muse on whose nose they got, and whose ears, and whose predilection for lamingtons … I want to see something of mine in there, and something of Miss Bee’s.
I want Miss Bee to teach them how to do big-girl stuff.
… And a ridiculously huge lot of other selfish wants on my part.
Just thought I’d clarify.
Talking with my sister and a dear friend the other night, that old chestnut came up. Is having children necessary to be ‘fulfilled’ as a woman?
I was shocked and dismayed to hear my sister say she could imagine herself quite happily skipping the whole business (shocked and a little mortified, to tell you the truth – the revelation coming hard on the heels of Miss Bee arriving to stay at my sister’s place for a couple of weeks).
My friend suggested that this is a subject ripe for blogging. At first I was doubtful; I don’t feel I have anything noteworthy, let alone controversial, to say about it. Just my own humdrum opinion. But then I thought – ‘hang on a minute, what are blogs for, if not to trumpet and glorify one’s own humdrum opinions?’ A-duh.
My personal, humdrum opinion
No, of course children aren’t necessary for female fulfillment! That term has as many definitions as there are women in the world, and it’s ridiculous to impose parenthood as the exclusive answer to personal salvation for them all. Furthermore, I totally get the reasons why women choose not to have children.
I might be about to get annoying here – unfortunately I don’t have my copy of Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman here to refer to, but from memory she did a similar thing: proclaimed that children weren’t right for every woman, and then blunderingly went and spoiled the effect by waxing lyrical about motherhood. I’m afraid I’m about to do the same.
I’m happier than I’ve been since my own childhood. I feel like wherever I am, I take a little wriggling bundle of home with me – and I feel like that’s something I’ve been searching for for years. I know love like I’ve never known it. I can’t stop rubbing her little round tummy and kissing her smushy lips, especially when she does the smushy face, and marvelling that mine was the DNA that programmed her. Refer to every other cliche you’ve heard a new mother utter (there are a lot of them).
Parenthood has enriched my life.
But that doesn’t mean that I now see motherhood as the only way (or even the fastest or most efficient way) to fulfillment, like some kind of stamp of authenticity on your womanhood. It is ultimately something so personal (so life-changing, so impossible to imagine before you’re in it) that it’s nonsense to make value judgments as to what it does to Us – to Women in General.
And the other side to the fact that you can’t imagine it before you go there is the fact that once you’re in it, you can’t remember what it’s like not to be in it.
I think those two sides of the coin validate my argument that no woman anywhere should be passing judgment on another woman as to whether she is or could be in a state of personal fulfillment.
Pre and post-child, I’ve heard the ‘I never knew what was important until now’ type of smug-mother comment. You know, the ‘other people’s lives seem so hedonistic/frivolous/purposeless now!’ observation. Comments like this seem to me to be venturing too far into the territory of value judgements we are not really qualified to make.
If that’s one reason I don’t tend to go around noting how hedonistic and frivolous the lives of women without children are, another is that the lingering vestiges of hedonism and frivolity I enjoyed pre-baby now form some of my most precious, sanity-saving interludes in my daily life.
Lattes, nail polish, trashy magazines, wine time with friends? Oh God, yes please. And I
suspect vaguely remember that equivalent statements can be made on the other side: women without children can appreciate aspects of their lives that give them a glimpse into the motherhood universe: nieces and nephews, friends’ children, or perhaps even just looking after someone they love, in a way that feels a bit motherly.
So, if can’t presume to go around sticking ‘fulfilled’ or ‘unfulfilled’ labels on other women, especially on the basis of whether or not they are mothers, we CAN make small, satisfying forays into other female universes: universes we might have once inhabited … or may inhabit in the future. Maybe, in fact, if there is such a thing as a definition of female fulfillment, it’s more likely to be found in those little instances in which we cross over and experience the other side?
A bit of a self-indulgent rant, this. Please go spend some time somewhere else (I recommend Offbeat Mama or Analytical Armadillo or Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures or Joel Stein’s column on Babble, for starters), if you’d rather skip that sort of thing!
So in the coffee mornings, playgroups, buggy walks and online gathering places that collectively comprise the hallowed halls of modern mummyhood, there is a lot of talk about mummies doing what they must to stay sane. It’s one of our mantras.
I totally subscribe to ‘happy mum, happy baby’: as I’ve said before, the reason I put Miss Bee to bed so early, even though it often involves a struggle, is that I relish those evening hours Mr A and I thereby get to ourselves.
I also relish my working hours, in which I can completely escape toast crumbs and banana stains and the like. And I relish caffeine, the odd wine and rather a lot of sugary treats, even though I don’t like the thought that that shit is travelling through my milk to Miss Bee’s little system.
I’ve recently been thinking about the proportions: my comfort/my health in proportion to hers. How much am I willing to sacrifice? How much am I supposed to sacrifice? How badly does (and should) seeing to her needs detract from my own happiness and wellbeing?
The reason I’ve been thinking about it is this chaos that’s entered our lives again. For three months we’ll be here in New Zealand, but we won’t be settling anywhere; we’ll be moving around as guests of various people until we head back.
