Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PARENTING AT FOUR WEEKS...I'VE GOT IT DOWN!!!


The twelve points of 4 weeks of parenting
1.              sleeping for 4 hours in total is an excellent outcome
2.              moving out of the marital bed to sleep squashed up on the couch with my marsupial/pterodactyl is now the norm
3.              sitting in undies soaked with my daughters wee for a few hours until I can manage five seconds for a wash is entirely normal
4.              soft cheeses
5.              sushi
6.              making up songs to narrate my new life. Current hits include; ‘things aren’t as bad as you’re making them seem,’ ‘you’re just fussing,’ and the ever popular ‘you’re awake again my darling child.’
7.              Mothers group…that is a lot of oestrogen in one room, but so far it’s not overly offensive
8.              99% of the affection that used to be directed towards my husband is now focused exclusively on our new tenant
9.              one-handed typing – how am I going?
10.           Greeting dawn for 29 days straight. In case you’re wondering, it’s quite beautiful
11.           Almost daily jaunts to cafes with similarly situated women. If you’d asked when I lived in New York, I’m not sure I could have envisaged the scene!
12.           Qualified or not, bumbling or absolute precision, I am completely and utterly immersed in this parenting gig and loving every second of it, even points 1, 3 and 10

Monday, December 20, 2010

THE PEANUT'S FIRST CHRISTMAS

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.
I do intend to blog before then, but in case I don't, (I'm yet to buy a single christmas gift, haven't prepared my part of the christmas feast or packed for our beach holiday that begins on boxing day) I hope yours is a fabulous day filled with fun and family.
Thank you for reading and sharing my adventures, I hope you continue with me on the journey...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CONTRACTIONS, BACK LABOUR AND BANANA FLAVOURED CONDOMS

“Oh, you’re in labour. I just thought you were having really loud sex,” says our upstairs neighbour inviting herself into our living room where I was dressed only in undies and a singlet, bent over the couch and moaning my way through a ‘this is happening WAY faster than the baby school said it would’ contraction.
“Here. I brought you borscht,” she says, heading for the fridge. “It’s beetroot soup. I don’t suppose you want it now though do you?” I manage – just – to shake my head.
Am I in a farce? Did I just get offered traditional eastern-european soup while in the throes of a labour moving so quickly there is some doubt that with peak-hour traffic we will even make it to the hospital on time?
“We’re heading to the hospital,” Gregory informs our neighbour calmly as he comes in from packing the car with a birth bag filled with ‘essential items’ that we didn’t even bother to take in with us. So much for comfy shoes, jellybeans and yoga breathing to get me through this endurance event. No one mentioned it could possibly be a sprint.
“Yes, that’s probably a good idea isn’t it,” she says patting me on the back. “Off you go then. Good luck. We’ll see you later.”
And less than two hours later, we became parents. And that’s all I’m going to say about that birthing biz, because now I too am part of the club that keeps the covenant. None of you ladies told me the truth about evicting a human through your nether regions, so apart from saying that my darling child came out like superman with her fist alongside her head, and that had she consulted me first I would have politely asked her not to do that as there wasn’t much room for her head as it was, my lips are sealed. Although I did appreciate the ingenuity of the midwives who afterwards handed me an ice filled condom – no, not as a metaphor for me to put a freeze on my sex life – but rather to shove between my legs to help with the swelling. My friend (who beat me to the finish line and gave birth the day before) asked her husband to go out and buy her some so they could continue the treatment once they were home. Diligently he did just that, returning with the only variety they had…flavoured condoms. Can you imagine your hoo-ha smelling like a tropical fruit ice block?




The peanut came out very nice and clean and smelling like a salami. But a nice salami – one that had been aged forty weeks and one day. Cleverly, she had managed to grow all the correct parts of her body in all the correct quantities and I am pleased to report that so far her nose looks great…ie not mine, at least not yet. But that’s not to say it won’t morph into the honker I have, because you see, mother nature designs baby’s noses so that they are the perfect shape to fit over the mother’s nipple and boob while still allowing them to breathe when they’re breast feeding. Good thing too, or I wouldn’t have made it past day one if I’d been born with what I eventually grew. It hinders me even now – drinking champagne for example, (which I quite like to do when I’m not growing or breastfeeding a human) is almost an anatomical impossibility for me – my nose is so big it gets stuck on the opposite rim from my lips making it nigh on impossible for me to get any liquid from the glass. Drinking champagne out of a red wine glass is just fine at home, but no one really understands that request when you’re out in public.
So, a day later we brought our little human home and discovered she’s not really a human after all. She’s really more part marsupial part pterodactyl. She certainly defies the statistic that babies her age are only awake 10% of the time, and sleeping with her is like camping in Jurassic park. She screeches and squawks so loudly she startles herself out of sleep thereby forcing us to start the settling process all over again. Still doesn’t manage to wake her father though, and his snores don’t seem to bother her, so it’s just me, sandwiched between my very own family orchestra – percussion, brass and a fair bit of wind. Thing is, as tired as I am, it’s still music to my ears.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A TWO WEEK OLD BABY = THE ULTIMATE DISTRACTION

I know, I know, two weeks and not a peep. This little human of ours is a brilliant time waster. i've also never been more popular than since I became the mother of Quinn. (If your self esteem needs a boost, have a baby. You'll be playing second fiddle to them of course, but you can still claim credit for any of their greatness, good looks or advanced behaviour).
I'm also hesitant to post anything without getting someone else to read it first, given that I'm going on not more than four hours sleep a night since the day she was born. There's a reason they train our military forces to cope with sleep deprivation as a means of torture.
I do declare that a blog is on the way...stand by for updates...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

