The Fern Walk – Tōtara Forest Reserve

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Wesley was in daycare today so I took the opportunity to drive up to the Pohongina and spend some time in the forest peering at fungus and listening to the birds whilst carefully plodding through thick goopy mud.  Within minutes my feet were soaked, normally that would bother me, but today I embraced the icy water on my toes…  It was really fresh and crisp under the shade of the trees, and the chill really invigorated me.

I came home a few hours later feeling much better.  It was exhilarating; exploring, looking to find the gorgeous colourful fungus growing on the ground, consuming the dead bark, and the fallen leaves.  I also noticed a few birds, some tui and fan tails were flitting around taking a peek at me, as I peeked at them.

A man was also fly fishing in the Pohangina river – and I thought of Mike coming out to the same spot in search of trout… Simply put, he is deeply missed around these parts and we are so looking forward to reuniting with him.  We may know in the next week!

Long distance has been challenging, so thankfully there is the forest to help me regroup and prepare for the next few weeks.

Below details a short story taken from the Papatoetoe Central Schools website about the Māori connection to the tōtara tree…  Read on!

The Totara in Maori Legend – Rata and the Tree

Rata was in the forest wandering about wondering what to do about retrieving the body of his father who had recently died when he decided he would chop down a tree and build a waka.

He selected a Totara, felled it, and went home planning to return in the morning to begin building the waka. When he did return he found the tree wasnt lying on the ground as he’d left it but standing as if it had never been felled.

He chopped the tree down again this time trimming the trunk and removing the bark and and went home with the same result when he returned the next day.

He chopped the tree down a third time, this time trimming and shaping the tree and scooping out the inside and decided to sneak back during the night to see what was happening

When he approached the tree in the dark he saw to his amazement that birds and insects were reassembling the tree to return it to its original state.

Rata apologised for chopping down the Totara and explained why he was doing so (to retrieve his Father), then offered to help lift the Totara back into place.

When dawn came Rata was ll alone, the little creatures had gone, and the Totara was back in its original state. Rata vowed to never chop down another tree, and a voice near him told him that he may, but he must ask permission from Tane Mahuta first.

As Rata returned home he came across a mighty war canoe sitting on logs in the forest, and he asked if it was his, and the voice said “yes, Rata’s waka”

Pregnant & coping with major change.

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Right, so February was amazing and it was also overwhelming in so many ways.  Moving from Australia to New Zealand and then beginning a month long road trip (whilst 7.5 months pregnant) was kind of a massive undertaking.  To top it all off we moved into a new home and Mike started a new job.

During the flight, move and trip; between the amazing memories and events, I experienced a few moments (4 to be exact) of complete and total panic.  Mike supported me through the brunt of these episodes as they came suddenly and often without warning.  I partially blame these on hormones.  We spoke about the episodes after each one happened, and I even took time to mark them down in our trip calendar to see how often they were happening.

As a first time pregnant person, I feel a huge sense of responsibility and some uncertainty and lack of control about what the future may hold for us and our child… there are so many unknowns.  I know Mike has his worries too.  I guess that’s natural to have worries.

The control freak in me – doesn’t like not having a plan for everything.  This has been a bit of a process of learning to let go and enjoy the ride.  Most days I am enjoying the ride…

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There is also the actual pain of growing so quickly.  My body has been in a constant state of change, and just when I think I’m settling in to a comfortable skin…  bam! that little bugger “pain” turns up again!

I feel like little pain elves are playing games with me and pinching me and cutting me with tiny little knives when I’m not looking.  Some days my hips don’t work right, and other days I feel I’m on the verge of exploding my guts all over the walls.

Getting comfortable is my main priority most days.

I found the days I was most in pain, were the days I cracked.  There was always one small thing that would tip the scale (however it could be a number of items even combined).

  • Too hot (this one is almost impossible to manage at the moment – I’m an active lava filled volcano spewing heat everywhere.  Mike can’t even cuddle me at night – I’m too warm for him to snuggle!
  • I read a particularly sad news article online about a mother and her children and postnatal depression (terrible story) that had me worrying about the condition.
  • Too constricted in my clothes
  • Exhausted or over tired (there two two nights I did not sleep a wink while we camped due to the sheer power of lightning and wind)
  • Cramping/false contractions
  • Thinking about the actual event of giving birth (thankfully I was recommended a great book by Mikes counsin Kat.  I’ve read it since and it really has helped me understand and embrace the event!).  That book “Birth Skills” can be found here.
  • Driving for more than two hours
  • Feeling muscles tearing along my stomach
  • Too full
  • Too much time on my hands worrying about the future
  • Mike saying or doing something that inadvertently hurt my feelings
  • Moving into a new house and cleaning (I’m a bit of a clean freak)

This list is shockingly long… it also has made it a bit harder for Mike.  He told me after he read this that it’s like he’s walking on the tiniest tightrope or..on eggshells sometimes.

In an effort to make things a bit easier, Mike and I slowed the pace of our trip considerably after the second “event”.  I also made sure I didn’t drive the car for more than two hours so I could stretch out, and began to be very conscious of the type of clothes I placed over my middle section.  I now strip down to nothing and cool off or take a shower and wet my hair (being too warm is like…indescribable torture).  Most nights I end up sleeping over the blankets with nothing on whilst Mike tells me he’s cold under our duvet…then I touch him with my fire hands!

