Our baby girl is here and… Christmas!
I have wanted to write before Christmas, for two main reasons:
Getting this entry typed in teeny pockets of these beautifully full postpartum days feels like quite a grandiose achievement and also a glimpse into my new ‘writing rhythm’.
On that note, I’d like to share that we had our baby girl in late November.
Her name is Figgy.
Thank you God.
She is beautiful, sweet and strong and was born with a full head of dark brown hair like her Dad was— something that has had us in awe because that hair is a first for us. It explains my heartburn though!
Figgy was born beautifully and smoothly at home— a birth that felt truly supernatural. They all do, really (I mean, seriously! How epic is birth?!). This one felt especially so in it’s smoothness and swiftness. The slippery bub slide was at it again! It felt like a true ‘third child’ entrance— like she came out saying ‘yeh yeh I know the drill.’
I am excited to share the birth story in January when I turn the lights back on here and re-open the more intimate Pk Diaries club here on Substack.
I feel the excitement to do all the things I love to do and also the natural, God-given restraint that reminds me not to rush through this time. By the third baby, I am better at this. I’m better at remembering how quickly this goes by, and that yes, it does go by. Normalcy returns, but a new normalcy. I can rest in the chaos, the mess, the sleeplessness, the emotion more this time. Hallelujah.
It’s been almost a month since I birthed Figgy and I’ve been in no rush to tell the world. That and also, I haven’t had any pics without the kids faces to share along with the news until now, hehe.
The newborn phase does hit different when it’s *probably/very likely* my last baby. I try to trace her little face with my fingers and take mental snapshots of how delicate she is, how precious her little fingers as she clings to me like a little koala, the amazingness of feeding her from my two boobs which have shrunk and grown and produced milk (to feed Australia) twice before.
The moments to truly savour are more brief with the third. Savouring has to be more focussed and deliberate. Her sweet, calm spirit tells me that she knows that. When Figgy and I wake in the morning I cherish that sweet freshness. I cherish her little grip on my loose fitting crop and those little noises and squeaks. I cherish that primal knowing in her that it’s me that is her mum, and that same primal love in me that can anticipate her crying even before she does. I know people rave about the smell of newborns heads, but you know what is the cutest? Newborn breath. Even their morning breath is cute, and as all parents know, that doesn’t last as our kids grow.
I also cherish the little moments with my big kids, like when Erik has Figgy and I can play Simon says with my full attention outside with them, and tell them the latest installment of our famous (in our household) cheeky Patrick stories.
Postpartum is a time where we are adjusting to life never ever again being as it was before. New creation does that. Casually.
Sol and Pax are the most adoring big siblings. They’re adjusting well and are so so sweet, tentative and helpful. Also we’re all going through our adjustments in our own ways.
Going from two to three kids has felt like quite the leap/expansion/stretch/can-I-really-do-this? and also quite simply the blessing of a lifetime. I will never take for granted what a gift from God our children are, and yet I’d be lying if I said I don’t totally forget it in moments. One look, one breath, one prayer is all it takes to come back, even from that volcanic place of overstimulation. The Holy Spirit is mentoring me, patiently and mercifully. I just have to remember to ask.
It’s been a big, beautiful time. We have been so held in postpartum by our community— friends and family. Even acquaintances and local townspeople have been so caring— the joys of birthing in a small country town. The post office lady Leslie, the cafe owner Jordan, the ice cream shop lady celebrated elatedly when my mum and kids went in to tell them the news. Food was dropped off by my beautiful friends, as well as people I didn’t know so well. Having a meal train was life changing— physically and for the heart.
It’s been big, beautiful, lush, relaxing, also challenging.
I had mastitis twice in the first 7 days of postpartum. Baptism of fire! If you’ve been here a while you know that mastitis is not new for me (unfortunately I have had it more times than I have fingers and toes), but having it so intensely and so soon— new! Having it so soon did offer some blessings though and I feel equipped with new perspectives and ideas as straight up gifts-from-God that better prepare me to hopefully not get it again. My boobs do feel different and I am hopeful we’ve turned a big corner. I know many know the challenges of not producing enough milk, but my challenge is the opposite— Hyper-lactation.
I soaked through four giant bath towels a day at the beginning, not including the night time. Now I’m down to one in the day, one at night. I used to catch a lot of it, especially while feeding Sol when I was donating litres of it to local mums. But I stopped doing that when feeding Pax so not to over-encourage the supply. In German New Medicine, the program in the psyche for hyper-lactation is ‘I need to feed the world’. My friend Nellie who is a GNM expert has been super helpful in walking me through the many psychological/biological programs relating to the boobies, hyper lactation and mastitis.
(I’ll share a full entry on this next year containing all I’ve learned, for anyone who also experiences hyper-lactation and/or recurrent mastitis. We shall reap the gold of these challenges together!).
We moved house last week when Figgy was 3 weeks old. I thought I was brave hosting Christmas when 3 weeks postpartum with Pax, or flying from Australia to the USA at 9 weeks postpartum with Sol. To be honest though, moving house (and towns) didn’t feel like too big a deal-- compared to the many international moves we’ve done. Sometimes (a lot of the time) the story we tell ourselves about how stressful something is, is the stress itself.