THE PEANUT BECOMES A HUMAN

Sorry folks, been a little distracted.
Introducing the peanut...her earth name shall be Quinn.
More blogging to come, but I'm afraid I get a little distracted staring, sniffing, smiling, crying, laughing, marvelling, gazing and adoring my very own little human.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NIPPLE TWEAKING AND RIGOROUS SEX...and still no peanut


Thursday was my birthday and my birthday wish was for the peanut to arrive before the weekend is out. It is 10.30 on Saturday morning, and apart from the now constant Braxton Hicks that accompany me wherever I go, it is showing no signs of obliging its mother’s request.
Why aren’t I using this time to write the next great Australian novel? I never have enough time to do all the writing I want, and here I’ve been handed the rarest of gifts – time to use however I choose – and I spend it doing online research into pressure points to induce labour, reading articles debating whether raspberry tea really works and whether or not nipple tweaking is a good idea. For the record, sitting on the couch playing with my nipples for hours at a time (as the study suggested) doesn’t strike me as a particularly good use of time. If however, you can incorporate it with another labour inducing suggestion of rigorous sex well then, that would be a fine way to while away the hours indeed.
All you parents out there are probably shaking your heads and thinking; ‘how frivolous she is. If only I had that time again I’d wash the curtains, alphabetise the dvd collection, and finally get around to crocheting that table cloth.’ Lucky for me we don’t have curtains, or dvd’s for that matter and I could only manage to crochet if I’d been locked in a room for a decade with no other stimulus provided.
I do walk. Ten kilometers in fact, and depending on where the baby is sitting, it can take anywhere from one hour to nearly two. (The lower the baby’s head, the shorter and more awkward my gait. I look like one of those old Asian ladies you see in 70’s films). The other day I even managed to jog. 
Jogging is defined by a period of time where both feet are off the ground simultaneously and while this wasn’t necessarily that comfortable, nor I am sure that pretty for those around me who viewed it, it felt fantastic. Abso-bloody-lutely fantastic. I cannot wait to get back out there again, the theme song from Chariots of Fire running through my mind as I stride (or more accurately plod I imagine) around the streets of Sydney, the sweat slicking off my arms, the sun cream mixing with the salt, the familiar burn in my calves as I force myself up the next hill.
Call me crazy, but apart from the obvious of falling more in love with the human we’ve created and getting to know it and spending hours just staring at it and all that, the single thing I am most looking forward to, is tying on my sneakers and going for a run. I’ve run probably on average 4 times a week since I was four years old. That’s a lot of distance. It’s my therapy. My anti-anxiety drug. And it works too – when I was desperate and poor in New York City, lonely in outback Australia, rained on in London, heartbroken in middle America, homesick in Santa Monica, everything was better when I got back from a run.
But for now, I’ll placate myself with a walk. A poor second but it’s the best I can do until this baby of mine decides to come out and meet its anxious parents. If you’re a runner, have a jog for me…

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BRAXTON HICKS - A LESSON IN PATIENCE

I can now almost doze through the Braxton Hicks.
Braxton Hicks, for those of you who’ve asked, are fake contractions. Apparently all women get them and you can have them for months and months, but I only started to become aware of them when they started to HURT. Who cares what happens if I can’t feel it? 
Braxton Hicks are like a dress rehearsal before opening night. But I’m beginning to think my stage partner and I are dreadfully over prepared. We’ve had a couple of ‘ten out of twelves’ (ten hours of rehearsal in one twelve hour period) but Union rules demand that you can only have two of those, and we’ve had three at least and gone over ten hours each time. Where’s my compensation for that huh? We’ve also had several tech runs, and although I’ve assured the peanut that the rest of the crew knows exactly what they’re doing, it insists on re-running every detail, except – of course – for the main event. Costume fitting and dress rehearsal are done, (bags are packed and ready by the front door) tickets are sold out and people from the waiting list keep calling to see when they can come and I’ve turned down other contracts so I can really focus on this role.
COME ON PEANUT, WHERE ARE YOU??????
Back on the Braxtons, it’s not the greatest sleep I’ll admit, when every few minutes you get awoken by a gradual tightening in your abdomen that runs from just under your boobs all the way down to your notcha (not your girls bits and not your back bits) or perineum if you prefer the professional term. A tightening that starts out seemingly quite harmless, but quickly makes you feel that there is not in fact enough room for the human inside, causing everything to press forward and down, compressing all internal organs and stretching any exterior flesh. My stomach feels like its trying to return to its previous non-pregnant size without accounting for the three kilo human currently residing there.
I told you, I am a professional pre-labourer.
I’ve tried it all – hot chilies, sex, walks, raspberry leaf capsules, pressure points, talking to the peanut…about the only thing we haven’t tried is castor oil and that’s because deliberately initiating diarrhoea amidst all the other bodily functions that now have a life of their own seems hazardous indeed.
Patience has never been my strong suit. Saying ‘any day now’ to a kid like me is the proverbial red flag to a bull. Plus I’m also starting to get…dare I say it…bored. I’m not a wait-er, I’m a do-er. And if we don’t do this thing soon…oh what am I saying, if we don’t do this thing soon, I’ll just wait longer. What choice do I have? I’m not the one in charge.

THE PEANUT GOES SURFING AT 39+ WEEKS

It was a hot day, but still too early in the season for the water to have warmed up to any comfortable degree. I was so cold my hands hurt, but I think I stayed in so long because it felt fabulous to be weightless.
On the down side, I may have shocked the peanut so badly it now figures that if this is what it's like on the outside, it is staying exactly where it is thank you very much.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC - THE ULTIMATE CONTROVERSY!

