As much as I want to hold your hand, tightly in mine and keep you young forever, tomorrow I will let it go as you start your biggest adventure yet. Tomorrow we will kiss you and send you off as your start school.
I swear it was only yesterday that we brought you home, that we wrapped you lovingly in your cot, that we rocked you to sleep. I swear it was only yesterday that you spoke your first words (Dadda of course). When you took your first steps, when you slept through the night, when you met your brother for the first time. I swear it was only yesterday, but yet, here we are. A big girl, grown up before our eyes.
There are so many things that I hope and dream for you. So much that I could say. So much that I want you to know.
As a teacher
I hope that you continue your love of learning.
That your spark and curiosity flourish.
I hope learn for school to be a wonderful place
That your teacher will nurture you and guide you
That you see yourself as someone who can take risks
I hope that you learn to listen, and be listened to
I hope that your creative mind gets bigger and bigger
I hope that you feel proud of your achievements
I hope that you learn through your mistakes
That you know that not everyone is perfect
That mistakes are ok, more than ok!
That you are ‘smart’ in lots of ways
I hope you explore the world in all it’s glory
That you find your talents
That you learn to appreciate others
That you learn about yourself
As your Mother
I hope that you are happy
That you feel safe and secure
That you make beautiful friends whom you will cherish your whole life (like me)
That you experience success, and learn from failure
That you see yourself as important
I hope that you experience the joy of being part of something glorious
That you laugh, that you smile, that you grow
That you use your voice to make things happen
I hope you know how wonderful you are, and
How wonderful others can be
Our darling Ella, tomorrow is the biggest day of your life yet.
I started this blog to remember the big milestones in our family, and tomorrow is one we will never forget!
So last week I got a new hip. A hip replacement to be exact. Yep. How old am I do you say? 37. Yep, a little young I know. Yep. Nod. I’ve had this operation on the horizon for a while now, and if you’ve been following me you would know that I’ve tried everything to avoid it, but have surrendered to the surgery. So last Thursday I checked in to hospital, got my gown and very sexy surgery undies on and went under the knife. In case you’ve missed it, here’s why….
About two years ago I woke up on holidays, post Christmas with terrible pain in my right hip. The result, I figured, of too much running around with a then two year old and a baby. I knew it wasn’t the late nights out dancing (heck, I can’t even remember what they are like!). After a few weeks of investigation I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who discovered a ‘labral tear’ in my cartilage (possibly from child birth) and more severely, an impingement in the bone which meant that every time I moved my hip in a certain way, the bone effectively wedged against the hip joint, meaning pain. So under the knife I went for an arthroscopy and repair to hopefully fix what is quite commonly presented amongst young Mothers who have previously participated in sport and intense exercise. Note at this point I was laughing because my teen years were jam packed with athletics, netball and competitive dancing, but clearly the lasting effects had lingered on many years after finishing up my ‘professional’ athletics career! 😉
However post surgery, I was to find that my surgeon had in fact discovered damage and a hip in such a state of disrepair that a total replacement presented as the only real solution to my problem. I balled my eyes out. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A hip replacement? That is an ‘old’ person’s operation. I was 37 not 97. However my body didn’t feel like it was young. What he saw was severe Osteo Arthritis. The result of bad genetics (thanks Mum and Dad), and a combination of years of exercise, coupled with child birth and Motherhood. It had just tipped me over the edge.
You see my problem was mainly at night. During the day I could run around (not quite literally run around, but you know…more of the crazy Mum run around thing). I could walk, go to work and do most things, but if I ever wore heels, or stood for a long time, or walked a long way…which let’s face it as a Mum is always, then my nights would be met with great pain and throbbing. All night. Every night. To the point where I couldn’t bare going to bed without a hot water bottle and pain killers. I did physio, I did pilates. I tried to strengthen my muscles. However the realisation quickly settled in that the daunting prospect of a hip replacement was something that I was really going to have to consider. However as all families know, we were just to busy. I simply didn’t have ‘time’ for a hip replacement. When could I possibly fit it into our life with the prospect of 12 weeks recovery? My job, my husband’s job (and own business), my kids, MY KIDS, daycare, appointments. The need to rely on people. The stress it would put on my husband. On my family. It had already been an awful year following the loss of my Dad. I felt terrible. However as the months wore on, I knew that I needed to do it. And if I was going to do it, it had to be this year, before Christmas. I didn’t want to spend this, our first Christmas without my Dad and Nan in agony. I also didn’t want to have surgery next year when my Ella would be going through her prep transition. Finding time to have surgery and recover is almost impossible as a Mum, and something that almost made me put it off altogether. However the prospect of another year of pain and relying on pain meds meant that I knew I needed to do it. To be a good Mum, to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend. I needed to take care of myself first so I could take care of those around me.
