In the middle of my mourning
Sits joy like a happy child
In the middle of this death
I must cry with life for a while

And death is great
We are in His keep, laughing and whole
When we feel deep in life
He dares weep, deep in our soul

How great is His concern for us. How high. How good. How deep.

(lyrics from ‘Dresses’ Sixpence None the Richer)

Life Words

There’s 5% chance of having your baby on the due date and we’ve effectively done it twice. Hurrah! (This is a terribly satisfying thing for an Enneagram one). Aside from being timely, drug free and positive experiences – Céleste and Claire’s births were quite different. You can read about Claire’s birth here.

As far as pregnancies go, it was a fairly straightforward one with the exception of the same kind of frustrating/worrying/unexplained bleeding that I had with Claire. Which for an RH Negative blood group means lots of trips to the ER and LOTS of waiting to get anti-d shots. We clocked an 8hr wait one night – the joys of being low priority (fair but annoying). I did some insane things at the end of pregnancy – like shooting a wedding at 38 weeks, then moving house the following day. And then there was the running around after a (not very fast mind you) toddler paired with the absence of the hyper-research that comes with baby one, which meant I didn’t really get my head into gear very well until right near the end:  Oh that’s right… we’re having a baby. I think I lived in denial for a few weeks and avoided packing a hospital bag, I was excited of course, but there just wasn’t space for the effort to make the effort.

The week prior to Céleste arriving I had two lots of pre/false labour, however with the wisdom of a terribly long labour behind me I went to sleep both times and nothing came of it. Then Tuesday night it was on. Apparently. Enough for Geoff to let work know he wouldn’t be in and enough to call my parents at 1.30am to take one very excited toddler. Claire was super cluey and knew that I was ‘going to the hospital’ when we told her she had to go with Opa in the middle of the night. Nice to know that things sink in. So there it was, reasonable (eg. painful) labour all night from 8.30pm. I did my best to time contractions and also nap (that wasn’t very successful) then 5am hit and it all stopped. Completely. Zip. Nothing. Crazy frustrating. I called my midwife sister and she told me to sleep, wise, so I did.

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We went in to the hospital (Mercy Family Birth Centre) early afternoon for a check and a stretch and sweep. Geoff in his wisdom suggested we put all the bags in the car. Things had progressed (4cm – hallelujah, not all in vain!) so they did a stretch and sweep (which is totally not bad by the way if your body is ready for it!) they told us to keep local and walk the streets of Heidelberg to try and get things going.

So we did.

It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon – we stopped for a ‘coffee’ in the middle of labour (that was a bit weird). Walked up and down the main street, had a look in the fancy pants supermarket and found a big lot of stairs to walk up and down and up and down again. It was all rather strange and mostly nice (besides the uh. pain factor). Kind of like the weirdest date ever.

At 5pm we decided to head back in and were admitted. We messaged Amy – who was going to photograph the birth (serendipitously yet again managed to arrange that in the last week) and let her know it was on.

I love TENS machines. I was using one all through the night and day and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

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Active labour this time was quite different. I was not in the zone and was lucid enough to be having conversations with Geoff, Amy and our midwife Robyn while stopping mid sentence for contractions, then back to the conversation – turns out Amy knew Robyn (small world!) which was rather lovely. The baby’s heart rate was a bit all over the shop so I had wireless monitors on me for most of it, which wasn’t too much of a hinderance. Towards the end I abandoned the TENS and got in the shower (hello tune out world/transition) and that truely lovely part of labour when you so badly want everything to be over. With such a long previous labour, I remember being slightly mortified thinking that it might go on for a whole lot longer, it felt too quick for it to be so intense at that point.

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Motivation in labour is a great thing, not knowing the sex is good for this, another great one is being told your baby’s heart rate (previously up quite high near the 150’s/60’s) has dropped to 60 – it did concern me at the time (as much as I could process in that blurry state) but I didn’t feel terribly anxious about it (I probably should have been) – still, it is great motivation. Robyn told me flat that it was time to get this baby out, so out of the shower on to the bed (Because they had to check things properly) and after four minutes of pushing she was out. She came out mostly in the caul, and she was completely fine.

It’s an indescribable feeling holding your baby for the first time.

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I’m terrible at guessing the sex of babies – I get it wrong every time and think that the ‘gut’ feeling that mothers get re. boy or girl might be a load of bollocks (or I’m not blessed with this divine intuition) because I was mostly convinced I was having a boy during labour.

This is Céleste Emilia. 8.39pm. 3.16kg and 51cm long. I love her. I love my family.

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We came home from hospital 16hrs after giving birth.

Baby number two is different. You don’t really over-stress about certain things as it’s all much less new. There are other challenges (beside the horrid tiredness)- like dealing with kid 1. I’d been putting a lot of work into this, with books and youtube clips of two year olds meeting their siblings and general emotional intelligence which has seemed to pay off. Claire and Céleste’s first meeting was truly lovely. Claire did spend the rest of the day refusing to say her name and in denial about anything baby – but by a week in Claire is now hugging her and asking what ‘Leste is doing.

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Some of my favourite moments have been observing Claire’s response to everything. She watches Geoff take care of me. And when I’ve been complaining about after pains (no one tells you how much they FREAKING hurt with baby 2) she’s asked, “What do you need?” and taken the initiative to get me a heat pack, “Here mummy have this” (?!). She’s picked out certain books to read such as John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat very intentionally (after weeks of being stuck reading Maisy books) – which gives some incredible insight into how she’s been feeling about her routine being disrupted and the introduction of someone new into a comfortable life.

