Today my son Chance had his half year assembly and presentation day. It was his and my first.
His class of 3 year olds came out and sang and recited a poem for a big audience of parents and friends. My son being my son of course, came out and went straight for the microphone and hogged it for the whole performance! I had to go up on stage to hold him back from taking the mic over from the other kids. It was hilarious. But the best part of it was when he looked out to the audience and saw me there. His face lit up and he shouted “Mum!’ and my heart was full.
It was optional but I attended. And I attended because I remember what it was like to be a kid and not have anyone show up to watch. My family couldn’t always make it due to work, lack of transport and other commitments and sometimes they did, but they were late. Even though it wasn’t them being intentionally nasty, as a kid, sometimes it felt very disappointing and even embarrassing.
So today I showed up for my kid. On time. And I was proud and happy for him and for all the other parents that I saw there showing up for their kids. I think that it is so important for them to know that there is someone there rooting for them, always, no matter how young or old or popular they are. It’s such a great confidence booster and builds so much trust.
So if you can make it. Show up. It might be boring. You might hate it. It might be an effort. It may be out of your way. Show up. And be early. And clap and be proud and excited for them. They’ll remember it for a long time.
Today my son showed me all of his work that was displayed on the walls at school, including the below drawing of the kitchen? He’s a creative one 🙂
It has taken me more than 2 years to write this post. I guess it’s because it was such a crazy time of my life, but before I write anything about what I experience with him on this blog, I’d like to introduce my youngest son Etienne.
After a traumatic experience giving birth to my son Chance (you can read about it here: https://creativemamaau.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/my-birth-story/ ) I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the whole process again. Especially not any time soon. But fate had decided that Chance would have a little brother. Just under a year after Chance was born I fell pregnant.
I have to say being pregnant the second time was easier, just because you knew what to expect and you aren’t freaking out at every body change, movement, cramp etc.. I was much more lax about it. Being pregnant and having a 1 year old proved to be a challenge however. My first child is and has always been active. He also is very affectionate and likes to climb all over me. Once I started to get bigger, I struggled to keep up with him and hold him in my arms. I continued to work normal hours (I’m a singer and vocal coach) and had this amazing plan that I would take all the work I could get till the end of March then I would take time off in April – when bubba was due. It was a great self organised maternity leave plan I had for myself.
Etienne came on the 22 February 2015. A whole 8 weeks premature. Right in the middle of my busiest work month. The night before, I had contractions, which I brushed off as the ‘fake’ ones cause it was way too early. But they intensified and at 5am I asked David to take me to the hospital. Yep my baby was coming. He was ready to be out it one easy go. It would have been a real short labour, had we not had to prolong it. You see, when a baby is born 8 weeks early, the lungs have not yet fully developed and so there was a massive risk that he would not be able to breathe on his own. To help move his development along, I was given steroids and told I would need to wait 12 hours for them to enter bubba’s blood stream. This would give him a boost and give the lungs a chance to further develop. I also was given something to try to stop my labour. 12 fucking hours of him wanting to come out and and me and the doctors holding him in. No pain relief drugs. My uterus hurts just thinking about it.
My mum flew to from Melbourne to Sydney to join me at the hospital. By now we were about 9 hours in and David’s eyes were falling out of his head from fatigue. I sent him home and called my best friend Veena. She was the angel that dropped whatever she was doing to help me through the last few hours and hardest contractions. Each time they came I buried my head on her shoulder and squeezed her hands – I was sure I would break them. At the 13th hour, I finally got my epidural. Gosh, as soon as the pain was gone, I told the doctor — all good, no rush now, we can just chill.
Because I had had a c-section with Chance, under 2 years before, I was originally recommended to have another c-section with baby number 2. The pressure of giving birth naturally after a c-section, having not fully repaired, could lead to the scar tearing open again. But things were progressing quite fast (bar the doctors slowing things down) and Etienne was going to be tiny, so the doctor didn’t think it would be too much of a risk to have him naturally. I took the natural birth route. I gave birth to Etienne just after 11pm that evening with mum, David and Veena present. My Epidural had worn off just in time to feel the push and Etienne was so small he popped out of me relatively easily.
