Thankful For The Chapters of 2017
As I reflect upon last year it was probably a bit of a mixed bag for me. I was blessed with the most incredible miracle, yet also really struggled through some challenging work circumstances and my confidence and sanity really suffered as a result. No matter what kind of year I have, I always try to reflect upon not just the good and bad that unfolded, but how I grew through those experiences.
Each year I buy a Twigseeds Diary (by Kate Knapp), I still much prefer a paper diary and these diaries are the cutest! Last year she included a little side box in each week titled ‘I am grateful for…’ I always found the time to look back at my week at find 3 things that I could express thanks for. There were some big things (see below), but also simple yet significant things such as grandparents helping out each week with our daughter, my daughter initiating hugs, meals made, encouragement received.
Here are some of my highlights from each month…
My husband had several relatives who live in Italy, one being an aunty in her eighties who we have been trying to convince to travel to Australia to see her family here and meet her great niece. We saw her when we traveled there in 2012, but we really wanted her to meet our daughter and we didn’t really have the means to get there sooner rather than later. We were grateful that she made the effort to come to us and we got to spend Christmas 2016 and early 2017 with her.
We took our daughter to the zoo for the first time. Observing her face light up as she saw the animals was priceless. A monkey came right up to the viewing window and hung right in front of her, her squeals of delight and giggles were recorded on camera and it is so precious to watch over and over again. To this day she loves watching herself delight in this crazy animal. We ended up getting an annual zoo membership which lead to several more family zoo outings and special memories being created.
Our daughter turned 2 and whilst still small, she was slowly becoming our little girl, no longer our baby. Her language was starting to take off and she was gradually becoming more understanding of her world. She loves books and I would often catch her reading books in her baby babble language, so sweet! This month I also unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant – a surprise but nonetheless so very much hoped for.
My maid of honour at my wedding moved to the USA for her husband’s work at the start of 2016. I had not seen her in over a year and it was wonderful to finally see her again as she returned briefly to Australia. I was able to tell her my expecting news in person rather than via then over the internet. She also got to see how much my little girl had grown over the past 14 months… I was later grateful that she was visiting Melbourne again in November and got to meet my son when he was 5 days old.
Mother’s Day is always very special for me. At one stage I doubted if it would ever be a reality for me, but this year I got to celebrate it not just as the mother of one, but as the expectant mother of two. I had made it through the first trimester, and whilst pregnancy is a very nervous time for me because of my professional background, I was relieved and thankful to be over the first hurdle.
I made it to the halfway point in my pregnancy and got a reassuring ultrasound report. My anxiety was turned down a few notches and I was somewhat excited to be over the half way hump and the home stretch was on the horizon.
I started my hospital visits to the maternity clinic this month. I had private obstetric care for my first pregnancy but decided upon public care second time around. Overall I had a very positive experience and it made me ever so grateful for the access to quality public health care we have here in Australia, reaping the benefits of our taxes at work! I also started a weekly local parent-child play program with my daughter every Monday morning which was a wonderful bonding time for the 2 of us. It has been amazing to watch her growth and development over the past 6 months – so tentative when she first started, but so much more confident and eager to go to her ‘puppet show’ every week.
My husband was gifted a $500 travel voucher from his work for Christmas 2016. Whilst we would have loved to have put it towards flights to Italy to see family, reality was a local holiday was the only option really feasible before the years end. With thanks to the grandparents for babysitting, we had our first weekend away as a couple since our daughter was born two and half years ago. We went to the beautiful Yarra Valley and admittedly it was bliss to be child free for 2 nights and have time to reflect and enjoy just being ‘us’. Unfortunately no wine for me!
The day after my husband and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, I had my last day of work prior to starting maternity leave. Resuming part time work 15 months prior had been incredibly challenging for me for numerous reasons and I was so thankful for it to come to a close for now. Upon finishing I was grateful that I had persisted through the obstacles and been able to contribute to family finances in the lead up to welcoming another child. I was very emotional the night I finished, the relief brought me a new sense of liberation.
This month I was able to spend some quality time with our daughter in the lead up to our baby’s arrival. We went to the park almost daily, did lots of baking together and probably read the equivalent of a children’s library. I was blessed with a warm 30 degree day for my birthday so went to the beach with Nanna and we observed my daughter enjoy being in her element (the beach is her second home). As expected, she decided that the swim nappy was cramping her style and ended up skinny dipping for everyone. It’s beautiful to watch the innocence and liberation of a child who does not yet feel the need to conform to societal norms or expectations. Pure freedom.
Our very desired second child and first son was born and I successfully had my much hoped for VBAC. It was perhaps one of the most surreal moments in my life. I was a bit delirious after the birth, but it has taken quite some time register that I both conceived and gave birth to this child naturally. I doubted my body’s ability to do both for so long; my son was an answer to many prayers, both mine and some very special people interceding on my behalf (you know who you are).
Whilst it has taken time for our daughter to warm to her baby brother, watching their bond grow as our son becomes more interactive just melts my heart. From her affectionate name for him, her cute descriptions of his appearance, her mostly gentle pats and kisses, his emerging smile, it’s all pure joy as a mother. My favourite is when my daughter pokes her arm though the holes between the seats of the double pram to hold his hand as we walk, simply so sweet and the epitome of sibling affection!