Sunday, March 27, 2011

Super Women - Helen Macnair

I am very lucky to have a handful of amazing women feature in my life somewhere. Some are so important to me, that it will take me a long time to be able to write about them. Some deserve a mention straight away. Helen Macnair is one of them. She is my pre & post natal yoga teacher.

Now, when I say yoga teacher, I don't mean one of those gym instructors who have taken a 6 week course in yoga to teach to the fitness freaks. I mean one of those teachers who have yoga running through their veins, those who live their lives as though it is one big asana. Just like you can tell a professionally trained dancer from the way she holds herself, you can tell that Helen is someone who cares for herself, mind body and spirit. She is a super qualified yoga teacher, having qualifications with Birthlight, Yoga Bugs and the Radiant child teacher training, and is also a trained doula. But to be honest, that doesn't really mean much to me. I am a beginner when it comes to the world of yoga. What is more important to me is what her classes taught me, pre-natal yoga in particular.

First of all, there is always something nice about sharing time with other pregnant women and listening to each others experiences. There is no sense of urgency in the classes, no rushing or skipping people. Helen always asked everyone how they were going with their pregnancies and always listened carefully to the answers. She is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to pregnancy ailments and non-invasive solutions. The yoga classes were often tailored to suit whatever was bothering us at the time, for example, bubs feet up in the rib cage! So many things she taught us, so much proof she showed us to trust our bodies.

I find it hard to be still. I could never meditate or slow my thoughts. Yoga changed that for me. I learned to breathe. I learned to take big, deep, slow breaths in. I learned to exhale out not only air, but pain and worry and fear.  These breaths gave me the strength to experience a natural, quiet, calm birth without intervention, without any distractions to disrupt that all important post natal time.

The benefit didn't stop there. These deep breaths also gave me strength when I needed it most. They stopped me from becoming depressed when I was separated from my baby by 100kms during her first night (as well as a good ol' cry to my mum) and spent the night in a maternity ward alone. I breathed my way through walking Ruby to surgery, I still don't know how my legs worked that day. When we were told about CF being a real possibility, I kept my composure by just breathing. I know it sounds basic, but can you remember a situation in your life that just took your breath away? Did you have someone there to whisper in your ear "just breathe"? I felt like I did.

Then there is the future. I have a daughter that will eventually develop chronic lung disease. Suddenly the phrase "just breathe" has taken on a whole new meaning. I want Ruby to learn how to breathe. And I don't mean like the blonde with the headphones kind of breathing. I mean the life saving, lung strengthening, head clearing, deep, breathing. Helen is my secret weapon, even if she doesn't know it yet! She will teach my daughter how to be strong, she will help her beat cystic fibrosis. I have full confidence in this, and a touch of mothers intuition.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Fictional Story

The father idly wondered if this child would be a boy or girl. Another boy to help him plow would be welcome. A girl, he supposed, would also be accepted. His young wife would appreciate someone to help with her with the daily chores, and he knew deep down that she would love to be mother to a daughter. The air was getting cold, he went back inside.

Inside his home, he could see the glow of the fire in the birthing room. Shadows flickered as the midwife and her helpers bustled around. He knew he had no business here so grabbed his warm woolen cloak and left for the local tavern.

The midwife was feeling confident about this birth. The laboring woman was of a good childbearing age and was strong in body and spirit. She could feel that the baby was in a normal position and low in the mothers womb. There was a warm bath waiting for the babe, and the swaddling cloths were clean and ready.

The mother had retreated into her own thoughts, wishing the birth to be successful. Praying that her and her baby would survive. She knew it was selfish, but she was willing for a daughter to be born. Her own little girl to love and nurture. Her thoughts were interrupted once again by the vice-like pain that tightened across her lower back and hips. She paced the room, trying to walk off the hurt. Suddenly things felt different, her baby had moved. The weight of the baby was pushing down into her, her body had the uncontrollable instinct to push. The midwife had noticed the change in the birthing woman and led her to the birthing stool. Here the woman sat, and cried and let out a scream of pain that turned into relief as the baby's head appeared. Another push and the body followed. A gurgling cry was heard as the midwife quickly tied off and cut the umbilical cord. She then cleared the mucus from its mouth and carried it over to the bath.

"What of my child?" called the mother, trying to see past the woman tending to her.
"Well, you have borne a babe with no disfigurement, but it is a girl"
The mother sat back and smiled. This is what she wanted. This is how it was meant to be. Her heart had instantly changed, it was now full of love. The midwife dried and swaddled the babe, and carried her to her mother for her first nurse. The baby suckled from its mother with ease. Her mother stared in wonder. She kissed her babes forehead.

"Why does my baby taste so salty?" she wondered out loud. The midwife stopped what she was doing. She turned around and licked the baby's forehead. She looked at the rosy, plump baby happily nuzzled against her mothers breast.
"I suggest you do not become too fond of the girl for she is bewitched and will not live past a year. I will call for the priest to baptise her straight away". She left the room and her helpers quickly followed. The young mother was confused. She looked at her perfect daughter and didn't believe it.

Life with a baby was hard. Her body healed well from the labour and her milk was flowing well. The baby though, was always hungry. It seemed the more she was fed, the fussier she became. And she was not the plump baby that was born those few moons ago. Her skin was loose on her bones, her face sharp and hollow. She was receiving extra feeds of bread soaked in goats milk, but her stomach was always hollow. She cried all the time and looked at her mother with desperation in her eyes.

Six months later, and the baby wasn't crying all the time. Her mother constantly carried her, trying to physically comfort her with her closeness. Her baby was tiny and sickly looking. She seemed too tired to make a noise. The most energy she used was when she was coughing which she was constantly doing. Every single breath was laboured. Her mothers heart had changed again. It was now full of worry and angst. What had she done wrong? Why was God angry at her? She hugged her daughter to her, and whispered in her ear.   "Sorry"

On the eighth month, the baby girl was able to breathe easy. She had grown her angel wings and left her body and her mothers world. Her mother stood by her grave and cried. She tasted her own salty tears and remembered what the midwife had told her.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Team Ruby

Well our day has been and gone. I'm sure everyone by now has heard me rave on about how touched and blown way I was with the amount of support and love that we received, so I won't write about the day. Instead, I have made a montage! Don't worry, it's not too emotional and not too long. But a picture tells a thousand words, so here you are...

Our fundraising so far is $14250 with more on it's way. Half the money goes to our CF clinic at Westmead hospital, the other half to CF NSW. It's not too late to donate if you haven't already!


***if you have more pics, send them to me! There are team members I am missing***