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Archive for March 2011

This morning I got to sleep in, as Tom was at home. He got up before the kids (still a sleep in for him, he usually rises at 4am), and gave them breakfast once they were up. He played with them (a rigourous game of hide and seek was going on when I woke up), and then he took Molly and Tiernan to the oval to kick a ball around. He put a load of washing on before he left (all of this without being asked!). I gave Neave her morning tea before putting her down for her morning sleep, and returned to bed myself with a cup of tea and a book. Tom picked up some meat on his way home, and started cooking dinner when he got back (to be heated up later, as he was going to work in the evening for a night shift). I got out of bed (at last!), showered, and then made the kids some lunch. While they were eating, I hung out the washing and put another load on. Tom went to bed for a sleep, and I read some stories to the kids before they went down for their afternoon rest/sleep, except for Neave who wasn’t quite ready for hers. I played with Neave for a while, until she was ready to go to bed, and then I did some tidying and more washing, and the grocery shopping (on the internet). I joined Tiernan in watching TV when he came out of his room after his rest. When Molly and Neave woke up, we had some afternoon tea, and I took them out the back to play. After half an hour, we came back in, and I woke Tom up so he could watch the kids while I heated up dinner and cooked rice. After dinner, Tom started getting ready for work, while I put the kids in the bath. He dressed Molly, who got out early, and helped dry and motivate Tiernan to get himself dressed, before leaving for work. I read stories to the kids, gave them their milk, and put them to bed. Then I set about tidying up from the day’s activities.

We don’t always get it right, but today I really felt that we were a team, equally responsible for our children and our household. And it wasn’t even really a day off for Tom, who usually pitches in quite well on weekends, but isn’t too keen after a day at work.

Go team!

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This is Molly’s birth story, continued on from here.

I didn’t sleep much on the night before Molly’s birth. I was feeling too miserable. I made up my mind not to go through with things in the morning until I had spoken to an obstetrician and confirmed that this was definitely the right thing to do. It sure didn’t feel like the right thing to do. It felt like I was about to allow my perfectly healthy baby to be taken from my body way before she was ready. I could have justified it more easily had I felt that I was so unwell I couldn’t continue the pregnancy. But I didn’t feel unwell at all. Looking back, I think this has been the hardest thing to accept: that my body was failing Molly, and she was the one who was going to suffer most for it, not me.

In the morning, a nurse came to take us down to the delivery suite. She looked at my belly and asked, very concerned, how far along I was. When my reply was 31 weeks she said, “Oh, that’s okay then, I thought your notes said 37 weeks.” When we looked doubtfully at her for calling this a good thing, she explained that my baby, being perfectly healthy and a good size for her gestation, was in a much better position than would a 37-weeker of the same size, because a 37-weeker that small would probably have something seriously wrong with it. Hopefully, our baby would only need to grow and learn to feed. This gave us a bit of perspective, but it wasn’t enough to make us feel better.

When we met our midwife, I immediately told her that I wanted to talk to the doctors again before going ahead. She replied that we had to wait anyway, as there were still some blood test results pending, which would confirm our course of action. She set about getting the preparation underway, all the same. I was cannulated, given IV antibiotics (for GBS), and hooked up to foetal monitors. When the doctor finally came, my last hopes were dashed. She came to confirm that my platelet count was normal, and we could continue with the induction instead of a caesarian. What??? Nobody had bothered to mention that I was under consideration for a caesar. I had assumed they were checking to see whether the medication I was on was working, which I hoped might mean we could delay the induction and wait and see how things went for at least a few more days. However, they were doing nothing of the sort – the blood test they were referring to was to rule out a much more serious problem, called HELLP syndrome, which is potentially life-threatening. The reason they were checking for this was that my liver enzymes were much higher than what would normally be seen with OC. Sadly, even though HELLP syndrome was ruled out, there was still no going back for me or my poor bub, it just meant that we could try for a vaginal birth rather than a caesarian.

 Once underway, Molly’s induction was much the same as Tiernan’s, only much, much quicker. The midwife attempted to break my waters, but couldn’t. She tried for at least ten minutes before having to find an obstetrician to come and have a go. It’s really not the most pleasant procedure at the best of times, and it was terrible to have it dragged out this way. Molly really, really wasn’t ready to come out!

Finally, the membranes burst and the Syntocinon drip was started at about 9:30am. We waited, terrified, for the contractions to start. We weren’t terrified of the labour, as we had a fairly good idea of how that would go, but we had no idea what our baby was going to look like at the end of it, or whether she would be okay (we didn’t actually know the sex but it’s easier to just say ‘she’!) Natalie, our midwife, made us feel a little better by saying that she had delivered a 31-weeker only a few days earlier, and this baby was doing well. It had even come out crying, which was a great sign.I tried to relax, but I just felt sick to my stomach about what we were doing. Forcing my baby out like this was all wrong.

