Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why a Woolies Bag in a Tree Helped Me Stop At Three

See this? 

This is not just a remnant of a plastic bag stuck in a tree.  This is actually a remnant of my former life: my life of being pregnant, of being ridiculously sick, of being a mother of merely two, a woman whose backseat doesn't look like this.

It is a tangible reminder that I should definitely stop at three.  Because even though I have been willing it for the past few months, I haven't had that epiphany, that sudden dawning that This. Is. It.  And that scares me.

So why the plastic bag? 

This is one of many plastic Woolies bags that used to sit on the passenger seat during the first five months of this pregnancy.  Bags I would vomit into if necessary while driving The Curly Mop to daycare or The Blonde Bombshell to Kindy.

One day it blew out of the car and up into the tree, where it has been hanging, slowly disintegrating, over the past few months.  I should probably note that I hadn't vomited into this particular bag, because that would be gross. 

For the past four months I have been feeling great, maybe not quite the glowing earth mother, but certainly operating at a functional level.  Yet this bag has been a constant reminder that I wasn't always well, and there were days with this pregnancy when I wondered what the hell I was doing, and doubted I would make it to the end.

And so the bag has been quite useful in its way. As long as it is there, it helps me remember the parts of pregnancy that aren't so fun.  It would seem that women's bodies (and brains) have a knack of forgetting all the bad stuff associated with pregnancy and childbirth. 

We forget how ill we get, how sore we get, how our ligaments slip around, how things fall apart, how things fall out.

We forget all the fluids: how we pee a bit when we laugh, how every mucus membrane operates at maximum. We forget about the blood noses, the runny noses, the blocked noses.

We forget about the varicose veins in places we don't want to talk about, how we can't poo, how we can't breathe.  We forget the heart burn, the hemorrhoids, the fact that everything tastes like cheese.

We forget that we crave strange things like chalk and spam.  We forget that we cry and scream and get panicky - all over a McDonalds ad (and let's not even mention how we react to an episode of One Born Every Minute). 

We forget that we can't sleep, and if we do that we start snoring. We forget that we stop wanting sex, or if we do want it, it's at totally inappropriate times or with inappropriate people. 

We forget that we can never get comfortable.  That our favourite couch is now a death-trap, stuck for hours before someone comes home to pull you out.  We forget about the pins and needles, the numbness, the throbbing.  Bra's don't fit, undies don't fit, shoes don't fit: but to go around naked would be a crime against humanity.

We forget that a bottle of wine at the end of a bad day is a distant memory, that half the items on the menu are now on the 'no-go' list.  We forget that if we get sick or a headache, that the majority of medications are now on the black list: we are stuck with paracetamol while our man-flu suffering husbands are allowed a whole pharmacy of exotic and effective drugs.

We forget that eventually the baby has to come out somehow.  Of a Very.  Small.  Hole.

So while that bag remains in the tree, it will hopefully act as a reminder.  When I come home with my new baby, when I find myself hopped up on hormones, staring at its little face with complete love and devotion, that bag will remind me that stopping at three is a good thing. 

After all, there is no room in the backseat for another, and be damned if I'm buying a Tarago.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Brutal Truth About The Third Child

Part I: The Pregnancy

First Baby

When you have your first baby, you become the centre of the universe. No one has ever had a baby before, this is the most important event in the history of the world. You are able to rest and nap every day. You walk around like an earth mother, hand on your belly, waiting, waiting, waiting for a 'proper' bump.  You feel calm and smile a lot.  You love the nausea and vomiting because it means your baby is growing. You eat fresh organic food, abstain from alcohol, and take all your vitamins. You never want it to end.

You are overwhelmed with information and advice.  People feel compelled to tell you their horror labour stories. Your obstetrician actually talks with you. You have baby showers and play games where someone smushes a Ferrero Rocher into a nappy and pretends it's a baby poo. You think it's slightly gross.

People bend over backwards to help, to shop, to give you their old baby clothes. People are excited for you. They want to touch your bump. Everyone asks if it's your first and when you say 'yes' they give you a big warm smile.  They tell you it will be the most amazing thing that has ever happened to you. You believe them.

You read books like 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' and 'Up the Duff', subscribe to parenting magazines and sign up to online baby forums. You spend months decorating the nursery, making sure everything co-ordinates.  You spend hours researching SIDS and developmental milestones, you buy all the latest safety gear, harnesses, slings, and bouncers.  You put special plugs in all the empty power sockets, and put all the poisons and medicines in a high locked cupboard accessible only with a six-digit combination and certain phases of the moon. 

You carefully cut the tags out of baby clothes so they don't scratch your little darling, and wash everything twice in super-soft, extra-sensitive, environmentally friendly, baby-friendly organic detergents.  You vow to never give your baby a dummy, they won't suck their thumb, you will breastfeed on demand, you will turn them every night so they don't get a flat head. They won't watch TV until they are eight, and only then educational, G-rated programs. They will never own a computer game, never use a mobile phone, never get any piercings, and you will not allow a single piece of commercially branded rubbish (like Dora or Disney) enter your house.

Your child will be a Nobel Prize winner.

