Letter To A New Mother

Mama Goddess Leonie Dawson

 

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Dear B,

I saw you yesterday.

Breasts aching with milk, body aching.

You are a new mama.

Just moments ago,

you were initiated into the strangest, most intense, wildest, hardest fucking path there is:

Motherhood.

And

I just want you to know

dear mama,

you are not alone.

You are not alone as your body aches,

your vagina mends,

your breasts stab with pain.

You are not alone as your days

become nights

stretching long and unending

and nowhere between the two

is one damn eight hour block

of sleep.

You are not alone as you stare

out the window and wonder

just where the fuck your life went

what the fuck this motherhood gig is all about

what the fuck you are supposed to be doing now

who you are now

and what it all means.

You are not alone as you marvel at

how precious and free and unencumbered

and utterly relaxing your life was

pre-children.

How you used to be satiated with

sleep and food and time

and now you are stricken with poverty

of all three

and you wonder why the fuck anybody ever willing chooses this.

You are not alone as you cry

as you sob

as the grey clouds move in and set up home.

You are not alone

as your heart shrieks

when your baby cries.

You are not alone

when you look at the space

between you and your love

and wonder where it got crushed and smothered and bent

by the great force that is

keeping a tiny human being

alive.

You are not alone

when you are angry

tired

sad

devastated.

You are not alone

when you are guilty

when you are the worst mother alive

when you forget where your kid is

when you make mistakes.

You are not alone when you question everything.

When you fret.

When you hear your child screaming everytime you take a shower

only to realise there is nothing but silence when you turn it off.

(Or maybe they really are screaming.

Either way

you are not alone.)

You are not alone – literally – when you

attempt to go to the toilet

and discover that

this one private act has been taken from you too.

Your child needs you.

Relentlessly.

So wholly and solely

you fear you have been swallowed whole

and that there is nothing left for you.

You are not alone.

You are not alone when your sanity breaks,

your temper frays,

and you dream of running

– running – straight through the door

down the street

away to a quieter place

a place you can hear yourself think

a place you can meet your own needs

a place you can be just you

– not mama, not wife

just you.

You are not alone when you want to escape

the screaming,

nagging,

relentless

needful mess of it all.

You are not alone

you are not alone

you are not alone.

You are not

wrong

or

bad

or

guilty

or selfish

for wanting

a piece of you for you

a piece of your old life back

anything

but this.

You are not alone

when you think you are.

You are not alone

when you question yourself.

You are not alone

when you are convinced

you are the most unnatural mother in the world.

You are not alone

when you believe

this whole motherhood thing

is too fucked up,

too needing of an adult

then you’ll ever be able to provide.

You,

dearest mama,

are not alone.

You are not alone when it is hard.

I want you to know…

this will pass.

It will get easier.

I promise.

Right now, at the beginning of motherhood,

it’s the hardest initiation of all.

No other time can compare.

I want you to know

that breath by breath

moment by moment

it will get a little softer

a little kinder

and you will scoop back a second more of your own time.

I want you to know

that you deserve all the

support

and healing

and time

you want and need.

That it is a good thing

to find other carers for your wee one

and let them love them

while you love you.

I want you to know

you are

strong

brave

ferocious

and magical.

I want you to know your body just

created the living miracle

of splitting into two

and sustaining a whole new lifeform.

And that it doesn’t come

without cost or pain or energy

and we can talk about this.

We don’t need to gloss over it.

We don’t need to make it shine.

We can be real here,

with each other,

as mamas.

We can tell the truth about our lives

the holy and the glorious and the love

and the pain and the deep shitty depraved horror and the depression and the angst and the overriding guilt and the crippling anxiety

and that all of them are welcome here.

I want you to know

that I struggled profoundly

that I thought my life was over

that the Leonie as I knew her was gone

and was never, ever coming back

so much so

I burned all my photo albums,

I gave away all my paintings

let go of all my beloved book collection.

I want you to know

I thought the pain would never end.

I want you to know

I was wrong.

And it did.