What do you think of this posting people?
Personally, I'm so proud of my enhanced mammary glands, I'm going to bust 'em out any chance I get. Even if the peanut isn't hungry.
And it's summertime folks, perfect for low cut tops and plunging necklines.
Maybe you can't relate, but you're dealing with a girl who (up until now) barely made it out of training bras.
This is my time people, myyyyyyyyyyyyyyy time!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

THE BLOODY SPORT OF CHILDBIRTH

“Are you a natural redhead?” asked the woman in the shoe shop. I nodded my reply. “You’d better be careful then. Redheads have difficulty clotting. I nearly bled out and had to have three transfusions when I gave birth.”
WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? What part of someone’s brain thinks; ‘gee, this woman looks ready to pop. I could':
a/ignore her pregnant state since she is a total stranger and I’ll never see her again in my entire life anyway.
b/offer words of encouragement, or tell her she looks great even if she more accurately resembles a bloated, puffy, fluid retaining whale or
c/consider scaring her stupid with my tale of childbirth, which is slightly embellished because I’ve already told her how I’m still harbouring some resentment over having to give up a career in marketing to be closer and more accessible to the kids who caused me to haemorrhage in the first place.
I know, I’ll pick c.
My husband calls me a conversation igniter and while sympathetic to my experience, feels that if I could just stop encouraging the dialogue and shut people down before they got going, I wouldn’t end up in these conversations in the first place.
But who says things like that anyway I ask you? Have they no sensibilities at all? 
Some of my friends have opined that as it is most likely the single and greatest endurance event these women have ever been through, they feel the need to relive their glory (or gory) day with anyone in or about to join the club. 
Now I’m not dismissing the difficulty of this upcoming activity, in fact, all these horror stories are beginning to destroy my optimism that I will make it through at all, but I would just like to point out that over 75% of women in the world give birth completely unassisted and with no medical support whatsoever. 
Although, on closer consideration, I’ll have to find that statistic again, because now I’m not sure if it had a clause about redheads…

Monday, November 8, 2010

GETTING HIGH A SURE SIGN OF IMPENDING LABOUR


“You know when you smoke a joint,” says a woman to me in front of her two children at the local cafĂ© this weekend, “that’s how you’ll feel twenty-four hours before you go into labour. That’s how you know you’re going to have your baby.”
Has absolutely anybody else in the universe experienced this twenty-four hour utopia? Because not a single, solitary person has ever mentioned it to me apart from this complete stranger. And I looked it up in the books too – doesn’t exist there either. Now, I’m not saying she’s wrong, every woman’s journey is their own, (I learned that in baby school) I’m just wondering if, now that she is the mother of two, she remembers her childless days only as a hazy, euphoric wonderland in comparison to the sleep deprived, demanding, relentless existence she currently inhabits.
Not that it sounds bad mind you. After the peanut’s second practice run, I would quite prefer twenty-four hours of chilled-out bliss in comparison to the pacing, breathing, exhausting efforts of two nights ago.
Whatever happens, we are following the peanut’s agenda. As I suspect we may be for quite some time…

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BRAXTON HICKS PRACTICE RUN...DO WE NEED ANOTHER???


The peanut ran another practice session last night – unrelenting Braxton Hicks from 5pm until 6am whereupon its mother fell into a restless sleep until 8.30 before fronting up at the hospital for our midwife visit. Encouragingly, the midwife said all this practicing could make for an efficient labour, and that the effacement (that’s headbutt in the clacker for us laymen) is a good sign the peanut is getting ready to move out. She also said I did exactly the right thing in dealing with them - all I did was breathe and try to rest which wasn’t too hard since they are the two activities I would have been doing at three am had the peanut not interrupted me anyway. And so we continue to wait – we are on peanut time – and I have given myself the project of finding us somewhere to live. That’s right folks, we will be moving with a newborn…or else living on the streets with a newborn, as our lack of credit and nonexistent rental history (owing to my extended time away and Gregory’s foreign status) are proving a little problematic. Not even turning up pregnant and waddling seems to be getting me the sympathy vote. Hopefully the two eviction notices – ours and mine to the peanut – will not arrive simultaneously. May you all be having more success with your schedules than we are with ours!

THE PEANUT GOES GLOBAL BEFORE IT EVEN ARRIVES ON PARENTINGEXPRESS.COM

I wrote this at the beginning of this marathon towards motherhood, and it was published on an internet magazine this week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MIDWIVES, DUE DATES AND DETERMINED LITTLE BABIES


