Tag Archives: gratitude

My Three Sons

Where do I even start?! I haven’t updated this in over 3 months. I have a good reason—I have a beautiful, 6-week old baby boy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself….first to quickly recap the time leading up to our little Samuel’s birth:

My brain is mush now and it’s hard to remember. My days are filled once again with spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights and the smell of a newborn asleep on my chest. It’s hard to remember what they were like before. It’s as if he’s always been here. I feel strongly that we’ve been waiting for him—as hard as this time is, he melds right into our little circle of love, just like he always had a space waiting for him. He has.

Here we are--all 5!
Here we are–all 5! A bit tired… 😉

Anyway, I digress, again. Get used to it! June was quite uneventful, other than preparing for Sam’s arrival and wrapping up my kids’ yoga classes. That was very bittersweet. It’s always hard to leave behind the known, the routine, and prepare for the unknown, the loss of control. I know at the time it’s happening that I want to return to teaching, but it’s also in the back of my head that I really don’t know what the future holds and I can’t say anything for sure.

Last day of work! June 25, 33 weeks
Last day of work! June 25, 33 weeks

We had our last little getaway as a family of four–a weekend in June on beautiful Stradbroke Island with friends. We saw lots of unique wildlife and enjoyed the busy two days immensely. Then we had our treasured friends from Boulder in town visiting their family, and got to spend quality time with them as well.

Stradbroke Island weekend
Stradbroke Island weekend
Enjoying special friends from Boulder
Enjoying special friends from Boulder

I had my first three nights and four days ever away from my little crew of men in early July for my yoga teacher training retreat. It was wonderful, although very demanding physically and mentally. It was great to be able to have that time to be away, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely during their “vegetable-free days”. 😉

Camping with Dad while Mom's at a yoga retreat 7/2
Camping with Dad while Mom’s at a yoga retreat 7/2

The retreat was over the 4th of July weekend, so for the first time in my life, I had to forgo celebrating the holiday, which was also bittersweet. It was a great reason to miss it, but also a little sad. Several people wished me a happy one, though, which is so kind.

We enjoyed a relatively slow paced two weeks of school holidays that included our first Disney on Ice. Also, thanks to the help of dear friends, Steve and I enjoyed our last date for a while—a low key breakfast out in Brisbane one morning. It’s funny—we were both enjoying each other, but could also feel the apprehension in the air as we were well aware of the uncertainty and changes to come, getting ready to meet the new member of our family.

Last date for awhile, breakfast out 7/10, 35 weeks
Last date for awhile, breakfast out 7/10, 35 weeks

My sweet friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me on the 11th of July. I have missed family incredibly throughout my pregnancy, so it was great to feel such an outpouring of love from my “family” here.  It was my first truly girly baby shower, complete with a color scheme, games, fancy food and decorations, and I loved it! I am so humbled by the work they went to and the turnout.

My cute baby shower
My cute baby shower

It’s ironic—when I was pregnant with Drew I thought baby showers were completely lame. We bought our house a few months before he was born, so instead we had a combined baby shower/housewarming for all friends, men and women. It was fun! Then Zach was born so soon afterwards that our friends instead organized a meal delivery system, diapers and groceries for us, which was just what we needed. Now I cherish time I can sneak in with girlfriends and relished every minute of that shower. J

Love my girlfriends! These are my beautiful hosts.
Love my girlfriends! These are my beautiful hosts.

On July 23rd, my sweet Drew was officially diagnosed with asthma. It is nice in one sense to finally know for sure and learn how to deal with it, but also always sad to find out your child is less than perfect. I have to wonder if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it, if there have been times I didn’t help him enough when he was struggling to breathe. I am really bad with “What Ifs” and mother’s guilt. I’m working on it…..Hopefully, he will grow out of it, and even if he doesn’t, there are a lot worse things in life and we are very fortunate. It doesn’t slow him down–the two of them ran their 1st 2k race the Sunday before Sam arrived.

1st 2k race 7/26
1st 2k race 7/26

As for my pregnancy, it got a bit bumpy in July. On Sunday the 5th at my retreat, I started to worry about the baby’s movement. I remember being paranoid about that in my previous pregnancies so I ignored it, knowing that odds were that everything was fine and I was being psycho. I was still a bit worried at my next appointment that Wednesday, the 8th, which the whole family attended. They put me on some fetal monitoring and then reassured me that everything was fine.