My child got older. She got easier. She (eventually) started sleeping.

And most of all,

I discovered me. Who I was as a mother. What I needed to thrive. What were the surefire things that would fuck me up.

I, Leonie Dawson, hereby require the following: medication, acupuncture, therapy and childcare in order to not crumple up into the ground.

And I am not ashamed to say that.

I am not ashamed to say that though I adore my children, every moment with children is NOT pure joy and bliss.

That does NOT make me a bad mother.

It makes me a mother. One who knows herself and her own cells.

I’m not saying that you need all that, dearest.

I’m just saying:

whatever it is you need,

you are utterly

and deeply

allowed

to have it.

And I support you

and encourage you

to find whatever ways

you can

to have them.

By hook or by crook, by supreme creativity or string-pulling or needs-declaring.

Whatever it is… your needs are worth it.

To have needs is not a weakness.

It is a sacred and human right.

Just because you are a mother

does not make you

less

of a human.

Dearest mama,

wherever you are

wherever you are

in this great tumble and fumble

of humanity and stretching and reaching and hoping and grasping

I want you to know

you are loved

by so very many

who want to see you shine.

You are loved

you are worthy

you are whole

even and especially when you feel broken.

Thank you for choosing to be a mama.

Thank you for choosing the enormous task of bringing through another soul and body into the world.

The angels want you to know that

it is never

ever

about

sacrificing yourself.

It is about finding ways for you to thrive

to tend to your precious self

even amidst the greatest storm of your life.

You are good, mama.

You are perfect and you are beauty and you are divine.

And you are surrounded by a whole globe of sisters.

Sisters who hear you.

Sisters who know.

Sisters who love you.

You are not alone.

You are good.

All my love,

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The Unworthy Worthy Mother

failings of a mother

Loves,

I have spent a lot of the last five years measuring up all my failings as a mother.

I worry that I’m too introverted… That I don’t engage enough… That I read too much… That I need quiet time in order to be okay in my body. I think I am less than the perfect mother because I need, I crave, I adore my work, and I take time away each day to do it.

I see so painfully all my failings, my spiky bits, the hard parts and I hope my daughters can forgive me for them when they are older. The truth of parenting is I absolutely do not enjoy parenting every single minute of every single day, and I think it is downright bullshit and so harmful when any person claims to or tells you should to.

I love my children deeply and ferociously. I would choose them again. I was born to be their mother. And still, it is hard. And fraught with the pains of being human, of living in a world with physical and energetic limitations.

I’ve spent a long time feeling anxiety and shame about my inside feelings. I didn’t think they were the right feelings to have. That it make me a bad person to have them. That I wasn’t allowed to feel them. And I sure as fuck couldn’t speak them. I don’t know what changed for me.

All I know is once I started speaking my truth — my full truth — the one that isn’t pretty or easily resolved or inspiring — life got deeper and a little more true.

Wherever you are on this big old path… I just want to send a wish from my heart… That you and I both know we are allowed to have all our feelings. And that we are worthy enough just as we are.

I get it bae. Love you.

P.S. Brutal honesty- I wrote this on the toilet because it is the weekend and it’s the only quiet place I can think. Except they found me within 2.5 seconds and both my 5 year old and 18 month old crammed themselves into the same cubic metre as me until I kicked them out and my 18 month old had a meltdown and I yelled at my husband to let me TAKE A SHIT IN PEACE GODDAMIT.

The End!

P.P.S. “Enjoy every moment! They grow up too soon!” – obviously spoken by someone who is able to take a dump by themselves without an 18 month old trying to peer into the toilet or unroll every damn roll of toilet paper in the place.

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Raising Girls – Parenting Wisdom From A Steve Biddulph Lecture

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Hi lovebugs,

I went to see the amazing Steve Biddulph talk last night. He’s the best-selling author of a bunch of parenting and self development books including Manhood and The Secret of Happy Children.

