March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
Yesterday we took the whole family to Jellybean Pools at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
The regular walking track down to the pools was closed, meaning we had to travel through the rough bush to get there. I had Robin in the sling, and we had numerous bags plus 3 year old Zara to guide over huge rocks, up and down a steep hillside to our destination.
The boys loved it. William reminded me of a mountain goat the way he bounded from rock to rock, pushing the limits of safety and sensibility in that way only an adolescent boy could. Samuel loved the challenge of forging our own way through the scrub, and Lily is obviously going to take after William, thinking she could follow in his footsteps physically.
The pools were almost deserted, the water so calm that there was an exact reflection of the rock formations and plants, making it very picturesque. Of course we all went swimming, even Robin. Sol took William, Samuel and Lily to the opposite side of the bank where they all jumped in the water off the rocks.
Time ceases to exist in a place where no man made anything is visible…. just water, then trees all around. Sol and I felt ourselves deeply exhale. Lately we have been doing much musing over our life. We’ve been determined to bring whatever qualities we are chasing into our lives right now. And these family days fulfill that desire…. for family harmony, teamwork, connection and fun.
March 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
On a warm Autumn day, we gather.
Children tread gently into the space, are drawn to their favourite toys.
I put on my indoor slippers and sing the welcome song.
Small hands in my large; I wash their hands (if they will let me).
We knead, shape, sing the dough into buns.
Today we make hot cross buns,
and wrap some bulb babies in fleece blankets, ready to plant at home.
We go outside. Breathe out. Play and laugh,
then I gather them in, to sing together again. And we eat.
Light the special candle, say our blessing.
Little faces seeking mine, seeking to be seen and loved.
I send them off, full of life.
And I smile, my heart full of love.
March 20, 2013 § Leave a comment
This morning, a crisp, blue-sky autumn morning, I sat in my car at school. Watching.
My biggest boy, William, hangs around in the bus shelter near the car park with his friends as they arrive for the day. As I saw him laugh, flick his side fringe and duck his head in the way that he does, I was suddenly rocked by a wave of wonder.
How did my first baby suddenly grow up and become this amazing young man? It is such a cliche but time really does go fast, and childhood ends all too soon.
However I am nostalgic, not sad, for the childhood that was William’s. He was old enough to share in our adventures, and I can see subtle ways in which they have shaped him. I’ve always strived to treat my children as equals, as much as possible. I love seeing in William the belief that his opinions are valued, the confidence he knows within himself. Not so much though the times when he is adamant he knows better than his parents (however in regards to his own life, he is often the expert)!
I have always thought that motherhood is mostly a string of experiences prompting us to let go. Now that he is almost fourteen and wanting a little more independence and freedom, it is crunch time.
So far I have been impressed. He packs good clothes to wear for a family dinner without being asked. When I am out with five children and no other adult, he shepherds the young ones along and looks out for them, even reasons (bribes!) them into co-operation. And the one that touches my heart the deepest…. the pleases and thank yous I am getting these days if I make him a snack or do something else a bit special, just for him; and the gruff ‘love you’ I get as he goes to bed.
How did it all happen? Did I have a hand in that? Did I help create this self-knowing young man?
I can’t wait to see who he is growing into.
March 19, 2013 § 1 Comment
Robin is my fifth baby, and my third homebirth. Pregnancy has always been a time for me and my husband Sol to focus on healing old patterns that no longer serve, and to put our creative powers into action to create anew. Our focus for this birth was ‘ease and grace’, and as the time grew nearer I felt myself slipping into a lovely intuitive space and closer connection with my family and with the midwife, given that we had been together through two very different and sometimes challenging births previously.
As I went past 40 weeks, I was in no real hurry for the baby to come. I had lots of pre-labour sensations, but after four kids I knew it was just my body warming up. On the Saturday night strong contractions woke me from sleep all through the night, but I didn’t ring the midwife until Sunday evening, feeling this night would be the real thing. In hindsight I think I was already in the dreamy, detached, inward headspace of labour.
At 1am I woke with a strong contraction, and my waters had broken a little. I went to the loo only to realise that my perineum was completely swollen and I felt that the baby had dropped down a lot, even into the birth canal a bit. I didn’t have very strong or regular contractions, but I woke Sol and told him to get the pool filled. He just jumped up and got into it like an old hand. I decided not to call the friend I had organised as a support person – I knew I just wanted my husband and midwife as support this time.
At 3am Sol told me to ring the midwife again. I was reluctant as it was the middle of the night, but a suddenly stronger contraction gave me the sign I needed. She asked if I wanted her to come and I told her I didn’t know, as I still didn’t think I was in proper labour, but she said she would ‘pop’ over to have a look.