Meanwhile, the Syntocinon was doing its job and I was starting to feel period-like cramps. These became stronger and more regular as the labour progressed. I started to think about pain relief (not because I needed it yet, but because I thought I’d better at least have a plan in my head!), and realised I was very much against having an epidural this time. I knew that our baby would be taken away from us to be stabilised in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) as soon as she was born, and I wanted to be able to follow as quickly as possible, without having to wait to be able to use my legs again.

As with Tiernan’s birth, the Syntocinon drip was turned up every half-hour, until the labour was established (three strong contractions in every ten minutes). And, as with Tiernan’s birth, I was coping fine, until I suddenly wasn’t! Natalie had told me to let her know when I felt the urge to push, as this would be her cue to call in the paediatric team, who would take care of the baby once she was born. Having not felt the urge to push with Tiernan (I was under an epidural before I got that far), I wasn’t sure, but tentatively announced that I thought I would need to push soon. Ish. By the next contraction I was quite sure. Natalie did an internal (flat on my back again – agony!) and said that I was only 6cm dilated, so it wasn’t time yet, but she thought it wouldn’t be long. She suggested I try the gas and air to get me through the next few contractions. After setting me up with the gas, Natalie turned to fill out some paperwork, but before she had gone two steps I was screaming and writhing in pain. The baby was coming, right now! The pain was so sudden and so intense that I started to panic, hyperventilating and bellowing the house down. I think I scared Natalie, too. She called the paeds, and then had to work hard to try and calm me down, repeating my name, over and over, until I listened to her and started to breath properly with the gas. It didn’t do much for the pain, but it did give me something to focus on. Once again, due to the Syntocinon, the contractions I experienced were so intense that I had no control over my body. Rather than pushing Molly out, I felt that she was forcibly expelled by the drug. I later found out that the whole birth lasted an hour and twenty minutes, with a ‘pushing stage’ of only four minutes!

Our beautiful, tiny, baby was born at 12:50pm, weighing only 1700g (or a little over three pounds). Natalie held her up to me, very briefly, so I could give her a kiss and see that she was, in fact, a girl. I had only a moment to take in her tiny form. I remember thinking that she actually looked quite good – like a ‘real’ baby, but much smaller. She had good colour (well, a bit blue, but her skin was pinkish and not translucent as I had been half expecting). And, she was crying! My brave little girl was crying as loud as she could (which wasn’t very loud at all), letting us know that she was okay, but rather cranky at being out here so soon. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

All too soon, Molly was whisked away, and I had to get down to the business of birthing the placenta. Without a baby in my arms to distract me, this seemed to take much longer than it had the first time around. I didn’t need any stitches this time. I was so pleased to be able to jump (well, maybe not jump, but hobble), into the shower straight away to get cleaned up. We were then taken to my room on the maternity ward, where we nervously waited to be allowed to see our little girl in the NICU…

Cakes

Posted on: March 22, 2011

Neave’s birthday is coming up, so I have been thinking a lot about cakes! I have to admit that making birthday cakes has turned out to be one of my favourite things about motherhood. Something to do with the anticipation of choosing the cake, preparing all the bits and pieces (and sometimes having to search high and low for them!) in the weeks leading up to the birthday; the excitement of finally getting started on the night before the party, after the kids are in bed; and then the (usually early-morning) sense of achievement with the end result. I’m not going to jinx myself by saying that I’ve not had any flops yet. Although, the closest I’ve come is with Molly’s Dorothy cake, which I was still working on as party guests arrived – Molly had been sick the night before the party, so we had to wait and see how she was in the morning before deciding whether or not to go ahead with it! 

I’ve pretty much made up my mind for Neave’s 1st Birthday cake, but I was looking at pictures of my previous efforts and thought I’d share them:

This one is pretty self-explanatory!

This was for Tiernan’s 2nd Birthday. Wasn’t as hard as it looks, but veeeery time-consuming.

This was Molly’s 1st Birthday cake.

Tiernan’s 3rd.

This was Molly’s 2nd birthday cake, for her ‘friend’ party.

This was for the ‘family’ party.

She took these to daycare on her actual birthday, because two cakes just weren’t enough!

And Tom got this for his most recent birthday!

There’s a joke my Dad loves to tell. I hope you’ll forgive me for the content, I do realise there have been devastating floods recently, which is no joking matter. Also, it pokes fun at Christians. Hope you can handle it, I promise it’s relevent.

Here goes:

There is torrential rain and the river is rising. A man, let’s call him Bill, has become trapped on his roof. A truck drives past, notices him sitting on his roof, and offers him assistance.