But as soon as he did he was taken away. The prodded and poked him and stuck wires into him and put him on machines and into a box. He was born 1.6 kg. My palm was the size of his whole torso. My heart sunk when they told me he would have to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks.
I stayed in the hospital for 10 days and then every 4 hours I needed to return to the hospital nursery to breast feed my baby. He always fought to stay off the machines. My boy was a fighter. He wanted to breathe on his own and on the 3rd day, they took him off the oxygen machine. He still had to have a tube into his mouth and nose, which went down to his tummy because he had not yet learnt to suck, so he was fed milk through this tube with a syringe. There was a nurse with him 24 hours a day. Thank god for those nurses. It was hard. I had a one year old who was needy and not allowed to see his brother yet, I had a full schedule of work and my partner and I were exhausted. To top it off, we were also moving house. FML!
Choosing the natural birth option was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was literally able to dance the next day. I did however wait a week before my first gig (straight out of hospital and on stage as diana ross and the supremes lol). By the 3rd week the intensive care nurses thought I was superwoman (or had lost my mind). Every 4-6 hours into the hospital, breast feeding or express pumping in between gigs and teaching. I remember feeding, then of to the hair dresser for a massive 60s do and eyelashes, then coming back for 2nd feeding, then off to a “Starlettes gig” and then back to the hospital at midnight for a feed still in my gold sequins maxi dress. Then the next day I was Tina Turner. ‘What a glamorous life I had’ they said, But I was delirious 🙂
Starlettes show about a week after giving birth
Tina Turner show (That’s me – in the middle)
Pumping milk out of my breasts in between sets wasn’t fun either but I didn’t want to explode whilst on stage (it happens), so it had to be done. Anyway, my little man was doing well in hospital. We had a lot of skin to skin time and he slowly learned how to breathe and suck. I will never forget holding him in the baby ICU and watching the red light flash on the machine that monitored him with his heart rate counter falling rapidly because he was tired and just momentarily forgot to breathe. It happened twice in my arms. His heart may have not stopped fully, but mine surely did.
It was a hazy 6 weeks and when it was time to leave we moved into our new place. Bringing Etienne home from the hospital felt so awesome, even though he wouldn’t have professional monitoring by nurses 24/7. I was excited to have him home with the rest of the family. My heart was full when in the car on the way home from hospital, Chance held Etienne’s hand. It was the perfect start to our new journey with our 2 boys. Having 2 children under 2 is hard work but I’m glad I had them when I did, because they are close in age and they interact really well with each other now. Also for us parents, we are still familiar with the development stages when the second one goes through them.
Oh and they are not the same, they are like chalk and cheese with regards to personality. Etienne is no where near as social as Chance is much more sensitive (he is his father’s child for sure), he is fairer (like he actually might burn in the sun rather than tan) and he has straight hair. He sure did catch up on his weight too. The little tank is almost the size of his brother now and has been wearing the same size as him for a year.
I wasn’t sure I had enough love in my heart to share between 2 children but the moment I lay my eyes on him, I had found another very special place to hold Etienne forever in my heart. He is 2 now, fussy as hell, loud, sometimes grumpy, but my is he beautiful. I still can’t believe he’s mine. He will forever be my little miracle.
I’m still grateful for the nurses at RPA in Sydney, I’ve never seen a team so caring and hardworking. They literally saved my child’s life and continue to save lives everyday. My best friend Veena, I mean, you watched me pop a baby out of my vagina, we homies for life! I’m so blessed to have you as Etienne’s godmother. To David, I never told you how fucking awesome you handled both births and pregnancies. I love watching you parent and become a better dad each day. To mum, who taught me to be a mum and who left her life to choose us and be a part of our little family. Thank you for always showing up for me. And to uncle Scott, whom we could not have coped without through the early months of both our sons. We can’t wait to have you here with us again soon.
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read my story. It has been quite therapeutic to write and remember. Till the next one (blog post, not baby). :p
I’ll leave you with some recent photos of my Etienne.