You have written a birth plan in great detail, and provide it in triplicate to the doctor, the midwives and your husband.  You have made a new playlist for your iPod of calming music, you have scented candles, you have new pyjamas.

You haven't thought about what happens after the baby comes out.

Easy and innovative new fundraising ideas at

Second Baby

When you have your second baby, your toddler is the centre of the universe. You have forgotten all the 'baby' stuff, and can only dwell on your pregnancy at night when the toddler is sleeping. You are unable to nap during the day because the toddler has just dropped their day sleeps. You look like you are six months pregnant by the time you hit the second trimester. You feel harassed and yell a lot. You love the nausea and vomiting because it means you get five minutes to yourself in the bathroom. You eat your toddlers leftovers, try to abstain from alcohol, and remember to take your vitamins sometime in the middle trimester. It feels like it will never end.

You are pissed off with information and advice. People feel compelled to tell you their horror stories about toddlers locking the baby in the cupboard. You forget to attend half your obstetrician appointments. You get a few cards in the mail from friends and family, but no parties.

People who have finished child-bearing start dumping all their old baby stuff on you. Whether you want it or not. People are mildly interested in you. They tell you how big your bump is and how swollen your ankles are. Everyone asks if it's your first and when you say 'no' they look disappointed and walk away.

You drag 'Up the Duff' off the shelf and leave it in the loo for the two minutes you get to yourself each day.  You start reading your parenting magazines and online forums for advice about siblings and making the transition easy on your toddler. You unceremoniously dump your toddler out of the cot and tell them they are now a 'big girl' in a bed.  You throw out some broken toys, re-wash the cot sheets, buy some new wall stickers and a box of newborn nappies.  The nursery is now done. You look at all the harnesses, slings, and bouncers from your first baby, most of which are still in the box, and consider using them this time. Your toddler has taken all the special plugs out of the empty power sockets and is still alive, so you don't replace them. The poisons are under the sink with a child-proof lock.  The medicines are next to the wine and spirits above the fridge, easily accessible for only those over five foot.

You rewash the old baby clothes in your normal detergents, throwing out the ones which look totally dodgy. You buy a new packet of dummies and leave them near the cot.  You'll certainly need them. They will only watch TV when you are really tired, really grumpy or trying to make dinner. You consider Foxtel to be an investment in your sanity.  You will try and wait until they are three before they get a computer game. They will never get any piercings.  Dora and Disney toys are an accepted part of life.

Your child will finish high school.

You forget all about birth plans and look forward to your time in hospital as a break from the chaos at home. You leave the scented candles at home, and instead pack your laptop because you plan to Facebook your entire hospital stay. You have new pyjamas, but only because the other ones haven't fit for over two years.

You don't care how the baby comes out, but you are wondering whether you will be able to breastfeed as passionately as you did last time, and buy a pump and some bottles, just in case.  And some formula.

Third Baby

When you have your third baby, you have a pre-schooler and a toddler both claiming they are the centre of the universe. Loudly. You don't even realise you are pregnant until you figure out the reason you have gained 15kg in four weeks is not solely due to all the playgroup morning teas. You look like the living dead and have learned to nap with your eyes open when you are meant to be watching ballet lessons or swimming lessons. You look like you are six months pregnant by the time you walk out of the bedroom. You only stop yelling when you are asleep, and when you are asleep you snore.

You carry around Coles bags to vomit into, and throw them out with the dirty nappies.   You eat your main meal at morning tea, and snack on Maltesers throughout the rest of the day.  If your kids won't eat vegetables or salad, why the hell should you? You don't even bother trying to abstain from alcohol but it tastes like crap and instead drink 1L of choc milk every day. You take a box of pregnancy vitamins the day you find out you are pregnant and forget about it for the rest of the pregnancy. You are able to redefine 'eternity' based on the endless questioning from your pre-schooler about whether 'the baby will come today?'.

No one even bothers offering you information and advice. People either think you are crazy or irresponsible.  Everyone assumes it was an 'accident'.  Old women get huffy with you at Woolies when you are pushing around a trolley with a screaming toddler, a pre-schooler, 5kg of bananas, and four tubs of icecream.  People feel compelled to tell you their horror stories about middle children who wind up being axe murderers. Or politicians. You see your obstetrician for the first time the day the baby arrives. You get a few looks of sympathy from friends and family, but no parties or cards.

People who have finished child-bearing return to work, lose weight and look glamorous and well-rested.  They have nothing for you but pity. People are disgusted by you. You are disgusted by you. Everyone asks if it's your first and when you say it's your third, they laugh hysterically and walk away.

You have given your baby books away, and can't afford magazine subscriptions any more.  You read celebrity magazines at the checkout hoping to be inspired for another name.  When you start considering Wednesday Apple, you realise you are seriously scraping the bottom of the barrel. You force your toddler out of the cot, take away their dummies and try and toilet train them in a weekend.When that backfires, you buy another cot, another change table and some locks for the doors. You start arguing with the pre-schooler about who is the 'biggest big sister', because you know she really means 'best' big sister.