“No, thank you. God will save me.”

The flood waters continue to rise, and soon the roads become impassable. A boat passes by, notices Bill sitting on his roof, and offers him assistance.

“No, thank you. God will save me.”

The rain beats down relentlessly. Bill is still on his roof. The water is lapping at the eaves. A helicopter flies past, notices Bill on his roof, and offers him assistance.

“No, thank you. God will save me.”

Inevitably, when the rain does not let up, Bill drowns. He goes to Heaven. He asks why, in his hour need, God did not save his life.

“What are you talking about?” bursts God, indignantly, “I sent you a truck, a boat and a bloody helicopter!”

I couldn’t help thinking of this joke today, when I received three calls from life insurance companies (three different ones), offering funeral plan packages and income protection. Three! In one day!

So I ask again, is the universe trying to tell me something???

Raining again today.

Started to make caterpillars with the kids. Got carried away with colour mixing and ended up with some truly hideous hues…

Heaps of paint leftover, so finger painting ensued.

Even more paint left over, so I had a go (with a brush, not fingers).

Really quite chuffed with the results!

"Ooh, plane!"

We’re baaaaack!

Actually, we’ve been back for a few days now, but I’ve been clinging to the last vestiges of the holiday that was, and have been incredibly lazy. Plus, while away, I have rediscovered the novel. I’m always reading, but most of my reading material of late has come from online sources (ie. blogs), which is great, but I have missed reading fiction. Alas, I don’t seem to be able to strike a balance – I vacillate between obsessively reading books, or obsessively reading blogs. Hence, whilst away, I read three whole novels, and have read another two since returning! They have all come from my huge stockpile of books that I borrowed, guiltily, from a friend I hardly see anymore, knowing that I would probably have them for months before finding time to read them.

Anyway, as I slowly come back to reality, I am disappointed to notice that the washing has not put itself in the machine, the house has not tidied itself, and the children have not suddenly learnt to make their own lunches or entertain themselves. The best thing about being on holiday was having Tom around to do at least some of these things, while I sat on the couch to read… but now he’s back at work.

I think I had better recount some of our holiday for posterity, as it may be some time before we get another one!

As planned, Tom drove our car solo up to Queensland, while I took the kids on the plane. Mad, some people said, but those people have not attempted to drive for more than two hours with our children. It cannot be done. Believe me when I say that this was the only option! It went surprisingly well. My mother-in-law drove us to the airport and waited with me until we boarded. I came prepared with heaps of snack food, sticker books and even tv shows (on ipods) for the kids to watch in transit. I was actually more worried about Neave, who I knew wouldn’t want to sit still for the duration, and who can’t yet be entertained by electronic means. I was hoping a good breastfeed would knock her out, but it didn’t, and she spent a good portion of the flight screaming and squirming about in my arms. Until the passenger in front of us did tricks with her bracelet, and all was well.

The only way to fly!

Tom met us at the airport (he arrived ten minutes before we did, freakishly good or what?), and this is when Molly had a major meltdown, but at least it wasn’t on the plane! Our accommodation was the home of some family friends of our – we swapped houses with them for the duration of our holiday, which was a brilliant idea that I can’t even take credit for (it was their idea). We finally arrived, rather ragged around the edges, but in much better spirits than we would have been had we experienced the trauma of two straight days of driving with three shrieking kids…

On our first day, we did the obligatory grocery shopping and boring stuff, before heading out to try out a park that our hosts assured us was AWESOME. And it was! I have to say that Gold Coast parks are waaaaaay better than ours, and I could almost justify moving there, just for the parks. And the beaches (duh!)

Awesome!

On day two we were joined by Tom’s brave parents – they flew up for a few days to help with our holiday-making. See, our brood is so unmanageable that we even need help with this! We attempted to hit the beach that day, but there were blue bottles, so after only a quick dip we had to move to the park instead. As an aside, I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked during our holiday – I was busy being all ‘outdoorsy’, but didn’t want to get sand in my camera!

On day three we played putt putt with the kids, which was an exercise in futility, really. But it got the kids out of the house, and I burned some calories chasing Tiernan from one end of the bloody course to the other… There’s really not much to be said for playing putt putt with anyone under the age of, I dunno, twenty?

Day four we drove up into the hinterland to O’Reilly’s Plateau, which is in lovely rainforest. Again, this trip was recommended by our hosts, and it was great, except I can’t emphasise enough how horrid the drive was – I’ve never come across bendier roads! And the bends just went on and on and on, until we were sure we’d got stuck on some sort of loop from which we would never escape! I don’t usually get car sick, but I was definitely feeling green around the gills by the end of this horrendous trip. We had a short rest at an alpaca farm (sorry, no photos, was trying not to spew), before continuing on to O’Reilly’s. During all of this, we had been wondering when we would actually come to the rainforest (all had been bushland so far), but suddenly we were in it – there was no gradual change; one minute the trees were mostly gums, there was plenty of light and a lot of scrub growing on the ground, and the next minute, the vegetation changed to densely packed pines, with ferns growing on the ground, and creepers up above blocking out much of the light.