I started to worry about movement again on Friday, the 24th, (37 weeks) and thought I was noticing quite a few painless contractions and feeling very nauseous. I figured labor was starting, but then nothing happened. I was about to call the doctor on Sunday if things hadn’t changed, but then I felt better. Monday and Tuesday were up and down. I was worried about all of the above, but then I’d feel better.

Ready for our new addition! Such special decorations
Ready for our new addition! Such special decorations

Wednesday morning, the 29th, started out good. I had an appointment and was worried about driving the hour each way alone with how tired I’d been feeling, so offered Zach a special “Mommy and Zach” day before baby came, which thankfully, he agreed to (he almost refused me!). We walked Drew to school and back and then I started feeling sick again. We drove down, had a nice morning tea and then went to the doctor. I told them how I’d been feeling and my doctor saw me have a contraction on the exam table (turned out I’d been having more than I thought I was—some of them, like the one he saw, I just thought were the baby sticking out on one side) and noticed baby’s heartrate was low.

He put me on fetal monitoring, which ended up lasting for about 2 hours, instead of the initial 30 minutes. They told me I was having regular contractions and baby’s heartrate was getting low often enough that we needed to do the C-section now. I was in labor.

Then everything started happening! My doctor’s office is connected to a hospital that I hadn’t planned on going to, because it was so far from home. Steve was near home, at work, and Zach was with me—what to do?! I have to say that in my teens and twenties, I would never have believed someone who said they could find comfort and companionship in a 5-year-old, but I absolutely did. My little Zach was an absolute gem during all this and it was wonderful having him with me. During the monitoring, he found a soccer game on TV (he’s a sports nut) and cuddled up next to me in the hospital bed to watch. When it all got chaotic, he was patient, well-behaved, unquestioning, trusting, helpful and concerned. It was beautiful and I will remember it forever.

Steve got moving and this is when the incredible outpouring of love, support and help from our friends began. It would go on for the next several weeks. I arranged friends to bring Drew home with them from school. My doctor is a friend of ours and his family offered to take Zach and so did one other friend in that area. However, thankfully, we reached our dear friend’s mother, who lives an hour away and who was set to come watch the boys on August 4th, the date my C-section was scheduled. She dropped everything and left right away to come get Zach, and then headed off through rush hour traffic to our house, where Drew met them and she stayed the night. She made them lunches for school the next day and took excellent care of them. The same friends that kept Drew that afternoon, picked up the boys for school the next day as well, and then this dear woman cleaned our house and did our laundry before heading back home. Just incredible!

After Zach left, it wasn’t long until I was prepped for surgery. I have to acknowledge that preparing for the C-section was terrifying. I will never go through that again. With the one I had with Drew, I had been in labor for so long that it was all a blur. This time, I was alert. Everything is so sterile and medical. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to bring life into the world; it feels like something bad and scary is happening—you’re about to be cut open. I hated it. Thankfully, yoga and meditation helped me—the idea of impermanence. I focused on breathing through the scariness, remembering that it was just a brief time and at the end of it I would have my baby.

Here I am, world! July 29, 5:35 p.m.
Here I am, world! July 29, 5:35 p.m.

The surgery itself, body being cut open and stitched up again aside, was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I’ve had. They lowered the sheet so I could see my precious boy just as he came out, and then I was able to watch everything else that happened, including Steve cutting the cord. I didn’t get sick from any of the medications this time and my arms were not strapped down. Therefore, they were able to bring Sam to me and I held him on my chest while I was stitched up. He even started eating! That’s the only time I’ve been able to hold my baby to me so soon after his birth and I will cherish the experience.

Happy Daddy! :)
Happy Daddy! 🙂
1st time I get to hold my new baby right away--SO thankful!
1st time I get to hold my new baby right away–SO thankful!

The scary part is that our precious Samuel Sullivan Charles was small, too small for so late in the pregnancy. It turns out my placenta was not in good shape—much of it was dead or inflamed, and they were surprised the little man was getting any nutrients at all. He was also covered in meconium. It is just perfect that I had such excellent care and I had my appointment that day and he came out when he did. He is our little miracle and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us.