I can see that it’s unsettling Miss Bee a bit: she’s clingy, and she’s not eating with such gusto, and all the aunties that I tell her are old friends freak her out a little, especially en masse.
The thing is, the reason that we’re here is my sanity: I ‘needed’ this trip home. I am SO happy to be here – it’s what I’ve been imagining for a long time. So effectively, I’m putting her through it for my sake; she’s doing me a (compulsory) favour.
I do actually believe that in this case it was necessary enough for me to come home that Miss Bee will reap the benefits of my soul being a little at rest, my heart being a little lighter.
I’ve been hanging out with friends a lot who I haven’t seen since the spring, and I’m enjoying myself immensely. Hanging out with old friends over coffee or wine or chocolate cake (thanks Clare!) has long been one of my very favourite things.
But as I said, it’s not the ideal environment for Miss Bee. In taking her along to these occasions, I’m asking big things of her, I feel, so in turn I need to make some sacrifices for her sake. When I see that she’s unnerved, I take myself out of that glorious, hilarious, comforting environment.
And I do it willingly – just to be with her, and to tell her that I love her very much, and to remind her that the most important thing is that the three of us are together, as we’ve always been and always will be. Some milk, some singing, some cuddles; my best efforts to recreate the sleepytime routine in all sorts of places.
It does feel like a sacrifice – but at the same time, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. I guess that paradox is simply what motherhood is when it’s working best: it’s when ‘happy mum, happy baby’ means ‘mum is happy coz she’s made baby happy’, rather than ‘mum is happy coz she managed to sneak in a wine just after the breastfeed, so it won’t affect the milk too much when she next needs one’. When the question of who’s making sacrifices for whom – or more positively, who is making who happy – gets confused and stops mattering.
I guess I’m postulating two types of happiness: happiness by my pre-baby standards, and happiness by this strange, still-to-be-explored mummy standard, which I think embodies a true altruism: it’s almost spiritual in its capacity to satisfy; it generates endorphins as it imparts them.
I quite like it.
When friends suggested a play date for the kids at Wellington Zoo I initially hesitated. I have vivid childhood memories of a foul-smelling concrete jungle where caged creatures stared at me with dull and depressed eyes as if to say ‘Goodbye cruel world … I have had enough … please shoot me!’
This was not the case – not by a long shot! Upon arrival at Mojo cafe we were greeted with an enclosure full of pygmy marmosets. Immediately the Glow-bug was enthralled. She no longer cared about playing with her friends or toys … who needs friends when you have small monkeys to gaze upon?
We arrived early in the morning, to find many of the animals were full of life. The chattering from Monkey Island filled the grounds. I am thoroughly impressed with the Zoo’s make-over: it does not resemble anything from my childhood. There are trees planted everywhere; the animals look pretty darn pleased with their residence.
There were kids clambering and sliding down a giant spider in the playground. There were little activity centres and villages set up for the older kids. It was almost impossible to pull the three-year-old away from the African drum, as he performed an evocative rhythm piece in an Animal-like fashion. With all these exotic and divine animals to choose, from the three-year-old favourite was the stock-standard rooster. He could have chased birds all day long.
Past the wild dogs, we reach the baboon enclosure; coincidentally both our little girls are chowing down on bananas. It is not long before the baby baboons notice, and take a serious interest. It almost feels cruel; these poor apes look hungry, and in a begging fashion plead at the girls to share. Out of nowhere the father baboon sees what is going on. He leaps out at the glass screaming, trying to frighten off these banana bullies. In the vein of Sofia the Lion Tamer these little girls aren’t even startled … if anything they are more inquisitive, and happily continue eating.
If you are planning on visiting more than once, I recommend picking up an annual Wellington Zoo Crew pass. Or better yet, ask your wee ones’ grandparents to get it as a birthday present. When visiting, you must check out the otters, giraffes, meerkats and lions. There are so many fascinating animals to see – Wellington Zoo is home to over 500! It is a wonderful way to entertain and exhaust your child any time of the year.
NEVER DIET! Dieting is for losers; you’ll just yo-yoing and become fatter. Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry that survives from making us all vulnerable and insecure. How about just make a larger salad promote a healthy lifestyle by walking more and eating whatever the hell you want. Women who love to eat are sexy… and if you don’t believe me and think diets are great then why not try this tape worm diet it is as bloody ridiculous as the next mango fad.
BALM YOUR FEET – Got excess nappy balm on your hands… rub them onto your cracked heals for instant relief.
HAVE A PYJAMA DAY – Don’t shower or wear makeup or deodorant. Try and be as skanky as possible. When you shower the next day you will feel like a million dollars – I promise.
RED BUSH TEA – skip a coffee and try some Rooibos Tea its sweet South African taste will add years on to your life with its richness in antioxidants will offer protection against the harmful effects of free radicals.
GET PHYSICAL – why not try a Zumba class or Hot yoga. Sweat out that holidays booze.
SPLURGE ON A NEW BRA – A good bra equals great tits! Don’t be afraid to seek assistance the lil old ladies, they know their shit. Wearing the correct size can protect your back and make you look 5kgs lighter – If you have got it flaunt it.
You know what – you don’t need a NEW YOU because YOU ARE ALREADY AWESOME