His talk last night was on Raising Girls.

raising girls

I was hoping me and Mr D could have a hot date together for it, but he had to do Dad-Duty, so I had to ride solo like the Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger with his beloved horsey Toto. Was it Toto? Let me check… WTF? TONTO? And it wasn’t his horse? WHAT? WHAT WORLD HAVE I BEEN LIVING IN????

Anyways… what I’m trying to say… it was just me and my journal. Which is totally a hot date in my books anyway.

I took some illustrated notes, coz that’s how I digest information… shared them on Instagram. Just like at the Growth Summit.

Let it begin!

 

yes

I love how he started his talk:

I’m just one guy, sharing what he has experienced and learned.

If your heart or your head don’t agree with it, just leave it behind.

Wise advice for everything in life (and business).

raising girls

Two important pieces of parenting wisdom he shared:

  • The best parenting question you can use over and over again is ask your kids: “And how do you feel about that?”
    Instead of just jumping in with every solution or what’s right or wrong. Just ask them how they feel. Let them develop faith in their own gut instinct.
  • Whenever your kid tells you something (even if you feel freaked out about it), make sure you understand to use two voices.
    1. What you think in your head
    2. What you say outloud to your kids
    And always stay calmer than your kids.

self confidence

This talk was bloody good and heart breaking all at once.

I felt really panicky once Steve started talking about the issues with raising girls right now.

He said he has spent his whole career focussing on men and boys, because as a family therapist, he believed he had to work where the disaster zone was.

And now the disaster zone is girls. Teenage girls.

After I came home, I had to have a loooooong talk with Chris on the couch. I went through all the notes of the lecture and told him what all the data was saying.

It was really full on.

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I feel like I’ve been a naiive, overly-optimistic Pollyanna about the depiction of women + girls in media.

Probably because I don’t feel that affected by it – I’m pretty in love with being Leonie usually.

But when Steve spoke of the marketing research done eight years ago that found that 8 year old girls were an untapped market, highly susceptible to social approval… and decided to exploit that…

I just felt rage.

8 year old girls, man! 8 YEAR OLD GIRLS!

Kids that because of bullshit marketing start believing they need to worry about their weight and attractiveness.

That’s all kinds of messed up.

teaches girls

I guess the thing is — we know that the above stuff isn’t really true.

Well, I hope we do.

And we also all grew up in an age pre-social media where we didn’t have to feel viligant over what our schoolmates were saying about us online.

Steve spoke about kids with iphone addictions who wake up during the night to check what people think of them.

And where as we – as adults – usually have a better sense of self and have coping mechanisms – for our kids… it’s way too much, too soon.

They don’t have the emotional resilience and sense of self… because that time in their childhood is being robbed from them.

ARGH!

ages

age part 2

What each age of girlhood is all about.

This was useful to look at ages and what each girl needs at each stage.

After this part, I just felt so so so bloody grateful to be married to Mr Dawson. Grateful that my girls get to have this dad who does this stuff totally innately.

And to try and garner some patience for my now five year old to tell me continuous friendship angst stories. And know that she needs to for healthy development.

body

We can only teach our kids what we embody.

And a beautiful way to finish up. Steve reminds us that we can only teach our kids what we believe and know.

 I was thinking about how perfect this video fitted in.

Our girls have to be surrounded by images and dolls of what it is to be a real girl and woman.

The lecture was incredible. Brilliant.

I’m so grateful that Steve is in the world, sharing his much needed message.

And am very grateful to my local council for doing such an amazing thing as bringing him to our town to help parents.

Steve Biddulph

Steve is beyond wise. An utter earth angel.

Highly recommend. His voice is so needed in the world.

I would highly recommend any of his brilliant books:

Feeling like a fierce mama bear.

Big love + blessings to all of you… and your children…

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The Mothering Book I Wish I Had Read

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Dearest one,

You are doing a good job.

I know this is hard.

I know this is hard.

I know.

I’m sorry.

*

I’m sorry you’re in pain right now.

I’m sorry it feels like your life has been ripped apart, asunder, in a million different pieces right now with none that are yours.

