Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Attempting to be calm and confident

From what she has read, Princess Morag believes that the two most common emotions of mothers are apparently guilt and anxiety. Having had to give up on breastfeeding, Princess Morag tried very hard not to feel guilty as she had done her best, but knowing that breastmilk is better for baby did cause her concern. Being new to the role also calls into question her mothering ability; after all, a wee bit of babysitting experience does not totally prepare you for the awesome responsibility of caring for a baby and preparing him for facing the world on his own one day. So should guilt and anxiety just be accepted as the usual territory of new mothers and tolerated? Princess Morag thinks not. You see, she believes in a God who does not want us to feel guilty and anxious, who wants to set us free to live happy, glorious lives*.
*(Romans 6:22)

Of course, it is easier said than done to become this calm, confident mother especially when it seems that her little charge sets major challenges to this state of mind. For example: When feeding, Master Ryan will cough and splutter and then go ominously quiet for a moment causing both mother and father to worry that he is not OK. When Sir Rianus is in charge of the bottle and Princess Morag is in the other room, she experiences even greater anxiety as she cannot see the face of her babe and only hears the panic in her husband's voice. However, both parents are now getting used to this tendency of their son's and are not as stressed by it anymore. Breathing related anxiety also occurs when Master Ryan is sleeping, as generally he is quite snuffly but when in a deep sleep, his breathing is not audible at all, and he looks so at peace that an angel might have taken him, or, as Princess Morag sometimes thinks, he might have been replaced by an angel!
Crying: Now this (thankfully) has not so far been too much of an issue for the new family, but when Master Ryan does decide to turn into the "crying monster", and suddenly bears absolutely no resemblance to the beatific son described above, and all his physical needs have been is difficult to be patient and feel loving. This is an example of when loving becomes an action rather than an emotion and Princess Morag has to look out with herself for the strength to keep going in this situation, sometimes looking to Master Ryan's father for support or to their Heavenly Father!
Nappy Changing: Princess Morag has had to learn to be vigilant when changing nappies. As you may know, little boys sometimes take the opportunity of 'watering' the area when they are in a semi-naked state. Couple this with the tendency to spit-up the milk just consumed and factor in a messy malodorous excretion and you have a minefield scenario!!!!! Princess Morag has learned that one must simply see the humour in the situation and has put serious thought into the hierarchy of priorities when dealing with simultaneous bodily fluids in order to reduce the incidence of 'accidents' and therefore the amount of laundry required to be washed!

Having run courses on confidence building in the last two years in her workplace, you would think Princess Morag would be super confident. You would think..., but she has had to learn along the way how to apply the principles to her own life, and as she tells her patients, it doesn't happen over night. She knows that she must guard her thoughts and not let negativity take over. Unfortunately normal perspective on things disappears when you are sleep deprived. So sometimes she has been overwhelmed and felt inadequate, and guilty. But then she has been able to see things as they are in the bigger picture and hey - nobody is a perfect parent - and studies show that she just has to be the 'good enough' mother! Master Ryan seems to be healthy and content and by the look of his ever expanding chubby cheeks putting on weight nicely, so what is there to worry about?

Since the journey of motherhood began, Princess Morag has been living in the moment; she is forced to concentrate on the present needs of her child and making any sort of plans for the current day or week is challenging which doesn't leave much room for contemplating the longer term future. This is a new way of living for Princess Morag as she used to have the tendency to dwell on the future, perhaps too much. Given that she finds it so difficult to coordinate household and baby tasks, she is certainly not 'super-organised mum' and does compare herself unfavourably to others in this respect.

It seems Princess Morag is questioning once more her ability to remain confident in the face of the weaknesses she perceives in herself and there is always worry about the welfare of her child at the back of her mind, that whisper that says: "what if the worst happens??"
So what must she do? She must take heart, and be strong in her mind and spirit and heed the words of the psalmist:-
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
(Psalm 26:3-4)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A modern, moulting mother

Since last you heard from Princess Morag she has joined the ranks of motherhood; from the time discovered she was with child, and even more so after the birth, she has held all mothers everywhere and especially her own, in much greater esteem. And despite a slight grief over the loss of the possibility of natural childbirth she mostly felt serious relief that she escaped the pain of labour and, in the words of Sir Keith, "squeezing a person out of her person"!

Three weeks on, Princess Morag is delighting in her son: Master Ryan James Valentine, who has taken the name of his father for his first name and the names of his great, great, great grandfather for his middle names. She is finding that the bond between mother and child is growing stronger as he begins to reveal a greater likeness to herself in his face as the days progress. At first, perhaps as a result of the method of delivery, it was strange to share all her space and time with this small infant; was he really the same creature who had inhabited her womb for 38 weeks? He was handed to her from behind the screen shielding her from the mysterious surgery that took place in her conscious but numb body and she reassured herself that he must be the same baby whose first cry instantly brought tears to her eyes, and looked so beautiful when he was brought to her to lie (heavily) on her chest very soon after.