There are so many opinions circulating when it comes to potty training your kids. My mum told me that I was out of nappies at 9 months! 9 Fucking months!. At 9 months, I was just happy to have kept my baby alive and well fed (lets just say I wasn’t too good at looking after my plants). So I put my son Chance on the potty for the first time at 8 months old. A picture says a thousand words:
Yep, that right there is a mortified ‘What the fuck is happening?” face on my baby. They say potty training at a young age is more like training adults to look out for when your kid needs to go, rather than you training them to go to the potty. I’m sure there are a lot of parents (including mine) that are successful getting their kids out of nappies that young, however I wasn’t going to sit there all anxious and wait for a wee (which can happen every 15 mins in a baby) or a poo to arrive so I can catch it. I really do want more out of my life.
So after a few tries, I hung the potty up. I read somewhere that waiting for your child to be able to communicate with you can be more of an effective way to potty train. And also waiting for him to show signs of wanting to potty train would be a good idea. That sign might be baby doing a shit and then taking his nappy off himself and throwing it on the ground. Every. Time. (So much fun for mum and dad!!).
So I actually ditched the potty altogether. My cousin said to just put him straight on the toilet (getting a smaller training seat to put on the toilet so he doesn’t fall in helps too). At 2 years old I put him on the toilet as much as possible. He wasn’t afraid of sitting on the toilet and it made clean up really easy. Nappies were out and Nappy pants were in. These are the 3 brands, that I recommend:
Mamia are Aldi brand, great if you are on a budget
Baby love is good quality and reasonably priced
I would only get huggies when they were on sale in bulk. They a super absorbent but could get expensive sometimes
Problem is my son was late to talk and so he was unable to let us know when he needed to go so we were still watching for the poo faces (which is like sweaty fear & shame expressions). Regardless, we had a good go at 2 years old where most of the time we took him for a wee he went, and poos, maybe 50%. We celebrated wee wee and poos with stickers and stamps. YES PEOPLE YOU MUST CELEBRATE/REWARD THAT WEE/POO IN THE TOILET. This makes your child want to go there again.
It’s may now and Chance is 3. He started at pre-primary and I’m really happy to say that he’s in his final stages of potty training. It was so much easier with the support of his school. He went to school with undies on (no nappy) and pretty much shit his pants everyday for a whole week. Poor teachers. But he was wee-ing consistently in the potty or toilet when we took him there. The one day, he just got up and did a wee in the potty on his own. This has been one of the highlights of motherhood so far!. Afterward, he came to me and said “wee wee in the potty”. Yes he did! VICTORY!! And since then he’s been good with the wees.
Thomas undies are popular.
Chance loves Cars
The poos were a little more difficult. It was like he didn’t really know when he wanted to go until he had already started, and then he would hide or say ‘poo’ with full undies – SO NASTY… But I messed up a little. And so I will tell you guys so you might learn from my mistakes. I got really stroppy with him a few times when he had a poo accident. “Why did you poo in your undies? I told you to poo in the toilet. NO MORE POOS IN YOUR UNDIES” I would snap. And then one day with tears in his eyes, he said to me “I’m sorry”. My 3 year old child was sorry that he let me down. I felt like the worst mum in the world. So now when those accidents happen I try not to show my frustration. I get down to his level and say ‘it’s ok’, clean him up and point out how poos are yucky and need to go in the toilet. I repeat ‘poos are for the toilet, not for your undies’ calmly. And when he goes to the toilet he still gets lots of praise from all of us adults at home.
And there it is peeps. It’s not rocket science to potty train your kid. Consistency is everything. My hot tips are:
Wait till he starts to show signs of not wanting to be in nappies.
Wait till he can communicate with you (even one or 2 word sentences).
Start using the words poo and wee, so that he knows what they are.
To begin with, put him on the toilet or potty when you take of his nappy before a shower.
Praise the fuck out of him when he actually goes (stickers, lollies, celebration dance).
Don’t lose your cool at accidents.
Invest in nappy-pants.
Get a small toilet seat to put over your toilet.
Let him spend time at home (all day) with undies and only wear nappies when going out.
Keep the potty & toilet accessible (within eyesight if possible).
With boys and wees, let dad show him how it’s done.
Buy undies that he actually likes (all of chances have his fave characters – batman, angry birds, pokemon).
And have faith, that it will get better.
Chance is out of nappies now, except for when he goes to bed. Even with nappy pants on, he gets up to go to the toilet. I’m so proud of his progress and I can’t wait till we can axe the nappies altogether.
If anyone else has any potty training tips to add, please comment below. I would love to hear your experiences.