Stand by for updates. That’s how I finished my last blog. I certainly hope you haven’t been doing that literally, or you’d have very tired feet by now. The peanut is showing no further signs of imminent arrival than it was the other day. On Monday the professionals told us ‘any day now’ which I’m sure is to make sure people like us scurry about the city, madly installing baby capsules, purchasing mattress protectors, cleaning the house and getting their eyelashes tinted (that was just me actually, because red heads don’t have eyelashes so we need a little artificial assistance. Normally I go for a bit of mascara, but after what could be eighteen hours of labour, I sincerely doubt there will be any left on my lashes, and forever immortalising me with black streaks down my entire face in the first pictures of the peanut’s life is not going to look good now or at the peanut’s twenty-first birthday).
Apparently the peanut is just practicing. If this keeps up, I’ll be an expert for my first labour before I ever go through it. I can now walk ten k’s with constant Braxton Hicks, eat through nausea, (lets face it, going into an endurance event on an empty stomach is just foolish) and sleep through extreme back pain. I am a professional pre-labour-er.
Is this an indicator of the peanut’s personality? Is it a planner? Someone who can’t do anything spontaneous because it hasn’t been rehearsed. Or maybe it’s a joker, someone who likes to mess with your head and let you know who’s in charge. It could be a nervous Nelly and just needs to feel reassured it has done everything it can to prepare for the event. Perhaps it has trust issues already and doubts its mother’s ability to bring it through. Or maybe it’s a stickler for details and is following pregnancy protocol as finitely as if it were reading one of my books.
I don’t know. Though I suppose I will soon enough if I believe the professionals. So far they haven’t steered me wrong. It's just that ‘any day now’ is a bit too ambiguous for a redheaded Scorpio like me. Fiery, passionate, impatient and determined. That’s us. We like to be the ones in charge. The thing is, if the peanut arrives within the next few weeks that’s exactly what it will be too…

Monday, November 1, 2010

BRAXTON HICKS ARE NO LAUGHING MATTER


Have any of you ever been head butted in the vagina? 
I have, and despite it causing you to stop what you’re doing and cock your leg at an awkward angle like a dog over a bush, it is still preferable to doing your taxes. I know, as of yesterday they’re overdue, but surely if anything gets you off having your taxes done on time, it’s impending childbirth. And I really doubt the Australian taxation office is going to chase down someone who earned below the poverty line. Again. I have more in claims than I do in earnings.
Doing taxes is so excruciatingly painful for me, that half the time I can’t even be bothered putting in all my deductions because that just makes the whole process take longer. I will willingly miss out on money because sitting in front of a computer, adding up how much I spent on stationary causes my eyes to water then glaze over entirely, my brain to cease any independent thought and I hear a low humming in my ears.
I would rather go through labour than do my taxes. And that’s a wish that just might come true rather sooner than we thought apparently. The baby is engaged, (hence the head butting on the clacker) the Braxton Hicks are more present than not and gathering momentum as I type, and several other less savoury systems have kicked into action too. (It’s messy this childbirth gig. Lots of leaking and unidentifiable liquid presenting itself at inopportune times and making you rather nervous you might embarrass yourself in public).
The bags are packed…sort of. I’ve got some clothes sitting out on the couch with sundry other items like wheat packs, dried prunes, (constipation after pushing a human out from between my legs sounds like something I’d rather avoid if you don’t mind) enough sensible undies to supply a private girls’ school and a charged camera. I’d say we’re ready. As ready as we’re ever going to be given that no one is actually qualified to raise a human. Stand by for updates people, the peanut is getting closer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BORED WHILE BREASTFEEDING? LOOK NO FURTHER!


Bored while breastfeeding? Worry no more. Just read my list of handy anti-boredom activities and you’ll make it to the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 24 months of breastfeeding no troubles at all.
1.              Itemise and file your deductable receipts month by month so that come tax time you don’t want to stab yourself in the eyeball with your felt tip pen. (This is a current anguish I am experiencing).
2.              Sing the entire score of every Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to your baby, paying careful attention to the accent of the King in The King And I.
3.              Read the stack of Spectrum and Sunday Life magazines you’ve been saving since March this year and finally get up to date on now out of date books and movies.
4.              Watch The Breakfast Club and Twenty One Jump Street and reminisce about how you were glued to them while you were meant to be studying for your final school exams.
5.              Stare at the gorgeous creature you created and marvel at yours’ and your partner’s clever-ness.
6.              Type – one handed - the novel you were meant to write while you were growing your little human, but somehow ran out of time.
7.              Do your pelvic floor exercises because the midwives have scared you into thinking that if you don’t, your going to be walking around one day and your uterus will just fall right out of you.
8.              Watch late-night infomercials. Truly people, they can be fascinating. I’ve been known to unwind from a show by sitting in front of the tv and watching people sell jewelry, unable to go to bed until I get to see their face.
9.              Write a list of jobs your partner could do to help you out. For example, putting on a load of washing doesn’t count. Hanging it out, however, is how you earn brownie points.
10.           See how many m and m’s you can consume in one breastfeed. You can come up with compulsory colour patterns to really add to the challenge if you like.

Monday, October 25, 2010

CHECK ME OUT ON T-SQUAT.COM

I've had my article included in issue three of T-Squat an online mag for emerging artists. I'm a few stories in, just scroll down till you see my name.
Very exciting people. Check it out, there is a lot of good material for you to while away a boring office afternoon...

THE PEANUT STRIKES A POSE


The peanut is rounding nicely don't you think? Less than four weeks till it receives an eviction notice from its landlord. Though I don't mind if it comes a couple of weeks early, but only a couple. I still need time to finish work and have the facial I've been promised for my birthday (three days before the peanut's due date of Nov 21).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BABY, BABY, MAKE MY BRAIN GROW!


