Sunday, 24 February 2013

What's in a name

Naming a baby.  Pretty big deal, right?  The name is like a gift, a wish, a legacy.  There is also the asshole-factor to consider.  This is the certain, sad knowledge that some people are mean and will look for ways to pick on someone with a name this is unusual or rhymes with anything embarrassing  toilet related or sexual.  So you want a name that conveys the idea of the kind of person you imagine or wish your child to be, as well as help them out in avoiding unnecessary bullying.

We had a list of possibles leading up to the big day.  There were some that I kept on the list despite Thom's disapproval   I thought, 'We'll see on the day, and if I think the name is right, he might be too elated to care'.  I'm sneaky, eh?
much earlier days

As my readers will know, that day was a tough day for all, but especially for my two little guys.  As I laid in the recovery room, numb from the waist down, Thom rushed away to go see them on the Special Care Unit.  He reported back with photos of Twin 1 and 2 and we named them.  I knew that one had enormous difficulties breathing, while the other had a slightly easier time.  One of Thom's photos showed a little body with tubes and needles attached to every limb, hand and foot.  The other had less.  Assuming that the one with more equipment was the twin who suffered greater injury, I named him Ethan, meaning 'strong'.  The other I called Noah, meaning 'comfort'.  I wanted the one who suffered to be strong and the other was a great comfort for me and Thom when he was briefly passed to us after delivery. It just seemed right.  

It was only later that I discovered Noah was the one who needed strength.  In the following weeks, as we battled the tribulations that came to our new little family, I would often blame myself for naming them the wrong way around.  I thought, if only I had named Noah differently, he might have lived.  I guess I was searching for some reason to why this had happened and grasping at any solution I could think of to make it better.    

In naming them I had intended to give them the character of the name.  Hoped that something of the meaning of the name would sink into them and carry them through that dark time.  Ethan did indeed turn out to be strong.  He very quickly started letting the nurses know who was running the show by pulling out his feeding tube and cannulars, as if demanding to be released from hospital.  He even urinated all over the consultant's suit as we waited to be discharged.  

Despite my initial regret, he did end up with the right name.  What I want to share today is that I am starting to think that Noah had the right name, too.  Undoubtedly, Noah's death changed us.  Although it is impossible to know how we would feel and be if he stayed with us, Thom and I are consistently trying to be in the present in the short time we have together in this life.  In those last hours with him, we promised Noah to love Ethan, appreciate life and never forget.  Noah taught us so much in his short life.  

In the aftermath, as we have tried to figure out what caused the problem that lead to Noah's death, the possibility of a placental abruption has been thrown into doubt.  It could be a placental failure or a rare occurrence where the cord becomes trapped and constricted.  But in any case, he suffered more, and it seems to me, absorbed a lot of the trauma, leaving Ethan more protected.  I felt I knew some of their personalities in the womb.  Noah seemed rambuncious, energetic but also caring towards Ethan.  Ethan moved less and seemed to prefer to snuggle, curled up at the bottom.  But when he did move, Noah responded, like he was playing with his brother.

So, as Ethan moved from strength to strength, fulfilling his name, I also became more aware of how Noah had fulfilled his.  Comforting his brother in their most terrible time.  Giving us the time he had with us to appreciate his beauty.  The lessons he taught about love will continue to give hope and comfort to Thom, Ethan and I.  And most comforting is that as long as I carry the love he taught me, he will never be far from my heart.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mamma-body update

Long before I got pregnant, maybe like a lot of women, I worried about what would be left of my body afterwards. Now, a year after, it seems to me that there's a whole bunch of negative stereotypes about post-pregnancy bodies that were unjustified. I think these come from the frustrated women out there who can't get back to their former glory once baby's come and turned the world upside down. And while I agree that post-pregnancy, getting fit and staying that way is a totally different ball game than before, I don't think it's because of our bodies. It's because of our habits, our minds and our moods.

After the caesarean  and the multiple infections the wound had for 5 months, I started to think that my lower tum would always be a lumpy mess with a Frankenstein-scar at the bottom. I also found workouts I'd done before pregnancy were now super challenging, bordering on impossible! The air just wasn't getting to my lungs quick enough and my legs lost a lot of strength.
seems so long ago...

Add onto this the factors that make post-pregnancy fitness most difficult - tiredness and demands of baby - and I felt like it would be a losing battle. Where to find the time? To make it happen, I had to think about what was important to me, accept that there will never be enough time, and commit to find a balance between pushing myself and caring for myself and my family.

I got off to a good start by doing short, intense bursts of exercise when Ethan was napping. I moved onto jogging with the pram, and later with added squats, press ups and burpees. Eventually, 9+ months after birth, I was back in a gym. And then things really took off. Now I find myself in the best shape ever, even daring to compete in CrossFit throwdowns and opens and entering a bikini fitness competition.
you can do it!

Mums/Moms, the biggest things to overcome if you want to regain your body and your confidence are:

1. Guilt - being away from baby to do something for yourself is a challenge in itself. It's natural to feel like you should be there for your baby always, but its not realistic and ultimately it's not helpful for baby or for you. Get past the guilt by reminding yourself about setting a good example of healthy lifestyle for your baby and planning special time for you to dedicate to them regularly in the week.

2. Nutrition - we all like to think we eat healthily enough, but take stock. Keep a food diary. Your body always tells the story of your diet. For the first 4-5 months after birth, I was just surviving. Emotionally I was up and down, and physically I was in pain. Add in some sleep deprivation and suddenly a quick price of toast seemed the best option for a fast meal. And with all the changes and stresses that brings, willpower was at an all time low. Sweet treats felt deserved and my diet was very unbalanced and lacking nutrients. While all good diets take planning, even more so with a baby in the house. Think ahead of time what you are going to need, prepare the night before and don't get trapped by the biscuit with tea at play group.

3. Imbalance - too much of anything makes you dull and drains you. So whether its being devoted to the role of motherhood or my task of being fit, balance is key. It's strange now to think that I ever had thoughts about life that didn't include being a mamma. But I have to allow time when I can just be me to be fit. The key is to not feel bad about it. I'm human and thoughts creep in about guilt and how being away from my little man so I can do some squats is un-motherly. But in fact, balance makes me a better mamma, more ready to really be with Ethan when we have time together, instead of distracted. At the same time, I need to strike a realistic balance between too much and too little rest - which means finding that point where you're pushing yourself enough, but not too much. For everyone it'll be different but balance is vital for anyone to truly be healthy.