You drag out an open box of newborn nappies from under the stairs. The nursery is now done. You take all the harnesses, slings, and bouncers from your first baby, which are still in the box, and trade them for a wine fridge.  You ask the older children to try and not kill the baby. There are no poisons under the sink because you haven't cleaned the house in years. The medicines are next to the wine and spirits, in your bedside table.

You look at the crusty old baby clothes and figure that the baby can just be nude for its first few years of life. You buy three packet of dummies and pack them in the hospital bag. You install a TV in each of the kid's rooms. They won't get any piercings until they are at least twelve. You have bought shares in Dora and Disney and are the only reason you can afford the third child.

Your child will attend kindy.

You take a list of all the drugs you want when you are in hospital and look forward to your time in there because you won't have to cook for anyone. You pack a family size box of chocolates and some ear plugs. You have new pyjamas, but only because you haven't done any washing in months.

* * *   * * *   * * *

This baby will come out eventually, it doesn't matter how, or when.  That bit was never important anyway.

This baby will make you realise how much love the human heart is capable of.  You look at your older children with fresh eyes, and realise how painful it is to be away from them.  You will look at your husband and be grateful for three precious gifts he has given you, and forgive him for (almost) everything else. Your life will be hectic and crazy and loud and full of shouting and frustration and love.  You will have even more of those special experiences, even more of those breathtaking moments.

You will finally be complete.

You hope


To read more The Brutal Truth About the Third Child...

The Brutal Truth About the Third Child, Part II: The First Few Months

The Brutal Truth About the Third Child, Part III: The First Birthday Party

and behind the scenes, an article on how writing this post changed my life...

The Brutal Truth About the Brutal Truth About the Third Child

and from my writer's blog

or buy the eBook on Amazon
The Brutal Truth About the Third Child by Shannon Meyerkort

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just a Quick Rant

There comes a point in every pregnancy when you realise that you are


I officially reached that point at 3.50am this morning, lying in bed, drowning in my own nasal secretions, varicose veins throbbing, unable to decide if I was hot or cold, needing to pee [again], unable to sleep, Baby Number Three doing a Zumba class with its mates, pins and needles in every extremity.

All I want is to be able to roll onto my tummy and have a nap.  Not so much to ask really.

I am two weeks away from delivering which doesn't seem like much, especially since my bags are still unpacked, Husband still seems in denial another baby is on its way, and the cot is full of packing boxes and empty cartons.

I think I have done quite well up to this point, especially since the temperature in Perth lately has exceeded 40 on a number of days, and looks to be heading back that way later this week. 

But I am no longer fondly rubbing my belly with that blissful look pregnant women have.  I am now looking around for the nearest curry.

In short, I am a sweaty, waddling, short-tempered mess.  OV. ER. IT.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lessons In Love

Lesson 1: Happily Ever After Only Lasts One Day

The Bombshell and I were playing with her Barbie dolls and she decided that Ariel (aka The Little Mermaid, dressed in an obscenely short dress) was going to marry Prince Eric, who had no pants.

My job as assistant, was to dress all the wedding guests, which was fine by me because who doesn't love dressing up Barbie dolls.

'So what happens at the wedding?' I asked the Bombshell as I squeezed a doll into a swimsuit and dressing gown.

'They get wedding-ed and then everyone has a party', she replied. 'No Mum, put the pink dress on that one.  She looks beautiful-est.'

I was curious if she had any concept of what marriage was.  She understood the fancy dress, the wedding guests, the party, and was quite happy with the concept of the kiss [though I wish Eric was wearing pants before he had a long pash with Ariel in front of all the Bombshell's teddy bears].

'But what does it mean when you get married to someone?', I pressed.

'It means you have to be nice to each other for the rest of the day,' she told me. 'That's what getting wedding-ed means.'

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lesson 2: Don't Believe Everything the Books Tell You

All the books tell you that you should pop a note into your kids lunchbox because it makes them feel special. Ok.

So yesterday being the first day of pre-primary for the Blonde Bombshell, I duly wrote her a note and stuck it in with her vegemite sandwich and grapes.  I felt pretty warm and fuzzy for being such a good mum.  It almost made up for the fact I forgot to put suncream on her when it was going to be 38 degrees (that's 100.4 Fahrenheit for my US readers).

I forgot about the note until I went in to give her a final kiss goodnight.

'I got your note, Mum,' she said, not even looking up from her book.

'Oh yes,' I said expecting a big cuddle and kiss because I was such a good Mum.

'I threw it in the bin,' she said looking me in the eye.

I felt like I had been smacked in the face with a wet nappy. Like she had reached in and grabbed my heart.

'What?  Why, did you read it?' I asked her.

'Yes,' she said. 'It said 'Dear L... I love you, from Mummy'. But I already knew that, so I threw it in the bin.'

I quite honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this point.

'It was a silly note,' she added for good measure. May as well stomp on Mummy's heart and give it a good kick.

'Ok,' I said, standing up from the bed.  Bemused would be an adequate word to describe how I felt.

When I reached the door, she reached out, grabbed my mangled heart, and tossed it against the wall.

'No more notes for me, please Mummy.'

Stupid books, what do they know anyway?
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