My extreme pregnant amnesia may be in its final few weeks. Read this.
And if you didn’t bother, (which is perfectly acceptable by the way) I’ll give you the cliff notes version. My brain is actually set to grow after I give birth. The only thing I have to do is interact with my baby because the research showed the mother’s brain wouldn’t grow unless this occurred. Gee, tough job. I’ve only been carrying you around for thirty-six weeks, rubbing you when you have hiccups, singing to you, washing your nappies, writing you letters, breathing through your now rather uncomfortable Braxton Hicks that keep me up most of the night, and telling you daily just how much I already love you, that I think I’ll find it really difficult to interact with you once you’re an official human.
This is a piece of good news for a mother-in-training who was actually going to write a blog about feeling like a beached whale. A water-retaining hippopotamus, a custard arse, a jelly belly, a (yes I have to admit my brothers may be right) big unit.
Pregnancy, I suspect, is designed to make a woman grateful for what she had. I saw a picture of me when we first arrived in Australia earlier this year, right before I fell pregnant and look, a model I was never in danger of being, but the muscle tone I had was really quite nice. Rumour has it, I can get it back, but the midwife did warn me that if I started running too soon I risk developing a prolapsed uterus. According to the dictionary, prolapse means a slipping forward or down of one of the parts or organs of the body, and oddly enough, having half my uterus hanging out of me does not sound like an ideal situation.
But (and this could evoke some dissent amongst the ranks) my only criticism with the pre-natal care I’m enjoying (free, I might add, thanks to the Australian healthcare system) is their extreme nervousness with post-natal exercise in general and running in particular. Blah, blah, blah, I know it’s bad for your knees, and the trauma of birth can really be, well quite traumatic, but it’s got to be all relative doesn’t it? I mean sure, if you’ve never run a day in your life I don’t suggest you pick it up after a 36-hour labour or an emergency caesarian, but I’ve been running on average, five days a week since I was about four years old. It’s in my blood, in my probably pre-arthritic bones, in my system instead of anti-anxiety medication which I would surely have been popped on at various stages of my life had I not been able to throw on my sneakers and a smelly old singlet and run my troubles away. 
I saw my neighbour return from a run yesterday and felt such a wash of envy as I waddled to the car, that for five seconds I even considered getting out there and giving it a bit of a go. 
But it would be so unsatisfying; rolling over is currently an Olympic event. Getting out there and sweating and panting till I can’t sweat and pant no more is probably at least a depressing two months away. And now, as I sit here on my ever expanding derriere, writing about the exercise I’m not able to do, I realise I should lever myself up and head out for a low-impact walk.
Four weeks to go folks, and though I’ve had a bit of whinge today, I do recognise that thus far – touch wood – mine has been a textbook pregnancy. With any luck, the baby will walk right out of me, I’ll be stitch free and polishing my running shoes as my baby sleeps perfectly by my side. 
Yeah right.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BABY BRAIN, BLOW JOBS AND WHY I HATE TRIFLE


“Sorry I’m late Miss Naomi,” said one of my younger students on Saturday, “my mum had to do a blow job.” What she meant of course, is that her mother is a hairdresser and had to blow dry someone’s hair, but I liked her way so much better and it was enough to keep me chuckling for the next six hours as I dragged my pregnant arse through a day of singing, drama and dance. “Everybody else, put your hands on your hips,” I said to my eight-year old tappers, “I’m going to hold up my belly,” and I wrapped my arms under my widening load and proceeded to perform a series of time steps, looking less like someone who has danced since they were three and more like an electrocuted beetle with an unfortunate issue with its centre of gravity. If the peanut comes out with slight brain damage from in-utero shaking we’ll know why.
I was on the bus the other day (which is really just an occasion where you’re trapped and subjected to a complete stranger’s labour stories once they spy your ever burgeoning belly) and one such woman was boring me silly with her gestational diabetes and advice on who to listen to. Not you, I wanted to say, but instead I asked how old her son was, as he looked tall enough to be in school but was still squashed into one of those rickety old prams. “Oh he’s just over a year. I know he’s big isn’t he?” she replied nonchalantly, seeing my look of surprise. “I ate a lot of chicken while I was pregnant. It’s the hormones you know.”
“How do you think this relates to the postpartum period?” asked our midwife, holding up a packet of jelly. No one said a word. “Think metaphorically,” she said as if that was meant to help.
“To remind us we need quick snacks?” said one guy eventually, though without any sense of conviction.
“You make jelly with water and that’s what’s in the amniotic fluid,” suggested someone else, which I thought was a particularly gross parallel.
“No, no, no. It’s to show you ladies what your bellies are going to look like after you give birth. You’re not going to get your svelte, tight tummies back overnight you know.”
I mean really. What a depressing analogy. I am well aware my mother’s arse and blubbery middle are going to need some serious attention (despite people’s assurance that if you eat sensibly and breastfeed you’ll be back to your fighting weight in no time) but now every time I imagine myself once the peanut is a human, all I can picture is my belly replaced with piles and piles of quartered orange peels hollowed out and filled with orange jelly, which was a staple (along with frankfurters and fairy bread) at any child’s birthday while I was growing up. I’ve never liked jelly. It goes on trifle, and helps contribute to that being the most pathetic, sorry excuse for a desert ever invented. A blight on the Australian landscape of lemon meringue pie, lamingtons and the good old Aussie pav. 
Who takes stale cake, mixes it with leftover custard, tops it with jelly (which never tastes anything like the fruit it is trying to portray anyway) and calls it sweet? It is the poor man’s dessert, using leftovers to their bitter end, but no one actually lets cake get stale in the first place, which means the compiler of said dessert (for they do not deserve the elevated title of chef or patissier) is an even bigger tight arse than yours truly and actually purchased the cake from the sale rack in Coles on a Saturday afternoon in a small country town which still shuts down on Sundays.
I seem to have digressed, and I apologise, but let it be known that I have big issues with jelly in general and trifle in particular. Neither of which have anything to do with giving birth which is what I believe I was originally talking about. Though I can’t be sure, as I am suffering dreadfully from baby brain and have absolutely no short-term memory. If I didn’t meet you more than nine months ago, you’re new to me every time we cross paths. I am a goldfish. You’d think it would be sweet relief to be so constantly vague and unaware, but it’s not. It’s actually dreadfully embarrassing. Like the other day when I had an entire conversation with a woman about her husband, all the while thinking she was talking about her son. Or asking people I meet (for what I think is the first time) exactly the same question less than three minutes apart. Any child I teach that started class after I conceived has been called every term of endearment I can remember until I’ve had a chance to read the notes I now take scrawled in my book. Short, blonde hair, mum is annoying. Although as I discovered last Saturday, even that wasn’t enough to help me out. 
Back in January I really thought this baby brain gig was a bit of a nonsense, but I am living testament to the fact that it is very, very, disturbingly, distressingly real. It is an ailment curiously similar to husband brain as it turns out, and thus far Gregory and I have lost and found jewelry, cheques, money, letters, bills and wedding invites in our collective amnesia. Chronic fatigue can’t be helping either - between the Braxton Hicks and the nightmares, sleep is a rarity indeed (last night I was a superhero being pursued by a baddy but I really needed to stop running and eat zucchinis) and I never thought I’d say this, but if the peanut arrives a couple of weeks early, I really don’t think I’ll mind. This gestational period really is a bit like running the marathon I used to be training for and I’m beginning to feel like I’m limping to the finish line… 