So it meant biting the bullet and getting it done. I’ve actually since discovered that hip replacement surgery is more common in your people than is commonly known. I guess there are a whole lot of people out there who are in a similar situation, but simply find it hard to find the time, and money to have the surgery they need.
So I’m day 5, at home. It’s hard, I will admit to rest and do nothing. I’m not used to it (hence this blog post). However I’m grateful that I have access to an amazing surgeon and team of professionals who will get me back to where I want to be. Pain free. I know it will take a while, but I’m so looking forward to being able to sleep without pain. I have two legs that are actually now the same length (my left was previously 1cm shorter than my right) and I can already feel the healing nature of the pain. It’s better than the bone on bone kind that is for sure!
Thanks for all of your beautiful messages of love and support. I know that making the decision to take care of myself is the right one. I don’t know why, as Mum, we find that so hard sometimes. But we do. But this decision will mean happiness for me and that means my family. That can only be a good thing. You’ll see me running around in no time!
This weekend will mark two months since losing Dad. To be honest, if feels like two decades since I last saw him. The intense pain has started to ease in some ways, and yet in others it is actually worse. It’s worse because two months on, it is starting to feel real. The world that stopped momentarily in dismay to digest the news that Dad had been taken so suddenly has been replaced by a reality that everything and everyone still carries on, and yet we feel so left behind. Time ticks over, people go back to work, the flowers wilt. It’s a harsh reality for us at the moment as we try to rationalise his absence. It’s impossible. The calmness of a steady world, rhythmically moving from day to night, night to day is far from the reality of our chaotic world, hit like a tornado. Everything is the same, and yet everything is so different.
It’s left me feeling lost about many things, big things in life. Is there really a heaven? Where DO we all go? People say that in times of great loss you really cling to your faith. In some ways this is true, and in others it leaves you questioning the very essence of what you believe. I’ve prayed. Day in day out. I’ve gone to church and lit candles. I’ve looked for signs. I’ve waited for him to come to me in my dreams. But nothing has brought me comfort. Not really. I’m left wondering about the meaning of life when someone can so suddenly be erased. How the world can simply delete the presence of such a magnificent man in so many ways, and yet he is everywhere. How can we ever reconcile this is a destination that is a little beyond our understanding right now. I’m hopeful that we will get there one day.
What has indeed helped and brought great comfort is the support of family and friends. What I’ve come to know about people who are dealing with intense grief. What we all need is different. Some need space. Others need to be close to others. I’m of the later kind. Phone calls, messages, cards, food, hugs and more hugs. Flowers sent two months later from a friend, just so I would know that my family, and more importantly, My Dad are ever present in their thoughts. A simple gesture with profound meaning and impact.
I’m holding on desperately to the sound of his voice. The image of his hands. His somewhat aged and disfigured fingers after suffering years of arthritis. Yet still so precious. You feel like stopping everyone in the street, to make sure they know / knew about this wonderful human being. What he did, how he lived life. I’ve covered my fridge in photos so that he is ever present in my childrens’ lives and thoughts. I just miss him. His ability to make anyone smile, just by walking into the room. The laughter that he infused in my children. The way he called me Katie. There are yet a handful of people who do that, and I wish I could hear it one last time.
So two months on I think that as a family, we are doing remarkably well. We are doing our best. We have amazing people around us. It’s tremendously hard to transform and reshape your family unit. To try to fill in the vast void that is left both physically and emotionally. As a friend who recently also passed away said each and every day, hug your loved ones. There is so much truth in that it hurts. I know that one day I will be able to look at the thousands of photos and simply smile without feeling a lump in my throat. I’m not sure when that will be, but I know it will happen.
Grief is the price we pay for love. As hard as that reality is, we wouldn’t therefore want it any other way.
As a Mum, each day there are moments that catch us by surprise. Small moments that make us smile, make us frustrated, make us happy, and then there are those that fill us with love. These last few weeks have seen our household deal with a variety of moments, and emotions. As I recover from hip surgery, as we start a new year, as Ella starts in the kinder room and as Hudson gets used to being at daycare. Moments that come and go, and moments that have made me stop and really think about making memories that I, and my family will remember forever.