Because of his size and because he was slightly early, he had a bit of trouble with his blood sugar initially and some jaundice, but nothing major. He was able to stay with me the entire time I was in the hospital and the stay was pretty uneventful. Sam was born at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29th and we brought him home on Monday, August 3rd.

Praying for a safe 1st journey in the car, headed home.
Praying for a safe 1st journey in the car, headed home.

We Face-Timed Patti and the boys as soon as we could that evening after Sam’s birth. They were thrilled about their new brother and couldn’t wait for their visit the next evening to meet him. We called the next morning before school as well and she told us that all morning they had been talking about Sam, wondering what he was doing as they got ready, how he felt, etc. Gorgeous.

Several people have asked me to compare the birth and hospital experience here to the ones in the U.S. I received excellent care in both countries and overall it was much the same in each. There were a few minor things that I preferred over there, and a few little things that were better here. We are very fortunate to be able to live and give birth in such safe, wonderful places, so we have nothing to complain about.

I had been worried that by having the baby in this farther away hospital, I would be lonely during the stay with it being too far for friends to visit. I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find out this was not the case. For one, my stay included a weekend, so Steve and the boys were able to be with me more, which was great. We made sure the boys were our first visitors on Thursday evening and Steve and I enjoyed the time before then to get to know our new son. A couple friends did make the hour drive to see us, and then a couple others that we knew in that area were now able to come as well. Steve’s family lives in that area and was able to be more involved this way also.

In the hospital and since we came home, as I said before, we have just been overwhelmed by the kindness and help from friends. We have had numerous home-cooked meals and baked goods brought to us as well as gifts. People have been helping me with the school runs, so I have not actually had to do them too often this term. I have had visitors, friends giving advice, listening to me cry, helping me to get out and run my first errands with Sam and even trying to do my chores. They’ve also watched our big boys for us to give us extra time to rest.

As I said, my friends are now my family and I am so grateful for them. I had been so nervous to have a baby without my parents around and I have really felt their absence. So many little things that we never even realized they were doing at the time to make things easier for us, are now apparent in their absence. Therefore, the fact that we have been so surrounded by love, support, kindness and generosity has been an even bigger blessing.

My Mom isn’t even approved to fly this distance since her hip surgery until sometime this month. I keep hoping they’ll just show up on our doorstep, but I know that won’t happen. Just 12 ½ weeks until we leave for the U.S. and in the meantime we are all so thankful for technology. Face Time and texts get us through.

A positive for me, is that this experience has made me feel like a big girl, a grown up. As with the move overall, having a baby in another country has made me realize that Steve and I are a good team and we can do anything. Our little family (well, not so little anymore!) has become a tight knit unit and we are there for each other and help each other through whatever life brings.

Again....me and my boys--3!!!
Again….me and my boys–3!!!

Along this line, I have been so impressed by what big boys my big boys have become. They are so helpful and amazingly understanding about how I need to spend my time right now. And the love! The love they have for this little baby is unbelievable. I have to say that’s been one of my favorite parts so far about having another baby, watching the unconditional love and devotion they show to this little person. They make it clear that he is truly a part of our family that just hadn’t arrived yet. He belongs with us and we love him to bits.

Good morning from the Charles boys! 8/13
Good morning from the Charles boys! 8/13

So there we have it. It’s been three months—6 weeks of preparation and anticipation, and 6 weeks of complete whirlwind and adjustment. Sometimes I can’t believe that a vegetarian yoga teacher is a mother of three boys—in 10 years they’ll likely be getting into fights and wanting to eat steak all the time and I’ll be telling them to meditate and offering them green smoothies! 😉 We just don’t know what life will bring us—heck, it’s also hard to believe that I’m even 38-years-old, a mother at all, living in Australia, teaching yoga—all of it—who would have known?! But what a beautiful life it is.


