Diary from a new mum and grand­mother

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -


I have wanted to be a mum for as long as I can re­mem­ber. Yet, for all the yearn­ing, my road to moth­er­hood was not al­ways the ex­pertly-planned bliss I had in mind! I sep­a­rated from my part­ner of nine years when I was 12 weeks preg­nant, my labour was one for the books and, while now ex­cep­tion­ally sup­port­ive, ini­tially my fam­ily were not thrilled with the news.

Veya Ruth (Veya, mean­ing strength and power in San­skrit, and Ruth, af­ter my mother) ar­rived on Au­gust 10 at 6.31pm, weigh­ing 6lb 9oz af­ter a long and in­tense birth. I went into early labour on a Mon­day night, but un­til my mid­wife ar­rived and told me to get in the birthing pool and push, I had the false im­pres­sion I was still in early labour be­cause my con­trac­tions hadn’t moved from my back. I had read that when I was in ac­tive labour my con­trac­tions would move to the front, so I told Veya’s dad, Blair, there was still a long time to go and he should go to work. I even told my mid­wife, Gail Kiss from Gen­tle Birth, not to worry and just pop by when she had a mo­ment to check in. When she ar­rived on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, I was in the bath des­per­ately try­ing to ride out the con­trac­tions as one rolled into an­other. Gail took one look at me, es­ti­mated I was al­most eight cen­time­tres di­lated, told my mum to start fill­ing the birth pool and said Blair should get there as soon as pos­si­ble.

Un­for­tu­nately the ini­tial hype of an im­mi­nent baby turned out to be too op­ti­mistic. What fol­lowed were three hours of ex­haus­tive push­ing with­out much change. At one point Gail pulled Blair aside to tell him that with­out some se­ri­ous progress we would be go­ing to hospi­tal.


I chose to have an in­ter­ven­tion-free preg­nancy, mean­ing no scans or tests and no un­nec­es­sary mon­i­tor­ing of the baby in utero, and I al­ways knew I would have a drug-free home birth. In my birth plan I asked for as lit­tle in­ter­ven­tion as pos­si­ble; no phys­i­cal ex­ams or foetal mon­i­tor­ing un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary and for me to de­liver and be the first per­son to touch my baby.

On the day this just wasn’t to be. There were hands ev­ery­where and lots of check­ing on baby’s heart­beat be­cause she was stuck for so long. It wasn’t what I pic­tured but I am eter­nally grate­ful that Gail per­sisted and sup­ported me to stay home. When Veya was born it was re­vealed why it had taken so long – un­be­known to us, Veya was oc­ciput trans­verse – or ‘side­ways’, some­thing my mid­wife told me that in her al­most 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence she had only heard of one other baby in this po­si­tion be­ing born nat­u­rally. De­spite the chal­leng­ing labour, Veya was alert, her big eyes wide open as she took in her new world.

Un­for­tu­nately Veya couldn’t latch for the first 24 hours, so I spent this time hand-ex­press­ing colostrum and af­ter 24 hours she was latch­ing with a nipple shield. Think­ing back on our first night to­gether, I didn’t have a clue what I was meant to be do­ing; there’s just so much you don’t know in the early days. I didn’t re­alise that when baby has to feed ev­ery three hours you start tim­ing from when the feed starts. I thought I would have three-hour blocks in be­tween to do what­ever I wanted! It took Veya up to 90 min­utes to feed in the be­gin­ning so gen­er­ally I was left with barely an hour to race around and clean up be­fore we started all over again.


On day five, I had my first ma­jor melt­down. I knew my hor­mones were all over the show but I was so deliri­ously in love with Veya and moth­er­hood that it caught me by sur­prise. The trig­ger was try­ing to in­stall the car seat with Veya howl­ing in the back­ground. She re­cov­ered quickly and de­cided to have a nap. I, on the other hand, cried in­con­solably for more than an hour.

Af­ter a few weeks, once the de­light­ful new­born sleepi­ness wore off, I re­alised I was liv­ing with a se­ri­ously feisty, tiny dic­ta­tor. Veya would re­sist sleep dur­ing the day for as long as pos­si­ble, her eyes popping open the mo­ment I thought she’d drifted off. I’m loosely fol­low­ing the at­tach­ment par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy so “wear” her in a baby wrap on my chest most of the day. Wrapped tightly close to my heart, she would sleep soundly but then peo­ple started ask­ing what I would do when she was five months old and my back hurt too much to wear her ev­ery nap.