She arrived at 4am, and after listening to the baby and sitting with me for a while, told me it was probably still early in the labour, and that she was going to lie on the lounge. This incensed me and I thought to myself “it bloody well isn’t early!” She only got to lie down for about one minute as the intensity picked up and I began having overwhelming contractions that I had to go deeply inward to focus through. I had about 5 or 6, went to the toilet or walked around between each one with Sol and Robyn following me everywhere.
At 5am she suggested I get into the pool after hearing me start to push. I said that I did not want to, because I knew then that I would have to push the baby out and I didn’t want to go through with it anymore. In my previous birth I had felt some strong pain in my pelvis when the baby came through, and the memory of that difficult pain formed into a huge resistance this time around. I went to lie down and all of a sudden Robyn was there with me, rubbing my back and telling me it was alright. I said I was fed up with the contractions and scared about the pain. She said the baby would come anyway. Those few moments of tender words between just the two of us helped my resistance to melt away.
I announced that I would get into the pool. A couple of minutes in the water was enough to rejuvenate my spirits and help me focus, ready for the second stage. After the second pushy contraction there was a sudden popping sound…. the outside of the pool had split down a seam! I sat up, the midwife swore and Sol looked panicked. Time paused as we all looked at each other… wondering if this scenario was really going to happen! Sol got a patch for the pool but when I leant on it for the next contraction it split again – large enough to mean we would have to abandon the waterbirth. Sol held the pool together while the midwife held my hand for another contraction…. that didn’t arrive. I think we both knew the labour had suddenly stalled, though neither of us said anything. She went back to helping Sol but their nervous activity was beginning to affect me. I remember telling them that they were freaking me out and taking myself off to the loo for a while.
When I got back the midwife had placed a towel over the lounge and on to the floor so I went and knelt there. As soon as I did the contractions started up again and I felt the baby begin to move down. But no one was around- they were now madly bailing out the pool. I’d had the intuition the day before that this birth wouldn’t be a waterbirth, so I was not shocked or upset by the pool breaking, but I was upset that the focus was off me. Robyn, after hurriedly assuring me that she was still there for me, said we should wake up my Mum and some kids to help empty the pool. Sol came and sat with me while my son held the split shut and Robyn and my Mum bailed it out with buckets.
Within a few minutes I could feel the baby crowning. As that overwhelming urge to push came over me I said “I need Rrrrroobbyynnnnn…,” to which I heard her reply “I’m coming,” in a very shaky voice – the only time I have ever heard her sound less than totally composed. As the baby’s head emerged, I realised I didn’t have that pelvic pain that I had experienced before, and that not being in the pool meant I could get in a better and more comfortable position for my body. I’d given one loud push and then the midwife said to just breathe the baby out – I let go of the effort I was putting into pushing and was amazed to feel his head just keep coming on its own.
I knew that I didn’t want to pause between head and body emerging. I gave myself permission to just keep nudging him out without stopping at all and it felt like he slid out very easily, but quickly. I think I went into a bit of shock, began crying and shaking but also worrying that it had been too fast for me. As I turned around I heard Sol exclaim ‘Oh it’s a boy!’. Robyn told me to slow down in turning around due to a short cord. It felt like too long before I finally saw my beautiful baby and held him.
I was helped up to lie on the lounge – my mother and son were still bailing out the pool. My 12 y.o. son had been sitting two feet away from me as I gave birth but apparently his eyes were firmly fixed elsewhere! My mum hadn’t even realised the baby had come until I called her over to see him. He was born at 5:50am and the placenta came quickly at 6am. I ate a small piece raw… something I have done with every birth except one as a symbolic act of giving back to my body and for helping avoid excessive blood loss. There were some magical moments when, at 7am the other kids all drifted out, sleepy-eyed, to find that the baby was finally here. Sol began brekky and the day began as usual. My daughters began fighting over whose turn it was to touch the baby, and that was my cue to have a shower and retreat to the bedroom!
Despite the unexpected elements, it was a fantastic birth, easy on my body and full of lightheartedness. We knew straight away that the baby’s soft energy did not suit the name we had in mind. For three nights after he was born I dreamt his name was Robin. He has been a very special baby bringing much change into our lives, rich with challenges but also joy.
March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
When I met my now-husband, we were both visiting a monastery near Stroud, NSW. It was an interesting and unlikely place to meet a future husband. Soon after we became an item, we left Sydney to travel around Australia visiting Intentional Communities…. a lifestyle choice we were both interested in at that time. We made it as far as a Buddhist Monastery in QLD, where we conceived William and soon after returned to Sydney.