I’m sorry.

It will get better.

It will get better.

I promise.

*

Give yourself what you need.

You are the non-renewable resource here.

Give yourself time out.

Give yourself space to breathe and think and take a moment or twelve.

Give yourself the gift of those things you loved before the great earthquake came.

Ask for what you need. Ask for it again and again.

Ask for it from different people.

Find the support you need.

You need it.

You deserve it.

It will make it better.

*

There is not one right way to do this.

Not one way that will grade you as the perfect mother.

Not one way that will cure all the ills in this world.

And that’s okay my darlingheart.

That’s okay.

Please don’t grade yourself on those books.

*

Fuck the ideologies.

Fuck the experts.

Fuck the how to do it rights.

Fuck it all.

Cherish you and your truth and your child and your family

and that particular constellation of cells that make your universe up.

You’re the expert here.

You’re the one that has the authority and the power and the truth and the right

to make a life that is good and kind to your spirit and your families.

You can do it.

I trust in you.

You’ve got this.

*

Please don’t grade yourself on what mothering looks like on others.

You can only see the outer of their lives, not the inner.

You are important. You are needed. You are good and you are right.

You are a mother.

A wonderful mother.

And that’s enough.

It’s going to be enough.

*

You’re going to keep learning of course.

It’ll happen without you even pushing and straining.

It’ll happen because that’s how it always happens with life.

You’ll find out what you need when you need it.

You’ll find out because when you need an answer when you need it.

You don’t need to know everything before it’s begun.

*

Fuck it.

Burn the books.

Give yourself what you need.

Ignore how everyone else is doing it.

Follow only the simple song in your own heart,

the lightness in your own step,

the path that is calling you.

You deserve goodness.

You deserve to thrive.

You are mother.

*

All my love,
Always and all ways,
the stumbling, humbled, haemerroid-ridden, puking, but slowly getting it,

Still Here, Still Hurling: Reflections On Dark Nights Of The Soul + The Incredible Lightness of Being

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Hi my darlinghearts,

I’m still here. Still hurling. Still spending my days laying horizontal, praying to the vomit gods that this particular wave of nausea doesn’t end in a tidal wave out my mouth.

I’m managing to keep enough food and water down that I don’t need to head back to hospital right now. Small wins!

Sometimes my spirit feels really low. I sometimes feel scared terrified about this lasting for another six months until the end of this pregnancy. I sometimes feel hopeless, miserable, depressed and anxious about how out of control my body is right now, and how little control I have of my life.

(This is all totally normal feelings to experience during hyperemesis gravidarum.)

Sometimes I feel at peace. Sometimes I have enough bandwidth to gently coach myself through the hard moments “Okay, we can do this, let’s stand up and go to the bathroom now, you can do this. Okay, you’re vomiting now, that’s okay, you’re going to be okay. You’re doing great honey. I know this sucks. Yep, we can do this.”

Sometimes I don’t have enough bandwidth. Sometimes I have faith that even if it goes for another six months, we’ll be okay. Sometimes I don’t have that faith at all.

Sometimes I have to lean on Chris’ faith. I have to lean into him and cry and tell him “Just tell me that everything is going to be okay. Just give me a pep talk.”

And sometimes he finds the right words and sometimes he doesn’t. And either way, it ends up being okay.

I remember reflecting back on my first pregnancy, during my first experience of hyperemesis gravidarum. And how my prominent memory was of being so sick I couldn’t even read a book. And part of me would think “How is that even possible? Maybe I was overthinking it.”

Nope. Nope, I really wasn’t. It’s a real joy when I feel well enough to read.

With reading and writing and my usual brain facilities off on holiday somewhere, my ears seem to be the ones most able to delight in something.

These songs have been playing on repeat and bring me an enormous amount of pleasure in amidst it all:

And because this tickles my funny bones:

I’m living in a dreaming land at the moment. A hazy, soft world where the usual Leonie personality, drive, ego and identity don’t really exist. I’m too sick to talk and do do do. I’m sure this is a good lesson for a person who loves doing so much. A person like me.