Monday, October 11, 2010

BREASTFEEDING AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING BOOB FAIRY


“It doesn’t look like the boob fairy has arrived yet Nome. Are you sure she knows where you live?” These are the kind of helpful comments your brothers throw your pregnant way. That and referring to you as a ‘big unit’, which they assure me is a compliment. This issue of the size of my boobs could become crucial today as I attend a two-hour seminar on breastfeeding. Apparently it’s not as easy as pulling out your boob and wacking your baby’s head onto the milk outlet. There are things like inverted nipples, mastitis (which, from what I understand sounds like something I should try to avoid) and uterine contractions (now that’s something I didn’t know about. Although, to be honest, there is a lot I didn’t know about). It seems the act of breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract and return to its normal size. Which sounds like a good thing, but after coming through labour I doubt you want reminding of the feeling every three hours). Then there’s leakage which can occur whenever you see a baby, or even hear one cry, even if it’s not your own. What is that about? I hope my boobs are a little more discretionary and at least only leak when it’s their own baby crying. I mean really, am I meant to offer my boobs up to any passing child? No wonder women get mastitis.
And does size matter? Because we watched a video about breastfeeding in birth class and all the women who offered their mammary glands up for filming were rather well endowed. To say the very least. I don’t know what they looked like pre-baby, but what we saw on that film was just plain scary. Bulbous, gelatinous masses, spread out on pillows like pasty, discontent amoebas, blobbing and morphing, smothering the child with their massive size. No wonder the newborns were crying, I wanted to too, and I was just watching. And my brother is right. The boob fairy has not yet paid me a visit and I’m wondering if this is going to adversely affect my child’s chance of survival. I mean I know I can always bottle feed, but I’m a tight arse and breastfeeding is free. And requires zero preparation…apart from this two-hour course which will apparently make everything clear. Do they give you a plastic doll to practice on? I hope not. That just sounds weird. Though I don’t want a live demonstrator either. I’m sick of seeing obliging women’s private parts. Don’t they have any shame? Or sense of privacy? Perhaps they see it as doing a good deed for the sisterhood, and I appreciate their sense of duty, but I’d rather they just be on the other end of the phone if I call for a bit of advice. It’s also been suggested that we start preparing by wearing our maternity bras, niftily designed numbers that have an easy release clip so you can breastfeed in public without having to embarrass yourself. But I bought mine when we were back in the US (they were only fourteen bucks each and this little penny-pincher just couldn’t resist such a deal) and I did the size conversion incorrectly and bought the wrong ones. From all my years as a semi-non-serious swimmer, my back is broader than the average lass and when I take the bra off, the marks on my skin look like I might be into a bit of S and M, which is not a good look for a thirty-four week pregnant broad. Besides, they’re rather utilitarian numbers, not at all attractive, and I am having enough trouble reconciling the fact that I will have to give up my g-strings for sensible, high-waisted, cotton, granny-panties post-birth that I am somewhat disinclined to begin my descent into matronly-ness any earlier than is absolutely necessary. I’m going alone because Gregory has to work, though I don’t think he minds because he has admitted that out of all the things associated with manufacturing, growing and delivering your own human, the thing that throws him is me making milk. As he should, he has thus far seen my breasts (regardless of their dimension-challenged state) as objects of enjoyment, and the transition to them becoming a food source for a person he hasn’t yet met is something he is still grappling with. I’m still grappling with parts of all the processes to be honest, but in the words of our esteemed midwife, I am just going to try and ‘go with my flow.’

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BABY NIGHTMARES. NO REST FOR THE MAMA-IN-TRAINING!


