Saturday, May 9, 2009

Returning Milan's placenta to the earth

So the story with the tree is...
Each of my siblings and I have a carving of a native tree that's on the wall of our home. This is part of my carving. My tree is a Puriri Tree. This tree was chosen for me from my mother to reflect my personality - one reason is because the Puriri Tree bears colourful flowers and fruit all year round. It is a source of nutrients and food for native birds.

Milan's Placenta has been buried at mum and dads with a Puriri Tree planted on top to mark the spot.

May Milan's placenta give nourishment to this Puriri rakau,
May it symbolise Milan's connection to this land,
May the Puriri grow strong and tall,
And may Milan grow strong and tall as well.

May Milan's Pito give connection to both our whanau,
May it symbolise our love for Milan,
May Milan grow in strength, love and compassion within his wairua,
Knowing that we will always be there for him.

For our new baby boy;
May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels always rest their wings
outside your front door.

He honore he kororia ki te Atua,
He maungarongo ki te whenua,
He whakaaropai ki nga tangata katoa,
Hangai e te Atua he ngakau hou,
Ki roto ki tena, ki tena o matou,
Whakatongia tou wairua tapu,
Hei aroha nui,
Hei whangai,
Hei tautoko hoki,
mo matou tamaiti tane.

Peace and Blessings to our baby boy.
Arohanui, Maungarongo, whakamanawa hoki ki a koe, e tama.
Mir i Blagoslovi, volim te Milan.

... and the story with the tree continues...
So! Mum got the tree to plant over Milan's Placenta and left it near the hole that was dug by my brother - right beside the fenceline. Unfortunately, on the other side of the fence were some hungry goats who thought some Puriri leaves and branches was exactly what they wanted for breakfast!

Needless to say the beautiful little tree that was meant to resemble Milan's connection to the earth turned out worse for wear for the burying ritual. We're hoping it will bounce back with the nourishment of the placenta under it over the next few weeks...


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The definition of motherhood

Week One.

Motherhood I have very quickly come to realise
is not what I had anticipated.

I have not become my mother
nor my grandmother.

I am not like my sister or aunties or cousins.
Motherhood is not a job
that you undertake and perform.

It cannot be learnt through a course
or copied from another.

My techniques for mothering will never be exactly
the same as another persons.

This is because I am myself.
I am indeed a unique soul
with a unique personality and wairua.

Therefore, how I choose to mother
is completely dependent on who I am as a person.

How I hold my child, how I smile, cuddle,
encourage and teach;

I will do so through the lenses of who I am.

Having come to this realisation has meant for me
two opposite responses;

Utter relief.
I do not need to compare myself to anyone
simply because there is no one to compare myself to.

How I parent is right - for me and my child.

Utter terror.
There is no course I can take,
no book to read, no guide to follow.

How I parent is different to anything
anyone has ever done before.

Luckily, I am also surrounded
by amazing mothers.

My mother


I can take lessons learnt;
thoughts shared;
experiences given;
gain knowledge on how they mother,
and in turn, understand how I want
to mother my own child.

Child Birthing - a whanau affair

Baby Milan Moala was born
on Tuesday 28th of April 2009.

Every birth is a different experience - for us, it was a family affair. This was not just one woman experiencing the transition from pregnancy to labour and birth; but a combination of woman, partner, mother and sisters breathing, moving, swaying and focusing on progressing through one of the most amazing experiences of our life. The last 2 days of our pregnancy journey began a little earlier than anticipated. The women in my whanau typically birth later than the normal 40 week period, so I wasn't anticipating the onset of contractions for another week at least. On early Monday morning - the 27th of April, I awoke with some funny feelings in my puku and wasn't quite sure what to do about them. I woke Sifa up just so that I didn't feel so alone and was greeted by so much enthusiasm and anticipation that I couldn't help laughing and relaxing. We went back to sleep, sort of, and the contractions slowed down to nothing.

The Monday morning sun greeted us with a few more 'feelings' very similar to dull period pains but nothing much more, so Sifa decided to head off to work and I remained at home with mum. Through out the day, I felt niggles and pains that didn't really seem like much, just enough to be uncomfortable and aware that something different was happening to me. It was amazing to have mum with me most of the day - acknowledging that what I was feeling was all fine and that relaxing was the best thing for me to do. We didn't know if this would progress to labour or if it would be a niggle that keeps on niggling for another 3 weeks. Later on that night, we got the answer to that query.

Sifa, Ren (sis) and Mum were playing Monopoly around the kitchen table after dinner. I had politely declined; knowing that Sifa was a guru at the game and wouldn't let it rest for days if he won against me yet again. Ren and Mum being none the wiser gaily entered into the competition to get a whipping like no other. As I browsed emails and internet sites at one end of the table and the game was progressing at the other, those niggles slowly but surely became a bit stronger and longer than what I had experienced through out the day. A fruit tea didn't settle it, and after about 1-2 hours; I was beginning to need to breathe purposefully to get through each onset as they started to create a pattern = 1 minute of pain to 5-10 minutes of calm.