So I lay. I lay, sometimes patient, sometimes bored, sometimes pissed at God.

I wait. I wait for the wave of nausea to pass so I can try to eat.

I wait for the crappiness to pass so soft tendrils of peace can find me again.

I wait for the illness to end.

And I sleep. I sleep because I am growing a whole new body in my uterus. I sleep because I’m on three different anti-vomiting medications and all of them are drowsy-making ones. I sleep because my body is tired from vomiting.

I sleep deeply, my body pinned down by the tired, liquid limbs into the mattress.

I sleep and I dream. I dream wild, vivid dreams. Dreams of the past. Dreams of hurt and pain, of all the ones that couldn’t love me the way I needed. Dreams where I finally voice: I’m angry. This wasn’t okay with me. Dreams of all the forgotten possibilities.

It’s Groundhog Day in my dreams. Where I follow the loops of my life and try out all the different options again and again.

And I come to realise:

No matter what, I would have chosen what I chose. The life I have is the life I always would have chosen. Even if it isn’t perfect. Even though it’s splendidly human.

Ultimately, they are dreams of healing. Resolving.

Sometimes I am whole and unhazy enough to see that this new little soul must have chosen me for a reason, and I chosen it. And that part of that preparation is cleaning out the decks of my body and spirit.

Sometimes I am grateful for the gentle washes of new wisdom that arrive at the shores of my soul.

About how I can accept the duality of this situation: that it is good and bad and awful and painful and enlightening all at once.

I don’t even know if this makes sense out of context, but these words from My Beloved World took my breath away with recognition:

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Those things that are true at the same time.

The moments where I crouch on the shower, grovelling, searching for God beneath the cracks. Those few, glistening moments in the afternoon when my crystal sun catcher is flooded by a beam of light and cascades rainbows around my room. Feeling hopelessly alone, feeling deeply supported.

Everything is going to be okay.

So much love and gentleness,

P.S. If I can please make a request – if you have any healing suggestions, please don’t share them with me unless there is evidence that it cures hyperemesis gravidarum specifically. This isn’t traditional morning sickness. It’s a complicated and serious illness with little known cures. I understand you really want me to feel better. Me too, dearest. Thank you for your loving thoughts. xoxo

The Love That Calls Us Forward

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A couple of weeks ago, I shared this post on how I was doing pregnancy differently this time around and what I was doing to keep my hyperemesis gravidarum under control.

(If you don’t know what HG is – it’s supreme crazy chronic morning sickness that results in all day nausea and vomiting. It’s an awful, awful, awful illness that can be life threatening if not managed correctly.)

Anyways, at that point, I was suuuuuper excited about the fact that I’d managed to avoid hospitalisation.

Woo hoo! I was thinking. This sucks biiiig time but at least I’m not THAT bad.

And then, as hyperemesis has a tendency of doing – it got worse. Much worse.

It got bad.

As my acupuncturist said:

Hyperemesis is like a many-headed monster. You cut one head off, you think you’ve got it treated, and it grows another. It’s incredibly difficult to stay on top of.

So I ended up in emergency for hydration drips and medications three times.

And then I got admitted to hospital as an inpatient for four days. My doctor wanted me to stay in for longer but I was really missing my lovely husband and daughter and soft soft bed by that point, so we agreed for my hunky love to nurse the shit out of me, and to head back into emergency as soon as I couldn’t keep fluids down again.

Please know: I’m not that strong and positive about this. I’ve heard from a number of HG suffererers who’ve wondered how the dick I can be so positive all the time. Please let me assure you, I’m not. I’ve cried every single day for the last five weeks. I’ve felt gloomy, depressed, completely rooted, unable to keep going, wondering: what the fuck was I THINKING getting pregnant again?

It’s such a bullshit illness that’s hard to describe. It’s relentless and emancipating. As one of my Facebook tribe said “I can usually see the positive in anything, but when I was going through hyperemesis I found it difficult to find any blessing in it. I still can’t.”