Even before she conceived, Princess Morag was a strong proponent of breastfeeding and scoffed at the idea of bottlefeeding: what a hassle having to sterilise bottles, and what an unnecessary expense! She now finds herself trying to remember what time the last feed was, in order to know when the next lot of bottles must be ready for....but at least Master Ryan likes milk at room temperature - no having to queue for the bottlewarmer when she is out and about! (Bottlewarmer???? - who knew such things existed until the new world of motherhood begins to open up to you in ante-natal classes!) So what went wrong? Several things. Most of which were completely out of Princess Morag's realm of control. So she grieves over another loss of being able to do things naturally, especially as she had been holding dearly to the idea of breastfeeding throughout her pregnancy in order to make up for all the medical intervention that had been required from the very beginning. Although Princess Morag knows that her grief is a real and valid response to all that she has gone through in the last nine months, she has now been able to reflect on this transition to motherhood and wonders if she must simply accept, and once again be thankful for the 'miracles of modern medicine'.

This is where Princess Morag thinks of the differences between her and her husband. Sir Rianus is an historian of medieval times, and would probably have lived happily as a gallant knight in the middle ages. Princess Morag struggles to put aside the whole issue of no decent living conditions (she likes her castles with central heating!) and despite at heart being a dreamer, the fact of the matter is, if she had been born in that time, she and her mother would have died in childbirth and there would have been no Princess Morag to marry Sir Rianus, and definitely no little Master Ryan twenty-seven years later!

Princess Morag has a whole series of reasons to be grateful to doctors and nurses and all the other healthcare workers she has come across in her life, probably part of the reason she chose the career she did. After all, they saved her life and kept her alive when she arrived ten weeks prematurely and weighed so little. Her local family doctor eventually worked out what was wrong with her when she would collapse and stop breathing as a toddler! The surgeon operated twice on her heart and the second time mended it as completely as possible. The little pills prescribed to her for the last twenty years ensure that her life is not endangered by blood clots building up on the artificial heart valve that works so much better than the one God gave her! The radiographers can check her heart function using ultrasound, the same technique that checked that her baby was OK in the womb. The nurse showed her how to inject the alternative medicine that would continue to keep Princess Morag from getting blood clots but wouldn't cause harmful effects on her developing child. The fact that there are alternatives to the natural ways of life, has saved Princess Morag at every step of the way, so she thanks God that it has been so. Even if he is the "ancient of days", He has been in control of all the modern intervention in her life so she shall continue to thank Him for the intervention in the life of her child, including the invention of milk formula despite 'breast being best'.

Adjusting to motherhood is taking a bit of time, but there are many reasons to celebrate, of course the foremost is the new member of our new family! But leaving behind pregnancy brings renewed pleasure in little things that had to be sacrificed for a time e.g. pate, brie and wine! Reclaiming her body for herself, although it is changed forever, also pleases Princess Morag. When Master Ryan gets the hiccups now she finds it much easier to sleep through the little noise compared to the pulsing sensation she used to feel in her belly. But one of the downsides to being on the other side of pregnancy is that all the hair that chose not to fall out during pregnancy now decides it is time and when you have long hair like the Princess this causes significant hair coverage of the whole of the castle apartment; it is definitely time for Sir Rianus to get vacuuming!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Goodbye Pilgrims Hill, Hello Polmont Woods

Princess Morag and Sir Rianus continued to live happily in Pilgrims Hill for the duration of 2006 and into 2007. They worked and played and ate hundreds of candlelit dinners together. They celebrated their 1st and 2nd wedding anniversaries and also digested the happy but quite overwhelming news that Princess Morag was gestating their first child. They had thoughts about purchasing a new home but these were short-lived in this land of increasing house prices and interest rates. They had thoughts about finding somewhere bigger than their one-bedroomed castle in order to accommodate their impending progeny and were then forced into action by the 'Notice to Quit' they received with regard to their tenancy. Thus the Princess and Sir Rianus were forced into packing all their possessions and accumulated junk into many boxes and with the help of wonderful friends and relations and a big rental van, relocated to a two-bedroomed castle apartment in the nearby settlement of Polmont.

The parting from Pilgrims Hill and the Royal Burgh was not too painful, the castle of pebbledash was not a beautiful home, but it had been loved as it was the first home that Princess Morag and Sir Rianus had shared. They moved to a more attractive castle apartment with features that brought joy to the couple: a white (not avocado green) bathroom suite, fitted mirrored wardrobes, a still small, but fitted kitchen and celebrated most of all by Sir Rianus: mixer taps! Thus the reign of the Princess of Pilgrims Hill comes to an end. But the reign of the Princess of Polmont Woods begins! The vista from the new castle apartment is thankfully of the local wild territory shielding the eyes of onlookers from the unsightly industry of Grangemouth petrochemical works. Long live Polmont Woods.