Part of my panic was around the “unknown” in birth, so I began reading more, and absorbing positive birth stories to help bring me a more enlightened “I can do this” mind frame when thinking of the big day.  This has been hugely rewarding…

A lot of the uncertainty is still there – and I’m sure it always will be.  Parenthood – whilst it’s exciting and there is a TONNE of anticipation, is also bringing items to consider that we’d never really considered before.

In an effort to be more mindful, I’ve been spending 15 mins each morning practicing meditation and muscle tension relaxation skills that helped me through some tense times last year.  Taking the time to tune out and sit still has been so beneficial.  I always feel so peaceful and relaxed afterward (it generally carries on throughout the entire day).  Also going for daily walks and setting small goals each day instead of burning myself out – and taking the time to rest has been humbling.

The audio clip – if you’re interested can be found here.

The baby is going really well, he is 8 months along today.  His dad talks to him all the time, and confides to him as if I’m not “in the room”.  He makes me laugh…

Mike and I have been reading a birth magazine together, that details the multiple ways parents experience natural childbirth together (it’s something that is encouraged here in New Zealand).  My midwife gave us the copy on loan, and reading this together is partly amusing and also helping us to have more conversations about what to expect on the day/days.

I’ll tell you about some of the more interesting statements he’s made lately…next time.

If you have any positive birth/motherhood stories or experiences, you’d like to share – please feel free to comment or email me personally.  I’ve been taking these in, and have been enjoying knowing there are going to be extraordinary moments we’ll have in our family memory bank soon.

xx

Holly

Needy, clingy me.

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Recently, I’ve been a bit clingy.  Correction, I’ve been an absolute nightmare (I’ve morphed into one of those creatures in your dreams that are after you but no matter how much you try to run and hide, and they are just always there…merciless!).  I’ve got some sense in me to know that it’s becoming a bit of an issue. But for some reason, I’ve been really just wanting to spend every moment with Mike, and get sad when he’s away…and at the same time I can get quite grumpy when we’ve spent too much time together.  How’s a guy to cope with that?  I don’t quite understand it myself…

But it’s me…and so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it.

I’m thinking my mysterious illness is bringing me down and I really just want to feel comfort all the time.

Like constantly.

Mike has been a darling through the tears, the grumpy faces, and all incessant whining for cuddles.

A pure man of gentle compassion..

That is until we get to the grocery store and we happen to venture down the multivitamin section.  He spots a bottle and proclaims “that’s just what we need!”.  Mike then grabs multiple bottles and starts to throw them at me and into his basket…

“Mood relief Vitamins”.   I bought some vitamin b just to see what will happen.

The photos above were taken yesterday, even though I was doing what I loved (walking and taking photos)…I still had a heavy fog of misery hanging about my thoughts.  I’m hoping some vitamins and perhaps some positive thinking will clear out the fog.

Facing My Greatest Fear.

Today I took on a task that I’ve been avoiding for 1.5 years.  I refuelled a ute (truck!).  It sounds ridiculous, by my fear of petrol has prevented me from doing this very basic activity.

Mike stopped the ute and told me he wanted me to fill it up.  I paused and took a deep breath and realised I had to do it now.  He and I both know that it’s a mental struggle for me, so he stood and talked me through it.  He touched me to reassure me I was going to be ok.  I was shaking and hesitated, but knowing he was standing with me…at least if the diesel did ignite, we’d both be a goner.  If he thought it was safe enough to stand there, I did too.  I trust him.  He made me feel safe.

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The infamous cow shit covered clothes…

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These images are from the time period when the accident took place.  Apart from the second one, that’s today!

Leading up to this point today there is a sense of urgency for me to tackle this problem.  I’ll be driving a seeder in a few weeks, and I’ve got to be confident to fuel it up on my own.  I certainly don’t want to faint or have an anxiety attack in front of our new boss.

Until today, my reaction to petrol was still very panicked.  If there was a petrol jerry can in the shed I would walk as far from it as possible.  I’d not go near gas tanks, or cans for fear of explosion.  I’d avoid standing in the gas station.  I would sweat and my skin would feel cold.  Every so often I’d end up covering my face with my hands out of total fear.  Mike has been very calm and patient with me.  He helps me when I need a voice of reason.

Last year I was able to learn to light the gas stove, and touch matches.  I did have some post traumatic stress counselling initially after I left the hospital, but for the most part it’s been little baby steps toward being confident around gas, matches, and fire.

Sometimes when a television programs show someone being burned or who has been I get incredibly uncomfortable.  I have a flash back and my empathy for the pain that person must be feeling (even if it’s a mock scene) is pretty intense.  I feel as if I am that person burning.

We can be driving somewhere, or eating in public…and I see the wrinkles on my arm, and I have an instantaneous flood of horrible memories.  My brain seems to enjoy making me relive the experience every so often.  I wish it would just let it lie.

They say that the more you talk about your trauma, the more at ease with it you’ll become.

This has been the most difficult test that I’ve been through in life.  I’m really grateful that I’ve got such a loving and kind partner who helps me, and does not get frustrated with my sometimes slow progress.

I got a big hug and smiles from him when I was able to actually fill up the truck.

One day the memory won’t make me sweat and today I feel really good about where I’ve managed to get with Mikes support.

Have you ever had to overcome a fear?  What was your fear?  How did you confront it?

If you have been through something traumatic, and it affects you deeply…try not to hold it in.  I would urge you to seek a therapist, or councillor to help relieve you of the burden of your memories.