Universal Wake-Up Call

Isn’t life ironic? I think it’s incredible how, just when I find myself complacent, the universe gives me a nice big smack to remind me that complacency is not good for me! ONE DAY after I wrote my last post, about how routine, “easy” and groovy life has been, I find myself in an ambulance headed to the hospital with Drew. Now that he’s ok, I really just have to look back and laugh, and say, “Yes! Ok! Got the message—thank you!”
He’d had a cold that weekend, but nothing major. He’d been sleeping well, eating well, had good energy, etc. He woke up Tuesday coughing a bit, but nothing that really worried us. Now the only time I set my phone aside while I’m at work is during the 20 minutes that I go to the break room to eat lunch. The school called during that time (of course). When I called back, they said Drew had been coughing quite a bit and seemed pretty unhappy, but had come down to the office for a rest, perked up some and headed back to class to eat lunch. We agreed that if he ended up back there again before the day ended, that we’d come pick him up. I didn’t hear back, so assumed he was ok.
When I got home that evening, he was watching TV and looked sick, although he wasn’t coughing much. I offered him an alternative to our dinner, which I never do. He accepted the toast, but wasn’t interested, began looking more miserable by the minute, and was happy when I brought up the idea of a bath. We bathed the kids and Steve went off to play football, while I got more and more worried. At bedtime, he just couldn’t settle—coughing a lot and seemingly short of breath. The boy can cry loudly enough to bring the house down with a skinned knee, so I thought the breathing might have just been fever and discomfort with some drama mixed in (mean, horrible Mommy!). I asked if he was having trouble getting air and he repeatedly told me No.
I called the nurse line. The nurse who could hear him told me to get him seen by the after hours’ doctor at our house that night. This service is my favorite part of the healthcare system in Australia. We waited a couple hours for the doctor to arrive (at NO cost!) and I almost cancelled it during that time, because he’d fallen asleep and I felt guilty having a doctor come all the way out to the house to visit a peacefully sleeping child. He just didn’t sound right, though, so I didn’t cancel. He woke up when she started examining him and she lifted up his shirt and my eyes teared up. His chest was retracting and you could see his ribs with each breath. I felt absolutely horrible that I hadn’t thought to do that earlier when I’d asked him how he was breathing. She gave him three treatments with a puffer and called the ambulance. The treatments helped him tremendously and he enjoyed the thrill of the ambulance ride—I’m glad one of us did!
We ended up spending two nights in a public hospital and came home Thursday afternoon. It was in the hospital that I missed the American healthcare system. Everyone was very nice and he got great care, but the patient food was disgusting and unhealthy and I DO NOT like sharing a room—yuck! One of our sweet neighbors brought me a magazine and chocolate, in addition to bread and milk for Steve and Zach at home, so we made things better by sharing the chocolate around the room. If you’re in a hospital, you NEED chocolate!
Bless his little heart; he was such a sweet, accepting patient. He did everything they asked of him without complaint–as long as they didn’t mind that he was completely zoned out on TV, there were no issues. I didn’t sleep much and was a bit of an anxious, crabby wreck.
My main issue with this hospital was that the nurse who discharged us sent us home with an empty inhaler! They gave us a weaning plan of how often to administer the medication over the next 4 days and I specifically asked if there was enough left in the tube they’d been using. She assured me there was and we ran out on the 2nd day! No prescription, no more medicine—wth?! I thank God that he didn’t have another attack, because I don’t know how many times I gave it to him while it had nothing in it, before I realized it was empty! Wow, just wow……
That whole incident was a big wake up call for me to remember to be grateful daily for our good health. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for almost 4 years now, where I write down 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each day. I enjoy the reflection. But it is amazing, how even with that daily practice, I take good health for granted. I was also so grateful for the numerous friends here who brought us food, helped with Zach and just gave us moral support. In addition, I was grateful for the friends and family far away who kept sending us love and support. This was another instance that made me thankful for technology—it can definitely be annoying and I have to continually work on managing the time I spend on it, but man, is it an incredible gift as well!

Breaking out of the hospital! Yippee!
Breaking out of the hospital! Yippee!

Of course, Zach got the same bad cold the following week. Luckily, other than a couple bumpy nights at home trying to settle his cough, it didn’t get serious. By the weekend of June 22nd, we were all quite healthy again. And, as luck would have it, Steve and I had a babysitter booked and Keith Urban tickets for Tuesday the 17th. We’d had the tickets for months and when the night came, I felt so guilty leaving Zach. He was doing relatively well and we know the babysitter really well, so we went for it, and, of course, again, he did fine. He started coughing and having issues AFTER we got home! It left us relative zombies on Wednesday, but otherwise everyone was no worse for wear.
Sign on the way into Brisbane's largest live music venue--say, what?!
Sign on the way into Brisbane’s largest live music venue–say, what?!