Tonight we were talking about who her friends were and Claire comes out with, “Celeste is my best friend in (the) whole world.”

It’s good.

Bec Matheson Photography | www.becmatheson.com

The profoundly beautiful birth photography thanks to the incredible Amy Oliver. Except the last which is mine.

Baby Life Photography Pregnancy

I am currently the butt of a facebook joke (of my own creation really) about the choice of where I do my grocery shopping.

A few months back I decided to introduce more regular meal planning and a consequently a more regular grocery shop in order to save money. After first getting married, Geoff and I lived in a little town house (still one of our favourites) that was just behind a main street and within walking distance of an interesting IGA Supermarket. We also had no pantry. It was great – lots of disposable income back then, but it taught us some bad habits. Because really, the more often you visit the supermarket, the more you tend to buy. What’s another $5 on this and that? It adds up fast. I also have more recently been looking at how to buy fruit and veges in ways that aren’t buying them from the big chain supermarkets. I love the practicality of the big chain. No seriously – it makes it easy but it’s not always that nice or that cheap. A few facebook competitions later of winning free fruit and veg from my local shop inspired me. I now try to do a shop at a fruit and veg place and I go there first. If you are eating reasonably healthy meals (meat and veg) then you can do almost ALL your shop at a decent place like that.

What I do.

Sunday nights I meal plan. Sometimes it’s vague, sometimes it means we eat less variety especially because I build in a few meals that can be made in double and frozen. This is wildly convenient because I am a lazy cook and adding extra ingredients to a meal is much easier than cooking another meal. I only meal plan four nights, because realistically our Fridays through Sundays are all over the place. We go out to friends/have people round etc. There are always things in the freezer if desperate or good old b’rinner… takeaway. I try to make meals that overlap somewhat in ingredients (eg. herbs… who ever uses and entire bunch in one dish?) or that will use up things I have in the fridge.

On Mondays I shop. I go to a fruit/veg and then a supermarket and sometimes a butcher (if there happens to be one nearby) – I still haven’t really worked out buying stuff from a butcher -don’t pay enough attention to meat prices and I try not to let meat make it into every meal anyway – too expensive and so not necessary.

I don’t love grocery shopping, but it’s better now. I shop with a list and rarely deviate. I shop on a regular day. My mother thinks I’m mad, but hey she’s not especially grand at organisation. And I try not to go other times during the week.

The change in cooking habits and shopping has helped me save money. How do I know this? Well, I used to spend closer to $150-$200 a week on the ‘big shop’ and now I can do in a well planned ‘cheap week’ for $70-80.

I still buy chocolate and things I shouldn’t have. I still often opt for the nice yoghurt (at least then it gets eaten) and the nicer bread. But hey you do have to start somewhere and know your limits.

As for the butt of the joke. After our move I have been looking for somewhere that is a) not too far from a decent fruit/veg place (if you can get 85% of your stuff there you save A LOT) b) is easy to get in and out of. I have a two year old who doesn’t like riding in trolleys and I don’t want to stuff around with crappy car-parking or walking too far because quite frankly I don’t love groceries and I have better things to do with my time. The better organised and bigger the shop is (in terms of chain supermarkets) the easier it is, the quicker it is. The more likely I am to cook to freeze because I have more time at home. I appreciate well organised things and dingy supermarkets don’t do it for me.

And that friends is why I am still in reconnaissance mode.

This has also been a slow but achievable part of aligning life with being a bit more sensible with where our money goes – there is still a long way to go.

Experiments House Life Money

To follow up on two posts before this one, a day later I heard we had been approved for the new house. So much yay. So much insanity.

Today our neighbours introduced themselves (which is the nice way of it happening if you are the newbies).

I really like this place. I find it easier than the last house in many ways despite my reduced ‘study/work space’ which was the biggest downsize. The location is completely super. We still have to go hunting for a new church and if a closer excellent job came up for Geoff, possibly that too, but hey, maybe I’ll just wait on that other stuff and have a baby first.

Life Out of Home

This is the Sixpence None the Richer song that began my fascination with the band – rather a long time ago now. It is one of those ‘instrumental through my teenage years’ things (the band) and yet it still carries weight today rather than being an embarassment (except perhaps ‘Dancing Queen’ cover which I’ve always detested). The first time I heard this song I did not like it at all and thought it was a bit wishy, but well written words have a power that pull you back in and deeper towards greater meaning even in their simplicity.

My heart is as dark as the soil, sodden with winter rains
My soul is as heavy as the peat, freshly dug from the bog
My thoughts swirl like willow branches caught in autumn winds
My body is as tense as a cat’s as it stalks its prey

Help me open my heart to You
Help me open my heart to You
Help me open my heart to You, oh Jesus
It’s what I long to do

My heart is as dark as the soil, sodden with winter rains
(Lord, brighten my heart)
My soul is as heavy as the peat, freshly dug from the bog
(Lord, lighten my soul)

My thoughts swirl like willow branches caught in autumn winds
(Lord, still my thoughts)
My body is as tense as a cat’s as it stalks its prey
(Lord relax my body)

Help me open my heart to You
(Help me open my heart to You)
Help me open my heart to You
(Help me open my heart to You)
Help me open my heart to You, oh Jesus
It’s what I long to do

Help me open my heart to You
(Help me open my heart to You)
Help me open my heart to You
(Help me open my heart to You)
Help me open my heart to You, sweet Jesus,

(Help me open my heart to You)
I want to open my heart to You
(Help me open my heart to You)
I want to open my heart to You
(Help me open my heart to You)
I want to open my heart to You, oh Jesus
It’s what I long to do

 

Christianity Life Music