When William was a toddler, we moved to QLD to live. We ended up in a beautiful blue Queenslander near Eumundi. We named that house the ‘Miracle House’. When I became pregnant with Samuel however, and needed to stop work due to severe morning sickness, we realised we had to move back to a city so Sol could find more work….. and we ended up in Brisbane for a year before returning to Sydney.
After Lily was born, both Sol and I felt restless. He went to a spiritual retreat in QLD, and returned with the suggestion we move there again. I was ready… we packed up and had left within a couple of months! We had a blissful six months next to the beach, followed by an intense, stressful and also thrilling time fruit picking in Western QLD, then losing our tent (our home at the time) and ending up in emergency housing on the Sunshine Coast, before settling in Caloundra. Sol was getting gigs as a musician and we planned to have another baby…. we moved back to Sydney again to be near family.
There is a theme emerging here!
I learnt some painful lessons in that last time in QLD. Running away from responsibilities doesn’t work. It does take a village to raise a child (and stay sane). I really, really love my family and want to live near them.
Sometimes Sol and I get the urge to fly away and live big, unorthodox lives. The sense of freedom, adventure and lightness we felt in our travels was addictive. However the loneliness and isolation from support was very hard to bear.
It’s hard to admit, but I feel like jumping into some kind of different life right now. I asked the kids the other day: “Who wants to buy a bus and go travelling around Australia for 6 months!”
They all said no.
As I have more kids, and as they grow older, it feels harder and harder to break out of this life. But then I think – why am I wanting to break out? I’ve noticed that the urge to fly comes in times of financial stress. All of a sudden it feels crazy to spend so much money on rent, electricity and activities when we could be waking up with the sunrise at the beach every day, swimming with dolphins, visiting Uluru……
My kids are loving their life (I think!) – they have friends, family, activities, love school. But since the school term began I am struggling…. with the demanding physical routine, with giving all we have to a fantastic school (and having not much left over for us), with the metaphorical load I feel on my shoulders.
I promised myself on our last return to Sydney that I would NOT up and go again. Maybe it is time to plan a fantastic family holiday. And to sit with the urge to fly, to see what is really underneath.
March 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
Lily has just this week turned six. Her birth was a life changing event for me, and as the years roll by my reflections upon that day have gradually shifted focus. Lately, I find myself thinking more of the emotional and spiritual aspects of birth, and Lily’s birth was profound in these respects.
I became pregnant with Lily only six months after losing Meir. As a result, she was a deeply, deeply longed for baby. However the legacy of losing a baby, especially halfway into the pregnancy, is one of anxiety and worry. I was determined to finally have a homebirth after losing Meir and being told by the hospital that I would be required to have many interventions for all future pregnancies and births…. interventions I knew to be unnecessary.
I didn’t even ring to book a midwife until I was past 20 weeks. It was as though I had been holding my breath for those entire five months, and once past that milestone of sorts, of when I lost the baby, I could finally exhale and begin the pregnancy and preparations. Homebirth midwives are few and always booked, so I was very lucky to be taken on by the midwife I had booked in for when pregnant with William (we didn’t have a homebirth in the end with that pregnancy due to various factors).
As birthing time came closer, I had a lot of worry that the baby would not be born alive, or healthy. It took a lot of emotional work to get to the point where the urge to meet my baby was more powerful than my fears.
Lily’s birth was amazing because she was a huge baby! 4.9kg (10lb 11oz), birthed in three hours at home, with no stitches required. The most profound aspect for me was what happened in the second stage of birth, which is when the baby is pushed out. Birthing a huge baby takes a lot of effort – I had given birth twice before so knew what to expect. In this birth however, everything was magnified and very overwhelming.
Once the baby began moving down the birth canal, the most primal urge took over – the urge that sees a baby born. It was so, so powerful that I had no option but to completely surrender to it. I experienced the dissolution of my self in that moment. I, that is Kirrilee, simply moved aside and let an all-powerful, loving force move in to see the baby born. I was nothing, and yet everything, all at once.
I have always been asked how I did it, when people hear how big Lily was and how fast and smooth the birth was. My answer then, as it still is, is that I don’t know. ‘I’ didn’t do it, God did.
Lily’s birth was so joyous – because she was a girl after boys, because I finally had a home birth (an experience which just cannot be described adequately), because she was healthy.
We recovered quickly, and in the months to come I experienced a loving one-ness with Lily. Her birth gave me a glimpse into a space of pure love, a glimpse into the possibility that we are all enlightened beings.
I carry that with me always.
March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
Like a seed
just under the surface of the earth
It will reveal itself
it will grow
it will unfurl under the sun.
It must happen
It is programmed
into every cell.
It will grow.
I am the sun
I am everywhere
You will reveal yourself
You will unfurl
You will grow
Under my gaze.
The seed is our love
The seed is you.