This week has seen Facebook and social media peppered with hundreds of images of little ones starting school, starting kinder and starting their own little adventures in this big wide world. When we first had Ella, I vividly remember an elderly lady affectionately asking me how old she was, and at four weeks old this lady gave me some advice. ‘Cherish every second because before you know it, she’ll be old like me’. Similar advice has been given to myself and Dan over and over. Each time you knod and smile, but to tell you the truth I didn’t quite realise how true it actually is. With a blink of an eye, our darling Ella is almost four years old, and will be starting school in two years (we are keeping her back). How, oh how did this happen so quickly? She is very emotional at the moment, and (like her Mum) finds it difficult to keep back the tears. I know she will be ok in a few weeks. Hopefully I will too 🙂
And then there is our little Hudson. His transition to daycare has been really hard. He has cried and cried and done his upmost to be angry and stubborn. It is so hard to see your little one be so upset. But then today, the amazing director at his daycare emailed me with the news that he had been laughing and smiling, having a wonderful day dressing up. The excitement in the email was palpable and honestly I couldn’t have been more appreciative that she took the time to tell me. Through the use of a fantastic app called Story Park, we see on a daily basis their daycare adventures. Photos, videos and stories tell a variety of tales, and today…we received one that I will certainly be showing him when he turns 21. Pictures of him dressed from head to toe in a dress with a crazy hair style to boot. Clearly he is having a ball today and I couldn’t be happier. How thrilled we are to have such wonderful people caring for our children. What a moment to cherish.
I told myself that this year I would really try to stop, slow down and enjoy the little things that happen each day. There may be small moments of fun, hugs and kisses, painting and playing in the park. It’s moments like these that we need to cherish and really enjoy as they happen. I’ve been using the TinyBeans App to save these moments forever and to look back at the amazing ways in which my children have grown. The best thing is that it’s private. You can share them with family members, or keep them just for yourself. You can even send social media pics straight to the app! Photos really are the best way to keep moments like these alive.
What ever moments you have experienced this week, I hope they are happy ones that make you smile.
This past week has seen me sit still for longer than I have done in the previous few years combined. Last Monday I had hip surgery to repair a tear in the cartilage, and also to shave down a bump on my femur which was inevitebly causing more damage each time I bent the joint. It was an operation that I knew I had to have for a year, and one which I met with great anxiety and worry, not so much because of the operation itself, but because of the recovery which I had been told would be at least six weeks on crutches, with no picking up of my children. Ever. When I was told about this last June, I literally laughed. I mean, I am the Mum of an almost four year old, and more to the point, a one year old boy who had just learned to walk. No driving. Time off work. Since then we had planned every inch of the time post surgery. We had organised a timetable of help, of baby sitters, of food. To help both myself to rest and recover, but also to help my beautiful husband who was inevitebly going to pick up the slack, whilst also going back to work himself after our summer holidays.
So Monday came and went, and whilst I am so, so glad it is over, it was a shock to hear from my surgeon that things were worse than first thought, with little cartilage left in my hip due to advanced arthritis. It must have been all the years of dancing on podiums at nightclubs. Wink, wink. No seriously, I have been left in absolute awe of my family and support network this past week, as they have helped me with both the major things, and the small things that make a great difference. Simply phone calls to see if I’m ok. Simple suggestions of how people can help. My husband. My husband. My Mum and Mother in Law who have tag teamed, minding our children. Our siblings who have played with the kids so that they honestly have felt as though nothing is wrong. To tell you the truth the thought of being ‘stuck’ at home, with my own company is enough for me to cry normally, but I have enjoyed and appreciated this quiet time to rest and recuperate whilst knowing that the kids are still having fun.
You see I think that it was actually the world telling me more than the fact that I needed a hip operation. I think the ‘operation’ was a decoy for forcing me to slow down. 2015 was a great year, but it was also a great year of stress and anxiety for me emotionally. To be honest, there were weeks were I felt as though I was just keeping my head above the water. I, along with my husband were trying to live life on little to no sleep. It really took its toll on me towards the end of the year, and forced me to reassess my priorities. After my second stay at Masada hospital with Hudson, and with little success, I decided to listen to the professionals and get some help. Help both for me to deal with how I was feeling, and help in terms of strategies to deal with easing the load.
Those who know me, know that I like to be around people, and I like to be involved. I have total FOMO (fear of missing out). I need to be connected to people, I need to keep up to date with ‘what is happening’ in my work, in my social life, in my online life. Being connected is an incredibly valuable thing, but it can turn on you if you don’t know how to disconnect. Disconnect your need to live an active life from the need to be involved in everything to the expense of your health. I’ve done my best to keep my head above the water, and to keep the balls in the air. My problem is that when I went on maternity leave with both of my children, I started two hobbies (my blog, and my print business), to give my brain a break from thinking about nappies and breast feeding. The thing is that these two hobbies took on a life of their own, and whilst this has been amazing (who wouldn’t want a business to go gang busters?), it’s meant that my time has been stretched, particularly when I went back to work. Being a Mum is tough at times, but juggling this along with being a wife, sister, friend, employee, blogger and small business owner inevitebly took it’s toll. Something had to stop. Something had to change. In the end, it was my body that gave out. My hip, in terrible pain led me to the path of surgery, and with it a consideration of how else I could slow down.