The biggest way that all this affected me (selfishly, I need to explain this part) was that I had a lot going on with the yoga business, as well as an ongoing freelance writing project, and my race training amping up, all at the same time, when this happened. It all combined to make me feel very overwhelmed. I thought I’d reached the stage in my children’s lives that I could try something as crazy as starting my own business and training for a longish race, and suddenly, I was rethinking it all, wondering what the heck possessed me to try either of those, when sleep is not a guarantee! It reinforced to me that my family is the most important thing to me. Even with running a business, not everything is urgent and space can be, and must be made, when needed to take care of my boys.
Thankfully, we’ve had some pretty quiet weekends to start feeling normal again. Although that just makes me wonder if there’s a reason that my kids haven’t been invited to many birthday parties lately! Ay yi yi—my crazy, spinning brain!
And, another two weeks off from school began last week, and they have been very relaxing and productive so far, just what I think we all needed.
Highlights after everyone’s been feeling well, for me, have included our first trip to Queensland’s first Costco! Yippee! Sadly, it has brought super-sizes of the fattening, terrible, processed foods that nobody should be eating, that can only contribute to Australia’s growing obesity problem—catch us right up to the U.S.! But for a health nut like me, it means roasted seaweed, pita chips and reasonably priced foods like chia seeds, quinoa, dried fruits and coconut oil. Again—yippee! I can’t say how many stores here I’ve searched for dried cherries since we moved here—yummy!

Also, I did two 17.6km jogs on two recent Sunday mornings, and my dear husband packed up the boys and supplies and food and met me at my finish points to cook us all a BBQ breakfast. It was delightful, not only to run that far in one direction, which felt so liberating and like a great accomplishment, but to have their support, meeting me at the end for breakfast. They could just think—“Ok. Mommy’s on a training run today. We’ll just have breakfast without her and see her when she gets home.” But, they didn’t. They made an event out of it and made it more fun for all of us. I love that my husband is willing to do things like that.
How great is it that I can find this little guy after the end of a long run for a chilly breakfast by the sea?!
How great is it that I can find this little guy after the end of a long run for a chilly breakfast by the sea?!

I ran 19kms today and am as ready as I can be for the race in two weeks. Wish me luck! It may sound crazy, but I still get sad hearing about pregnancies and babies. I have a few friends having babies now, or pregnant, some with a 3rd child, and while I am honestly incredibly happy for them, it still makes me sad. For whatever crazy reason, my miscarriage made me want to do something that was all about me, and that made me feel strong and my body feel competent. That was the impetus for finally signing up for this half marathon. I knew I couldn’t do one if I was pregnant—at least for a couple years. Since I’m not pregnant, I decided to go for it. So, two weeks and here goes!! I’m excited. 
Enjoying the sunrise after jogging on a chilly morning!
Enjoying the sunrise after jogging on a chilly morning!

Another highlight was the purchase of a waffle maker! I actually brought a friend’s old one over here this past January—taking up about 15 pounds of my allotted luggage weight and about half of one suitcase—only to have the fuse blow the first time we turned it on. Doh! So this past week, we enjoyed our first homemade waffles in Australia—fabulous!
The most recent highlight was a fun, lively 4th of July celebration that we held yesterday, on the 5th, out at a nearby reservoir. Our party included 4 other half-American, half-Aussie families, some South Africans who’ve lived in the U.S. for a few years and some true blue Aussies, up for a different kind of celebration.  It was a great time with good people and I am thankful for the opportunity to still celebrate such important dates on the other side of the world.
I was proud of my flag fruit pizza!  Of course, I had helpers.... :)
I was proud of my flag fruit pizza! Of course, I had helpers…. 🙂

I finish up my part time job in two days. Then it’s a big leap and hope for the best!
Oh, by the way, I saw on the news that the Queen’s birthday was actually being celebrated in England the week of June 10th, just after our public holiday here on the 9th. So, as an update to my last post–it’s not just some weird Aussie reason for celebrating her birthday in June. Her birthday is in April, but something official must be celebrated related to it in June—in England, too! Weird, but good to know…..