I’ll never forget having a knock at the door just before Pax was born. The local Pastor’s wife Ruth, our new neighbour came to welcome us with her two older girls and her 5 day old in a capsule. I told her how impressed I was that she was up and about— she looked at me as if to say ‘why?’. She is one of the healthiest, most resilient and least self indulgent people I know.
From my observations, sometimes our self indulgence is stressful. Yes, we need to care for ourselves, ensure we are repleting after the depletion of pregnancy and birth. But it’s not rule of thumb that unless we lie in for 40 days we will be a hormonal mess for the next 5 years.
I am mindful of my limitations and also mindful not to tell myself that I should be more stressed than perhaps I really am.
I know many consider moving house one of the most stressful things we do in our lives— up there with death and divorce. But isn’t it relative? Who’s to say that big life experiences need to affect everyone the same?
As I said, we’ve moved all over the world many times and although packing/unpacking isn’t my favourite job, there are far more stressful things. My mind is the ultimate stress creator in my life— I can go from zero to grey hair in 3 seconds flat by entertaining my ever intrusive anxious thoughts. So, having my psyche on my side is the first step to making something as least stressful as can be.
It wasn’t ideal timing— ya know, 3 week newborn— but various logistical reasons made it also the right time. I prepared by having plenty of help (and gulp, asking for help) and also really relaxing as much as possible in the weeks and days leading up to it. I was so totally nourished by meals from my community. I felt so, so spoilt. As I’ll share in upcoming entries, it was a very healing experience for me as such a ‘It’s ok I can do it!!’ person, to feel so cared for in this way.
I’ve got so many musings to write and share on postpartum.
In the new year, in my own fresh rhythm, I’ll be writing and recording audio episodes, likely while bouncing on the fit ball, towel under leaky boobs, settling my baby while typing one handed with one eye on the laptop and one eye on my big kids on the monkey bars outside.
I don’t yet know what that ‘rhythm’ (I use that word ambitiously) will be but what I do know is that it will be a) truly in the pockets of my full (and prayerfully, vibrant life) and b) that I FINALLY changed laptops from my derelict toothless ol’ gal to the one that’s been waiting patiently in the wings of my wardrobe for over a year. So, giddy up.
It’s been almost 9 months since I put the paid subscription on pause and my plan is to re-welcome you to the full subscription in January. I’m looking forward to a new season of writing, sharing, story telling and also podcasting because— recording audio is soooo time and energy efficient and I’ll need some of that. I’ll never stop writing but gosh, hitting record and talking to myself out loud (and to you), sounds like heaven (and therapy).
First up will be a series I’ve been preparing in teeny pockets of the days — tales and (very) honest explorations from the final few days of pregnancy, the story of the smoothest birth ever, and musings from the tender cocoon of postpartum.
I couldn’t wait however til the new year to pop in with a little update and to also acknowledge this sacred season— Christmas.
I have always been a big Christmas gal. Mum always made it so special for us….
Our trips to the Salvation Army with big hampers of food and gifts for families in need (which always had a big impact on me because I knew we were counting every penny ourselves)…
Our school nativity plays. I was never anything good like Mary or a wise man… I think I was a donkey. The Priest at school Father Whiteley used to call me Petra. This memory somehow is entwined with the nativity plays….
The special foods that we could only eat once a year because as my mum and nanna used to say — ‘we may not be blessed with money but we’re blessed with health’ (I’m so grateful as an adult to be able to bless my mum with some more of the first one)…
Being dragged around in the heat to drop gifts to everyone mum knew like John Redan at the pharmacy and Jenny and Barry who lived next door to my nanna for decades…
Waking up at the crack’a dawn to unwrap presents, eat mum’s special Christmas bacon and eggs, before a quick trip to going to Dad’s for pancakes and bacon and him throwing us off his shoulders into the pool…
The gifts mum saved all year to buy us like a trampoline (that we jumped onto from the roof because kids weren’t so cotton-wool like back then) and the wetsuit material Billabong pencil case that made us feel way cool. God only knows how she did it…
The memories of putting on our new Roxy Christmas bathers and playing in the pool all day til we were borderline sun-stroked then sprawling out in our teeny loungeroom to watch a movie with the fan on high…
My favourite though— salami and crackers from the picky platter. Never underestimate the power of food when it comes to nostalgia. A good picky platter is still my favourite meal of all time. I fancy and healthy my picky platters up but still something in my soul wants the exact knob of salami, French onion dip and ritz crackers that were on our Christmas platter of the 90’s.
Ahh.. mems. It’s amazing what stays with us and what forms our nostalgia. I think about my own kids and what pieces of their childhood will bring them joy and comfort when they think about it as adults. Often it’s the treats our parents forbid, right? I often think that my kids nostalgia won’t be in the ‘healthy’ carob bear I give them in place of a Cadbury Freddo Frog— their nostalgia will be ‘remember the times we got to have the Freddy Frog’.
My nanna used to always always say to me- ‘never ever write X-Mas’. Christmas is CHRISTmas. To this day I don’t think I’ve ever written it with an X. It’s amazing how a one liner can stay with a kid huh?