So in 2016 I am stepping from being a Deputy Principal for a while. I’m still working in my role has learning & teaching leader (head of curriculum). It was a really, really, really hard decision to make…for someone who loves their job and is honestly proud of the achievements I’ve made. Mothers who have to make the choice between work and family can understand that for some, this brings enormous anxiety and sadness. That said, I know it is the right choice. Putting my family first. Putting my health first. My children will only my little for a little amount of time. I need to treasure those moments. I need to not wish the time away, to a time when they will sleep through, or be more independent.
I define myself as many things, but I shouldn’t let these things define me and how I feel. I need to be ok with change, and pressing the pause button for a while. It doesn’t mean I’m not capable. It just means I’m being careful and mindful. So with this in mind, I will use this first blog post of the year to try to commit to being in the moment with my children. I will try to be kind to myself and not worry about pleasing everyone. I will try to stop. Slow Down. I might need help along the way, but being forced to stay put at this point in time, and not physically being able to walk is a good start I guess.
Looking forward to a year of happiness, health, humour and home.
Last time I posted about this personal issue, I felt a sense of guilt and worry as I shared my feelings with the wider world. With a click of the button, I held my breath, but I needed not worry. Sharing our story of Hudson’s mild hearing loss, and my feelings about dealing with this challenge was met with great support and praise. For this, I am truly thankful to all of you.
As a person, I’ve always been an extrovert and someone who really needs and relies on talking about my feelings in order to come to terms with how I’m feeling and work through a solution. Sometimes this is fine, but sometimes it may border on over sharing. My blog has always been a platform, first and foremost, to document the growing memories of my family. To look back upon, in years to come, much like a photo album. Over the past three years, the blog has evolved into something more. It’s somewhat of a community of followers who share their feelings, advice and stories with me and each other.
Sometimes it’s real easy for me to share my feelings and stories of Motherhood. When it’s great, its wonderful. It’s easy. However when I’m going through things that are challenging, frustrating and sad, I often dwell on whether or not to share. Not because I don’t want to expose myself as a failure, or someone who can’t cope….in the real world it’s actually refreshing to read stories of people who are going through the normal ups and downs. My feelings of reservation are about wanting to protect my children. I am very aware of the fact that I manage and write this blog, and my children have no real say in what is written about them. They have not consented to my posts. They have not given me permission to post photos about them. So I always ask myself if Ella and Hudson would be ok with what I have written. About myself, about them, about our family. This blog is a digital footprint that has the potential to last forever. I hope that they, in years to come, look back over this blog with fondness and smile. I want them to see that our life is wonderful, amongst all of the challenges. I want them to see how much they are loved. I want them to read about how, as a Mum, I have done my best. Being my best is not without feelings of frustration, exhaustion and sometimes a hint of sadness. However it is always outweighed with an overwhelming sense of love, pride and happiness.
It’s been playing on my mind lately to ensure that I remain positive and don’t let the feelings of negativity take over. I’ve been appreciating so many small moments lately, and with Hudson’s new challenge of wearing hearing aides, this has really helped me to see small steps as giant leaps. Hudson has been wearing his hearing aides only at home, and with me by his side, reminding him, and praising him for wearing them. We put them in, he takes them off, we put them back in. I’m getting so much quicker at putting them in his tiny little ears. They are personalised for his ear shape and so you need to know the right parts to pull and poke to have the perfect fit. My life saver has been the safety strap that connects to the back of the aides and the back of his jumper. Much like a sunglass strap does, this helps to ensure that they don’t get lost if he pulls them out. That said, he has learned that he can just ‘yank’ the strap to pull them out, and then happily chews away on the silicone ear buds. Needless to say I’ve already had to reorder a new pair.
Some positives also include the fact that he leans his head towards me when I attempt to put them in. Clearly he is learning the routine. He can wear them for about an hour before it just gets too much for both Hudson and myself. During that time we do some reading to ensure that he hears a range of sounds, talking and playing. I’m still unsure whether or not he feels a difference himself as his behaviours have always been age appropriate. But we’ll see!