It felt as if things needed to get done - I had neglected to pack a labour bag as I had assumed I would be 1-2 weeks late like my mother and sister Mon. I was due on Thursday - so thought I had 3 days at least to sort things out. But no, it seemed that tonight would be the night. I made a quick phone call to Carol our midwife to let her know what was happening while Ren and Mum packed a bag up for me from a list I had made on things I thought I would like to take. And then, we settled into the night - without sleep. I had no desire to attempt to fall asleep and didn't think I would be able to even if I tried, so we decided to put on a movie instead - 3 movies later, the contractions were slowly progressing to becoming more and more uncomfortable and downright painful but they weren't getting any faster.

Monday night turned into Tuesday morning and still painful contractions, but no show of it getting any closer to the finish line. At this stage, I just kept thinking about what a friend of mine had told me. "Just imagine labour to be this really long stretch of road, you can't see the end of it, but you have to trust that there will be one, and every contraction is one more jutter bar that you're getting over - one jutter bar closer to the end of the road. All you have to do is concentrate on that next jutter bar." I told Mum and Ren to head to bed - thinking that they needed to conserve their energy for me to draw on later. Sifa was stuck with me and we endured through the rest of the night getting through those contractions one jutter bar at a time.

On Tuesday morning, mum called Carol (midwife), and gave her an update on how things were going. Carol suggested that she come out and see how I'm progressing - she was soon with us and after a quick check below, informed us that I was 4 cm dilated. To me, that sounded like a damn small amount for the length of time I had been labouring. At this rate, I'd need at least another 12 hours just to get to 8 cm! Everyone assured me that it would be fine and Carol left us to continue on with the contractions with the knowledge that everything was fine and that I could go into the Pukekohe Maternity Unit at any stage. From there on, it seemed as if things started to blur in my mind. I knew Sifa and mum went to bed and their roles of back massaging, holding hands and offering encouragement were taken over by my two sisters - Mon and Ren. I also knew that the pains were getting worse and worse, but they weren't getting very much closer. I was starting to despair and my attempt at maintaining that vision of 'one jutter bar at a time' was beginning to feel hopeless. I confessed to mum that I really didn't know how much longer I could take this. Mum and my sisters talked about what to do and they agreed that it was time for me to make the move to the Maternity Unit. Hopefully the car ride and the change of environment would be good for me - if not to speed things up maybe to distract me from the pain.

We got to the Maternity Unit at 2pm and the show finally came away. I was starting to get quite distressed now and it was a relief to see Carol again who was very calm and relaxed. This surprised me as I was balancing on a fine line between panic and insanity - not only from the pain, but from the lack of sleep and loss of energy I had experienced over the last 16 hours. After an amazingly large vomit of what I didn't even know was in my stomach still, I was helped into a hot shower. The water running over me was pure bliss. I was told afterwards, that Carol and mum realised that I was going into transition at this point. I didn't feel any different - just that I was exhausted and had lost all focus on anything but getting over each jutter bar.
After another inspection from Carol, I was proven wrong - that it didn't take another 12 hours to get to 8cm - only 4 hours! Being 8cm dilated was such a relief to me - I felt that I was finally starting to get somewhere and that the end just might be coming.

Carol organised the birthing pool and when I submerged into it, I felt a huge sense of pressure release from my body. Not only was the weight lifted from my body, but the heat from the water seemed to relax the contractions and I really felt relaxed for the first time in 18 hours. Sifa was holding my hands, and unfortunately, I had neglected to cut my nails, so they were digging into him every contraction. Mum was on my side with a hot wet towel and every contraction she would massage my lower back with it, helping me get over each of those jutter bars.

From mums guidance and verbal encouragement, I focused on Sifa as if he was the only thing in the whole world who could help me and we breathed together. In, out, in, out. slowly breathing through every pain. I was blessed with having 3-5 minute gaps between contractions - which is unheard of in stage 2. My sisters arrived and sat on the bed behind us - offering almost silent and amazing physical support. At one point, I proclaimed that I had had enough, this was just ridiculous, no one should have to do this and told Sifa that we were leaving. Carol told me to harness that anger and use it to get baby out. So I did.

At 5.43pm, baby Milan Moala was born. One moment I was pushing with all my strength and couldn't even see the end to this cycle of breathing, panting and pushing and then the next moment, Carol was telling me to hold my child and not let his head go under the water.

I was astounded. This baby had come out of me - I had created something so - real - from my own body. It's a surreal experience. Everyone was crying and I couldn't understand why, there was nothing to cry about, he was perfect.
I could not have imagined a better labour - with having the strong support of my partner, mum and sisters all guiding me through what was the most difficult and most amazing experience of my life.