The first few days after birthing are such busy ones. The body returns to normal (haha, that’s a bit of a joke), as breastfeeding begins and over the next few weeks there can be many challenges. The whole circle of birth is really about six weeks. The body readies for birth. The baby is born and breastfeeding begins. It’s a time when Mothers need to be fully supported. Meals provided. Help with washing, cleaning and the siblings. There are many stressors in parenting of course over the years and getting breastfeeding started is one of them. For most Mothers that first few weeks can be a real testing time and once that hurdle is jumped, they are well on the way to a beautiful long term relationship. The start is important though.
We came to Christchurch to be part of that start and have been welcomed so lovingly into Annie’s family as we shared the early days and helped with each stage, though it has been a bit of a joke how well I have slept here. The first morning after arrival I slept until 10 am next morning. I said it was because I had a couple of broken nights with Tara staying over. The day after coming home from the our night at the birthing centre I slept in until 11 am! Ahem. I said it was catching up after the almost all nighter at the birth. But yesterday morning Pete, Evon and Gilbert were waiting for me to wake up so we could go to breakfast, and I had no excuse. I told Evon she could rent the room out for sleep deprived people as it seemed to be the room…or perhaps it was how wonderfully welcoming they have been to us. I feel completely relaxed.
We had five kids in nine years and such busy years they were. Much of it was a blur to be honest but we had a lot of Whanau support through these times. Mum was a regular, helping with washing and meals and would be who I would call to sit with the older kids when we went to the hospital. We would birth at hospital and come back within a day or so as home birthing wasn’t possible for the first four, and definitely not encouraged. Mum would be there when I arrived home and she always had a beef broth ready for me. A big beef casserole full of all the vegetables she could muster and particularly spinach for iron and mashed potato on top, so all we had to do was reheat, and while she provided many many meals over the years these were the staples after birth. So I sent Chee down town and made Annie a big rich beef casserole just like Mum used to make me, like I do for all the girls after birthing. Some traditions are worth keeping!
A delight as your family grows is to bring home a new baby and see how the siblings react. Aneeka is so gentle here it’s beautiful to watch as at just eighteen months she is a baby herself still. She tries to make sense of this new creature in her life, the way Mummy is super sensitive about how, when and where she sits on her knee. A new doll is produced and she swings between lovingly comforting it and tossing it to one side with a thump. We play at encouraging Teddy to lie still and change nappies. We swaddle and rock to sleep and sometimes Aneeka wants to play at being a baby. At the moment four doting grandparents fuss over her every whim. Next week will be different!
Another delight….NOT!… is toilet training and funnily enough it often coincides with a new baby. I was reminded of that today and I told Chee a story. He laughed so much he said I should share it. So here you are….
A girl I trained with at teachers college came from the more affluent side of town. We both taught for a while before she became pregnant a little before me. We visited each other. Her in the city in her beautiful home where everything was perfect, including her little boy and girl. With a husband that arrived home in a suit and tie from the corporate world with a briefcase. I in the country, in a home that was always in the middle of one renovation or another with Gilbert driving trucks and working long, long hours.
Every time we got together we laughed and throughly enjoyed each other’s company, though our visits became less and less as our lives were worlds apart, and soon we barely talked.
On one visit our girls were around three playing in the toy box and Amelia, her daughter, came running in and was trying to get her Mothers attention. It sounded like she was saying “Mummy, I want to twinkle!”
“What’s she saying?” I asked, “Oh, she just wants to go to the toilet” she said. “It’s much nicer to say twinkle than toilet” and as she stood up to take her, Tara came running into the room and kicking off her knickers which were wet, she gave a final swing of them off her leg. They left her foot and flew across the room, hitting the cupboard door with a ‘thwack!’ Where apon she announced loudly “Me done wees!” and turned around and walked out with a bare bum.