I feel the same. I think it’s a ridiculous invention and really wish women didn’t have to suffer from it.

At the same time, I’m immensely grateful for many, many things:

I’m grateful that Ostara is old enough to cope with me being ill and immobile and away from home. I’m grateful that my hunky love isn’t tied up with a job out of the house, and can easily  cover my absence in parenting and tending to the house. I’m grateful that Chris’ parents moved into our granny flat in March – they’ve been a huge support with looking after Starry and making me food.

I’m grateful for our house. It really is a beautiful space to be in – it’s so quiet and surrounded by green and fresh air and it’s just lovely to be here. I actually don’t mind vomiting so much when I’m outside – I feel like all the trees are leaning over me whispering in sympathy and the wind brings just the right amount of cleanse and everywhere, everything is green and fecund and alive and everything changes in a moment so it’s hard to stay stuck in misery.

I’m grateful that I live in Australia and am tended to by the amazing health care service here (all my emergency visits and hospital stay costs me zero! How amazing is that?) I’m also grateful that I don’t have to worry about money for medication – especially since one of them is kind of expensive. I am hugely grateful to the kindness and loving care and hardworking energy that those earth angels called doctors and nurses and midwives are. Those people CARE, and they make it their lives to tend to others. I was struck silent often by how amazing they are. I will never, ever grouch about taxes again. I will happily pay them with love knowing just how much of an impact they are making on so many lives on a daily basis.

I’m grateful for my business team – they really are incredible. I’m grateful that my business is set up to keep on rolling without me – still providing amazing programs and customer service to our wonderful clients. I’m grateful that even with me laying in a bed unable to move for most of a month, my business thrived (here’s the article I wrote about how to gear your biz to do the same) – and even GREW. It actually had its largest ever month after I wrote that article(!!) It completely blows my mind – it feels unimaginable to the Leonie of three years ago!

I’m grateful that I managed to be puke free for the Academy coaching call I had scheduled in. We ended up having a bloody magnificent time talking all about creating a six figure team (recording is available in the Academy). I’m grateful that I’ve had pockets of puke-free time since hyperemesis began five weeks ago. I’m especially grateful for this afternoon’s pocket of peace after a week of laying strictly horizontal to limit the voms.

And guys, one day (hopefully soon), I’ll stop talking about voms completely.

HOW GREAT WILL THAT BE?

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I’m immensely, immensely grateful for modern medicine. I’m a big ole alternate-therapy loving girl, but I am absolutely not afraid at all of combining the best of Eastern, Western and hippy medicine. They are all tools in the toolbelt and they all have their place. Hyperemesis gravidarum is a bloody serious illness – if I was born a couple hundred years ago, I’d be well and truly el fuckedo right now. It can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, termination of pregnancy, organ failure and death. In fact, many biographers postulate that Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre) died from hyperemesis gravidarum in her first pregnancy. At my point of hospital admission, my body wasn’t producing enough glucose to sustain a growing baby, and my muscles were starting to break down.

I hate to think where me and wee baby would be if we didn’t have the support of modern medicine.

Most of all, I’m grateful that I still have a strong, healthy wee babe inside me. I have asked myself a million times over the last five weeks:

Do I REALLY want to be pregnant? Do I REALLY want another kid?

And the answer is this:

No, I don’t really want to be pregnant (for some women it’s a blissful experience – for me it’s a tsunami of vomit at this stage of the game). No, I don’t want to be this sick.

But I really want this child. 

I love this child already. I love that it chose me. I love what its spirit feels like.

I love that Ostara has chosen this child too. I love that she talks to wee baby already, and asks to put her head on my belly so she can listen and talk to her sibling.

I love that my husband is unwavering in his belief that this child belongs to us.

And despite everything – despite it all –

Love is calling me forward.

As ancient as the beginning of time, love calls upon us to do what we could not do without.

Love asks of us great things,

so that we may be given the greatest gift of all.

I’m sending you love, peace, gentleness + kindness to where you are right now,