Not surprisingly, it was raining when we finally reached the plateau (rainforest!). However, we bravely sat out in the rain and watched the ‘birds of prey’ show (which was fascinating), from under our umbrellas, all the while shivering in our boots (or thongs, actually – it’s amazing how quickly one forgets that mountains are cold, I mean, we live in the mountains for goodness sakes!)

Wedge-tail eagle

Tom and his dad then took Tiernan and Molly on a tree-top forest walk, which I had been looking forward to, but wussed out of, citing my broken toe (which was hurting), but mostly because I was absolutely freezing and wanted a warm drink, indoors. So that’s what the rest of us did. Then, we all got back into the cars for the return journey, which was equally yucky the second time around. Despite this, O’Reilly’s was a lovely place to visit, with stunning mountain views, luscious tropical-rainforest, and cute wildlife to boot.

Next day was a trip to the beach, or inlet rather. This is where I really appreciated having Grandparental help, as a visit to the beach is high on my list of anxiety-inducing activities! Call me over-protective, but I can’t relax around water when the kids are present, especially when it’s churning, dumping, rip-concealing water. Since none of our kids can swim, I reserve the right to remain in flight-or-fight mode until we’re all safely back in the car. However, with Tom’s parents we now had four adults to three children in our group, (the ideal ratio – although, let’s face it, 2:1 would be better!) so I was actually able to relax (a bit), have a swim with the kids, build sand castles and generally hang out. The kids had a great time too – the water was perfect, and there were enough adults around to keep them entertained, happy and fed! We followed the beach up with another trip to the AWESOME park (which was still awesome), and then went home exhausted! That evening we said goodbye to Tom’s parents, as they were returning home.

On day six, Tom and I were suddenly left to our own devices again. We took the kids to Mt Tambourine, where we checked out the boutiques selling fudge, honey, liqueurs, fairy stuff, cuckoo-clocks, cheese, ice-cream and chocolates, (yum!) This possibly wasn’t the funnest day for the kids, but Tom and I had a good time!

For the remainder of our stay, we fell into the pattern of generally vegging out in the morning (we were on holidays, after all), and then mustering the energy to take the kids out somewhere around lunch time (which is usually the worst idea, but, being on holidays, we didn’t care). Afterwards, we drove around trying to find something to eat for lunch (I managed to put on a kilo after all the eating out we did…  and I suppose the chocolates and ice-creams probably didn’t help, either). Twice, the kids fell asleep before we even got to lunch, so Tom and I got ourselves some takeaway, which we ate in the car, whilst driving around looking at the scenery. In this way, we checked out some lovely views along the coast (from the car), and we also spent about an hour lost in the hills, but enjoyed taking in the country scenes while we were there!

There was also another game of putt putt involved (we’d already paid for it so had to); a trip to the pool for a swim – great time had by all; and the bravest thing of all – we actually took them back to the beach. Or, river really, but it was near the beach. There was sand. The kids had a great time, and I enjoyed watching them have a great time, but didn’t enjoy having my heart leap into my mouth every time they disappeared under the water (no waves, but uneven, sandy bottom with sudden drops). However, after they demonstrated (many times) that they could pop back up to the surface without any problems, I was able to swallow my nerves. But still couldn’t relax. (One day they’ll learn to swim and I’ll be fine, right?) Getting dressed when it was time to go was a logistical nightmare, but somehow we managed, just in time for the sky to open up and release a deluge of rain onto us! I got to pretend to be one of those parents who doesn’t care about getting wet, or muddy. But really I did care. Especially when the wet and the mud was transferred into the car…

Random photo of the resident gecko

All too quickly, it was time for us to pack up our things and fly home. Tom drove us to the airport and started his two-day journey home. The trip home wasn’t as good as the trip up – Molly was overdue for a nap and consequently was in a foul mood, which made the flight rather a nightmare, especially when she kept undoing her seat belt and jumping out of her seat during the landing!!! At least Neave slept this time, though. We were met at the airport by my Mum, had a slow car trip home in peak hour traffic, and finally we were home!

In summary, we had a wonderful time. Surprisingly, I am feeling very mellow on returning home and I think a holiday was exactly what I needed. Well, I knew that, but the surprising part is that I actually do feel like I’ve had a holiday – the work load didn’t really change while we were away, but at least there were some extra people to share it with me. And a change of scenery is always nice!