So much of first-time par­ent­ing is trial and er­ror, chang­ing your mind and try­ing again. I thought I had hit the jack­pot with the wrap and de­fi­antly told doubters it was im­pos­si­ble to spoil a new­born and she was too young to learn bad habits. But at five weeks old Veya would some­times stay awake for four hours dur­ing the day be­fore los­ing the plot and fi­nally fall­ing asleep in the wrap.

As I write this, it is day four of sleep train­ing – sit­ting with her,

shush­ing and gen­tly pat­ting her to sleep. So far, so good.

I have two old dogs, who have both ac­cepted Veya with­out hes­i­ta­tion, loy­ally guard­ing her while she feeds and sleeps.

Veya is now six weeks old now and I can’t be­lieve how fast it’s go­ing. I de­light in watch­ing her dis­cover the world and ev­ery new mile­stone is cause for many pho­tos and videos. The road has been rocky at times but so far it has sur­passed my ev­ery ex­pec­ta­tion. And af­ter want­ing this for so long, I’m be­yond happy to fi­nally have joined the club.


Watch­ing your child be­come a par­ent is an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I hadn’t been pin­ing to be a grandma, I re­ally wanted Ka­sia to ce­ment her ca­reer, but now that Veya is here our whole fam­ily has fallen in love with her and we are de­lighted to take on our new role as her big­gest sup­port­ers. Although Ka­sia gave her the beau­ti­ful name Veya, to us she is “Mippy” and has been since she was a minute old. (Ka­sia was “Kippy” when she was small).

In spite of the cir­cum­stances, Ka­sia man­aged a calm and serene home birth. She has car­ried this calm­ness over into her moth­er­ing in a way I ad­mire and wish I could have em­u­lated. Mippy couldn’t latch on at first so Ka­sia col­lected then sy­ringed colostrum for the next 24 hours with­out bat­ting an eye­lid. Par­ent­ing has given my life such mean­ing and di­rec­tion and I am thrilled for Ka­sia to be start­ing on her own jour­ney.

I think my daugh­ter’s gen­er­a­tion is bet­ter at ask­ing for help and ad­mit­ting when times are tough. With my first I was too proud to ask for sup­port and strug­gled through many sleep­de­prived months. Ka­sia’s ex­pe­ri­ence is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. She de­lights in each and ev­ery tiny mile­stone that Mippy reaches and shares her de­light with her fam­ily and whanau with mul­ti­ple pho­tos ev­ery day. We have all been swept up in Ka­sia’s en­thu­si­asm for the first smiles and Mippy’s leg­endary abil­ity to pull funny faces and start en­gag­ing with the world.


Be­ing a par­ent is such a fraught role. It comes with so much re­spon­si­bil­ity and can seem over­whelm­ing. There are de­ci­sions to be made, bound­aries to be set, things to clean and end­less meals to pre­pare. In con­trast, my grand­par­ent role seems clearly de­fined and my job is sim­ply to al­ways be in Mippy’s cor­ner.

Ka­sia and I dif­fer in our par­ent­ing styles but none of this mat­ters. All I need to do is love Mippy, sup­port Ka­sia with what­ever de­ci­sions she makes and if I get lucky, the ic­ing on the cake will be to coach Mippy in school sport and get an­other life­time of plea­sure from watch­ing both of them make their way in the world. 

Veya, or ‘Mippy’ as she’s known to the rest of the fam­ily, takes her very first bath

A trea­sured cardi­gan, hat and booties were knit­ted by a close friend

Veya loves her bright and colourful ac­tiv­ity cen­tre

Ka­sia was granted her wish of hav­ing a drugfree home birth

Ka­sia fol­lows the at­tach­ment par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy and wears Veya on her chest for most of the day

Mum-to-be Ka­sia breathes through con­trac­tions in the birthing pool, with Blair by her side

Sweet lit­tle Veya is slowly set­tling into a man­age­able sleep pat­tern

Veya takes a break while out on a shop­ping ex­pe­di­tion

Nana Jill ad­mires her daugh­ter’s calm par­ent­ing style Jill is be­sot­ted with her grand­daugh­ter, and Veya feels the same about her Nana!

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