When I write these things down I feel a great sense of relief and pride. I’m proud of the small things we are achieving. I’m proud of Hudson, and I’m proud of myself. Over sharing or not, it is helping me to help my son. Surely that can only be a good thing. Maybe over sharing is caring….sometimes!
The last few months has, in some ways, been a journey that parents kind of wish they didn’t have to go through. It’s hard for me to write about, firstly because, well. it’s still hard to come to terms with, but also secondly, because I feel a great sense of guilt for feeling sad about something that I know could be a great deal worse. Still, as a Mum, I just want my children to have the best of everything. The best of opportunity, the best of happiness and most of all the best of health. We all do, and when things don’t go perfectly, there is a little ping inside your heart that hurts.
As a Prem baby, we already knew that he was going to have a few issues, most of which paled into insignificance when it came to the struggles of other very premature babies. At five weeks early, our little man was tiny, weighing in at 2kg and spent some time in special care nursery, learning to feed and put on weight. It was a hard time for us, and we had to get used to the experience of him coming into the world in a very different manner in which his sister arrived. That said, he was in the best care, and we knew that we were lucky. When Hudson was three days old, as all new babies are in Australia (thank God) he was screened for hearing. He failed the test and after it was repeated with the same result, we were refereed to an audilogy clinic for futher testing.
I hate admiting it, but i spent those first few weeks googling my heart out. Trying to make myself feel better about his possible deafness. Trying to work out why it had happened. There was no family history. Trying to tell myself that it could be much worse. I don’t mean to upset anyone as I write this, but I was devastated. We were both so confused. I felt like I had some part to play, and was trying to find a way to explain it to my Husband. Finally after attending a clinic, and being assessed as having mild deafness, we were relieved to find that it was unlikely that he would require ‘intervention’. Months of testing has ensued as the process proves difficult to complete on babies, and especially restless boys who like to squirm. Initial testing gave way to him needing to show us what he could hear. All in all, he can hear. He responds to his name. He is starting to make sounds. He claps. He waves. All seems well.
Except the fact that he misses approximately 20% of the high pitch, soft sounds required for normal speech development. Needing the audiologists to explain what this means and then having to explain it to family has been really hard. It means that there is a possibility that he is missing out on hearing some of the sounds that he needs to speak properly, and therefore have normal conversation. What makes it hard is the fact that he cannot tell us right now exactly what he can and can’t hear. At this age he is learning to speak, and therefore does not have the ability to show us exactly what he is capable of.
Technology is amazing, but it is also frustrating. Children with Hudson’s type of hearing loss often go undetected, and become children who either cope and get by, or struggle. I don’t want that for my little boy. I don’t want him to struggle in any way. I know, of course he will, in lots of ways…all kids do. It’s totally normal. However hearing for the first time that our little man needs hearing aids to help him hear everything he needs to, has made me really test my ability to remain rational and sensible. He WILL be fine. It COULD be so much worse. He is so lucky to be living in a country where children who are deaf not only get amazing support, but get the support for FREE! It’s not something I’ve written about or shared with people beyond our family and friends, until now. Given the fact that we got them yesterday, it’s something that has become our real reality…and I want it to be positive.
That said, I just want my baby to fly, to be happy, to kick ass and conquer the world. I want him to play footy. To play an instrument. To wrestle. To swim. To do what ever his heart desires. The moment I heard that he had to wear hearing aides made my heart sink, and questions whether or not he will be able to do all of those things. Of course I know, he will. He can do what ever he wants. I just need to stick to listening to my sensible self and know that everything will be ok.
There is a great possibility that he may not need them forever. Every parent who has a child who has been through this surely must also go through a similar set of emotions. Confusion, grief, sadness, acceptance. I’m trying to stay optimistic, and know that there is nothing I’ve done to make things this way. It’s just the way it is.
I just want Hudson to be able to hear the glorious world. The cheer of the crowd at the footy. The sound of running water. Amazing music. Beautiful birds singing. His sister laughing. Most of all, I hope he can hear us tell him over and over how much we love him. Heck, if he needs hearing aides to do that, then that is just fine.
So yesterday our little man was fitted with his hearing aides. The team at Hearing Australia have been amazing and we’ve been equipped with knowledge and everything we’ll need to get him started. It’s going to be a long process of him getting used to them. They told us that we will need to use the three P’s – Persistence, Practice and a great deal of patience. Today our little man wore them both for a whole 20 minutes before pulling them out. That was amazing in our eyes. Baby steps. Onward and Upward.
Hudson, we love you mate. To the moon and back. You can do and achieve what ever your little heart desires. We’ll make sure of it.