The other night I dreamt I was a sheep being electrocuted by a farmer and when I begged him not to because he would kill my baby, he told me that this was just how things had to be. The night before that I was a prawn being scooped up in a net on its way to a seafood platter. I’ve also been drowning in a huge surf with Ellen Degeneres, chased by snakes around a camping site at Uluru, walking across the world after the apocalypse trying to find somewhere safe to give birth, and onboard a sinking ship where I woke up just before I plunged into the ocean closely followed by a massive cruise ship.
I am wrenched out of my dreams and find myself drenched in nervous sweat, causing me to have to change the sheets, therefore adding to the laundry, which already far exceeds normal amounts. I have never met two humans who do more laundry than my husband and I. I can identify a few reasons for this; Gregory takes whatever towel he can find when he showers (twice a day) which generally means he starts at least one fresh one daily, I have two towels because I’m a girl and we need one for our hair and one for our bodies and I usually have a set of workout gear most days that needs serious attention. Although not my current walking gear, since I don’t really count that as exercise in comparison to my beloved running and am yet to crack a sweat. So I get up, my loving husband convincing me that I am not indeed a sheep, and strip the bed feeling like I’ve been put through the wringer rather than rested and restored after a night of peaceful slumber.
I’ve been having nightmares on and off throughout the pregnancy, but they seem to be getting worse now. I assume it’s anxiety about the impending labour, birth and motherhood. But given that everyone tells you to sleep now because you won’t be able to later, this is presenting as rather a problem. And then I wonder what it’s like for the peanut. Does it know I’m having a nightmare? Is it having one too? Do I tense up and release adrenalin in a desperate sheep’s attempt to fight off the farmer with the electric shock? Adrenalin that charges through my baby’s tiny body that sends it spinning and churning in its rapidly diminishing living quarters. Will this result in a baby that has nightmares and awakes in a fit every night, sweating and scared until it realises (when its exhausted parents pick it up and cuddle and comfort it) that its demons aren’t real.
These are the things I am getting concerned about right now. Miscellaneous details to detract me from the fact that I am heading towards participation in the greatest natural endurance event in the world. Though I have discovered that if I nap during the day I don’t seem to have the same problem. Perhaps it’s because it’s generally for not much more than forty minutes. But I tell you what, those forty minutes feel pretty good. So good that I might just toddle off and try to catch a few right now…sweet dreams my blogee lambs, no more sheep for me!
By the way…
Current score on the boy vs girl guess; Boy – 4. Girl – 1. And no, I haven’t cast my vote yet.

Monday, October 4, 2010

PICKING THE PEANUT - BABY BOY OR GIRL???


Today on my prego lady walk a woman walked past me and said; “you’re carrying a boy.” At least I think that’s what she said. I was listening to my iPod so I suppose she could have said; “oh what a bundle of joy.” But it isn’t a bundle of joy yet, so lets for the sake of argument assume she said the former. Now, there’s a 50% chance she’s right. But that’s not bad odds really is it? So I’ve decided to open it up to the public and get your opinion based on the two attached pictures. I’ll even help you out by giving you all the information Gregory and I have had thrust upon us regarding the sex of our unborn baby.
1.              We have both had dreams it is a girl. Although mine was a girl with jet black, shiny hair which is highly unlikely unless I had an affair with a Chinese man. Two points for a girl.
2.              Our Korean friend told us that if you dream it is one sex, in her culture that means it’s the other. Two points for a boy.
3.              You cannot tell I am pregnant from behind which means it’s a boy. Although you couldn’t tell for my sister-in-law either and she had three girls. But still, I’ll allow it. Another point for a boy. Current score; 3 – boy, 2 - girl.
4.              The greater the distance in age between the parents, the higher the chance it is a boy. I’m not sure about this theory; it’s a bit out there even for me. But lets include it anyway, if we’re being thorough. So, since Gregory and I are only 11 months apart, that’s another point for the girls. Current tally 3 – girl, 3 – boy.
5.              I am carrying low which means it’s a girl. I think. I’ve forgotten the theory, like I forget everything these days. I am a goldfish. Anyway, lets say it means a girl. Girl - 4, boy - 3.
6.              My husband’s siblings have thus far reproduced six nieces and one nephew. Now this could go either way. We’re either going to continue the trend and have a girl, or start to even out the gender pool and deliver a boy. So, one point either way girl – 5, boy – 4.
7.              My siblings thus far have reproduced none of their own humans so no information from my side is forthcoming. No points for either team.
8.              If you refer to a previous blog, you will see I had a prophetic moment with a Doctor in a hospital and a ward with the same name we’ve chosen if we have a son. One point for the boys. Girl – 5 Boy – 5.
Excellent. A draw. All this means then, is that I’ve done double the washing that will eventually be required, as we’ve been given so much stuff from generous friends and family for both sexes. None of the evidence is particularly convincing either way if you ask me. I wouldn’t bet my first child on it. Still, have a guess and I’ll let you know in less than 9 weeks…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

THE PRE-LABOUR BIKINI WAX


I haven’t seen my vagina in a good six weeks. Maybe even longer. I’m assured it’s still there because I can feel it. The pressure of the baby makes it throb like it does when you’ve had too much sex, the dastardly deed that got me into this mess in the first place.
I knew things were getting unruly down there because although I was vision impaired, I could certainly tell by a touch. Steel wool had definitely sprouted. And so, having ruled out going to a salon and having it done by a professional, despite my husband’s protestations to stop being a tight arse and spend the fifty bucks, I decided to give the old pruning of the hedge a bit of a go myself. Now don’t worry folks, I’ve done this before, although to be fair, normally I can see. 
I heated the wax up in the microwave, stripped down to my birthday suit (remembering only after I was naked to check to see if anyone was home in the house next door) and got to work. I trimmed with caution, (a left hander using right handed scissors, nothing was going to make this endeavour easy) then set about applying the hot wax in the general vicinity I thought hair might be growing in, while simultaneously considering how I was going to get the blobs I had dropped off our rented kitchen floor.
Having been unable to locate the ripping strips the company supplies you with, I cut up one of my husband’s old t-shirts. Excellent use of resources you may think, but the t-shirt was a well-worn, soft jersey fabric, so the strips were stretchy not stiff and rolled in towards the middle making it very difficult to cover the wax with fabric at all. For some reason, the actual ripping seemed far more painful than my last attempt and I even managed to break a few blood vessels just within my range of visibility high on my thigh. Not a good precursor to labour I'm afraid.
I gave up shortly thereafter, also because the episode had taken far longer than planned and I was now running late for my writing group and really didn’t fancy telling a bunch of post menopausal women what had delayed me.
I am led to believe by my ever-loyal husband that it looks like I took to myself with a whipper snipper (that’s weed wacker for you Americans) – different lengths of hair interspersed with bald spots and no straight lines. It’s not perfect, of that I am sure, but it’s still a darn sight better than it was. I think. Though I don’t suppose I can be sure. I haven’t seen either look. Unfortunately in less than eight weeks, plenty of strangers will. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE


Yesterday we lay my mother’s godmother to rest. My mum’s actual mum had died when mum was only 18, so Aunty Gwen (as we called her) was really very special to mum, a surrogate mother of sorts. As fate would have it, Aunty Gwen took a turn for the worse just after my parents had left for a trip overseas and while my mum had said she would be ok if she wasn’t around when the time came, no one in the family actually believed her. For a few days I thought Aunty Gwen was going to rally just as she’d done every time illness struck her in her ninety-one years, but when she murmured “where’s my daughter and when is she coming home?” I knew we were on borrowed time. Aunty Gwen was very traditional and never called my mother her daughter, as it wasn’t strictly their relationship so I knew she meant business.
I rang mum, she hopped a flight from Beirut of all places and I promised Aunty Gwen I would have her daughter by her side in thirty-two hours. She said she’d hang in there till then. The next day, with the countdown on, I made sure Aunty Gwen (now on a ventilator full time and not able to eat, drink or speak) knew how many hours she had until she would see my mother, her daughter. My brothers drove down from their home two hours north to see her and reiterated the message that she now only had four hours left until mum would be holding her hand. My husband and I raced out to the airport, picked up my remarkably fresh looking mother, fanged to the hospital, made it through security (by this time it was after midnight and the hospital was obviously closed for normal visiting hours, but the people in charge of Aunty Gwen’s ward knew how critical timing could be and were more than happy to have late night visitors), and we entered Aunty Gwen’s room to find her eyes open and waiting. After telling her I loved her and kissing her for what I knew would be the last time, Gregory and I took our leave and returned home. Utterly exhausted, I took a hot shower and I was there when Gregory came to tell me that Aunty Gwen had passed away with her daughter by her side holding her hand. Mostly I was relieved, Aunty Gwen had willed her body to last long enough until her favourite person was by her side, but I was also desperately sad at the passing of a wonderful woman who had brought much joy to our family over the years.
Several days earlier, when I knew things weren’t going to improve, the kindly Doctor had taken me aside and urged me to call my mother. Then he looked at my belly and said; “one life ends and another one begins.” He is right of course, but it is one of life’s trickiest realities to face. As I walked away from the Doctor, desperately trying to contain myself, I looked around for a distraction and read the notices up on the wall. Through my tears I realised the ward was named the same name we have chosen if we have a son. Prophecy or coincidence? It doesn’t really matter. This is the circle of life and as I sit here typing with my baby shifting inside me, I know Aunty Gwen was moving over to make room for the peanut. And surely this is the point. Love. Love for each other, love for those who’ve gone and love for those to come. So thank you Aunty Gwen, may the peanut do you proud. 

WORDS OF WISDOM FROM PRENATAL CLASS


This is what we’ve learned in prenatal classes so far…
·      how to cook brown rice – jasmine rice is its inferior sibling apparently
·      us women are doing an incredible job and should remind ourselves of this daily. I remind Gregory instead, I’m well aware I’m incredible.
·      Vacuuming is banned for women incubating humans. I hope mopping is included in that since it’s a fairly similar activity. I hate mopping. I’d rather scrub a toilet with a toothbrush.
·      Miso soup is excellent during labour, but don’t let this be the first time you try it. It is certainly an acquired taste. I’m going to stick with ice blocks like my friend suggested. I know I like them.
·      Mothers need to conserve their energy during labour, use your partner’s instead.
·      Chinese women are idolized post-birth. They don’t do anything for forty days and someone feeds them an old chicken. (It is full of lots of goodness apparently).
·      Do your pelvic floor exercises or you’ll be very sorry. (Just writing this reminds me that I haven’t done them since last time she cautioned us, so if you don’t object, I’ll do them now. Clench…hold…breathe…relax. Repeat ten times).
·      If you want your partner to help ladies, don’t criticise them. If the nappy falls off so what. They’ll work it out.
·      Cabbage is excellent for mastitis. Just line your bra with a leaf and when it’s soaked, replace and repeat.
·      Breast milk is the best cure for babies with gluey eyes. I don’t know if gluey eyes is the technical term, but it’s the one the midwife used.
·      Babies are very smart. I'm not sure if the midwife meant smart in general or smarter than its parents.
·      Japanese women wear belly belts throughout their pregnancy and have much better posture than westerners. Maybe so, but I hate things on my waist as it is and since I now don’t have one, I’m not going to replace it with a sumo-wrestling style contraption that looks like it would cause more discomfort than my current back pain.
·       Omega 3 has been proven to help with depression, so I’ve bought myself a massive box of them in the hopes I can do my best to avoid ye olde post-natal blues.
·      Eat yoghurt if you or the baby’s father suffers from allergies.
·      Go with your flow. This seems to be the best piece of advice yet. Feel free to take any of the above and use it to make your life easier.
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