I always knew the real meaning of Christmas because mum always lived with it in mind— just the other day she told me in her words why she had us dedicated at birth into the Salvation Army— ‘to welcome you into God’s family and devote you to a life of service’.
I haven’t lived the true meaning of Christmas each year though. In my early 20’s, although always present at my family Christmas’, Christmas time became about week long benders, and watching what I ate on Christmas Day because I’d be in bikinis at the event of the year the following day — Boxing Day Raft Up at Rottnest Island. It was iconic. Thankfully also that hedonistic phase was short lived.
I have a tendency to get sucked into the Christmas paraphernalia. I am that lady whose eyes dart around at the grocery checkout, a total sucker to the goodies that I should grab just in case! I love going to effort, putting smiles on my kids/families/friends faces and making things special. Don’t we all? We start playing Christmas Carols in September and my kids and I watch all of the different carols events on YouTube.
Sometimes I exhaust myself in the lead up to Christmas and I know I’m not alone. Last year on Christmas Day my kids had gastro, so neither they nor Erik and I ate anything, but I cooked for the wider family and then drove 3 hours home with my sick kids in the car. By the time the day arrived, we were exhausted.
This year, I had my kids presents bought in September, well aware that I’d be functioning a little differently come December with new bub. I find myself thinking about what I’ve bought them, and assess whether or not it’s equal (Sol is so much easier to buy for than Pax- he is so simple in what he wants. Boys!!) And whether I should get some more. More. More. More.
I also made sure I’d made my financial Christmas contributions early to ensure they didn’t slip my mind (as if anything ever slips this mind, lol but seriously- nothing does). I make sure that the kids and I physically pack gifts, food etc to give too so that they participate in it— something they can’t do when I’m simply giving money via my banking apps. This year, we did this in September with Operation Christmas Child. Christmas ain’t no last minute thing in our house.
I have noticed though that over the years, Christmas Day has been tiring, while the lead up, being in the true spirit of Christmas, is what has felt life giving. I get so caught up in having the right food, in well thought out and sensible gifts, giving generously in many directions, creating traditions….
This year, aside from my kids, my niece and nephew, my mum and Erik’s parents, everyone is getting a special card from the Salvation Army - each one corresponding to a gift given to a family in need this year.
Oh and one of my friends is getting a home school curriculum. My plumber got chocolates. You know, there are exceptions.
I didn’t celebrate Advent like I wanted to this year— the four week season of celebrating the arrival of Jesus. Birth of a new baby, moving house, etc. But, celebrating can also happen quietly in the heart.
This year I want to savour not only the blessing that is becoming a family of 5, but also the fact that all my siblings will be together which is such a blessing and pure heaven for my mum (despite our hectic/ hilarious banter). I want to cherish every moment with my mum. There’s something about giving birth and having my mum there again, that puts life and lineage into perspective for me. We just can’t take for granted time with our loved ones. We will see Erik’s parents soon too, which we are so excited about.
There is such a buoyancy to summertime Christmas in Australia. It’s so full of action and bounce because it’s… summer. It’s not the reflective cocoon of a winter Christmas. Focus takes a little more work.
Mostly, I want to fix my eyes on Jesus, especially in the moments I fall into the illusion and distraction and temptation and tiredness of this time. Geneen Roth has a term— ‘The Trance Of Deficiency’ that I have referred to in many past works. We can get into a full on trance that propels us into the illusion of ‘I-need-morreeeeeee!’. And yes it sounds as zombie as it does adrenal.
Jesus birth was the gift to end all gifts. Jesus birth, life and death was never meant to tire us, burden us, weigh on us— it was to lighten us, free us, save us.
I don’t want to live Christmas as an adrenal stressor.
I want to live Christmas as a remembrance of not just that Jesus was born, but why.
I feel peace when I stop and remember, Christmas is about Christ. This is why my Nanna was so big on making sure it was never written with an ‘X’ instead of the full word ‘Christ’. He is the spirit of Christmas. When I get caught up or anxious I can turn my eyes away from ‘needing to level my kids presents’ and ‘getting the right organic turkey’ to ‘Am I being the joy and peace of Christ, for my family and those around me?’
Am I remembering what the birth of Christ means?
At Christmas Carols I watch everyone sing the words to such beautiful carols about Jesus birth and I think about all those years that I sang the same songs without really paying attention to what the words meant.
As I listen to carols (which I do ad nauseam. Sorry Erik), I feel so much joy hearing the old, classical lines of the songs that tell the true meaning of Christmas. It makes Mariah’s one seem so hollow. I mean, really.
I love old Saint Nick, I love the joy children get in using their imaginations…
But the true hope and joy of Christmas isn’t Santa.
These lyrics in our fav Christmas songs hit different now…
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let Earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing
~ Joy To The World
He rules the world with truth and grace
~ Joy To The World
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
~ Silent Night
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
~ God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
And to sum it all up….
Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today
And man will live forevermore because of Christmas Day
~Hark The Herald Angels Sing.
May you rest into the true spirit and meaning of Christmas and lay some of the stress and burden down.